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First Fruits: The Promise To Come

First fruits is an important principle of faith that God has established from the beginning of time. In Hebrew, it is the word bikkurim, and it literally means “a promise to come.” First fruits means the first in place, order or rank; the beginning, chief or principle thing. First fruits is the principle of dedicating our “first things” to the Lord, so that everything else can fall into their proper position. It’s about aligning ourselves with God’s order.
The Biblical principle of first fruits can be summed up like this: the “first fruits” establish the destiny of what is left. The principle of first fruits is a type and shadow that has been fulfilled by Jesus’ arrival on earth, His sacrificial death, and rising again to ascend to heaven. Jesus is the “first fruit” that God received of His harvest of sons and daughters He will one day receive from the earth. The pattern of Jesus’ life is an establishing of the destiny of “what is left:” you and I who trust in Jesus Christ. First fruits is the principle of one for many. Let me back up for a second by sharing the saying that ‘the Old Testament is the New concealed, and the New Testament is the Old revealed.’ Most of what we see in the Old Testament is a “type and shadow” of what was to come in the New Testament – Jesus Christ’s Lordship and the Kingdom of God. God is the Rock who always keeps His promises. He can truly be depended on at all times and throughout any situation. I want to share with you the truth about first fruits – a powerful promise that brings forth great blessing – in God’s Word. In the Old Testament, Exodus 23:19 says this: “The first of the firstfruits of thy land shalt you bring into the house of the Lord your God.” Exodus 22:29 states: “Thou shall not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt you give unto me.” Besides these verses, there are several other specific first things God designates as being His in the Old Testament. People were supposed to offer the best of their “first things” to God. God refers to these as “devoted things.” Leviticus 27:28-29 says, “Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed: but shall surely be put to death.” The Lord was saying that every ‘devoted thing’ is most holy to Him. That means the same as marked and put aside as a first fruit. God also told Israel to mark and set apart for Him every male first fruit of the womb. Pay attention to that type and shadow. God’s intention was to get across to humanity this idea of the first of every significant thing to be devoted to Him, so that the rest of these things to follow would be blessed. This idea of first fruits that God was sowing in His people’s minds had a much bigger scope than just harvests, beasts, or property. God was preparing and priming humanity for the entrance of Jesus and the kingdom of God. The New Testament flings away the veil to reveal the full meaning of first fruits. Adam was the first person God created. When he became contaminated with sin, everyone else became contaminated, too. No one was to touch the tree of God’s knowledge and headship for their own use. Its fruit was the ‘devoted thing’ Adam took for himself and brought a curse upon all of us. We inherited Adam’s sin because he was the firstfruit of the family of man.

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” Romans 5:14

The first man, Adam, was a template or a pattern of everyone else to come. This is the principle of first fruits, or ‘a promise to come.’ The way you govern first things in your life sets a pattern for how the rest of those things will flow and come to fruition. Since Adam fell into death, death reigned until a new firstfruit was sent and a New Covenant was made – the ‘promise to come.’ “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”

1 Corinthians 15:22-23

Who is our Promise to come? God wanted a family. He sowed a son, and reaped many children. Jesus had to present Himself to God the Father as the firstfruit so we could become the sons of God. Jesus became the firstfruit offering. The Old Testament vaguely pointed to Him, but the New Testament proclaims about Him! In Romans 8:29, the Bible declares: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Jesus is the firstborn ( or firstfruit) among many brethren – brothers and sisters in the family of God. Jesus is our pattern now. We no longer live under the failure and shame of the first man Adam; now we have the power and victory of Christ! We must make God’s presence our priority. When someone or something has priority in your life, that means it has precedence; superiority in rank, position or privilege. That priority item or person is FIRST. If we don’t set priorities in our life, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. We must choose to make the change. Anytime something is a first thing, God always lays claim to it. As we enter this new year, we make God’s presence our priority, and we practice His principles.

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First Fruits: The Biblical Promise of Abundance

What is the kingdom principle of “first fruits”? First fruits establishes the law of first things being first in your life. It establishes the promise of what is to come and positions the believer to receive the promises of God. The first fruits offerings signal the beginning of the harvest for God’s people. First fruits offerings are not only an offering, but also a promise of abundance.
The Hebrew word for “first fruits,” reshiyth, means “the first in place in time, order or rank.” It also means “the beginning, first or principal thing, captain or chief, excellent, forefront, ruler, sum top, summit, upper part and primary.” First fruits, which belong to God, govern the rest that follow and set the pattern, or the promise of what is to come. Another Hebrew word first fruits is bikkurim, which means ‘a promise to come,’ and shares the same root word, bekhor, as the word meaning “firstborn.” This Hebrew word is referring to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the first fruit!

After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.”

(Exodus 13:11-13)

God claims the right to every first – the first of the crops, every firstborn male of herds and flocks, every firstborn male child. Every first is to be devoted to God through His covenant. Any time something is called a first thing, a first fruit, a devoted thing, it belongs to God. Exodus 22:29 states, “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors; the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.” The principle is that all first things belong to God. In Leviticus 27:28-29, God again lays out instructions for first fruits, “But nothing that a man owns and devotes to the Lord – whether man or animal or family or land – may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord.” (NIV). Thankfully, we no longer sacrifice the firstlings of our sheep or cattle at a Temple; nor are we required to redeem our firstborn sons with gold. Jesus paid for all redemption through His death, burial and resurrection, giving a New Covenant “founded on better principles” (Hebrews 8:6). Jesus is God’s only begotten son. God gave up His son to set Him apart as a holy first fruit. The first fruit then sanctified all who came after (That’s you and me who believe in Him!)! Jesus became the first fruit of many brethren (Romans 8:29, 1 Cor 15:23). We bear forth the same power and image of God because we are the fruit of His firstborn. The principle of first things still remains in operation in the kingdom of God. In ancient days, the process of gathering the first fruits of the crops involved meticulous preparation. Each family among the Israelites had to carefully watch for the first budding fruits or grains. Once spotted, they would designate it as the first by tying a piece of red yarn around the branch, limb or vine. As the crops matured and were harvested, those first fruits were brought into the Temple and presented to the High Priest according to God’s pattern. The Priest would accept the offering from each household, and lift it in a wave offering above his head, presenting it to God in thanksgiving and recognition of His continued provision and blessing. Once the offering of first fruits had been made, the people rejoiced, enjoying the rest of the harvest because the first had already sanctified the rest. This is vital to recognize the order and pattern of God. The principle of first fruits was not limited to plants, as we saw before in the case of Cain and Abel. The principle of first fruits is found throughout the Bible, and deals with all “first things.” “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. You must give me the firstborn of your sons. Do the same with your cattle and your sheep.” (Exodus 22:29-30) Even the first born of twins were marked in such a way. While Tamar was in labor with Judah’s twin sons, one of the twins put out his hand first. God does not change in His character or principles. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. God is serious about things being in order in our lives. That is why it is so crucial that we understand the principle of “first things first.” When you do not put first things first, there is disorder, which can affect your life. On the other hand, when you do put first things first, your life can and will fall into place as it is supposed to. Just as God promised – when we are faithful to follow Him, we will live an empowered life and be blessed! When we serve the Lord with our whole hearts, His blessing, peace, victory, and wholeness is upon our lives so strong that everyone can see it. The harvest for giving the Lord your all is so abundant and rich! Give the Lord your “first” and best in all that you do…He will reward you beyond what you thought possible!

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First Fruits: The Right Way To Worship

First fruits is the principle of dedicating our “first things” to the Lord, so that everything else can fall into their proper position. It’s about aligning ourselves with God’s order. The Biblical principle of first fruits can be summed up like this: the “first fruits” establish the destiny of what is left. The principle of first fruits is a type and shadow that has been fulfilled by Jesus’ arrival on earth, His sacrificial death, and rising again to ascend to heaven. Jesus is the “first fruit” that God received of His harvest of sons and daughters He will one day receive from the earth. The pattern of Jesus’ life is an establishing of the destiny of “what is left:” you and I who trust in Jesus Christ.
The first fruits set a pattern for the things to follow. Firstfruits is an act of worship (or offering) in faith and it proves the position in which the giver holds God and is held by God! Anytime something is a first thing, a firstfruit (also called a devoted thing), God always lays claim to it. As we enter this new year, we make God’s presence our priority, and we practice His principles. When you put God first, by obeying His principles and following His divinely established patterns, your life becomes aligned with His plan and promises for you:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

We must make God’s presence our priority. When someone or something has priority in your life, that means it has precedence; superiority in rank, position or privilege. That priority item or person is FIRST. If we don’t set priorities in our life, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. We must choose to make the change. One of the first occurrence of first fruits in the Bible is in the history of Cain and Abel. The story of Cain and Abel that I am about to share with you is one that leaves many of us astonished and asking, “Why? What was it about Cain’s offering exactly that displeased God?” I’m going to talk about that with you and also illustrate an important principle – God’s principle of “first fruits.”

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and his offering: But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

(Genesis 4:3-5)

There is a way to worship. Worship is your response to what you value the most. This is done out of an intimate relationship with God. God declares in John 4:23 that “the time has come where true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” The Word “truth” in the Greek means, “not concealing or hidden. In other words, worship is revealing. I don’t reveal unless I feel safe. Intimacy is freedom to share the “real you” without rejection – or abandonment. What you worship is what you value! Follow the trail of your time, affection, energy, money, loyalty, thoughts, dreams, and priorities, and you will find what or who is sitting on the throne of your life (or heart). Whatever you value the most will ultimately determine who you are. It is beyond question that Cain and Abel knew an order to come before God with acceptance. When the family came to worship God, most scholars note that Cain brought an offering of fine flour, oil and frankincense. That is a gratitude offering. But Abel brought a gratitude offering and the firstborn of his flocks (or, a first fruit offering). This would have been a very costly, maybe even heartbreaking sacrifice on Abel’s part. Not only did Abel give to God first – Abel gave God the very best he could give. Giving a first fruits offering requires faith, and Abel demonstrated his faith, which was pleasing to the Lord. As is recorded in Hebrews, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.” (Hebrews 11:4, NIV) Because of the faith demonstrated by his offering, Abel obtained witness as a righteous man. What does righteous mean? It doesn’t mean that Abel was simply a good man, or that he was handsome, or charismatic in his personality. It means that Abel was in right standing with God. It means Abel placed God first, in the right place. Abel followed the pattern of God. Did Cain bring an offering? Yes, he brought “of the fruit of the ground an offering” to give the Lord. But it was a partial offering. Cain withheld worship..he did not have God in the right place – first. Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins (Heb 9:22). Abel’s offering involved bloodshed, but Cain’s offering was from the cursed ground (Gen 3:17). A first fruits offering is not a sin offering. However, coming before God as he did, it was almost as if Cain was presenting his offering based on his own worthiness, rather than faith in God. Remember the Pharisees, who Paul would say about them in Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Cain brought fine flour, frankincense, and olive oil …which was a gratitude offering, or even a tithe..but not first fruits. “And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the Lord..” (Numbers 18:13) Because he gave only a part, and that not in faith, God was not pleased with his offering. Abel brought his firstfruits and honored the order or divine and accurate arrangement of God. Cain gave what He wanted to give. Abel gave what God wanted. Cain’s offering or “worship” was done out of obligation – under his own terms. Cain in pride and arrogance did what He wanted to do and gave what He wanted to give. Abel gave out of obedience and faith. You cannot serve God just a little bit…He calls for full surrender. What was the difference between Cain and Abel’s sacrifice? The difference was that Abel gave a first fruit offering. Cain did not act on his faith, but gave only a partial offering. The first fruits offering is based on faith: faith in the fact that giving God the first sets the course for the blessings to be released on the rest…faith that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Because Abel stepped out in faith and obeyed God, Abel obtained rightstanding with God. The Bible says Cain’s countenance fell. His face began to reveal what was in his heart—disgust, disappointment and anger that his labor had been for nothing or that doing it “his own way” was not enough. This must have intensified in the days, and weeks, and Cain became consumed by a competitive spirit, as he began to observe the blessings of God manifesting in his brother Abel’s life, while he continued to toil and labor with the soil. God in His mercy and grace said to Cain, in Genesis 4:7: “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” To “do well” means to retrace his steps, to consider his ways, to find where he was wrong and then amend his offering and his intention accordingly. Cain’s error was not simply in his offering, but it was in an attitude.

“For where your treasure (gr = a deposit, wealth) is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:21 KJV)

This is a heart issue. What you give and where you give is a reflection of what you love, desire or value. God didn’t want or need Cain’s offering..He wanted Cain. What grace and mercy we see in God towards us from the very beginning. Although he was given the opportunity, Cain did not act on divine counsel. When you honor God in obedience by presenting to Him all first things, His Presence covers and blesses the rest (or, He sanctifies it). All throughout the Word of God, we see what happens when there is activation and honoring of first fruits. Firstfruits is an act of worship (or offering) in faith and it proves the position in which the giver holds God and is held by God! Anytime something is a first thing, a firstfruit (also called a devoted thing), God always lays claim to it. As we enter this new year, we make God’s presence our priority, and we practice His principles.

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First Fruits: First Things First

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

First fruits is the principle of dedicating our “first things” to the Lord, so that everything else can fall into their proper position. It’s about aligning ourselves with God’s order. The Biblical principle of first fruits can be summed up like this: the “first fruits” establish the destiny of what is left. The principle of first fruits is a type and shadow that has been fulfilled by Jesus’ arrival on earth, His sacrificial death, and rising again to ascend to heaven. Jesus is the “first fruit” that God received of His harvest of sons and daughters He will one day receive from the earth. The pattern of Jesus’ life is an establishing of the destiny of “what is left:” you and I who trust in Jesus Christ.

To live the abundant Life that God has for you, you must be a “doer” of the Word – not just a “hearer.” God’s Word contains instructions that are not natural to our flesh. I sometimes say that the meaning of submission is “duck” or “get out of the way.” When we get out of God’s way, and surrender fully to Him, we experience supernatural blessing!

When you put God first, by obeying His principles and following His divinely established patterns, your life becomes aligned with His plan and promises for you:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11 NIV

We must make God’s presence our priority. When someone or something has priority in your life, that means it has precedence; superiority in rank, position or privilege. That priority item or person is FIRST. If we don’t set priorities in our life, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. We must choose to make the change. PUT GOD FIRST IN EVERYTHING!

Any time a “first” becomes a “second,” everything else is pushed into a different priority, creating chaos. Our priorities have become out of order, so we get into confusion. Confusion is disorder with darkness, so it’s not of God. Our foundation is putting the cornerstone, Jesus Christ, first. When we put God first, all priorities fall in their proper place

Seek” by implication means indirectly “to worship”. There is a connection between seeking and worship. Whatever is driving you, whatever you are seeking after, is indirectly being held up by you as valuable. Otherwise, you wouldn’t chase after it! Whatever you are seeking first, then, is not only being held up as valuable…it’s so valuable and desirable that you are putting it first.

For that reason, first things are significant to God. Are we seeking God and His kingdom first? The key to His supernatural blessing is that we find God and His kingdom so valuable and worthy that not only do we seek after God and His kingdom at some point throughout our day ..we seek Him first.

The word “FIRST” in the text above is Greek and it means “Chiefly, first of all.” Looking backwards, the word first fruit in Hebrew in the Old Testament means “Foremost or first in time, place and order of importance.” What are we putting foremost, first in time, place or order of importance in our lives? Let’s make it the kingdom of God and His righteousness!

Worshiping God as a lifestyle means to build a life that denotes His worth, honor and reverence. The phrase “the kingdom of God” in the text above means “Who God is and His way of doing things.” Because you are a part of the kingdom of God, you are a part of a royal priesthood, a privileged class!

He said, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom” (Luke 22:29-30, NKJV).

However, we can’t expect the multiple blessings of God to manifest in our lives if we are not holding up our end of the covenant. Remember, every kingdom has a method of rule; prescribed conduct, which keeps order and holds the kingdom together. God will always fulfill His part, but we must ask ourselves: am I fulfilling mine?

There are specific requirements for all those who walk by faith. We have to do it according to God’s way! Hosea 4:6 declares, “My people perish because of lack of knowledge.”

What we don’t know can destroy us…. You must have real knowledge and wisdom for the application of His patterns, principles and precepts to truly prosper. What we learn from God’s Word will sustain us, provide for us, care for our families and loved ones, give us victory, direct and protect our dream, set us free, bless us and so much more!

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31,32, NKJV).

God’s covenant is His law. With that covenant we have everything we need – every promise of God is ours when we apply and stand on His Word. As Peter wrote to those in exile after the resurrection of Jesus:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4, NASB).

The pattern of Jesus’ life is an establishing of the destiny of you and I who trust in Jesus Christ. We are a part of a glorious kingdom, and have a calling and purpose in Christ here on earth. Whatever you are seeking first, then, is not only being held up as valuable…it’s so valuable and desirable that you are putting it first. When we seek Him first, we can be sure that He will supernaturally add everything we need to our lives!

As you incorporate the “First things first – GOD FIRST!” principle as the root and foundation of your life, you will see how this attitude blossoms and transforms every area – your family, relationships, health, career and finances. Let’s start fresh for 2016 – keep Him first every day!

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First Fruits: Fasting

The Bible only provides a few specifics about fasting, and much of it is left up to you and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  There are different types of fasts, although they are not categorized as such in the Scripture.  We are simply told that people fasted, and we draw them into categories to aid our understanding. If someone comes to you and says you have to fast in a certain way in order for it to be a biblical fast, don’t listen.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! I want to share with you some fasting principles straight out of the Word of God.

The One-Day Fast

There is only one Biblical fast that the people of Israel were specifically commanded to perform, which was the annual fast on the Day of Atonement.  In the seventh Hebrew month, on the tenth day of the month, they were to humble themselves and fast “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 16:29, 23:32), while the high priests offered sacrifices for the sins of the nation.  This was also a Sabbath day, a day of rest, from sunset to sunset, while they fasted.  As a one-day fast from food and liquid, it was a very practical, doable fast for them.

The Daniel Fast

Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, chose to eat only vegetables and to drink only water, rather than to partake of the king’s delicacies and wine, which likely were contrary to the Mosaic Law and were defiled by heathen rites.  (Daniel 1:8, 1:12). We should notice that Daniel’s concern here was related to his obedience to God’s commands…not sticking to a vegetable diet or personal preference.  What is popularly called a Daniel’s Fast today usually refers to a period of time where one does not eat meat or breads, but rather eats mainly vegetables and fruit, drinks fruit juices or blended vegetables, and/or protein shakes. This fast is spelled out more definitely in Daniel 10:2-3, where Daniel says that he “was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all.”  It does not say that he abstained from food completely, just certain foods.  He described this as a period of “mourning,” which tells us that this was a type of fast.  This is supported by the fact that he refused to anoint himself with oil.

The Extended Fast

This is a fast when someone abstains from food for an extended period of time, and there are numerous Biblical examples.  The best known fasts are probably those that extend longer than three days.  As profound as these fasts were, I have to put in a word of caution here.  These prolonged fasts were born out of clear divine directions and were obviously accompanied by a supernatural provision of grace to be able to complete the fast.  They require a very sure leading of God.  Extended fasts are a serious matter.  Many believers have set out on prolonged fasts, thinking they could follow in the steps of Moses or Elijah, and the results are dreadful.  Depending on your health, age, and the length of your fast, a fast can be harmful to your health and should not be entered into without careful deliberation and medical consultation.

Disclaimer: Fasting is Not For Those Recovering from Eating Disorders

One other word that has to be said: fasting should be avoided completely by anyone who has had or struggles with an eating disorder.  Fasting is an easy way to mask an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.  Fasting is not a way to overcome the sin of gluttony.  Sadly, throughout the church’s history and in the church today, many have used fasting as a primary means of curbing their appetites and force their body into submission to God.  To do so is an abuse of the purpose of fasting.  Fasting is not about punishing yourself, and it will feed a person’s self-loathing if it is used in this manner.  If you are suffering from an eating disorder, see a professional Christian counselor immediately, who can help you with the underlying emotional needs that are not being met. With that being said, fasting is not limited to food.  It is about giving God something you love or really enjoy doing, and replacing that time spent doing that activity with time spent in prayer.  If you read the Word of God, you will find examples of this as well. When Jesus was in the process of selecting twelve disciples, “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called his disciples to Himself.”  (Luke 6:12)  Jesus needed sleep as much as any of us do, but on this important decision, He spent some extra time with His Father in prayer to make sure that His selection was in line with the Father’s will. I want to stress to you that you don’t have to fast a certain way in order for it to be a biblical fast. The Bible provides few specifics about fasting, and much of it is left up to you and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus didn’t talk much about fasting, only that it is a personal matter between you and God.  He did so because fasting is between the believer and the Holy Spirit. During this month of consecration and giving our “best things” to God, I challenge you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you on a fast.  Whether you choose to do a Daniel’s fast, a one-day fast, miss a meal, or abstain from news or television, I know you will be blessed by the experience with His presence wrapped around you.  2016 is the year of favor and grace, and I pray He reveals to you what His plans and purposes are for you in this special year to come.  God bless you!

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