Summary: Sermon based on Matthew 6:16-18 - Encourages the hearers to practice fasting as a spiritual discipline.
“AND WHEN YOU FAST” Matthew 6:16-18
FBCF – 10/18/20
INTRO – Fasting is all the rage these days. Typed “fasting” into Google. Didn’t find anything related to any type of Christian fasting until I got to the 8th page. Tons of websites dedicated to intermittent fasting for weight loss, physical health & fitness, the medical science behind fasting, & other non-spiritual fasts.
Fasting is the tool we are taking out of “My Spiritual Growth Toolbox” today, & it may be the most unused tool in the box.
- Maybe you’ve never fasted
- Never really thought about it
- Thought about it, but just don’t want to
- Thought about it, but don’t understand why it’s needed
Let’s be honest: Fasting is not a real popular spiritual discipline, but it’s one that we see practiced by God’s people all throughout the Bible – OT & NT.
- Mentioned over 70 times in Scripture
- Joel 1:14 – “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders & all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, & cry out to the Lord.”
- Ezra 8:23 – Ezra needed God’s protection. “…we fasted & petitioned our God about this, & He answered our prayer.”
- Nehemiah 1:4 – “When I heard these things, I sat down & wept. For some days I mourned & fasted & prayed before the God of heaven.”
- Jesus fasted for 40 days & nights – Matthew 4:2
- Acts 13:2-3 – “While they were worshiping the Lord & fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas & Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting & praying they laid their hands on them & sent them off.”
Website – pic of Bible in the middle of a dinner plate. Good illus of what fasting is all about: going w/out physical food so we can feast on the Spiritual food that we need for a healthy walk w/ Christ.
EXPLANATION – Matthew 6:16-18
Sermon on the Mount – Most famous sermon Jesus gave – maybe most famous sermon ANYONE has ever given. Covers several different topics that are important in the life of the Christ-follower. Practical teaching. Powerful teaching. Pertinent teaching for the Christ-follower. But to sum it up in one sentence: “How to live a life that is dedicated to & pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love & grace, full of wisdom & discernment.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/sermon-on-the-mount.html)
Right in the middle of this sermon, Jesus addresses 3 spiritual disciplines – that every Christ-follower should be practicing. First 2 are probably a little more accepted by most Christians – Giving & praying.
- Giving – Matthew 6:2-4
- Praying – Matthew 6:5-13
But then Jesus brings up the issue of fasting. Fasting
And just like the disciplines of giving & praying, fasting is a WHEN, not IF discipline.
APPLICATION – Christ-followers should practice the discipline of fasting as an expression of our neediness of Jesus.
FASTING IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO – It’s God’s idea.
Even though it’s not an exclusively Christian practice (Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan), it is certainly a practice that God has made available for His children to move them further down the road of maturity in their walk w/ Him. As we’ve already seen, fasting was practiced & is taught all throughout the Bible.
- It is a normal practice for Christians.
- Jesus expected that His followers would do it.
o Matthew 9:14-15 – John the Baptist’s followers came to Jesus & asked Him why His disciples didn’t fast like they & the Pharisees did. Jesus answered them & said, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating w/ the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, & then they will fast.”
o Jesus was saying that there was no reason for His disciples to fast b/c He is the Bridegroom & was still w/ them. But when He was gone back into heaven, THEN they would fast as they looked forward to His return.
o That’s US! WE are the followers of Jesus who are looking forward to the Day that He comes back for us. So WE are the ones who are supposed to be fasting in preparation for that awesome event!
o Sandi Patti – “We shall behold Him – Face to face in all of His glory!”
THE RIGHT WAY TO FAST – How do you fast? Is there a right way & a wrong way to do it?
Let’s get practical for a minute: Fasting, by definition, is normally fasting from food for a period of time in order to focus on the Lord in a more intense & intentional kind of way.