Summary: Message about fasting with some great illustrations, details 4 of the main reasons to fast, mentions Jonah.
FAST & THE FURIOUS
A STUDY ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT: PART XXII (FASTING)
INTRO: In 2001, there was a movie made about an undercover cop that infiltrates the hidden underworld of street racing in Hollywood. It was the first movie to feature major Asian automotive imports, and in the end, the top officer lets the bad guy (played by Vin Diesel) to get a way.
TRANSITION: Though none of us will ever street race in Hollywood (you better not), it is important to note that in many ways our lives race much like the hot rods seen in this movie. And that is why we need to…Fast. So let’s take a look at something that is rarely discussed among youth groups.
BIBLE VERSE: Matthew 6:16-18
6:16 “When you fast, do not look sullen like the hypocrites, for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting. I tell you the truth, they have their reward. 6:17 When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
1. WE FASTING TO SHOW OUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD
BIBLE VERSE: Acts 13:2-3
13:2 While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 13:3 Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them off.
There is something powerful about putting our hands on someone, something powerful about praying blessings over people. But ultimately when we pray over someone with hands and send them out, we are giving God our 100% dependence.
FASTING HAS SOME SYMBOLS TO IT:
Bowing one’s head: A sign of humility
Putting on sackcloth/sitting in ashes: A sign sacrifice
But, though these things and others are used to show God we are in submission to Him, fasting is still a heart issue.
Our country pays people thousands of dollars for massages. Has anybody ever had a massage (give some time for answers)? It seems like a great way to relieve stress, and who can complain about having every muscle worked over, nice. But, if whatever is on the inside isn’t fixed, the massage really doesn’t do anything for stress, because the stress will still be there when the massage is over (despite the heavy cost).
“People will pay to fix their stress, but do nothing different to prevent it.”
SADLY, I’M NOT SURE MANY OF US FAST:
I put this post online at facebook. Now I know, not everyone of my friends are Christians, and fewer than that probably saw it. Here is what my 904 friends potentially saw:
“Christians: does anyone have a story I can use for a Bible Study about a time you fasted and God answered your amazing prayer request. Thanks gang.”
Honestly, I thought I would get about 10 answers back right away, a couple of them not exactly what I was looking for, but then use the most extreme one. But after 3 days and 3 posts, only 1 response had come in. Then it dawned on me…maybe people just aren’t fasting.
HOW TO FAST (VERY, VERY BASIC):
1. Decide to Fast.
2. Decide How Long to Fast.
3. When a Meal Comes Up: Read Bible Instead of Eat.
4. When Hunger Arises: Pray Until it Goes Away.
I could go into a tons more details here, but even as Jesus was sending the 12 off, he gave them minimum instruction, so here is the minimum for you. Take a meal or a full day this week or next, and try it. Just see how close you grow to the Lord.
2. WE FASTING TO DEMONSTRATE REPENTENCE FROM SIN
BIBLE VERSE: 1 Kings 21:20-29
21:20 When Elijah arrived, Ahab said to him, “So, you have found me, my enemy!” Elijah replied, “I have found you, because you are committed to doing evil in the sight of the LORD. 21:21 The LORD says, ‘Look, I am ready to bring disaster on you. I will destroy you and cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. 21:22 I will make your dynasty like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah because you angered me and made Israel sin.’ 37 21:23 The LORD says this about Jezebel, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the outer wall of Jezreel.’ 21:24 As for Ahab’s family, dogs will eat the ones who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country.” 21:25 (There had never been anyone like Ahab, who was firmly committed to doing evil in the sight of the LORD, urged on by his wife Jezebel. 21:26 He was so wicked he worshiped the disgusting idols, just like the Amorites whom the LORD had driven out from before the Israelites.)