Summary: Encouragement to get involved in the spiritual discipline of fasting.
TEXT: Mark 9:17-29
INTRO: Jesus’ disciples were able to do many miraculous things by the authority they had in His Name but when they came to this demon-possessed man they couldn’t set him free. Jesus told them the reason they couldn’t set him free was because some spiritual breakthroughs only come through prayer and fasting.
PROPOSITION: God expects fasting to be a regular part of the Believer’s life.
INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE: Why is fasting so important?
TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE: There are several reasons that fasting is important and in my estimation of Scripture, so critical in the life of the Believer.
I. FASTING IS A MEANS OF HUMBLING OURSELVES (why should we do it?)
A. TRUE HUMILITY GETS GOD’S ATTENTION
1.) 1 Pet 5:5-6 "be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
a- I believe this is one of the most important verses in the Bible
b- God resists or opposes those who do not walk in humility.
c- The only way to get any where with God is through true humility
2.) He gives grace to the humble
a- Fasting is a supernatural means of truly humbling ourselves
b- I’m sure we all would agree that it takes a lot of grace to make it through life.
c- Sometimes when our back is against the wall and life is extremely hard, we need an even greater measure of God’s grace.
d- That’s exactly what had happened in Ezra ch. 8 when Ezra called the people of God to a fast.
B. TRUE HUMILITY MOVES GOD TO ACTION.
We can learn a lot from Ezra’s example in Ezra 8
1.) Ezra realized their desperate need and he knew where to find the answer
a- He also knew that the only way to get God’s full attention and assistance was through true humility.
b- "then I proclaimed a fast...that we might humble ourselves before God." Ezra 8:21
2.) We don’t fast to get God’s attention like twisting someone’s arm until they scream out in pain and give us what we want
a- However, fasting (from a sincere heart) most definitely does get God’s attention!
3.) When we face hardship and attacks in our lives, instead of crying, whining and complaining to everyone
a- why not fast and see God work on our behalf like He did for Ezra and the Israelites?
C. TRUE HUMILITY IS THE PATHWAY TO GOD’S BLESSING
1 Pet 5:6 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,"
1.) How many of you know that God’s way is always the best way?
a- yet so often, when we come into a difficult situation instead of humbling ourselves we cry, whine, complain, scheme and manipulate to try and change things.
2.) Ezra said that he could’ve cried to the king and whined to him for help
a- but that would’ve ruined their testimony
b- and they would’ve dishonored God
c- Ezra 8:22-23 "For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, "The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him. So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer."
II. FASTING IS EVIDENCE OF TRUE REPENTANCE (why true repentance?)
A. TRUE REPENTANCE GAINS GOD’S MERCY AND FORGIVENESS
1.) Joel 2:12 "Now, therefore," says the LORD, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning."
a- God wants to see that we really mean business and that we’re not just playing games or acting out of sheer emotion
b- That we’re really serious about pleasing Him
c- Evidence of true repentance is the person who completely yields himself to God with fasting, weeping and mourning.
2.) Joel 2:13-14 "So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him-- a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?"
a- God requires true repentance, not a momentary display of emotion
b- Fasting is a supernatural means of true, heartfelt, lasting repentance.
c- He earnestly beckons us to come to Him with true repentance so He can demonstrate to us His mercy and forgiveness and grace
B. TRUE REPENTANCE GIVES US POWER OVER THE FLESH
1.) Jesus warns us to watch and pray because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
a- Many times we know we need to repent for our own sins and for the sins of our nation.