Summary: How easy is it for a cripple to get up on his own? How easy is it to love our enemies? How easy is to forgive someone who hurt us deeply? Jesus commands us to do all this.
This morning we visit a place called Bethesda. An invalid, crippled, lying on the ground waiting for the miraculous. Jesus says "Do you want to get well?" Some people do not want to get better, they like the attention they get, or possibly the thought of doing anything different scares them. Some are crippled by fear or other such hold backs and don't know they are crippled.
Sometimes religious do's and don'ts cripple us. This man is healed and is commanded to pick up his mat and walk. The day this happens is the Sabbath. Man made Sabbath rules have crippled many. When man takes what God has said further than God intended, man cripples others. As we have seen with other miraculous healings, the one receiving the healing takes Jesus at his word. So should we.
Sometimes when it comes to taking Jesus at his word we hit a wall. How hard is it to love our enemies? How about forgive those who had deliberately hurt us? What about being Holy as God is Holy? There is a great difference between being Holy and being Religious. How hard is it for a cripple to get up and walk? All of these are commands of scripture. Not once but several times Jesus commanded a cripple to get up and walk, Peter did it, Paul did it as well. And God still commands us, spiritually cripple, to get up and walk as He did.
We are very good at being religious, we trod out our list. We go to church, we pray, we read our Bible, we witness (actually we argue), but that is not what God wants us to do. He says "Be Holy as I am Holy" (Leviticus 11:45). Holiness embraces purity and moral integrity. Those called to be God's children are to be like him. The basic idea of holiness in the Bible is that of separation from all that is profane. The developed sense of holiness includes various meanings translated into English as "purify," "sanctify," "separate from," "dedicate," etc. The simplest understanding of holiness is that of loving conformity to God's commands and to his Son. Conforming to God's image not that of the world (Romans 12:1-2).
How hard is this? Just as difficult for a cripple to take up his mat and walk. Yet Jesus commands both. With man, this is impossible, yet with God all things are possible.
Why do we hit these walls in our lives?
Maybe like this man we are waiting for someone else to do something for us.
How many times have we asked someone else to pray for us, yet we did not pray for ourselves?
How many times have we posted a prayer request but not pray for that request ourselves?
This man is waiting for someone else to do something.
Sometimes we keep hitting our wall because we do not know better.
Our walls represent barriers, something we must overcome or something we must go around. It represents barriers that keep us from being all we can be for GOD. So how do we get past this barrier?
The Bible calls us to pray and fast.
The Types of “Fasting”
This week I took a survey, many people answered, some of their answers were different. Some said dedication, some referred to Jesus in the desert. All agreed on one thing, fasting is a deprivation.
One preacher, Dennis Rupert, lists three types of fasting in his sermon on the subject:
The Normal Fast: [This] was the fast on the Day of Atonement [which lasted] from sunset of one day to sunset of the next. So in this type of fast the person abstained from food and liquid for a period of one day […].
The Partial Fast: In this type of fast, the emphasis is placed on restriction of diet, rather than abstaining completely from eating. Examples are: Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego eating only vegetables and drinking only water […].
The Radical Fast: This type of fast is one in which the person refrains from both food and water OR simply food (but not water) for an extended period of time.” (Rupert 2005, no pages)
So the types of fasting we see in the Bible all have to do with abstaining from some or all foods for a certain amount of time.
The Requirements of Fasting
There are very few rules when it comes to fasting, and what you do is really between you and the Lord, but there are some rules.
Refraining or depriving ourselves from food without adding worship and prayer is Dieting
Depriving ourselves of food and water for an extended period of time without adding worship and pray is Hunger Strike.
Therefore depriving of food without replacing it with worship and prayer is not Fasting.