Go Fast And Live
The Life – part 10
The Practice Of Fasting
QUESTION – what do you want to be when you grow up? Who do you want to do when you grow up?
When Bruce Jenner grew up – he wanted to win a gold medal in the decathlon in the Olympic games. But in 1972 in the games in Munich Jenner finished in 9th place. AND though Jenner had trained hard before Munich, after this poor showing he trained even harder. He trained 7 hours day, 7 days a week for 4 years… AND – because of that training – in 1976 at the games in Montreal, 26 year old Bruce Jenner won the grueling ten day decathlon and was acclaimed the world’s greatest athlete.
Vladimir Sainikov of the Soviet Union was a skinny kid who seemed to be almost constantly sick – but when he grew up he wanted to be a great long distance swimmer… Vladimir would eventually see that dream come true and win Olympic gold and set world records in the 400, 800 & 1500 meter swims. BUT – these accomplishments - did not come without a price. Seven days a week – 365 days a year – Vladimir’s daily routine involved six 500 meter swims before breakfast, an hour of lifting weights in the afternoon, and 6 more 500 meter swims before dinner. Eventually he would lengthen his daily swims to a total of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles a day!).
IN – this country a dream that many young girls have is to an Olympic gymnast. THIS – is how they get there… They wake up in the dark, while most everyone else is still sleeping. When other people’s alarm clocks start ringing, they are already working at the gym. Their concentration is total, even at this early hour. Over and over, they twist and turn their bodies, making sure that each muscle knows exactly what to do. After practicing hundreds of moves, they might head off for a few hours at school, then it’s back to the gym for an afternoon into evening session. Every day except Sunday they put in 5 full hours until 9pm. They run and do conditioning exercises for about an 1/2 hour, then some stretches and basic skills work. Finally they work on their various apparatus rotations, three a day for 70 minutes each. They’re home by 9;45 at the latest, in time for a snack and some studying. Then, it’s bedtime. The next day it starts all over again. And that’s the off season. To prepare for an important competition, world class gymnasts spend even more hours each day perfecting every detail of their performance.
LISTEN – there is one word that underscores all those examples above, and that word is discipline… QUESTION – without his grueling training routine do you think Bruce Jenner would have won the decathlon? If Vladimir Sainikov only swam 2 miles a day would he have seen Olympic gold and set 3 world records? Does a young girl have even a chance at making it to the Olympics if she only shows up to the gym 3 times a week? I THINK – we know the answers to those questions…
SO – what do you want to be when you grow up? who do you want to be when you grow up in your faith?
Do you want to be like; David – standing in a valley, taking out a 10 foot giant; defeating mighty armies for God?
Do you want to be like; Moses boldly standing before the most powerful ruler in the world and telling him – “dude you’d best let God’s people go” - parting seas, bringing down the word to God’s people, leading them…
Do you want to be like; Joshua – ‘strong & courageous; - who led the Israelites across the Jordan River and conquered the promise land…
Do you want to be like; Noah – who keep on hammering nail after nail for 120 years building a boat in the desert, talking all kinds of flax from his neighbors, BUT who didn’t give up because God said it’s going to rain… AND – because of his faithfulness God saved his family.
Do you want to be like; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – 3 men who refused to bow to the image of gold Nebuchadnezzar had set up in the desert… Who said with such confidence – King we are not bowing to that idol – go ahead and toss us into that furnace, and if God wants to he will deliver us – but even if he doesn’t we aren’t going to bow…
Do you want to be like Paul; a soldier for Christ, a man who was beaten, put in prison, betrayed attacked and often was cold hungry and naked… BUT – who said I’m not giving up, I’m in this to the end…For me to live is Christ & to die is gain… a man who still stood strong as they led him to his death at the edge of an axe.
QUESTION – do you want to be like these people who when they grew up – lived faithfully and victoriously for God?
OR – do you want to be like, King Saul – who started out good, but because of envy and jealousy destroyed his life and died on the battlefield by taking his own life…
Or do you want to be like Solomon – the wisest man in the world, the son of king David, wrote 3 books of the bible – BUT who died with his back turned away from God because of wine, women and wealth…
Or do you want to be like Judas – a man who left everything to follow Jesus and who walked with God in the flesh for 3 years, a man heard Jesus speak, saw him raise the dead, heal the lame and walk on water…. BUT – who betrayed Jesus and took his own life by hanging himself…
Or do you want to be like Demas – a man who traveled with Paul as Paul took the gospel throughout the world – BUT who deserted both Paul and the faith because he loved the world.
Or do you want to be like The people the Hebrew writer addresses in his 10th chapter; men & women who stopped going to church, who keep on sinning & sinning, living the way that they wanted to live, who fell into the hands of the living God – which the Hebrew writers says is a dreadful thing…
Or do you want to be like the people at the end of the age - who call Jesus Lord, even did some things in his name – but who refused to do the will of the father – and who hear the most dreadful & terrifying words of all – ‘depart from me I never knew you…
SO – who do you want to be when you grow up?
QUESTION – do think that when King Saul was little he said when I grow up I want to let jealousy and envy eat me and I want to take my life own the battlefield. Do you think Judas when he grew up wanted to hand the messiah over to be murdered and then commit suicide?
The apostle Paul knew that some times the line is very thin that separates those who win from those who fall – and that is way he wrote these words and lived the way we see described in 1 Cor chapter
“In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not shadow boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should not what it wants to. Other wise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and order to stand aside.” 1 Cor 9:24-27 (LB)
LISTEN – the thing that separates the faithful from the faithless is discipline… QUESTION – when you grow up do you want to be a man or women of great faith? UNDERSTAND – it will not and does not happen automatically….
AND – practicing the spiritual disciplines, the holy habits that we are talking about in this series called, “The Life,” will ensure that the life you live is one of victory and faith… Who, what - do you want to be when you grow up…
This morning’s message is entitled; “Go fast & live…” AND – let me tell you, I found the preparation for this message to be; difficult, different and exciting.
It was difficult because it is a SD that is not really talked about that much. I have been a Christian for 23 years, I have sat in hundreds of bible studies and sermons, I spent 4 years at bible college, and I have never once heard one sermon or one class dedicated to this subject. AND – I haven’t help matters any because I have only taught on it one time – in one bible study in 11 years of full time ministry.
It was different because of all the disciplines that we have studied so far and will study this is the one discipline that I have no real personal experience in. It is a discipline that on the few times I have attempted to practice it – I have pretty much done it in ignorance.
AND – preparing for this message was exciting – (and to be honest it wasn’t very exciting to me until early Friday morning) – And to be honest Friday morning before I did my QT – rather than using the word exciting I probably would have used the word stressful… YOU SEE - though I had spent many hours reading about and researching the topic – I had very little on paper and I was really feeling the sermon crunch…
BUT – during my QT it just so happened the passage I read in Ezra had God’s people practicing this very discipline… SO - at about 7 am an excitement began to grow in me that overrode my stress BECAUSE – I realized that I was about to open up a door, I was about to uncover another spiritual discipline that would draw me closer to my lord & savior… that would help to live in faith & victory as I grew up…
This morning we are to talk about the practice of biblical fasting… Not fasting to lose weight or to detox your body – but fasting, going without food for a period of time for a specific spiritual purpose…
NOW – in culture where nearly every street corner is dotted with shrines to the Golden and Arches and an assortment of pizza Temples, fasting seems out of place and out of step with the times… Food itself has become an idol… We don’t just like food we love food. As one writer say, “We are a people of stuffed lips and we live among a people of stuffed lips.”
Mark Buchanan in his book, Your God Is To Safe, had this to say about our ‘unhealthy’ appetite for food;
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity has a chapter on the Christian view of sex and sexuality. One line floored me. Lewis said that sex is, in one sense an appetite. And like all appetites it should be fed in healthy ways, but not titillated, indulged or gorged. Then Lewis says that one sign that our sexual appetites are totally out of bounds is the growing phenomenon – he was writing in the 1940;s – of striptease shows. Here is the line that floored me: “Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate onto the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let everyone see…that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?”
I read those words in the mid-eighties, when one of the advertisements frequently aired on television was an item of food – I don’t remember what – that was unveiled to an audience in exactly the same manner Lewis describes.
Would you not think in that country something was wrong with the appetite for food? Our preoccupation with food has entered the realm of the absurd. For example look at any magazine – page after page of succulent, sauce laden, sparkling, glistening food. It’s kind of culinary pornography. McDonalds golden arches and Coca Cola’s logo are likely more widely recognized symbols worldwide, and certainly more accepted, than the cross of Christ…
LISTEN – our obsession with food and the lack of teaching this topic - has made fasting something that most believers think is really pretty irrelevant. MOST THINK – that fasting is for ‘religious fanatics,’ monks, and maybe for a pastor here or there - BUT that it has absolutely nothing to do with them…
BUT UNDERSTAND – The Bible has a lot to say about fasting and that is why it makes sense - to take a look at the ancient discipline. The list of people in the bible who practiced fasting is like a “Who’s Who” list of Scripture. Moses the lawgiver, David the King, Elijah the prophet, Esther the queen, Daniel the prophet and lion tamer, Anna the prophetess, Paul the apostle and Jesus Christ the son of God…. OKAY – let’s dive into our study… You’ll notice in your outline that I have arranged this message around 6 statements… My goal this morning is twofold - teach you some stuff about biblical fasting and encourage you to embrace this discipline in your life…
Fasting In The Bible…
UNDERSTAND - there are numerous examples of God’s people fasting throughout the bible…
When Moses went up to the top of thundering Mt Sinai to receive from God the 10 commandments he stayed up on that mountain and he fasted for 40 days & 40 nights;
In Judges chapter 20; the Israelites were camped at Bethel – and they sat there weeping. YOU SEE - they faced a difficult thing and needed God’s direction. Because of a great sin committed by the tribe of Benjamin – it looked like they had to go to war with their own brothers… SO – they fasted and asked the Lord what to do… AND God told them to go against their brothers, and that he would give them into their hands…
When the prophet Elijah hit a wall in his spiritual life, when he was what we called to today, burned out and depressed… When he just could go or do any more… He went out into the desert and fasted for 40 days, waiting for God to show up in a still small voice… (1 Kings 19)
In 2 Chronicles chapter 20 a huge army launched a massive attack against Jerusalem. The people of God were out gunned and out numbered… There seemed to be no way, they were afraid, it seemed hopeless… SO - King Jehoshaphat – proclaimed a fast for all of Judah. AND – from every town the people of Judah came together fasting and seeking help from the Lord… (do you think God helped them? Great story check it out this week)
In the book of Esther – an wicked man by the name of Haman has skillfully worked a plan that would allow him to kill his most hated enemy - every single Jewish person alive… Esther – 3:13 reads; “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews – young and old, women and little children – on a single day, the 13th day of the 12th month of Adar and to plunder their goods.”
The clock was ticking – it could not get any darker among God’s people (think about it…). The Persian Queen Esther who was also an Israelite, was asked to go to the King and intervene… AND – at first Esther was too afraid to go (because if the King did not ask for her to come – their was a good chance he would have her killed… you could not walk into his presence uninvited). SO – she sent back word to her uncle Mordecai, “I really don’t think it’s a good idea for me to talk to the king he hasn’t asked for me in weeks…” In Esther 4;12-17 we read;
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
When Ezra was about to return to Jerusalem… The temple had already been rebuilt but the people desperately needed instruction on obeying the word of God. In Ezra 8:21-23 we read;
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
In Acts chapter 13 Paul & Baranbas are about to be sent out on their first missionary journey. They are leaving Antioch and are going to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the entire gentile world. AND – before the church sent them off they worshipped, and they fasted…
AND – there are many other examples of fasting in the bible…
Jonathan fasted because he was trouble by his father’s hatred of David (1 Sam 20:34)
After Jonathan and Saul were killed in battle – David and his men fasted… (2 Samuel 1;12)
David fasted after the great warrior Abner was murdered and when seeking God’s mercy concerning his sick son (2 Sam 12:16)
Ahab fasted as an act of humility and repentance before the Lord (1 Kings 21:27)
The nation of Nineveh fasted after the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:4-10)
Nehemiah fasted when he heard about the terrible condition of Jerusalem (Ne 1:4)
Anna Fasted as an act of worship (Lk 2;37)
Jesus fasted for 40 days before he began his ministry. (Mt 4)
Paul fasted after he meet Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9)
Barnabas fasted when faced with the task of appointing church leaders… (Acts 14:23)
FASTING – was a common practice of God’s people throughout the pages of Scripture…
What Jesus Said About Fasting…
IN – His sermon on the mount Jesus said;
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. - Matthew 6:16-18
The key phrase I want you to consider in this passage appears 2 times and it is the phrase; “When you fast…” Jesus when he talked about fasting he didn’t say if you fast... he said when you fast.... YOU SEE - Jesus just assumed that God’s people we would be regularly involved in the spiritual disciplines. NOTICE – again that He didn’t say in the highly unlikely event that one or two of you would try something as strange as fasting.... he said when you fast here’s what I’d like you to do,
ANOTHER - passage where Jesus addresses the subject of fasting is in the Matthew 9;
Then John’s disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
Jesus said that while He was walking the earth – while God the Son was here in the flesh; it was not a time to fast but to feast… LATER - when the bridegroom goes away to prepare a place for them as he told his disciples in John 14:1 – AND UNTIL Jesus our bridegroom returns there will be times when fasting will be the appropriate thing for us to do - in our pursuit of God and godliness… BUT – on the day the bridegroom returns and makes all things new there will no longer be any reason to fast.. LISTEN - when the church, the bride, is once again in His presence it will be a time not to fast, BUT a time to feast – and to feast for all eternity!!!
Jesus – assumed that we would occasionally fast until he returns….
Fasting Is Not A Command…
In fact – even during the times of the Old Covenant – there was only one time when God’s people were commanded to fast. And it had to do with the day of Atonement. In Leviticus 16:29, Moses commanded the people to observe a fast on the Day of Atonement. AGAIN – no where else in the OT do we find a command from God concerning fasting. NOW - the Day of Atonement was established as a time when the Israelites were to recognize their sinfulness and separation from God. It was to be a day of humbling themselves before God and seeking His forgiveness.
“On this day atonement will be made for you, and you will be cleansed from all your sins in the Lord’s presence. It will be Sabbath day of total rest, and you will spend the day in fasting. This is a permanent law for you.” - Lev 16:30,31 (NLT)
AND SINCE – there is no more day of atonement as seen in Leviticus – Jesus took care of atonement – making away for sins to be paid for, once and for all on the cross – there is now no command for God’s people to fast…
BUT UNDERSTAND – though fasting was only commanded once in the Old Covenant – as we saw earlier there were numerous occasions when God’s people voluntarily abstained from food for spiritual purposes… AND – God many times showed up in response…
AND LISTEN - though fasting s not commanded at all in the New Testament - we still see numerous occasions in the NT were Christ followers, voluntarily fasted…. Several times in the book of Acts Luke’s account of the history of early church… And the apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 11:27 that he fasted often… (though it may be hard for you to find in your bible – only the KJV and the NKJV accurately translate the Greek word here for fast the right way).
NO – fasting is not a command BUT it is an awesome opportunity….
Richard J. Foster writes, “Perhaps it is best to avoid the term ‘command’ since in the strictest sense Jesus did not command fasting. But it is obvious that He proceeded on the principle that the children of the kingdom of God would fast. For the person longing for a more intimate walk with God, these statements of Jesus are drawing words” (Celebration of Discipline).
Different Types Of Fasts…
In the bible we see different types of fasts….
Normal Fast – this is where you abstain from food, but not water. Some examples: Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:34); David (2 Samuel 3:35); Jesus (Matthew 4; Luke 4)
Absolute Fast— this is where you abstain from both food and water. In scripture, this was used primarily for spiritual emergencies. Some examples: Moses (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9, 18); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); Ninevites (Jonah 3:7); Exiles in Persia (Esther 4:16); Ezra (Ezra 10:6); Saul (Acts 9:9).
A Partial/Daniel-type Fast— this is where you abstain from certain foods, generally rich foods, and living on a simple diet. Classically, it means cutting out meats, fish, poultry, dairy products and desserts. But it could describe any other partial fast. You can obviously do this type of fast indefinitely. Example: Daniel (10:3).
Lengths; In the bible we also fasting for different periods of time;
One day fasts - usually sunrise to sunset (Judges 20:26; 1 Sam 14:24; 2 Sam 1:12; 2 Sam 3:35)
[some recommend lunch – lunch]
3 day fasts - Esther, Saul (Acts 9:9)
7 day fasts - (1 Samuel 14:24; 2 Samuel 1:12; 3:35)
40 day fasts – (Moses, Elijah and Jesus)
UNDERSTAND - the length and type of fast is really up to you – and what you feel the Lord is leading you to do…
Reasons Not Too Fast…
To Be Seen By Men
Let me remind you what Jesus said in the sermon of the mount… In Matthew 6, but this time I’d like to read it from the Message Bible…
“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you go into training inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing..”
LISTEN – when the Pharisees fasted they did it to be seen by men… They would intentionally not shave, shower or comb their hair, I mean - they’d get up with a serious case of bed head r and then walk around and look like they’ve been dragged behind a mule. And someone would say hey there’s someone who looks like they’re fasting.... what a spiritual man or woman that must be... and it was just to be seen by men…
And so Jesus says look I know you’re going to fast... because if you’re going to want to grow you’re going to fast and do other spiritual disciplines.... but when you do fast don’t grand stand.... don’t let anyone know you’re fasting. Do it in secret. Fast for an audience of one.... and your Father who sees in secret, will richly reward you because it’s a sign of a pure heart that wants to grow.
NOW - I think it’s important to point out, though, that Jesus did not say that your fast is invalid if others find out. UNDERSTAND – Jesus is talking about your motive for fasting. It’s funny to me that some people have turned this teaching into some superstition on a par with making a birthday wish. You know how it goes…you make a wish, blow out the candles, and as long as you don’t tell anyone what you wished for, your wish will come true. LISTEN, don’t fast so that others will know. Do what you can to keep it between you & God. BUT if others find out you’re fasting that does not nullify the sanctity of your fast. But fasting so that others will be impressed has no value whatsoever…
To Strong Arm God…
LISTEN - Fasting is not a hunger strike… We are not too fast thinking that by fasting – God will or is obligated to give us whatever we want. I want this thing in my life or I want to see this happen SO I will fast and then God will have to give me what I want.. LISTEN – fasting is not a means where we control and manipulate God.
In Isaiah chapter 58; we see God’s people fasting not for spiritual purposes BUT to get some thing from God… CHECKOUT – these powerful verses;
Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to hear my laws. You would almost think this was a righteous nation that would never abandon its God. They love to make a show of coming to me and asking me to take action on their behalf. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. `Why aren’t you impressed? We have done much penance, and you don’t even notice it!’ "I will tell you why! It’s because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting. You keep right on oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind. You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? - Isaiah 58:1-5 (NLT)
LISTEN – if we are fasting to strong arm God – to get what we want – it is not going to work… we might as well go out to an all you can eat buffet…
A 3rd reason not to fast is to;
To Earn God’s Forgiveness…
We are not to fast thinking that the very act of fasting itself will make us right with God…LISTEN -
Fasting is not a payment for, or a punishment of sin. The physical act of fasting itself does not make us right with God….
UNDERSTAND – that God is not looking for an act, BUT for ma condition of the heart… Last week when we talked about the practice of confessing our sins to another believer. We talked about David’s sin and his confession in Psalm 51.
“You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” - Psalm 51:16,17
4th don’t fast;
If You Have No Goal Or Purpose…
BECAUSE – if that is the case that your fast is just an empty ritual, mere mechanics… Don’t fast just fast. Don’t do it just to do it. AND - don’t fast UNLESS you are sincerely praying and seeking the face of God.
AGAIN – if there is no spiritual purpose or goal to your fast – you’d be better off ordering a pizza….
The last statement in your outline is;
Reasons To Fast…
OKAY – I want to briefly list 10 reasons for fasting… 10 times when a biblical may be a good idea.
You Want To Recapture Your Hunger For God
I believe that most of us here share a deep desire to be more intimate, more devoted to God. But something gets in the way of that devotion. LISTEN – here is the problem, the desire we all have to give our hearts to God is shared with a desire for things… YOU SEE - we keep ourselves stuffed with other things. We are so full on food & entertainment, that we have no appetite left for God.
NOW - is there something wrong with food or moral entertainment? Of course not… but because these things are not bad, we often don’t realize that they can be to blame for our lack of hunger for God. AND UNDERSTAND - it is not our feasting with the wicked that typically robs us of our hunger for God, but rather the constant nibbling at the table of the world that leaves us so full that we have no appetite left for God. [I experience this every Thanksgiving. I nibble all day long… so much so that when the main meal comes, I don’t really enjoy it.]
AGAIN - what we are nibbling on, computers, investing, TV, surfing the web, work, shopping, exercising, talking on the phone, home repair, and even our Christian work, are all fine, BUT what happens is we have so much of them – that we are not really that hungry when the main meal comes – a relationship with God… ‘I’m feeling pretty content right now – I’ll just take a small serving of God..’
Fasting is that discipline which tries to recapture our hunger for God. It says to God, I am willing to forgo anything in order to be in your presence. Fasting expresses that passion to know Him more. Some time after Moses watched the Lord part the Red Sea, he said to the Lord, “I want to see your glory”. My goodness, Moses, you saw the glory of the Lord when the Lord closed the waters, delivering you from the Egyptian armies! But for Moses, the only glory that He really wanted was to rest in the presence of God. Moses was still hungry for more God.
A 2nd reason to fats is when;
You Desire To Expose Your Heart
UNDERSTAND - Fasting brings to the surface that which is deep down, the things we hide from ourselves with large does of McDonald fries, chocolate and Mountain Dews. Fasting helps us to uncover what is really inside. For example, if you are one who eats in order to feel better OR to forget, then the absence of food will make that clear. Fasting can reveal to us just how much pain, pride, or anger is inside of us.
Mark Buchanan writes;
“Fasting churns the stuff up from the depths. Is there anger in me? I can usually control that with a burger and fries Am I resentful, irritated, overly ambition, fearful? I can smoother that with pizza. Am I depressed or embittered, suffering from a sense of life’s unfairness? I can artificially perk myself up with a Mars bar.”
WE do that at times – use food to deal with life…
LISTEN - If we had a terrible morning… the one thing that might get us by was knowing that we were going out to lunch. But, all of a sudden you realize that you are fasting. SO - you are forced to consider another way of dealing with your feelings. A guy named Piper writes of fasting, “humbly and quietly, with scarcely a movement, she brings up out of the dark places of my soul the dissatisfactions in relationships, the frustrations of the ministry, the fears of failure, the emptiness of wasted time. And just when my heart begins to retreat to the delicious hope of eating supper at Pizza Hut, she quietly reminds me: not tonight.”
UNDERSTAND - hunger strips away the disguise. Hunger forces out the real issue. Fasting will test us and make us face honestly, what is really in our heart.
Sorrow Over Sin
NOW – as I said earlier today, we don’t fast to make a payment for our sin or to punish ourselves for what we have done wrong… BUT fasting because we are devastated and sorry for our is not a bad idea..
When Jonah finally got around to preaching in Nineveh, the Ninevites believed God. The bible says; "They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth." Sackcloth was a rough, coarse cloth or baglike garment that was worn as a symbol of repentance.
Fasting can be for us a means of wearing the sackcloth. It is a way to enter into mourning over the sins that separate us from God and required the Father to send the Son to the cross on our behalf. Fasting provides a great opportunity for repentance, putting off the old self and putting on the new.
A 4th reason to fast is to;
Remind Yourself Of Your Dependency On God
AND – LISTEN we really need that in Gwinnett County. In this country we pride ourselves on our independence. We don’t need anyone to take care of us we can take of ourselves… We got our jobs, our insurance and our 401 k’s.
Fasting is meant to humble us… to make us understand HOW weak, small, needy, hopeless and frail we really are. Fasting opens up our eyes to as one writer says, ‘our own stark-naked neediness, our daily dependence.’ LISTEN UNLESS God in his mercy provides manna for this day – we are in trouble… UNLESS – he keeps the sun shining, the rain raining, the farmers farming, the earth spinning - we will have nothing to eat…
LISTEN – our affluence and prosperity – God faithfulness to us blinded us to our need for him. We have become cocky too big for our britches..
AND REMEMBER – humility is a very good thing….
“Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will life you up.” James 4:10
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Pe 5:5
To Improve The Self-Discipline In Your Life
“Like a city without walls is a man who lacks self-control…” Pr 25:28
QUESTION – do you have self control…?
DO YOU – agree with the bible that many times it is your inability to control your flesh that gets you into trouble? Your flesh is willing TO SIN, but your sprit is weak…
LISTEN – fasting is an excellent way to build up again the walls of self-control in your life… When we fast our spirit reminds our flesh that he is in charge.
“Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it do to what it should, not what it wants to…” 1 Cor 9:27
A 6th reason to fast is;
When You Need A Spiritual Breakthrough
QUESTION - Is there a sin in your life that you just can’t shake lose of?
Is there an attitude you just can seem to let go?
Is there a negative, depressing, funk that you can’t get rid of?
Is there some kind of spiritual wall that you just can’t break through?
LIKE – God’s people in 2 Chron 20 has a spiritual enemy has you surrounded…
MANY times fasting can get you a spiritual breakthrough (not strong arming God)
OKAY - The last 4 reasons I am just going to list because of time…
A Reason to fast is when;
A love one is sick
You need some direction from God
You Are About to start A New Ministry For The Lord
You Long To See God’s Power Move Among Hiss People (The Church)