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Summary: Message detailing the reasons, responsabilities, and rewards of fasting.

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 ¡ñ We have been walking through Matthew 6 the past three weeks

¡ð focusing on the spiritual disciplines that Jesus talks about in this

passage

¡ð giving, praying, and today . . . fasting.

¡ñ Fasting defined:

¡ð To abstain from food. To eat very little or abstain from certain foods,

especially as a religious discipline

¡ð practice of deliberately and voluntarily abstaining from usual

nourishment, which, when performed in the context of prayer, brings

supernatural power to our prayer

¡ð renouncing the natural to invoke the supernatural

¡ð personal, voluntary humbling of the heart before God that increases

spiritual brokenness

¡ð a commitment to self-control that enables a believer to die to self

¡ð a worship activity that increases spiritual receptivity by creating a

climate in which the holy spirit can speak

¡ñ Don¡¯t you love it how Jesus sort of warms us up to the idea of fasting?

¡ð we can give without being changed ¨C it makes giving easy

¡ð It¡¯s even a little more difficult to pray

¡ð Fasting is probably most costly

¡ð prayer and giving can be token, but fasting always has a price. Missing

a meal is difficult.

One day, my husband announced to the family that he was going to fast and

pray. Ginny, our 5-year-old, had recently learned that fasting meant not eating.

"No!" she shouted. "You can’t fast! You’ll die!" Her dad carefully explained that

many men and women fasted in Bible times. Ginny paused a moment. Then, with

a flash of insight and a note of warning, she proved her point. "And they all

died," she said. Citation: Kathy Cash, Dallas, TX. Today’s Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."

¡ñ fasting is difficult, but it won¡¯t kill you

¡ð The only thing that might die as we fast is our selfish motives and

desires

¡ñ she¡¯s right -- they did all die, but not from fasting! (The following are

individuals who fasted in the Bible

¡ð Moses, Elijah, David, Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah, and, of course, Jesus

- When Jesus started his 40 day fast in Luke 4:1, the bible says he

was ¡°full¡± of the Holy Spirit

- When he completed the fast in 4:14, the word says he returned in

the ¡°power¡± of the Spirit

¡ð think of the victorious lives and the great things that God did through

each of these men, and fasting was a normal part of their lives.

¡ð one more thing (beyond prayer and giving) that helps us develop a

deeper relationship with the father

¡ñ Matthew 6:16-18 (This is a short teaching on fasting compared to the

amount of time that Jesus spent on prayer, so we will supplement it with

Isaiah 58)

¡ñ Three things come to mind as I read those passages:

¡ð reasons for fasting

¡ð responsibilities of fasting

¡ð rewards of fasting

¡ñ Challenge: begin a regular practice (discipline) of fasting while keeping the

reasons, responsibilities and rewards of fasting in mind

¡ð be great to take a church that is full of the HS and let it be empowered

by the spirit

¡ð as you practice these three disciplines, I believe that God will empower

you!

¡ð Eccl. 4:12, ¡°a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.¡±

I. Reasons

16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure

their faces to show men they are fasting. . . 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 . . .

A. The hypocrites would do it out of a sense of duty -- It¡¯s not just about

DUTY:

1. They would look pathetic so others would know that they¡¯re

fulfilling their obligation

2. It is not just to fulfill a religious obligation

Once upon a time, a king ordered a three-day fast throughout the kingdom.

Anyone caught eating was to be struck seven times with a rod. Anyone caught

assisting another in breaking the fast would be shackled to a ball and chain.

After two days, one nobleman, a count, decided he couldn’t hold out. So he

ordered three servants to prepare a meal.

Word leaked to the royal palace that the count and countess were breaking the

fast. The king and queen were furious, and rushed to the count’s home,

bursting in just as dessert was being served. The king growled in a sarcastic

voice, "Is the count full?"

"Yes," declared the queen, pointing to the five offenders and ordering their

punishment. "Ball three and strike two!"

3. We don¡¯t do this to be holier than the next guy (like praying and

giving)

4. It won¡¯t give you a higher position in our church structure

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