WHET MY APPETITET "To fast or not to fast?! That is the question...
This is a New Year and we have the opportunity to make new choices! We actually have opportunities to make new choices every day - but a new year seems to be a clean slate and a great time to develop new habits. And the fact is that change and growth do not happen without a measure of getting uncomfortable. Here are a few thoughts on changing the way we look at fasting in particular so that we are willing to and even want to risk the uncomfortable because we see what it can produce in us. If we look at this subject from a different perspective, I believe we will become inspired to make this a part of our life…even a regular spiritual discipline. Biblical fasting in it’s purest form is refraining from eating and taking the time and energy that is usually spent in the pursuit of food to invest in tuning in our spirits to the voice of God. It is a choice to hunger for God’s voice more than we hunger for natural food. How on earth could this be inspiring you might ask? I believe fasting coupled with meditative prayer is a tool that causes us to walk in the identity God has fashioned us to live in. Faith believes what God can do; identity believes what God can do through me. And I for one want this shift, don’t you? Presence plus nothing It starts with a hunger. As a people that say we love God, let’s be those that are all in. Those that want God’s presence plus nothing. Those that give up the temporal to pursue and hunger after the eternal. Those that say like Moses the following… In Exodus 33:14-16 Moses is having a conversation with God. “And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I WLL GIVE YOU REST.’And Moses said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here…For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’”Those that say it’s you, God, plus nothing that I need and want in my life!! In my environment. In the world I influence. Because of this cry of my heart, I will choose to fast.
1. It is basic ChristianityJesus assumes we fast. Like a, b, c’s. It is a basic part of a life that wants God’s best. And it comes with a reward. Matthew 6:3, 9, 16 says, “When you give….when you pray….when you fast…”(v.18 “Your Father who knows all secrets will reward you…”)
2. Jesus fasted. He’s our example. Matthew 17:20-21 “Howbeit this kind goes out only by prayer and fasting…” Jesus could deliver a confused and trapped man because He’d spent 40 days praying and fasting.
3. We have a CHOICE. We can say yes or no. I want to be a people who chooses God’s way and the supernatural over natural. Who chooses the impossible and what only can happen if God intervenes instead of what’s possible in our own strength. Hebrews 11:6“WIthout faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him…” Fasting is a decision to diligently seek Him.
4. It positions us TO RECEIVE. GOD DEFENDS ME!! In Esther 4:13-17 we see Mordecai telling Esther… “Don’t think for a moment you will escape…who can say but that you’ve been elevated to the palace for such a time as this.” Esther replies… “Go and gather together…and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I am willing to die.” The result is an amazing lesson in trusting God. The tables were completely turned. The king granted Esther and her people favor. The man who smeared them, twisted the truth about them and had it out against the whole group of them dies. God defended those that sought His intervention through prayer and fasting. What was impossible happened because God did what only He can do.
5. It positions us TO TRUST. GRACE ABOUNDS TOWARDS ME!! In Ezra 8:21-31 we see another example of fasting. “I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that He would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, ‘Our God protects all those who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.’ So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer… (v 31) And the gracious hand of our God protected us and saved us from enemies and bandits along the way.” Again, as God’s people seek Him and relinquish their own methods of dealing with impossible situations, God shows up in astounding ways!! He delivers. He protects. He shows grace. There is no way Ezra and those on the journey with him would have arrived safely and without ann harm on their 4+ month journey through bandit-ridden territory unless the hand of God had protected them! 6. It is RESTING so He can work. GOD FIGHTS FOR ME!! This is such a great story. Another impossible scenario. Huge armies that way outnumber and out power God’s people. In 2 Chronicles 20:3-30 Jehosophat declares a fast because there’s no way they can win against all the armies coming at them. As they seek God, God gives them a strange battle plan - send the singers out in front of the warriors to lead into battle. (v.15) “…Do not be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s… (v.17) But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then STAND STILL and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you. (v. 22) At that moment they began to sing and give praise, THE LORD CAUSED the enemy armies…to turn on each other…Three days to collect the plunder. (v.30) So Jehoshaphat’s kindgom was at peace, for his God had given him REST on every side.” AMAZING!! We seek God, He wars on our behalf. It simply begs to ask the question: who are we trusting in?? Ourselves or God? 7. It comes with PROMISES! Take a read through just a few thoughts from these scriptures in Isaiah. Isaiah 55-58Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink even if you have no money!Listen.Nations will come running to obey.My thoughts are completely different than your thoughts.My ways are higher than your ways.My Word will prosper where I send it. (IS 57:13, 15) WHOEVER TRUSTS IN ME WILL POSSESS THE LAND AND INHERIT MY HOLY MOUNTAIN… I LIVE WITH THOSE WHOSE SPIRITS ARE CONTRITE AND HUMBLE. I REFRESH THE HUMBLE AND GIVE NEW COURAGE TO THOSE WITH REPENTANT HEARTS. Isaiah 58: 11-The Lord will guide you continually.The Lord will water your life when you are dry. The Lord will keep you healthy.You will be like a well-watered garden.You will be like an ever-flowing spring. Your children will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.You will be known as a people who rebuild their walls and their cities. The Lord will be your delight.The Lord will give you great honor.The Lord will give you a full share of the inheritance Jacob was promised.
Personally I’ve noticed that generally as I seek God through prayer and fasting the answer comes differently than I anticiapted. So I have a few questions for us:Will we listen when it comes from a source we don’t appreciate?Or in a way we don’t like?Will we yield when it confronts the way we’ve always done things?Do we want Jesus more than we want to hide behind our defense mechanisms?Will we choose the uncomfortable even if it means revealing the unbelievable in our own lives? So, I believe you see that fasting is useful for many places we find ourselves.Are you feeling dull?FASTAre you feeling worn out?FASTAre you feeling discouraged?FASTAre you feeling overwhelmed?FASTAre you feeling a lack of power? FAST 8. Prepare to Dine with God.God longs to be our intimate friend. We see from the life of Abraham in Sodom and Gommorah an interesting picture. Read Genesis 17-19 and you will notice a few things. God dined with Abraham…then came the promise.Unbelieveable! Would you like God to dine with you? Have you been waiting to receive a promise from God? Notice that when you feed God, God will speak to you. God will declare His promises over you in this intimate place.Also, in this close place of relationship, Abraham was able to intercede for the needs of others. He was given a place of influence so to speak. Fasting positions us to receive from God Himself.
HOW DO I PROCEED?9. Present yourselfRomans 12:1 Present your bodies a living sacrifice…Start with saying yes and responding to the call to fast. 10. Repent Fasting starts with a turning; a repentence from doing things are own way, with our own strength, in our own timing. Instead, it says yes to God’s ways; yes to God’s strength; yes to God’s timing. Let’s be a people who choose to fast, say yes to God, and see God move in each and every impossible situation in our lives! Let’s be a people who’s lives shout that GOD IS GOOD…ALL THE TIME!!
Lord, Cause us to be those who’s hearts are soft. Those who’s hearts are transparent. Those who’s hearts fully trust You. Those who’s hearts yield to what You are wanting. We say YES to you today. We desire to be a people who’s cry is, “More Lord!!”