Thoughts and Observations of a Minister

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fasting

A “Fast” MessageIs. 58:6-8
. DefinitionFasting=a voluntary withdrawing from food and/or drink, or other fleshly appetite, for a specified period of time.

First mention of a fast in scripture is Ex. 34:28(law of 1st mention)27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel. 28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
You may have noticed it said he didn’t eat OR drink…don’t anybody go and try that! That is a human impossibility apart from divine intervention…some have worked up to a 40 day fast from food, but no one could survive 40 days w/ no drink…this was a miracle!Jesus began His earthly ministry w/ prayer and fasting.Mt. 4:1-2—a 40 day fast Jesus completed!Jesus taught His disciples to fastMt. 6:1616 Moreover when (not if) ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance…Though fasting is never commanded, Jesus assumed that the disciples would want to in order to see great things happen!But it’s not something a Christian has to do, but can choose to do…not many guidelines given in scripture about fasting, either!Normal fast is no food, only liquids like water, juice, etc…it can last for 1 day (judges 20:26—1 day fast)That’s a good place to start!3 day fast (Paul did this right after getting saved)
In the partial fast you omit certain foods for a while, but not others.Dan. 1—he and 3 Hebrew children did a partial fast, and at the end were stronger and healthier than those eating what they wanted.Elijah did this on 2 occasions/John Wesley was well known for going days on end eating only bread and water/some give up meats for a time, eating only vegetables/just skipping a meal to spend time in prayer would be another example of a partial fast

II. Purpose of fasting:A way to seek God by denying the physical in order to focus on the spiritual……for this reason prayer and fasting must always go together
II Chron. 20: 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.Ezra 8: 23 So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.Nehemiah 1 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, 1 Corinthians 7 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer when we fast it ought to be from ALL physical desires, not just food!Let go of the physical, focus on the spiritual!

God’s 9 main purposes for fasting: Is. 581. Fasting to get freedom from addictionsv. 6 “loose the bands”
2. Fasting to solve problems“undo heavy burdens” (v. 6)
3. Fasting for revival and soul winningv. 6 “let oppressed go free
4. Fasting to conquer mental and emotional problemsv. 6 “break every yoke
5. Fasting to meet the physical needs of othersv. 7 “deal”=share…to cut back once in a while and give that food or $ to feed the poor
6. Fasting for clearer insight in decision-makingDifferent that problem-solving. 8 “light break forth”…it’s like God turns on the lights and now you know what to do!
7. Fasting for health reasons or healingHave a loved one that’s terminal? Get serious and fast for them! When there’s no hope from a human perspective, put it in God’s hands…it may be His will to honor that.v. 8 “thy health shall spring forth speedily”
8. Fasting for a more righteous life and influential testimonyv. 8 “thy righteousness shall go before thee”
9. Fasting for the glory of the Lord, to protect us from the evil onev. 8b “rearward”=protection

Mt. 17:16-21I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

(II Sam. 3:35—Abner died, David fasted)
Most of us live to eat…few eat to live! When we get serious w/ God, He gets serious w/ us!

IV. Potential Dangers of Fasting
Attempting to manipulate God w/ our fastingvv. 1-9 Israel was living wickedly, but they would fast for things they wanted, but then when their fasting didn’t produce the desired results, they’d get mad w/ God and say, well, a lot of good it does to fast! God rebukes them here for fasting incorrectly…trying to appease a God angry w/ their sin!Fasting is meant to change our circumstances…and to change US, not to change God!Ill.—worship: why does God demand it…ego? No, He doesn’t require worship for what it does for Him, but for what it does for US!He’s not more holy or righteous because we worship Him…the rocks would cry out if we don’t!
B. Attempting to impress others w/ our fastingMt. 6—desire for people to know how “pious” you are. D. Becoming prideful about fasting

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