Friday, February 7, 2014

The Reward of Fasting.

We generally call a community fast twice a year. I have to admit that I  normally go in asking, "Why are we doing this, again? "but always come out going, "Oh, now I remember why we did this!"

So why do we fast as a church?

In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus speaks very clearly about fasting.  "When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast anoint your head and wash you face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father, who sees what is done in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret will reward you."  

1) We fast because Jesus commanded it. He said, "When you fast," not if.
He also said that while He was with His disciples they would not fast, but when He left they would fast. (Mark 2)
2) We do not fast to win the approval of people. "Do not look gloomy like the Hypocrites, they have received their reward." Neither do we fast to earn God's approval. We already have God's approval through Jesus. Nothing we do could make Him love us more!
3) We fast because there is a great reward in drawing close to Jesus. "Your Father in heaven sees in secret and rewards you."Though few people enjoy fasting, there is a very real reward and that reward is Jesus himself. In fasting, we deny ourselves food in order to feast on the Bread of Life and the  Living Water. Fasting is ultimately feasting on Jesus. Time and time again, people come out of a fast saying, "I may be hungry for food, but Jesus has satisfied and sustained me in a way that no food could."
4) We fast because it is a source of  victory in spiritual warfare. When Jesus was tempted by the devil he fasted.  When Jesus' disciples struggled to deliver a boy of demons, he said, "This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting." Matt 17:21
5) We fast because it is a catalyst for mission Acts13:2 "They were worshipping and fasting and the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have for them.'"

So I urge you all to join us from Monday to Wednesday as we fast together. It's a liquid fast, which means anything from just water, to juice, to soup, or all of the above.
A few practical helps:

a. Be prepared for some dizziness, headache, or nausea in the early stages. Most of our bodies have never gone without food for longer than a few hours.

b. Lead up to and break your fast gradually with meals that are light and easy to digest. Trying to gorge yourself following a fast will only make you sick and will leave you with an unpleasant memory of fasting.

c. Sometime during your fast, mix your fast with prayer, time in Scripture reading, singing, or devotional reading. Remember: fasting is not an end in itself. Seek the Lord, not the experience of fasting. Keep checking your motives concerning your fasts. Hypocrisy and spiritual pride can easily creep in. There is a reward for fasting, but only fasting done with the right motives (Matthew 23:28).

Each day we focus on a common theme, gathering from 6:30 - 7:30pm in the evening to pray through that particular theme together. I've felt going in to this fast that we should focus on the overall theme of Revival, and I will send out a blog each day starting Sunday, to let you know what the next day's focus will be.

I anticipate a deeply rewarding time as we seek the Lord together.

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