I Peter1:13-16 (NLT)
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
It’s that time of year again! Each January, we spend 21 days of fasting generally using the guidelines outlined in Daniel 1. Daniel and the other Hebrew men did not want to defile their bodies eating the diet mandated by the king. In those days before Jesus Christ, the Law of Moses defined what a Jewish person should and should not eat. Thank God for His Grace that allows us to eat anything we want right?! The chief of staff was concerned that by only eating vegetables that the health of his wards might decline bringing the wrath of the king upon him. So Daniel suggested that he allow them to do it for ten days. At the end of the ten days, the men were “healthier and better nourished” then all the others. So after that, they were allowed to continue to eat only the vegetables. God gave these men an unusual aptitude and knowledge. Hence the “Daniel Fast” was conceived and born. When I first wake up, like many addicted people, I check my phone to wake up. Our fast does not begin for a couple of days and I am considering breaking this habit so pray for me. As I scrolled through Facebook, I came across the status of a preacher who is one of many that I follow. (See I try to make it at least somewhat spiritual and not just social.) In fact, if you “like” the right things they will bring you daily encouragement and spiritual guidance less I digress. I respect this person otherwise his updates would not show up on my feed. He is a pastor and leader of the flock. However, I was somewhat shocked to read his rebuke of the “Daniel Fast”. He went on to refute fasting as not part of the New Covenant. I went from just about to be offended to sadness for my brother in Christ. Fasting has changed my life. Fasting produced this blog and every single entry as I surrendered my time to the Lord. Fasting is like tithing, both are Old Testament mandates that require some of our time, talent and treasure. To say that fasting is Old Covenant means that tithing is too! Now how many preachers are going to preach that on any given Sunday but to not encourage fasting and prayer among the brethren is to rob the Body of Christ of so much more. Why do I fast? To give God greater access in my life. To think clearly. Exercise self-control. Look forward – farther. Live as God’s Obedient Child. Be “holy” in everything that I do even if I only can do it one tiny step at a time.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Fasting makes me think about God more and evaluate my life including my body, mind and spirit. This is important as the world infiltrates every part of our life to take control. It begins with our mind. If the enemy can convince you to fear, then faith will be forfeited which is necessary to secure every single promise and blessing that God has for you. You will not obtain them any other way but by faith in the Lord. You must be convinced that He is able to do everything that He has promised. Fasting requires purpose. What is the purpose of your fast this year? I have decided to give up worrying and to instead pray about everything. I will let you in on a little secret, this is what I strive for every year. With each baby step of faith achieved in fasting, I have been able to experience more and more of God’s Peace. I need the Peace of God in my life, don’t you? You will ever fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable without conscious effort because the world is just too loud and overwhelming without the assistance of the Lord when it comes to guarding your heart and mind. Fasting puts my mind back in the Word and renews my focus on “putting into practice” all that I have learned and “received from Me!” God wants us to have His Peace. We can have the Mind of Christ. Fasting helps me think clearly because I am focused completely on God if not all year at least for this designated amount of time. It aligns my thoughts with the One who is able to do more than I think or ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) It is offering my mind to the transforming Power of God to clear my mind of the clutter keeping me from God’s Best to promote faith that allows me to have every single promise. (Romans 12:2) It is a time to capture all the rebellious thoughts building up that have convinced us that God’s Best is not for us to promote a lifestyle of prayer that will turn to the Lord first for a change and no longer as a last resort. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) Through fasting, I turn off the noise and listen for the still small voice. If I give up a meal, a week or two of social media, or turn off the television it is a huge victory for the Kingdom as I give God a little more of my time to convince me that He is Good, He is faithful and that every blessing He has is for me!
Galatians 5:22-24 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
The Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness in our life. He also produces patience and self-control which are probably the two most difficult for the Church today. There is a gross lack of commitment that keeps us from waiting on God and attempting to reproduce our own spirituality called religion. The Holy Spirit is a product of our relationship with Jesus Christ. He has a job to do that we hinder by picking and choosing what we want from the Lord rather than submitting all of our life to His Production. Jesus Christ nailed our passions and sinful desires to the Cross. Fasting challenges the secret ones that we hold on to in an attempt for them to make it to the Cross, too. Our flesh rebels. We let it. Self-control cuts all ties with sin. (Proverbs 5:22-23) It is important in the process of responding to God’s Promises for our life. (2 Peter 1:5-7) Faith grows where self-control is promoted. Grace does not excuse our connection to sin but cuts it at the quick. You are free to leave sin behind and become a new creation. How’s that going for you? Fasting allows us to cut ties with those things that challenged our faith in the previous year to seek greater fulfillment this year! Jesus understood the challenged we faced. (Matthew 26:40-41) He told Peter, “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!” My flesh is weak. It wants to give up when I exercise. It complains when I eat right. It hollers when I try to pray rather than complain. Fasting gives the Holy Spirit a chance to develop self-control so that I can respond to all God’s Best affirmatively.
Isaiah 58:8-9 (NLT)
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!”
Fasting focuses on forever and not just today. Godliness leads us forward while human thinking keeps us in today and this very moment that too shall pass. As we move forward by focusing ahead and not behind, the past gets washed away in the sea of forgetfulness completely covered by the Blood. It will remove the heavy yoke of oppression that the devil harnessed you with thinking that you will never be good enough for God now you will see that God is just that Good! We must move from the temporary and set into the Eternal to have the things of God. (Isaiah 58:11-12) We must learn to look ahead to what God is doing rather than back at what we have messed up. We are “temporary residents” here. (I Peter 2:11-12) Why do we invest so much time, worry and effort in building a better life now rather than moving closer to our Lord and Savior? Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:26) We live here as nomads so why do we strive to build a better life and not a god-like one? Abraham understood this mentality and by faith was always on the move. He was after the Promised Land not just the land God promised him. (Hebrews 11:8-10) Fasting allows us to detach from this life we hold most dear to tap into a Kingdom that will last forever. Fasting dispels worry as faith reminds us that there are better days ahead no matter how well things are going now! (Matthew 6:25-33) I must learn to live for forever and not just for today even if I only claim this ground 21 days a year.
Philippians 2:12-13 (NLT)
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
The results of my salvation are demonstrated in committed obedience to the Lord every single day of my life. Fasting promotes obedience in the face of violent opposition. You will realize in the first few days just how strong your will and sinful nature have become. Jesus Christ lived a life of obedience to God. (Philippians 2:6-10) The grace that He provided allows me to strive to live according to His Example without the death penalty when I fall short. He has given me His Spirit to assist me in this endeavor. Grace in no way allows for disobedience to God. You must obey the Lord as His Child…let me phrase it differently as His Child why wouldn’t you want to please the Father you love? Fasting and prayer are connected. (Hebrews 5:7-9) Fasting is a part of repentance as we remove the obstacles that keep us from God’s Perfect Will. (Joel 2:12-13) Disobedience is death. (Ephesians 2:1-5) Grace pardons mistakes. Obedience is characteristic of those who have surrendered their life to Christ. It is pointless to hear God’s Word and do nothing with it. (James 1:21-22)
John 17:13-18 (NLT)
“Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.”
Jesus Christ did not come to do away with the Old Testament or it seems to me that it would have never made it to us as part of the Gospel message or Word of God. Jesus would have just torn up that part of the scroll and done away with it. My understanding is that He came to fulfill the mandate of the Law that called for my immediate death when I broken it. Jesus knew people would struggle to be holy when He was gone. He prayed for us. We are to be holy. (Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:12) This did not change with the application of His Grace, Mercy and Love but only intensified with the empowerment of His Spirit. He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness. (Romans 8:25-27) Not to give us a reason to give up in our pursuit of holiness which aligns us with God’s Word, Will and Way. Holiness is an attitude of the heart that is represented in our actions. Without the right heart, it becomes a pious act of religion that manifestation of a relationship. Holiness will empower our life as we strive by faith to live in alignment with God’s Word…all of it…start to finish and beginning to end. Jesus freed us from sin. Holiness is the life we live apart from it. I fast to set more and more of my life apart for the Lord. I want everything that He has promised me and even those things that I do not think of or ask for. I want all of His Love, Mercy and Grace for my life. How about you? Why do you fast?
Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.