Fasting Requires Focus

PRAY *** PONDER *** PREPARE *** PRAISE

PRAY for direction: What will you fast for?   Health? Peace? Obedience? Joy? Humility?

PONDER your motives: What do you want desperately different? 
Self? Marriage? Career? Anxiety? Fear? Anger issues?

PREPARE to worship:  This is a time to get serious with the Lord as He begins a new work in you; through mind, body, & spirit.  Your heart WILL change.

PRAISE the Lord: What is your purpose to embrace this journey?  Fasting is a form of worship so may I dare add the important emphasis of an open heart as a must to our intentional focus?  Fasting creates a spiritual discipline for the right reasons.

So what are the true benefits of fasting? It provides physical as well as mental and spiritual well being.  Ultimately though, it should go beyond us.  It’s not about what fasting can do for us but how we can serve beyond our own individual growth;  acts of kindness, generosity, sympathy, grace, unconditional love. 

The (W)Holy 40
BREAKING STRONGHOLDS; BUILDING CHARACTER


The 1 Thing to Know Before You Fast

Fasting can be a great thing for your health. However, Biblical fasting is even better. When we couple fasting with our prayers, truly wonderful and amazing things happen. Relationships you’ve been praying about for years suddenly begin to change; physical pains you’ve struggled against suddenly begin to fade; sin you have fought and failed in suddenly don’t seem so big. Biblically I am still trying to wrap my mind around this. I like to know the why in situations; explanations are a big deal for me. But what I do know is this: it’s all God. And for the moment, that will suffice for me. As I dig into this idea of prayer and fasting, I look forward to sharing what I find with you.

I want to share with you today what you need to know before you fast. My prayer is that this will help you figure out what it is you need to fast, for how long, and in what capacity. For every fast you do, it will be different. Because your relationship with God is never going to be like it was. Therefore, what worked yesterday or last year may not work today or tomorrow, and simply because God has had you fast one thing in this particular way doesn’t mean it’s applicable to your walk now. We are constantly changing, growing, stumbling, struggling and succeeding. But how beautiful to know that God never changes?

Before you begin your fast, consider this:

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What are you putting before God?

Exodus 20:3-6 “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall no make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Are you choosing sin and death over life and righteousness, are you choosing to please your self rather than please God, are you choosing to satisfy the desires of your flesh rather than feeding the Spirit? We can even put good things before the Lord: family, serving others, work. Your priorities are God, family, work. Are you so busy, exhausted and overwhelmed that the joy of serving has vanished? Have you put God into a box? Are you limiting God’s power by believing lies, or accepting that the way things are now are as good as they’re going to get?

Ultimately, what is it separating you from God? This is the one thing you must know before beginning your fast.

What is stealing your joy, peace, and love?

Joy, peace and love are not feelings. Rather they are a state of being, and a choice. If you are not experiencing joy, peace and love in the Lord then something you are doing is blocking it. The enemy has a grip on you somewhere, and he is attempting to deplete your life of these attributes. If you prayerfully examine your life and your heart the Lord will reveal to you what is that you must rid your life of.

Is there an unequally yoked relationship in your life (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)?
Are you participating in activities that would not please the Lord (Galatians 6:7-10, Romans 8:12-13)?
Where are your feet planted (Ephesians 6:10)? Firmly in the Lord or on the sinking sands of the world?

Sowing to the Flesh or Sowing to the Spirit

Read Galatians 5:16-25 and Colossians 3:1-17. As you read through these lists, does anything jump off the page at you?

Flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, envy, fits of anger, malice, lies.
Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, kindness, humility, thankfulness, worship of God, encouraging others, self-control

What has God been telling you?

Sometimes God has been speaking to us and we refuse to listen.

For years and years and years God has repeatedly shown me the idol I have made of tv. Allowing it to master me. Choosing tv over time with my family, choosing tv over my responsibilities as a wife, mom and home dweller, choosing tv over time with God.

Here’s another example from my life: when I was about 20, shortly before my 21st birthday, I was sitting in bed, spending time with my God. I came across Proverbs 23:29-35. Particularly it was verses 31 and 32 that caught my attention, “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” I had a sense that God was telling me I was not to drink. But I convinced myself this was impossible because I wasn’t even of age yet, I had never legally drank, so how could God possibly know? Of course you can see how I was putting God in a box. Turns out God knew what He was talking about, go figure! I quickly became an alcoholic and struggled for years; yo-yo-ing between sobriety and drunkenness.

If you can’t imagine your life without it, it masters you. As followers of Jesus, our only master is the One True Master.

God knows what’s best for us, and He is consistently and constantly allowing us access to information that brings us closer to Him. If God has asked something of you then you must listen and obey. Maybe it’s time to begin a time of prayer and fasting in order to rid your life of ______________ [enter in your idol].

Can I confess something to you? I’m totally convicted right now. I have been choosing to eat food that is not nourishing to my body; in fact it’s food that destroys the balance in my body. Sugar. It’s time for prayer and fasting for me.

Repetitive Appearance

Another way to know if God is asking you to do something specific is if it continually is showing up in your life. What has been a repetitive appearance in your life lately? It’s what I have come to learn as God’s confirmation. God makes it undeniably clear to us His will, we just have to be paying attention.

Has the Lord repeatedly brought up a verse or Biblical idea?

Is there a trait you notice in people that irritates you? (Luke 6:41-42)

Have you been exposed to some new health truth?

Benediction

I pray that this has been helpful in searching your heart and life for what God is asking of you. The most important aspect to remember in all of this is to seek God; for when you ask in the name of Christ, He is faithful to give it (John 14:13-14). May the Lord who knows all reveal His will to you, that you may live a full abundant life in Him.

If you are struggling to know God’s will for your life, take courage and have hope, seek Him, continue to ask Him. He will answer you. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength. Reach out to someone at your local church, a godly mentor to help you seek His will. Message us; we would love to help you along in your journey. Join our (W)holy 40 starting on February 14, 2018.


(W)holy 40! What is Biblical Fasting?

*This blog post requires tools: Go get your Bible, my sweet friend!*

Fasting, One might think about Lent, along with something they plan to give up (chocolate, meat, smoking, alcohol, etc). One might remember Jesus who fasted for 40 days in the desert, or maybe you think about Passover and fasting from leaven or yeast. What these all have in common is giving up food, all or partial, for a set amount of time in order to achieve … … … in order to achieve what?

I’m hoping to answer this question along with some others you didn’t know you had about fasting. What is fasting really? Why do we fast? How does fasting make us more like Christ?

The answer to these questions can only be found in Scripture. Let’s start in the beginning, the institution of fasting. In Exodus 12 when the Lord is instituting Passover, He tells the Israelites they must remove all yeast from their homes, and they must only eat unleavened bread. If you’ve been in the Church for some time it’s possible you’ve come across the concept of yeast and leaven representing sin, particularly in the New Testament. If we apply the idea of leaven representing sin to fasting, what do we end up with? Fasting is necessary in repentance. 1 Corinthians 5:6, and Galatians 5:9 both say that a little bit of yeast will affect the whole batch of dough. A little bit of sin in your life is going to affect all of your life. There is no such thing as a “little bit” of sin, or a “little white lie.” Sin is sin. When we sin we are separating ourselves from God. That separation then requires action on our part to mend. God is always right there waiting for us.

Take a look at Isaiah 58. Read the whole chapter.*Spoiler alert: Isaiah 58:6 and 8 are my favorites!* Go ahead…I’ll wait right here until you’re done. … It’s powerful isn’t it? As Sheri Hollinger and I have done many personal studies on Isaiah 58 we have found that when we confess our sins to the Lord we are allowing Him to lead us through a time of fasting, especially if it’s a life dominating sin, a generational sin, or one that you continue to struggle with. As we rid our lives of our sin we are allowing a chance for the Lord to fill that place in our heart with His love, His joy, His peace, His light and His life. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have all those wonderful things than be chained up, weighed down, and held captive by sin.

What is the Lord prompting you to give up? Do you already know? What was the first thing that came to mind? Can’t think of anything? Let me phrase it this way then: what is blocking your joy? Take some time to prayerfully consider what He may asking you to fast from or turn away from. Maybe it’s something that you give up for a season, like T.V., or maybe it’s something you need to give up for life, like alcohol (both examples from my own life).

Jesus is serious about sin in our lives. Look at Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8-9, and Mark 9:43-50. You must cut it out! It’s better to be marred for life than walk around with sin infecting your heart. Now obviously, He’s not advocating actually dismemberment, and neither am I. But the point is we can not accept complacency.

Once you’ve given up your sin, you’re fasting from it now. But what are you going to replace it with? Many of us might have heard that when you are trying to break a habit, you have to find something to fill that void. Otherwise, you could end up trading one bad habit for another, or go straight back to the old habit during times of extreme emotions. We have to be proactive in changing our habits. Sin can become a habit. Therefore, we need to be proactive when we are in the process of fasting. The most practical thing you can do while you fast, while you repent, while you change your life is to look to the One who gave you life. Seek the Lord with all of your heart. Love Him with all that you have. How this looks in your life is going to be different than how it looks in mine. I choose to take my first hour or so of the morning to sit with and seek God. And let me tell you what, since I have begun this journey of fasting and repenting from my life dominating and generational sins (selfishness and addiction), I have found that an hour isn’t near long enough. The Bible has come to life in a whole new way for me. I also attribute this to the way that I have changed my actual application of study , but that’s a whole different topic. I will simply say this: do not think that there is only one way to study the Bible. If there is a topic you want to know more about, do the research yourself and see where the Lord takes you. It’s a beautiful, joyous, crazy awesome adventure!

And remember, fasting is not about you. Wow, wait! Really? Yes, really. Just look at all we’ve talked about. Fasting isn’t for our gain (or loss, if you’re thinking about weight). We will be posting about what fasting is not later. Let this truth sink into your heart and mind, meditate on it: your life is not your own.

Isaiah 58 is very clear about what fasting is and what fasting is not. In verse 6, we begin to see the consequences of proper fasting. And we know that consequences are not just negative results from choices, they are also positive results from the choices we make. Isaiah 58:6 are the promises God will fulfill when we properly fast.

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Who, in their right heart, wouldn’t want that? I have lived a life of wickedness, I have walked with a heavy yoke and burden, I have been oppressed by my very own thoughts. God is saying there’s freedom from this? And that I can find that through proper fasting? Sign me up! When we discipline ourselves to fast, to repent, and ultimately submit to the Lord, freedom is the outcome. But that’s not all folks! Jump back to your Bible and read verses 6-9a. Great. Now reread verse 8.

Hope. Joy. Light. Healing. Righteousness will guide you. And the glory of God will guard our backs. After reading that verse, if you’re not convinced it’s time to give it up, whatever it may be, then may the Lord break down your walls.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of God will be your rear guard.”

What sweet promises the Lord gives here. All we have to do is submit to His will.

The next set of verses 9b-14 then speak of the outpouring of our love. When we are properly aligned with God we are so full of life, light and love that we can’t help but to help and serve and love others. Have you ever been so full of God’s joy that you can’t stop smiling? Or so full of God’s love that it was as natural as sleeping to hand that homeless person your lunch? When we live a life submitted to God, those acts of service and the joy, are just absolutely overflowing. It’s a byproduct of the fasting that you’ve done.

If this is what proper fasting is, why don’t we do it more often? Why is this not a common practice within the Church? Furthermore, why would we want to continue being friends with the world? James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” I don’t want that in my life. No, thanks!

“Jesus came to give us a life to the fullest; He came to set us free, and those who are free are free indeed.”

So, what is it you’re struggling with today? What healing needs to happen in your heart? What healing needs to happen in your physical body? What healing needs to happen in the relationships around you? These are questions we all have to face, and we face them every day, whether or not we’re actually acknowledging them. Questions you must face in order to properly and successfully fast. When we choose a proper fast the bondage, sin, oppression, guilt, and shame will be broken!

If you’re feeling as if there’s a veil over your eyes, over your mind, over your ears, or even over your heart, then consider a fast. When you fast the Lord will be faithful to let your light break forth like the morning. What hope, what joy comes from the promises of God’s word. I cannot implore you enough to take this journey with us as we fast for 40 days. Because we must break those chains of bondage, we must allow our healing to spring forth quickly. If we stay stagnant any longer as children of God our nation is going to crumble. We will lose an entire generation of children to worldly passions. And those we know and love who don’t know and love the Lord will be lost in an eternity of damnation. I am no longer willing to sit down and be quiet and allow our enemy to have control in my family, in my life, or in my Church. Who’s going to stand up with me and fight the enemy?