Sunday, July 26, 2015

Not So Fast

Not So Fast
July 27, 2015
Matthew 6:16  "When you fast . . . "

There are many practices in our Christian faith that have been lost over the centuries.  Fasting is one of them.  It is a tradition taught in the Bible only as a such, a tradition.  It is never mandated in the Ten Commandments.  It isn't a directive from the Lord or even a requirement for salvation.  You can certainly enter into Heaven having never fasted a moment in your life.  Your relationship with the Lord is not at stake, however I would submit to you that fasting should be an integral part of your day to day Christianity, a practice to be habituated over your lifetime as an invaluable tool for growth.  Let's first be clear on the definition of fasting.  Fasting is the self-denial of something, for no other basis than self-denial, while using that time to also redirect your focus on to the Lord and submit to Him.  It has typically meant the fasting from food while praying, but many have fasted from different habits or indulgences.

Fasting was actually intended for you to forgo many, if not all indulgences, temporarily for the purpose of seeking the Lord's face, not just the self-denial of food for a short time of prayer.  Jesus understood fasting was an important part of a Christian's life, and spoke of it as an abused practice used to get attention.  He said we should fast in secret, between ourselves and our Lord.  He also said the words, "when you fast...."  He never said "if you fast" or "you might consider fasting."  No, Jesus talked about fasting as if it was understood you would submit to this practice in your life.

Fasting holds more value that you would ever imagine, though.  It was originally intended as a way for you to get closer to the Lord simply by shedding off hindrances or distractions.  If you deny yourself of food or earthly indulgences, you are submitting your body and your will over to the Lord.  The act of the fast, though possibly only a day, is a means to teach your mind and body what it should be doing all the rest of the days of the year.  The Bible instructs you to die to yourself daily and take up your cross and follow the Lord.  Fasting is a way to teach yourself how to do that.  If you are able to deny yourself food and other indulgences for a day, you are teaching your body who is the master of it.  If you are able to focus on the Lord during that same time, you are teaching your mind who is the rightful leader of your life.  Sadly, we live in a world where fasting is not taught or practiced because we are used to filling every indulgence when we want it.  Denying ourselves is not something we are accustomed to doing.  Fasting is a way to teach that self-denial for better control over your life, to promote spiritual growth through submission of the flesh.

If this doesn't excite you, consider giving it a try anyway, especially if it has been a long time since you practiced it.  Mastery over the flesh is paramount to being a successful Christian.  There has never been a successful Christian who didn't maintain control over his body and mind.  Fasting is an opportunity to do just that.  If you'd like accountability with this, send me an e-mail and I'll participate along with you in secret.  We all need someone to walk along side of us sometimes.  This is an opportunity for spiritual growth that I think is critical to taking your Christianity to the next level, mastery over the flesh.  Try it for a day, try it for three days, then try if for a week sometime.  It isn't easy, but it is well worth it.  Your spiritual growth is well worth this effort.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 6:16-17, Luke 9:23, Eph 4:22-24, Gal 2:20

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