February 26th, 2018

Good morning and welcome to another Monday!! Aren’t you glad you made it to another one? After the busy weekend I was thinking about taking it easy this morning but my choice ended up being to stay home and work on my taxes or come to work. And here I am. And I am thankful and blessed to be here! I am praying for you today!
Today I want to talk about a subject that for many years I knew nothing about. It is also a topic which might strike fear into your heart. The subject is . . . Fasting. I grew up in a home where I never really even knew what the word meant. I thought fasting was some mispronunciation of what I did when I drove my car. My wife was really the first person I knew who engaged regularly in fasting. And yet for years I still did not see the need or the more likely reason is that I loved my stomach more than God. Fasting can be difficult and is often painful and we/me tend to avoid pain if at all possible. Fasting is really just giving up something (usually food, but not always) that you would normally engage or indulge in for a period of time.
Fasting can be spiritual or it can simply be dietary or for medical reasons. I’m sure many of you have had to “not eat anything after midnight” before facing surgery and by the time the delayed surgery arrives you are pretty hungry. Or maybe you are one of those people who have caught onto the latest diet in vogue and that is what is called “intermittent fasting.” This is a type of fasting that varies depending on who you read but often it is either fasting 24 or 48 hours each week or fasting on what is called a 16/8 schedule where you fast for 16 consecutive hours each day and then eat during the other 8 hours. I fast for dietary reasons fairly regularly because my body seems to operate better when I eat less. Let me encourage you to check with your doctor if you have medical conditions that might be affected by fasting from food.
But today I want us to focus on fasting for spiritual purposes. Here is one good definition: “Fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose.” There are many verses in the Bible that talk about fasting. “Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen. He doesn’t say “if,” but “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).”
I could list for you a multitude of reasons why we should fast but instead I am going to limit it and then provide you some links to some excellent articles on this subject. One reason we fast is that it heightens our ability to hear God speak and I believe it reveals our heart and our desire to God. God sees that we are serious and that our desire is great. He also recognizes that we are putting our love of Him above our love of self and the good things He has given us. “Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ.” Fasting is a key piece of our weaponry in the fight against the powers of darkness that many of us have neglected for many years if not our entire lives.
The rewards are well worth the struggle. Being able to hear God more clearly is a key. One benefit is having extra time to be able to pray. Think about how much time you spend eating or preparing food. This is time that could be spent in prayer. Or what if you gave up TV for a day or a week? Imagine how many hours you could invest in other more profitable spiritual endeavors.
So where am I going with this? The countdown has begun for OneCry. We are 19 days away from a weekend that I believe will be transformational. BUT . . . we must be ready. We must be on our knees in prayer for God to move or this will just become another long, tiring weekend that comes and goes. As a part of that prayer process I am calling all of you who are reading this to join me in fasting for this event. You may not be able to even come to OneCry but will you fast and pray with me? I am committed to fasting today and the next 2 Mondays leading up to OneCry. And I plan to fast that Friday (March 16th) until we come together for the evening meal. You may not be able to fast all day. Start off fasting for one meal. A little hunger is a good thing and reminds us of why we are fasting. It is also a reminder that we struggle against our flesh and that struggle is very real but one we must win. I am also committing to fasting from any program or video or movie that would promote violence or sexually inappropriate behavior during the week leading up to our weekend (and really shouldn't this be a regular commitment?). I would love to suggest a complete media fast but I know how difficult that would be. But I am going to do my best on that same Friday (March 16th) to avoid media to the best of my ability. Now, I am leaving this open for you to decide how you want to participate. Maybe you want to fast from something else. Maybe you want to fast more than 1 day a week. What I am asking is that you pray today about what God would have you do. Then I want to ask you to either email me your commitment (just respond to this) or later today I will have a post up on our church Facebook page and you can simply reply to that post. Won’t you join me?
Here are the promised links. Let me encourage you to read as many of these as possible:
In closing I just want to say again what an amazing weekend it was as we celebrated our church’s 150th Anniversary. I don’t know that it could have gone much better. I want to first and foremost give thanks and glory to God for allowing us to be here for 150 years and for guiding us through the weekend. I also want to again thank our committee for the amazing job they did and for the countless hours they spent to make the weekend almost perfect. And thanks to all our special guests and to all of you who joined us. If you missed it then you missed a true blessing and one that will be remembered for a long time here at FBCWS!!
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?