Jesus said "If you fast…" Hold up! That is not what He said. In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus said, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.
#1. Jesus spoke to a large group of people and knew they practice a lifestyle of fasting. This is backed up in Luke 18:12 "I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income."
Lets keep going - But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
#2. There is a reward in it from God. Throughout time people have fasted as individuals and in groups for all kinds of reasons. But the center of those reasons was to grow closer to God.
I asked Nam Shin Park what his thoughts were on fasting. He told me - The Bible teaches individual fasting such as Jesus' case (Luke 4), Daniel's case (Daniel 10:3),
Esther's case (Esther 4:16), Paul's case (Acts 9:9), and Moses' case (Deuteronomy 9:9).
Also the Bible teaches corporate or public fasting such as the Mosaic law on the day of atonement
(Leviticus 23:27), and national emergency of Judah (Joel 2:15). King Jehoshaphat called the nation to fast, when Judah was invaded (2 Chronicles 20:1-4). The entire city of Nineveh including the animals fasted when they heard the message of judgment from Jonah (Jonah 3:5-8). Ezra asked the exiles fast and pray for safety while traveling on the bandit-infested road (Ezra 8:21-23). (Thank you Nam Shin for helping us to see many examples throughout the scriptures.)
#3. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. I watched a documentary that was very uplifting with that very title - "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead." Doesn't sound uplifting does it? An Australian man had a disease that was very rare and tormented him. He did a juice fast for 60 days and well, you gotta see the movie to find out the amazing results. But, think about this, many people are spiritually fat. They have it easy and in excess. We want to feel good and have whatever we feel like having all the time.
Many don't have knowledge of the real God. Hosea 4:6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge." That result is an unhealthy and sometimes delusional understanding of God. So how do you know God. From experience the best way is to get a good study bible and read the whole thing. I read 197 words a minute. So it takes me about 67 hours to read the whole Bible.
I bet you read faster than me. Want to know how fast you read? Take this test http://www.freereadingtest.com
Nearly dead. I mean nearly spiritually dead. Jesus said that He would send His followers the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and counselor. I am known as a very encouraging and uplifting preacher but I have to be honest with you. It saddens me that to many Christians are nearly dead in their relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The world has a lot to offer that is tasty and satisfying, but is a distraction from the things of God. God wants to be first in our lives, not second.
And now for the good news :) Here are a few ways you can take a step in ruling over your flesh and growing closer to God.
1. Give up food for 1 day. (Please us wisdom and ask your doctor if you have any medical conditions)
2. Don't eat after sundown for 3 days.
3. Do a juice fast. (this means mostly fresh vegetable juice and only a little fruit juice.)
4. Give up TV, Social Media for a time, Something that seams to have control over you and use that time to pray and ready God's Word.
5. Financial Fast. Only spend money on the essentials. Food, shelter, transportation for a week. Get control of those urges that leave you with empty pockets.
6. Take a few days to rest and do a 3 day fast. When I fast for 3 days I don't drive or work much. Be smart and plan it out.
If you have any questions please reach out to me. I want us all to grow stronger in our self control and know God better.
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