Monday, January 17, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
As we conclude our first week of fasting I want to share with you a simple truth that the Lord made very real to me today. Let me start by saying that we must remember that fasting is an act of worship to the Lord. The scriptures say that Anna the prophetess, “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37.) In Acts 13:2 the scriptures say that a group of prophets and teachers “ministered to the Lord and fasted.” You see fasting is all about worship. I am not saying that we should worship on the fast; I am saying that fasting is worship.
In order for our motive to be right in fasting, we must remember this truth. The only way our rewards can be limited in the kingdom of God is if we have impure motives. The Lord spoke very clearly to my heart and said, “Up until today you fasted for yourself, but now it is time to fast for Me.”
Is it possible that we could be fasting for ourselves? By now we have shed a few pounds and we “feel” better about our spiritual condition, but those are only by-products of fasting. In Matthew 6 the Lord talks about 3 spiritual disciplines that should be a part of the life of every believer: giving, praying and fasting. His objective is not to encourage us to do them, but rather to instruct us regarding the posture of our hearts while doing them. His discourse on each discipline begins with, “when you give…, when you pray… and when you fast…” Through those scriptures we see it is possible to lose the rewards of fasting because of impure motives.
So then what should be the posture of our hearts while fasting? Simply that He is worthy for our entire lives to be laid before His feet. He is worthy of the sacrifice of 21 days. Look with me at Mark 14:3.
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
For the first few days of the fast I have been asking the Lord to anoint me for the upcoming year. But my prayer is changing. Is it impossible that the Lord would allow me to anoint Him? I could imagine for three years the crowds thronged Jesus to receive miracles and healing. The disciples huddled around Him to receive special revelation of parables. This appears to be the first time since Jesus’ birth that someone entered His presence only to bless Him.
In John 12 the scriptures tell us that this woman is Mary and that the oil she anointed Jesus with was equal to, if not more than, one year’s income. In other words, she poured out an entire year upon Jesus. That is our motive for fasting. He is worthy of our entire 2011. We are pouring our lives out to Him in an act of worship because He is worthy to receive it.
Jesus responds to Mary by saying, “…wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mark 14:9). Jesus spoke to Mary’s destiny and future as a result of her worship. Isn’t that what we want, for our Father to speak His blessings over this entire year?
My friends we should not ask for His anointing until we have first anointed Him. We should not ask for His blessing until we have first blessed Him. Out of the entire universe we possess the only thing that God does not have and that is “ourselves.” Yes we belong to Him in an omnipotent way, but our affection and worship must be offered to Him willingly.
It is not wrong to ask Him for healing, wealth and favor for this year, because He is our Father and He desires to show His blessing in our lives. However, when we pour ourselves upon Him, He will pour Himself upon us and in Him is everything we need.
Mary is told that wherever the gospel goes, her story will be there too. As we pour out our lives to the Father, He will allow us to accompany the gospel. Where He is working this year, we will be there. There will be natural disasters, financial loss and major tragedies this year; as well as great salvations, revivals and miracles. Whether in disaster or revival it is those whose lives have been poured out that will be where He is working.
Anna and the group of men that I mentioned earlier ministered and served the Lord through fasting. Before we preach, prophesy or serve people; we are starting this year by ministering to the Lord. That is our ministry to people, to first minister to Him. When starting the year with fasting He anoints us to be where the gospel is at work!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
14And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16“So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21“However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Every year those of us from The Refuge join with believers all over the country, and even around the world for 21 days of prayer and fasting at the beginning of every year. I have personally found that this time has been very profound and impacting on my personal life as well as the life of our local congregation. During these 21 days we lay aside all of our agendas, wants and desires and say, Jesus you show me what you want in my life this next year.
We have to realize though, that fasting isn't supposed to be a once a year pursuit. When this man brought his son to the disciples, he needed a solution to his problem right then. He couldn't afford to wait. I'm sure the disciples prayed with all of their might. I'm sure they tried every "trick" that they had seen Jesus use for casting out devils, but nothing worked.
It's incredible that when Jesus comes on the scene, there is no big prayer, there is no shouting, or any kind of weird antics, Jesus rebukes the devil and it goes. So, what was the difference between the disciples and Jesus? Fasting and prayer! Jesus said it Himself. This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.
Now wait just a minute! I must have missed something! There must be some scripture left out of The Bible. I'm sure that when Jesus saw this child, He must have ran up on the mountain and spent 40 days praying and fasting. Then when He came back down, He rebuked the devil. That had to have been what happened.
The problem is, The Bible doesn't say that because it didn't happen. So what can we learn? Jesus didn't run off and fast and pray before casting out the devil. We get that. At the same time, Jesus says this can't be done without fasting and prayer. What conclusion can we draw then? Jesus was living a lifestyle of fasting and prayer. He didn't do it in the moment a need arose. Jesus fasted and prayed all the time. Then when a need arose, He was already prepared to spring into action.
So Here's the question. If Jesus Himself had to operate out of a lifestyle of fasting and prayer, do we think we can do otherwise?
The truth is 21 days of fasting and prayer at the beginning of the year is great, but it is not enough. Fasting and prayer needs to be a lifestyle. Does that mean we quit eating for the rest of our lives? Umm... I don't think so. What it does mean is that we need to have regular times during the week, or certain times in the year that we set aside and seek God.
I know there are some who say fasting is not for today. That it was just for the old times. Let me ask you a question. Is the church in The United States operating in a consistant flow of power to cast out devils, heal the sick, open blind eyes, etc. Are we seeing the "daily added to the church" like in Scripture. I know there are pockets here and there where God is moving in great power, but it was never meant to be a "here and there" gospel. We are supposed to be prepared to handle anything, anywhere at anytime like Jesus was. Can you say that you are in that place in your life? If not, it may be time to make fasting and prayer part of your lifestyle like Jesus did.
B Blessed, Tom
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Fasting is way more than just not eating. Fasting is a time to come into God's presence and humble ourselves. The sad truth is that we live in a time that could be called "the culture of me" Everything that happens has to be viewed through the lens of how it affects me and my life.
When we consider our life, we mostly think in terms of the physical body. What we look like, are we hot, cold, hungry, thirsty etc. What we need is to come to an understanding that our true life has little to do with the physical. We are not just physical beings. We are being that have a spirit, soul and body. Our physical bodies are obviously important, but one of these days this body will quit working, but our spirits and souls will live on.
Let's talk about our soul for a minute. Our soul is made up of our mind(what we think), our will(what we want) and our emotions(what we feel). Isn't that how we live our lives? Making decisions based on what we think, want or feel? More often than we like to admit, what we think, want and feel can pull us a million miles off track from God's plans and desires for our lives.
What am I talking about? This morning I woke up starting the third day of my fast. I'll be honest with you, I didn't feel very spiritual. I felt like I wanted to throw my alarm out the bedroom window and go back to sleep. Not only did I want to go back to sleep, but my body was telling me that what I needed to do was go in the kitchen and cook up some eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, toast, Jelly, ham. That may be a little excessive I realize, but it IS my third day of fasting. Immediately my mind starts telling me I could eat and no one else would even know. My thoughts, feelings and desires were not very spiritual to say the least.
What I did, however, was put my feet on the floor and say this day I'm going after God. I told my stomach it would just need to shut up, and my feelings to get out of my way......I still didn't feel very spiritual.
It's not really about the feelings though. It's not about what I think or want. What fasting is really about is telling God, I want you more than I want even the food that I eat. It is about humbling myself and shifting my thoughts and focus to God and His plan.
In Scripture it tells us:
Humble yourselves in the sight of The Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10(NKJV)
In the New Living Translation that same verse reads:
When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him, He will lift you up and give you honor. James 4:10
That's it right there. How many of us want to be honored by God, not for how great we are, because we are not, but because we come to Him humbly realizing our total dependence. One thing we constantly miss in the church is that our talents and abilities, no matter how significant they are, cannot accomplish the plans that God has for us. It takes more than our talent and ability, to really live for God and have an impact for His Kingdom.
Total dependence is what we need. Humility. We see humility as a weakness in our culture but God says humility is one of the keys to Kingdom greatness.
As you progress in your fast, come before God with humility of heart. Tell Him of your total dependence on Him. Don't just mouth the words, really seek to realize your dependence on Him. He is the God of the universe, and us? Not so much. We need God more than we even realize.