“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6
“This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29
As a church, we have committed the month of February to fast for the Lord to loose the chains of spiritual bondage, set the captives free, and lead us to be the church Jesus calls us to be. With each one of us taking a spiritual stance in our walk with Christ, together, the Holy Spirit will be unleashed and we will all be changed for the better.
Many Christians are just going through the routine of following Christ. Their relationship with the Lord has grown cold or apathetic and they are not alarmed by that. Many find themselves helpless before the Lord because of a stronghold they thought would be a way of life. If there is a sin that cannot be broken with more discipline then it could be termed a besetting sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says that your temptation is not unique. Others face it as well. Unfortunately, many people believe the lie that they have to live with it. Yet this verse says there is a way out.
By committing to fast during the month of February, you have made a commitment to take control of your physical appetite so you can develop the strength to take control of your emotional appetite. You give up food as a demonstration of the commitment of your will. When you make a choice to fast, you are saying that you want to strengthen your spiritual appetite and grow closer to God.
In the Old Testament, fasting played an important role in the life of the believer. They had several national days of fasting. One was called the National Day of Atonement. In Leviticus 23:27, it states that they shall afflict themselves on that day. That literally means to fast and abstain from food for reasons of feeling sorry for your sins and confessing them to God. The Day of Atonement was so sacred that if one of them were disobedient, they were cut off from the people (Leviticus 23:29).
I have noticed an ever increasing battle being waged in our church. When you see all the mishaps, discouragement, and fear increase, I believe it says that we are hitting on something. Things could get worse before the chains are broken. I want to encourage you to continue to fast and pray. Don’t let the small battles bring fear into your daily journey. I don’t think the devil is under every rock, but sometimes it may feel that way.
Have I reminded you to stick to your commitment to fast and pray for God to loose the chains that bind? I love what I see the Lord doing behind the scenes. It is starting to come to the surface and when we fully see the divine activity surface, then that is the ingredient for revival. Keep on keeping on.
Joy in Jesus!
During the years that Jesus walked this earth, He devoted time to teaching His disciples the principles of the Kingdom of God, principles that conflict with those of this world. In the Beatitudes, specifically in Matthew 6, Jesus provided the pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern specifically addressed three duties of a Christian: giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus said, “When you give…” and “when you pray….” And when you fast….” He went on to say, “The Son of God fasted because He knew there were supernatural things that could only be released that way. How much more should fasting be common practice in our lives? According to the words of Jesus, it is the duty of every disciple, every believer, to fast.
The Bible tells us that fasting is not for show. 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” Matthew 6:16-18.
Biblical fasting always occurs together with prayer in the Bible. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast (Biblically speaking) without praying. It is deliberately abstaining from food, or whatever you have chosen, for a spiritual reason. It is communication and relationship with the Almighty.
One of the things that takes place when we fast is that we set aside our appetites and allow our body to concentrate on the work of praying and demonstrating how serious we are at seeking God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” It is emphasizing the whole heart, every desire in your being, submitting to seek the Lord.
As we enter into the half way mark of fasting this month, let me encourage you to continue to do what you set out to do during this fast. As I have mentioned many times, make fasting and prayer your first response and not your last resort.
This morning, at the Front Row Ministries, we prayed for the requests we gathered from the past two Sundays during worship. God is on the move. Keep praying and believing that God will break the chains of despondency, the chains of apathy, and the chains that bind us from being who God created us to be.
Join me as we continue to seek the Lord with all of our heart.
Joy in Jesus!
Can you believe it? Last Sunday there was no snow. It was a great day to get together and worship the Lord. I always enjoy hearing the stories of others as they are baptized. God is continuing to stir our hearts and move in a powerful way in people’s lives.
This week is the first full week of our fasting. I am hearing many stories of people getting serious and intentionally seeking the Lord with all their heart. There are many reasons to fast. Some of us have had procedures performed by a doctor who asked you to fast in preparation for a clear path to get real results. I don’t think I will go into detail on all that is involved. Let’s just say that it is a moving experience. Do I hear an AMEN?
There are many reasons why people may go without food for a time. It could be for medical tests, depression, illnesses, or even a part of a weight loss diet. Fasting in the Bible was primarily going without food and possibly drink for a spiritual cause. For a fast to be Biblically based one must go without food for a spiritual purpose. Our focus as a church is to break the chains for spiritual breakthrough.
The enemy is relentless is trying to get a foothold in our lives. Subtle things can get a grip on our lives and can many times be detected only after it has wreaked havoc. Today we choose to fast from food but there are many other things that we can fast from. Social media, television, and the list can go on. It is basically something that has gotten out of balance or has distracted you from the things that you know you should be doing as a follower of Christ.
God made us in such a way that we can enjoy food. Food fuels our body. Unfortunately it can also fuel our passions that are not aligned with God. Throughout history, most celebrations included feasting and special meals of celebration. Yet the Scriptures clearly reveal that there are times and reasons that the normal consumption of food should be set aside to accomplish a spiritual purpose.
In Isaiah 58:4 it says, “Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.” Let’s pray that our fasting doesn’t end in quarreling. I know that I have a tendency to be cranky when I get hungry. “Lord, help me not to react according to the way I may be feeling at the time.” I would encourage you to read the whole chapter found in Isaiah 58 as you fast this month.
If you look at the last phrase of verse 4 you will see, “…your voice to be heard on high.” Fasting gives an opportunity to humble ourselves before the Lord, sharpen our spiritual focus, adjust our priorities to the spiritual rather than the physical or material, and to make your voice heard on high. As you fast, keep focused on your goal of wanting more of Christ. Make your voice heard on high and wait patiently for God to break the chains that bind.
This morning we gathered and prayed for all the requests that came in on Sunday. God is wanting to give each of us the victory over all things. Be encouraged to know that God loves you and so does your church. This Sunday we will continue to ask the Lord to keep us OnPoint as we look at the paths we find ourselves on.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene