Friday, March 6, 2015

Becoming Like God...In His Care (4 of 4)

As we turn towards the end of this message, let me give you a fact that might surprise you. Fasting is found in the Bible more often than baptism. Only by a couple – about 77 to 75, but that shows how important fasting is. We call ourselves Baptist because of the importance of Baptism. What might you think if a group of Christians called themselves “Fasters?" That sounds strange, but for many who don't believe in God, they think being called Baptist is odd.

I have mentioned that fasting is very misunderstood. Again, that is the reason for the extra post with the biblical summary of fasting – so you might have several Scriptures that will help you to view fasting from a biblical perspective.

I have shown that fasting is expected. Jesus gave one command based upon “when you fast.” And, in answering a question about His disciples not fasting, He said that soon, “they will.” Well, those disciples may be gone, but as His disciples today, the question is “Will we?”

Our letter for JOURNEY this week is N – Nurture. Specifically, allowing God to nurture us. By fasting, we are trusting our care to God. We are saying we are more dependent on Him, than we are on food. We are trusting in His provision not our own. We reveal our hunger for righteousness is greater than our hunger for food. And, in doing so, we allow Him to mold us and care for us in ways that aren't possible when we are worried about caring for ourselves.

So what is our next step? Let me tweak our question for this series to make it about fasting:

If your growth in godliness were measured by how often you fast, what would be the result?

So what's the next step in Becoming Like God? Pass – Pass on food occasionally, and realize God is your true portion.

Again, this series is entitled Becoming Like God. Jesus fasted, and He was God. Many servants of God, both great and small, have fasted. In fact, serving God is often made all the more possible by humbly giving up our basic needs through fasting and allowing Him to strengthen us for the task (Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Paul, etc.).

So, specifically, what can you do as it relates to fasting? Well, we return to our 4L's – Learn, Live, Love, and Lead – to provide potential next steps for each of us. Again, consider where you are related to fasting RIGHT NOW. And let the Spirit lead you to what you might next do.

Use the handout in your bulletin as a guide to study more about fasting.

Prepare yourself to fast as often as you feel led by asking these three questions:
1) From what will I fast?
2) How long will I fast?
3) Why will I fast? (What is your biblical purpose for fasting [see previous post]?)

Integrate regular times of fasting into your life. Develop a deep hunger for God as you do!

Share this information with others. Print off the biblical summary and study it with others. Also, help others better understand fasting by sharing your experiences – both the positive and the negative.

*This series of posts is adapted from Donald Whitney's book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

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