Monday, January 12, 2009
Pattern for Christlike Living
As believers we can often get caught in the routine of doing life and just go through the motions of our relationship with the Lord. If we are leaders in our church we challenge people to accept the Lord into their heart and then teach and preach about giving our tithes and offerings. This is all true and good, but do we preach and teach fasting just as much?
Now, in the past, I would take our youth on weekend fasts in which we had nothing but water and broke the fast by sharing communion. Our focus was on prayer, worship, and reading the Word.
Recently I read a book on fasting by Jentezen Franklin titled, "fasting". It is a great book and he brought out a good point regarding Matthew 6. This is part of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus is teaching how we should live as believers. In Mt. 6:1-4 Jesus talks about giving, in Mt. 6:5-15 He teaches us how we should pray, and in Mt. 6:16-18 He advises us on how to fast.
Rev. Franklin says on page 11 that Jesus provided a "pattern by which each of us is to live as a child of God. That pattern addressed three specific duties of a Christian: giving, praying, and fasting. Jesus said, "When you give..." and "When you pray..." and "When you fast..." He made it clear that fasting, like giving and praying, was a normal part of Christian life. As much attention should be given to fasting as is given to giving and praying."
You see Jesus didn't say "if" you give, pray, or fast. He said "when." He was telling us this is our routine. This is the way we should live our lives...doing these three things. I have fasted over the years, but not regularly. I have been challenged in my thinking to make fasting a regular part of my life.
Fasting focuses us on God. If you can get past the 2nd day of a fast the 3rd day is not so bad and you will be amazed at how you can make it to day 7. I know of others who have gone longer, but the purpose is mainly for your walk with God. When I was a youth pastor I challenged my kids to give up sodas for a period of time, or whatever meant a lot to them; to help them grasp hold of the concept and build from there.
As women and as leaders I would like to challenge your thinking in regard to fasting. When was the last time you fasted? Have you ever fasted? Why would Jesus put it in the Bible and do it Himself if He didn't want us to follow His example?
When you begin to fast and avoid those meals spend time in the Word and praying. Go for a prayer walk. Seek God. He will help you through. It is hard when you have to fix meals for your family and you are on a fast, BUT YOU CAN DO IT. God will help you through. I have been there, done that:) He is faithful. You will be amazed at what He will do in your spiritual life, your family, your finances, your job. God honors what you give or give up for Him.
He loves us and wants the best for us. I am glad I can give Him a little of myself in the area of fasting to show Him how much He means to me. He doesn't expect it from us, but He will reward what we give.
This is not an indepth study on fasting. I just wanted to get your thoughts thinking about this aspect of our walk with Christ. If you get the book I am sure you will enjoy every word.
Let me know if you have thoughts or insight on this.