It should come as no surprise that I love Easter (Resurrection Sunday). In Keola® we take a moment in every class to focus on the gift of Christ’s finished work on the cross, but I still enjoy a day for celebration of it: A special day designed to draw our focus back to the love of God shown by His great act of selfless service; leaving heaven to take the form of a human and walking in obedience to the will of the Father – all the way to death on the cross – so we can be reunited with God. In honor of His sacrifice, many Christian groups choose this time of year for a fast.
Your Challenge This Month:
To fast something that you enjoy. Commit to giving it up from now until Resurrection Sunday for God. Each time you think of it, reset your focus to Him by praying, praising, or meditating on/reading His Word.
Examples to choose are sweets, fried food, caffeine, television or social media. Pick something that specifically seems to violate your self control.
The bible tells us “when you pray” and “when you fast” (Matthew 6:5 and 16). Both of these Scriptures are words directly from Jesus. A fast is a personal sacrifice. It is a humble attempt to give something up for the Lord; to choose submission to Him over your own desires. I like to call it a voluntary limitation of your freedom. It is an outward expression of obedience and true gratitude for what He has done for you and helps to remind you of how blessed you actually are. This realization helps you to be mindful of and generous with others who are lacking.
Physically, a fast cleanses our bodies of the toxins we ingest and the foods that can be addictive (such as caffeine and sugar), which trigger the body to crave more and in turn make our flesh even weaker. Fasting has been shown to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, pain and inflammation, as well as improve mood, energy and vitality. All of these physical benefits have contributed to its use as therapy for various conditions by health professionals of most cultures throughout history and have resulted in the current popularity of “Fad Fasts/Diets”. God’s intended purpose is clear and resonates through all religious systems: to deny self and draw near to God.
The blessing of being Christian is that His Spirit actually lives in us, so when we deny ourselves we are allowing Him to take over*. This is truly the most blessed benefit of fasting: It helps strengthen discipline in refusing the desires of your flesh and trains you to live by the Spirit. When accompanied with prayer and daily Bible time, it offers repentance, healing, knowledge and insight into the Lord’s will, as well as strength to your faith and deliverance from unbelief.
Enjoy this special time. Use it to renew your relationship with your Daddy God that Christ died for you to have and reclaim the new creation that He paid for you to be. Start Spring in step with His Spirit and your rebirth as you blossom into the person and plan He has for you this year.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NASB)
“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?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
(Isaiah 58: 6-9 NIV)
*This (Isaiah 58) is faith in action! True fasting is this constant submission to the Spirit, a willingness to stop whatever you are doing and say “Yes, Lord!” when He leads you to do, or say, or pray during your day. A voluntary denial of yourself to move in His will in service to Him moment by moment. This is what Jesus died for, to save us from ourselves and enable absolute surrender to God. This is His desire and it is accomplished only by His Spirit and grace. Physical fasting helps redirect us to the Spirit of Christ who lives in us (if we believe in the Lord Jesus) and allows Him to take over. It is valuable anytime, but especially when we fall from grace.
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 ESV)
Please note: I am not recommending you eliminate all food or a liquid fast. It is important to maintain adequate nutrition during a fast. Please consult your physician before making any significant changes to your diet.
(Featured image courtesy of nalinratphi @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)