North Anderson Baptist Church
Fasting - Something Jesus Expected Us to Do
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  • North Anderson Baptist Church
    2308 N Main St, Anderson, SC 29621, United States
    Sunday 10:30 AM
On every corner in this town there seems to be a place to eat. Just about anywhere you go in Anderson you can find some place to eat. Whatever you want and whenever you want it, you can get something to eat. Americans are not deprived of food. Yes, there are places in America that there is a shortage of food and that the children there are hungry and need assistance but not around here. We are not starving!
Jesus wanted us to know that food can be an asset or a liability and in this passage He speaks of a spiritual experience that comes regarding food, really the lack of taking food into your body. He is speaking of fasting. Fasting for us as Christians is quite different than the fasting most of us understand. Let’s have a show of hands for all who have fasted before you had blood tests ordered by your doctor. Your fast is not a Biblical fast. Many of you probably have fasted for weight loss. That is not Biblical fasting either.

Biblical fasting is by definition: “abstaining from food for spiritual purposes.” When our ladies did a study recently on Christian Disciplines they encountered the discipline of fasting in the book written by Donald S. Whitney called “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.” Whitney said this about fasting,“Christian fasting is a believer’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.” However you choose to say it, it is going without food for a period of time wanting to spent that time in prayer with God.

Looking at what Jesus said about this subject reminds us of what He said about giving and praying and how they are to be done. Everyone who does their giving and praying in front of others so they can be seen is receiving their reward from the people who express their awe at what they are doing. The Lord does not see it as people see it but says it is false worship and the very act that is done in public is rewarded by those who see it. But on the other hand, when we do any of these acts, praying, giving and fasting in private as a part of the secret act of worship, then our Great God will see what is done in secret and will reward us. God does not want us to publicly display our acts of worship for people to see while trying to get people to see us as holy. We are, as believers, only to do these acts of worship privately for the Lord and His glory only.
Now, let’s look and see what Jesus was saying in our passage today. “Whenever you fast…,” it is obvious that Jesus was saying to those who listened in His day, who regularly fasted, what they were NOT to do when they fasted. He is telling those of us who are reading what He said or hearing it from someone else, and He was saying throughout this sermon, which we have been studying, that the Pharisees would do things they called worship out in the public so everyone could see their commitment to prayer, giving or the fast by their appearance and actions and all who saw would think so highly of them and their “holiness.” Jesus said they got their reward when they had the respect or the applause of the people but they did not have the eye or the ear of the Lord God, for they were hypocrites. So when you fast, Jesus said do your fast to the Lord alone in private and you will be rewarded by the Lord.
Let’s talk about Christian fasting for a few moments. The motive for fasting is primary to whether the Lord accepts your fast; you want to worship the Lord and draw closer to Him through your fast. Whitney says, “Without a spiritual purpose for your fast it’s just a weight-loss fast.” Maybe you have never tried to fast and therefore you have a feeling that abstaining from food would be too hard for you, in reality how could you go without the proper amount of food daily. Americans are so food conscious that missing a meal makes you feel like you are going to starve to death. It is difficult but not impossible to miss meals when you have a spiritual purpose for the fast. God calls us to abstain from food for a time to focus on Him and your relationship with Him. There are other kinds of fasts that I will speak of in a minute but your primary purpose is to draw closer to the Lord for Him to do in your life what He desires. There is not real fasting without prayer. For when you are experiencing the pangs of hunger you are seeking to grow closer through prayer to the Lord. You can’t do this alone without the help of the Holy Spirit, so all the fasting must be done as the Holy Spirit leads you and sustains you throughout the fast for God’s purpose in your life.

When talking about fasting we can see there are categories of fasting. There is a normal fast, which involves “abstaining from all food, solid or liquid, but not from water.” In Luke 4:2, “...where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry,” we see the fast of Jesus in the desert, when He was through He was hungry but not thirsty. Scholars say that during His 40 days He went without food but not water.

“A partial fast is described; that there is a restriction of diet but not total abstention.” We see this type of fast in Daniel 1:8-16,
Here Daniel and the three Hebrew youths decided not to eat the delicacies from the table of the king of Babylon nor the rich wine. Instead, they committed their lives to the honor and glory of their God by only eating vegetables and water for a period of three weeks.
The absolute fasts are described as; “abstaining from both food and water.” We can see this must be for desperate situations, such as with Esther and the people of God in Susa of Babylon. Because the Jews were set for annihilation, Mordecai informed Esther and she declared to him that she would fast with her maids and the Jews in Susa would fast also for three days with no food or drink and then she would go to the king in behalf of her people.
Two supernatural fast are seen by Moses and Elijah where they went for forty days without food and water. Because it is impossible to go that long without water it becomes something only God can do in a person. Normally a person can go not more than three days without water, which makes 40 days a supernatural fast.

There are several other types of fasts: private, Daniel 10:3,
which is called a solemn assembly, national fasts, found in 2 Chronicles 20:3
called by Jehoshaphat because of the enemy of such great strengthen had come against Israel that the King and all the nation went to God for direction.
For the Jews God ordered one nation fast; during the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:29-31,
And of course, we can see the people of God chose to experience occasional fasts for specific needs. Each of these previous thoughts are directly from Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.”
In no particular order and this list will not be complete, I want to give you some reasons for fasts that one can experience. Remembering your need to draw closer to God, a fast can be in behalf of your concern for a person and their need to either be saved or draw closer to the Lord. Whitney again says that “When we sense a need to strengthen our prayers, God says in Scripture to apply the force of fasting.” You have a deep desire to see someone saved or draw closer to God, then try fasting during your prayer time for them. Spend a day without food and every time the meal time rolls around spend the time you would be eating praying for your request. And especially when the pains of hunger come to you in between meals, draw aside to pray.

So many people have asked me over the years of my ministry, “What is the will of God in my life?” Here is a great opportunity to spend time fasting for the leadership of the Lord in your life to be displayed to your mind and heart. God wants each of us to know His will for our life and He says in James 1:5,
Another type of fasting could come under the category of grieving for one’s sins. When Jonah finally preached to the city of Nineveh, the king ordered all to fast from both food and water. The scene is seen in Jonah 3:6-10,
Of course, we can also fast because because we have grief over our own sin.

David fasted because of sickness of his son. (2 Samuel 12:15-17) David’s desire was to have God to allow his son of his sin live. In his grief, he called for God not to take his son whom the Lord struck ill because of his sin with Bathsheba.
And then the last fast I want to touch on, remember there are more, is when one would fast when there is great temptation from the evil one who embattles you because of your love for God. The greatest example is the one we have called attention to already, that of Jesus going into the wilderness expressly to be tempted of Satan. Jesus was going head on with the great enemy of his life who had tried to kill him from birth. The Holy Spirit sent Jesus into the desert aware of the temptations ahead of Him but knowing the power of God on His side. Jesus would need the power of prayer and fasting to withstand the temptations that the devil would throw at Him. So, when you come to a point in your life that temptation is strong and the devil is seeking to have you fall into his hands, then you need to go to the Lord with fasting and prayer.
Let me mention that you can fast from other than food because of spiritual needs. The secondary purpose of fasting is to reveal the things that control you. When the Holy Spirit tells you that you are spending more time and energy with your phone, videos games or watching TV or any other thing that takes the place of God in your life, then you should consider fasting from that “thing” whatever it is for a period of time to have God help you with reordering the priorities of your life. In a fast God reveals to us the things that we have out of balance in our lives. The whole purpose of fasting should be spiritual in nature; led by the Lord. David writes in Psalm 69:10, “I humbled my soul with fasting.” Sometimes while fasting because of something else, we see anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, and fear among other things will surface in our life. The Holy Spirit knows our hearts and lives and what we need and don’t need. If we are sensitive to His leadership we will be the great beneficiary of the fasting. Hypocrisy comes in all kinds of flavors. We are mostly hypocritical when we say we don’t need to do something God says we ought to be doing. Hypocrisy robs us of reality in Christian living.
If God has touched your heart in some way through the scripture about fasting and you have heard the Holy Spirit saying to you, “Consider this in your life and fast over it,” then you should heed the the Word of the Lord. We are all challenged by Jesus to fast as a part of your Christian life. There must be reasons then for us to experience a fast. Would you take that challenge? Remember all we do, we are to do in secret so that the full reward will come to us from the Lord.

The challenge is not only to fast today but to call upon those who do not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ to come to salvation through faith in Him. Jesus died and rose again from the dead to give to each who believe by faith eternal life. Won’t you consider today to give you life and heart to Jesus?

Invitation

Dear friend if you are reading this by way of the internet please know that you are loved and cared for. If you have no relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, then I invite you to trust Him by faith and receive Him as your personal Savior. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sin of everyone in the world that they may have eternal life. All of us have sinned and all are guilty before Almighty God who made us to have fellowship with Him. But sin broke that ability to have a relationship and Jesus has restored the possibility to know God personally through His sacrifice. Please know that if you will seek God and turn from your sin and pray He will respond with His love and give to you a personal relationship through your belief in His Son and the sacrifice He made just for you. He will call for a change in your life too. He wants you to follow Him, not the world, not your own desires, but to follow Jesus. That brings a life change when you turn from sin and self and by faith believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. There is no Savior without Him being Lord of your life. Your willingness to change by following Him daily in your life will be the proof of your faith. When life throws its curves your way and you have found yourself broken by others or by the world let us introduce you to the only One who can help you…Jesus! You can write or call the office and we will follow up by contacting you. Office phone number is 864-225-2575 and the website address is www.northandersonbaptist.com and the physical address is 2308 N. Main St., Anderson, SC 29621. Dear friend if you are a believer and you have been touched by the Lord and you would like to talk to someone at the church just contact us in one of the ways you see above. If you are a believer and would like to talk about the church and your interest in being a part, please call and we can set up an appointment for you and get to know you. It would be a great pleasure to share our Lord’s love with you. This is a loving church and you are important to us, so please let us know what we can do for you in the Lord.
Pastor Bill Rigsby

http://www.northandersonbaptist.com