Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | January 2, 2016

January 2, 2016 “Fast Forward”

“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast,anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you”. (Matthew 6: 16-18)

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Besides football, television these early January days of the new year seem to be filled with an abundance of weight-loss commercials…dieting programs guaranteeing substantial shedding of those unwanted pounds accumulated during the holiday season. Many people make a New Year’s resolution around this time, and purveyors of these products will seize this annual opportunity to increase their bottom line (while reducing yours, I might add)! Do they work? I suspect for a time, they may, but most folks soon fall into their normal consumption habits, losing interest in this difficult endeavor and regaining what they have lost (except, of course, for the finances spent in this well-meaning but “fruitless”(?) effort.

There are Christians who combine the weight-loss effort with a spiritual discipline called “fasting.” This is not necessarily a bad thing…in fact, it can be a good thing if the Biblical understanding of what it’s all about is applied. First of all, it is not designed to be some sort of “spiritual weight reduction plan”. If that is your motivation for fasting, better that you spend your money on some celebrity endorsed program designed for that specific purpose. Nor is it to be regarded as some sort of “holier-than-thou” endeavor wherein you, the “faster”, does so to draw attention to yourself. In fact, in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus directs us to do nothing whatsoever to draw attention to ourselves if we choose to fast. It is enough that the Lord knows what we are doing, for he will reward the effort.

So what is the purpose of fasting? Theologian John Piper offers this explanation:

“It’s an intensification of prayer. It’s a physical explanation point at the end of the sentence, “We hunger for you to come in power.” It’s a cry with your body, “I really mean it, Lord! This much, I hunger for you.”   

Fasting’s purpose is to increase our hunger for God. It is meant to intensify our prayer life as we seek a deeper relationship with God, body, soul, and spirit. Consider avoiding those “lose the weight quickly” dieting plans. Eat sensibly and exercise regularly and you’ll do just fine. Consider instead the value of hungering and thirsting after God. Fasting may just be what you’re really seeking as a means of satisfying your deepest cravings. Let’s “fast forward” in 2016! Let’s pray!

Dear Lord; How I hunger for You. There is nothing this world could offer that is quite so satisfying as sitting at your Banqueting Table. Even if I choose to abstain from food during a season of fasting, it is the Bread of heaven that truly satifies my hunger, and the best meal I’ll ever eat. Thank You for the blessings You alone provide. O God of my deepest desire. Amen!

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