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December 7, 2020 1:00 am
Most of us really like to eat. But there are times in a Christian’s life when eating should be the last thing on the agenda. In this message we set aside a big meal and remind ourselves about Christ’s teaching on the benefits of fasting.Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)
Reason for us to Jesus phone number for most of us really liked. There are times in a Christian's life. When you think should be the last thing on the agenda today.
Let's set aside once we planned on and remind ourselves about Christ's teaching on the benefits of fasting church in Chicago this morning when Sir clear teaching helps us cross the finish line pastor Luther for some younger things are warning signals that it's time to head out for some fast food that's a hard habit to bring yesterday. That is a habit that is very difficult to break. But we ought to break it, we ought to break it with some degree of regularity. You know, fasting is something that is taught in the Bible. Paul fasted Jesus fasted and throughout the Old Testament you have references to fasting now doctors tell us that fasting has physical benefits but when you come to the Bible, fasting is always connected with spiritual need. It is a full body response to God in light of some great need and we ought to fast regularly. You know, I think that that is a habit that the Christian church needs to get back to, but it needs to be properly understood what I am so excited about a resource that we are offering you. I really have to say that this is going to be a tremendous book that is going to help you for the entire year.
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Here's what you do you go to RTW offer.com that's RTW offer.com or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337 and now let's go to the pulpit of Moody church and let's learn about a discipline that all of us should be practicing regularly is fasting, where fasting means that you are absolutely abstaining from it's a difficult topic to talk about that 11 o'clock be much easier if I had the privilege of the speaking about feasting. Now there's something that would go over, you know, we call a feast here at Moody church and people show up we thought died during the days of Ironside, when we call a fast, there are fewer be nice if we had a chef up here and if we had a chef appear I would have to vacate the platform and let him take over because, as my wife would be quick to confess, I am not a chef but I am a shepherd as a shepherd, I have the responsibility of leading us sometimes to other kinds of pastures to climb new hills to to learn to get to know God better and when it comes to fasting. I am in the learning mode, just like you are. I do not come as one who has all the answers I come to learn because I want to benefit also from the transformation of life that fasting can bring about the Old Testament. It's interesting that there was only one day that people were commanded to fasting that was on the day of atonement. They were not supposed to eat any meat or drink any wine on that day.
They were to fast. They were to afflict themselves is at work to show the word this sorrow for sin and have that outward expression of that inward sorrow, but the Jews had a very carefully relegated fasting system. They had different kinds of past. For example there was the fast but was oftentimes associated with morning it had a friend who died you would fast from the time of his death until the funeral end until after the burial, and then you could eat again, or sometimes it was a past that was associated with repentance. Once again it was that outward expression of the inner sorrow. The fact that you are concerned about your sin. And that was a part of it. Also then there were national days of fasting when they called what was known as a solemn assembly and were going to be doing that here at the church a week from this coming Saturday and it's your opportunity to join us in a time of fasting and prayer as we come as a church, recognizing our need for God.
Sometimes in the Old Testament people fasted in preparation for a revelation from God. Remember, of course, Moses fasted, I believe that he fasted 40 days of I remember correctly on the Mount Sinai Nehemiah fasted, you have you have many many different examples of fasting throughout the Old Testament. Probably the word is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament, but we struggle with fasting. Don't wait. We struggle with it because we just don't see the point we don't know what it's about. I'm going to hopefully help us today. I been impacted by the book by John Piper entitled a hunger for God which is really a book on fasting and many of the ideas that I share with you today are based on his helping me understand what fasting is all about, and I really do genuinely believe that if you listen to this message carefully, that at the end of the time. I will give you a principal and a reason that may be the means that God will use to bring you to a higher level of nearness with him. It could be a life-changing experience. As I was thinking about this.
I wanted to jot down some of the problems or at least if not problem. Some of the questions that we have about fasting that come immediately to the American mind. For example, their people disable you know, why should we do it. It is not specifically Christian is an specifically Christian and you're right, it isn't.
Almost all the other religions of the world also have fasting, we think for example of the Muslims during the month of Ramadan were where there is fasting and the other religions of fasting to it is not specifically Christian, and then we have people who fast for political reasons, we think of Gandhi and all of us remember seeing pictures of this of this small man almost emaciated as he was fasting for his country for political freedom.
Other those who fast for health reason and I happen to be one who believes that fasting has tremendous health benefits, but I'm not going to comment on that today because I'll leave that to the experts. I'll leave that to the nutritionist to know all about the human body, but there are benefits to fasting and there's some people who don't even believe in God who fast just because of the health benefits and so people are confused and they say why is this distinctively Christian.
What if you listen to this message carefully and so far I think you've done that at the end near the end of the message I'm going to give you the basic concept the. The bottom line so to speak, which which I think you will agree will distinguish the Christian fast from all other options out there is something so distinctive that you will not find it in any other religion.
It will not be because of its health benefits or for its political reasons, it will be a distinct really uniquely Christian reason. By the way, speaking of health benefits when I preached on fasting here a couple of years ago someone was quite upset saying that. Probably I was giving ammunition to those who struggle with anorexia and those who are already fasting far too much and is somehow justifying what they are doing so in the word of clarification, let me say that if you struggle with an eating disorder. The answer is not more fasting for you. The answer is to get help and I'll tell you why, because those kinds of eating disorders have to do with the people who struggle with a sense of self perception. Oftentimes the the shape of their body and Dave and the struggles as to who they are. Sometimes they may have at their root to some anger urine and some hostility against the world that there are various causes, but that's not what I'm talking about today, that's not what I'm talking about. If you fit into that category you be sure to go to someone who'd be able to help you is not Christian fasting US. Second, the problem that people may have with it or question they may save a wife who wife why not television. Give it up for a week or two or three and and why not somebody giving up sports and that might not be a bad idea. As we anticipate the Super Bowl just to ignore. Did you know that if you ignore it.
The score is going to be the same as if you watched it. That's often occurred to me so so there's some people who say why not bad and you know the answer is not a bad idea. Not a bad idea.
You don't have to but but you know there is that element.
If you find if you struggle with being able to fast in terms of food because of the metabolism of your body and so forth.
It might be okay to use something else that you would give up. Never question people have is that doesn't lead to prime is and that is not the problem is that we become prideful of the fact and we begin to glory himself will say you know I haven't read a good look at me and the answer is yes.
That's why it is so fraught with dangers. That's why this business of fasting has to be so uniquely studied and and he needs to be understood because that's exactly the problem exactly remember the Bible itself in Colossians chapter 2, the apostle Paul says you know you've been converted in your free in Jesus and now you're going back to old pagan ways of saying don't touch this.
Don't handle it. Don't eat that piece of that's pagan is is your free in Jesus. So you see there is danger that danger.
In fact, you talk about danger is a very real danger is a subtle danger.
Look at this in I and Isaiah 58, which is the great Old Testament passage on fasting they come before the Lord and they say Lord. This is the way the chapter opens Lord we have mourned and you haven't heard this, and we have passed and the heavens are shot and God tells them why it is that he hasn't responded.
And, in effect, the Lord says you know your fasting for the wrong reasons. In fact, catch this. The Lord is saying you are using fasting as a substitute for repentance because you see it's supposed to be an outward sign of something that is inward, but you just have the sign and there's no reality about it at all. In fact, your fasting nauseating to me. I can't stand Bob says here you are, you know your fasting and your dishonesty in your business, your fasting and and you are taking advantage of people your fasting in your living with loose morals.
I mean, what do you think you think that just because your fasting God's gonna listen to, you know you've missed it by a mild dunces. That's not the past that I chose you talk about dangers and I happen to be the kind of person who can skip meals and can be absent without food for a day or two without without a great deal of problem. I member especially in the early days of marriage.
You know I'd want to skip a meal and then Rebecca would have to eat and I used to say to myself now.
Why can't she be like me.
Well, you know, I discovered later that she struggles with low blood sugar there people you know who cannot fasting and God had to rid me of any sense of saying that because it's easy for me. It's easy for somebody else.
It isn't an that's exactly the subtlety of the pride of the whole. Thank you begin to glory and willpower. And when you glory and willpower. You have missed the whole point of fasting. That's a different kind of fasting that is nothing to do with Christian fasting and dangerous welding. If people say well you know Pastor loser that's Old Testament they were morning because Jesus hadn't come, but this is a new day will turn to Matthew chapter 9 and by the way, you say well I thought that this is an exposition of Matthew chapter 6 well part of fasting as patients we will get to the sixth chapter of Matthew, and since we don't have to eat today. I can go as long as I like. That's the deal. Look at Matthew chapter 9 verse 14 the disciples of John came to him, saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast but your disciples do not fast. And Jesus said to them, the attendance of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them.
Can they but the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.
Jesus is saying. My disciples are fasting because they are with me. I am the husband. I am the bridegroom and they are the bride and this is a time of rejoicing that this is a time of happiness. That's true, but the time is coming when I'm going to be away see what Jesus is saying you don't fast during the wedding feast fact one of the longest fast I ever took a was was broken at a wedding. I just said that you know I think it's God's will that I eat and rejoice here and that seemed to be a very convenient decision to make. You see, the point is Jesus is saying that that what you do is you make sure that you recognize that when Jesus is there. Once the kingdom is established. Once Christ is with us, then we do not have to fast but he says the day is coming when I when I'm going to be taken away from you and Daniel fast and that's the church age. That's now all I know Jesus is, I know that redemption has been purchased. I know that the victory has already been carried out. I know it's already a done deal. It is finished. I understand that but but we do not yet see him face-to-face.
And that's why Piper says that fasting if you understand correctly. Fasting is really first and foremost homesickness for heaven. We are we are fasting because we long to see the King and we are in that sense in morning because we do not yet see him face-to-face, but we delight to end the day is coming when he will again return and we passed until the return of Jesus Christ. In fact, Piper would even say in verses 16 and 17 when Jesus said that no man puts a patch of unsprung cloth on an old garment because the patch will pull away from at the end of verse 17.
Men do not put new wine into old wineskins. Roast the wineskin is going to burst. You know that the old wineskins is Judaism and Jesus said what I am bringing here is so unique and so special that you can't even take that old wineskin of Judaism and pour into it. The new wine that I'm going to give you Jesus is an and as I mentioned, Piper thinks that that new wine even is a new kind of fasting for a new day. It is New Testament fasting is a kind of fasting that is really a thesis thing. It is a bee sting on God. What can we say about this new kind of fasting. First of all, it is a fast of faith.
It's a fast of faith. You see we we fast as I mentioned in anticipation of Jesus Christ we become so satisfied with Christ even the allurements and the desires of the body are broken because we so desire. God, we are saying that there is an inner sense of contentment that is so strong that we can even put up with the irritability of going without food that that there is a sense in which we we recognize that there is a need to eat, of which the world knows nothing in in this secret satisfaction with God and we don't even need food to be satisfied. That's how deep God's satisfaction is in our hearts, so it is a fast of faith, I might say.
Also, it is a fast of fighting a fighting and I need to comment on this before we get to Matthew six which we shall do in just a moment, but it is a fast of fighting you look at the New Testament. The apostle Paul says in second Corinthians in fasting so often. He says there you go. For those of you who think that fasting is just an Old Testament idea. He says in fasting often and then remember in first Corinthians chapter 9 where he says I buffet my body.
I buffet my body. You know I was.
I'm glad some of you got that.
I have written on this topic and I wanted to put that bit of humor into it and say that instead of the buffeting our body. We buffet our body and and the problem is the editor look at it and said you can't can't write that joke you can only tell it because it is indeed true that the word buffet and the word buffet are spelled the same so I can only say it.
I can't write it well know the answer is, even though there spelled the same. The pronunciation is different and there's a world of meaning world of meaning between the two. So we like to pamper our bodies.
We like to buffet it.
What in the world is Paul mean when he says I buffet my body. I buffet it will part of it surely is fasting what he saying is I bring it under subjection. He says I count all things but lost to gain Christ some of you lost something this, you lost something on the stock market you lost something at work there was some loss pulses pulses.
I count everything but lost that I might gain Christ for the Christian, every loss is another opportunity to gain Christ and then Jesus Christ remembers he was talking about fasting. He said on one occasion regarding people trying to cast out demons is at this time does not go out except by prayer and fasting. I know that not old manuscripts add fasting, but I think that that could be. Indeed, the very words of Jesus that that there are times of spiritual struggle when when only fasting is really going to subdue the enemy. The enemy within our souls. The enemy that is outside of our soul. Think of our marvelous example of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is asking how to be tempted of the devil he fasts for 40 days and then the tempter comes to him and it says that after the 40 days he was hungered, and that he was hungry and the tempter said turn these stones into bread. Could Jesus have done it.
Yes, it's the kind of miracle he was going to do in just a couple of months he be doing those kinds of miracles. But you see, Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone, he quotes Deuteronomy, and in context that verse has to do with the giving of manna not the taking away of food, but the giving of food you member how Israel they didn't like the cafeteria in the desert to member how they were complaining and they said you know we don't like what God is giving us and God says I'll give you manna later on. He said I'll even give you quail until it comes out of your nostrils of that it is that's what you want, but they were they were complaining about the menu they complained about the menu probably happened in other contexts since but that's what happened back then. And the Lord says that I am going to let you be hungry and I'm going to feed you from something that you know not all.
Namely, the manna which is going to come from heaven, every single morning. Why that you might know that man shall not live by bread alone, but he lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God and what is the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. It is the man every single morning. The word proceeded out of the mouth of God. And God said, let there be manna, manna, and you see what he wanted them to know is that you don't live necessarily with security that God has the ability to create food. He has the ability to speak and the manna comes and that's the word by which you should live in houses Jesus to Satan. In effect I can turn these stones into bread but I'm relying totally upon my father and there is within me some thing that is even more satisfying than eating and that is the will of my father and therefore be gone the Satan for man shall not live by bread alone, but I'm living by the word of God. The proceeds of the goats mouth. There is something even more important than food, and with that Satan. Of course left to go.
He came back later is a fast of faith is a fast fighting by acting in a way living at a time Markley when there is very little discipline, even among Christians, and you think of Jesus there in the wilderness who is willing to with Satan or ask him to leave. That would be more accurate, but reminding the devil, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. We hear it running to win are totally committed to the word of God.
Whatever it teaches. That's what we believe. Let me ask you a question. Are you sometimes stymied by some of the questions that scientists ask about the Christian faith I have in my hands a book. It's entitled a closer look at the evidence.
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I can assure you, you will not regret it will be on your shelf for the rest of the year you can write to is running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 start meeting for a time as own health for the Christian. It also has great spiritual benefits. You don't hear much about asking in a fast food culture. Next time I'm going to win more on the why and how of fasting as Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 6 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life for Dr. Erwin Linzer this is Damon Alister running to win is sponsored the move nature