Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Morning After: A Life of Worship (Matt. 6:16-18)

Obviously, I am a day late in making this post. But yesterday, I spent most of the day at a golf fundraising event for a ministry that our church supports. It was a fun day, some great fellowship, but most of all a day to spend with my son JT. They made it possible for him to come with me and ride the cart with me all day. It was so much fun.

But on to A Life of Worship. On Sunday, I was able to speak about the issue of fasting (the audio should be available HERE). Ultimately, fasting is not just about food. IT is a test of our worship. In Matthew 6:16-18, Jesus gives some guidelines to fasting, as it is not to be done as a show before other people. We are to live our lives as normal and entrust our Father in Heaven who sees what is done in secret. His point is not the secrecy of the event, but the motivation behind the event.

In our culture, I wonder if Jesus would have even said something like this. I wonder if Jesus would have given guidelines for how to fast. I think He might have given guidelines on the nature of fasting, at least fasting spiritually. I believe we have lost the importance and significance of this spiritual discipline. If you combine all the teaching in the Scriptures, there are basically three reasons why someone might fast.

First, Someone Might Fast As An Act Of Confession. This is a fasting because of their sin. They gave up the physical to cry out to God to take care of the spiritual (Deut. 9:18; Neh. 9:1-2; Jonah 3:5).

Second, Someone Might Fast As An Act Of Sorrow. This was a way of expressing sadness or regret, not necessarily because of sin, but because of a situation (2 Sam. 1:11; 12:16-17)

Third, Someone Might Fast As An Act Of Seeking God's Will. People fasted in order to seek out the will of God for a particular situation (Acts 13:2; 14:23).

Whatever the different situation, what we find as we study this passage is that Jesus assumes His followers will continue to fast. At the heart of fasting is the desire to give up the physical in order to pursue the spiritual. It is asking the question: do I love that item more than I love my Lord? The heart of fasting is a test. Am I worshiping the Lord or an idol? Do I love the gift or the giver of the gift?

As I have studied the concept of fasting, there is one book that has always stood out to me. I highly recommend it to you. It is A Hunger for God by John Piper. In this book, he shows the comparison between a hunger for the things of the world and a hunger for God. He says, that the only way to know for sure where your true hunger lies is to intentionally give up things in order to pursue God. They might be good things, but if you can't give them up, maybe they are idols to you. I highly recommend it to you.

Let me finish with this: What should you fast from? You will have to listen to the audio to hear the explanation of each of these.

1. Food or Drink
2. Sex
3. Technology
4. Occupation
5. Hobbies
6. Anything that might be your idol!

Do you find fasting easy or hard?

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