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Fasting For Overflow

We are expecting an outpouring of God’s spirit like never before! We need to get our lives ready for Him, and make room for what He is going to do in your life.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes..” as it proclaims in Isaiah 54:2! We need to “make room” for God in our lives!

There are some fundamental principles that God has put in place to enhance our relationship with Him and to benefit us in our spiritual walk. A powerful, effective way that we can “make room” for God is by honoring Him with fasting. When you eliminate food, your spirit becomes uncluttered. You become “tuned in” to the things of God.

Some may say this is “old fashioned” but God is challenging us to go back to basics. Most modern-day Christians do not practice fasting. But fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament times. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted forty days and reminded His followers to fast, “when the bridegroom is taken from them.” The bridegroom, as we know, is Jesus. Jesus was taken from us when He went to be at the right hand of the Father.

 

(14) “Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisee’s fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

(15) And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.”
Matthew 9:14-15

 

There are medical issues that can be complicated by fasting. God isn’t going to ask you to do anything that would endanger your well-being. We should always use wisdom and discuss plans to fast with our doctor. There are different types of fasts that can start getting our bodies accustomed to fasting. Never throw your body into something you know you cannot handle. If you are unable to fast food for medical reasons, don’t feel left out! Ask God what an acceptable sacrifice would be to Him. You could fast internet, TV, or magazines in exchange for time spent with Him.

 

Types of Fasts

There are four (4) basic kinds of fasts in Word of God.

Normal Fast = going without food for a definite period, in which you ingest liquids (water or juice) only.

Absolute Fast = No food, no water at all. The body can only do this for three (3) days without supernatural intervention. (Moses- 40 days) Use wisdom!

Partial Fast = omits certain foods or on a schedule that included limited eating. May consist of omitting one meal a day; eating only vegetables, etc.

    1. Elijah, at least two times
    2. Daniel
    3. John the Baptist

Rational Fast = Eating or omitting certain families of foods for designated periods. (E.g., grains every fourth day)

 

Worship, not Ritual

Fasting is a dynamic part of the believer’s life. Fasting is worship! We don’t proclaim it from the mountaintops like a Pharisee or use it in a spiritual competition. Fasting is a key that unlocks breakthrough, and prepares us for His presence. Fasting puts us “in tune” with Him.

 

“The word of the Lord Almighty came to me,
‘Ask all the people of the land and the priests
when you fasted and mourned in the
fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years,
was it really for me that you fasted?
Zechariah 7:5,

 

The people fasted, but persisted in sinful mindsets, and gave no thought to what really pleased the Lord. They bragged about their fasting to get glory in man’s eyes, but went on to find pleasure and do what they felt like doing on their fasting days. Fasting was not meant to be that way, which was the reason why God asked ….”Was it really for me that you fasted?”

God did not accept their fasting, nor answer their prayers because all their masquerading wasn’t for Him. But we fast “in secret” as an act of worship! The Spirit will lead you – where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!

When we make room in our spiritual “tent” for God, He will certainly be faithful to fill us with His Presence. This month, we are pursuing His presence as we anticipate an outpouring of His Spirit on our lives that we have ever known! God has new things and new life for you! Join us as we make room for Jesus in our hearts, our minds and our bodies. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

 

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Fasting For Change

The greatest demands on us daily are decisions. What you decide today will become the reality of your tomorrow. God has initiated change. We must let go of the old, press in and reach forward to the new thing about to be released! Right now we are pressing in and preparing for the outpouring of His presence and the new things about to be released in the body of Christ!

But first, transition…..

Transitional times are created in your life because there is a removing of situations or people that at one time served God’s purpose in your life, but have completed their assignment. For a moment, you must now undergo what feels like a strange vacuum and chaos in order to be restructured and enlarged. God is adding new things and new people who will share the dream of the future. And this is the transition you find yourself in…the strange place between two “somewheres.”

The dream of the future is always larger than the accomplishments of the past. The former things cannot serve as an example anymore – God does not want you to rely on what is familiar. Shake out the old garments of religiosity and the traditions of man.

You will come through transition and be shifted into the new. “Shift” means a “change of place, position or direction; an exchange or replacement of one thing for another.” Shaking occurs during a shift. What can be shaken, will be shaken! (Heb 12:26-27) But we cannot reach forth unto our destiny until we forget our past. We must reach forth and embrace the new thing God has for us!

A New Thing

Part of John’s outcry was “Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” These believers were in a transitional time which called for repentance – a changing of direction and/or ways . When Jesus arrived on the scene, the new time had come for them.

 

“And he changeth the times and the seasons:
he removeth kings, and setteth up kings,”
(Daniel 2:21)

There is a new expression of order that God is ushering in the earth. Isaiah 43:19 proclaims, “Behold I will do a NEW THING, Now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert…” God is doing a NEW THING. New means “different from one of the same which existed before; something stale that has been made fresh; or something of one quality that has advanced into a better quality.”

The old garments of religiosity and the traditions of man must be thrown out! We must forget, throw out and erase from our memories the old way of doing things! Religiosity and tradition causes a staleness and stuffiness that limits the Spirit of God.

That’s why the Word of God says in Mark 7:13 “Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that,” (NIV). Jesus was addressing the Pharisees. But with time, Pharisaical tendencies do tend to creep in! We can all have a tendency to be like a Pharisee, judging other people against a standard we ourselves can’t even follow. We can all have a tendency to be like a Pharisee, honoring God with our mouths when our hearts are far from Him. We must recognize where these things have crept in and repent! We must make our faith fresh again… make all things new!

Jesus said in Matthew 9:16, “You cannot put new wine in old wineskins…” He could not pour out New Covenant gifts into Old Covenant believers (Jews) that had not yet received Him. He was saying that the “old wineskins” (Old Covenant believers) could not receive the new wine (The Holy Spirit) until they themselves became NEW CREATIONS by receiving Him as the Messiah! This verse is a New Testament / Old Testament concept, but the principles of God stand – there MUST be a better quality “skin” developed in God’s people in order to receive what is going to be poured out!

Religiosity, legalism and tradition will burst when the Holy Spirit hits it! We must throw out the old ways of doing things, make room for Him in our lives and allow Him to make us new creation! We must be ready….PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD!

 

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Acting in Fasting

King Jehoshaphat called a national fast when facing difficulty and uncertainty. Surrounded on all sides, Israel was in dire need to see the Lord move on their behalf (2 Chron. 20: 1-2). Although afraid of his enemies, Jehoshaphat “set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (v. 3). The rest of the chapter explains the attitudes and actions of the Israelites when facing apparent defeat and the subsequent victory of the Lord on their behalf. For our purposes, we will look at four applications from this chapter to apply when seeking the Lord through fasting. These biblical principles will give us a launching pad to move in a direction that both honors God and offers wisdom when needing stability in uncertainty.

1. Rely on God’s promises( vv. 6-9).

In his prayer, Jehoshaphat spends most of his time recalling the powerful works of the Lord to preserve His people. Jehoshaphat is not trying to psyche up himself or the Israelites by declaring what great things the Lord has done. Rather, he is relying on God’s unshakable promise made to Abraham (v. 7). God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3). Jehoshaphat knows this. And so when the neighboring nations surround Judah to overthrow them, Jehoshaphat calls the people to trust in God’s trustworthy promises.

 

2. Realize your limitations (v. 12).

Because Jehoshaphat had a sound understanding on the nature of God—namely, His trustworthiness and power—he then had a healthy view of humanity. Jehoshaphat realized that he and Israel were “powerless against this great horde that is coming . . . .” (v. 12). He knew that without the intervention of the Lord they would not get anywhere, because without the strength of the Lord all people are incapable of accomplishing anything. Fasting may aid in bringing out our human weakness, which will in turn cause us to realize that we are not God and that we desperately need Him in every situation.

 

3. Remember the Lord through worship (v. 18).

One of the most beautiful pictures of Israel is given in v. 18 when they humbly worship the Lord in the midst of apparent destruction. A few verses back, Jehoshaphat prayed to God and confessed that they had no idea “what to do” (v. 12). After God spoke through the prophet Jehaziel, telling the Israelites they will conquer their oppressors, the king “bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshipping the Lord” (v. 18). For whatever reason we are fasting for, it’s always important to take time to worship the Lord. Not only should we rely on God’s promises in His Word, but we should act on those promises by showing devotion through worship to the God who made those promises.

 

4. Run in the direction God has for you (v. 22).

The next morning after God had promised to deliver His people from the hands of their enemies, they “rose early and went out in the wilderness of Tekoa” to meet the challenge before them (v. 20). Instead of running away from their difficulty they ran to it, believing that what God has currently promised them He will fulfill (v. 20).

This is especially important for us to remember today. It’s important to remember that God calls us to action. Whether facing difficulty, suffering, uncertainty, ease, prosperity, and/or blessing, God calls His people to believe in Him and move in the direction they feel like He has given to them. Moving in the direction we think will best honor God will take courage and reliance on His Spirit every step of the way. Fasting can bring greater clarity to our situation. When fasting may we be people who rely on God’s promises, realize our weakness, remember the Lord through worship, and run in the direction God has for us.

 

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Preparation for His Presence

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying,
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
Matthew 3:1-3

 

This month we are preparing ourselves for entering a deeper realm of relationship with Jesus! We will examine how to prepare ourselves to experience God beyond the realms of tradition or religion. We ultimately want to know how to go deep in the heart of God and bring forth His greatest desire.

God’s greatest desire is for you and I to be like Jesus. By your lifestyle, your voice and your ministry, you point to the Lord Jesus. When you point to the Lord with your lifestyle, God pours out His blessings upon your life.

I want to focus in on a word with you right here: “PREPARE.” It means, “to make ready or adjusted.” Think about what that means. When Eastern monarchs went on a royal expedition they sent pioneers to open the passes. These pioneers leveled the ways and remove all impediments, so there was a clear path for Sovereignty.

In the same way, God is having us “clear a path” for Him to come through the landscape of our life; He is having us “prepare” so that we are made ready for His Presence. Like Esther prepared for 12 months before going before the king, we must prepare for the presence of God.

The inner ache that so many feel from deep within is an invitation to experience life and fellowship in a “higher place.” There is an upward drawing by the Holy Spirit to live out the greater life in God. The impartation of this “higher place,” or ascended life, is the downloading of the gifts we have been given from heaven!

As God’s will is being done in heaven, His plan is for His will to be fulfilled in your heart and through your life!

Jesus came for you to experience the fullness of God – which is all that Heaven has to offer! By manifesting the Presence of God, starting with you, His kingdom will be established in the earth. God is leading His Church into unprecedented breakthroughs and moves by the Spirit of Biblical proportions. This is only done by the pouring out of His Spirit!

For you to “prepare the way of the Lord for his presence,” you must ask yourself a question… “Which side of the cloud are you living on?”

Moses’ congregation was led through the wilderness by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The Presence of Jehovah gave Israel “light by night.” Egypt lay behind them, and Canaan’s milk and honey called them onward.

The backside of the cloud was a place of darkness. It represented their past pointing back to Egypt. The front side of the same cloud was flooded with light. It forecast their future, reaching forth to the land of overflow and abundance. “Which side of the cloud are you living on?” Are you moving towards your past, or your future?

As we examine how to prepare ourselves to experience God beyond the realms of tradition, I want you to ponder this question. How much of your lifestyle, your beliefs and actions are left over from “Egypt?” Ultimately, we want to know how to get intimately close to the heart of God and bring forth His greatest desire.

Like the pioneers who went before the monarchs to clear the way and level the path for the coming King, we must also make straight our ways and remove all hindrances, so there is a clear path for sovereignty. Jesus Christ is coming for His bride, His glorious church without wrinkle or spot – and we must prepare the way.

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Fasting with Purpose

It’s hard to realize that you’re needy when you don’t need anything. In ancient times, material prosperity was equated with favor from the gods. We also see in Scripture that God blessed His people by providing for them children, produce, livestock, and land. If you were poor and feared God, then you would naturally have your heart set on seeking God in order that He might provide for you and your family. By having nothing materially, you would be extremely dependent on God to meet your everyday needs.

For instance, if you were aware that God must provide the rain for the land as well as the children to cultivate and harvest it, then it would be easier for you to see that God must cause these particular things to happen so that you wouldn’t die. Today, we just take them for granite. We don’t see God as the great cause of all things. Back then, there would be little room to forget about God one day or the next, or to show little concern for Him this day or that one, for your life would depend on His daily provision.

 

Culture and Complacency

What happens if you live in a society that no longer recognizes its dependence on God for everyday needs like shelter, clothing, food, children, produce, livestock? The obvious answer is that you begin to assume you don’t need God as much. And the application is that you don’t earnestly seek Him as often. Our affluent society often encourages in this route without us even recognizing what’s going on.

Affluence can easily cause one not to seek after God. For example, I’m sure you have tried to get an unbelieving, well-to-do person to see their need for Christ. You witnessed to them about God’s holiness, their disobedience, and God’s grace and love in Christ’s cross. Perhaps they even admitted their sinfulness, but nothing changed and they continued to live as if they have no need for a Savior. Why? One reason is that sin does not affect their life in the present, so now they don’t need God for anything else. They don’t believe their disobedience has provoked God to anger to where no rain falls on their land in order that they might have food. We don’t live in a culture that universally looks to God—much less gods—to provide physical necessities. What we need to live on, we get ourselves. And therefore we don’t need God’s help for anything else.

Israel was purposely reminded for forty years that they need God by the Lord causing them to hunger, thereby teaching them to rely on Him for everything.

 

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut. 8:3 ESV)

 

God disciplined them for forty years because He knew that the affluent, abundant land they were receiving would cause them to forget about Him (v. 14). And it did (Judg. 3:7).

 

Seeking God through Fasting

When God caused His people to go hungry, allowing them to eat only the allotted amount of manna and meat He provided daily, it caused them to seek after God for everything, both physical and spiritual. The deprivation of food reminded them that their existence is totally dependent upon God. If God did not provide them with food, they would die. And a lack of food, I’m sure, caused them to think much on death, therefore making them concerned with their spiritual state. From all of this we can draw a fitting parallel to fasting: Fasting causes us to seek God because we have a greater realization of our need for Him. (See the following Scriptures for the connection of fasting and seeking God—cf. 2 Chron. 20:3; Ezra 8:21; Neh. 1:4; Dan 9:3; Joel 1:14.)

This month as we deepen our understanding on what it means to fast, let’s take God at His Word and seek Him through fasting. Living in America is a tremendous blessing, but it can also be somewhat of a hindrance when desiring to make Jesus your all in all. We need constant help to see that Jesus is everything and is worth seeking after. As you fast this month, make it your aim to deliberately focus on Jesus, thanking God for the abundance you have in Christ.

 

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