Sermon on January 12 by Pastor Roland Eskinazi
Scripture: Psalm 63:1-5; Matthew 9:14-17
Why begin the year with fasting? Our greatest danger in walking with God is not always falling into blatant evil, but allowing what may be good to deaden our appetite for God.
If you want more of God:
1. FAST – IT WILL REVEAL YOUR HEART LIKE NOTHING ELSE!
- True fasting is only for those with faith, not those without it
Christian fasting is more than abstinence and going without.
Killing sin in our lives needs more than self-denial, but finding satisfaction in Jesus first.
‘…God created (food) to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything God created is good – nothing is be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.’ (1 Tim. 4:3b-5)
Do not fast unless you have already tasted and seen that God is good!
- True fasting is only the means, never the end
If we make rules or even good disciplines the goal of our worship, and not Jesus, we end up with “willpower religion” only.
Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, false humility and harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value restraining sensual indulgence.’ (Colossians 3:23)
Fasting will not make God love us any more than He does, but fasting together spurs us on to live Him more.
‘To take up a cross is a deliberate choice. We must purposefully humble ourselves, stoop down and pick up the cross for Jesus. Fasting is one of the most biblical ways we do so’ (Wesley Duewel : Mighty Prevailing Prayer )
2. FAST – IT WILL REORIENT YOUR LIFE TO GOD’S HEART!
Why fast, unless we want to be better lovers of God and the gospel, and more in touch with His heart?
- When you fast, will honoring the Father be your sole motive?
The fasting Pharisees in Mat 6 may as well have worn a sign around their necks: ‘Done for the praise of men’. Even today it is difficult to fast privately without others knowing about it.
If we pray, serve, give or fast in 2020 for our reputation and not the Father’s, our godliness will be skin-deep.
Fasting will help us to practice out righteousness daily, in a way that shines the spotlight on Jesus.
- When you fast, will cherishing Jesus be your supreme passion?
Fasting directs our hearts to Jesus whom we should love more than life, family, friends, career, success – anything!
‘Seeking from God the reward of God’s all satisfying supremacy puts all other desires to the test’ (John Piper)
Expect that when God reigns over every area of our lives, He will capture all our affections and choices
So let us fast! :
– Not to bribe God to pay attention to our prayers, but to love Him more.
– Not to get more gifts from Him but to see breakthroughs that cause others to say ‘ What a God!’
– Not for an easy Christianity, but for awakening and revival that will open door for the gospel in 2020.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1. Have you ever fasted? Why, or why not? Is fasting the same as abstaining from eating, or even staying off Facebook?
2. Does Jesus expect us to fast? How had the Pharisees distorted fasting in their day? (See Mat 6: 16-18 and Luke 18:9-14)?
3. Are evangelicals in danger of too much fasting? Why do many of us find it difficult, more than even prayer, which is difficult? What will help you to prepare your heart to know how to fast next week?
4. Pray for the Lord to keep us from legalism on the one hand and a faith with little self-denial on the other. Perhaps arrange an evening or lunch hour next week for more prayer with someone or in a small group.
Photo credit FreeImages.com/emmanouel V.