My readings today are more about fasting so I decided to look up the word fasting and here is what I came up with along with my own understanding. Fasting is defined as maintaining a firm self control. Fasting is referred to as going without food for a certain length of time. Jesus did this during His forty days in the desert. This is where we get Lent and fasting from. The forty days of Lent before Easter represent Jesus’ forty days in the desert. The Bible says He was led by the Holy Spirit to do this. He was led to undergo the temptations we all face and to show us we can overcome them too , just like He did. When Satan told Jesus he could turn the stone into bread if He wanted to, Jesus rebuked him saying, man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God. Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus is saying God’s Word is more important than food. Spiritual guidance and direction comes first before anything else can exist. Even though He could have CHOSEN to make the stone bread, He CHOSE the better thing. Just like Mary, sister of Martha. Instead of cleaning she was at the feet of Jesus to hear Him speak. Luke 10:38-42, As they went on their way, they came to a town where a woman named Martha lived. She cared for Jesus in her home. 39 Martha had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to all He said. 40 Martha was working hard getting the supper ready. She came to Jesus and said, “Do You see that my sister is not helping me? Tell her to help me.”41 Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.42 Only a few things are important, even just one. Mary has chosen the good thing. It will not be taken away from her.”
So fasting could be a way or example of this. By fasting I’m choosing God’s Word over food. I choose to feed my soul and spirit rather than my body. It has to be an individual choice. Just like Jesus was led to do this, so we should be led also. If I don’t feel led by God’s Spirit then I shouldn’t do it. In my case I can’t fast. I am too small and have a sugar problem. I would pass out. So God doesn’t want us to endanger ourselves by fasting. I won’t feel guilty because I don’t fast because I can’t do it physically. But I can do something that would show that I’m maintaining a firm self control. This is what came to me this year for Lent. That I wouldn’t give something up but add something. That something is this study and doing it every morning, every day. I have maintained self control in this hence overriding my fleshly desires and God has met me here. It’s the state of the heart towards Him that matters.
From what I learned in scripture yesterday, fasting has a whole new meaning for me. It isn’t about going without food or giving up something I like to do. Anyone can do those things for a short period of Lent, forty days. It’s not about the act itself that matters. Most people who do these practices are really miserable doing it or they are prideful thinking they are doing something spiritual and it makes them look good. This isn’t what God is looking for. He wants us to be humble, which means don’t think highly of ourselves. He wants us to be happy serving Him and not miserable. If we don’t have the joy of the Lord then don’t do it. One day this came to me when I was emptying the washer. I felt God saying if you don’t have joy in your work it doesn’t mean anything. When we deny our fleshly desires, which most of the time translates to ” I don’t feel like it”, when we choose to do it anyway it does entail a type of suffering for us. It goes against our nature and it can be painful. So every time we deny our thoughts, our words, our actions, we are fasting from our sinful nature. This is what God wants for us, to break away from the world of “self”. To set ourselves apart from the main stream of today’s society driven by “self”. The challenge of Lent shouldn’t be what food will I give up or T.V. show but how can I deny “self” today to benefit someone else. What difference can I make for someone today. Can I give my time away? This is a hard thing to do when you aren’t thinking of what’s in it for me. When we reach heaven God isn’t going to be looking at what food I gave up in His name or what show I didn’t watch for Him, He is looking at what I did with my time that has eternal value. What it boils down to is what did I do that was through the Holy Spirit. This should be practiced everyday and not just during Lent. It’s actually the daily walk with Jesus that I’m talking about. Jesus said there will be people He will say, flee from Me, I never knew you. These people are the ones who didn’t walk out their daily lives with Him. Matthew 7:21-23, Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’