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Fasting Day 5: Fresh Inspiration from the Archives

Fasting archives

Fasting Day Five Posts from the Archives:


 

Countering the Enemy’s Offensive (Part 2): Let God War and Work

countering-the-offensive

Your fasting and prayer are making a difference, upsetting power structures, and effecting the outcome of spiritual battles. Fasting puts the power of God at work. It agitates Satan and demon spirits.

Therefore, as was discussed in Part One of this post, the enemy is going to launch an attack against you. Powers of darkness will go on the offensive against you.

Opposition to Samuel and the Israelites’s Fast

Samuel gathered the people of Israel together at Mizpah to seek God through fasting and prayer—to return to the LORD, repent of their sin, rid themselves of foreign gods, and commit to serve the LORD only.

6…On that day they fasted and there they confessed, ‘We have sinned against the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:6 NIV)

When the Philistines heard about the revival taking place in Israel—that they were gathered at Mizpah to seek God and fast—they attacked them.

7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them.

The Message says, “the Philistine leaders went on the offensive” (v.7). 

Beloved, as you are returning to God through fasting, repenting of your sin, ridding yourself of idolatries, and committing yourself to serve the LORD only, enemy forces are launching an offensive against you.

This sounds discouraging—like things are doomed and hopeless—but notice what God does in response:

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Praise You, Jesus: Alphabet of Praise, Part 2

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The previous post began an alphabet of praise to Jesus for who He is. This is the continuation of the alphabet beginning with the letter N.

Name above all names
Your name is perfume poured out
The nail-pierced hand holding mine
My nourishment
My need-meeter
Absolutely necessary and absolutely enough
Never-failing
My nothing-is-impossible

God Only Son of the Father
The only true God
One my heart desires
One who chose me and called me
Omniscient, all-knowing and all knowledge
Omnipotent, all-powerful One
God Omnipresent, always-here
One who gives me rest
One who restores my soul
One who anoints my head with oil and causes my cup to overflow
One who gathers me under Your wings
My overcomer

Pure
Perfect
Precious to me
My past, present, and future
My prophet, priest, and king
My power
My plumbline
My passover Lamb who rebukes the death angel
My pardon
My physician
My portion
My potter
My protector
My promise-maker and promise-keeper
My provider
Prince of peace
My peace in all circumstances
Promised Jewish Messiah of Israel
My pleasure
My purifier

Quieter of my anxious mind
Quick to hear me when I call
My quarrel-mender and reconciliation

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Fasting Day 5: Six Encouraging Reminders

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Over the years that I’ve been fasting, I’ve encountered the following six issues. These vital reminders are not only encouraging, they can determine whether or not you are successful in keeping your fast, whether it’s a joyful or joyless experience, and whether or not your fasting is effective.

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt had thoughts of quitting by now. The thought may be fleeting, but it does cross your mind now and then. You’ve likely felt so bad that you’ve not had the desire or energy to pray. You’ve struggled with others’ opinions of your fast. You’ve battled discouragement and doubt as to whether your fast is accomplishing anything (other than making you miserable).

We’re human. When we fast, we’re going to struggle with one or two of these things, if not all of them. Some fasts are worse for me; some better. But when I stop and remember these six things, I hear a coach on the sidelines cheering me on! Giving me guidance! Giving me the tools and perspective necessary to persevere and fast effectively. I hear reminders that actually take some pressure off of my “performance” and enable me to enjoy what God is doing through my fast!  You know these things, but it’s so helpful to hear them again:

1. If you messed up, get up and keep going.

Did you mess up on your fast? Did you eat something you weren’t going to? Just get up and keep going. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Get up and head to the finish line! The race isn’t over because you fell. Don’t quit or let the enemy get you discouraged. You can start fresh and leave the condemnation behind.

Yes, get up and continue on, but don’t start counting at day one again. There is no cause for a complete “do-over.” Pick up with where you were (day five, day ten, etc) and persevere to the finish line!

2. Don’t let others be your Holy Spirit.

Don’t let others be your fasting police. Don’t let their expectations, approval, or disapproval determine what you do or don’t abstain from during your fast.

Fasting is not a legalistic effort. It’s something between you and God. We fast to please God – not others…and not even ourselves.

Let the Holy Spirit of God guide you in what to abstain from. Whether you are on a full fast(liquid only) or a partial fast (such as the Daniel fast), Elmer Towns guidance in The Beginner’s Guide to Fasting is helpful:

Ask God to lead you in what to drink, and fast with a good conscience toward God. Make sure you are comfortable with your fast in the presence of God, and eliminate anything that convicts your conscience: “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith” (Romans 14:23). Drink only the liquid that glorifies God: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).[1]

The choice of what you abstain from can only be made between you and God.  If we’re not careful, the fast itself becomes our focus and not God. I know for myself, there have been times in the past when I was so focused on what I was drinking or not drinking that I was basically putting my confidence in the fast itself, not in God. I was so preoccupied with the menu that I missed the most important part – prayer!

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Fasting Day 5: Expecting Anointing

Jesus used two illustrations in Matthew chapter nine to explain that the old way of fasting and the new way could not mix. The New Covenant was about to be established and with it, all things were going to change – even fasting.

In the Old Testament, fasting had to do with mourning, seeking God’s help in a crisis or seeking God so that He might turn back judgment (see Jonah 3:5-9). But under the New Covenant, we don’t fast to change God’s mind. We don’t fast to achieve forgiveness or merit with God. All of that is under the blood of Jesus Christ! When we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, all of our sins were forgiven!

In Awakening, Stovall Weems describes the difference between fasting under the Old and New Covenant,

Under the Old Covenant, the entire mind-set was to “do in order to become.” But under the New Covenant, the operative principle is “you already are, therefore act like it” — rejoice and celebrate that Christ has set you free (Galatians 5:1)! [i]

The old is very different from the new. To illustrate this, Jesus used the example of putting a patch of new cloth on an old garment. Next, He compared old and new wineskins.

At that time, wine was stored in wineskins. The wineskin had to be soft, pliable and expandable in order to hold new wine. As the new wine would ferment, it would cause the wineskin to expand. Such an expansion would cause old wineskins to crack and break if filled with new wine. The wine would spill and go to waste.

New Anointing

In the Bible, wine symbolizes the Holy Spirit. When we became a Christian, we received the Holy Spirit inside the wineskin of our body. Throughout our life as a believer, God continually desires to do new things in us – to bring expansion and growth through His Spirit. But we need new wineskins to contain it.

In his chapter on New School Fasting, Stovall Weems writes,

You need a new wineskin to move forward in God’s purpose for your life. But what most people don’t realize is you don’t get a new wineskin just once—when you get saved. We must repeatedly receive new wineskins so that God’s work can continue to expand in our lives. The old wineskin represents old seasons, staleness, stiffness, even hardheartedness. The old and stale will not be able to contain the new and fresh.

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Fasting Day 5: Renewal in the Desert


Sometimes our relationship with God seems distant. We feel empty, like we’re in a spiritual desert.

Have you been dry spiritually? Do you feel like you’re in a desert season – with no fire, no passion, no love of God’s word, no longing for prayer? When you’re in a dry spiritual season, one of the greatest things you can do is fast.

Consider three scriptural instances of fasting.

1. Jesus in the Desert

Consider Jesus’ example. In the first days of His earthly ministry, Jesus went through a desert. However, He fasted, and when He came out of the dry desert place, He came out changed, ignited with the Spirit’s power.

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he…ate nothing….14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit… (Luke 4:1,14, emphasis added).

Notice the change. Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” when He was led into the desert to fast. When He returned from forty days of fasting, He returned “in the power of the Spirit.”

If we truly commit ourselves to prayer during the fast (and we don’t merely diet by omitting prayer), when we return from our fast, we’ll return with new anointing, new power of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

2. The Samuel Fast

God called Samuel as a young boy to lead Israel. Before he became a man, Israel sinned by taking the Ark of the Covenant into battle as a good luck charm. For this offense, God allowed the Philistines to defeat Israel.  Not only did they defeat Israel, they took the Ark of the Covenant as plunder.

The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s presence – the place where He dwelled. To lose the Ark meant losing God’s presence among them.  This was so grievous to the Israelites that when the wife of Phinehas (one of the priests guilty for the spiritual decay) gave birth to her child, she named him Ichabod, saying, “’The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the Ark of God had been captured.  “Ichabod” means “where is the glory?”

Many of us are living Ichabod – God’s presence is gone. Perhaps we come to church week after week, but we no longer feel God’s presence closely, intimately like we once did. We have no revival in our soul – where we are broken but alive spiritually.

In this instance, Samuel called Israel to a fast. National revival resulted from Samuel’s leadership and the fast that he called (See 1 Samuel 7).

There is no better time to fast than when we feel we’ve lost closeness with God and passion for His word….

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