You were created for a purpose! You are made to make a difference in this world, one person at a time. You can be the difference between hope and hopelessness. In today’s final blog of 2019, I want you to think about this past year.
- Are there things you wish you could have done differently?
- Are there goals that were sidetracked by things that are not relevant in your life today?
- Are there opportunities that have now passed you by, and you wonder, “what if?”
You can’t change what has been, but on January 1st, you get a clean slate to begin writing the next chapter of your life! John Maxwell said, “If you always do what you’ve always done; You’ll always get what you have always got.”
Old thinking, habits, and routines will not produce new or better results. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting a different result. If you have a pulse, God has a purpose for you in the New Year.
In Luke 5, Jesus exchanges a series of questions, when His disciples are compared to the disciples of both the Pharisees and John the Baptist. Jesus did things radically different than His peers.
When you live differently from your contemporaries, you are going to invite comparison.
Specifically, Jesus’ disciples are called out for not fasting as often as other disciples. Jesus responds in a very typical Jewish fashion with a question. Answering a question with a question in our culture may seem like evasion, but it was a means of getting to the truth, in Jesus’ culture.
In His day, the truth was the primary pursuit. Right or wrong was less important. My tour guide in Israel was fond of say, “I may not be right, but I’m never wrong.” In this exchange of questions, Jesus is reconstituting the purpose and intent of fasting.
He (Jesus) did not come to resuscitate religion but to demonstrate a meaningful and effective way to know and follow God.
The Pharisees turned fasting into a meaningless display of spiritual superiority. The Bible only required fasting on one day a year, the Day of Atonement. Although fasting was a normal part of the Jewish culture, it was voluntary.
Fasting was a means of;
- Showing contrition over sin or repentance. 1 Samuel 7:6 , The Book of Jonah
- In response to national distress. Zechariah 7:3, 2 Chronicles 20:3
- Personal reasons. 2 Samuel 12:16, Psalm 35:13
The Pharisees declared a fast every Monday and Thursday. It had become a liturgical ritual to demonstrate their spirituality. That is not the purpose of fasting.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6
God desires to do a great work in the life of a person who fasts! If there is a limiting mindset holding you back from fulfilling your purpose and destiny, fasting is the first step in breaking that oppression. If there are debilitating habits and hang-ups in your life, fasting is the first step to breaking those chains.
Fasting is the act of consecrating oneself to God for God’s glory. God is glorified when; doors that were closed open, when binding habits are broken, and things that appear impossible become a reality.
What we do to the glory of God is always for our good.
In Daniel 1, Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were taken captive and chosen by the Persian King to serve as His counsel. As a condition of their service, they were served food directly from the King’s table.
The problem was the food compromised the dietary laws of Daniel and his friends, which would make them unclean before God. They refused and asked to only eat vegetables and drink water.
With some hesitation, the guard who watched over them agreed to do this for ten days. At the end of that time, we read that Daniel and his friends were healthier and better nourished than the others.
“As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Daniel 1:17
It has nothing to do with vegetables but everything with choosing to honor God and to be consecrated to Him. The power of fasting is not in the temporary absence of food but the act of consecration. The King said he found no one equal to Daniel and his friends.
By setting yourself apart to God and feasting on the Bible and prayer, God will begin to break down barriers that have been a hindrance to you this past year. Just as God honored Daniel and his friends for setting themselves apart, He will do the same for you!
Here’s to your best year yet!
(Join me on January 6th-January 10th for a Daniel fast. To learn more about what a Daniel fast is, check out this article here.)