FASTING, God's Hidden Power
In each of our lives, there are things that we encounter that seemingly have no reason for being there. We've not done anything wrong and neither are we able to find these things as part of our Biblical heritage, being associated with our New Testament covenant with God.
Once identified, you pray in accordance with God's will and confess His Word over your life and situation, only to see things hanging on and at times even appearing to get worse. Confusion tries to set in and you may even get to the point where you give in to these things as being God's will for your life.
Before you give in, God has a weapon for you to use that is more powerful in transforming your life than the devil would have you realize and that is the power of fasting. Fasting is a Biblical mandate for you that can bring your life and thinking into greater alignment with the will of God.
What must be understood is that fasting is not just something reserved for those that profess Christ as Lord. Fasts are observed among Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Confucianists, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of other religious faiths. Even those that practice witchcraft fast to further their own system of belief. So when you hear of other sects of religion making reference to fasting, it is not the same as when a Believer fasts.
On a personal level, people fast for various reasons and each reason can find some validity. There are times when we choose to fast because we struggle with either known or hidden sin. This could be alcoholism, cigarettes, sexual addictions, eating disorders, family problems, sickness and disease against a loved one, and even various abuses we commit or were a victim of, and we want to rid our lives of these things.
Some people fast to lose weight and others fast because they are tired of the various cycles of life they experience and want a more permanent change in their situation. These cycles of life can be an unsaved mate or child, breaking the curse of poverty or the constant assault of the devil in their lives as one bad thing happens after another and there seems to be no end to the series of assaults on your life.
God will put us on a fast as a ministry in order to experience the breakthrough we've desired. Going through the same thing year after year can take its toll on the leadership and congregation and unless you are firmly settled in your heart that God's will is being done, you will not have the staying power to see God's vision all the way through.
Fasting also removes the devils influence in the church and releases the power of God to be made manifest so we can experience God's open heaven over our lives, community and city. This grace can expand to the nations of the world as we are used by God in furthering His purposes.
There are some fasts that we find ourselves on that are involuntary because of some great tragedy, some surgery we may have had or are anticipating, or because of the death of a loved one where we have no appetite for days on end. This happens especially when someone close to you passes away and your appetite leaves. No matter what the cause or reason is, fasting is always beneficial to us as Believers.
As powerful as the results are, many people still do not fast because of the inconvenience to their fleshly nature. During the time of fasting, especially in the initial days, until your flesh is submissive to your spirit, you're reminded of how hungry you are and how bad you need food to sustain your life.
The fact is that fasting is one of the activities the enemy fights against more than any other as it secures victory for you that cannot be won in any other way.
Fasting is Biblical
For some people, a teaching of this type becomes informational as they now know what fasting is from God's perspective. However for others this will become an added power in their Christian walk as they pray for understanding and the added ability to become a person of fasting.
The Bible has much to say about the importance of the people of God fasting and the results associated with being obedient in this.
To fast effectively, you must do so according to the will of God. On various occasions our Lord Jesus spoke of fasting as a voluntary exercise.
First in Matthew 9:14, 15, Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptizer that His own disciples would fast when he was removed from their presence. But while He was physically with them, they rejoiced because they were with Him "as their bride groom.
In Matthew 6:16“18 again, although the disciples of Jesus were to fast of their own free will, however He warned them against making it an occasion for a parade of holiness.
Mt 6:16 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Mt 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
Mt 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
It's important to note that Jesus declared, "When you fast¦ as our Lord did not say "if you fast. Doing so, He first places the responsibility to do so on each individual. Secondly He lets us know that this is not an optional New Testament principle, but a command from God to be obeyed.
Here Jesus is saying, "In the time of your fast¦ you're to fast with a specific expression that can be seen by other people and will be noticed by God.
The expression is, "Don't try to show the world you are fasting in order to appear holier than those who have not gained the insight into fasting that you have. He wants you to keep doing what you're doing, acting in ways that brings God glory and fast where it's not noticeable by other people.
Jesus refers to those who fast to be seen of other people as "hypocrites or someone who does it for show - being a counterfeit. He wants your fast to be for Him, and not for others to see and notice.
In proper balance, there will be times when others will know you are fasting, such as the time when your family will know because you're not joining them at the dinner table, or other church members who may even be joining you during this time. Again, the key is to not appear unto men to fast and parade your holiness around in a condemning way as you show others how great you are.
It's during this type of fast that you will have God's attention and what He see's you doing in secret will be openly rewarded, meaning the thing you are fasting for, will manifest itself in the natural at God's appointed time.
In Matthew chapter 17, after Jesus returned from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, He shows us through the example of a demon manifesting itself in a young boy, that fasting gives added power to our prayers.
14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him.
15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.
16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.
17 "O unbelieving and perverse generation, Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.
18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?
20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ˜Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'
In the NIV translation, verse 21 is in the footnote and not added in with the text. As the NKJV and the KJV says, verse 21 says, "Howbeit, this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.
The fact is that fasting is something that Jesus practiced. This is evident because Jesus cast out a demon that would only be removed by prayer and fasting. He didn't tell the boys father to wait while He went to fast, He lived a fasted life and was ready when the time came for Him to demonstrate God's power.
Now that Jesus ascended to the Father, He expects His followers to do the same in order that their faith would rise to a level where they believe God in the midst of impossible situations and their fasting would be the avenue they would employ that would ensure that God's intended results would be done.
Therefore, praying in faith and in agreement with the Word of God and having a life that's given over to fasting, becomes the avenue for a release of God's greater power in the lives of His people.
What is Flesh or our Carnal Nature?
To fast effectively, you must be certain to deal with the acts of the flesh first. What good is it to miss a meal when our lives are messed up?
Therefore we must make a conscious effort to give our human spirit the ascendency over our flesh so we will have as little self imposed opposition as we can.
We must therefore recognize that the enemy of our soul hides behind two forces that each Believer struggles with most of their life. These two are the world and our flesh. The reason the fight lasts so long is because as we gain victory over one area, the Spirit of God reveals yet another area that we have to fight and gain victory over.
In a prior teaching on "Effective Spiritual Warfare I identified the fact that our enemy is not just satan, but we fight the world and our flesh as well.
It's through the world and our flesh or our carnal nature that every sin we commit against God abides. These areas house the acts of the flesh that stands in opposition to God's Kingdom purposes for our lives. We will either give in to the acts of the flesh or live by the Spirit revealed in Galatians 5:22.
The Bible says in Galatians 5:19,
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Debauchery is translated as Lewdness in the NKJV and it means: "licentious [immoral or wicked], brutal. Further it is "sexual excess, absence of restraint, insatiable desire for pleasure; arrogance, insolence [being rude and disrespectful] referring to words; Immorality, lustfulness, excessive pleasure and perversion in general.
This covers a variety of acts that many Believers has coddled as their own pet pieves and some have even made excuses for being the way they are and therefore keeping these things in their lives.
They must realize that each of these acts are inspired by satan and the world promotes them as being a regular part of life and even in our nation these are promoted as being "lawful as long as they are done within the confines of the laws that our political leaders have set up.
The world makes each of these things appear to be "normal. However God stands in opposition to each of them and gives us the remedy to overcoming them by telling us to "walk in the Spirit and we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Walking in the Spirit means that you will conduct your life according to the Word of God. In essence, you will live your life in agreement with what God has already revealed in His Word and anything that tries to hold on or creep in that's contrary to the Bible you will quickly refute and root out of your life.
The fact is that we will never walk in God's true power until these two forces [that we become comfortable with over the years through familiarity] is dealt with. You will never gain victory over the attacks of satan until you recognize these as your enemy and know how they enter in and make their residence in our lives.
You must realize that your flesh is much more than what you eat. Your flesh or carnal nature is "The things that you crave through your physical senses and the things that your flesh desires to be served by them. This nature is your physical body and soul without the influence of your "born again human spirit as it's influenced by God's Holy Spirit.
In Mark chapter 4, Jesus clearly shows us in the Parable of the Sower some of the things that come in our lives and make void the Word of God. These have a wider range of attacks against our spiritual lives than most Christians have come to understand or even acknowledge.
Because these things are "lawful most Christians refuse to acknowledge these as making up their carnal nature because they feel good to our flesh and will often allow us the opportunity relate better to those around us who are un-believers showing them that we are just like them.
There are also Christians who do not know what their flesh consist of and instead of resisting those fleshly tendencies in all their subtle forms; they feed them by continuing to practice them. As they do this the carnal nature gains a greater stronghold.
For others, their entire lives they have been fed things by their parents or guardians that place those things that are of the world or the flesh above things that are from God.
The fact is, "No matter which form your flesh has been shaped by, it must be dealt with if you are ever going to walk in God's intended victory.
We must continue to develop the attitude that whatever is presented to our flesh that's contrary to God's righteous way of living, is going to be dealt with and we are going to root it out of our lives.
Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 that your "spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak. Although this is true, your flesh can be brought into subjection with your spirit as you draw closer to God each day.
In all actuality, the determining factor is the type of "ground you have allowed your heart to become. If you are open and sensitive to the things of God, you will be more likely to quickly accept God's Word and will over the things your flesh craves. If your heart is hardened to the things of God, it will be almost impossible for change to come to that area of your life until it does.
In explaining the various types of ground, the seed [which represents the Word of God] fell on, Jesus begins letting His disciples know that "Understanding into the workings of the Kingdom of God begin with understanding this one principle.
In Mark chapter 4 Jesus had just spoken a parable about a sower and seed to the crowd. A parable being a known truth thrown alongside an unknown Truth, the disciples [and I'm certain the crowd] did not understand what Jesus said.
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. 11 And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that
˜Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.'
13 And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
Again, the foundation for understanding parables pertaining to God's Kingdom is wrapped up in this one portion of Scripture. What must be understood is that there's nothing wrong with the seed [or the Word] that's being sown, it's the ground [or the human heart] on which it falls.
There are many things we allow to come in during our walk with God that causes the Word to be unprofitable. We often think that saying a prayer to receive Jesus at some point in our life is a "cure-all for anything we can potentially face. When a situation rises, we revert back to the fact that we are saved and Jesus is our Lord.
But there is much more to walking in victory than saying a prayer, there is the maturity factor. Someone that is mature allows his or her heart to become fertile ground and is always receptive to the entire Word of God. They will not take portions of Scripture out of context to fit their carnal desire.
For some Christians, the Word doesn't make it out the sanctuary here at church or their living room at home before satan takes it and robs them of God's intended blessing and purpose.
Others as verse 17 says cannot get past a problem in their life or the words of their friends, co-workers or school mates as when trouble or persecution comes - because of the Word - they quickly fall away.
As you trust God's Word in living, giving and serving, that Word is going to be tested and you cannot allow those times to cause you to turn your back on God.
When your family and friends know you're saved and you are now spending more time in the House of God, you cannot allow their persecution or harassment or your new lifestyle to cause you to turn your back on God.
But getting to our point of what your flesh actually is composed of, verse 19 says, "¦worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
These things encompass the nature of flesh that our physical and soulish makeup will fight during our existence in the earth.
In like fashion, the things of the world revealed in First John 2:16 are the "¦cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does”comes not from the Father but from the world.
16 For all that is in the world”the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”is not of the Father but is of the world.
In Mark chapter 4, you have the worries of life. The KJV translates this as, "the cares of this world. The Greek word for care is "mÃ©rimna and is "anxiety, care that brings disruption to the personality and the mind.
Worry always brings with it a "disruption to your regular pattern of thinking and living. You are not able to focus your attention on God as you should and your thoughts and actions are not based on the Lord and on how He desires for you to do things.
To worry means to be "tormented; to subject someone to persistent or nagging attention or effort; to afflict with mental distress or agitation; make anxious.
When satan brings worry, he makes you to lose focus by concentrating your mind on the problem at hand instead of on God's promise. He doesn't want you to know that most of the worry we go through is unwarranted and the problem is never as intense as he makes us believe. We lose ground through worry, which is an act of our flesh.
When you worry, you place your mind and attention on a subject or specific object, often without being able to change the outcome.
The fact is it is impossible to walk as a spiritual being and therefore change the course or direction of your life through fasting and prayer when your mind is filled with worry. The reason is worry always focuses on the problem whereas God wants us to focus on what He promised us.
Therefore we combat worry with the peace of God that passes all understanding. Peace is vital for us as it keeps our minds focused on God and what He promised in His Word. Worry robs us of God's peace. Philippians 4 NKJV:
6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
The Message Bible translates this as:
6 “ 7 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Often the answer to our breakthrough lies in our ability to turn our worries into prayers and praises. Yet when we are faced with the thing that is the cause of our worry, we forget that we have a God that is more than able and has the ability to do "exceedingly, abundantly, above all we ask or think¦
Then, there's the deceitfulness of wealth that satan uses against Christians in the Kingdom of God, especially the men. Because of our desire to be providers in our families and have a nest egg when we retire, we focus much of our attention on making money or providing a living.
For some people, whole families have been destroyed while one of the marriage partners are out trying to accumulate wealth by working eighty hours a week or by gambling their salary away to support their habit while trying to accumulate wealth.
Often through a period of time, you would have gambled or thrown away enough resources to purchase the thing you're trying to gain by a quick buck. And you lose what you could have had in the family by working to gain what you already have “ love and acceptance.
The biggest thing that must be realized is that these too are the flesh of man going after wealth at the expense of their relationship with God instead of trusting God for their increase. Balance becomes the very thing necessary to ensure that your carnal nature is kept at bay.
Defined, deceit means that "someone or something fails to fulfill what was promised; to cheat or to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. To be deceived means that you "chase something that will never materialize.
This results in wasting countless months and years in the workforce or marketplace that should have been used to further God's Kingdom purposes.
Chasing after wealth never satisfies and many years of your life are wasted while you try to make a better life at the expense of your walk with God.
As I've mentioned on several occasions, God's blessings are tied to our relationship with Him and should never be the other way around as many Christians have made it to be. The principle that the Lord gave us has never changed from Matthew 6:33
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Then Mark 4:19 goes on saying, "The desires for other things¦ The KJV translates the word desire as "lust. To lust after something means that you do everything you can to satisfy the carnal desires or appetites. This refers to the "Desires which are fixed on sensual objects as pleasures, profits, and honors.
Notice, you lust for "other things or ˜Things that remain after you feel the things of God does not satisfy.'
Some of us do not even give the things of God a chance to prove they will satisfy. The things of God are strange to your flesh and the world; they just do not make sense.
Therefore you must take the time to acquaint your new nature of God to the promises that He released in the Scriptures. The more you are exposed to God's Word and you apply Christ's teachings to your life, the more you will be "convinced that what God says is for you.
The sticking point here is many Christians mistake agreeing with what God said with being convinced about what God says. The difference is in the doing of the Word. If you only agree with what God said, you risk being a forgetful hearer similar to the person that James references. James 1:22 says, "Be doers of the Word, not hearers only¦
But a person who is convinced about what God said will remain after the storms of life have subsided. The reason is because he or she applied what God said to their life while in the middle of the storm.
For some people, they make God's Word say what they want it to or take things out of context. They too are lusting after other things.
Each of these things in verse 19 comes into our lives and "choke the Word, making it unfruitful. The Word will not produce when the soil of your heart is not right.
Romans chapter 8 verse 8 says:
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
We have placed the flesh under the subjection of the Spirit of God and therefore, we are to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
The apostle Paul writes in Philippians chapter 3, "3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-"
Where we refuse to focus our hearts during our walk with God, often dictates the fight we will have to overcome when we begin our fast. You will often be confronted with dealing with these acts of your flesh when you go on an extended fast. Left unchecked, they will hinder the effectiveness of your fast.
In I John 2:15, we're admonished to love not the world and are actually being told to not have an affair with "the present world, the present order of things, as opposed to the kingdom of Christ.
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world”the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
It deals with the idea of humanity, and evil both physical and moral. It's the place where the seat of your cares, temptations and irregular desires that our flesh craves resides. These are things that God know you are able to overcome and have victory in.
However it will take conscious and consistent efforts. Whatever stands in opposition to God and His Kingdom make up this place that we live in but are not supposed to be of as the Scriptures say that "We're in the world, but are not supposed to be of the world.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a period of time that you choose to deny your body the physical nourishment it craves so your human spirit can gain ascendancy over your flesh and it's appetites for things that the world offers it.
It's medically proven that fasting can be a powerful method of cleansing and healing the physical body, However it is also a tool for the cleansing of the soul.
The devil does not want you to know that fasting is a key to a genuine and deep spiritual walk with God. He makes us think it is a Biblical principle of denial and not a principle of empowerment.
Throughout the Word of God, you see fasting being used as a key element of entering into and maintaining a powerful and spiritually dynamic walk with God.
Fasting defined means to "abstain from food either partially or completely. Two words in the Old Testament describe fasting one meaning "to cover your mouth and the other means "to humble yourself.
The New Testament definition literally means "not eating. To enter into a Biblical fast, you must voluntarily abstain from eating food for a period of time for a spiritual purpose. During this time, you deny yourself one of the most basic elements of a person's survival, one that is loved and cherished by your body “ food.
To be humble means that you are "Made lower than someone or something else; it means to be brought down to a lower state.
The flesh you fight with has exalted itself above the things of God and in some cases God Himself. You must consciously fight and give God the ascendancy as you refrain from eating and place your life on a lower level. Philippians 3 says:
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame” who set their mind on earthly things.
Fasting, when directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit has the power to break the gripping control of our human nature which the Bible refers to as our flesh.
Once you become followers of Jesus Christ your human spirit was regenerated; became alive; and you became more aware of your flesh or your carnal nature.
A war immediately began and because you fed your flesh for years, you may struggle with the commands that God requires of you. Your flesh may even appear to be winning the war on the inside.
When the flesh is ready to be overcome by the Spirit of God it may even appear that things are getting worse. The human spirit is fighting and the flesh knows that its time is short.
During this intense battle it appears impossible for you to say no to your craving for the world and your flesh along with any other strong craving or desire that's part of your lower earthly nature.
Your human flesh also includes laziness and lethargy; cravings for the wrong foods or eating amounts of foods in large quantities instead of eating only that which is sufficient for the sustenance of your body.
The world and our flesh is composed of out of control emotions such as anger and rage which sends us in a frenzy when someone cuts in front of us on the interstate or saying hurtful things to those we love and later regretting it.
They also involve our thoughts, emotions, desire for inappropriate sex, compulsion to gamble, and among many other things, not having the ability to keep from gossiping.
You feel that you have no control over these things or you feel that you have no control over your life. Your needs, wants and desires are undisciplined and if your flesh rules you, you will be drawn to the very things that will eventually destroy you. There is no consideration of the plan and purpose of God for you and you wind up drifting further away from God.
The apostle Paul knew all too well the destructive nature of the flesh. In Romans chapter seven he shares with us the fight that was going on inside.
What actually happened is when Paul became a "Born again Believer, [not just someone that went to church or was hypocritical in their walk with God] his spiritual nature was awaken and as verse 8 says, "But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
Being a child of God causes your flesh to scream out every time you receive a Word from God. You read a Scripture or hear a message and although your initial response to the Word is to receive it with gladness, the thing that actually happens is your flesh rebels against the very thing that God is trying to bring into your life.
Because you are comfortable with your flesh and obeying it does not require as much effort as it requires obeying God's Word, you often side with your flesh and don't even fight to press on in the things of God.
The war now rages as in the words of Paul you now "Do what you don't want to do and that which you want to do gets swallowed up in the very things that you now hate as a Christian.
He says it this way beginning in Romans 7:14 of the NKJV:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God”through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin
Like you and I, Paul struggled with His flesh. His desire was to please God as verse 21 says he found that "evil was present with him as the one that wanted to do what was right. He appeared to be very confused and frustrated in his inability to do what he knew was the right thing to do.
Inside, there were two opposing characters fighting for dominion over you. The nature you have was replaced with the nature of God and the character you developed over the years was now rebelling against the new character that God was introducing your flesh to.
Once Paul's human spirit was made alive by the Holy Spirit, in verse 23 it says a war began in his mind. He finally screams in verse 24, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Making reference to the nature of the flesh he responds to his own question saying in verse 25, "I thank God “ through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You fight the same things that Paul did and must know that your victory lies in obeying God when your flesh does not want to. This is where knowing how to fast and becoming a person of fasting is vital for your maturity as a Believer.
The way to mature is by denying the very thing that stands in opposition to your growth the "main thing it needs for survival “ FOOD! You are making up your mind that what has kept you from becoming all God intends will not stand in the way any longer.
As long as your carnal nature is in control you will be unable to fully accomplish the will of God as that nature is in opposition to Him. It's dominated by fleshly thinking and acting while it reasons and justifies those fleshly desires.
Your emotions also control and dominate the flesh, which means that often you are ruled by how you feel and the things you desire dictate how you act and how you conduct your very life and conversations.
Yet, you must live your Christian life always knowing that "Greater is He that's in you than he that's in the world. I John 4:4
According to Acts 1:8, you have been empowered by the Lord Jesus "to be His witnesses. You will not walk in that power if you walk in your lower earthly nature constantly giving in to its demands on you.
You must take up your cross and "follow Jesus daily as if you don't you will not be able to yield to the Spirit's promptings and the power He desires to release in you and through you. It's only when you live your life in harmony with God that you will be able to crucify your flesh.
Although fasting is the avenue the Lord uses, it entails more than refraining from eating "all or some foods that you feel are pleasing to your flesh.
When the fast is over, you must be a person of prayer and the Word. You have to fill your heart and life with the Word of God allowing it to renew your mind to the old way of thinking and watch the words that you allow to come out of your mouth.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue is what the Scriptures say. Proverbs 18
20 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Speaking [confession, saying the same thing that God says about you] and praying the right things become like "hammers and chisels in your life as you whittle away at your hardened flesh. While doing this, adding the command of fasting to your life acts as dynamite that makes all other efforts easier and therefore more effective.
It's been said that "The body makes a wonderful servant but is a very poor master. The same is true with money and any other thing that is not given over to God.
Often the most neglected part of our flesh that we refuse to give over to God is our speech. Most Christians get in more trouble because of what they say than what they actually do.
I quoted Matthew 12:34 previously saying, "Out of the abundance of the mouth, the heart speaks. However, the Scriptures have much more to say about this great weapon of what we speak either giving us victory or contributing to our demise.
In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus reveals the importance of watching our words as He compared what we say with what we eat.
The question becomes, "Which has the greatest ability to destroy our lives and Christian Testimony?
Surprisingly, it's not food offered to idols, refraining from eating pork or any other religious food, it's the words that we speak that defiles us.
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, "Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?
13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.
15 Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us.
16 So Jesus said, "Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.
When the fast is over, you must still represent your Lord well. Some of us need to fast to get control of our tongue as the things we say are destroying us and those around us.
Neglecting to be victorious over our words and only speak those things that will edify and encourage others causes people to lose respect for us and the very Gospel we're trying to get them to accept. They lose respect for the message and the One the message is all about “ Jesus!
The principle is: "During the fast we watch what goes into our bodies [or what we don't allow in]. After the fast is over, we must watch what comes out. This becomes more important than ever as you don't want to lose the ground you gained through fasting by not making your speech a priority.
Also referred to as our tongue, James 3 says NKJV,
"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3Indeed, we put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. 5Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
You must learn to control your tongue. There must come a time in your life when you don't say everything that comes to mind. You must select and use words carefully if you are going to be considered by God as being perfect or mature.
Watching our tongues takes learning to speak in agreement with the fruit of the Spirit where we must speak in love and speak with kindness. This means we should consider the words we say and speak while being controlled by the Spirit of God.
To speak without considering the feelings of the other person and the potential long-term damage can bring heartache in the relationship for months and years.
Verse 6 says the tongue is a world of iniquity. Iniquity is wickedness, evil, sin and injustice.
This is how God views the tongue of man until it is fully given over to the Holy Spirit. He's saying that this may not be an easy thing, but it can be done with effort and by your obedience to Him.
Each of us at some point has said things that we have had to apologize for. This happens not only on the job and in school, but in our homes where those we love the most we take for granted. Once something is spoken, as much as you want to, you cannot recant it.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth. This is so important to God that the Bible says in Matthew 12:36, "For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
You must decide to do this and the way it will happen is through humbling yourself and fasting unto God.
Bible Examples of Fasting
The Bible has many examples of individuals and entire nations going on a fast. These were generally called to further the purposes of God in a nation as in the case of Daniel to repentance.
You can also look at the life of king David [II Samuel 12:15 “ 23] or the nation of Israel as in the case of Josiah [II Kings chapters 21 “ 23 to see that fasting and repentance are powerful forces that moves the heart of the people while also moving obstacles out of the way of God's intended purposes.
However, there is an overlooked promise in the Book of Isaiah that will serve the church well in the 21st century. After describing God's chosen fast, for those who will follow this prescribed model, chapter 58 ends saying:
"Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
This is a huge promise from God. He is saying that if you do things His way, He will feed you with something that's better than food and that is “ the heritage of Jacob.
A heritage is a birthright that you are to possess. Defined, it is "Property that descends to an heir or an inheritance; something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth.
Fasting God's way and with His purposes as the thing that inspires you, causes the actual transference of your birthright as a child of God into your life.
Seeing Biblical examples of fasting, our greatest example of someone who fasted is Jesus Christ the Messiah. In this case you see that Jesus fasted to conquer satan. If He had to do this as the Son of God, the same is true for us in this generation.
Although Jesus' life was filled with excitement, controversy and miracles, there were two very significant events that preceded His going into "public ministry.
One of these events was when He was Baptized by John in the Jordan River and the "Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased. See Luke 3:21, 22.
As great an event as this was, you would think it would have been the defining factor in Jesus going forward to fulfill the purpose for which He was born. This was not the case; it's "the ability to remain strong under the attacks of the enemy that qualifies you for public ministry. This is the second significant event that preceded Jesus going into public ministry.
In our generation, we are fascinated by those with strong anointings who can preach, teach and pray. These are great gifts and are to be respected by all who are called to public ministry.
However, the defining factor that qualifies a person for ministry is their ability to withstand the attacks of satan without compromising the Word of God or compromising the moral standards that God expects from you as a child of God.
You must be stable enough to withstand satan as he attacks you with the intent to get you to compromise how you're supposed to live and what He has called you to.
Luke chapter 4 verse 1 in the NKJV says:
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
3 And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.
4But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, ˜Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'
5Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ˜You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'
9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: ˜He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,' 11 and, ˜In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'
What is noticeable here is the fact that Jesus not only withstood the attacks of satan, He did so at one of the weakest moments of His life “ after He had fasted a long period of time. Extended fasting causes you to be physically weaker.
What satan would have you focus on here is Jesus going without food for a long period of time and the temptations that were offered Him. However, the hidden fact that released Jesus was not that the Holy Spirit "descended upon Him as we saw in Luke 3:21, 22.
What released Jesus is that this same Holy Spirit "Empowered Him for what He would ultimately face as He pursued the Father's will. Jesus was born to die and by dying, give life to everyone who would place their trust in Him.
Have you been empowered by the Holy Spirit for what you will ultimately face as you pursue the Father's will for your own life?
Jesus didn't begin ministry until after He was baptized in water and until after the Holy Spirit entered or "indwelled Him and until after He fasted for forty days. It was then that He was released into a powerful ministry with great signs, wonders and miracles.
We are supposed to do greater things than Jesus did and this too shall become a reality before He returns to claim us as His bride. However, there must be a life of fasting before this will become a reality.
Another person the Scriptures record as fasting is the prophet Daniel. The Book of Daniel reveals that he fasted on at least two occasions that were very significant. The first fast was to overcome his flesh while he received wisdom from God and the second was for a spiritual breakthrough.
Daniel chapter one has him and the three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego living in Babylonian captivity. They were favored because of their purity and were educated and gifted mentally and spiritually. Daniel 1:
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility ”
4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.
6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel,
10 but the official told Daniel, "I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,
12 "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.
14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.
19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service.
20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
This is a very important principle for us to see. Although Daniel and the three boys had the choice to eat food that was rich in substance and most likely tasted good to the flesh, they made the choice to eat only vegetables and water for ten days and then for three years continued this practice.
I'm certain the foods they could have eaten were meats, fats, pastries and wine but verse 8 says "Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. Being Hebrew, there were foods that were forbidden in their own law and instead of making the law the culprit, they stated that a different diet would not make them any less than the others.
At the king's feast, there was quite possibly pork, shrimp, lobster and other dainties that went against their consciences. As they stood for their principles and went with their godly conviction, God granted them favor and a ten day fast was extended for three years.
Resolving not to eat means Daniel made up his mind; that he determined beforehand to not eat certain foods. Our fast should be a predetermination to refrain from all or partial foods. He rejected the rich foods that was his for the asking and most likely would have been supplied in abundance.
He and the three Hebrew boys became vegetarians for three years, living a fasted life that consisted of water and vegetables.
The New King James Version of Scripture translates the word vegetables in verse 12 with the word "pulse. Pulse consisted of vegetables, grains, wheat, barley, rye, peas, beans and lentils. For three years these same foods made up their diet. This diet was rich in protein and high in fiber.
However, God honored their commitment as verse 17 says, "As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
Verse 20 the Bible says "And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.
There was increased spiritual insight when it came to these men. In our generation, we try to fight witches; atheists and those of other false religions in the flesh. We have debates and marches and seemingly make no real progress in the demise of these things that stand in opposition to the agenda of God in the earth. Often we approach these things in our own strength and flesh simply saying a prayer.
However, when we fast and God increases our knowledge and wisdom, there are things that those who are unbelievers cannot deny which becomes part of our lives.
The fact that you are smarter and wiser than others, who serve other Gods, will set you apart. Remember, "God is the One that promotes us - you are called to be obedient.
The more sensitive you become to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the more "seemingly intelligent you will become as your steps and your speech are now being directed by the Lord.
The Book of Daniel chapter 10 also shows a "partial fast that was effective in releasing the answer that God desired. The opposition was in the heavens as spiritual warfare took place between the angels of God and those of satan.
In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war. The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.
Da 10:2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks.
Da 10:3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.
Da 10:4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris,
Da 10:5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist.
Da 10:6 His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
Da 10:7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves.
Da 10:8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless.
Da 10:9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.
Da 10:10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
Da 10:11 He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you. And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
Da 10:12 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
Da 10:13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
Da 10:14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.
Here, Daniels fast consisted of no choice food or "pleasant bread as the KJV translates verse 3. Defining what this choice food was you will find that more than what he didn't eat, this choice food is in reference to Daniel "refraining from eating what he actually liked and what foods he did eat, he did not eat until he was full.
There was a spiritual breakthrough that Daniel desired and he knew that the only way he would experience God's victory was through fasting. He didn't understand the reason for the dream he had and further, didn't know why he didn't understand what it meant.
Remember, in chapter one, God gave him understanding in dreams and visions, yet this one vision remained elusive from his understanding. However, Daniel knew that the answer he sought would be found in God and he sought God out by fasting.
There are times in our own lives when we will not eat our favorite foods for a period of time. Depending on the circumstance you face, there are times when nothing tastes good. You refrain from eating everything that brings you pleasure and as a Christian, set aside time to seek God for His will in the situation.
Although the answer may not be as favorable as you feel it should be [as in the case of King David when he fasted for his son] you will be strengthened to accept God's plan for your life even if the outcome is not favorable.
David fasted for his son who was sick with hope that God would hear and allow him to live. However, his son was sick unto death and in the fast; David was strengthened to deal with the outcome which was that his son would die.
In our text here, it was twenty-one days before Daniel ate regular food. He was intent on receiving an answer from God.
Verse 8 says he was weak from this fast and had no strength, but was strengthened by the messenger from God [Gabriel] who had a fight with the prince of the Persian kingdom for three weeks.
This prince was not necessarily a person of royalty as much as he was a person of rank in this satanic empire. Although a powerful demon, he was not able to withstand the power of God in this situation and the same will be true in yours.
God will never let the prayers you offer while fasting to go unanswered. However, you must learn to put your flesh under and stay on your knees until the answer manifests itself. If need be, God will send a reserve angel with your answer and make certain that you are not hurt in the midst of your fast.
God answering your prayers by humbling yourself and praying is evident in the Book of Ezra chapter 8. Here the people of God fasted for direction in their lives.
21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.
22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.
23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
In verse 21, the KJV translates "a safe journey as "to seek of Him a right way for us¦ The people of God must see the importance of setting aside time before God before making some decisions for their lives and families.
As verse 23 says, they "fasted and petitioned God and He answered their prayers. Going without food without having a specific agenda before God is only going on another diet. It's a proven fact that most diets do not work.
You must combine your fast with prayers of petition before God. Petitioning God involves "Making a serious request; it's an appeal or plea to a superior from an inferior. It's also a formal written request made to an official person or organized body (as a court); a document embodying such a formal written request; something asked or requested.
The key is for you to be specific when you approach God. It's asking Him for something that you desire to see change in and that is the focal point for your prayers during the time you set aside to fast. Then God answers your prayers.
Then there are accounts in the Bible of people fasting or abstaining from all food. In second Chronicles chapter 20, king Jehoshaphat was in a great predicament. Warriors from three other kingdoms gathered to fight against him and he knew his army was not sufficient to stand against this type of attack.
In our lives, there are times when we face certain dilemmas and don't know what to do. You don't have wisdom or resources to help you in your attack and you have prayed all you can pray. Like the king here, it's time to proclaim a fast in your life that invokes the help of God in that situation.
When you do, strength and hope comes that causes you to be firmly convinced that the battle you face is not something you have to do on your own as the battle will be in the hand of the Lord.
II Chronicles 20 says,
2Ch 20:1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.
2Ch 20:2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar (that is, En Gedi).
2Ch 20:3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.
2Ch 20:4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
2Ch 20:5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said:
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.
2Ch 20:7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
2Ch 20:8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying,
2Ch 20:9 ˜If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'
2Ch 20:10 "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them.
2Ch 20:11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance.
2Ch 20:12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.
2Ch 20:13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.
2Ch 20:14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.
2Ch 20:15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ˜Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.
There was a massive attack being waged against the people of God. There was no way they could win in the natural, therefore the king called a fast and received an answer from God.
What is awesome here is that they didn't put on a religious mask and begin making faith confessions about how they would win without seeking God first. The reality was they were going to lose without the Lord's intervention.
As you know we believe in speaking what God has spoken through our confession and we believe in extending faith in seemingly impossible situations. However, before you act you must know what the Spirit of God is declaring for that "particular moment and that "specific battle you face.
Demonic strongholds are allowed into our lives by acts of sin either our own or acts of sin that are handed down from our forefathers, which we refer to as generational curses.
Your responsibility is to identify them, acknowledge that you have no power over them in your own strength, and then seek God declaring in the middle of your fast, "I have no power [in my own strength] to face this vast army that is attacking us. I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon you.
If sin seems impossible and you find yourself constantly falling back into destructive behaviors, it's time for a fast to destroy those strongholds. These strongholds are things that come into your life to control you and keep you in bondage.
To be free from these things, you must first recognize these strongholds for what they are. Strongholds in its simplest defined manner are "Powerful ways in which demons have tried to control you.
II Corinthians chapter four gives a reference to strongholds and gives us wisdom in how to deal with them.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
Defined, the Greek word for stronghold is "ochÃºroma and is fortification, a fortress Used figuratively of any strong points or arguments in which one trusts. Therefore, you must be on guard for prior ways of thinking and erroneous teachings and principles from the world or even Bible teachers that are contrary to the Word of God.
They will set themselves up as strongholds, or impenetrable fortresses that are difficult to remove. However, this is where God has empowered us as His Church to destroy these fortresses through the Word of God, fasting and prayer.
This combination of spiritual weaponry is an undefeatable force in the hand of a serious Christian. However, not everyone will experience this type of victory because not all Christians are willing to pay the price.
It's much easier to wait for a prayer line and a bottle of anointing oil as a person who is known to have a "healing ministry comes to town so you can be relieved. Yet that's not God's intended plan. He wants you to learn to fight so you can still experience victory when the well known preacher leaves town.
Secondly, using godly wisdom, you must disassociate yourself from people, places and things that link you to that stronghold.
If you struggle with alcohol, remove yourself from people that drink and places where alcohol is served. The same is true with every other addiction.
The irony is that by choice, we become joined to people and things that God never intended and then pay the price for years as you remain in bondage and destroy your life because you simply cannot get free.
There was no covenant made between you and that person. You often don't want to hurt someone's feelings and therefore, keep him or her around at the expense of hurting your own walk with God and ultimately, God Himself.
Third, become skilled at speaking the Word of God over your life and refrain from speaking negative about your situation. Don't give the devil glory and a further foothold in your life, by saying how you'll never be free; how powerful he is and how bad you have it.
Ephesians 6:17 says you must take, "¦the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Taking this sword, you are first on the offensive and being the Word of God, it goes beyond quoting the Scriptures.
Literally, it is the "excellent use of the Word of God. This is applying it to your present situation in a manner as a skilled soldier. You must use God's appropriate scripture speaking the Word of God in faith, believing that God has the power to do what He promised.
Your words must be full of faith declaring that God is in control of your life and is more powerful than the devil. Speak in agreement with God saying, "If the Son set me free, then I am free indeed!
The Bible says the Word of God did not profit the children of Israel while they were in the desert because they did not mix it with faith. Let's not fall into that same trap, as faith must always be in operation in our lives. This is referred to as a living faith.
The Purpose of Fasting
Throughout this teaching, I have sprinkled various reasons for you to fast. These are all important and will produce in your life as you learn how to fast and when God is prompting you to fast.
To choose a definition that can inspire you to live a fasted life, it would be that "Fasting is the destruction of fleshly desires through the denial of food. It gives you power over the influences of the world that feeds your carnal nature and makes you subject to what your flesh wants instead of what God wants.
I've shared God's purpose in fasting for: personal breakthroughs; to be free from sin; for repentance; for God's protection; God's direction and among others, God's guidance.
However, God wants you to go from fasting for personal purposes and mature to where you fast for His purposes.
Unless God calls you to a specific fast for a specific purpose, the overall purposes of God in fasting is outlined in Isaiah chapter 58.
Purpose is defined as "Something set up as an object or end to be attained. Purpose is actually God's goal for you in fasting. It's what He eventually expects from His people as they draw closer to Him and mature in the things of the Lord.
Isaiah 58:1 says:
1 "Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
3 ˜Why have we fasted,' they say, ˜and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?' "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ˜Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
In looking at what transpires in this passage of Scripture, this chapter contains a severe rebuke of the Jews on account their hypocrisy in practicing and relying on outward ceremonies, such as fasting and bodily humiliation, without true repentance.
As God reveals His heart in this manner, He sets the stage for something that Jesus would say as He addressed the religious leaders of His day.
In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus reveals the motives of the scribes and Pharisees and upsets them by answering this question in a manner that offended them. Verse 2 begins:
"Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.
3 He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ˜Honor your father and your mother';ï€ and, ˜He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'ï€
5 But you say, ˜Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God” 6 then he need not honor his father or mother.' Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ˜These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
Jesus knew that the practice of our faith goes much deeper than what is seen through outward ceremonies. It's a matter of the heart that expresses itself in acts of obedience to the moral and ceremonial laws of God, not just having a desire to do them.
Having a "desire to do what is right is not obedience. It's actually disobedience to know what is right and not do it and a person that knowingly disobeys God cannot expect to receive from Him.
The traditions of men that were handed down from previous leaders and generations infiltrated the teachings that were supposed to be based on God's moral and ceremonial laws. Because of this, the Word of God was void of God's intended power to achieve what it was initially sent to perform.
This generation transgressed or "went beyond the boundaries God set around His Word, so that they could hold onto the traditions of men that actually had no ability bring them closer to the Lord. This is what prompted the Lord's question in verse 3 saying, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
The laws that were man-made eventually superseded the laws that God intended to rule the hearts and lives of the people. Therefore, the leaders and people alike were deceived and became hypocrites when it came to the things that pertained to God.
In order for these leaders to deceive the masses of people, they had to mingle "religious terminology in with the things that were now customary for them during their gatherings. Therefore, the love they proclaimed they had for God was not demonstrated in what they did, only in what they said they would do.
Jesus also pointed this out in verse 7 saying, "7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 8 ˜These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
In like manner, here in our text in Isaiah 58, verse 2 says, "Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
These people also had a religious faÃ§ade when they approached the Lord. They had the "time to meet with Him down pact and said they wanted to do what pleased Him. However, they were compared to those who actually did what was right and were doing what God commanded. Yet they fell short of actually pleasing God.
The first five verses in Isaiah chapter 58 clearly display the fact that you can be doing outward acts and have your heart far from God. These people clearly had wrong motives in doing "religious things.
They were fasting for selfish gain and had turned God's time of fasting into times when they would feast instead of utilize those times for the purposes of God. The second part of Verse 3 says, "In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
God's people had turned times of fasting into holidays, and some would even disregard the most sacred fast by forcing their servants to work all day long.
Others used fast days for the purpose of settling their accounts, posting up their books, and drawing out their bills to be ready to collect their debts. These are sneaking hypocrites; the others are daringly irreligious.
As verse 4 says, they would fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness.
This is important to see. There are some people who fast in order to get their own way as the word strife means, "a bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension; to fight and struggle; an effort or argument for superiority.
There are some people who will try to usurp the authority of the church and begin fasting in order that they would gain a certain office or position. This will play out in how they relate to the pastors and leadership as they promote themselves and put down those who are in leadership.
They will sow strife in the ministry and feel that their sole mission in life is to debate those who do their best to establish the purposes of God.
Then there are people that fast in order that they would have victory while at war. Generally, you don't question this as if you're the nation going to war, you want your sons and daughters, husbands and fathers to be protected and return with a certain level of victory.
However, the fact is, we can't fast and ask God's blessing on wars "that are carried on for the purposes of wrath and personal ambition.
An example of this would be Alexander the Great and Adolph Hitler. In 1933 Hitler initiated polices to rid the Aryan race of undesirable elements and eliminate other races that he considered inferior and dangerous to the Germans.
Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia and conquered the Persian Empire in 335 B.C. He set himself up as a god shortly before he died and after his death, his rise to deity was nullified by the people.
These are two examples of people that carried out purposes for war that dealt with wrath and personal ambition. Although extreme cases, these are fasts that cannot expect the hand of God to bless them.
Then Isaiah 58:6 begins sharing with us the type of fast that God does receive. It says, "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
As God begins asking the question of the type of fast that's pleasing to Him, He uses a word that's important in the Hebrew language. This word is "chosen.
Often when we associate the word chosen, especially in the New Testament, we refer to that which is "Hand picked and chosen out from among many choices. However, this is very different.
As God says that this is the type of fast He has chosen, He makes reference to the fact that this is a fast that's been "proven and therefore acceptable in His sight as accomplishing His purposes in the earth.
The Hebrew word is, "Bachar and means "to prove, try, choose, select, distinguish, love, like, to be pleasing, to be especially chosen. Something is acceptable or judged to be excellent after it has been tested. In other words, it is considered to be the best. This word involves a careful, well thought“out choice.
Choosing as used here involves taking a keen look at something as Isaiah 48:10 in the KJV says, "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver. I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
God is saying there, that you have not come to salvation by accident. After you've been tried in the furnace of life and even thought you were left for dead with no one else to turn to and appearing like no one else wanted you, God says, He did and He views you as being excellent and the very best there is to accomplish His purposes.
In like manner, God is saying that the type of fast that He reveals here is acceptable and has been judged to be exceptional in His sight. It's considered to be the very best fast that we can go on.
As I mentioned, there are many fasts that we can follow and just as many reasons to fast. All are important and all have their place before God and will be done as you develop a lifestyle of fasting. However, those who come to a place of maturity will have destroyed the burdens of their own lives and will take on God's greater purposes so our world can be changed for the glory of God.
This is a fast for those who come to a place of maturity as it forsakes the benefits of fasting for your own purposes and embraces the greater purposes of God.
Isaiah 58 reveals an "eight-fold fast. There are eight components to it and although you may be lead to certain portions of this on any specific occasion, the goal is to find out what God desires and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Verse 6 says, "To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
There are bands of wickedness that have many people bound, people walking around with heavy burdens and oppressed and under the yoke of slavery to the devil. This is the first thing the Lord wants to get off those who are called to salvation.
People with addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and drugs; those that have a controlling spirit; those with sexual addictions; habitual liars and thieves as well as many more addictions, all need people in their lives who will lay down their own lives by fasting and praying that they would be loosed from these things.
They may never meet you or even know you by name; however your obedience to God in this area will bring great deliverance to multitudes.
What must be realized is that bondages come in all shapes, colors and cultures. Bondage is the inability to control yourself when compelled to do what is wrong. You are mastered by someone or something other than God.
Although you may not know those you fast for, there are people in bondage that you can fast specifically for. You can have a friend or loved one that is constantly bound by pornography or homosexuality, rebellion and failure.
God has given us the great privilege of knowing that no one is beyond hope and laying down your life for them by fasting, not only delivers them but also brings them to the point of salvation.
Verse 6 deals with the spiritual things that come against a persons life and verse 7 allows you to see that there are natural things that must be done as well.
These are acts of love that are demonstrated by what we do, and not what we say. This is why James told us to put works to our words. This verse is likened to James 2:14 saying:
"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Isaiah 58:7 is the scriptures that uphold what James is saying in our New Testament. First, you're to provide food for those that lack. Your fast should include looking for opportunities to give to those who are hungry. Even if it is in proportion to what you are going without, you should look at how you can bless someone else with their natural nourishment
Notice it says that you share "your bread. The person who will do this is really opportunistic. They are looking for opportunities to share what they would have eaten with someone else who may be lacking. This could include helping a national and international "feeding ministry such as "Feed the Children or locally by helping someone you know is in need or our local mission.
This is the true fast, to break your bread with the hungry, breaking bread on purpose for them, giving them loaves and not to put them off with scraps or what is going rotten in your refrigerator.
The same principle holds true for the other things listed beginning with providing shelter for the wanderer and clothes for those that lack.
Especially in today's society, we must be careful in bringing just anyone into your home. We have local shelters for both men and women that provide for strangers and will clothe them, feed them and give them shelter.
However, we must also be sensitive to and embrace opportunities that present themselves with people we know. You must be careful as single people to not let someone of the opposite sex into your home and if you have young children, you also must make certain you don't open them up to physical, sexual or mental abuse.
Hebrews 13:2 tells us "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Jesus also said, "I was a stranger and you took me in.
Unless you know exactly what God is saying, you must use wisdom for the hour in which we live and ensure that these people are taken care of. The Good Samaritan found the man beaten on the road, fixed his wounds and then paid for him to be taken care of at a local motel. You must know what God is specifically speaking to you.
Thirdly, To provide clothing for those that want it: "When thou see the naked, cover him, both to shelter him from the weather and to enable him to appear decently among his neighbors.
If he or she desires such, give him or her clothes to come to church in, go to school in or go to work in. If you do give, please give things that are "wearable. Don't give things that have holes in them or are dirty. Let those who receive your clothes have a sense of dignity in wearing them. Also, don't give them and then look for them. Your responsibility is to obey God and what is done with them is God's responsibility.
The Rewards of Fasting
Then verse 8 begins the rewards of following God's kind of fast. It's not so much that your body will align itself with healing or your life with blessing. God gets involved with each area of your life.
"Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Beginning with the word "then God is saying, "At that time; soon after that; next in order of time; following next after in order of position.
Before you can experience this supernatural touch from heaven, you must first allow the first part of this chapter to be an important part of your life. When it is, you begin to experience a greater measure of "God's light, healing, righteousness and a greater measure of God's glory.
If a person, a family or a church experience things that are good, the first thing that you will find is "God who is your rewarder. This will be evident as it is revealed to us as "light.
Light makes vision possible, therefore you will see clearly what's ahead of you and will be lead by God into His will for your life. You will know what you're supposed to do as God gives a greater understanding into His purposes for us.
The devil thought he could wipe you out, however God has another plan. Because of your pain, hurt and everything that went wrong, you thought you would be buried alive. Yet you will recover your position of prominence as God determined.
Though grief tried to paralyze you, you will look as "pleasant as the dawning of a new day. Those who are cheerful in doing good, God will make cheerful in enjoying good; and this also is a special gift from God. Those that have shown mercy shall find mercy.
Secondly, your health shall spring forth speedily. Not only will your light break forth, but your health too which is the healing of the wounds you have long complained of.
If you fast according to God's plan, your injustices shall be rectified, and you will renew your youth and recover thy vigor. Those that have helped others out of trouble will obtain help from God when it is their turn. God will put honor upon them. Good works shall be rewarded with a good name. This is included in that "light which rises out of obscurity.
The Lord has promised us health through the suffering and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. "He Himself bore our sicknesses and carried our sorrows, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes [wounds] we are healed.
Although you will not live a fasted life in order to get healed as your motives must remain pure, fasting has physical benefits that brings healing and blessing into your life.
Literally it deals with a restoration to soundness which in addition to sound health it also includes "showing good judgment or sense.
The people of God need wisdom, discretion and prudence. Fasting increases the capacity of your mind to receive direction from God for the decisions we make. It allows us the privilege to understand the times and know what we're supposed to do as in the case of the sons of Issachar and Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
If you need wisdom in any given situation, God releases what is desired and required through fasting.
Third, your righteousness shall go before you. God cares about how we live, act and treat others. I often make reference to "acts of righteousness that is to be a reflection of our "position of righteousness we have by being Believers in Christ Jesus.
The reality is for most of us, our acts don't measure up to our position. Fasting God's way, allows our acts to be more God centered and focused. You find that it becomes easier to do what you know is right as you are now more sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Your life takes a turn from giving in to every inclination of the flesh to having authority over it and making proper choices.
Then, there's divine protection as verse 8 ends saying that the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard or ˜rereward as the KJV translates it. This is what the people in the Book of Ezra experienced. [Ezra 8:21.22]
God will lead you by His Word and give angels to protect you along the way. However, His glory will ensure that nothing sneaks upon you, taking you off guard. He wants to make certain that His people are divinely protected so they can accomplish the purpose for which they were born.
"Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ˜Here I am.' "If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
Verse 9 says the Lord will answer you if you will gain control of your actions by not being judgmental [or pointing the finger], removing the burdens that others find themselves under [removing the yoke of bondage] and taking control of your tongue by refusing to speak in a wicked manner.
You must look at the good in all situations and consider how you say something while speaking things that will edify each other.
Verse 12 says, "Thou shalt be called (and it shall be to thy honor) the repairer of the breach, the breach made by the enemy in the wall of a city that was surrounded by the enemy.
God wants to raise this generation of Believers to make up the breach [or infringement against the commands of God] that has occurred in previous generations. Now grace is running out and the judgment of God is about to be released.
"Thou shalt be the restorer of paths, safe and quiet paths, not only to travel in, but to dwell in, so safe and quiet that people shall make no difficulty of building their houses by the road-side.
The fact is that, if you fast as God has chosen, He will settle them again in their former peace and prosperity, and there shall be none to make them afraid.
You are an important component to the greater purposes of God being done in the earth. You are going to be called a repairer of the break in the conscience of America and the other nations of the world as you obey this command.
Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
Once these things are in place verse fourteen becomes a reality for the Church of the Living God. It declares, "Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
To delight yourselves in the Lord means to "Find pleasure in, enjoyment in Him, find your happiness in Him and to find your joy in the Lord.
When you do, God will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth and we'll be fed with the heritage of Jacob who is one of our patriarchal forefathers.
As I said a heritage is an inheritance and looking at Jacobs's life, there was a tremendous promise made to him. This inheritance was not something that he accumulated during his lifetime, but was something that he built upon - as did his father Isaac as he received it from Abraham.
This inheritance that Abraham received came as part of the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Him. The first part was that he would have descendents that would number as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore.
Genesis chapter 15 says,
"1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.
2 But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? 3 Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!
4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir. 5 Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be.
6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
7 Then He said to him, "I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.
As Abraham was now coming near the end of his days, this promise of descendents would transcend the generation he lived in and include all the people who would call on the Name of the Lord through Jesus Christ.
We have all been added along with people from every land, tribe, tongue, and nation who calls on the Name of the Lord, to be part of this great inheritance in order that this promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. This was not a "natural promise but one that was spiritual and eternal in nature. This was the reinstitution of the eternal life that Adam forfeited in the Garden of Eden when he ate of the forbidden tree.
God knew that Abraham would obey him and therefore would be the man through whom the promised Messiah would come. God therefore grants eternal life, in addition to natural blessings while we go through this earth, to be our inheritance.
Genesis chapter 26 shows that the blessing of Abraham was inherited by his son Isaac and included increase from his labor and obedience. Isaac knew that what you sowed you would reap and he obeyed God in this command. He found that God was able to bless him and increase his harvest even during a drought and when men schemed to block his blessing by stopping up all his wells that were needed to water his crops.
12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. 15 Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.
Then in Genesis chapter 32 you have the heritage of Jacob including a change from a natural being to a spiritual being. This was evident in God changing his name from Jacob, meaning deceiver to that of Israel meaning Prince of God.
Here Jacob has an encounter with an angel of whom some say was the Lord Jesus, and he fought him throughout the night.
It's during this struggle that Jacob has a change in name which was an outward sign of the change in his nature. He was now positioned to be the person God wanted him to be.
24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 2 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks. But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me! 27 So He said to him, "What is your name? He said, "Jacob.
In Genesis 15:6, we read that "Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. This was an Old Testament Saint, living on New Testament grace. He looked forward to the cross and experienced the same grace you and I enjoy as we look back at the cross and walk in this earth without guilt and condemnation.
Romans chapter four gives us greater insight into this promise as we have the faith Abraham extending available to us all.
13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations)ï€ in the presence of Him whom he believed”God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be. 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness.
This is a huge promise as God desires for us to follow the faith that Abraham displays and therefore also become the recipients of the very same inheritance that he left for Isaac and Jacob.
Walking in this inheritance fulfills what the prophet Isaiah spoke in 58:14 which is natural and spiritual. However, it cannot be over-emphasized that we must do so according to the example we have in the Word of God.
Part of our inheritance is the supernatural ability to walk in this type of faith. You're able to stand in the midst of your most severe trial and when all hope is gone, you'll still place your trust in God knowing that what God promised you, He is also able to perform. Just as natural Jacob was renamed spiritual Israel, you are now empowered to walk as a powerful spiritual being as part of your inheritance.
Knowing what's available and not applying the principles that God set up causes self deception and we walk around trying to live a pipe dream, never living these things out as a reality in our lives.
However this will not be so for those who walk in the inheritance of Jacob your father.
HOW TO FAST
Knowing the purpose of fasting and various types of fasts are part of effectively fasting. The medical information on fasting is taken from Christian Physician, Don Colbert's book on Toxic Relief available in Christian Bookstores. To know more detail about what is medically shared here, I recommend getting a copy of this book to get an even greater understanding.
If you are standing against a particular disease or infirmity, I also suggest that you not go on an extended fast without first going over this with your personal care physician.
To understand that "living a fasted life [or fasting more frequently] howbeit, weekly or monthly for a period of time, you must take into consideration your health and look at what could be some potential problems you may bring on yourself by being ignorant in this area.
Living a fasted life is reserved for those who understand that they were born for a great and special purpose. You understand that your life is not your own and you live each day in complete devotion to God. It's this type of Believer who desires to influence cities and entire nations for the Lord and will put their flesh under, bringing it's cravings and desires under the subjection of their spirit man in order to make the greatest impact that they can.
At the same time, it's been medically proven that fasting effectively can help improve medical conditions from colds and flu to heart disease. It's also beneficial for hypertension, allergies, asthma and even type tow diabetes.
There are times when it's recommended that you do not fast. Among those times you should not fast if you're "pregnant or nursing; malnourished; have AIDS, cancer, before or after surgery as it could interfere with your ability to heal after surgery.
In addition, don't fast if you have "cardiac arrhythmia or congestive heart failure, mental illness including depression, anxiety schizophrenia and bipolar disease, and severe liver and kidney disease.
Some conditions could actually worsen when you fast. Again, if you have any known disease, please contact your personal care physician before beginning a regiment of fasting.
There are two portions of Scripture that come into play as we consider the medical effects and medical aspect of fasting. The first thing you must never do is place medical opinions above God. Doctors have been given by God and have been given the privilege of having insight into the mechanics of the human body and how it functions.
They are able to treat certain conditions and because of their instruction, the lives of many people have been spared and extended many years. It is wisdom for our generation to avail ourselves to the doctor's advice and extend your life as long as possible so you can fulfill God's purpose.
However, the caution is to not place more trust in a doctor than God Himself. Proverbs chapter 3 says:
1 My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands;
2 For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, w rite them on the tablet of your heart,
4 And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
The Word of God is still to be the final authority in your fasting decisions and when it comes to adjusting your life to what advice your doctor gives, you must always consider the Word of God and keep the commands of God in your heart as the result is a long life of peace in the earth.
Therefore, you must trust in the Lord with all your heart and acknowledge Him in what you do whether it's a lifestyle adjustment to lose weight, preventative medicines or an operation. The Lord is the Great Physician and He always knows what's best.
The second portion of Scripture is also found in Proverbs. God never intends for us to be ignorant of the things that have been made available to us. A mistake that some Believers make is to forsake the knowledge that God has given us through medical professionals. They associate someone that may go to a doctor as being in doubt or unbelief while not trusting God.
They continue to argue that you should not even seek the advice of a doctor and trust God for a miracle. Although I agree that we should always trust God for and expect a miracle, this mind set is not scriptural. You can associate the above mindset with the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The Lord was their doctor and they experienced miracle after miracle.
Using the miracle of the Manna and Quail as an example, the Lord provided both supernaturally, however when the children of Israel entered the land that God promised them, Joshua 5:11, 12 says,
"And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.
12 Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.
The wisdom of God is shown in us when we mature and learn what has been made available to us in the land we live. Some people continue to trust God for miracles when the provision for their need has already been provided.
God expects us to use our brains to sustain and lengthen our lives while we live in the earth. Proverbs chapter 4 says:
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory she will deliver to you.
10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.
The natural laws of fasting are part of your tapping into the wisdom and understanding the Lord has given to us through doctors.
Starting and ending a fast properly can keep you from experiencing many things that we often associate with fasting from headaches to constipation. These things are shared to make our fasting as pleasurable an experience as possible.
Whatever physical benefits we may receive as a result of entering into a lifestyle of spiritual fasting will entail a change in lifestyle when the fast is over. It must be understood that whatever physical infirmity you may face, it was most likely due to harmful habits of eating or living. Therefore, there must be a reformation in your habits or the physical benefits of fasting will not take hold in your life and will remain elusive.
What I mean is unless we're willing to adjust how much we eat, the foods we consume and how we live, we may struggle with some ailments that God never intended.
Whether you're healthy or not you need to get the mind of God before undertaking any fast, especially a prolonged one of more than three days. Just as importantly, you need to be certain that your motives are clear and make certain that whatever you may hope to gain in health and healing, that the spiritual purposes of God will prevail and the benefits of health would be an added benefit to your life and walk with God.
Acknowledge the Lord as you begin your fast and get the mind of God. Then, utilize wisdom as you pray and meditate frequently during this time.
Now You Begin
As you begin this time of fasting, prayer, personal reflection and spiritual growth, you should consider these things in the preparation of your heart.
Knowing that you are going to begin a fasting regimen, days before the actual fast you must do exactly the opposite of what your flesh will tell you. Your flesh says that you are going to deprive yourself of all that good food for one, two, three and more days, so go and fill up on that steak, potato chips, ice cream, pie, candy, etc. These are demanding on your digestive system and also serve to cause you to crave them more.
Therefore, during this time, you should begin cutting back on this type of food and the portions of foods associated with them. Cut down on the amount of caffeine and sugar you consume in order to reduce or eliminate the headache that's often associated with going on a fast.
Begin eating and enjoying more fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices and water. Not only is this healthier for you, but will also take a strain off your digestive system and give more energy throughout the day. This in addition makes the transition to fast easier for your body to adjust to once you begin denying it food.
Before you begin you must set boundaries for your fast. These boundaries may include:
The length of time you will fast
The type of fast [as shared in this book] water, juice, choice foods, etc.
How long you will pray each day
How long you will read the Word each day
Determine to recommit unsubmitted areas of your life to the Lord as He reveals them. These can include church attendance, church service, obedience in tithing or sharing the Gospel as God gives you opportunity.
The "purpose for your fast should be defined [if at all possible]. There have been times when I've been called to a fast and didn't have a clear purpose, only to find out days or even months later the purpose for that fast.
Have a heart of repentance and reconciliation before God by confessing all known sin and having the assurance according to I John chapter 1 that you are reconciled with God and then be reconciled to your fellow man.
During your fast, meditate on Scripture throughout the day, read your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to give you necessary revelation in whatever area of your life that He wants to.
Listen to Bible teaching tapes and programs as much as you can and in all your spare time. Remember, without including these things in your fast, you are doing little more than going on a diet.
Stay focused on the Word of God and pray as often as possible “ doing whatever the Scripture reveals. Set aside specific time to be quiet before the Lord endeavoring to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Make certain you write down those things He reveals as you don't want them lost two days after having such a powerful encounter with Him.
Write down the prayers you prayed and insight you receive. Also write down any dreams you have and pray for the interpretation they may have [if any].
Allow the Holy Spirit to bring a refreshing to your life as you go through your fast. You can expect mental, physical and spiritual refreshing and should make this request known to God.
Be mindful of releasing burdens that have attached themselves to you or your loved ones. With this added power in your life, you will be able to be released from the burdens of: finances, stress, depression, chronic illness, legal problems and difficult people. Whatever the burden, ask God for help in these areas.
Be mindful of the power of God in your life that will enable you to be used by Him to bring healing to those that are bruised, those who are under the oppression of the devil and for protection and safety as you and your loved ones go about their daily routines.
After the fast, be mindful of the fact that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God wants you to fast occasionally if not more often. This leads you to a fasted life that is not given over to the foods that cause you to "live to eat instead of eating to live.
Living to eat promotes gluttony while eating to live promotes health and vitality. Now that you've taken ground in your flesh, use this opportunity to develop better eating habits and maintain a stronger spiritual edge in your walk with God.
Don't be quick to go back to eating heavy and un-nutritional food in abundance. You conquered much and now, keep the spiritual, mental and physical territory you took from the devil.
Before you begin eating, ponder the things the Lord revealed to you and those you received by faith. Thank God for the manifestation of those things and be mindful to do this frequently as the Holy Spirit brings those things to mind. Simply say, "Father, I thank you for ___________ [healing, deliverance, victory over sickness, etc.] and continue to do so until these things manifest in our life.
Also, keep the commitments you made before God during that time. Don't be quick to forget the promise you made to God to serve Him, go to church more often, tithe more consistently or have better character. Whatever God dealt with you about, He expects you to keep your commitment. When you do, He will keep His.
Too many Believers let natural things absorb their time, talent, energy and treasure. Little do they know that with those same God-given resources, they could be enjoying the glorious realm of God's Spirit.
The Holy Spirit desires to empower us for successful Christian living and being consistently victorious. The power God desires to release in the earth was never intended to be solely given for the use of His five-fold ministry. Yet the power comes at a price that very few are willing to pay.
I believe the Lord is raising up men and women in this hour that will pay the price and do whatever is necessary to ensure that sufficient power is available to them to accomplish His greater purposes in the earth.
You are called to be one of these powerful Christians who will receive a touch from God's glory upon your own life that comes by being a person of fasting and fasting properly.
Praying long prayers in this hour will not be sufficient to harness God's glorious power, you must be a person of prayer and fasting; a person who praises and worships; a person who reads and meditates upon God's Word.
Living your Christian life in this fashion is powerful and will turn your city and our entire nation around!