Quit Fasting Yet?

ImageHave you quit fasting yet?  We started on Sunday so today is the end of day 3, did you quit?  How about compromise?  Did you sneak a gallon of Ice Cream or a chocolate shake from Sonic thinking nobody was looking?  You devoured it with a passion wondering how you survived so long without it, but before the sugar can even hit your bloodstream you have a feeling or twinge of guilt….But then the sugar kicks in immediately after that and the guilt is washed away like a blanket of snow under a spring rain.  So since you have already fallen off the fasting wagon (and it never felt so good bounce face first on the dirt road of life), you decide to just forgo the fast.  I mean after all you blew it, you might as well just give up and enjoy life.

That is not what you should do.  What you should do is give your flesh a swift kick in the – pick a body part and insert here – and get back on that fasting wagon and ride it to the house!  Even if you mess up it’s okay.  I have actually had people think that God was mad at them for not completing a fast.  That is a silly ungodly thing to think.  Do you realize how much God is blown away by your sacrifice of faith?  How he is loving it that his kids are willfully giving up food, certain types of food, to get closer to him?  He is wowed!   He is blown away!  Keep it up.  Don’t stop!  Just try again.  And if it’s easier for you then just alter your route to work and don’t drive by Sonic!

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Not Talked About Fasting Side effects

ImageFor some reason all anybody ever talks about with fasting is being hungry, and what God is going to do.  That’s fine and dandy, but over the past few years of fasting I have noticed some side effects that happen during a fast that people don’t talk about, but everybody wonders, and most even experience.  So I thought I would share a few and see if any of them happen to you….if they do then you’re normal…..if they don’t, then I’m alone and as weird as ever.  

  • Crotchety – no food, or the food I don’t normally eat makes Pastor Craig a Crotchety man.  I snap at my kids, I snap at my wife, I snap at the crossing gaurd at the school, it crazy!  Normally i’m a pretty nice guy, but take away food and I am not a nice person.  I even have a deal with Patti (my wife) before I fast, I say, “Hey babe I’m fasting and so when I get snippy I give you permission to correct me.  Don’t let me get out of line.”  She’s good at it.  She might like it too much but ya know, what’s a guy gonna do?
  • Sleepless in Seattle – Okay actually sleepless no matter where you live, but the point is that when you fast your body burns less energy becasue it is not working to digest food thus giving you more free energy.  Of course it is a toss up becasue food also gives you energy.  The difference is when you fast you will feel tired, but not sleepy.  When fasting you will more than likely find that you can function very well on 5 hours of sleep a night and not require a nap….not that we really have the luxury of naps, but we can at lest dream can’t we?  Which ironically brings me to the third one…
  • Dream Weaver – You will have more dreams when you are fasting.  Call me crazy but I believe that dreams are from God.  Yep I do.  Why yes it is in the Bible….Yep, a lot…..more than you think.  SO when we fast we are voluntarily putting our body in second place to our spirits.  SO if we don’t fill our time with TV, but seek him, then guess what?  Yep you guessed it, we dream more.  Of course, according to the Bible dreams need to be interpreted since they are symbolic.  Gee now if you just had somebody that could Biblically interpret your dream…..Oh yea!  I can.  Email your dream to craig@southpoint.tv with the subject line “DREAM.”  (Yes I am serious)
  • Hunger Games – Yea, one huge side effect is that you will be hungry…..nope it’s not a game….and it’s not easy.  One of the things that helps me is when I feel an overwhelming hunger pain or a craving for a cheeseburger I say a “Breath Prayer.”  A breath prayer is a prayer that you can say in one breath.  I say, “God I want you more than a Cheeseburger.”  This is of course different than praying, “God I want a cheeseburger!”  A breath Prayer helps realign our focus and helps us to carry on in our fast, past the bumps of cravings and pains. (It also helps to not talk about how hungry you are all the time).
  • Forget Me Not – During a fast you will become more forgetful.  It’s part of it.  So if your anniversary falls during the next 21 days, just skip it and blame it on God.  (of course I jest)  (Maybe….)

Okay there are more, but what do you think?  What are some side effects you have from fasting other than the ones I just mentioned, no copying! 

Guest Blogger – Dr. Nick

The “Daniel Fast” is fast approaching and perhaps an in depth perspective would whet our appetites as we embark on this spiritual discipline.

In 6th Century Babylon, the location of the inaugural “Daniel Fast”, four Jewish captives refused to eat the prime choice meat and expensive wine from the table of King Nebuchadnezzar. Their motivation was definitely an act of obedience to God, but also a strategic move to preserve their spiritual heritage and identity.

A central part of the Babylonian system was to radically change the thinking of every resident, both old and particularly the new. The three-year indoctrination program was designed to dismantle all previous attachments to an individual’s past. The major component of this curriculum was with the use of words and their subsequent meaning.

Daniel 1:6-7, ” vs. 6 Among those who were chosen 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. (NIV)

Words meant something and particularly the name of a Jewish person carried a spiritual meaning.

Daniel – which means, “God is my judge”,

Hananiah, which means, “God is gracious”,

Mishael–“who is equal to God”, and

Azariah, “God is my helper”.

These names were a direct connection to their spiritual heritage and faith. The Babylonian officials declared their names to be changed in order to skew their thinking towards a more secular way of thinking.

Daniel to Belteshazzar, (Bel, ((a false god)) protects my life),

Hananiah to Shadrach, (servant of sin),

Mishael changed to Meshach, which means, who is what Shach is, and

Azariah to Abednego, a servant of a heathen god.

Clearly, this effort was to reprogram the thinking of what their life was meant to accomplish.

Proverbs 22:1 “a good name is better then great riches” is a verse all of us should keep in mind. We live in a society that is constantly redefining history, morals, and words. This is doubly important for believers because we bear the name of Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:17 reminds us that whatever we say and do, we do all in his name.

The Daniel fast originally was enacted to follow the letter and spirit of Proverbs 4:23. This verse admonishes us to “guard our minds above anything else.” These Hebrew teenagers determined to do this via their fast. The king’s food and wine were symbolic of a way of life dedicated to other things besides the “One True God”. Their refusal was rooted in the fact that those who follow God – their faith is without compromise and negotiation. The fast obviously involved a physical component (meat and wine), but the greater motivation was the incontrovertible Biblical axiom. That is, “while we are in this world, we are to set our affections on the heavenly realm in order to change this world.

Whatever area in your life that clouds your view of God should be the focus of your fast.

You Can do it! Seriously, you can.

If you start out saying you can’t do it then of course you will never do it, but if you start out by telling yourself that you can do it, then guess what…You can do it!  

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YOU CAN FAST

Fasting is NOT for the super spiritual, our the super Christian.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is for everyone.  Yes, I did say everyone.  Maybe you have never fasted before because it scares you – get over it!  Don’t be a wuss.  In Matthew Jesus said, “When you fast…”  Thus we should all have a time in our lives when we fast, so let me give you some helpful insights into fasting.

Fasting is the act of voluntarily laying aside food, or certain types of food for a period of time.  Fasting can also encompass laying down other things as well that we might feel has side tracked us, gotten in the path of the flow of the spirit, or simply a temporary distraction.  This Sunday SouthPoint Church will embark on its annual 21 day fast.  We are doing what has traditionally been called the “Daniel Fast” which is derived from the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.  

WHAT TO FAST

There are 2 passages that speak about this type of fast.  The first, is in Daniel chapter 1 and the second, is in Daniel chapter 10.  From these 2 passages we discover that this “Partial-Fast” (partial because you are still eating food.  A complete fast would obviously be no food, liquid only) says to eat only fruits and vegetables, no sweeteners, no Alcohol, and no bread.  Now what some people like to do is go all Pharisaical on us and start adding to this list.  They say things like, “You can have no processed foods!” “No Yeast!” “No artificial flavors!” “No Chemicals!”  That’s all fine and dandy if that is what you are fasting, all I’m saying is what the Bible says.  If you choose to fast other things then that is wonderful and great, however those things are not listed in the scriptures in Daniel and so adding them into this fast is acceptable but not mandatory.  You can fast whatever you want, but insinuating that others have to jump on your bandwagon is not very productive.   

WHEN TO FAST

January 13 – February 3 

WHY FAST

So what are you fasting for?  Before you should fast you should always have a reason.  Doing it to lose weight is a reason, you could very well be physically unhealthy.  Possibly one of your reasons to do the Daniel fast is to get your physical body healthy and realigned again and to lose weight.  That’s fine, but there is more.  What spiritual, mental, or emotional thing are you fasting for?  Maybe it’s a relationship you want or need?  A couple of years ago a lady in our church fasted for a husband.  Now she’s married to an awesome Christian man that started coming to our churchthe Sunday the fast ended.  (Yep, God’s pretty cool like that.)  Be specific.  Write it down if you need to, put it in your phone, make it a desktop picture, do whatever it takes to keep it in the forefront of your mind over the next 21 days.  There is even an example in the book of Nehemiah where he took a piece of paper into prayer and laid it out on the floor and said, “God do you see this?”  Of course God saw it.  God knew it was there and knew what was on it, but that act of physically laying it out there caused Nehemiah to be that much more passionate about it.  Passionately write your needs out.  Be specific, and the when those needs are met, specifically thank God for them.

If you have Fasting Questions simply comment here and We’ll answer them together.

Christmas Devotional Day 19

O Holy Night

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

He is a light to reveal GOD to the nations, and he is the Glory of your people Israel!
Luke 2:32 NLT

In the midst of so much imperfection, the night Christ was born can be considered one of the most perfect nights ever in the history of mankind. God used imperfect circumstances and an imperfect location in the form of a humble manager to bring His perfect and holy Son into the world. God could have easily made Jesus’ birth triumphant, but He chose not to. It is through all that imperfection that made this night so holy and so perfect. The way God brought His son into the world is much the same way He works within our lives. Oftentimes God takes the imperfections in our lives and uses them to perfect us. God loves to take the physical and emotional scars and use those to grow us into stronger people. He also desires us to take what we learned from our imperfections and help others who may be struggling with the same things. Just as Jesus was a light to reveal God to all the nations, we can be that same light as well. Don’t let your imperfections hold you back. Instead, allow God to use them to shape you into the person He designed you to be, which is a light in a dark world. Give God your weaknesses so that He can turn them into your greatest strengths.

Questions: What weaknesses do you need to give God so that He can perfect you?
In what ways do you see yourself as being a light to reveal God’s truth to others?

Christmas Devotional Day 18

When A Child Is Born

…new hope, new life. Many things come to pass with the birth of a new child. For a season, everyone, forgets their own weariness and own problems. This tiny creature will change people’s lives…forever.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 KJV

There is nothing like the announcement of a new baby to bring excitement in a family. As the song says, “…new hope, new life. Many things come to pass with the birth of a new child. For a season, everyone, forgets their own weariness and own problems. This tiny creature will change people’s lives…forever.” Expectant mothers gain a lot of attention, as friends and family are typically very intent on being involved in the entire process of pregnancy up until the very end. When the moment finally occurs, there is nothing like the sound of a newborn baby’s cry to validate the life that has been growing and developing over the past nine months, and create such overwhelming joy. The same excitement that comes from physical birth also occurs when we experience spiritual birth in that moment when we ask Christ to become our personal Savior and Lord of our lives. In fact, many people now celebrate both their physical and spiritual birthdays because they understand the day Christ came into their life is just as important as the day they came into being. Imagine the joy that was evident at Christ’s birth in that His physical birth would ultimately change mankind forever. We can have spiritual birth because of His physical birth. John 10:10 says, “One…came…that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” We have a new life all because of one child: Jesus. As you reflect on this Christmas season, be thankful for God did by sending His only Son so that we can have new life. Be thankful for that holy night when a child was born so that we could be born again.

Questions:
What led you to your spiritual birth?
What does new life in Christ mean to you?

Christmas Devotional Day 17

We Three Kings Of Orient Are

O star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect Light.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

It’s often difficult for people to understand that Jesus was born just like us. He wasn’t born in a luxurious palace or a fancy hospital. He was born outside, in a manger. He came into a world filled with sin, yet he lived an absolutely perfect life. He came to lead us, and guide us into a loving relationship with God. The three wise men are a great example of what complete submission to God looks like. The moment they saw the star they likely dropped everything they were doing and embarked on a long journey that was most likely difficult at times. The men had no idea where they were going, but placed their complete trust in a star to lead them. They devoted everything to seeking Him no matter the cost. Just like the three men in this song followed a shining star to see Jesus when he was born, if we submit ourselves to God, He will direct our paths and be a perfect guide for our lives.

Questions: What are the areas in your life you need to submit to God?
Try to remember a time where you did submit something to God. What was the outcome of that situation?

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