Fasting for me is a big sacrifice. I like food, and I like to eat at least acouple of times a day. So I do struggle if I interrupt that cycle… But my message today is going to deal with what fasting really is, instead of the act of fasting itself….Fasting is really all about obedience….That’s the bottom line….
God needs to train your brain by having you put things aside, things that you won’t die without…(believe it or not) The fasted life is a life that allows God to retrain your appetites and desires, and life patterns, not for a season but for the rest of your life.
1 Samuel 15:22 “But Samuel replied, What is more pleasing to the LORD, your sacrificial offerings, or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, (we could say fasting here) and submission to Him is better than all of your offerings”. (your good intentions)
It has been said we have not truly submitted to the Lord, until we can obey, even when we don’t agree….(and when I fast, my stomach definitely doesn’t agree)
When King Saul, was told by God to go and defeat and destroy the army of Amalek and their king, he went as he was told, but he did not destroy them, because he didn’t agree with God. So, he only won a battle when God wanted to win the war. He allowed their ruling power to remain alive.
God knew that if the ruler of the kingdom, or stronghold was allowed to remain in power, the kingdom would soon be rebuilt and they would be back where they started.
So in the end, you can win a battle and lose the war…
To stay in victory, we must destroy the king who rules in whatever area thatwants to defeat us and rule over our lives, so we must throw down his kingdom. If we don’t destroy the ruling spirit of infirmity and disease, it will keep returning. If we don’t destroy the ruling spirit of deception and judgmentalism, we will keep being deceived. If we don’t cast down the power of our flesh over us, we will continue to be ruled by the flesh and it’sdesires….
In winning the battle, but failing to submit to God’s directive and destroy the ruler, Saul is actually in disobeyed and was told by the prophet Samuel… in 1 Sam. 15:23that his arrogance was the sin of idolatry because he placed his own desires and wishes above the desires of God. It was the Idol OfMyself….
In making God in his own image and likeness, Saul was committing idolatry. “I want, I feel, I like, I prefer, I would rather, I love, I know better… has led many down the path of destruction, when those things push aside the voice and will and plan of God!
I’m reminded of the Irish man who agreed with his two brothers that when he moved to America, at a certain time on each Saturday, they would go to the pub and have a drink together, even though they were oceans apart. Soeach Saturday, he would faithfully go to an Irish pub in New York, and order 3 beers, and drink one for himself and one for each brother. He explained to the bar tender what he and his three brothers had agreed on. But one Saturday he came in and said that he had become a Christian and had given up drinking. He then ordered two beers. I thought you said you had quit the brew, the bar tender said. Oh, yes, I have quit, but my two brothers haven’t!!!
Almost obeying is still disobedience. I did but I didn’t….. but we get to see King Saul’s rational for disobedience. It’s the deception of needing to be accepted….
1 Samuel 15:24, Saul is exposed by God, and we hear his confession…. He said, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them”. Saul admitted that his disobedience was against God’s command. And it was the result of seeking the approval of people above the approval of God.
The sharks of disobedience are always out there circling, waiting for an opportunity when you are distracted or off balance, to swoop in and attack….
So we have learned in this account in the life of King Saul, that disobedience is an act of rebellion, disobedience is a sin, disobedience is a form of idolatry, disobedience disrespects and diminishes the power of God’s Word in our lives, disobedience is about doing what is convenient not what is best, and disobedience is based on seeking the approval of people rather than the approval of God.
King Saul died as a tormented soul, because he had become double minded. We know that the only peace he had was when David played and sang for him. But he died, tormented by double mindedness caused by his disobedience.
James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. v7 Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. v8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all of his ways”.
The fasted life will confront all of these issues, because it’s primary objective is about living a life of God’s choosing and not my own (to obey when I don’t agree, is the sacrifice which God always honors and rewards).
Obedience, is about a relationship with God that is based on trust.
I obey until understanding comes, I don’t always have the option of understanding before I am asked to obey. The power went off and the house was dark. The little girl called for her daddy, and when he answered, she rushed through the darkness to where he was. When she got to him, he said weren’t you afraid. She said, “Daddy I was afraid until I heard your voice and I wasn’t afraid anymore”…
We trust him more than the fear, more than the uncertainty, more than our own imagination, and more than the danger and the risk we’re called to take….
Jesus criticized the teachers of His time for three religious activities—fasting, public prayer, and giving to those in need— not because they werenot good and honorable activities, but because they did it for the approval of men, more than they did it for the approval of God. They had developed a system of spiritual activities that were all aimed at being applauded and elevated by the people.
We must be careful about spiritual performances which are to impress people and promote ourselves, more than obeying and honoring God. Those who lead in worship, those who preach, those who minister, can easily cross over into performing for the people, instead of honoring an audience of only one…..
Sometimes we have to choose to obey God or man…..This is why when the disciples were brought before the religious counsel and asked why they continued to fill Jerusalem with their doctrine, Peter gave them this answer…. Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
When we were younger, I remember in one job, I worked at a full servicemeat market, and the boss required that we put our thumb on the scale when we weighed the meat, or have a small weight that we slipped on the scale with the meat. I refused and he took me off the scales and put me in the processing area and taught me to be a meat cutter. He said he couldn’t trust me to do the wrong thing. That trade met our needs for 15 years until we got to Key West and got a salary from the church.
Obedience is better than sacrifice!
The fasted life seeks above all to honor God….The fasted life will seek to honor the Lord in speech, in actions, in relationships… and in priorities!Before we do the things we do, if we can’t stop first and pray “Lord I ask you to bless this”, then we probably won’t honor God in doing it….
I heard about a minister who was speaking to a guy who claimed to be a Christian but smoked recreational marijuana. The guy told him that God wouldn’t produce something that wasn’t for our good. So it was OK to use what God had produced. The minister took a handkerchief and picked up some dog droppings and said, based on what you have said, you need to light this up and give it a try..
King Saul heard the word of the Lord, but he thought he had a better idea….
The government usually thinks it has a better idea than God and we end up with socialism … Environmentalist usually think they have a better idea than God and we end up with climate change… Scientist think they have a better idea than God and we end up with the erroneous deception of evolution… Doctors think they have a better idea than God and we end up controlled by pharmaceuticals and health for sale…. The church thought it has a better idea than God and we ended up with religion instead of personal relationship….
Samuel said it best when he said….”Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission to Him is better than all of your offerings”.
One lady who had come into the revelation of a God centered relationship, said this.. I now know why I wanted my morality and good works to save me. If I’m saved by my good works, then like a taxpayer, I have rights and privileges. I’ve paid into the system and God now owes me a good and decent life. And there is a limit to what the Father can ask of me in that religious arrangement. But if I’m saved by sheer grace, then my life belongs entirely to the Father, I receive everything I don’t deserve, and He owes me nothing and there is no limit to what he can rightfully ask of me.”
Then I look at Micah 6:7 “Will the Lord be pleased with your thousands ofsacrifices and offerings? v8 He has shown you, O man, what [is] good; and what He requires of you. It is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly (obedient) with your God”?
Jesus didn’t say, “If you love me, sacrifice for me.” Instead he said, “Anyone who loves me will obey me and My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
Let me tell you, when God makes His home with you, great things will begin to happen in your life! Things you could never have planned, could never afford, or even thought of !! But He may rearrange your stuff, He may change your schedule, and He may change your priorities…
Isaiah 48:17–19 “This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace, endlesslyflowing like a river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants will be like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! Destruction, will be far from you and your legacy will remain."
The fasted life is a life of obedience…. And the source… is Trust in God! When God led the Hebrews out of Egypt, it was a journey of trust in Him, a journey of obedience. When they obeyed and moved with the pillar of fire by night and the cloud of His presence by day, it went well, when they didn’t, they had nothing but defeat and destruction …
Family psychologist, Dr. James Dobson said once, “If you have a willful child, I’ll teach you how to raise him. If you have a teenager, I’ll pray for you.” Lack of obedience in the workplace is insubordination.
Lack of obedience in the military can be grounds for court marshal.
Lack of obedience in children is rebellion.
Lack of obedience to God is another word for sin.
What if A professional fire fighter comes to your work place. He tells everyone that if they find themselves on fire, to stop, drop and roll. Then he has everyone practice doing it. So sure enough you find yourself on fire, but you start running around screaming and end up perishing, when all you had to do is stop, drop and roll. With your solution available to you, you chose to disobey the thing that would save you and you pay the consequences.
The problem with disobedience is that Disobedience has ramifications far beyond ourselves. It has a domino affect which not only touches ourselves, but it becomes generational…. It is empowered by a spirit of lawlessness which is insatiable and it is not satisfied until generations are affected….
Jacob’s disobedience in stealing the birthright, was perpetuated in his sons who sold their own brother Joseph into slavery…. Adam and Eve’s disobedience was perpetuated by Cain who murdered his brother…. David’s disobedience was perpetuated in Absalom… Solomon’s disobedience was perpetuated in his son Rehoboam, the evil king of Israel…
The apostle Paul mentions this cycle in Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Paul addresses the generational cycle of disobedience, but then he says that through Jesus’ obedience a reset button was pushed, and His obedience set up a new generational cycle. He redeemed our legacy, He restored the God possibilities in the family lineage!!!
My father ran a moonshine still in the hills of North Carolina, my mother was a promiscuous alcoholic, who abandoned her husband and her children. When I married this foxy lady, I made a covenant with God that a new stream of blessing was being opened and a new, Godly legacy, was being started! And I declared it based on…
Deuteronomy 28:1 “And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe [and] obey His word, that the Lord your God will set you on high… v2 And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you in the way you go, if you will hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God. v3 Blessed [shall] you [be] in the city, and blessed [shalt] you [be] in the field. v4 Blessed [shall be] the fruit of yourbody, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of all your animals. v5 Blessed [shall be] your basket and your storehouse.
v6 Blessed [shall] you [be] when you come in, and blessed [shall] you [be] when you go out. v7 The Lord shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to disappear from before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. v8 The Lord shall command Hisblessing upon you in all that you set your hand unto and he shall bless youin the land which the Lord your God gives unto you. v9 The Lord shall establish you as a holy people unto Himself, as he has sworn unto you, if you will keep the word of the Lord your God, and walk in His ways.
v11 And the Lord shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of yourbody, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the Lord has swornunto your fathers to give you. v12 The Lord shall open unto you His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto your land in His season, and to bless all the work of your hand and you shall lend unto many, and you shallnot borrow. v13 And the Lord shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shalt not be beneath, if you obey the wordof the Lord your God”.
Obedience has it’s own reward…. My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus…. Nothing shall be able to stand before you…. A thousand shall fall on your left hand and ten thousand on your right hand but it shall not come near you…. The path of the righteous shall shine as the sun on a new day… The enemy shall come at you one way and shall flee 7 ways…. God shall be your sword and shield….By His stripes we are healed….Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord shall deliver them from them all….etc… Obedience transforms fear to faith, it replaces uncertainty with purpose and direction, it turns your pain into deliverance, and your obstacles become opportunities!
Let’s say you are on the other side of a polluted river, where there is nothing to eat or drink and unless you cross the river where there is plenty, you will die… But you say, “I do not believe in boats or bridges, but I want to get to the other side” so you stand there, dying of hunger and thirst while there is a bridge and a boat, but you die, because you say you do not believe in that means of rescue, even though your salvation is right in front of your eyesyou perish.
Let’s put it another way… Let’s say that you know that if you don’t eat and drink, you will die. But in spite of this, you say “I will not eat or drink, but I still want to live”… Food and drink are placed before you, but you have made your choice, and you die with plenty of food and drink available to you…
Is that any different from a person whom God has told, “If you simply obey me, you will be blessed in every way”… but they insist on saying I don’t believe that, even though my life is a mess, even though my family is perpetuating my disobedience, even though things are all fouled up in my life… I insist on doing it my way, because I know better than God”!
What makes this even crazier, is that people ignore the solution they have been given, and their means of having the best outcome, and then they blame God for the results of their disobedience!!! Any sane person would say, that makes absolutely no sense at all!!!
At the end of life we will not be judged by many of the things we thought were important, like degrees or how much money we have, or how famous we were. But we will be judged by how well we obeyed the Lord.
In the scriptures we have the story of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego who are threatened with a fiery furnace death if they did not disobey God. Daniel was told that he would be fast food in the lion’s den if he didn’t disobey God… In both cases, these men chose to obey God rather than men. They were going to lose a lot more than just their job, or their money, or their reputation…. And the outcome was miraculous and totally amazing! God honored them because they honored Him!
The bible says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of doing it your own way, receive His salvation, come under His teaching in obedience and you will be saved and blessed….
And folks still say “I’ll do it my way, I can handle this, I don’t need Jesus”
Listen, if any of us could do it our own way… why would Jesus ever leave heaven, with all it’s glory, leave the place of Deity and become a man, be rejected, opposed, abandoned and persecuted, then die a cruel death on the cross for our sins, if there was any other way imaginable!!!!
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her (Martha), I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. v26 Andwhosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this”?
When I was younger, I was in a hurry and decided instead of waiting for the red light to change like all the other cars, I would take a short cut through a gas station. I felt pretty good about my choice to get a jump on the traffic, until the police lights behind me told me other wise. I was given a ticket for avoiding a traffic light. As I paid the ticket, wisdom came into me…. DON’T DO THAT AGAIN!
The fasted life begins by making a quality decision to obey….
(the enemy uses our rebellious areas against us. He knows obedience is the key)
The fasted life begins by knowing what the Lord desires of us…. ( The enemy may not read our mind but he knows what has captured our heart)
Someone has said that the brain is amazing, it works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and never stops, from birth until we fall in love….
The fasted life begins by forming habits and patterns of obedience…. (The enemy may not know our heart, but he knows our habits and patterns)…
The fasted life embraces the wisdom of God’s word…
(the enemy is a deceiver who hides wisdom from us)
The fasted life listens constantly for God’s voice….
(so the enemy confuses us with many voices)
The fasted life does what God says….
(the enemy will tell you like he did to Adam, that it doesn’t matter)
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, v2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God”.
The rewarder is there for us at the right hand of God’s favor…
The intercessor is there for us at the right hand of God’s favor…
The healer, provider and deliverer is at the right hand of God’s favor…
The way maker and world shaker is at the right hand of God’s favor…
The peace that passes all understanding is at the right hand of God’s favor….
The one who never slumbers or sleeps is there, and He’s awake so you can sleep, He’s knows when you don’t know, He’s figured it out when you don’t have a clue…
Our part is to live the fasted life of obedience….