The bible says that NOTHING shall be impossible with God. That means God looks at nothing and He sees SOMETHING… Scripture says to call the things that are NOT as though they are.. So we are told to look at NOTHING and see SOMETHING… Hebrews tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things NOT SEEN… The creation of everything that was made began when God took NOTHING, and made SOMETHING… When you ask your teen, what happened when you are called to the principles office, and you ask them what did they do, and they say, NOTHING, you know that NOTHING, means SOMETHING! If you look at air, you see NOTHING, but if you cool NOTHING down, you get SOMETHING, called water… So the principle here is, that when you pray and you see NOTHING, BE COOL, and get ready to see something! There was a guy that looked both ways and saw NOTHING, until he pulled out and SOMETHING hit him!
So, on the topic of nothing, I’ll be talking about fasting today. Let me give you a little formula “God plus nothing, equals something”…. Fasting is a declaration in our lives that God is enough, It’s not God plus anything, but God alone…
We make a statement when we fast, that God is more important than anything else in our lives….
Dan B. Allender, PhD, wrote ….“Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear. Fasting is the act of attuning our senses to the mysteries of God that swirl in and around us. *…..Wendy Speak…. Fasting allows us to experience more of Him. And our reward is greater intimacy with the One who formed us and knows us and sits enthroned within us and over us.” My problem with fasting is that I like food, and I like to eat at least a couple of times a day. SoI do struggle when I interrupt that cycle… But my message today is about what fasting really is, instead of the act of fasting itself…. Fasting is really all about our level of surrender and obedience….That’s the bottom line. We must allow God to retrain our brain through putting things aside, things that we won’t actually die without…(believe it or not) If I don’t have a better job, I’ll just die… If I don’t have that new car, I don’t know what I’ll do….I can’t live another day, without a vacation…..The fasted life is a life that allows God to retrain your appetites(not just with food) but our desires, and our life patterns as well.
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, 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) It’s really about where your values are and where your treasure is.
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 conquer 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 rule over the spirit of infirmity and disease, it will keep returning. If we don’t rule over the spirit of deception and judgmentalism, we will keep being deceived. If we don’t keep casting down the power of our flesh over us, we will continue to be ruled by the flesh and it’s desires….
In winning the battle, but failing to submit to God’s directive and destroy the ruler, Saul is actually in disobedience and was told by the prophet Samuel… in 1 Sam. 15:23 that 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!
This past Wednesday, my doctor scheduled me for blood work. Yuup, that’s me and my love/hate relationship with needles. He told me to not eat or drink anything from midnight until after my appointment at 8:30 in the morning. This was required in order to get an accurate evaluation of my current health by the status of my blood. I obeyed my Doctor because I wanted to have the right outcome.
Now if God says that I need to fast in order to have the right outcome. Yuuup, that’s me again, when I know I need to fast…..But I’ve come to the awareness that if I am to accomplish the will of God, I must crucify the flesh and it’s desires…I obey my doctor’s orders, why would I not obey my creator’s orders….
Mark 9:29 – “And he said unto them, this kind is not overcome by nothing, but prayer and fasting”. (He’s talking about overcoming Satan’s power)
Matthew 6:17 “When you fast, (The word when, is assuming that believers fast) When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others 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 openly”.
Almost obeying is still disobedience. I did but I didn’t…..
If you look at King Saul’s rational for disobedience. It’s the deception of needing to be accepted, and not be rejected by the good old boys club….
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 please 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. Obeying people instead of obeying 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 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’s life ended 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 his life was 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.
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 seen of men, applauded and elevated by the people.
We must be careful about spiritual performances which are done to impress people instead of just 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 I was younger, at one time, I worked at a full service meat 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. It was my training in meat cutting, that met our needs for 15 years until we went full time into the ministry. I had to be willing to lose my job, rather than do the wrong thing….
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, we can’t just do it and then pray “Lord I ask you to bless this”, before asking, “Lord what do you want to bless and I will do 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 the oppression of socialism … Environmentalist usually think they have a better idea than God and we end up under the control of 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 to the highest bidder…. The church thought it had a better idea than God and we ended up with religion instead of an intimate, personal relationship with the all knowing, all powerful, Father, Creator….
Samuel said it best when he said….”Obedience is better than sacrifice, and surrender to Him is better than all of your offerings”.
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 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 when He moves in, 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."
Trust in God is the source of our obedience! 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, failure 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 be sure to 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 produces self destructive patterns for life.
Lack of obedience to God is another signal of our need for grace to get back on the bike and trust Him for the strength we need….
What if A professional fire fighter comes to a classroom and He teaches everyone that if they find themselves on fire, to stop, drop and roll. Then he has everyone practice doing it. So sure enough someone finds themselves on fire, but they start running around screaming and end up severely burned, when all they had to do is stop, drop and roll. With the solution available to them, they chose to let their emotions overwhelm them and they failed to do the thing that would save them. Some lessons are learned and wisdom comes when we don’t get it right or do it right….
But disobedience has a domino effect which not only touches ourselves, but it becomes generational and it reaches further and further if we refuse to learn….
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, black haired beauty, who is my wife. We 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 your body, and the fruit of yourground, 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 His blessing upon you in all that you set yourhand unto and he shall bless you in the land which the Lord your God givesunto 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 shall not 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 word of the Lord your God”. I testify, that for me and my house…. It works!
Obedience is a gift we give to God ….the rewards are that Obedience transforms fear to faith, it replaces uncertainty with purpose and direction, it turns your pain into deliverance, and your obstacles become Your opportunities!
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, the gift of wisdom came into me…. DON’T DO THAT AGAIN! I learned to fast my desires to avoid a traffic light…..
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….thenit’s game on!!!
Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the disobediencewhich does so easily entangles and captures us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the forerunner and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, rising above its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider Him who endured such opposition, so that you might not grow weary and lose heart.”
Jesus, the rewarder is there for us at the right hand of God’s grace…
Jesus, the intercessor is there for us at the right hand of God’s favor…
Jesus the healer, provider and deliverer is at the right hand of God’s power…
Jesus the way maker and world shaker is at the right hand of God’s fullness…
Jesus the peace that passes all understanding is at the right hand of God’s love….
Jesus 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 has it figured it out when we don’t have a clue…
Our part, our mission, is to live the fasted life of obedience with joy and expectation….
He is the rewarder of those who diligently and fervently seek Him, in spirit and truth!
Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his obedience shall be.”
Let’s close with a Faith Confession…..
I declare over myself today, that I will see the light of a new day at the end of my obedience. I know without any doubt that there is a silver lining waiting for me. I declare that God didn’t bring me this far to leave me or let me come short of the promise. He will never leave me or forget about the purpose or destiny He has given me. I know that all things will work together for my good as I continue to love God and seek His calling and His plan for my life, because He is the constant and faithful One. I believe that He has called me and equipped me for all that He wants to do through me and all things are now working together to complete His calling and purpose concerning me, and all things, means ALL things. My God is not a God who wastes, nor does He do anything without a purpose. He is the ultimate redeemer and He is about to transform my life in wonderful, new ways.
I receive the new and improved version of myself, handcrafted by God. I will be patient and hold steady as He does His work. I will wait with a sense of expectancy, and know that He will do it in His own way and in His own time for He knows what is best for me. I will trust and have faith, for I believe that He is not a man that He can lie. He knows the plans He has for me, to give me a future and a hope. My hope is never in vain in the Lord….