Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The February Fast Begins This Monday

The February Fast Begins This Monday

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”  Isaiah 58:6

“This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:29

During the month of February, we will fast as a church. It is a corporate and individual fast all rolled up in one. It is corporate in that we are all going on it together and agreeing that we want to see God move in powerful ways. It is individual in the sense that each one is to seek the heart of God and pray for a plan that fits where you are being led by the Holy Spirit. On Sunday, there will be an insert in the bulletin explaining how you can lay out your fasting plan.

To understand the purpose of fasting more, look at a segment of the book, Spiritual Disciplines 101: “Fasting is important in Christian experience because it deepens within the whole self a sense of one’s dependence upon the strength of God. Fasting is more than an act of abstinence. It is an affirmative act; it is a way of waiting on God; it is an act of surrender. Fasting tends to induce within us an awareness of the spiritual dimension of life. Fasting is not a renunciation of life; it is a means by which new life is released within us. Fasting is not done to denigrate the flesh or subject it to torture as if it were an unworthy part of the self. Every part of the self is essential; no part is alien. Fasting helps us to grapple directly with any resistance from troublesome aspects of the self – the body, for instance — making us come to terms with such pressuring concerns by a spirit of discipline and trust.

Fasting expands the consciousness, permitting us to learn from wider dimensions of life as God knows and wills it for us. Certain areas of understanding and experience lie beyond our usual awareness; fasting is a calculated attempt to release ourselves into a sensitive awareness of those areas. Fasting sensitizes. Fasting strengthens. Fasting confirms a positive openness to God. Fasting allows a kind of self-death and resurrection.” - James Earl Massey in Spiritual Disciplines 101.

This Sunday I will conclude my series, “Living Life God’s Way” by looking at the concept of First Fruits. What did God mean when He said to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse? In Proverbs it says to honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.

Also don’t forget that Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. will be our Ministry Launch. We are going to explain a new way of looking at our small group ministry and how you can be a part of it. You will be able to come and enjoy many different kinds of out-of-this-world chili from a variety of master chefs in our congregation. This is in preparation to support cancer services in Findlay. Bring your family and enjoy this great night of fun.

Looking forward to a great Sunday together.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The February Fast

The February Fast

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”  Isaiah 58:6

“This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:29

As a church, we are committing the month of February to fast for the Lord to loose the chains of spiritual bondage, set the captives free, and lead us to be the church Jesus calls us to be. With each one of us taking a spiritual stance in our walk with Christ together, the Holy Spirit will be unleashed and we will all be changed for the better.

Isaiah 58 is filled with many benefits when you take the time to fast. Now the goal of fasting is not to experience these benefits. You can’t help but live out consequences when you humble yourself before the Lord and truly seek Him with all of your heart. Take the time to read the whole chapter and allow God to speak to your heart.

Many Christians are just going through the routine of following Christ. Their relationship with the Lord has grown cold or apathetic and they are not alarmed by that. Many find themselves helpless before the Lord because of a stronghold they have thought would be a way of life. If there is a sin that cannot be broken with more discipline then it could be termed a besetting sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that your temptation is not unique. Others face it as well. Unfortunately, many people believe the lie that they have to live with it. Yet this verse says there is a way out.

By committing to fast during the month of February, you are making a commitment to take control of your physical appetite so you can develop the strength to take control of your emotional appetite. You give up food as a demonstration of the commitment of your will. When you make a choice to fast, you are saying that you want to strengthen your spiritual appetite and grow closer to God.

In the Old Testament, fasting played an important role in the life of the believer. They had several national days of fasting. One was called the national Day of Atonement. In Leviticus 23:27, it states that they shall afflict themselves on that day. That literally means to fast and abstain from food for reasons of feeling sorry for your sins and confessing them to God. The Day of Atonement was so sacred that if one of them were disobedient, they were cut off from the people (Leviticus 23:29).

Next week I will describe different fasting options. There is no right or wrong way to fast. As a matter of fact, here is what Elmer Towns says in his book, A Beginners Guide to Fast, “Fasting is not required of Christians, this means you don’t have to do it. As a matter of fact, some who have never fasted may be more spiritual than some who do fast. There are some grandmothers who are effective intercessors, but they have never fasted once. Why? Because they continually live so close to God, that they don’t have to fast to get closer to God.” The key is to stay committed to the terms and times you have established for your fast. If you want to read more on fasting, then go to any of Elmer Towns’ books and read a Biblical basis and his practical experience with this discipline.

During the month of February, I will be preaching a series of messages on fasting. Begin praying now for the Lord to help you as you prepare.

It was good to have 10 baptized last Sunday. I always enjoy hearing the different testimonies and seeing God move among our congregation. I love being a part of this church. God is doing amazing things among us.

Looking forward to growing and maturing in the faith as we fast in February.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Month of Prayer and Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough

A Month of Prayer and Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”  Joel 2:12

In Mark 9 we read of an incident when Jesus found the disciples unable to cast a demon out of a possessed child. Jesus then shows them the power of perfect faith in an Almighty God and heals the child. The disciples come to Jesus after everything settles down and asks, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting” Mark 9:29.

In the month of February, we are calling the church to fast and pray. We are strongly encouraging the whole church to humble themselves in the sight of God and believe that He wants to do a mighty work beyond our comprehension. We are going to pray for miracles, healing, salvation for lost friends, issues that have troubled our spirits and burdens too heavy to bear. Some of the obstacles in people’s lives are still there because they have not taken the time to fast and pray. Could it be that our church could see some strongholds disappear when we all agree and fast together during this time? I believe it can happen.

Throughout the Bible we see many examples of people going beyond the daily prayer life to fasting for a spiritual breakthrough. In Daniel 10 we read that Daniel ate no choice food, no meat or wine, for three weeks. The result was God releasing angels that fought on his behalf.

Ezra led the whole congregation of Israel in prayer and fasting. Look at the result. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer” Ezra 8:23.

In our nation, our church, our families, and our individual lives we need to humble ourselves and desperately call upon the Lord. Fasting is one way to show God how desperate you are for His presence in your life. It is a biblical way to truly humble you in the sight of God. It also enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you.

Begin now to pray how the Lord wants you to approach this fast in February. Here are some options of different kinds of fasts:

  1. The normal fast is going without food for a definite period during which you ingest only liquids (water and / or juice). The duration can be 1 day, 3 days, 1 week, or all 28 days of February. Extreme care would be taken with longer fasts, which should only be attempted after medical advice from your physician.
  2. The absolute fast allows no food or water at all, and should be short. Moses fasted for 40 days; but this would kill anyone without supernatural intervention, and should never be attempted without medical supervision. Be sure to test the spirit that tries to talk you into a 40-day fast, even if it includes liquids.
  3. The partial fast is one that omits certain foods or is on a schedule that includes limited eating. It may consist of omitting one meal a day. Eating only fresh vegetables for several days is also a good partial fast. People who have hypoglycemia or other diseases might consider this kind of fast.
  4. A rotational fast consists of eating or omitting certain families of foods for designated periods. For example, grains may be eaten only every fourth day. The various food families are rotated so that some food is available each day.

    The key in picking your fast is to follow through on what you have decided in your heart. Write it down and pray that you will fulfill your commitment. You may even want to lead your family through Scripture around the dinner table or before bedtime. Again, ask the Lord to show you what to do as you give Him full access to every chamber of your life and discard anything that causes your love for Him to grow cold.

    I will be preparing us through these blogs as we lead up to the beginning of our fast on Monday, February 1.

    May God bless you today as you stay warm and ready for what comes your way . . .

    Joy in Jesus!

    Pastor Mike