Our Trust, Motivation & Sacrifice

This is a word I shared at our local congregation just recently on Fasting. What it is and what it is not. We have started a 21 day corporate fast to pursue the heart of God.

Story of Extremes

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

Fasting is one of the greatest weapons that God has revealed to us to move into greater glory and power seeing His kingdom manifested in the earth.

Realizing this though is not enough. Something that should and needs to be removed when it comes to fasting or before someone embarks on a fast is a “performance mindset”. Most people’s church experience has involved a whole lot of performance, legalism, rules, “to do lists” that have turned out nothing more than disappointed, burned-out, disillusioned people. Before anyone should begin fasting they need to have a revelation and understanding of the work of Christ. What Jesus has accomplished on the cross is complete for us. There is nothing that can be added to what He has done. Our works are like filthy rags and do not help anything. Just the opposite, our works separate us from God when they are rooted in self. Our trust is completely in Him.

Years ago I had a friend who committed to a 40 day fast. On the 39th day of the fast he ate and fell under condemnation. Because of this he went on another 40 day fast trying to accomplish what he felt God had told him to do. In this fast he also broke it before it was supposed to be over. At this point he had lost his mind and his parents had to put him in a mental facility. The reason I share this is so you see a little deeper the effects of a work mindset entrenched with legalism. This kind of performance thinking throws people into extremes, condemnation when things do not go right and more of a feeling of “self-accomplishment” when they do. One is no better than the other. Pride works in both directions.

Our Trust & Motivation

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Galatians 6:14-15

Our trust must be firmly found in the cross. Our motivation for fasting must be out of a relationship. If someone fails to fast what they have committed to then there needs to be enough freedom that they quit at any time with no guilt or go ahead and finish the fast for the final days. But God’s grace must be established in our hearts.

One of the main things to remember is that fasting is not about us. If someone fails to follow through in finishing a fast it is not a big deal. If it is about the Lord I believe God is big enough to handle it. God is looking at the heart. He appreciates the effort. He really does! Religious people are always hard on themselves and others. Our hearts must overflow with grace for others and us.

Living Sacrifice Expressed

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

Fasting is one of the ways we can express the life of living sacrifice. When we sacrifice something that is valuable to us it is truly a sacrifice. There are many views on what a fast looks like. My perspective is that fasting primarily involves food. Food is very valuable to most people. That is why television can have so many commercials promoting food. We even have the Food Network. I even like to watch it. If we were to compare, food feasting and gluttony might be one of the idols in the Old Testament. It is definitely a problem and gluttony and epidemic here in America. The bottom line is sacrifice has to do with something we don’t want to part ways with. It is precious to us and not to be given away. David said he would not offer to the Lord anything that cost him nothing. Fasting costs all of us something. Fasting is a good thing when we do it out of a motivation to be closer to the Lord, to hear His heart and to follow His desires. But it does not earn us any points. All the points were scored when Jesus gave His life on the cross. Therefore we can receive grace to fast because of what He has already accomplished.

Sometimes I think God will even cause someone not to completely fulfill a fast just because He wants them to trust in Him more than to be proud of their accomplishment. Whatever the case the point is to be free and depend on His grace for the fast.

Some other beautiful things about fasting is that our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit rises. Like a barometer, our sensitivity to the things of the world goes down while our God consciousness goes up. God does not want us to be a self-conscious people. He wants us to be conscious of Him. After saying this, someone might be thinking, “Oh! But the struggle of feeling the need for food.” This is true at times. His grace is sufficient. Remember to always spend extra time in worship, prayer and the Word. Make Him your mediation. Makes all the difference.

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