C ELEBRATION OF D ISCIPLINE

BY

R I C H A R D J. F O S T E R

THE DISCIPLINE OF FASTING
Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it. John Wesley Where does our current church culture lie on this spectrum? And you personally?

BIBLICAL WITNESS
y y y y y y Daniel fasted on behalf of Judah's sin while reading Jeremiah s prophecy: Daniel 9:1-3. (focus on Word) Esther fasted on behalf of her people: Esther 4:13-16. Ezra fasted and wept for the sins of the returning remnant: Ezra 10:1-6 The people of Ninevah fasted after hearing the message of Jonah: Jonah 3:1-5 Anna fasted for the redemption of Jerusalem through the coming Messiah: Luke 2:36-8 The elders in Antioch fasted before sending off Paul and Barnabas: Acts 13:1-3

UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSES OF CORPORATE FASTING
While most fasts in scripture or a private and individual matter we do see public and group fasting. What are the causes of the public and group fasting in the following passages? y y y 2 Chronicles 20:1-4 In case of group or national ______________ Jonah 3:1-5 corporate ____________ and repentance Acts 13:1-3 to commission or ___________ a ministry work

UNDERSTANDING PRIVATE FASTING
Is there an explicit command that applies to all believers in scripture to fast? _______ Cornerstone teachings of Fasting y Matthew 6:16-18 o Bookends: Take a look at the verses preceding and following this passage. If Jesus Sermon on the Mount transitioned from prayer, to fasting, to treasure (giving) we should probably pay attention to the entirety of his words. o Note the verb used: When you fast . y Matthew 9:14-15 o Did Jesus imply that fasting would be a part of the apostle s lives at a future date? o When did the groom depart?

UNDERSTANDING PRIVATE FASTING
What is the purpose of fasting? Primary purpose: To use good things to our own ends is always the sign of false religion. How easy it is to take something like fasting and try to use it to get God to do what we want If our fasting is not unto God, we have failed. Physical benefits, success in prayer, the enduing with power, spiritual insights these must never replace God as the center of our fasting. John Wesley declares, First, let it [fasting] be done unto the Lord with our eye singly fixed on Him. Let our intention herein be this, and this alone, to glorify our Father which is in heaven. p.54-55 Secondary Purpose More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. p.55 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV) You say, I am allowed to do anything but not everything is good for you. And even though I am allowed to do anything, I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)

REFLECTION
Have our eyes strayed from Jesus and need to be refocused on his glory? Have we allowed things of this world to take too deep a root into our lives? Is this discipline too much of a sacrifice for me to even consider? How might this discipline change your practice of Lent? (Feb 22 Apr 5)

CHALLENGES
Consider choosing 1 of these 2 challenges: y y Plan a fast of 2 meals this week. Breakfast to Breakfast or Lunch to Lunch. Consume only water and fruit juice. Seek a spiritual receptiveness Fast from something other than food this week.

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