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Tuesday
Nov012011

Fasting: love it and hate it

At Mill City Church we desire to be a community marked by a hunger for God.  This looks like attentiveness to His presence and activity; a longing for our lives to be shaped by Him.  One of the ways we establish that is to cultivate a lifestyle of fasting.

By going without food for a period of time we are doing more than starving ourselves, we are:

*Being obedient (Matthew 6:16, 9:14-15)

*Imitating Jesus (Luke 4)

*Cultivating humility (Psalm 35:13)

*Orienting our hearts around what God wants.

The difficulty with this reorientation process is that our human nature and our culture cultivate a life that revolves around our wants and desires.  I Peter 4:1-2 (Message) indicates that it is through suffering that we are able to strangle our selfishness.

Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

So, in a society where we have so much, suffering isn’t always apparent.  Fasting is a way to embrace suffering in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the idea of fasting but I HATE the practice of fasting. The main reasons are that I don’t like being hungry and I love food!

It doesn’t take long for my stomach to growl, my mind to kick into justifications-for-breaking-my-fast mode, and opportunities to eat arise. But let’s not let these powerful temptations overshadow the value of going without what we want. When we can say no to food this translates to the ability to say no to other desires.  Not all our wants are good for us, so it is important that we are able to say no. This isn’t just a self-discipline “no”, this is a grace-filled, God-inspired “no”. In Titus, the apostle Paul talks about how God is at work in this process.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. (Titus 2:11-12)

So when we fast, something bigger is going on. We are physically demonstrating a spiritual reality. We are saying, “Our greatest hunger in life is God.”

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