21-Day Fast (Days 18-21) Feasting on the Fast

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14

12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Waiting on God

As I reflect over the past 21 days, I can’t help but criticize myself for my attitude during moments of the fast. I deliberately tried to absorb myself in the fast. Trying to glean as much as I could spiritually, while denying myself physically. I would catch myself though, wanting to hasten the fast. You know, “get it over with!” This was something of an endurance test to be sure, but I had a difficult time making the distinction of enduring the sacrifice, while enjoying it at the same time. If that’s too deep, let me say it like this. I have been known to “rush” things along in my life. Even as I type this, I’m in a hurry to get out how it is I’m feeling. Fasting forced me to wait. I had to wait out the hunger pangs (some people call them hunger pains…I see why). I had to wait on the presence of the Lord to sustain me. I couldn’t rush the clock, I wasn’t living meal to meal. When I would have loved to have been “waited on,” I was doing all the waiting on the Lord.

Don’t Dismiss the Fragments

There are many insights God has given me on this fast some of which will surface later. But when I took my first bite after the fast was over, it dawned on me how good each morsel of food tasted. Even the fragments, or crumbs that I would have ordinarily dismissed and shoveled into my mouth without thinking, tasted delicious. Part of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 wasn’t JUST the fact that he fed 5000 men (plus women and children). Don’t forget, there were 12 baskets of fragments that were picked up AFTER everyone was fed. So, I’ve learned during the fast, that yes, the meals are wonderful, but don’t dismiss the fragment; smaller things that are still quite tasty and deserve to delight my spiritual taste buds. They too work to sustain me, and are deliberate blessings God intends for me. I shouldn’t dismiss them as inconsequential. I should scoop them up, and savor each blessing, no matter how small.

It’s Not Over

I will not be able to close the chapter on this fast for a long time. I thought once I had eaten, I would be able to say that I have arrived at the end of a journey. I can’t say that. In fact, not only is it NOT over, it’s just begun. Laying aside your flesh for several weeks like that can leave an indelible mark on you spiritually, if you allow it. I’m going to allow it.

Paul said he didn’t consider himself to have apprehended perfection, but he was still pressing. While at one time I thought the end of the fast meant the end of a journey. I now know today, as odd as this sounds, I’ll be feasting on the effects of this fast for a long time to come. This fast has set my journey off on the right trajectory for 2008. I’m going to forget all the failings, faults, and trials of 2007, and I’m going to do what Paul did…I’m going to press on toward perfection.

21-Day Fast (Day 16) Cloud of Witnesses

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-2

1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  2Looking 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews chronicles for us some very key figures of faith in the Old Testament summing them up by saying, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40.

As chapter 12 opens up, we find that the work of these dear saints is far from complete. While their earthly tabernacle has faded, their representation and observation is still taking place today.

Can I Get a Witness?

Overcoming monumental obstacles that included, trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:36-38), The scripture tells us they received not the promise. But they have a vested interest in our success, because the scripture goes on to say, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:40).”

Many of the witnesses Hebrews refers to were bludgeoned to death, tortured, dismembered, disemboweled, burned at the stake, and sawn asunder. In my wild imagination I envision patriarchs of old peering through the portals of Heaven watching as you and I now battle the forces of spiritual wickedness in high places. All those precious souls watch with baited breath as you and I face the enemy on a new plain. The persecution we face is real, but the brutality is different. While theirs was a physical anguish, ours is mental, and at times physical, with the added intensity of an enemy that is not content to just destroy this earthly vessel of our body, but the devil wants to destroy our soul as well.

The Cheerleaders of Heaven

This may be taking it a bit too far, but I believe the likes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are watching God’s grand design unfold, and are anxiously observing each battle we fight. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to think we have a cheering section in the prophets, and in our family members who have gone on before us shouting…”You can make it! Don’t stop fighting! The enemy isn’t as tough as you think he is! God will see you through this! Don’t give up child, the battle is yours!”

Praise the Lord! As much as it means to me to have a cloud of witnesses that want me to make it, and that I know I can make it with the grace of God, having Jesus as my hero is of far greater importance. Yes, I admire my grandparents and loved ones that have gone on to their reward because of their faithfulness in this life. But having Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, standing guard over my life is of the greatest comfort. Apostle Paul must have felt the same way because he said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” With the patriarchs of old cheering me on and the power of Jesus to see me through…I can’t lose!

How Do I Feel?

With day 16 well underway, I’m able to see the proverbial light at the end of this tunnel. My muscles have stopped aching, but I get tired very easily. Reading some material on fasting, they said that natural hunger will return. I’m honestly, not looking forward to that day. You may wonder why. Well, I feel like I’ve finally captured and caged a part of myself that has been literally running rampant my entire life. More on that subject in my final thoughts on the 21st day.

21-Day Fast (Day 15) ALL or Almost?

Scripture: Acts 26:26-29

For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

As Christians, we have more than likely heard some of the same rhetoric. We spend hours with individuals sharing the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends and families only to hear the dreaded words spoken…Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. At least Agrippa didn’t lead Paul on by professing to believe, and refusing to change his life and completely turn it over to God.

Almost

Almost can be defined as, “slightly short of; not quite; nearly: almost time to go; was almost asleep; had almost finished.” How many of us, reserve a section of our heart for the “almost-factor.” As if to say, “just in case this doesn’t work, I have an out!” God’s not looking for people who almost love Him, and almost serve Him, and are almost faithful to Him. Because almost making it to church – isn’t making it at all. Almost telling someone about the Love of Christ – isn’t telling them at all. Almost living for God – isn’t living for God at all. And, almost making it to Heaven isn’t going to get you there. The key is, following through!

Golf Swing 101

I do not profess to be an avid golfer. I’ve made several attempts at it only to get a few good shots that make me keep repeating the frustrating game all over again, thinking that perhaps I’ll actually get good at it one day. A vital ingredient to a healthy golf swing in addition to keeping your head down, is to ensure you follow through with your swing. Not following through, will get your ball “almost” to the green. Which by now you’ve learned is not getting to the green at all. You need a solid follow-through on your swing to ensure you gain the optimal distance and height on your ball. Failing to do so will result in golfing like “Yours Truly!”

Commitment

On a more serious note, we must follow through if we expect to make to the Kingdom! Empty promises, vows, and unfulfilled commitments are not only an embarrassment (or should be), but they’re outright lies. I know situations arise that may interfere with our commitment, but they should never prevent you from completing it. God didn’t give you a limit on how many times to keep trying, but almost fulfilling our duty as a Christian – isn’t fulfilling it at all. No matter how many times you fail remember the scripture, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me (Micah 7:8). The difference in people that get back up and try again, and people who wallow in self-pity and defeat? Provebs 24:16 – For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. So keep getting up. Keep trying.

In Closing

Don’t almost follow through with the commitment you’ve made to Christ. Matthew 10:22 tells us,”And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”

How Do I Feel?

I feel blessed! Because I know, Christ didn’t almost die on the cross for me. He didn’t almost rise from the dead. And, He didn’t almost fill me with His Spirit…Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: (Philippians 1:6)

21-Day Fast (Day 14) Measuring Ourselves Part II

Scripture: Luke 18:10-14

10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Scripture: Ephesians 4:13

13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

The Publican

Humbled at the mere thought of coming into the presence of God, the publican stood afar off. You can’t miss the anguish in this man. He pounds his chest, and wasn’t the least bit concerned with who was watching. A valuable lesson can learned here. Without God’s mercy, we are all lost and undone. Unlike the prideful Pharisee, the publican sought not to exalt himself, justify himself, or compare himself to anyone. People in the Pharisee’s position, thought that by their public displays of piety, they were demonstrating for people just how righteous they were, rather than pointing followers to the righteousness of God.

Measure Twice – Cut Once

The adage is true. We want to make certain our measurements are correct before we make unnecessary cuts. I’ve witnessed people who are “pros” who have found they incorrectly measured only to find they cut something unnecessarily too short. The Pharisees were that way. Foolishly measuring themselves by the status of others, they felt as long as they were doing more than anyone else, or behaved more righteously than anyone, this equated to being godly. They never measured correctly to begin with. The publican on the other hand, measure himself against the Holiness and Righteousness of God and realized, God’s mercy is always required for any of us to “make the cut!”

Paul told the Ephesians, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

If you want to measure yourself against anyone, do so against the Rule of God. He is always straight. He is always just. He is always true. He changes not…He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In Closing

We see a stark contrast here between the prayers that are received and the ones that go ignored. Regardless of how long we’ve been serving God, it’s good to acquaint ourselves once in awhile with the message of the Pharisee and the publican. Both worshipped the same God, in the same church, and both were keenly aware of their responsibility to stay in touch with God. One got results, and the other did not. If you feel you’re prayer life has gone stagnant, maybe visit your prayer posture. Do your prayers measure up? Or, are you quick to point to your righteousness rather than God’s?

How Do I Feel?

Tired, but not overly hungry. Hunger pangs try to remind me that something is missing, but I use them as prompts to remind me to pray, rather than to eat. I have been drinking scads of water, but regardless I’m physically weak. Just one week left – so I have more behind me than I have in front of me…that’s almost true too even if you consider my belt line!

21-Day Fast (Day 13) Measuring Ourselves Part I

Scripture: Luke 18:10-14

   10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee

As we read this scripture we see a stark contrast between the Pharisee and the publican. It’s so important for us to visit this portion of Christ’s teaching as we are in the middle of a fast. I’ve observed in times past, with myself, and with others, that when going on fast, we can develop the tendency to come across self-righteous or “holier-than-thou.” As the Pharisee in this parable goes through the litany of things he feels makes him more righteous than everyone else, we find that he has set his standard for comparison quite low. You see, the Pharisee foolishly used others as a scale, or standard of measurement. In defense of his ministry Paul states to the Corinthians, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12).”

So, much like a bully does in school, the Pharisee would play off of the weaknesses of others in order to make HIM look better. Isaiah had it right a long time ago when he said, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).” It’s not our righteousness that justifies us; it’s the Grace of God! Simply saying, “well, at least I’m not as bad as some people,” doesn’t make you righteous. That’s why there is but ONE that is righteous, and ONE standard by which all righteousness will be measured – God’s Righteousness!

In Closing

We’ll get to the publican tomorrow, but I wanted those that are fasting to know, be aware of the potential of coming across as if you are better than someone else just because you are…”Doing more than anyone else.”  Or, worse yet, “At least I’m not as bad as so-and-so!” Hint, Hint, wink, wink!

How Do I Feel?

I slipped a bit this weekend. I know, I know, I may have let some of you down, but I’m not doing this fast for acclaim. The very reason I slipped, is the very reason I need to continue the fast. You want me to tell how I slipped? Not gonna happen – I wouldn’t want to put you in peril of being like the Pharisee, comparing your fast to mine and saying…”well at least I didn’t bomb, like Mangold!”

That being said, my body doesn’t feel that great. Praise the Lord who has been my companion through the fatigue. I seriously could not do this without Him.

21-Day Fast (Day 11) The “Mind” Field

Scripture: I Peter 1:13-16 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

I Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The Mind Field

Yes, I am aware that the customary spelling is “mine” field to refer to the landmines that are present. But, for the purpose of our post today, I’m calling it a “mind” field. Our mind, the seedbed of our thoughts, is in fact where the majority of our battles take place. Sometimes our mind feels like a minefield. Doesn’t it? We’re bombarded with so many thoughts bred out of…

  • How we feel
  • What we see
  • What is being done to us
  • What is being done to someone else
  • Current affairs
  • The economy

There are literally thousands of triggers each day that set off thoughts in our mind. Some of these thoughts can be explosive and if detonated, acted upon, they could inflict serious casualties, not only to our selves, but to others. In our scripture today, Peter admonishes us to, “gird up the loins of our mind.” What an interesting juxtaposition of terms here; the mind and the loins. What would one have to do with the other?

The Birth of a Thought

If each action we perform, or commit is preceded by a thought, we must all gird up, or guar the birthplace (loins host our reproductive organs) of our thoughts. By guarding what triggers these thoughts, and not allowing them to penetrate to the point of execution, we can and will arise victorious over the very thing the devil intended to elicit a certain response out of you. Now that we know we must guard the birthplace of our thoughts, let us discuss the “how.”

Guard Against Pride

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” What kind of mind would Christ have had? For starters, he wasn’t thinking ill of mankind. In fact reading further in the same chapter, 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:6-7). Even though, Jesus was God, manifested in the flesh, he did not exercise superiority over man; he took upon him the form of a servant. Humility is essential if one is to guard their mind against pride! 4The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4).

Guard Against Negativity

Not much farther in the book of Philippians, we are given some further instructions on protecting our minds. 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). Contrary to what some my “think” I cannot force you to think differently. This requires training on your part. A terrific start is allowing yourself to focus on the list Paul gave us. Doing so will prevent the negative mindset that so permeates our society today.

Guard Against Carnality

1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (I Peter 4:1). Yes, you read correctly, Peter again instructs us to “arm” ourselves against our own flesh. It opposes all that is good. It seeks only to satisfy the primitive nature that tainted us so many thousands of years ago in Eden. No good will come of giving into the carnal nature of the flesh. I know we are fleshly creatures, but our appetites and desires should stem from our spiritual mind rather than our carnal mind. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

The Armor

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15A nd your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:13 – 17).

Again, we see reference to our loins, and that for very best protection we must employ truth! Of course we need more than just our mind protected, which Paul makes provision for here. I do not think it coincidental that Paul starts with truth. We have a foundation of truth on which we can stand, on which we can build, and which we can use to protect ourselves from false doctrine and from attacks of the enemy.

In Closing

“Truly,” truth is our greatest defense against attacks on our minds. Perhaps that is why the wisest man of his time said in Proverb, ” Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23).

How Do I Feel?

Physically, I’m amazed at how good I feel today. Perhaps the best day I’ve had since I started. Being over half way there is an exhilarating feeling as well. Which begs the question, should I be in anticipation about the fast ending? Doing so could potentially put me at risk of making this more about an endurance test than about a spiritual journey and getting closer to the Master. After all, yes the destination is our focus, as is Heaven. But, let’s not shortchange ourselves of the journey that’s ahead, which holds for us many more joyful experiences.

21-Day Fast (Day 10) Begging Bread

Begging Bread
In Psalm 37:25 David makes a brilliant observation he says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Living for God certainly has its benefits as it says later in Psalms, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” I’m loving living for God!

Doesn’t it bless your soul to know that if you are righteous and living for God, you will never be forsaken and have to beg for bread? You say, “Wait a minute, a loaf of bread is only a dollar or two, what’s the big deal?” It’s a HUGE deal. For not only does me being righteous (my righteous is of God) provide me with bread, but there is a generational blessing here that cannot go unnoticed; “nor his seed.” What blessed assurance in knowing that I’m sowing not only into this present generation, but in my generations to come. Hmmm, that’s a lot of bread.

Bread of Heaven
“This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever,” Jesus told his followers. In terms of bread, we’re definitely talking Wonder-ful Bread, not Wonder Bread. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual (I Corinthians 15:46). So, if the natural axiom David stated in Psalms applies, we will never have to beg for the spiritual bread Jesus was talking about. Praise the Lord!

When we need more of the Lord in our lives, He’s there! And, not only will he be there for you, but as David pointed out, your seed will never be begging for this Bread! Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

So see, there’s no begging involved. You simply ask, AND you teach future generations to follow suit.
 

How Do I Feel?
With this being day 10, I’m extremely weak. I still have to work. This requires a great deal of walking around our plant, and in and out of our plant, but I’m blessed with a desk job, so this helps on the occasion I get to sit at it. I’ve cut out any extra-curricular activities. Each motion brings with it fatigue. I have to rest half way up the stairs. I have even had to rest my arms while typing this. This morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue the fast.

On a more positive note, not only has my appetite slowed down for food, but for other non-value added aspects of my life as well. T.V. and movies don’t hold the allure. I don’t feel like reading anything but the Bible. Sadly, even keeping up with my fellow bloggers has been a chore. With the exception of the latter, I don’t mind the reprieve from all that is Hollywood and entertainment. During our carnal times we feel can’t miss one episode of our favorite show, or one more chapter in our favorite book. Fasting gives you a chance to be released from that nonsense for a while to clear your head…and your heart.

Fasting Help 

For some excellent Fasting resources stop by www.gracenewsinfo.com blog and see my latest posting there entitled Fasting Resources.