A Belly Full of Beans!

It was called a PLANNED FAMINE – sponsored by World Vision, it was a program for youth groups where you’d go 30 hours without food and get sponsors to support you financially – all proceeds went directly to hunger relief projects. I was about 17 at the time. I thought it was a cool idea – I was excited!

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It turned out to perhaps be the longest 30 hours of my life (up until that point in time!). I thought I was going to starve to death – I was ready to gnaw off my left arm! Being a teenage boy, my appetite was always ravenous – I felt somewhat noble going hungry for such a good cause but nevertheless – I was famished.

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We broke our 30 hour fast together with a potluck cook-out. As I was driving to our cook-out the clock hit the long anticipated 30 hour mark. I immediately pulled off alongside the road and singlehandedly devoured my contribution to the potluck – an entire crock-pot full of my mom’s baked beans! Undeterred in my quest in my own personal hunger relief project, I then proceeded to the picnic and ate 10 hotdogs.

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The weird thing is I didn’t even get sick.

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Thus was my inauspicious introduction into the spiritual discipline of fasting. Over the years I have fasted for various reasons – seeking God’s guidance with a big decision, praying for the deliverance of a friend involved in demonic activity, just to express my humility before God and worship him more fervently and numerous other PLANNED FAMINES (remember – I was a youth pastor for many years).

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Unfortunately fasting is not a holy habit that I have practiced with any kind of regularity. I think that has been a mistake.

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Jesus expected his followers to fast.

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16″When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18

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Jesus did not say “If you fast” but “When you fast”.

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14Then John?s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
? 15Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” Matthew 9:14-15

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Jesus’ followers were not fasting when he was with them – but once he was gone – “Then they will fast.”

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In light of my study on the ancient spiritual discipline of fasting this past week I have committed myself to begin making this habit a regular part of my training to be godly.

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Our NEXT STEP from this past Sunday was to fast for 24 hours. Will you take up that challenge? Will you voluntarily abstain from food for spiritual purposes and see how God might use the experience in your life? I hope so!

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Peace,
?Dave

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