You know you’re on the right track in preparing a sermon or bible study when your study of the Bible leads to personal conviction.
Today, I spent the morning preparing a sermon on the topic of fasting. During my preparation, I was thinking about different things someone could give up. I thought about 10 Days Without, and giving up different necessities for the purpose of serving others. I thought about the people I know who give up coffee, chocolate or social media for Lent. I remembered a few sermons where pastors gave the congregation a green light to come up with their own “fasts.”
But the more I studied, the more I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had missed something. I kept thinking about all of the excuses that I’ve used to explain why I couldn’t fast from food:
- “I don’t function well when I don’t eat.”
- “I like to play sports, and I don’t have energy when I’m hungry.”
- “I don’t want to. If there are other options, I’d like to choose one of those.”
The more I thought about my excuses, the more God reminded me of a phrase from Scripture. I couldn’t remember the reference, but after a quick search I found the passage in which the phrase appears. Check it out:
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:17-21)
All of us struggle with idols—things in our lives that are more important than God—and I think I fit the description highlighted in the above passage. I think my stomach has been one of my idols. And I may not be the only one.
Think about our culture. Food is elevated to a VERY high place of honor. Consider the organic movement—one that I agree with and feel is important—which sometimes flirts with worshipping the almighty Kale leaf. Not an organic person? Think about this: every major event in our culture includes a unique menu as a part of the celebration…
- Valentine’s Day = candy, chocolate and dinner at a nice restaurant
- Easter = candy, brown sugar & maple Ham and pie
- Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day= hotdogs, burgers and slaw
- Thanksgiving = too many things to list and pie
- Christmas = too many things to list and pie (I really like pie)
- Birthdays = cake and ice-cream
- Sporting events = pizza, wings and popcorn
- Car Trips = candy bars and soda from convenience stores
- Amusements Parks = cotton candy
- The Fair = funnel cakes
- The movies = popcorn, candy and pie (jk, maybe)
We are a food driven culture, and we often follow the lead of our stomachs. But after a quick study of fasting in Scripture, I think it’s important for me to give up food, and I would ask you to consider it to. For a few reasons:
- Fasting from food reminds us that God—not you or me—provides daily bread (Matt. 6:11)
- Fasting reminds us that man does not live on bread alone but on God (Matt. 4:4).
- Fasting reminds us of those who don’t have food, and should push us to provide food for the poor (Isaiah 58).
- Fasting points us to God in desperation for His kingdom to come. When hunger pains hit, our prayer should be “God, I desire you more than food. I desire to be satisfied by you, more than I desire to have my hunger pains satisfied.” (I’m reminded of Psalm 42:1, even though it’s about water instead of food.)
Are we desperate for God? Do you and I truly desire him above all else?
Unfortunately, I discovered today that I desire God a lot, but not quite as much as pie. Intentional Christians fast from food because otherwise they will worship their stomachs. May God forgive me for serving my stomach more than serving him, and may he lead me to desire him above all else. I pray that He will lead you on that journey too.
Want to dive into this more deeply? Check out a sermon I discovered yesterday by David Platt on this topic: