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Sermon On The Mount - Living in the Kingdom
By Pastor Delbert Young

22. Kingdom Fasting

(video audio mp3)

Kingdom Fasting

Scriptures: 1 Timothy 4:7-8, Matthew 6:16-18, Luke 18:12, 2 Chronicles 20:3, 2 Chronicles 20:25

How many of us play golf? How about tennis? How many play a musical instrument of some kind? If I asked you what you would do if you wanted to dramatically improve your competency in that area of your life, what would you say? I mean if you want to become very, very good at it, what would you do? Would you not take some private lessons from professionals - spend time with the pros - and then practice, practice, practice? I am a very good fisherman. I usually catch fish even if no one else is catching them. My nephew and I were out fishing in the gulf this past September. We caught our limit of Snapper and Grouper. It is illegal to clean fish on the water, so the state provides a place to clean fish at the dock where I put my boat in. We dumped our catch on the cleaning table and people began to come around. They began taking pictures and admiring our catch. Other boats had come in and had nothing. I have entered fishing tournaments at Lake Weiss. I won first place every year except one. Do you know how I became a good fisherman? I took private lessons. I had professional fishing guides take me fishing and teach me how to catch the fish that I wanted to catch. I have had many fishing lessons. Now, I can do what the pros do and even better than some. It would have been nice if there were a quicker and less expensive way. I wish they could have simply laid hands on me and prayed. I wish they could have imparted their knowledge. Or maybe cast out all my bad techniques. It would have been nice if they could have given me books to read. But that's not the way it works.

When I see a really good golfer, I applaud them because of the price I know they paid. Great tennis players fascinate me. When I hear a really talented musician, I applaud them because I know the price they have paid. They have spent hours and hours in practice and in lessons. Whatever it is that you are good at took you time and required diligence.

WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT? Jesus has come to a place where he tells us how to raise our spiritual talents to a new level. Have you ever wanted to raise your level of spirituality? Have you ever wanted to be a better, more mature Christ follower? Have you ever wanted to go to the next level of spirituality? If so, there are some private lessons you can take. When at some point, we look into the mirror and realize that we are not growing and becoming better in our spiritual life, we can take some private lessons. When we honestly say things like, "I'm not much closer to God now than I was two, three, five years ago, I'm not a more loving person today, my character hasn't changed, my joy is not where I want it, my sensitivity to hurting people has not increased, my desire to give has not increased, I'm really not concerned about the lost" there are some lessons we can sign up for. There are some spiritual techniques that we can practice and they will produce dramatic improvement and changes in your spiritual life.

1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Please notice that training ourselves to be godly has value and benefits for the present life and not only for the life to come. Father wants to bless us. He wants to reveal secrets to us about life. Sometimes life is not good because people will not train themselves. They never break bad habits. They never raise the level at which they live. When they should be playing in the majors, they continue to play T-league.

THE LORD DESIRES WE GROW AND MATURE AND GET BETTER AT LIFE SO WE CAN LIVE BLESSED AND ABUNDANT. The more mature spiritually we become, the better our lives becomes. We enjoy life and life is full and abundant.

Jesus talked about our signing up for personal lessons in the Sermon on the Mount. We are at that place in our study. Here is what he said.

Matthew 6:16 "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.

Matthew 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

Matthew 6:18 so 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.

Fasting raises our spiritual sensitivity. When we want to grow and become more efficient at spiritual things, we are to fast.

NEHEMIAH:There was a man in the Bible named Nehemiah. He had a great job. He was the official wine tester for a Gentile king named Artaxerxes. Though things seemed very good for Nehemiah, he was stirred in his heart and wanted to do something special for God and for God's people. So he fasted. Shortly afterwards, he left his day job and went to Jerusalem and led the rebuilding of the walls that Nebuchadnezzar's armies had torn down. Nehemiah fulfilled his destiny because he fasted. Nehemiah found joy and fulness of life because he fasted.

God will do that for you. I've got to be somewhat careful because I don't want to relinquish my rewards, but I began fasting when I came into the kingdom. My life changed dramatically. I grew quickly. The Lord began using me in many ways. He has blessed my life and rewarded me in more ways than I can tell us. Every person that I have ever spoken with who has spent time fasting, has grown in their spirituality. They are blessed Christ followers. Their lives are full and abundant. Fasting is a key to the abundant life.

Matthew 6:16 "When you fast . . ." Matthew 6:17 But when you fast . . ."

Jesus did not say "If you fast." He said, "When you fast." In the kingdom of heaven, we fast. Life in the kingdom requires fasting. It's up to us as to "when" we do it, but we are to do it. It will accomplish something within the believer that nothing else will accomplish. Fasting will accomplish something that reading the Bible will not accomplish, that praying will not accomplish, that giving will not accomplish, that ministering to people will not accomplish. Yet, it will make us more efficient when we read the Bible, when we pray, when we minister to people, and when we give. It's a serious spiritual experience. Fasting is a training time unlike anything else we can do.

SAUL OF TARSUS:One day Saul of Tarsus was on the road going to Damascus to persecute Christians. Saul knew the scriptures. He was a well-trained Pharisee. On the way to Damascus, a bright light came upon him and the Lord told Saul to go into town and wait. He did. For three days Saul fasted. Saul's life changed so much that he changed his name and became Paul the apostle. Though Paul was already trained in the scriptures, he had a new Bible because of his new revelation. He wrote most of the books in the New Testament which are things that we guide our lives and churches by today. When he fasted, his life advanced to the next level.

That is what will happen to you and me. Sometimes we get where we don't enjoy reading God's word or we become critical about life. Sometimes we find ourselves on the road to Damascus wanting to hurt someone. We have gotten bitter. Sometimes church can lose its impact and become a chore. Sometimes it gets to where we don't want to do what we know we are to do for the kingdom. We all get like that from time to time. Jesus said that if we will spend time with the pros - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - by fasting, we will raise our spiritual level higher than it has ever been. Things will change. We are stirred up and fired up to do what we were born to do.

Matthew 6:16 "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.

The first instruction the Lord gave us about fasting was how not to do it. Sometimes we can do spiritual things, but not get spiritual results.

Do you remember the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the prayer meeting at the same time? Here is what the Pharisee said.

Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

The problem with the Pharisee was not that he did not fast and give. The problem was how he did them. He did them externally to be applauded by people. Fasting will accomplish the applauds of people. Jesus said it would. People will think a person who is always fasting is spiritual, but if they are doing it for that reason, that is all that will happen.

Jesus told us how fasting is properly done.

Matthew 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

Matthew 6:18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen;

The putting oil on your head would be compared with our combing, or brushing, our hair and splashing on a little cologne or perfume. It's not necessarily that they anointed themselves with oil to be spiritual. The point is that we avoided being obvious to people that we are fasting. We are to look normal.

FASTING, LIKE GIVING, IS FROM THE HEART. We give from the heart. We fast from the heart. There should be an internal desire to fast and spend time with Father God.

I want to say this. I have never met, or been around, a truly spiritual person that had not spent a great deal of time fasting.

CORNELIUS:Do you remember Cornelius? He was a man that loved the Lord. He loved to give. He loved to pray. He loved to fast and be with the Lord. One day he was fasting and praying and an angel appeared to him. The angel gave Cornelius instructions that changed his life and the lives of his friends and family. The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter. Peter came. Cornelius and everyone there received salvation and were filled with the Holy Ghost.

ORAL ROBERTS:Fasting stirs up gifts and intensifies gifts within us. Judy and I went to Atlanta years ago to an event where pastors were able to sit and talk with Oral Roberts. Afterwards, he lined us all up and came down the line praying for and touching each of us. We were able to ask questions and he answered them. One of the questions asked Oral Roberts was about fasting. He said that he fasted frequently. We all know the ministry that he experienced.

OBVIOUS:I like it that the Lord said, ". . . so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting." It's impossible to keep my fasting an entire secret and live a normal life. My wife knows I am fasting. People that I fellowship with knows that I'm fasting. The point is to not make our fasting obvious to people. Don't grandstand. We are to seek the Father's approval and not the approval of people.

REWARD:Finally, concerning this instruction about fasting, Jesus said,

Matthew 6:18 . . . and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

When our hearts are right and we diligently seek the Lord, he will reward us. That is a given. Father will do something supernatural in your life if you will seek him in fasting.

JEHOSHAPHAT:Once the nation of Judah was in a bad place. All their enemies had gathered together to destroy Judah. King Jehoshaphat was fearful. He knew this could be the end. He knew there was no way they could defeat all those enemies. So, he fasted and proclaimed a fast for the people.

2 Chronicles 20:3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

During the fast the Lord spoke to a prophet named Jahaziel. He told them that if they would trust the Lord and praise God that God would deliver them. The prophet said for them to not be fearful. This was not their battle. It was the Lord's battle and he would deliver them. The next morning they went out singing, "Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever." The Bible says that when they began singing, the Lord moved supernaturally and caused confusion. All the enemies attacked each other and destroyed each other until there were no enemies left. Here is what then happened.

2 Chronicles 20:25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value - more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.

All that happened because people fasted and began seeking God. God will reward people who seek him. He will move supernaturally when we fast. He will send angels like he did to Cornelius. He will send people like he did with Paul. He will send your answer and you will mature and mightily grow in your walk with Christ. HE WILL REWARD YOU ABUNDANTLY! Your enemies will destroy themselves and you will get the spoil!

Fasting is a spiritual training. Jesus was not big on ceremonies and traditions. He was big on spiritual training and spiritual disciplines. In chapter six, Jesus spoke about the discipline of giving (Mat 6:1-4). He spoke about the discipline of praying (Mat 6:5-15). He spoke about the discipline of fasting (Mat 6:16-18). These are spiritual disciplines and training that we need to have an abundant life. They train us to expect the supernatural. They train us to move in the supernatural.

How is your heart concerning spiritual disciplines?

 

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