Yesterday was awesome and I hope you experienced a remarkable time in Gods presence, with Gods people. It was truly another awesome day at our church.
Yesterday, I taught about Lent and casted vision for our 40 days of fasting and prayer. Below, I’m going to provide the video, my notes and let you know my fasting schedule for both accountability and encouragement. You’ll also see my prayer list for these 40 days, I encourage you to make your own and pray along with me too.
“LENT EXPLAINED, Show me your glory!”
What we don’t understand, we often fear.
Main Thought: We never want the historical ordinances or spiritual traditions of the church to get monotonous or religious. There are some things that will change and should change, but there are some things that have such deep meaning for the BUILDING of our souls that they draw us that much closer to HIM. The season of LENT (though misunderstood) is exactly this, an opportunity to draw closer to God and prepare our souls for the celebration of His resurrection. On Sunday, we’re going to learn how to make room for all God is going to do in us, with us, and through us well beyond the 40 days of Lent.
-Lent (Lenten) in Latin describes 40 days
-The english word means lengethened or lengthening (refereing to the stretching process)
-While there is some evidence that the very early church practiced some form of corporate fasting, the first solid evidence of a 40-day fast leading up to Easter is from the Council of Nicaea in 325a.d. This was before the church split into different denominations, and therefore the practice of lent was unifying and universal within the church. It was originally very strict – only one meal per day and no animal products – but has become more relaxed over the years. The 40 days reflects the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. The purpose of Lent may originally have been to prepare new believers for baptism on Easter, but the more general purpose is to prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, to promote forgiveness and harmony within the church, and to purposely make room for God to work in our lives by removing something (fasting) during that period of time. It also existed to see who was really ready to commit in and follow Christ teachings.
-The Council of Nicaea was held in order for the leaders of the church to come to an agreement on the basic doctrines of Christianity, particularly the nature of Christ – the Nicene Creed was written and agreed upon.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
1) What is FASTING & why do we do it?
-Biblically, fasting is abstaining from food, drink, or extra sleep to focus on a period of spiritual growth. Specifically, we humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance our spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life. The Book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:4; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. However, the purpose of fasting is to take our eyes off the things of this world and instead focus on God. Fasting blended with prayer and worship will center us unlike anything else.
-Adele Ahlberg Calhoun explains in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. “Bringing attachments and cravings to the surface opens a place for prayer. This physical awareness of emptiness is the reminder to turn to Jesus who alone can satisfy.” (In other words, He becomes the food.)
2) What does FASTING do?
-The best way to describe what fasting will do for your spirit man is make him fit in a short period of time compared to what it would take for your physical body to get fit over a long period of time at the gym and eating right.
-Fasting illuminates our flesh [sin nature] and reminds us of our call to live holy lives [which is our natural state as a believer, to be set apart and different than those who aren’t believers].
-1 Peter 1:16 “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
-Philippians 2:15 “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,…
-Fasting consecrates [spiritually prepares] us for the greater things promised.
-In the Bible the word consecration means “the separation of oneself from things that are unclean, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God.” Consecration also carries the connotation of sanctification, holiness, or purity.
-In the Old Testament, the religious and Pharisees would stay away from the unclean so they wouldn’t be contaminated. When Jesus came, He would move towards the unclean so they could be cleansed, proving the Pharisees hearts were already contaminated.
-In other words, fasting is beautiful because it’s a constant reminder that the contaminated can be cleansed over and over and over. It’s also a reminder that the so-called “cleansed” can fast or do spiritual activities but never truly be consecrated if their hearts are not arrested by Him.
-Fasting kills pride
-Fasting kills wrong motives
-Fasting kills selfishness
-Fasting kills religion
-Fasting kills self-righteousness
-Fasting kills apathy
-Fasting kills immaturity
-Fasting kills lies
–Tim Keller writes in his book, The Reason For God. “ If I was saved by my good works then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with ‘rights’ … I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if I am a sinner saved by sheer grace-then there’s nothing He cannot ask of me … this is too costly, I prefer religion because it’s more safe and comfortable.”
–Sadly, religion is both empty and more complicated. Fasting really teaches to give it all and attain it all even when we seemingly have nothing at all.
3) What should we do in a season of FASTING?
-Exodus 33 really illustrates this incredibly well. Moses physically does what we spiritually will do.
-Moses does three things I recommend we do both individually and corporately in this season:
-12-18 12 One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.” 14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”
-ONE – “I WANT TO KNOW YOUR WAYS”
-We go away in our tent, our quiet place to read, pray and worship: (car at lunch, prayer closet, while cleaning, the morning chair, get to your spot)
-In this season, we must desire to KNOW His ways. Fasting helps us do this and gets us in a rhythm for when the fast is over.
-Experiencing your Promised Land has everything to do with knowing the God of the Promised Land.
–You might be there already and not even know it because you don’t know Him. More importantly, you need to know the God who leads you there or you won’t stay there very long.
-15-23 15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place.16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”
-TWO – “PLEASE GO WITH US” (His presence)
-Season of guidance
-Season of clarity
-Hearing His voice
-Season of opened doors
-Season of petitioning heaven for what you need
-Season of awareness
-Season of spiritual growth
-Experiencing what you were promised and taking hold of it
-Reminding God of what He’s promised
-In a season of fasting and prayer, we are often more aware of His tangible presence within us and around us, therefore we begin to decipher His voice much clearer. Fasting helps set us up for what’s to come next – it builds up our spirit to both handle and receive what God has for us.
-17-22 17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.” 20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”
-THREE – “SHOW US YOUR GLORY” (the Overflow)
-Moses was audacious. He asked for something radical. This is the overflow. And LENT is the season to ask for radical and audacious things!
-What are you radically asking God for in this season of fasting?
MY FASTING SCHEDULE:
(2/19-2/28) – 10 day Daniel Fast (except the 22nd due to previous commitment)
(3/1-3/8) – 7 days of no sweets/desserts (Lauren and I will be away for a few days and need to take advantage of the mini vacation we haven’t been able to take since Mav was born. So, we are staying on the fast, but limited.)
(3/9-3/30) – I am attempting to do a 21 day food fast, only liquids. I haven’t done this long in 8 years, so this will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to the accountability, support, and victory. I’m praying I can stay faithful with it. I’ll be drinking everything I can, including some broth. Will stay away from soda and give up coffee too.
MY PRAYER LIST:
-For continued joy, new level of growth, and deeper love in my marriage.
-For spiritual growth in our church, a harvest of souls, and a deeper sense of longing for God’s presence.
-For building(s) to open up or to be given to us.
-For specific numerical marks to be reached at each of our locations
-For Easter to be outstanding, with many lives touched and transformed
-For our Easter EP to bless many listeners
-For a clear location and location pastor for a our new location, hopefully to start in the fall
-New financial normal for our church, continued momentum with this
-A clear strategy for personal, multiple streams of income
-For a head start on my new book, hopefully to be released in the fall
-For more musicians in our church to prep for our next location and a deeper sense of community in our worship department
-For specific volunteer teams to grow
-For both mine and Lauren’s parents to continue to be healthy and have long life
-For getting back into the 5am club groove