In The Year 2030 : When You Fast
January 12, 2020, 11:15am
Happy New Year’s to everybody! It’s 2020! Today is January 12, 2020 and I have some depressing news for you, very depressing news. We make all these New Year’s resolutions and research reveals by the 12th of January we have pretty much mailed the resolutions in. We’re done. I’m serious. Very, very depressing, very depressing. I like resolutions, though. We make these resolutions. I’m gonna start working out. I want to eat right. I want to travel more. I want to stop smoking. Whatever it is, we make these resolutions and I think resolutions are really great. What if, though, instead of starting with ourselves we started with God? What if we said to ourselves, you know what? I’m going to start with you, God. I want what you want for me in 2020, and especially over the next 10 years, because we’re talking about in the year 2030. Thirty-six hundred and fifty days from now, what are you gonna be doing? Where do you want to be? Pretty good question. Think back to 2010. Where were you in 2010 and where are you today? We’re all the sum total of choices that we’ve made. We have this opportunity to make these decisions because life is short. I know that sounds flippant. I know it sounds a little bit trite, but life is short. It’s amazing, it’s stunning, how quickly time just flies. All of a sudden, it’s gonna be 2030.
What will you look like in 2030? Have you seen this face app? Have you seen that? Well, I plugged my picture in because I wanted to see what I would look like 10 years from now and here’s the photo. (Photo: Brad Pitt) I don’t know what you’re gonna look like but that’s me. And Lisa was really thrilled when she saw that picture. Isn’t it funny? I read some reactions of the face app and a lot of people don’t like it. They think it’s disgusting and depressing because it pretty much reveals the inevitable, that we’re not going to be here that long.
In the year 2030, where do you want to be? Well, let’s clear the deck and ask God, Where do you want me to be? That’s the issue. God, what do you want for me? Not my wants, but yours. We have an opportunity, because God is a God who has given us the ability to make choices, to choose what God wants us to do. God wants us to have supernatural spiritual symmetry. And Jesus talked a lot about spiritual symmetry. Jesus, in the greatest sermon ever preached – I was there just a couple of days ago on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. (VIDEO: Sea Of Galilee B-ROLL) Jesus, one day, was walking on the shores and he stopped, and he talked to several thousand people. The acoustics are crazy there. You can talk in just a normal voice and it’s just earth-shattering how you can hear it from all over the place. So, Jesus talked about this in this tremendous talk. He mentioned spiritual symmetry, what we can do in order to glorify God, in order to get the most out of our one and only life, which has to do not only with you and me, it has to do with God. Here’s what he said: (Matthew 6) “when you fast (I heard your stomachs growl), when you pray, and when you give.” Those three things. That simple. When you fast, when you pray, when you give. He assumed that we would have those in our rhythm and routine and ritual. When you fast, when you pray, when you give. And we’re gonna unpack those things over the next couple of weeks.
When you fast, when you fast, can sound depressing. Fasting, doing without food? Why would you do that? The Bible says that the Christian life is like a race. We’re running. So, as a follower I should be moving fast, because time is going fast. So, followers fast to follow fast. That’s what Jesus was and is driving at.
You remember back in the day, I think in 1943, I wasn’t alive then, but I studied it, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Remember that? He said something revolutionary. He said that the greatest needs of a man are food and water. Well, have you ever thought about your greatest need? Those of you who are married? Guys are going, oh, I know what her greatest need is: shopping. And she’s like, oh no, no, I know what my husband’s greatest need is: sex. No, it’s not. You can laugh there, too. Every time I mention sex, no one laughs.
So, the greatest need we have is that of hunger, thirst. Jesus told us in no uncertain terms to fast. Now, why would Jesus tell us to fast? Why would he think that should be part of our rhythm, and ritual, and routine? Because as I’ve thought about fasting, I have said to myself, wow. I don’t really do it enough. And we’re not told how many times to do it, like, a year, or not to fast necessarily, once a quarter or once a week. We are, though, to fast regularly. And most fasts in the Bible are about 24 hours. Some are 40 days, some would be 20 or 21 days, and that’s the fast I’m going to encourage you (and when I say you, I mean Fellowship Church) to get involved in. And that’s what I’m going to start today, but most for about 24 hours. Yet, people fasted. Why do we fast? What’s the purpose of fasting? Have you ever thought about that? It’s basically to dial into God’s desire. Say it with me. To dial into God’s desires. I’m just gonna dial into God’s desires. God knew our tendency to think that everything is gonna be about us, so he gave us the need for food and water. Also, he has challenged us to fast, because when I fast it shows my frailty. It shows that I’m dependent on him. The purpose of fasting, it’s a bold interruption to the rhythm and routine of life. So, as we go on this fast, and we’re going to go into a Daniel fast, which is fruits and vegetables and water and fruit juice and, of course, I think you can drink coffee. Coffee comes from a bean. We’re not too legalistic about it, OK? When we do this, it is an interruption to our appetites, our stomachs, our stomachs.
Our stomachs are powerful. Pat your stomach for a second. For some it’s a big pat, others it’s a small one. I have a six pack and my hand just bounces… baaahaa! I just… The stomach is the epicenter of our desires. It’s sort of like AT&T stadium, there’s a game going on in our stomach. Greed, you can say, comes from the stomach. Lust, from the stomach. Anger, angst, from the stomach. You’re like going, are you kidding me?
Think about Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were back in the Garden of Eden, the garden of eatin’. Haha… just made that up. Help me, help me. It just flowed. And the enemy offered them a Happy Meal, and they ate the Happy Meal. And when the Happy Meal settled in their stomach it became an unhappy meal. They ate themselves out, I told you it’s a stadium, out of the garden.
Esau was out on the hunting lease, had a good time. He was bowhunting, this and that. He came back in and his brother Jacob, who liked to watch all these cooking shows and stuff, you know, he had the skinny jeans on. He was the quintessential millennial, poor for coffee. Esau was like, “I want a bowl of your beans.” And Jacob said, “If you sell me your birthright and the blessings you can have it,” and he did. He ate himself out of the birthright and blessing: stomach.
Children of Israel, remember these people? Millions of them, following Moses out of Egypt into the Promised Land. They began to whine and complain, “Oh, we want food! We want food! We want carbs! We want carbs!” So, God rained down manna from Heaven, a carb-like substance. Then they got tired of that, “We want keto! We want keto!” then he rained down quail and they choked on that.
I had quail last night. Have you ever been to this restaurant in Dallas called Javier’s? I love that place. Order the quail. Chips and hot sauce. I knew, see, we were fasting, so I just loaded up last night. I love that place.
So, they choked on quail and they ate themselves out of the Promised Land. The stomach, the stomach. So, fasting is dialing into God’s desires. Here’s what fasting is not. Fasting is not some spiritual quid pro quo. It’s not. Fasting is not me getting more of God, it’s God getting more of me. It’s not me trying to be good enough and I’m turning God into my UPS boy. Oh, I want that blessing. I want that favor. Because I could write a list of the blessings that I want on this piece of paper right here, and you could, too. And we could turn them into God. God, here’s my wish list. Here’s my blessing list, God. God will bless us. Let me say it categorically, unequivocally, irrevocably, God will bless us when we fast, when we pray, when we give. Applause sign. He will. But I have to turn in my blessings and say, “God, you know best. Your ways are higher than my ways.”
Now, sometimes my blessings or a miracle that I’m praying for, or a breakthrough, syncs up with God’s. Sometimes it doesn’t. So, we’ve got to trust him. There’s power in fasting. Like, what do you mean? Well, think about all the people in the Bible who fasted. You ever thought about this? I’ll give you the top 10. You’re probably wondering today; I wonder who the top 10 people are in Scripture who fasted.
Moses fasted after the 10 commandments. Moses, pretty good. David fasted, and this is sad, he fasted for his child to be healed, but his child died. Elijah fasted after he won the battle on Mount Carmel. That’s cool. Ezra fasted for the children of Israel to come back to God, for his people to come back to God. Esther fasted because she knew she had to talk to the king about genocide issues with her people. Darius fasted because Daniel was going to be in the lion’s den. Daniel fasted because God was going to give him a word through an angel, yet the prince of Persia, the enemy, was trying to block the word. So, he fasted, and he was able to hear what God wanted him to say. The apostle Paul fasted after the Damascus road experience. Here he is, killing Christians and persecuting the church, and that quick <snap> he had this change in his life. And ultimately Jesus fasted. Jesus did!
He fasted, as you read in Matthew chapter 4, right before this tremendous talk called the Sermon on the Mount. It’s important to understand the context. Jesus went public with his ministry when he was 30 years old. When did that happen? John the Baptist, John the Baptizer, saw him and said, (John 1:29) “There is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River. Many of us just last week were baptized in the Jordan River, and the river was cold in December and in January over in Israel.
When he came out of the water you had a lot of things going on. The Trinity, God the Father, saying, (Matthew 3:17) “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” You have the Son saying, “OK, here I am, Lord. I’m yours.” You have the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove. So, you have the Trinity, in fact, right there after the baptism. Now, if that would have been you or me in our culture, we would have done a selfie. Hey, John the Baptist, come on in. Now the Holy Spirit, right there, yeah. Let me do that again, edit and everything. All right. And then hashtag #goingpublic. That’s what we would have done. Jesus, you know what he did? He gone. Out into the wilderness, after this defining moment. And you can see the wilderness, what it’s like. You can just picture it, and that’s an area where most people believe Jesus was tempted and it was a rocky, barren area. For 40 days and 40 nights, fasted, Jesus did. What happened? The enemy came in, and that’s what’s gonna happen as we undertake this fast. The enemy will attack you and me. It’s gonna happen. Because he does not want us to dial into God’s desires. It’s gonna happen. You might find it even hard to pray some. It’s gonna happen.
So, the enemy came after Jesus. And why did he come after him? Because he wanted Jesus to miss his purpose. His purpose was to live righteously, to die sacrificially, to rise bodily. And he knew if he could get him off of his game, right? That the devil would win. Jesus said no, no, no, no, no, no, every single time. He quoted back to the enemy Scripture. The enemy goes, “See those rocks? They look like loaves of bread. Come on, Jesus, you can do it like that. Turn those into bread. You haven’t eaten in 40 days.”
The Bible says in Matthew 4: 1-4, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then, in Matthew 5:6, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Fasting. Followers fast. Jesus said when, when, when. That’s a when, when, when situation, isn’t it? When? A moment in time. When. Fasting is doing what God wants you to do so you can be who God wants you to be. How amazing is that? How great is that? It’s a spiritual discipline.
It’s like marriage. I’ve written a lot of books on marriage. Lisa and I have had the opportunity because of God’s grace, to travel the world and lecture people about marriage. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have bad marriages, a lot. I’ve talked to some who have been married like 5 times. I’ve talked to some who have OK marriages. I’ve talked to others who have just hot marriages, hot monogamy, great marriages! And those people who have great marriages do just several simple things. It’s not like, oh it’s so complex! I just don’t understand marriage! No, it’s not. It’s simple things, like a date night mate night. Date your spouse. What you use to get her, guys, is what you use to keep her. It’s very simple. Just work that into your rhythm and routine. Spend time alone, try to, even with kids. Every day. Don’t put the kids down when they’re ready, put them down when you’re ready. It’s simple. And even grandchildren!
So, this is revolutionary. Take a vacation without your kids. Yeah, I like to vacation with my family. It’s not a vacation. No. It’s a family outing. You need a vacation after the family outing. You do some of those things, simple things, in your rhythm, your routine, your schedule, and obviously seek the Word first, and you’re gonna have a great marriage. This is what Jesus is driving at, the spiritual symmetry. Roll these things into your schedule, make them a part of your rhythm, your ritual, your routine. And one of those is fasting.
Fasting, as I said in my opening remarks, demonstrates my frailty before God. There are many different examples of fasting where some of the people dealt with sin, with their behavior. Fasting is a way of absorbing that and feeling that. I’m very big on (because Scripture is) pinpointing, believing God for certain things when you’re fasting. Could be a healing. I’ve seen people healed during a fast. Others I’ve seen ultimately pass away, and that was God’s will. Although I don’t always understand it. Have you ever thought about this? Even the people Jesus healed died. You might be thinking about someone in your family who does not know Jesus personally. Write their names down. Maybe you’re thinking about a wayward child. Write the child’s name down. Maybe you need a breakthrough, in other words, just a perspective. Write that down. I believe we need to believe God for these things and pray for these things, and fast for these things.
So, it demonstrates our frailty. It demonstrates how real life is, how real sin is, how real our salvation is, that God is the source of everything. It gives us access to the voice of God. We hear God.
I have a, this is kind of weird, but I have a magnifying glass app on my phone. Do you have one of those? Well, you need to. You need to get one. I have that app, the age app, and the Fellowship Church app. You can do all that today. This magnifying glass app, I used it in Israel. Wow! All of a sudden, it’s boom! The object is big and the things around it appear small. I thought, Lord, that’s fasting. I’m fasting in this Daniel diet. I’m redirecting my desires, my appetites, Heavenward. God gets bigger and the other things get smaller. And this Scripture just leaps off the page, so often, in your life and mine.
Also, too, it brings perspective and blessing. Perspective, that’s the magnifying thing, and blessing, it’s the power of the first. And this is throughout Scripture. God gave his firstborn, blessed the rest. Of course, that was Jesus. We give God the first portion of our day, he blesses the rest. The first portion of our week, he blesses the rest. First portion of our income, he blesses the rest. First portion of the year, he blesses the rest. First portion of the decade, he blesses the rest.
The net effect of what I’m saying is this. It’s the 30-20-10 principle. Have you ever heard that before? No, because I just said it. The 30-20-10 principle. Thirty days if prayer, 30 days, and you can go to our app or our website and we list all these things and how to do these things. Next time I’m going to talk more and more about prayer. Many of us know about prayer but we don’t really know how to pray. We are going to talk about that, because Jesus is gonna teach us that in Matthew 6 as well. When you fast, when you pray, when you give. So, 30… 30 days.
Twenty, 20 days of fasting, and that’s the Daniel diet. Daniel diet: fruits, vegetables, as I’ve said, it’s water, juice, coffee, because coffee comes from a bean. It’s natural. I do think it’s important, though, to fast. Now, if you’re like a body builder, or maybe you’re preggo. That’s the way you say it now if you’re cool. That’s what my kids tell me. TMZ they say that, right? Preggo. So, if you’re preggo you need some protein. Well, you can eat quail. No, I’m kidding! You can have chicken or fish, whatever. We’re not super-legalistic about it but do without something like that. You know what I’m saying to you?
And then 10, 30-20-10, the 10 will be the 10% of what we make to God’s house. It’s the 30-20-10 principle, and it’s gonna be thrilling. I know it’s hard to clap because we’re talking about fasting but as a church, think about what will happen if we fasted like we never fasted before, if we prayed like we’ve never prayed before, if we give like we’ve never given before. What will happen collectively and individually? Think about the miracles, think about the breakthroughs. Think about those specific things that will occur. They are littered throughout the pages of Scripture, friends. Followers fast to follow fast. Say it with me. Followers fast to follow fast. You want to upgrade your decade? God wants you to. Fast.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]