Increase The Heat
Fever is the body’s response to disease. I used to think the fever was the disease. It is a response from the brain when a disease is detected to raise the body’s temperature in order to help the immune system fight the disease.
This is similar to how fasting works. The body is wired to fight against something that is not supposed to be there by raising the temperature. When your spiritual life is under attack, one of the ways God wants you to fight it off is by increasing your spiritual temperature.
Acts 28:3, “But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand”.
Not only do germs come out because heat forces them out, vipers come out because heat forces them out.
When we are fasting, we are simply increasing the heat in our spiritual life. That is why there can be some discomfort but ultimately, God wants to force everything that is not of Him out of our lives.
Sometimes, when we live complacent, cold or warm Christian lives, a lot of these germs or vipers can live comfortably. The moment you start to increase the heat – praying, reading the Bible, going to church, fasting and giving – something begins to happen.
At times, it looks like the moment you got closer to God, things got worse but what is really happening is the bacteria, viruses, vipers and germs are being forced out. They can no longer claim your life because now, Jesus is laying claim on your life, not only positionally but also practically.
Matthew 17:21, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
This talks of a similar purpose of increasing heat through prayer and fasting: this kind. There are particular kinds of problems that will not leave until you crank up the heat. The idea of prayer and fasting is constant throughout the scriptures.
Mark 9:29, “So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
The Lifestyle Of Fasting In The Bible
When Jesus was with His disciples, He lived a very festive life. One of the accusations against Jesus was that He was eating and drinking a lot.
In the Old Testament, God only gave the people of Israel 1 fasting day per year but I think 7 feast days per year. So God is not just for fasting, He is for feasting.
When Jesus was accused of not fasting with His disciples, although He did, His response was because He was with them and they didn’t need to fast then. He used the example of a wedding because you typically don’t want to fast on your wedding. However, Jesus said when the bridegroom will be taken from them, then they will fast.
The early Church took that so seriously. They fasted twice a week, every Wednesday and Friday from 6 am to 3 pm. It was the culture of the church that you were required to fast before taking communion or water baptism.
The lifestyle of fasting in the early Church was pretty intense. No wonder the results were also intense.
The reason I am addressing this topic is we live in a culture today where most of us wouldn’t die from fasting but from over-eating. The food industry has become a money industry. A lot of the problems we have physically today are not due to fasting but due to not fasting.
As a Christian church, we believe in the practice of fasting. It is not just physical. Fasting is a spiritual practice of abstaining from food for spiritual reasons.
How Fasting Increases The Heat In Your Life
Fasting increases the heat in your life to drive out certain problems that you otherwise cannot overcome in your own human way.
Personal Transformation Precedes Power Demonstration
Luke 9:28-29, “Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening”.
Before Jesus moved to the valley from the mountain to deliver the demon-possessed boy in Matthew 21, He was on top of the mountain and He was praying to the Father. As He was praying, His face changed.
Personal transformation precedes power demonstration.
Many of us need to reclaim our mountaintop experiences because while they empower us for our valley problems, what mountaintop experiences do first and foremost is change us. Before prayer changes your husband, it will change you. Before prayer sanctifies your children, it will first sanctify you.
The Bible says as He prayed, His face changed. One of the best benefits of prayer is personal transformation. Nothing changes a person’s inner being as much as spending time with the One who made it. You would think that if there was anybody on this planet who did not need to pray it would be God – Jesus! If anybody was too busy, it would be Jesus, yet He made time to pray.
The Relational Trinity
As Christians, we believe in one God in three Persons. I want you to notice within the holy Trinity, God is not bored. Some people say God created human beings because He had nobody. That is not in the Bible. God for eternity was always three Persons. That means there was always a relationship, communion, love and understanding. That is why God mad you and I relational – craving for a relationship. You came out of a relational being who is relational for eternity. That’s why when Jesus came to earth, the relationship continued with the Father and Holy Spirit.
God doesn’t want a religion; He wants a relationship.
Until you are in a relationship with the Trinity and see how they relate with each other, you will never know how to relate to your spouse. In a marriage relationship, we are equal but different. In the holy Trinity, they are all equal but have different roles and yet, you never see the Father and Son fighting. You never see the Spirit of God having an issue with the Son of God. There is always a harmony, one promoting another, submitting to the other, acknowledging and honoring one another.
When you look in your marriage, that is supposed to be a reflection of what is happening in the Trinity. But we cannot live it out in our family, if we are not part of this communion and relational being called God who reveals Himself in three Persons.
Prayer Is The Bedrock Of Personal Transformation
By prayer, I mean a lifestyle of intentionally pursuing the Lord. I want us to reclaim our prayer life. Prayer doesn’t only have the power for personal transformation because on the mountain, not only was Jesus’ face altered, His robe started shining but the glory of God came and Elijah and Moses. I believe as you begin to press into God daily, spending quality uninterrupted time with your Creator, not only do you become a different person, your relationships change. When you are relating to a divine being, it will affect how you relate to other human beings. I also believe that God will do things through you that you couldn’t otherwise do for yourself.
“Dear Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for. The Great Creator answered, “You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask something more your size.” Then I asked, “Dear Creator, please tell me what man was made for.” Again the Creator replied, “Little man, you still ask too much; cut down the extent of your request and improve your intent.” Then I asked, “Please Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the peanut was made?” Then the Creator taught me how to take a peanut apart and put it back together again.”George Washington Carver
From that prayer encounter, George Washington Carver revolutionized the Southern agricultural economy of the United States, by showing that 300 products could be derived from a peanut. Shampoo, face powder, shaving cream, hand lotion, caramel, chili sauce, peanut lemon punch, peanut sausage, mayonnaise, peanut coffee, and a lot of other products came about as a result of his breaking down a peanut through his revelation from God.
By 1938, the peanut had become a $200 million dollar industry and the chief product of the state of Alabama. Through one man’s encounter with God.
“Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.”Mark Batterson
Personal transformation through prayer precedes the demonstration of God’s power you will see in your life. God wants to change you and then He will work on your situation.
Prayer Enables You To Overcome, But Arguing Disables You From Winning
Mark 9:14, "And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them."
After the disciples failed to deliver the demon-possessed boy, instead of trying again, they started arguing with scribes. They got into a battle with religious leaders who had no experience, desire, or passion to cast out demons.
Prayer enables you to overcome but arguing disables you from winning.
When you abandon your prayer life, you will start developing weird habits that have absolutely no bearing on the effectiveness of your life. You are not going to be empty; you are going to be negative, maybe toxic, and defensive. In life, you can always beat a skunk, but the question is, is the smell worth the fight? Your goal is not to be engaged in every battle that you are invited to. Your goal should be to only be involved in battles that have a spoil or victory at the end.
Instead of the disciples winning the battle of casting out a demon from a boy, they spent time arguing. If you have abandoned your prayer life, I am sure you have time when what you are doing is only disarming, disabling, draining you, and giving you anxiety.
God did not call us to win arguments; He called us to win people.
We are not great debaters, we are great witnesses as Christians. Lawyers debate, witnesses just share what they saw. We must live our lives so anchored in Jesus that we have victory in the valley. If we don’t have victory in the valley, we must do whatever it takes to find that victory instead of switching our mode and method into arguing and fighting.
Mountaintop People Can Handle Valley Problems
I didn’t say mountain-top-people can fix all valley problems. Sometimes, when you spend time with God in prayer, God gives you spiritual insight, wisdom, direction, guidance and ideas to fix valley problems. Other times, He doesn’t give you ideas but increases your strength. Not every problem gets solved; some problems get handled.
Mountaintop people can handle valley problems.
Mountaintop people have the ability not only to solve but also to handle valley problems. Sometimes, you solve the problems and other times, you walk in the valley of the shadow of death but you can handle it because you are not alone. Because He is with you, you will not fear evil. While the presence of God gives me power to overcome in the valley, it also gives me His presence and peace to endure in the valley, not get stuck in the valley, not get defined by the valley but refined by the valley and come out on the other side where my table is laid, I am seated, my head is anointed and goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23).
Connect And Disconnect
When Jesus came down from the mountain, the Bible says He saw His disciples arguing after they couldn’t get this demon out of the boy. At this He said, “How long shall I be with you” or in other words, I am fed up with you. Then He identified two problems with people in the valley. He said you unbelieving and perverse generation.
Unbelieving means you are disconnected from God. Perverse means you are deeply connected with the world. Could it be that sometimes we lack victory in the valley because we are disconnected or have a lack of reception? That is the unbelieving factor; it is a broken connection to God. What I have seen is that unbelief always leads to perversion. You cannot have a weak connection with God without having a strong connection to the world. You cannot have a strong connection to God without having a weak connection to the world.
Jesus’ Solution To Valley Problems
Jesus’ solution to the valley problem in Matthew 17:21, fixes your connection to God and disconnects you from the world. Prayer fixes that weak connection to God that unbelief left and fasting disconnects you from the world. When you are perverse, you can claim to be a Christian but you are just like the world. When such a person find themselves in a valley situation, they start wondering why they are not seeing victory.
What if the secret of your victory is in your connection and disconnection? How is your personal connection to God? I am not asking if you to believe in Jesus. Demons believe in Jesus but they are still demons. While your connection to God is weak, I can guarantee you, you have another connection right now that is very strong. For some of us, it is sports, overeating, videos, entertainment, or habits that are hurting our physical health. For some of us, it is a kind of friend and relationship that are toxic, draining, and distracting us from where we are supposed to be.
The Lord says that if you want ‘this kind’ of problem to be fixed this year, He wants you to reset everything. Reconnect prayer and fast to disconnect from those things. Then, watch how you will experience victory in your valley.
Fasting is not starvation; it is disconnecting from the world. Why is this important? Eve ate herself out of paradise by eating. Esau ate himself out of his inheritance. The first temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was food. The Bible says for some people their stomach is their god. When the king’s stomach gets too exalted, he stops seeing his feet. Many of us have an affair with food. Food is our friend and that is dangerous.
Food is your fuel; it is not your friend.
You are supposed to have real friends; those friends cannot be fries. Some of us are deeper and closer to our fridge that to real friends. We comfort our negative emotions by eating. No wonder we get overweight or obese.
The Lord wants us to be people who don’t live our lives discovering ourselves but denying ourselves. He wants us to live our lives humbling ourselves before God and fasting is one of the ways you humble yourself. It improves your prayer life and helps you to conquer your appetite. Fasting doesn’t move God, it moves you.
Fasting Is Not Starvation
Starvation is the environment imposing it on you, fasting is you imposing it on your body. It is very different. Diet is you trying to lose weight, fasting is trying to get in line with God.
Do you have something you are believing for, a ‘this kind’ of breakthrough? Is your walk with God so perfect that you cannot go a bit deeper and closer? As you connect to God through prayer and disconnect from the world through fasting, God promises this kind will go out. Habits will be broken that you couldn’t break on your own.
Sermon By Vladimir Savchuk; Blog By Edward Gardiner
Watch The Full Sermon Here:
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