Last Sunday, Pastor Tia encouraged us with a powerful message about having the mind of Christ. She explained to us that more than acting like Jesus, we need to repent or change our mindset so that we think and believe like Jesus. We don’t want to be just actors that do things out of obligation or even obedience, we want to renew our minds to the point where we are so in tune with Jesus’ mind that we do things that Jesus did naturally. In other words, we need to learn to develop godly or Jesus-like habits in our lives. A habit is a practice or tendency that is done regularly that is hard to give up. Usually, we think of habits as negative practices; smoking, overeating, getting angry easily, yelling, etc. But, a habit doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We can develop godly habits that are good for us and help us to live in the same way as Jesus did. Jesus had many habits; he prayed constantly, he read and memorized scriptures, he went to the temple regularly, he was always evangelizing, etc. These habits that Jesus practiced were habits that He started to develop at an early age and that He knew pleased the Father. By the time Jesus was an adult, these habits were part of His lifestyle and they happened naturally. As pastor Tia mentioned, “a habit becomes such a part of your lives that you don’t even have to think about doing it, you just do it naturally.” With the help of the Holy Spirit and an intentionality on our part, we can believe, as the Scriptures say, that we have the mind of Christ and we can start to develop the same habits that Jesus had. In the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can, naturally, live the same lifestyle exemplified by Jesus when He walked on earth.
As you start a new year and begin to focus on the new year resolutions, I encourage you to go beyond a resolution and focus on developing habits. One habit that is very important to develop is the habit of fasting. A lifestyle of fasting regularly is not only powerful in your life but also encouraged by God. We know that many great men and women in the Bible gave importance to fasting; Moses, Esther, Daniel, the prophets, Jesus, etc. are examples of people who fasted as a way of connecting with God in a special way. In the Gospels, we find a story where Jesus is with His disciples dealing with a person who is possessed by an evil spirit. The father of the possessed boy came to Jesus to explain how the disciples were not able to help the boy by casting out the evil spirit. When Jesus heard about this, He went to the boy and commanded the evil spirit to come out. The evil spirit came out of the boy and he was set free instantly. Puzzled, the disciples asked Jesus why they were not able to drive the evil spirit out. Jesus replied, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29 NKJV) Prayer and fasting was the necessary tool that could drive the evil spirit out. What is interesting is that Jesus did not wait a few days to pray and fast before commanding the evil sprit to leave the boy, he spoke to the evil spirit at that moment and the demon submitted. What this shows us is that Jesus lived a lifestyle of praying and fasting regularly. He was already prepared and had the tools that He needed because He was a man that prayed and fasted regularly.
I believe that many Christians do pray and spend time in the presence of God seeking His face and interceding for others. But, I also believe that there is a shortage of Christians who have made it a habit of fasting regularly. Like the disciples, I don’t want to be the person who cannot drive evil spirits out or that doesn’t have the authority to speak as Jesus spoke. Like Jesus, I want to be able to speak to the winds, command evil spirits, and tell the dead to rise and not only be heard but also have these things submit to the authority that I have in Jesus Christ. Yes, if we have Jesus in our hearts and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we have that authority. But also, Jesus gave us a clue as to what activates that authority; prayer AND FASTING.
Let’s be intentional this year about being Christians who follow Jesus in the habit of fasting regularly; let’s make fasting our lifestyle. This year, there will be different fasts that we will do together as a congregation. Our first congregational fast will begin the night of Sunday, February 25 and conclude on Wednesday, February 28th during our Wednesday night service. This will be a three day fast in which we will remember how Queen Esther asked the people of God to fast for three days for the deliverance of the Israelites from death. It will be a fast for protection for our ourselves, our families and the church. But you don’t have to wait until that time to start a fast. Pray to God and ask Him to give you revelation about when, how often, and how long to fast this year. Maybe you need to start developing the habit of fasting this week or sometime this month. Maybe you are going through a situation that requires you to fast now and not wait until next month; if that is the case, start now. Your personal time of fasting, the length of your fast and the method of fasting that you use is between you and God. Let Him lead you in this new lifestyle of fasting and enjoy the benefit of it. If you would like to start the habit of fasting regularly but have questions about it, please speak to any of the pastors or find a member of the church who live such lifestyle and ask them. Don’t be afraid and don’t wait. Have the mind of Christ and follow in His steps.
May God continue to bless you,