Saturday, February 25, 2012

What does the Bible say about Christian fasting

Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial.

The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 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. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).
  • Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. 
  • Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. 
  • Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. 
  • Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. 
The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ.
  • Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. 
  • Fasting changes us, not God. 
  • Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. 
  • Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. 
Matthew 6:16-18 declares, “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. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 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.”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Christ at the Checkpoint

Last week, Hal Lindsey reported on an upcoming conference of liberal theologians and ministers (mostly American) and Palestinian Christians.  [see program here ] The conference is called "Christ at the Checkpoint" and will convene in March in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Because the event promises to be nothing more than a naked attempt to de-legitimize the state of Israel and the Biblical role of the Jews, I feel it necessary to continue my examination of the errant theological doctrine that drives all of these efforts. 
Whether you call it 'Preterism' or 'Dominionism' matters not. The underlying dogma is "Replacement Theology." And it espouses just what its name implies: replacement. It presumes to replace the truth of God's irrevocable oath and promises to Abraham and his descendants with an untruth eked out of thin air by doctrinaires who are nothing more than "alchemists of allegory." I call them that because they insist that the promises made to Israel are nothing more than allegory. And they use the elements of allegory to concoct their hypothesis, which is that those covenants and promises now belong, in fact, to the gentile Church. God took them away from the Jews and gave them to the Church when the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah. 
As each day passes, we see events move rapidly toward the isolation and abandonment of Israel by the West. Every day, we learn something new -- and often shocking -- about what's going on behind the scenes in the relationship between the United States and Israel. I believe this shunning of our great ally will not end well for our nation. 
But this is more than just a political or foreign policy issue. For America, I believe our relationship with Israel is a matter of national life and death. I firmly believe that we have been blessed as a nation because we have blessed and protected God's people, the Jews, and the state of Israel. 
But not everyone -- not even every Christian -- believes this to be true. In fact, you may be surprised at how many Christians think that the Jews and Israel are no longer a part of God's plan. That implies that we have no obligation to stand by Israel! In fact, even in the daily news there is ongoing and vigorous debate in both civic and religious circles over America's traditional support of the Jewish state. 
It is so critically important for the Church to understand this issue in the closing days of this Age.
And this dangerous doctrine directly affects you, whether you know it or not. Simply put, if God, as the Preterists insist, reneged on His "irrevocable" covenant with Abraham, then what assurance do you have that He'll stand by the promise of eternal life in heaven that He extended to you when you accepted the gift of pardon Christ purchased with His atoning death on the cross? 
Fortunately for all believers, though, God is no liar. He stands by His promises and covenants. That is the foundation of our hope in Christ.