BILL ZECHMANN. The Power of FASTING

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1 BILL ZECHMANN The Power of FASTING

2 The Power of Fasting by Bill Zechmann

3 The Power of Fasting Do you want to be more victorious in your daily walk with Christ? There is a spiritual discipline that has been somewhat forgotten and maybe never practiced by many modern Christians. I m talking about fasting. What are the benefits of fasting? What should we expect it to produce in us? Do we do it for God, or is it done for us? Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version of the Bible. Principles for Living Copyright 2016 Principles for Living P.O. Box 1097 Norfolk, NE (888) Published by Principles for Living Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Contents and / or cover may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without the express written consent of the Publisher. I believe this forgotten Christian discipline will help us be more victorious in our daily walk with Christ. Now, before you say to yourself, Oh brother, I m not interested in fasting lessons, ask yourself: Are you looking for a breakthrough in your life? Then give fasting a chance. It is well worth the sacrifice. 1

4 You may think that it s something you don t have the discipline to do. Well, keep reading. You might just be motivated to make this become a part of your Christian walk. Fasting in Christ s Ministry Fasting was a discipline that was a vital part of the life of Christ. We are going to look at some of His examples and discuss the benefits. Consider this passage from Matthew 4:1-5: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty 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. After forty days and forty nights without food, to say Jesus was hungry is probably the understatement of the year! Just think about this for a moment. Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights. Do you suppose Jesus was weaker or stronger after His fasting? The flesh may have been weak, but His Spirit would have been rock-solid. And we can see that it was Jesus quoted God s Word for His defense. Some of us have tried quoting Scripture and have still failed in becoming victorious over our sins. But proper fasting can begin to sharpen you for battle, especially if you combine it with 2 3

5 If we are doing it and hoping for a pat on the back for our discipline, then you may get the pat on the back, but that will be all that you get. prayerful praise which exalts our Savior. Remember that fasting needs to be done in a way that others are unaware of it. If we are doing it and hoping for a pat on the back for our discipline, then you may get the pat on the back, but that will be all that you get. Fasting must be done with an attitude of humility. It s not necessary for others to know we are fasting; it s directed towards God. In Matthew 6:16-18 it says, When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, 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 others 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. So how will He reward you? He will strengthen you spiritually and allow you to have an easier time at saying No! to your flesh. When we fast, we are denying it something that it naturally needs and wants. It isn t wrong to eat. But we are telling our body that we are in control. If we practice this often enough, we will get good at it. Anything we do the first time we re usually not going to be great at. With time and practice, we will eventually 4 5

6 Anything we do the first time we re usually not going to be great at. With time and practice, we will eventually see the victories that fasting produces. see the victories that fasting produces. We can be rewarded. In Galatians 6:9 we are encouraged this way: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. The Bible doesn t talk a lot about Jesus fasting, but Jesus does make some interesting comments concerning fasting. In Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus said, To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He has a demon. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But wisdom is proved right by her deeds. In other words, Jesus was saying the religious leaders were pouting. Regardless of what happened, He couldn t get them to be happy or mourn. They were stoic. Jesus was saying they couldn t be satisfied. Jesus mentioned they weren t satisfied with John for not eating nor drinking. They said he had a demon. Jesus ate and drank and they still weren t satisfied and called Him 6 7

7 Ask yourself what drives you? Is your food to do His will? Is that what energizes you? a glutton and a drunkard. John the Baptist had a strict discipline. Jesus was just as strict, but wasn t out to please man, so we never saw His fasting in public. He adhered to His own teachings about keeping fasting to oneself. We see an example of His habits in John 4: In this example, Jesus was evidently refusing food that His disciples had brought to Him: Jesus said, I have food to eat that you know nothing about. Then his disciples said to each other, Could someone have brought him food? My food, said Jesus, Is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. So, ask yourself what drives you? Is your food to do His will? Is that what energizes you? We all need physical food to sustain us and give us strength. Physical food energizes us and gets us through the day. Jesus said His food was to do the will of the one who sent Him, and we know it is God the Father who sent Him. Fasting vs. Communion When we fast, we take the extra time that not eating affords us to study God s Word. When we study His Word we are indeed eating it. We are eating Spiritual food. The Bible is our Spiritual source of food. Let s look at John 6:

8 Jesus said, I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Here Jesus talks about His flesh being living bread. In John 4:10, Jesus speaking to the women at the well said, If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water. Jesus says He is living water and living bread. This is what we should be focusing on during the time of our fast. Our fast isn t about us, it s about Jesus Christ! The scripture goes on in John 6:52 and says, Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? This scripture was meant figuratively, and has been used literally by many. It has been misinterpreted and caused a great amount of deception to well-meaning seekers of Christ. In John 6:53-58 Jesus said to them, Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my 10 11

9 blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. This scripture has been used to say that, in communion, we are actually, literally eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ. In a process called transubstantiation, some believe the communion bread and wine turn to flesh and blood in our mouths. Just because the generation before us believes something does not make it so. Why wouldn t we seek out for ourselves what is true and what isnt? I don t believe in magic. I am not superstitious. A miracle is not the same as a deceptive act of magic. To say I can pray over something and it magically changes is superstition, not a miracle. Something I ve learned in my life: If something is taught to you from birth by someone you love and that loves you, we tend to believe it is true. But just because the generation before us believes something does not make it so. Why wouldn t we seek out for ourselves what is true and what isn t? Believe me, there are many people that will be lost for eternity because they 12 13

10 trusted man instead of the Holy Spirit who knows all truth. In 1 John 2: it says, I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit just as it has taught you, remain in Him. We need to learn to trust that God can lead us into all truth, not man. When Jesus did a miracle, it wasn t a magic act. It was an act of authority. He possesses life and what He says goes. He has authority. What He does happens because He has authority over the very cells of the world. Jesus doesn t perform some human superstition or magic act. When Jesus says, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you, what was He talking about? He was talking spiritually. He was talking about being born again and the continual act of reading the scriptures and feeding on them. This also could be referring to the dying to self that needs to be done when we come to Christ. When John 6:53-58 is tied to communion, it moves drastically away from what Jesus was talking about. It then becomes a human tradition that makes it so the Word of God actually loses its power. It never ceases to amaze me how often man takes something spiritual and turns it into a physical act. Man does this because he wants to see himself as doing something that can be seen in relation 14 15

11 to what he thinks the scripture says. The person that is lost will create all kind of false doctrines. You must remember the majority of people are lost. Jesus said there would be few that find the truth. In John 4:14 it says, But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. The word of God was there with Christ since the beginning of time. In John 1:1-2 we read, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. When Jesus was born, the Word became flesh. We know Jesus is the flesh the scripture is talking about. In John 1:14 it says, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Jesus said His words were spirit and life. The only way we take on those words of spirit and life is by hearing them. The death of Christ opened the door of justification which is by faith alone. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood shows that we want to nourish our souls as well as our bodies by feeding on the scriptures. Jesus said His words were spirit and life. The only way we take on those words of spirit and life is by hearing them or reading them. In John 6:63 it says, 16 17

12 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you they are full of the Spirit and life. None of this talks about communion. We feast on the Word of God for our spiritual life, growth and sustenance. Without proper understanding of what we hear and see, we are left with deceptive truth, which isn t truth at all. Verse 63 says the flesh counts for nothing. Do we believe the flesh counts for nothing? Our focus needs to be on spiritual things if we want to develop spiritually. We must put to death the deeds of the flesh. That s what fasting helps us to do! We forsake pleasure so we can focus one hundred percent of our energy on God. Fasting with the Right Attitude What s the difference between fasting and dieting? Dieting involves backing off on food intake for the purpose of weight loss or weight control. It s done mainly to make up for past indulgences. Fasting, however, is a physical discipline that can have great spiritual consequences when done with a pure heart. When we fast we put the kibosh on the flesh and its desires. We only feed ourselves by reading and meditating on God s Word. Think about this: After a big meal, we often get tired and need a nap. Too much food makes us less alert. So you can see that food has a very dulling effect on us. That s another reason fasting helps us, because it sharpens our minds. The Bible tells us if we walk in the flesh, we will fulfill its lusts. When we fast, our walk in the spirit is much easier

13 When we take a step towards God, He takes a step towards us. In both the New and Old Testament, fasting was an expected discipline. For example, Moses fasted at least twice for forty days and forty nights. Elijah fasted forty days after he had slain the prophets of Jezebel. Imagine a forty day fast! I can t imagine doing that. But that does show tremendous commitment. Sometimes we complain that God doesn t hear or answer our prayers. How serious are we when it comes to fasting? Are we willing to show God our commitment to Him? When we fast for Godly purposes, it will bring us closer to Him. I believe when we take a step towards God, He takes a step towards us. Depriving our bodies is a step towards God. In James 4:8 it says, Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Fasting will physically strain our wills. We learn from fasting to tell ourselves no. Fasting gives us confidence to fight the flesh in other ways as well. In 2 Corinthians 4:16 it says, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. The disciples fasted and prayed for direction in their lives. They made their decisions through fasting and prayer. In Acts 13:2-3 we re told, While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy 20 21

14 Spirit said, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. When we fast and pray, we show God our heart. We don t bribe Him with our prayers and fasting, but we show Him our commitment. In Isaiah 58:3 it says, Why have we fasted, they say, And you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed? Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. The Israelites were doing what they thought would move God. But as you can see, God saw their heart. They question why they should fast if God isn t going to see them. But God saw more than they thought He did, not less! You see, their fast was all about themselves. They actually fasted and were physically weak, so their workers had to do all the work. It was a religious cop out. The passage continues in Isaiah 58:4-5, Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 22 23

15 The fast that was taking place had too much comfort in it. It wasn t done to please God, but to appease there sense of duty. God was not impressed and told them what He expected from them, if they were going to get Him to recognize their fast as being of any value. In Isaiah 58:6-7, God continues and says, Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? As you can see, God expected a certain attitude to go along with the fast. It wasn t It wasn t just about giving up food. It was about sacrificing their time and possessions. just about giving up food. It was about sacrificing their time and possessions for the sake of others. It was a time for family. And it was a time for those in bondage to sin to be set free. In closing, listen to the urgency in the call to fast in Joel 2:12-15: Even now, declares the Lord, Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and 24 25

16 he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing, grain offerings and drink offerings, for the Lord your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, and call a sacred assembly. OUR MISSION At Principles for Living, we seek to help others come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We also want to help Christians grow in their knowledge and faith in their Christian walk. Our teachings include a mixture of secular psychology and Christian practicality. If this booklet has blessed you in any way, and you want to learn more about our ministry, our faith, or about the transforming love of Jesus Christ, visit us on the web at principlesforliving.org. REACH OUT TO US P.O. Box 1097 Norfolk, NE (888)

17 Bill Zechmann President & Founder Principles for Living A COMMITMENT TO BIBICAL TEACHING Bill Zechmann was born in the rural Foster, Nebraska. At the age of eighteen he committed his life to Christ and felt God s call to teach practical Biblical principles. Principles for Living was founded in His calling was inspired by James 3:1-2: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (NASU) Bill spent decades studying the doctrines of different Christian denominations to help him understand and teach the Bible more effectively. He holds B.A degrees in Biblical Studies and Human Resources Management. Bill professes that his greatest joy in life comes from helping others find the love of Christ in their lives. The goal of his teachings is to help others find freedom from the clutches of sin. A MISSIONARY AT HOME AND ABROAD In 2010, while serving as a missionary in the Philippines, Kenya, and Liberia, Bill ministered to crowds of 5,000 people and has seen hundreds come forward to receive Christ. At home in the United States, Bill conducts personal growth seminars and evangelistic crusades. His teachings are focused on helping the lost find Christ and seeking a positive change in their lives. STRENGTHENED BY ADVERSITY Bill s teachings have been molded through many of the experiences he has had throughout his own life. Overcoming adversity became a source of strength. Despite health problems and the loss of their secondborn child, Bill and his wife Jane persevered together and grew as Christians. Regardless of the hardships they have had to face, Bill and Jane maintain that their lives continue to be strengthened by Christ s love. ZECHMANN FAMILY Bill and Jane have been happily married for more than 30 years. They currently reside in Norfolk, Nebraska.

18 OTHER PFL BOOKLETS AVAILABLE! Can Others Make You Angry? Remove the Choice of Choosing Be Anxious for Nothing Getting Control of Yourself Giving Up Freedom Judge the Cause, Not the Person Overcoming Our Flesh Walking Close to God Are You a Sympathy Seeker? How to Eliminate the Sin of Pride Request Your Free Booklet Today! P.O. Box 1097 Norfolk, NE (888)

19 Why have most Christians today forgotten about fasting? The modern church has neglected teaching on fasting but this spiritual discipline can be a powerful tool for helping us win the battle against our flesh. Inside, we ll discuss: Why even Jesus Christ Himself fasted, and what that tells us about the discipline. How fasting is related to communion and to the dying to self the Bible calls us to do. What God looks for when fasting, and how to please God when you fast. with Bill Zechmann

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