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Fasting - It's All the Rage

Fasting Faithfulness Spiritual Health

Source: Britanica, "Fasting," Retrieved 2/17/24 and Medicinenet.com

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2024-02-18

Scripture: Joel 2:12 ; Ezra 8:23

Author: Marcelle Smith
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ILLUSTRATION

In the health and wellness industry, fasting has become all the rage. Articles and videos on everthing from intermittent fasting for 8, 12, or even 24 hours per day, up to 40 day "cleasing" fasts, and everything in between fill the internet search engines. 

Britannica defines fasting as:

[A]bstinence from food or drink or both for health, ritualistic, religious, or ethical purposes. The abstention may be complete or partial, lengthy, of short duration, or intermittent. Fasting has been promoted and practiced from antiquity worldwide by physicians, by the founders and followers of many religions, by culturally designated individuals (e.g., hunters or candidates for initiation rites), and by individuals or groups as an expression of protest against what they believe are violations of social, ethical, or political principles. [It] has been used therapeutically since at least the 5th century BCE, when Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness.


Scientifically, fasting is defined as a period of partial or total restriction from all foods or selected foods. as part of a dieting regimen for weight loss or improved health.

The American Heart Association states that regular fasting is associated with lower rates of heart failure and improved metabolism, thus possibly making it the key to a long, healthy life. If done correctly, it can have many of the following health benefits: decreased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure, better blood flow, lower levels of bad cholesterol, assistance with weight loss, decreased inflammation, improved blood sugar regulation, better responses to stress, slowing down of aging, prevention of diabetes, thyroid disorders, hypertension, and heart disease, and more!

Biblically speaking, fasting means the voluntary abstention from food for a prescribed period as a sign of devotion. 

APPLICATION

Clearly, from the list above, one could conclude that our bodies were created to naturally respond to periods of fasting and voluntarily deprivation.

So, too, are our spirits. Scripture is replete with examples and exhortations, to cite just a few:

Matthew 6:16-18 ESV 
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Joel 2:12 ESV 
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;

Daniel 10:3 ESV 
I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.

Ezra 8:23 ESV 
So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

Isaiah 58:6 ESV 
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Acts 13:2 ESV 
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Acts 14:23 ESV 
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Exodus 34:28 ESV 
So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Esther 4:16 ESV 
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

Luke 2:37 ESV 
And then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.

Psalm 35:13 ESV 
But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.

Luke 4:2 ESV 
For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

Fasting helps us get closer to the Lord, hear His voice, and discern His direction(s) for our lives by the removal of distractions and noise, as well as helping us focus on Him more than other parts of His Creation, including (but not exclusively) food.

 

 

When Fear Melts Into Freedom

Bondage God's Power God's Deliverance

Contributed By: Ron Michener | Date Posted: 2024-02-15

Scripture: Matthew 11:29 ; Galatians 5:1

Author: Ron Michener
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ILLUSTRATION

A small little bird was trapped in a net ball containing bird food near our back window. It was fluttering about trying to escape. We went out to help it, but when it saw us coming, it chirped furiously in panic. We pulled down the net ball, bird attached, and held it gently, speaking softly to the little guy. At this point he was listless and tired from trying to escape, for perhaps hours. We carefully and gently cut the net from around its legs and gently set it on the picnic table. It immediately flew away in freedom.

Its initial panic eventually yielded to let one much more powerful, yet gentle, release it from bondage.

APPLICATION

When God sees us trapped, we often struggle to escape by our own devices, yet we consistently fail until we yield to God's gentle and gracious power to release us. Only then do we find true freedom.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1, NIV).

 

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29, NIV).

 

Broken Pieces Make Good Grog

Brokenness Mistakes Refined

Source: "What is Grog Pottery" by Beth Peterson, published TheSpruceCrafts.com, 10/21/19, retrieved 2/14/24

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Sam Leggett | Date Posted: 2024-02-14

Scripture: Jeremiah 18:4 ; Psalms 31:12

Author: Sam Leggett
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ILLUSTRATION

Ceramic pottery has been used for thousands of years. It is made from clay that has been molded and heated to high temperatures in order to make the clay hard. The clay reaches temperatures so high that the chemical composition of the clay changes. Pottery can be painted and glazed to become beautiful works of art. Besides it's beauty and versatility, the pottery is very durable. Many vessels have withstood the test of time, even for millenia.

What happens to pottery that becomes damaged or broken? Even the smallest crack can render a pot unusable.

Broken vessels are not just thrown out. Many potters will take the broken pieces of the clay vessels and crush them into dust. The technical term for that dust is called "grog."

The grog is then thoroughly mixed into fresh clay. 

What are the benefits of "grogged" clay?

While drying shrinkage, it can help reduce firing shrinkage. Grogged clay can also help reduce thermal expansion, which means a lower chance of expanding and contracting, when it's being heated in the kiln, which will mean a lower chance of it cracking.

When the new vessel is fired in the kiln, the grog becomes a sort of adhesive — a bonding agent, if you will — causing the clay to be even more durable than it would have been without the clay dust.

APPLICATION

We humans are often likened in scripture to pottery. We are vessels made of clay. As such, sin can "break" or "mar" us, having a profound effect on our usefulness or fitness for service. 

When the child of God is broken due to sin, the Lord doesn't just throw us out. Rather, he takes our brokenness and refashions us into an even stronger vessel.  

So, do you ever feel "crushed" by the weight of your own brokenness and the Lord's refining process, like so much grog on the potter's workbench? Well, Scripture has promised us that the Lord's heart is to "bind up" the wounds of the broken hearted ( Psam 147:3).

That grog, in the hands of a skillful potter, is like a powerful adhesive  —a bonding agent — which will bind us back together, stronger than ever! And what's more, it will bond us even closer to the Father's heart!

God is, indeed, the Master Potter who, in His mercy, uses our experience, even our brokenness, to strengthen us and shape us into vessels ever increasingly fit for and worthy of service. 

"I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery" (Psalms 31:12, NIV).

"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him" (Jeremiah 18:4, NIV).

Eyes on the Back of God's Head

God's Omniscience Obedience Accountability

Contributed By: Georges Hasbany | Date Posted: 2024-02-06

Scripture: Proverbs 15:3 ; Psalms 139:7

Author: Georges Hasbany
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The Church -- God's Superorganism

Cooperation Church/Body of Christ Fellowship

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2024-02-06

Scripture: Romans 12:4 ; Ephesians 4:6

Author: Marcelle Smith
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Counterfeit Giftedness

Spiritual Gifts Potential Talents

Contributed By: Herry Herry | Date Posted: 2024-01-27

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:10 ; Romans 12:6

Author:
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Nehemiah and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

Envy Success Motivation

Contributed By: Da Al | Date Posted: 2024-01-27

Scripture: Nehemiah 4:7 ; Philippians 2:3

Author: Da Al
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Brush Your Teeth and Cleanse Your Sin

Cleansing Blood (of Jesus) Good Works

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2024-01-16

Scripture: 1 John 1:9 ; Psalms 51:10

Author: Illustration Exchange
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Obsolete

Sorrow Hope Glorification

Contributed By: Herry Herry | Date Posted: 2024-01-16

Scripture: Revelation 21:4 ; Romans 8:18

Author: Yayasan Lembaga Sabda
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Backseat Driver

Guidance Submission Trust (In God)

Contributed By: Roy Hyde | Date Posted: 2024-01-16

Scripture: Psalms 32:8

Author: Roy Hyde
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