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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.

 

 

Don't Throw In The Towel (Errr, The Sock)

Compromise (Convictions) Faithfulness Trials

Source: Life Experience and theFlag.org

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Mark Green | Date Posted: 2023-09-26

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:58 ; 1 Corinthians 16:13

Author: Mark Green / Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

Did you know that China produces, markets, and distributes more socks than any other country in the world?TheFlag.com reports:

When you put on your socks in the morning, there’s a good chance that unless you knit them yourself they came from somewhere outside of the United States. Roughly one-third of the time the socks came from China. In fact, the Datang District in eastern China is one of the top sock producers in the world and has been aptly named, “Sock City.”

Because they are produced in such volume, and by means of cheap labor and often inferior materials, these socks are more affordable, often pushing other manuafacturers right out of the market. Listen to one man's experience:

A number of years ago, around 2008, sock manufacturers in South Africa faced a huge challenge in their business of selling socks. Extremely cheap and of poor quality ... Chinese imports were flooding the market, making it difficult for local sock companies to survive. These companies were in distress ... and as a result, most closed down. Our very own Millennium Socks was one of those companies. Those were extremely trying times in the industry.

One company though refused to throw in the towel ... [knowing] that to compete they had to do something different. Falke South Africa realized that they had to respond strategically to the challenge they faced, or their business would die. They made the decision [to] continue in business, but to change the way they approached the market.

They developed a niche market for their product by deciding not to compromise on the quality of their product. They took the step and committed themselves to the task at hand … Falke South Africa, over the last 10yrs has increased its staff by 50%, and in 2017 sold 17 million pairs of socks and fine hosiery. They are now planning to expand into Australia, all because, in a hard time of distress and despair, they made the decision to focus on what was to be done, without compromise, and they have more than survived, they have become a great success.

APPLICATION

As Christians, we must know that a time of distress or despair is NOT the time to throw in the towel. It is the time to take decisive action and shore up our resolve to "focus on what must be done without compromise." Only in this way will we not just survive, but thrive.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV).

"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (I Corinthians 16:13, ESV).

 

 

 

Run the Race

Endurance Preparation Faithfulness

Source: “Somalian sports minister apologizes after slow 100-meter runner goes viral at university games” by Omar Faruk, published AP News, 8/2/23, retrieved 8/11/23.

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-08-11

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24 ; 2 Timothy 4:7

Author: Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s sports minister publicly apologized Wednesday and ordered that the chairwoman of the national track and field federation be suspended after a seemingly untrained female sprinter represented the African country at the World University Games in China and took more than 20 seconds to finish a 100-meter race.

The minister reported that they did not know how the woman, 20-year-old Nasra Abukar Ali, was selected to compete in the women’s 100 at the student games in Chengd. She very quickly fell behind, and finished more than 10 seconds behind the winner (in a 100 meter race, that is an eternity!).

Some charged nepotism, some charged incompetence, but all cried foul, claiming the perfomrance posed a serious embarrassment to all serious Somali athletes, as well as being damaging to Somalia’s reputation on the world stage at large. 

Video of the race was shared in a tweet criticizing Ali’s participation, and calling for the head of Somalia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports to immediately step down. The video has since gone viral, with nearly 70 million views to date.

APPLICATION

Scripture likens the Christian life to running a race, and in doing so cautions that we should not take our participation in that race lightly, but rather train and discipline ourselves to perform well.

That said, some of us will train harder than others, some will quit the race, but yet others will finally limp across the finish line, albeit well behind the rest of the pack.

Ali was not prepared for the race she had entered, but to her credit, she did finish the race. Perhaps it is her goal to keep running, keep training, improving her fitness and her time. Or, perhaps she entered the race with no other motive than to mock the process. We can’t know.

What we can know, though, is for those of us sincerely called by God into the Christian life, we are called to “run with endurance, the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV).

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Do your best to come to me soon” (2 Timothy 4:7-9, ESV).

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24, ESV).

Stay With It

Faithfulness Spiritual Health Sanctification

Contributed By: Marcelle Smith | Date Posted: 2023-06-15

Scripture: Colossians 1:23 ; Colossians 3:5

Author: Marcelle Smith
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The Love That Waited

Second Coming Faithfulness Perseverance

Contributed By: Luke Holmes | Date Posted: 2021-05-15

Scripture: John 14:3 ; Jeremiah 31:3

Author: Luke Holmes
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The Butterfly Effect

Ministry Faithfulness Influence

Contributed By: James Miller | Date Posted: 2018-05-15

Scripture: Matthew 13:32

Author: James Miller
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Don't Be Remembered For The Time You Quit

Endurance Faithfulness Perseverance

Contributed By: Howard Harden | Date Posted: 2018-01-30

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:4 ; Job 3:1

Author: Howard Harden
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What Happens When You Double A Penny Everyday For 30 Days?

Faithfulness Priorities Reward

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2017-05-03

Scripture: Matthew 6:20

Author: Illustration Exchange
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Dr. Henry Heimlich Was Ready

Witness Faithfulness Salvation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2016-05-30

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:15

Author: Illustration Exchange
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The Game Has Gotten Hotter!

Adversity Ministry Faithfulness

Contributed By: Shawn Nichols | Date Posted: 2016-04-25

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:5

Author: Shawn Nichols
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