Tag Archives: fasting

True Revival?

Many people have been watching the events at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. After a chapel meeting on February 8, students stayed in the Hughes Auditorium and continued praying, singing, testifying, and reading Scripture. Their gathering became an extended time of worship that lasted for days and attracted large numbers of people. Attendees report a special sense of God’s Spirit moving among them.

Surprisingly, almost exactly the same events in the same location took place fifty-three years ago in 1970 (also in February!). In the months following the 1970 meeting, groups from Asbury visited other colleges and churches from New York to California and even into South America. Revival broke out in more than 130 locations by the summer of that year.

The history of God’s people is filled with spiritual ups and downs, times of wandering away or fading away from the Lord, sometimes over years or even decades, then times of returning to the Lord. This has been the case among Christians for the past two thousand years, and it was true in the Old Testament with God’s chosen people Israel.

Once, when Israel was experiencing a dark time spiritually, they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Philistines. They foolishly took the ark of the covenant into battle. It was captured by the Philistines, who returned it after several months of suffering God’s wrath. Instead of placing the ark in the temple, where it belonged, the Israelites took it to Abinadab’s house.

The ark of the covenant was the special container made to hold the tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. The commandments were a reminder of the unique relationship Israel enjoyed with God, and a reminder of their responsibility to worship and serve him only.

The ark of the covenant was at Abinadab’s house for twenty years, a constant reminder to the people that things were not right between them and God. Finally, they began to long for the Lord. They lamented the current state of things. They wanted to return to the Lord.

God raised up a spiritual leader for the people: Samuel. When Samuel saw that the people were ready for positive change, he called on them to put away their foreign gods, their idols, and to worship God only.

Samuel called the people to gather for prayer at Mizpah. When they came together, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. This act is unexplained in Scripture, but it is associated with fasting. Abstaining from food for a time was an established practice often observed during times of prayer and seeking God. By combining these two actions, the people seemed to be expressing a desire for God that was even greater than their need for food and water.

In addition to fasting, the people confessed. They admitted sinning against the Lord. Confession implies a willingness to repent, to turn away from sin. Returning to God requires turning away from sin. Confession can also be positive. God’s people confess their faith in God, expressing their desire to trust him by obeying his commands and following his ways.

When the Philistines saw what was happening at Mizpah, they attacked Israel. The people were afraid, but they continued to follow the leadership of Samuel and to trust the Lord. As a result, God gave them a decisive victory over their enemies and brought peace to their land.

Samuel set up a stone to memorialize the Lord’s work in their hearts and with their hands. He named it Ebenezer, saying that the Lord had helped them to that point.

So, Mizpah led to Ebenezer. In other words, Israel’s meeting at Mizpah inspired them to trust God for victory. Their faith and God’s power resulted in blessings memorialized by the Ebenezer stone.

People are asking if the events at Asbury in Kentucky signal a true revival, an authentic move of God’s Holy Spirit. If it is a true Mizpah meeting that inspires God’s people to trust the Lord for a great spiritual victory, then we will see an Ebenezer stone set up in the future. In 1970, the results were clear. In 2023, we hope and pray to see the same.

Israel’s revival began with a longing for the Lord, a dissatisfaction with the status quo. The next step was putting away the things of the world and worshiping God only. They gathered for prayer, commitment, and confession. And when the enemy responded by attacking them, they trusted the Lord.

There is no guarantee that God’s Spirit will move in a mighty way if we follow certain predetermined steps. God is sovereign. Nevertheless, Samuel’s advice is good. We should gather and pray, commit ourselves to the Lord, and confess our sin and our faith. Only then will we be ready to follow God’s Spirit to victory when he chooses to visit us in an extraordinary manner.

Let’s pray that we are seeing an authentic move of God’s Spirit, one that will result in victories that cannot be explained by the planning and performance of people, but only by the presence and power of the Living God!

May God inspire us and enable us to return to him with all our hearts,

Brother Richard

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Prayer For A Nation

God makes a promise about prayer in 2 Chronicles:

. . . and (if) my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I myself will hear from the heavens, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (7:14)

The Lord is speaking to King Solomon. At the dedication of the new temple in Jerusalem Solomon prayed publicly and asked God to always answer the prayers offered at the temple.

Thirteen years later God is finally answering Solomon’s request. That’s a long delay but hearing from God is worth the wait!

To understand God’s answer to Solomon we must move back one verse. God tells Solomon, “When I stop the rain or send locusts to devour the land or if I send a pestilence, and my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray” etc.

God’s promise is about those times when he uses natural disasters to soften hard hearts and bend stiff necks. Extreme weather is now blamed on man-made global warming (or “climate change”). Nevertheless, God is still the master of nature and the Bible clearly says that he sometimes employs nature to get our attention (see Exodus 9).

Of course, every bad storm is not a judgment from God. Jesus used a storm on the Sea of Galilee to demonstrate his divine authority by commanding the wind and the waves to stop. He made no mention of any national sin.

The point is this: When God’s people disobey him and deserve his judgment, God offers a pathway to return to his favor.

First, God’s people must humble themselves. Genuine humility starts with attitude and stirs action. The Israelites often humbled themselves by fasting. Skipping meals was a way to demonstrate that they were contrite.

Next, God’s people must pray. When combined, prayer and fasting are powerful. By fasting and praying God’s people demonstrate their desire to connect with God.

In addition, God’s people must seek his face, that is, his personal presence. Seeking requires time and effort. When God’s people gather for combined prayer and fasting the purpose is to experience God’s powerful, personal presence.

Finally, God’s people must turn from their evil ways. No amount of fasting, praying and seeking will solve the problem if God’s people defiantly persist in disobeying his commands.

To simply turn from evil ways without turning to God would also be short of the goal. The objective is always to enjoy God and his favor.

God promises to hear from heaven despite the chasm between him and his people. God will then forgive their sin and heal their land, both spiritual and physical restoration. He is Lord of the visible and the invisible, of individuals and of nations.

As followers of Jesus we are God’s people now and we share in this wonderful promise about prayer. So let’s humbly seek the Lord in prayer, turning from sin to him. God will hear and restore.

May God always hear from heaven and visit us with his healing presence,

Brother Richard

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Why We Should Fast

Most Christians in America seem to have very little interest in fasting. In fact, they usually flee the subject as if it were a curse. Why should we concern ourselves with fasting?

First of all, fasting is one of God’s commands. God instructed his chosen people Israel to fast each year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26). This day was a solemn reminder that God is holy and sin cannot be trivialized. Fasting is an act of humility before God, recognizing our need for his forgiveness.

Second, the Bible gives us many positive examples of God’s people fasting. When Moses was in the presence of the LORD receiving the Ten Commandments, he went without eating bread or drinking water for forty days and forty nights (Exodus 34:28). Apparently Moses was so enraptured with the proximity of God that he gave no thought to physical sustenance.

In the days of Samuel, God’s people were ensnared by idolatry. As a result, God allowed the Israelites to be oppressed by the Philistines. The people of God repented. They assembled before the LORD and confessed their sin and fasted. So God delivered them from their enemies. Fasting was an expression of their humble yearning for God’s powerful intervention.

Daniel, in exile with God’s people in Babylon, fasted and prayed to God. He interceded for the people, confessing their sin and crying out to God for his forgiveness and restoration to the Promised Land. While he prayed, God sent the angel Gabriel to give Daniel insight and understanding (Daniel 9). Fasting resulted in an amazing word from God.

God’s prophets in the Old Testament instructed the people on the proper way to fast. Isaiah told the people that fasting is not a substitute for obedience (Isaiah 58:1-14). Joel explained that fasting is an appropriate expression of repentance before God, one that God honors (Joel 2:12-13).

Jesus did not begin his public ministry without a time of fasting, forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-2). He warned his followers not to fast in order to impress people, but to gain the reward that only God can give (Matthew 6:16-18).

Jesus pointed out that fasting is not always appropriate. When the Savior is present, joy and celebration are the customary responses (Matthew 9:14). True fasting is not a duty, but a voluntary response motivated by a sincere heart.
Finally, we should fast because Jesus expects his followers to fast (Matthew 9:15). After he returned to the Father, the Early Church engaged in fasting. They incorporated fasting into their public worship and as a result, the church heard from God’s Spirit (Acts 13:1-2). They also included fasting when it came time to make appointments to missions and church leadership (Acts 13:3-4; 14:23).

We fast as an expression of self-control that enables us to exert greater focus on experiencing God. By denying a legitimate physical need for a short period of time, we concentrate on hearing God’s voice.

Our fasting does not obligate God in any way. He remains sovereign. Fasting does, however, demonstrate our seriousness in seeking him out. Fasting also teaches us to control ourselves, exercising a fruit of the Spirit.

We may think that the grumblings of our hunger would easily drown out the voice of God, but that is not the case. With very little practice, our hunger becomes servant instead of master. And with a little faithfulness, our spiritual ears become fine-tuned to the voice of the Lord.

May God give us the desire to seek him out with all our heart,

Brother Richard

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