New Hope Diamond Head 21 Day Fasting Challenge for 2011
Friday, March 27, 2009
My guess is that several things, some of them difficult, have happened during this first few days of the fast. When Jesus decided to fast for 40 days, our Lord was constantly harassed by Satan. Temptation increased during His fasting. But the Lord was able to persevere through all His trials. It would not surprise me if some of you have been attacked by the enemy recently. This is normal. Remember that the enemy does not want more of God in your life. So keep pressing on! Don't give up! Your reward is coming!
And if you have been knocked down by the enemy in the beginning of your fast, be encouraged. Remember that fasting has nothing to do to impress God. If you gave room to temptation, just be humble and go before God in repentance. The enemy may win a battle, but you can win the war. We have 15 days ahead of pursuing God with a sincere heart. God's mercies are new every morning. So get up! Keep moving forward!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
First of all, remember that fasting is not about going on a diet. The purpose of fasting is to displace ourselves from the center of our world, and dedicate quality time and energy to seek God. Don't get stuck in the legalisms of what to eat or not to eat. The Daniel's Fast is only a suggestion of a pattern clearly established in the Scriptures. Maybe you can only fast meat during the 21 days. That's fine! Or maybe you will fast only coffee. That's good too! The point is to seek the Lord in a way that breaks our normal patterns and that takes us deeper in our dependence on Him.
This is very important to understand. Maybe you can go through the 21 days following the Daniel's Fast to the detail. But if you don't make efforts to spend quality time God during these 21 days, your fast will simply become a diet. On the other hand, maybe you are fasting only coffee, and you are making a conscious effort to spend time with God, doing daily devotions, praying, seeking God's will for your life, then your fasting will bring forth the spiritual results you are expecting. You will have a better sense of God's will for your life.
Finally, remember that we are doing this fast together, as a church family. Don't feel disqualified because you cannot do a Daniel's Fast. Try to join us in this challenge in a different way. Fasting one meal a day is another great suggestion. Many people use their lunch break at work to seek God rather than eating lunch. That's a great way to fast too!
• We are not fasting to gain some special favor with God. So no need to be legalistic about this. Don’t get stuck in the details. Just join us in whatever way you can.
• We are not fasting to manipulate God to give us something we want. But you can bring to God issues that matter to you. Think through them.
• Fasting is not about changing God’s will, but about us changing according to the will of God.
You see, fasting really deals with our selfish nature—the desires to our own personal fulfillment. Fasting helps us to displace ourselves from the center of our world and places God and His people in the center instead. As we fast we purify our hearts from default human selfishness.
As we read in Isaiah 58, there was a season when the Israelites lost the correct purpose of fasting. We read in Isaiah that Israel became frustrated with God because God wasn’t answering their prayers made when fasting. They tried to impress God with self-infliction, with putting sackcloth and ashes on their heads, and with regular and rigorous fasts. But God had to remind them that all the theatrics were meaningless unless they deal with their selfishness while fasting. God was really strong about it!
3 “You are living for yourselves even while you are fasting… 4 What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. 5 You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind. You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? 6 No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned… 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
God is saying here that our light shines brightly not when we fast for selfish reasons, but when we take care of the poorest of the poor, when we focus on other people's needs, and when we work in our character flaws. If we fast correctly, then we are going to fight against our selfish tendencies and be willing to be more compassionate towards those in need. The more we do that, the more intense the light will be. And just like we measure physical light by watts, we can measure our spiritual light with compassion. We must be willing to go with compassion into the most darkened places and glow the light of Jesus.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast
All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Fruits include but are not limited to apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon
All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Vegetables include but are not limited to artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini, veggie burgers are an option if you are not allergic to soy.
All whole grains, including but not limited to whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.
All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also nut butters including peanut butter.
All legumes. These can be canned or dried. Legumes include but are not limited to dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.
All quality oils including but not limited to olive, canola, grape seed, peanut, and sesame.
Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.
Other: tofu, soy products, vinegar, seasonings, salt, herbs and spices.
Foods to avoid on the Daniel Fast
All meat and animal products including but not limited to beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.
All dairy products including but not limited to milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.
All sweeteners including but not limited to sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.
All leavened bread including Ezekiel Bread (it contains yeast and honey) and baked goods.
All refined and processed food products including but not limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.
All deep fried foods including but not limited to potato chips, French fries, corn chips.
All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.
Beverages including but not limited to coffee, tea, herbal teas, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.
1. Plan accordingly: Once you have the dates set for the fast, you can plan how your eating and rest habits will be for the duration of your fast.
- Plan to see your doctor and share with him/her your plan to be fasting for 21 days. Follow your doctor's instructions.
- Plan to spend time in prayer. Fasting without dedicating time for prayer and Bible study is only dieting. Plan in advance the times you will set apart to pray and seek God.
- Plan in advance your grocery shopping: Don't leave your pantry or refrigerator with foods that are going to be hard to avoid. Try to consume them in a healthy way before the fast starts. Find out in advance about recipes for meals you can have during your fast and enjoy the trip to the grocery store.
- Plan to avoid gatherings where breaking the fast may be tempting. Do you have a baby Luau, or a Birthday party, or a wedding ceremony coming up? That's going to be hard. If you cannot avoid those gatherings, then plan in advance how you will handle it. Take your food in a container, or be ready to explain why you are eating the way yo do.
- Plan to exercise wisely. Some people may not be able to exercise the same way while fasting. Good to focus in low impact exercises rather than in high impact exercises. Don't run a marathon while you are fasting!
3. Start drinking lots and lots of water before the fast and during the fast.
4. Prepare Spiritually. Have a clear idea why you are fasting for. Read about fasting, be encouraged with testimonies from those whom have been doing this before, and start the fast in high spirits. Don't let the enemy steal your joy. Don't worry! You will eat your favorite foods again.
Unfortunately, for some people prayer combined with fasting has a bad reputation:
A. Fanatical practice of ultra-religious people that want to validate their spirituality with self-inflicted pain.
Some people move away from fasting because they are afraid to get into a painful religious practice. The point of fasting is not self-infliction. Jesus took care of that in the Cross and there’s no reason to fast as a penance or to walk in a higher spiritual level than those who don’t fast.
B. Fasting has been used as a superstitious practice to force God into something—arm twisting technique.
There is no biblical passage that suggests that we must fast in order to gain some special favor with God. The Lord never says that you fast in order to improve your status with Him. However, the truth is that we must be always open to fast because it does something in us. When we fast we are not asking God to change his mind, we are asking God to change ours.
- Have you ever felt like your prayers are fruitless and not heard?
- Have you ever prayed to God to set you free from a bad habit and you continue experiencing defeat?
- Have you ever prayed that the Lord will open the blind eyes of your loved ones that continue away from the Lord and you feel frustrated because they do not change their stubborn ways?
- Have you ever prayed about a breakthrough in your life and loose hope because the miracle didn’t happen?
In three different Gospels (Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9) the Scripture points out an incident in which a father was very troubled because a demonic spirit was oppressing his son. The boy, probably a young teenager was deaf and mute, and also was having recurrent seizures. The demon exercised such stronghold in this boy’s life that he would cause the boy to commit suicide several times by causing self-injuries, or by throwing himself into the fire or into the water.
The troubled father hears about Jesus’ ministry and power to heal all kinds of diseases and brings his son to the Lord’s disciples. Jesus was not around, but the disciples prayed for the boy. Nothing happened. Questions came! The disciples were frustrated, the father was hopeless, and the boy continued suffering.
Then Jesus came to take matters in this situation. When sensing the presence of Jesus, the demon throws the boy into a seizure and foam comes out of the child’s mouth. Then, Jesus rebuked the demonic spirit with great authority by saying, “spirit of deafness and muteness, I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again.” The boy was immediately healed.
After the crowd was dismissed, the puzzled disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why did our prayer didn’t work? We have done several successful prayers before when demons left? What happened this time?” Jesus answered,
“…this kind (of demonic oppression) does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
There was a demonic being causing hurt in someone’s life and Jesus did not stood there relying in well intended but casual prayers. Jesus knows that there’s nothing impossible to God. Remember that while on earth, Jesus did not use His divine powers. All his miracles were a demonstration of the kind of the extraordinary things that ordinary people can do when they become men and women of the Kingdom of Heaven. In this incident, Jesus acted fully human—just like you and me. But Jesus trusted in the spiritual authority that the key of prayer combined with fasting entitles us to deliver those oppressed by the enemy and to set free those who are captive in the devil’s web.
Jesus practiced fasting and instructed his disciples to fast.
"But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day."
In the book of Acts the church practiced fasting in key moments. Paul writes to the Corinthians and tells them that he fasts regularly. Fasting is a normal part of our relationship with God!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
21 Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. 22 For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” 23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer. Ezra 8:21-23
Ezra realized that in order for the people of Israel to experience breakthrough and get glowing again, they needed to depend in the Holy Spirit by praying and fasting. So he called all the people of God to pray and fast together, all of them at the same time. The purpose of their fast was threefold:
• We fast to seek guidance.
Is anybody here in need of direction for your life? Maybe you need direction in your career, or in your future. You are facing important decisions and you don’t know what to do? Every time that I face a difficult situation or a crucial moment where important decisions needed to be made, I’ve done a fast. I fasted and found direction when I went to Bible College. I fasted when praying about coming to Hawaii… I even fasted when I was praying about asking Karen to marry me. I wanted to make sure that I was doing the right thing. Remember, It’s not by might, nor by power, but by the Holy Spirit. Let’s get glowing with the right fuel and let’s seek God’s presence together as we fast and pray.
• We fast to seek protection for our loved ones.
Is anybody here in need of protection for yourself or a loved one? I mean, is anybody being wrongly accused of anything, or your children are being targets? Do you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel? Do you feel vulnerable for sickness or any other attack of the enemy? Remember… Not by might…. Let’s get glowing with the right fuel and let’s seek God’s presence together as we fast and pray.
• We fast to seek protection for our possessions.
Is anybody here loosing your retirement or your life-savings, or your legacy? Without being materialistic, you can come to God and ask him for protection. With the way this economy is going, we need to pray for our jobs, for our homes, for the things that we have worked so hard and that could be gone. We may be tempted to fight with our might and with our power. But as we have heard from God Himself, it’s only by His Spirit. Let’s get glowing with the right fuel and let’s seek God’s presence together as we fast and pray. Amen?
Today I want to empower you with one of the most amazing tools we have on our side in order to see breakthrough in our lives. I want to challenge you to be fasting. Yes! Fasting! I don’t know of any other way to get fresh oil for our spiritual tanks than when we come to God’s presence in prayer and fasting.
Biblical fasting is not merely going without food for some time. That is dieting. Nor fasting is something done by fanatics. Fasting is not done only by monks, or by ministers in special occasions, or by weird people. In our church we are charismatics, not charismaniacs. Simply said, biblical fasting is refraining from food for a spiritual purpose. Fasting has been always a normal part of our relationship with God.
So starting Sunday, March 22, we are going to set apart together as a church a time to fast and pray. This is 21 days before Easter, so we are going to have a 21 day fast as a church. We will be doing a Daniel’s Fast!