It Begins With The Belly

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 | 1 comment

 

 

fasting

I heard someone say once that the benefits of fasting are not measured by weeks or even months but in years. As I look back over the years, I couldn’t agree more. Most of my fasting has been uninspiring, grumpy times but as I look back I see a heart that is getting a bit more tender to the Lord and His Word is becoming alive to me.

Fasting is about way more than just not eating a few meals a week. Fasting as a lifestyle is about staying in touch with our daily, minute by minute need of God’s grace (divine favor, divine enabling to persevere in our calling as faithful witnesses to God’s appointed Messiah, Jesus, and His coming kingdom). As the psalmist says, “…You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.” (Psalms 16:2). We truly have no chance of being faithful to the end without grace. The Holy Spirit has been given as a deposit of the grace that will be given to us fully at the revelation of Jesus. At the resurrection. We must daily access this grace by asking for it. Prayer is the means by which we access the grace we need to walk out our calling faithfully.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you (i.e. resurrected body, cf. vv.3-5), searched intently and with the greatest care… Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:10-13

 

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

So then fasting from food is just a small, albeit essential, piece of living a life of dependence on the Holy Spirit. If we are fasting a few meals a week but then stuffing our selves the rest of the week with whatever we “want” (food, media, etc.) we will not be well positioned to respond to the Spirit. Being self controlled and restrained is essential if we want be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, if we want to be watchful and awake and in the light at the end of the age. I am called to live restrained and in light of the Day of the Lord. Whether I am alive and on the earth when Jesus returns or if I am coming with Him from the height of the heavens, I am called to watchfulness and sobriety.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert (watchful) and of sober mind so that you may pray.. 1 Peter 4:7

 

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and self-controlled. 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Another piece of this is seeing our need to be one with Jesus in His suffering. There is no other way to be included in His kingdom. The cross is essential to our being joined to Him and included in His kingdom when He returns. We will be an equally yoked bride with Jesus so if Jesus needed to suffer first before entering into His glory, we should not expect anything different.

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:22-25

 

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

Therefore it is very interesting to me that Paul says one of the key things that distinguish the enemies of the cross from those that will be resurrected to be like Jesus is that their belly is their god. This has been a verse of dread for me. I have felt and still do feel the pain of addiction to food. I am so easily distracted from living in light of that Day and filling the void with stuff that, in the end, will not satisfy.

For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:18-21

bellyscripture

I’ve found in my experience that living a life of restraint really begins with the belly. I find it very interesting that Jesus says that the river of the life of the Spirit comes from deep within…from our bellies (John 7:37-39). So we can either have a life of restraint and dependence on the Holy Spirit from our bellies or we can have our bellies run the show and lead us down a path of self indulgence and self reliance. As long as the bridegroom is away, I will fast and pray in eager expectation of the day of resurrection when I will be raised to be like Him and He will make all things new!

“And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:15

Originally published July 1, 2011 on my old blog

One Comment

  1. Very inspiring insight! Thank You brother.

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