“20/20 Focus in 2021.”
Text: Daniel 1:1-9
“On January 1, 2020 no one saw COVID-19. No one saw mandates, lockdowns, masks, and sanitizer. No one saw cities burning. No one saw 228 days of rioting in Portland, OR.
(They are still going) No one foresaw Minneapolis/St. Paul with1500 buildings damaged or destroyed. No one foresaw the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. These actions of horrific and lawless violence and chaos are unacceptable and reflect a nation in great need of revival. I am particularly grieved by the association of Christian symbols with these acts of lawlessness. Lord, forgive us.
To say, “It has been hard to focus,” is a severe understatement.
–We think we can take a “finite” mind and understand the complexities of humanity and society is absurd. Many have expressed anxiety overload. I have encouraged our church body to pull back from media, so you can hear what God’s assignment is in your life.
II Chronicles 7:14, instructs us to pray for ourselves, our family, our church, and our nation.
We need the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to have a 20/20 vision in 2021 to understand what God needs to tell us in 2021.
-Globalism is the mantra of the Anti-Christ.
-Americanism is the ideology of our founding fathers.
Globalism is the political agenda of the Anti-Christ.
Revelation 17 deals with the religious system.
Revelation 18 with the political system.
Pope Frances has endorsed the LGBTQ lifestyle. He would be an excellent candidate for the false prophet of the book of Revelation.
-The False Prophet gives power, nascency to the Anti-Christ.
Communism, Marxism, and Socialism are ideologies that promote the Anti-Christ Spirit. Why? They are anti-religious freedom, anti-free speech, and anti-democratic.
Globalism will now attempt to impact our biblical values-They are not for sale.
There are certain new realities that exist about our political parties that directly impact our Christian faith.
-Our recent election cycle has witnessed a lot of strong opinions, rhetoric, and innuendos.
-The scripture carefully tells us about our desire to raise ourselves up. Be very careful about trying to tout your own praise.
-When try to raise yourself up…..then you will usually go down.
-Much of it-frankly is embarrassing to the rest of the civilized world.
-The last 6 months cast our recent election process in a very dire light.
-We have found ourselves as part of a society that is at the precipice of great change.
What does God ask of us?
-My allegiance is not to a particular party, but rather to the truth of God. The stakes that are involved in far transcend politics.
Politics doesn’t change how we stand for truth.
The vitriol and animosity of social media, politics, and the violence that has taken over America’s cities have a far deeper root than simply “antidisestablishmentarianism.”
Donald Trump & Joe Biden have both been guilty of reckless rhetoric-
Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States in 10 days. We are commanded by God in scripture to pray for those in authority and respect them.
I Timothy 2:1-4
Donald Trump was the most pro-family, pro-life, and pro-Israel president we have ever had. It was very natural for Christians to support him. Our faith, however, is in the God that sits on the throne.
The church serves Jesus Christ who is seated on the throne.
Washington is largely irrelevant to what I do as a pastor or what we do as a church.
I challenge you to speak God’s life into people. Joe Biden & Don Trump both need our prayers. We are called to point people to Jesus. “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
“The basic struggle today is not between individualism and collectivism, free enterprise and socialism, democracy and dictatorship. These are only the superficial manifestations of a deeper struggle which is moral and spiritual.
POINT: The problems that plague our nation are first and foremost a MORAL & SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE.
Text: Dan. 1:1-9
-I challenge the River of Life Church to prayer & fasting for 20/20 focus in 2021.
The purpose of fasting as recorded in scripture was to humble ourselves, to repent and seek God, for His presence, to receive spiritual direction, spiritual enlightenment, to spare a life, to spare armies, to spare nations, and for revival.
Fasting was practiced by the Jews twice a week. Luke 18:11,12
History records the church also continued to fast twice a week.
(Under the law it was required)
“To do less under grace than what the law required is a disgrace to grace.”
It has often been said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Entertainment today revolves around food in our society. The average American spends 20% of their income on food.
The average person will spend 62.5 days a year eating.
In the course of a 70-year life -11.98 years will be spent eating.
FASTING does two things: It draws us closer to God, and it makes us more aware of God’s promises.
Often when someone fasts, they are awakened to the promises of God and the power of God in a greater way.
Prayer is one of our greatest weapons and fasting makes that weapon even greater.
POINT: Many people wait and allow prayer to be a need rather than a practice.
II Corinthians 10:4
COMMENTARY: Greatest weapon of the church is seldom used; the most powerful arsenal is viewed as the last resort.
PRAYER IS OFTEN NEGLECTED AND FASTING IS OFTEN FORGOTTEN. The Bible says when this happens, Heaven is shut up. God wants us to pray. JAMES 4:2-3
ILLUS.: When Elon Musk speaks wall-street listens. When Jesus speaks, winds, waves obey him. Blessings are outpoured. (Jesus still walks on the water).
-There is something that fasting does in you & me when we fast.
-It lifts your sights to Him and enhances your vision of Him.
-It disciplines the body, enriches the soul, and rejuvenates the spirit.
Examples of Prayer and Fasting
- The day of Pentecost followed in Acts 2 after 10 days of prayer and fasting.
- Jesus was victorious over satan in the desert after 40 days of prayer and fasting.
- Exodus 34:28-Moses was in the desert 40 days fasting.
- Jonah 3:5
- The apostle Paul received the HS after fasting for 3 days.
- The 20 largest churches in the world have a strong regular ministry of prayer and fasting in their church ministry, and they are all outside the US.
- One pastor recently commented on his church’s growth, “No fads, no gimmicks-we’ve simply returned to the basis of prayer and fasting and its workings.”
- Charles Spurgeon who pastored in England for years and was known as the prince of preachers: “Our seasons of prayer and fasting at the Church have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the glory of God.”
What is fasting? Definiotion.: “Biblically, fasting is abstaining from food, drink, sleep or other things to focus on a period of spiritual growth. Specifically, we humbly deny something of the flesh to glorify God, enhance our spirit, and go deeper in our prayer life.”
“It is not a hunger strike to force God to give in to our demands.
1. PRAYER AND FASTING BRING 20/20 FOCUS.
Nebuchadnezzar is king. He strips away the brightest, smartest, and most talented, and takes them back to Babylon. He took them from Jerusalem. We know them as Shadrach, Meshack, and Abendigo, and Daniel. He puts them in training for 3 years. After 3 years, Nebuchanezzar will decide if He wants to use them.
-When they came, they were commanded to eat the king’s portion in V. 5. Nebuchadnezzar gave them food allotment and 3 years of training.
V.8 – Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the King’s delicacies.
Daniel said: “You have taken away my dignity, you have kidnapped me, you have given me a new name, but I will not eat of the king’s delicacies. I will keep this vow to my God.”
This is Key: Daniel said there are certain things I will not eat for a certain amount of time. He had made a vow for a certain period of time that his diet would not be affected by the culture that he was living in. His beliefs would not be affected by the WOKE CULTURE.
RE.: That’s what we are doing during prayer and fasting.
We say to God, “We commit this time to you. We are making a vow to YOU.” Not to the church, not to the preacher. God respects vows, and when you make a VOW to God and keep it, then God gives 20/20 FOCUS.
ILLUS.:I know because I have experienced it. When you fast and make a vow to the Lord, you keep that vow because you made it to the Lord. Often, the vow helps you to respect what God impressed you to do.
Psalm 56:12 –God honors those who commit to the Lord.
Our marriage is a vow. God respects strong vows. God notices when people say: “I don’t care what others say, I don’t care what other people are saying or doing, this is my responsibility.”
-Over the next few days, we will commit our way to God. We will make a vow to God to honor Him.
Daniel said: “I have purposed in my heart that I will not defile myself, but I will keep my vows to the Lord.”
ILLUS.: The master Eunuch came to Daniel and he was worried, and said “Listen if you guys don’t eat some of the king’s food then you’re going to look skinny and I’ll get in trouble. I need you to eat some carbs, meat, sugar, & desserts. People hear about prayer and fasting, and they think you are crazy and think it’s a cult.
-In America, people are not dying from not eating.
-They are dying from eating, eating too much, and eating JUNK.
v.12 -Test your servants for 10 days. They ate vegetables and juices. At the end of 10 days, they looked healthier and “fatter” in flesh. Fatter= healthy, strong in appearance.
2. PRAYER & FASTING GROWS CONTENTMENT.
-You come to the place where you trust God.
- The Bible says that everyone is given a measure of faith.
-Faith is like a muscle it must be used or it will be lost.
-It is our fault that we don’t have faith.
Jesus told the disciples: “Where is your faith?”
Even the disciples asked, “Lord teach us to pray.”
–If we can learn to pray. We can learn to do everything else.
POINT: The absence of food does not create faith, faith grows as we then hear, read, study, dwell upon the word of God as we make our vows. Romans 10:17
It encourages faith to grow.
It breaks up the hardened soil of our spirits.
A. Prayer & Fasting focuses on affection for Christ.
ILLUS.: John Wesley, “There are appointed means by which unusual faith is attained.”
Matthew 17:21 –You forget about self and focus on Christ.
Daniel fasted for 39 days.
Genesis 1-Early expanse of time, when darkness was on the face of the earth. Suddenly a power that brought heat and light to the earth busted on the scene. Stars flung into orbit. The Sun was formed by power from the unknown. Scientists can’t figure it out. THAT POWER IS AVAILABLE TODAY
Illus.: Atheists say that there is no God. Then darken the sun and remove the stars. Everyday that they shine, they proclaim, that there is a God. God made Eve from a rib. God blessed Sarah in her 90th year to have a child. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?
GUARANTEE – Serve God, pray, read your Bible, go to Church. No results, then you can forget it.
B. Fasting produces confidence with God.
God desires communion, fellowship with us. He wants us to have great faith to honor Him to do exploits. 20/20 Focus will help you fight the enemy and stop sitting on the pity pot.
-The NT Book of acts Church attracted people, by its power.
-The NT Church was always in revival. Healing the sick, casting out devils, praising God, speaking in tongues, and having favor among men. No one was ever bored.
God’s will is for the Church to have power. Supernatural, anointing. To see strongholds pulled down.
I Corinthians 4:20; Psalm 62:11
Illus.: I want to share a testimony with you. Miracle
Matthew 18: 18-20
POINT: Human governments and rulers change in God’s direction and design. Our faith and our salvation don’t rest in any human ruler but in the ruler of rulers, the King of kings.
-The One who occupies the throne of Heaven hasn’t changed.
III. PRAYER & FASTING BRINGS US CLOSER TO GOD.
CONSIDER WHAT FOOD DOES:
- Adam and Eve lost the kingdom when they gave into satan thru eating. (Genesis 3:6)
- Jesus gained the victory through fasting from food. (Matthew 4:2-4)
- Esau lost his birthright through eating food. (Genesis 25:30-34)
- God used Moses to deliver the Israelites through fasting from food. (Deuteronomy 9:18-19)
- The days of eating and drinking are referred to as the days of Noah when God destroyed the world. (Matthew 24:37,38)
Paul said, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the HS.”
Matthew 17:21– This kind does not come out because of unbelief.
Fasting connects us to the realms of the spirit. Luke 2:36-38
RE.: Deitrich Bonhoeffer “The cost of discipleship.”
“How is it possible to live the life of faith when we grow weary of prayer, when we lose our taste for reading the Bible, and when sleep, food, and sensuality deprive us of the joy of communion with God
A. Fasting produces Humility. Isaiah 58:1-2
Humility is the highway to God’s presence. Paul exhorted the Christians at Rome to make no provision for the flesh. Romans 13:14; I Corinthians 9:25-27; Galatians 5:24
Fasting crucifies our flesh. – Our desire and capacity for food is a great temptation. I’ve heard it said numerous times, “I can resist anything, but temptation.” Think of the implications there.
ILLUS.: “I have a weakness for hot fudge Sundaes.” What happens when we hear that grumbling in our stomachs?
I can’t do that. I’ll get hungry & cranky, and I get headaches.
- Fasting shows our dependence upon God: That we can’t do it by ourselves.
Fasting is drawing near to God. Fasting is experiencing a renewal in our souls.
When we become a people strong in PRAYER & FASTING, WE WILL HAVE 20/20 VISION IN 2021.
ILLUS.: Tsunami-Ever since Acts 2, no great move of God that was long-lasting begun without prayer and fasting. No great move of God has ever continued when prayer meetings declined.
There is a difference between a crowd and a body of believers.
There is a difference between a religious service and praise & worship service.]
-When we study the Anabaptists movement in the 1600s, the Methodist revival in 1812, the Welsh revival in 1914..the Brownsville Revival in 1995, you will find a Key Component was fasting and seeking God.
-In a world that is ever-changing, full of violence and destruction, we understand that we need a power greater than humanity, governments, and this cosmos. Matthew 13:15
Fasting opens up the eyes and ears to see and hear what God is saying to the Church.
ILLUS.:Dr. Ronald G. Cridland, MD “Fasting can save your life”
- Deliverance from bad habits.
- Clearing of sinus and mucus.
- Revelations from God.
- Helps arteries to stay young
- Speedily answered prayers.
- Helps cholesterol levels.
- A constant supply of needs.
- Assistance in curing mental & emotional needs.
- Rejuvenation of health & vitality.
- A longer life.
- Increased energy levels.
- Elimination of body toxins.
- Brings your body into subjection.
- Food allergies arrested.
- Breaking of demonic forces
A. Things that do not constitute a fast? Isaiah 58:3-5
- v.3 –Complaining about the fast.
- Making pleasure more important. 3-You, take it out on others.
- Making life hard on those around us. 4– Praying selfishly.
- v.4 -You use it for personal gain over others.
- V.4-SELF is in the way.
- Trying to impress Others.4-It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
- Having sad countenance. 5-“Look at me”. I am fasting.
RE.:Andrew Murray: “Fasting helps to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice everything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”
Fasting Brings Power.
The early church recognized fasting as a means of obtaining spiritual power.
Arthur Wallis: “The Chosen Fast.”: “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and persistence into our praying, and to give force to our pleas in the court of heaven.”
I am concerned as Spirituality has been looked down upon, and as worldliness has increased-Fasting and Prayer and spiritual gifts are no longer a desired commodity.
-Fasting puts the fire back, and produces the Love of The Spirit, but especially the Fruit of Righteousness and spiritual power.
Spiritual Power doesn’t lie in genius, money, plans, or dedicated effort; it comes from relying upon God in diligent, consecrated prayer, and fasting.
-Once we learn the benefits of fasting, we are free to proclaim a fast whenever we sense the need to draw near to God in a dynamic way. If you are going on a particularly long fast, then I believe that it is important to be lead into this type of fast, as the strength of God will be needed to accomplished such a goal.
FASTING DOESN’T CHANGE GOD, BUT IT CHANGES MAN.
James 4:2 is our fasting scripture:
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
When we return to the Lord, draw near to God, seek His favor, God will break the yoke that binds the spirit.