Fasting and Pleasure

AUTHOR: Dakota Dietz

Read:  

1 Kings 4:20-5:1-18. King Solomon likely wrote portions of Ecclesiastes himself or his life was the inspiration for the author. Continue learning more about Solomon’s life as you read about his wisdom and material successes.

Focus:

During these 7 weeks we will focus on the discipline of fasting. Each week we will dig deeper into this discipline. Take the next 5 minutes to read a blog post that connects the discipline of fasting to Sunday’s sermon topic.

 

Fasting and Pleasure

Imagine a hot-air balloon like those you’d see on a clear day in California’s Napa Valley. The flame inflates the giant canvas envelope. The ropes stretch toward the sky. But the basket stands firmly on the ground. That is, until the pilot releases the sandbags to enable the upward push of heated air to overcome the earth’s gravitational pull. 

The desires that burn in our chests are put there by God, turning the vessels of our souls skyward. But the load of sin we carry in our souls inhibit our upward movement into the heart of God. Our desires were designed to be spaceships launched from the ground of our being into the delights of God’s heavens; our sin has kept them grounded, made them merely earthly (Colossians. 3:5).  

The trouble here is not with desires per se, but desires weighed down by sin (Hebrews 12:1). How can we turn our desires heavenward? Release them. 

Our sin-distorted desires keep us from yearning for the eternal pleasures that are at God’s right hand (Psalm 16:11). All the pleasures of earth “under the sun” cannot satisfy our God-given longings (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, 3:11).  

This is why we fast. It releases our pleasure-seeking from the limitations of our puny imaginations and opens it up to the infinite wonder that is the Fount of Life, the Lamb who will one day soon be enthroned over all and worshiped by all peoples of the earth (Revelation 22:1-4). 

Jesus speaks of the era-defining importance of fasting for His followers as they await His return. After Levi hosts a feast for Jesus’ disciples and the unseemly crowd of other tax collectors and sinners who gathered around Him, the religious leaders began their accusational grumbling, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” (Luke 5:33)

Then Jesus, prophesying His ascension, responds: “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:34-35)

Jesus points to the provisional purpose of fasting in this age. Feasting is right when the bride (the Church) communes with her Bridegroom; thus exists the ancient institution of Communion that envisages that final wedding feast (1 Corinthians 11:26, Revelation 19:6-9). But as long as Christ tarries, this age will also be tinged with sin. So, in the meantime, we are in need of sin-curtailing disciplines to train us for the coming eternal Day.  

Fasting is a discipline that trains our desires toward heaven. It is an exercise in self-denial that releases us to ever-greater joy. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” as Jesus quoted from Torah, “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3) 

What does God tell us about the pleasures of His word? 

More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)

So how might we practice fasting so that our longings are ignited, sending our ballooning desires toward the beauties of His Word? 

As you practice fasting this week, let it lead you to talk to God. Respond to His word with words of your own. Fasting is useless unless utilized for conversation with the good God who made the good thing you’re giving up. Thank God for His good creation, then thank Him for giving you Himself through His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, the ultimate Good from whom all goods come (Colossians 1:16).

 

Pray:

Pray that God would give you wisdom as it relates to seeking pleasure. Spend 2 minutes in listening silence and write down anything that comes to mind.

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Week 2 of 7 Fasting

1 Comment

  1. Cathy

    It is great to read that Solomon used multi-ethnic people groups to build the temple. In addition, he asked for other nations to provide parts of the building in lumber, laborers, food and more.

    These verses do not related to fasting (smile).

    Reply

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