The subject of fasting is a subject with a paradox; it appears to be a real difficult and hard subject but the truth is when understood properly through the paradigm of a bridegroom in the pursuit of one fasting is exhilarating and some of you are beginning to believe the Lord is going to raise up multitudes of people across the earth. Millions that live a fasted lifestyle before a bridegroom God. We have studied the idea of a new paradigm of fasting introduced by Jesus in Matthew 9:14-17.
It is a paradigm of fasting that enlarges our heart through encountering the beauty of a bridegroom… Jesus introduced a new paradigm of fasting very different from the Old Testament although the Old Testament paradigm is still a part of the New Covenant grace but this paradigm of fasting.. this understanding is a view of fasting that enlarges our heart through encountering the beauty of a bridegroom God who is lovesick with desire for us.. who possesses indescribable beauty.
He brings us into partnership with Himself, it is that pursuit that enlarges our heart in a way that no other dimension in the grace of God can. The bridegroom fast is a term that I use that it causes us to receive greater measures of revelation at an accelerated pace and a deeper impact. There are three things. The measure is greater… the quantity of what we receive is greater … we receive more revelation and the pace is exhilarated … we receive it faster and the impact is deeper and that is what we are after. This grace of God uses fasting and the word as a Holy Spirit catalyst to speed up the process and enlarge the measure and the depth of which we receive the beauty of the Lord. Matthew 6:18, Jesus talked about, “My Father will reward you for fasting.” “so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:18) Jesus is talking about how His Father will reward us for fasting.
Fasting has a very powerful reward… a very powerful reward. We position ourselves before the grace of God to enlarge our capacity to receive at the heart level. The primary reward of the bridegroom fast is what we are looking at here and I have 7 different facets of the reward of this fast which is lovesick for a bridegroom God. Now the reward to fasting related to the pursuit of a bridegroom is what I mean by a bridegroom fast… the rewards are primary internal. They are rewards that touch the heart….all 7 of these benefits of the bridegroom fast are related specifically to the subject of intimacy with the bridegroom. The reason I say this is because the fast of the Old Testament were primarily external. They were released in terms of circumstances, our external life, but the bridegroom fast touches the heart.. our inner life. So it is a different paradigm, a different focus. Our hearts expand, our capacity, our spiritual capacity to receive increases.
Our hearts expand… our capacity.. our spiritual capacity… to receive increases. That is the summary of it. The complexity of all human appetites change dramatically as we pursue the Lord by the grace of God through the bridegroom fast. Our physical appetites, our emotional appetites, and our Spiritual appetites are changed in a dramatic way as we pursue the bridegroom in the grace of God through the bridegroom fast or through the focus of pursuing a bridegroom . Desire is the key idea in understanding the bridegroom fast and again it is not external prosperity, although I believe in that, and I believe it is proper to seek that but desire is the key idea as we seek to understand the bridegroom fast and is the primary focus of our heart to enlarge desire or to encounter His desire.
The bridegroom fast is understood and engaged through the focus of this subject called desire. It is understanding His desire, encountering His desire, having our desires fulfilled, enlarging our desires. Desire is the key word if you want to use that or enlarging our spiritual capacities. I like the word desire. In a nut shell He is imparting new desires to us. Desires of delight…. He imparts new desires and that is why the very fact that God makes this available is an awesome privilege to the human race. It is not a drudgery.. it is not the dreaded call to the life of fasting… it is an indescribable privilege because it brings us into new desires of delight. There is nothing that we crave more than to enter into this reality but most people do not know this reality exists and the way to it but the Lord Jesus talks about mourning, longing, panting after a bridegroom in lovesickness.
The fast that would accommodate and accelerate the process. Not only is there the impartation of new desires but there is the removal or diminishing of sinful desires. Beloved when our desires are lined up properly…life is wonderful. When our desires are out of line… life is burdensome… I do not care what kind of other dimensions are happening you could have the most powerful body and greatest money and all the fame in the earth but when your desires are lined up wrong…. life is very difficult and burdensome. So it is a pursuit of pleasure and enjoyment… whenever you read the word , joy, or most times you can use the word, enjoyment. It is a fast that releases joy or enjoyment. The Old Testament fast was related so often to suffering… to the affliction of our body .. to the affliction of our soul. There was a suffering end to fasting and that is the paradigm that has taken root in church history. It is a suffering paradigm of count the cost and pay the price but I tell you there is a pleasure, an enjoyment paradigm that I believe belongs to the subject of fasting. The result of the bridegroom fast is we grow to love fasting… I really do believe that!
There is a book in the IHOP bookstore written by a Catholic monk called, “To Love Fasting.” It is a powerful little book on fasting and he was borrowing it from a well known document written about fasting and He said, “I want to call my book, “To Love Fasting,” and his premise is that is possible in the grace of God to love fasting. I believe that and I believe we can enjoy the grace of fasting to the degree where we actually lament the interruptions that come so we cannot be engaged in it.
When the Lord begins to establish you in a lifestyle of this .. He said this and I have understood this lamenting of the necessary interruptions because of different things in life that will cause your schedule to be interrupted. When I read that in this book I agreed with it and the Lord has helped me in the subject of fasting and I get into the rhythm and routine I have carried on for the last couple of years and when something interrupts it .. it is not like “Oh good I am on leave and go do business as usual.” I love that exhilarating high feeling that is related when the Spirit is resonating with Jesus and for those who are just at the beginning of this journey… you might be so afraid of fasting all you can think about is the negative side but the exhilaration of the human spirit where there is a holy addiction to where you get accustomed to it and I believe what this man said about lamenting the interruptions that are sometimes necessary to that.
I understand that just a little bit… to love fasting… our hunger to experience God and even to sense the presence of God upon our human spirit begins to dominate our lives in a surprising way. This hunger finds it’s expression in encountering the beauty of a bridegroom God through fasting and it is a strange paradox that we actually hunger to fast. I believe it is going to be a common experience to love fasting but I do not believe it will be the immediate experience… in the first few months but likely it will take a while before some the of the things are rearranged in our souls to where we begin to experience the grace of God in this way. I have done plenty of fasting where I did not experience any of this I am talking about but in the last 2 1/2 years or so the Lord has been touching me in a special way in this and I have just said, “Lord this is good….. this is not the rock pile called life… this is an awesome thing to be called to.” The seven benefits or rewards are related to spiritual intimacy and when we have a vision of these 7 benefits it does create a hunger and love for fasting. Without a vision of these 7 things or whatever number you might attribute to it fasting is associated with despair. We despair the idea but when we get the vision of what it does and a little bit of experience …. I tell you it changes the whole way we view it.
One of the things I know the Lord is calling me to is proclaim all the days of my life the vision of an exhilarated way to fast before the God and call multitudes to a fasted lifestyle and to hang before them the surprise that is awaiting them of actually being exhilarated in it and trying to convince them by the word and the Spirit that it is within reach for them and will change their life dramatically over time. I love that calling, at first I was a little perplexed by it but I want to do it and I want to call people to this all the days of my life because I believe in it.
Benefit #1 It tenderizes and sensitizes the human heart to freely receive more of God. It actually tenderizes the emotions to receive more in other words it increases our spiritual capacity …I say this typically as my summary statement of the bridegroom fast but I just want to say very definitively that it increases our capacity to receive. It tenderizes and sensitizes the heart. We receive increasingly… a supernatural ability to feel God. Beloved that is a stunning reality…I do not mean it increases.. automatically but over time a supernatural ability to feel and to experience God specifically His love and His beauty and the glory of His plan for us and when we feel His love for us and we feel loved back. When we feel a little bit of His beauty where we can see it and see our beauty in Him and we understand a little bit of the plan of God of the bridegroom, I tell you it is the foundation of the divine romance. This is the beginning of the superior pleasures of the gospel and it results in the anointing for the first commandment to be first grows in our lives.
It is the anointing for the first commandment to increasingly become first in our life. This is the fast that John the Baptist was focused upon. His fast was for the enlargement of his heart in God and the scripture say very clear that John did no miracles. Many people understand fasting and it is biblical (Matthew 17:21) fasting increases the power of God in your ministry but John fasted more than anybody with the exception of Anna that I know of in the scripture but he did no miracles at all and there are no records that Anna did any miracles. “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) Fasting is related to the release of miracles Gabriel appears to John’s Father and says, “He will be great in the sight of God. He will be great in the sight of God.’ “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15) Matthew 11:11, Jesus calls him the greatest man ever born of a woman… the one with the burning and shining heart. His heart was like the burning and shining lamp of John 5:35 and this man engaged in this first commandment focus of fasting ... he did not mighty miracles. “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. (John 5:35)
So though I believe in that focus of miracles it is not the one John the Baptist was engaged in. I want to be great before the Lord and that is a Godly thing to want to do….you do not have to have fame, fortune, or any kind of gifting or position to be great in God’s sight. All you have to have is heart that refuses to let go. I believe this bridegroom fast is part of John’s greatness… this tenderizing of his spirit.
Benefit #2 It illumines the mind with the Spirit of Revelation. It releases the Spirit of the revelation of the logos of the Word of God and sharpens our mind and understanding in the word …the Spirit of Revelation comes in the direct sense with the word. There is another dimension of the bridegroom fast is that the Acts 2:17, dreams and visions dimension which I would put into this category. The spirit of revelation increases. I have had a significant increase of spiritual dreams about Jesus related to the bridegroom, the king, and the judge since I began to engage in this fast. There is a Spirit of Revelation that our understanding is quickened whether from the word or whether from the subjective dreams and visions revealing things about the word. I have had more dreams about the Word of God, I have had maybe 7 or 8 of them.
I do not really know the exact number and I do not know if I ever had one before where the Lord is speaking to me about the word awakening my heart to the word and particularly the word as it relates to the forerunner ministry. There is nothing better than when Jesus preaches Jesus. That is what happened on the Emmaus road in Luke 24:32, Jesus appears to the disciples and it is Jesus preaching Jesus opening the hearts and setting them on fire. When He left they said, “Did not our hearts burn like fire within us?” The scripture says Jesus opened their understanding and that is what the bridegroom fast does. It opens the understanding, either direct study of the word when you are awake or the Lord begins to visit in dreams and visions. “And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32 )
There is nothing more powerful than when God reveals God through the word and it is enhanced through the bridegroom fast. Everything really begins with God revealing God to our spirit, that is really the beginning point. In John 17, Jesus said, “I will proclaim the Father’s name in order that you would have the love that the Father has for Me.” Here is the logic: “I am going to teach you, I am going to reveal the knowledge of God to you, and the result is you are going to love me more. The knowledge of God awakens the heart to love and it begins with this knowledge of God. I believe through fasting God grants divine perspective on life. It expands our view of life as a very powerful reality… little things more consistently appear little and big things more consistently appear big.
In our natural life is: little things appear big and big things appear little. What I mean is that big things like eternity…the end time harvest… the great judgments … the shaking of planet earth…that is around the corner. .those are big things. The average believer the vast majority.. that appears as very little. .. the idea that they will someday actually give an account before God in eternity is something they think about every year or two. Big things seem real little! Beloved we are at the end of the age… that is BIG but it really appears little to most believers. Little thing look real big… somebody steals $5,000 from you and that looks like colossal …like life ending with bitterness kind of thing. We are mistreated in powerful ways … no matter how much we are mistreated at the end of the day it is really little.
It really is compared to big things and I find that fasting enlarges my perspective of life. Life appears bigger.. the big picture becomes more clear… and effortlessly. It is a part of the reward of fasting. We are not as bogged down in the little picture…. there is a transcending in our understanding and I find that more often I have the ability to transcend the things that normally bog em down. My perspective is enlarge and I believe this would be the common testimony of people who have embraced the fasted lifestyle through history. We do not get lost in the pettiness that is so natural to every one of us. It is so natural for me to be lost in pettiness. Fasting enlarges our perspective and lifts us to a bigger view of reality. It is very very helpful especially in the understanding being enlarged in the realm of the beauty of God.
We see into the beauty realm of God….it is not only that but we see our own beauty in the Lord … our understanding is enlarged. An enlarged understanding changes everything about life…we put our cold heart in front of that bonfire and our heart gets larger in understanding and I tell you everything is different when our understanding is enlarged. God opens the realm of secrets to us…John 1:20… John laid his head on the Lord’s breast and the Lord spoke to him about Judas which was the first secret.. the first scandal in the apostolic company. We all know about Judas so it is not a big deal…but when Jesus whispered it to John it was a scandal beyond anything we could imagine. One of the twelve who did signs and wonders…is actually betraying Him is a massive powerful reality that Jesus spoke to him in its content. He laid his head on His breast and He began to speak things to John that He would not speak to others. “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)
THE SECRETS OF THE LORD
The secrets of the Lord belong to those who fear Him... there is an enlarging of our capacity to enter into the deep regions… the secret regions of God’s heart. A million dollars cannot get you into that realm, a billion…. you cannot buy your way… you cannot manipulate your way into the secret regions of God’s heart but I tell you that prayer and fasting brings us and escort us into those secret regions of His heart. The spirit searches even the deep thing of God and gives them to us and the Holy Spirit will take the things that belong to Him (I add the deep things of Jesus) and give them to the disciples.Beloved that is serious.
“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10) “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. (John 16:15) We are supernaturally enabled to see things we could never ever see. I want to peer into those secrets things that are found laying our head upon the breast of Jesus but fasting opens up he secrets realms of God’s heart. Just a little bit of it but a little bit with our little weak humanity goes a long way. When we get into eternity we will find out how much the secret region of God’s heart … how big it really is. A little bit of it goes a long way … God will begin to give those that are called to the forerunner ministry details of how to interpret His end time activity.. how to interpret His plans related to the bridegroom, the king, and the judge. Fasting is essential to the forerunner ministry because the forerunner must understand some of the details of how to interpret the bridegroom, the king, and the judge activities in a way that makes sense of it to other people.
Benefit #3 It enlarges our emotions. Particularly in relationship to righteouness… I am talking about.
The first point is that we are sensitized and tenderized and feel love but I am talking about right now in the realm of righteousness and to radical, righteous emotions, it says in Hebrews 1:8: “But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8) Jesus loves righteousness and He hates iniquity and I want to enter into that and feel what He feels about life. I want to feel more than loved and desired…. I want to feel hot emotions of love for righteous and hatred of iniquity. Our desires change, our emotional chemistry changes radically, not just in the realm of feeling love, that is the foundation… the number one point… but we begin to have zeal for Gods’ purpose and God’s ways….a zeal begins to lay hold of us.
David talked about this is Psalm 69:7-10, when he talked about zeal for His house consuming him and he relates it to fasting and he relates it also to his brothers and friends misunderstanding him…. he appeared as an alien and they despised him for his zeal for the things of God. He had a passion and a zeal for the righteousness and the purposes of God. Beloved God wants to release zeal into our spirit in a new way and this zeal for God, this zeal for righteouness, this zeal for His end time purpose. “Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children; Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting, that became my reproach.” (Psalm 69:7-10)
“Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:17) Jesus was quoting King David in John 2:17. What I am talking about is the power to live a truly focused life….a Holy Spirit birthed intensity of being. Beloved there is an intensity of our being that when all the energies of our being are gathered up by the Lord and focused in the direction in the will of God in a primary way. I do not mean that we do not have the capacity to experience and engage in lesser things because we need to do that.
We have to mow the lawn especially if both your sons move out…. you know… who is going to mow the lawn? There is the mundanness of life that we are still engaged in. I am not talking about an irresponsibility related to that but I am talking about a Holy Spirit birthed intensity of being that is a tremendous gift of God that very few human beings have. That God would grant this.. it is empowering our emotions. Another way to say it is it enhances our preoccupation with God as the primary source of our life. It is a preoccupation with God as primary… we live before the audience of one. This empowering our emotions … the first place we discern it is in this birthing of zeal in our spirit for righteousness and for the purpose of God.
Imagine living a life where the primary energies of your life are gathered together into one Holy Spirit birthed intense focus. I am not saying that we do not engage the secondary issues of life… we have to. God has ordained that… He wants us to it is biblical to do that. To be a person of one thing in the primary sense… and that is always understood when the Lord talks about that .. it is always understood that we are a person of one thing in the primary sense but there are secondary things we still engage in. He said this about Mary in Luke 10:42, when he is talking to Martha and says, “One thing this woman has given herself to one thing.” What a statement … it is not true in the technical sense… she still washed her clothes and interacted with people and did things but Mary above all things was a women of one thing as was King David.
THE ONE NEEDFUL THING
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42) “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4) King David was the same and that does not mean that David did not go to war… he did go to war and he was good at war but what he meant was the primary preoccupation above everything else …he was preoccupied with one thing and that was the beauty of the Lord. The last week we looked at Psalm 42:7 and deep calls unto deep. When we experience a little bit of depth it commands us … it catapults us …. it thrusts us into new realms of depths of God. This thing has a life of its own… it thrust us forth… it catapults us and commands us into deeper regions of intensity of the Lord. I am not talking about just human intensity of personality that comes out of brokenness.
There is a human intensity that is related to just religion which is related to brokenness. I am not talking about you having an extrovert personality, you have to talk loud, I am not talking about temperament, I am talking about a focus of intensity of our being that is a gift of God. Most human beings never touch that ever in their lives but God is opening up unto us a lifestyle to enter into that grace. Most believers are content to live the majority of their spiritual lives bored… they really are. They want things, they want stuff, more than anything else even if it is to be anointed in ministry. I tell you … you can be anointed in ministry and absolutely bored out of your mind … I know of several men of God who have large ministries and they have said to me with their own lips, “I am spiritually bored!” They have vast ministries with miracle power it.
Most believers are content to live most of their spiritual life bored. Just going through the motions, a little here and a little there, a little bit of ministry. They want to make a name and establish themselves and be used of God of course but I do not want to be content with less than being a man gripped by God primarily and I know that you do as well. This empowered emotions begins with this zeal for God but it is not only that… it touches emotional desires for sin. I believe in never having a wrong feeling.. I do not know if that realm exist and I do not know anybody who lives in it so that is not even the vision I am putting before you but I am talking about in a substantial way desire for sin diminishes. Desire related to circumstances….changes dramatically. Our response I have found and I don’t want to use myself as an example because I am at the beginning of the journey and I have only experienced this a little bit but I want to talk about the testimony of others through scripture.
There are some profound books on fasting through history… I am gathering quite a library of them and I had no idea so much was written on fasting it is not thousands of books but there are some pretty heavy duty books out there on fasting. I do not agree with all that are in the books, I eat the meat and throw out the bones….. just because it is in the book and the book is good does not mean that you buy everything.
You read it with discernment … you throw a lot out and you keep a lot. Our responses to circumstances, our responses to promotion and demotion, two opposite extremes become more and more the same response. I am not there where it is the same response but I have found in the last 2 1/2 years that I have been going after this thing with a certain diligence before … promotion … big opportunities and demotion the loss of opportunities is feeling more and more the same. It is not the same and I am not claiming that but it is getting closer and closer all the time. Traditionally in church history through the monastic movement this is called detachment and today the word detachment has a negative connotation like “detached from reality,” and what they mean is like detached from possessiveness and from living primarily as before people. They talk about detachment from… our identity is mostly established by what others say about us instead of what God says about us and a detachment from things as the primary source of our strength and joy. That is what they mean by that.
The word detachment is used negatively today but I like that word and in this detachment the ability to enjoy promotion but with an open hand … the Lord may give big things. Equally powerful is the power to refuse promotion… a profound example is John 6:15 they came, the nation came to make Jesus king by force. They said, “We will obey you… the army will yours…. the money will be yours, everything will be yours. The legislation and everything and He said, “No!”
“Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (John 6:15) He was unmoved because to Jesus the pay was the same whether you raise the dead or take a nap literally the pay is the same in reality before God if we do the will of God. The ability to refuse promotion out of the will of God most believers have no power to refuse or even discern a promotion outside of the will of God. A promotion is a promotion that blinds us with a certain sort of euphoria if it is big … it is like, “Wow! Yes! I mean let me pray about it.” Of course it will be yes in a minute and a half… we lose our ability to see promotion out of the will of God as actually distractions that weaken our hearts with God.
BERNARD OF CLARIVOUX
One of the most profound examples in history was a Catholic monk named Bernard of Clarivoux in the 1100’s he was born 1090 and died 1153 and is one of my favorite lives in church history. One of the most powerful men in the world as a little monk, a skinny little guy, but what I meant was he had just a small little sphere to start with and the king of France, Germany, and the king of Italy, three of the most powerful men on the earth besides the Pope, the four most powerful men in the earth would not act in a significant way without his blessing. These men would not act in a way that he would disapprove of….he would write them a letter an rebuke them and they would change their military strategies and make peace with the other nation. The four most powerful men in the earth were nearly disciples…of his. That is a little exaggerated but they followed his heart… this little Catholic monk in the valley of Clarivoux in France. They pressed him to make him Pope and he said, “No why should I be Pope when I have the nearness of God in my little hut over here?” So he refused to be bishop, he refused to be pope and said, “I will take one of my best guys, I have trained him for years, and he can be pope in my place.”
He picked him and the guy became Pope. It is not very often one guy votes and the guy gets in but Bernard says, “I refuse to be Pope. I don’t want to be Pope. I want to seek the Lord.” The reason I really like him … he has been a source of real inspiration for me… his major life book was the Song of Solomon. He taught it for years … this man was a man so committed to the bridegroom fast he understood the bridegroom fast in the 12 th century. He taught on it… he did not use that language but he taught on the fasted lifestyle before the beauty of the bridegroom God. Desires related to circumstances become the extreme ends we begin to respond more and more the same regardless what end we are on. Beloved that is serious freedom! When that begins to happen. We loose the energy we had for vengeance when we are mistreated. Our hearts, our emotions are enlarged is what I am talking about…. what bothers us changes.
What excites us changes, what delights us, what grips us, these things change, our emotions are changed powerfully in the pursuit of the beauty of a bridegroom . We begin to be distracted in a holy way by the pursuit of the Lord where we cannot do thing like we used to do them with the same kind of zeal we used to have for other things. I am not minimizing the necessity to engage ourselves in secondary things in life. I am talking in the poetic sense of life when I am talking in the poetic sense of life when I am talking about becoming a person of one thing. Promotion before people appears more as weak, vain, and temporary, and again I am not there but I have found a little bit more movement… I have found that a bunch of people really excited about what I am doing and offering something appears more weak than strong. It appears weaker than it used to appear… it appears more vain and more temporary. I am just a teeny bit on that but I want to throw it out there.
Our energies for these things diminish little by little. The bridegroom fast increases this sense of detachment as has been used historically from living primarily related to circumstances. Circumstances will still bother us but living primarily … taking our life cues as to how things are going externally. We do not want to live that way because we are slaves all the time and there is a higher way to live. Another thing about these circumstances… in the midst of this fast the problems do not necessarily disappear. Some say through prayer and fasting… problems go away and that really does work …there really are fasts in the grace of God where God uses them to change circumstances and we believe in those and we like that. Crisis events etc… breakthroughs of God’s power. I am taking about the everydayness of life… there is no guarantee the problems will disappear… there is no guarantee the answers will appear.
I am not saying that but rather they come into divine perspective. We live more as Holy Spirit honeymooners with Jesus….what I mean by that is we begin to be preoccupied with love more than problems. You take a young couple they just got married and someone says, their car broke and they says, “Fine we will work on it in a couple of weeks. So what?” Talking about being preoccupied with love. Problems fall into a different category… I do not mean they just fall into a different category. I do not mean they go away and are all answered but they feel different. When we are preoccupied with love smaller things appear small they really do. I thought this fasted lifestyle was bad news but I tell you it is good news to have grace to touch this even a little bit.
Benefit #4 It strengthens a deep sense of our spiritual identity. That is what we all want is it not? We want a greater revelation of our true self … who we really are in redemption as Son’s before a Father and a bride before the Son. The two primary identities of the redeemed. Sons of God children before the Father and the bride before Jesus. We want to know and feel our true identity… because I tell you when our true identity connects with us we are powerful and fearless. I believe one of the great shocks of the ages when the thief on the cross dies a few moments later he wakes up, “Today you are with Me in Paradise.” And he says, “I am a King! Why didn’t anybody tell me that… I would not have been ripping everybody off.. if I knew I was a king all along. I would have done it differently.” He wakes up and before him is the prospect of royalty and a resurrected body and eternal glory in the eternal city with the Son of God who is lovesick over him and I can imagine the thief saying, “I did not know any of this. I would have done it all different.” Beloved we can do it different on this side.
I do not know what is more powerful… which one of these… but when we connect and I am just connecting a little little bit but the more I do it … because I get this glorious tasks of teaching on Song of Solomon and Bride of Christ as my profession .. the last 10 years.. what an opportunity to get in the way of this. Sam Storms makes me teach on this! People flounder for years…without a sense of being anchored, without a sense of their bearings in life. The vast majority of the people of God do. They have an excessive preoccupation with themselves….which is totally natural … for you and for me. An excessive preoccupation with ourselves.. totally natural. It is supernatural not to have it. We should not be shocked when we meet people who have it… we are shocked when someone does not because it is totally supernatural to not have excessive preoccupation.
BECOMING A VOICE
We learn manners so we guard it and do not flaunt it or make demands on it but we are still totally obsessed with it. In our manners we restrict the expression of it but we are still obsessed and we still have an excessive obsession with ourselves even though through maturity of life we learn how to restrain the expression of it in our relationship with other people. What I mean is that we live enslaved to this idea of what we look like to other people and we are so hurt when we are not noticed even though we will never say it because we are polite and we have enough dignity to hide some of that. I tell you the bridegroom fast strengthens our identity with this stuff. It weakens the hold of jealousy, envy, and insecurity in our lives. It equips us to be more content to be a voice… I think of John the Baptist when he said, “I am a voice in the wilderness.” I know what it means to strive to be a face and manipulate to be a name in ministry. I have done enough of that in my day. I know what it means to strive to be a face and a name. John said, “I am a voice… I do not have to be known…that is not the point… I am just a voice.”
Do you know why? Because he heard the voice. When you hear His voice you are happy to be a voice because hearing the voice of the bridegroom in John 3:29, that was an issue of identity .. that did not just mean the Messiah is on the scene 10 miles down the road. He means more than that …he does mean the Messiah is in human form preaching openly now in Judea but it means more than that. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. (John 3:29) Hearing the voice of the bridegroom is an identity issue.. a powerful identity issue. John the Baptist was a voice because he heard a voice he was content to be a voice instead of a name and a face. He had an inward tranquility of joy and gladness unrelated to having honor in the nation because the nation said, Matthew 11:18, they said, “John is demonized.”
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon.’ (Matthew 11:18) The consensus of the nation at the end of his ministry was that he was dangerous and demonized. Beloved in the vernacular of our day and the sense of that would have been a very painful thing to have people think you are demonized. I tell you a lot of the nation did at the end of his life he said, “My heart is filled with joy.” John that must have been pretty painful to have people think you are demonized. John says, “I do not live by their voice… I live by another voice.” I understand living by the voice of the people around us … I do it … we all do it but I want to live by it less and less. I want to live by another voice.
Multitudes said John was demonized. He was dangerous, he was deceived, and he a deceiver is what they said about him. He spent his whole life.. probably he began at 12 years old to begin to live this wilderness life, (nobody can know) and he goes to the age of 30 or so. Eighteen years of living a fasted lifestyle in the wilderness for 18 months of ministry and the gratitude of the nation to a fasting and praying man who was the greatest man ever born to a woman is to say, “He is demonized.” That is what the people of God said. Beloved that is a serious thing and he gives his final word in scripture in John 3:29, “I have heard the voice of the bridegroom and my heart is filled with joy.” He gives a very critical next statement in John 3:30, “He must increase and I must decrease.” John meant several things when he said that… he meant Jesus would take over the primary place in ministry. He said he was called to decrease and that was fine with him because he had heard a voice that gives him the power to decrease. More than just losing his sense of being the main man on the scene before the nation. I am convinced that John knew he was going to die and that was what he was also saying. It was his final statement in scripture and I believe John knew his death was just around the corner.
He knew the nation thought he was demonized…. John …. 18 months is all that you have.. preaching out in the hot sand never was invited to the temple, never addressed the Sanhedrin by invitation, never spoke in Gamaliel’s school like Paul the apostle was trained in. None of those things, the great teacher of Israel, out in a heap of sand… no one invited him to anything ever… the greatest man ever to walk planet earth besides Jesus…fasting and praying. Eighteen months his light is going out… imagine him saying, “For all the labor I did for this nation of helping to bring the awareness of the bridegroom to the nation …. they call me demonized and never open any opportunities to me at all! If I meet him I will ask him, “John what did that feel like?
“I recorded it … I had joy in my spirit! ” “How? Living in this esthetic lifestyle in the wilderness, rejected by the nation, practically not just from the governmental leaders, but never invited to any positions of honor of anything! How?” “I heard a voice! I knew who I was.” When you hear a voice you are happy to be a voice instead of a name or a face. A main result of that is fearlessness. I believe that fasting after this lovesick bridegroom as the anointing of the first commandment begins to grow in this a fearlessness begins to lay hold of our spirit that is related to a sense of contentment… a sense of detachment from living by our circumstances. When we hear the voice of a bridegroom it changes what we want… and what we fear losing also changes. When our desires change our fears change. What we are afraid of losing today will be different in ten years. We are afraid of losing a certain amount of things today but in 10 years the things we are afraid of losing will be different. The list begins to be more filled with things you cannot lose. Like the anointing of the spirit on your heart before God. No man can take that away from you… no Herod can take the anointing of God off your heart to love God.
Nobody can imprison you and take the Spirit of Revelation off of you. Nobody can cause you not to be great in the sight of the Lord. The things we fear losing changes… I find a new resolve.. a budding of fearlessness beginning to crop it’s head up here and there. A strength and resolve to take a stand…in a way that I know I will lose out with good men. I am not trying to pick a fight but I know I will lose out … I find it easier and it makes more sense and it is not as frightening because what I fear losing is changing a little bit, not a lot right now, but I have hopes in the next 10-20 years for it to increase. These changed emotions, this new identity, insulates us from this profound discontentment related to natural things. This profound discontentment. These are the first four benefits and rewards of the bridegroom fast … they are real things which touch our hearts in God.
God I want the reward! I want to enter into this and I want my weak heart to enter into the life of this in a greater way. Lord we love you and God I want the things I fear losing to change. I do not want to lose out on being great before God. I do not want to lose the anointing of tenderness.
I do want to feel tenderness… I do not want to lose those things Lord. Those are the things I fear but no man and no demon can take them from me. God they are in your hands and I ask you Lord to give me more of these things that I am preaching beyond my experience. I want to walk in what I am flirting with and thinking about right now and am barely touching.. I want to be a man that is a burning and a shining fire like John the Baptist.
Technically.. I don’t love fasting.. .I love the feeling in my spirit brings!