For the year of 2016 I have felt a special call from the Lord to challenge the good folks at Warren Church of Christ to reach beyond “knowing God.” Because of this, each month we will encourage one another to act our very small steps that put our faith of God into action.
Here is a quick look at what several people, including myself, will be doing this year as a part of our Monthly Spiritual Involvement Challenge:
January – Fast for one lunch each week.
February – Be a blessing to someone you have never blessed before.
March – Get lively for God.
April – Attend Sunday School.
May – Remember that freedom is not free.
June – Pay for someone’s meal.
July – Show Christian hospitality.
August – Send a card to someone in the 2016 WCC directory.
September – All-in Sunday.
October – Volunteer and support the Bread of Life Food Pantry.
November – Write your own personal Psalm to God.
December – Give generously.
*Leading up to each month there will be a detailed conversation about each topic. Check out our monthly newsletter, listen for key insights during the sermons, I will even be shooting out text messages…speaking of that – shoot me a text message with any questions about the challenges!
Before I give a little more information about our January challenge, I thought I would remind everyone that on December 4th, WCC will have a special day. On this Sunday we will have special testimonies from several people who accepted challenges. We will even spend some time recognizing those who participated in all twelve Monthly Spiritual Challenges.
January: Fast for one lunch each week.
Fasting can draw you closer to God. I have been encouraging the WCC family to choose one lunch each week (you are welcome to choose any meal of the day) and make God the center of your thoughts every time your stomach growls. For some of our friends, we understand that fasting from food is not a healthy or realistic option, so keep in mind that you are not off the hook! You can choose one or two other things like television, music, books, Facebook, eating out, etc. as your fast once each week. A lot of Christians choose to think that a lengthy fast is not beneficial so they try short fasting…kind of like what we are trying.
There are a lot of benefits.
Fasting can definitely expand your compassion. It is easy to talk about the problem of world hunger, but the physical impact and emotional awareness is heightened when we do without food.
Fasting is a way of preparing to meet a major challenge. People in the Bible who faced great trials and troubles often dealt with them through prayer and fasting. Whenever special courage, insight, or strength was needed, they turned to prayer combined with fasting.
Fasting helps us appreciate things more. One man who fasted over a weekend broke his fast with a simple meal of soup. “After not eating for two days, the soup tasted unbelievably delicious. Every spoonful was like eating from an entire banquet. Prior to my fasting experience I would have merely eaten the soup without any awareness of its flavor, texture, or taste.” We can appreciate the ordinary!
Fasting is a way of following the example of Christ and the apostles. Do you remember what Jesus did before He began His earthly ministry? Prior to His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting (Matthew 4:1-2). And Jesus expected His followers to fast. He said, “when you fast,” not “if you fast,” in Matthew 6:16.
I hope you take me up on this challenge. Maybe you are considering fasting for the first time or you are an expert at sacrificing a meal in honor of our Worthy God. Whichever the case may be, I am praying that God teaches you something through the process.