Category Archives: Fasting

The Nazirite Vow

I find the law (instructions) of the Nazirites to be very interesting to study, albeit briefly today. Many of us have heard of John the Baptist or Samson being Nazirite from birth, but in most cases it was intended to be for a limited time. The word Nazirite means separation, as in separation from the world. It is a vow that is intended to help us focus on being holy or set apart for the Lord.

Normally, the Lord allows drinking of wine and strong drink in moderation. Yeshua drank wine and even converted water into wine as His first miracle. However, wine in excess leads to much sin. Without debating too much why abstaining from strong drink was part of the Nazirite vow, we can certainly see that if we vow to avoid something to honor the Lord, we should take it very seriously. They were to avoid any consumption of grapes or grape skins, not just wine. This is a good parallel to demonstrate our approach to things which displease the Lord, such as sin. When He says to avoid sin, we should go far from it and take care not to rationalize how close to a sin we can get and still “be acceptable to the Lord”.

Perhaps in regards to the hair it is a way of separating ourselves from the focus on personal grooming. A separation from the shallow focus on how we look to other people.

Without dwelling too much on the remainder, which you can read for yourself, I think we can also consider that a believer and follower of Yeshua may want to take a vow of holiness or separation from time to time. It may not look exactly like the Nazirite vow, but let us take heart in supporting them if it is well founded. If someone wants to abstain, or “fast”, from alcohol for a time to honor the Lord… why should we discourage them.  Generally we would want to test that what we are abstaining from is consistent and not contradictory with the Biblical teaching. For example, I would not recommend abstaining from prayer… that separates us from the Lord, not from the world to draw nearer to the Lord. I would not abstain from helping others. You get the point.

Numbers 6:1-21

Law of the Nazirites

     1Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD, 3he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4‘All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.

      5‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.

      6‘All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person. 7‘He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8‘All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD.

      9‘But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day. 10‘Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 11‘The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head, 12and shall dedicate to the LORD his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation was defiled.

      13‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 14‘He shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering, 15and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering. 16‘Then the priest shall present them before the LORD and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering. 17‘He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 18‘The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings. 19‘The priest shall take the ram’s shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 20‘Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.’

      21“This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the LORD according to his separation, in addition to what else he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation.”

If you or someone you know decides to take a vow of separation from the world, please pray and consider carefully. Take care not to make it so complex and so burdensome that you can not manage it. (I believe this may be why the Lord was so specific in the Nazirite vow… so men would not make it more complicated by adding their own rules.) It is better to not make a vow to the Lord than to make one and then not complete it fully.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

    4When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

However, His grace abounds for those who have right heart and are seeking Him. If we stumble, we can repent and ask forgiveness. Seeking separation from the world and to be set apart for the Lord is good indeed. It will draw us nearer to Him.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

To Whom Shall We Go For Help?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed because of a difficult situation you face? Has there been a time when you felt that there was no way you can resolve the situation by yourself? I sure have. I believe most of us have felt that way at one time or another. To whom shall we go for help when we feel like the situation is bigger than we can handle on our own? Turn to God. He is at the same time our loving Father and our all powerful Creator.  He wants to help and He wants us to ask Him for help.

Psalm 35

Prayer for Rescue from Enemies.

A Psalm of David.

     1Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me;
Fight against those who fight against me.

      2Take hold of buckler and shield
And rise up for my help.

      3Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me;
Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

      4Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life;
Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.

      5Let them be like chaff before the wind,
With the angel of the LORD driving them on.

      6Let their way be dark and slippery,
With the angel of the LORD pursuing them.

      7For without cause they hid their net for me;
Without cause they dug a pit for my soul.

      8Let destruction come upon him unawares,
And let the net which he hid catch himself;
Into that very destruction let him fall.

      9And my soul shall rejoice in the LORD;
It shall exult in His salvation.

      10All my bones will say, “LORD, who is like You,
Who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him,
And the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?”

      11Malicious witnesses rise up;
They ask me of things that I do not know.

      12They repay me evil for good,
To the bereavement of my soul.

      13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.

      14I went about as though it were my friend or brother;
I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.

      15But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together;
The smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me,
They slandered me without ceasing.

      16Like godless jesters at a feast,
They gnashed at me with their teeth.

      17Lord, how long will You look on?
Rescue my soul from their ravages,
My only life from the lions.

      18I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

      19Do not let those who are wrongfully my enemies rejoice over me;
Nor let those who hate me without cause wink maliciously.

      20For they do not speak peace,
But they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.

      21They opened their mouth wide against me;
They said, “Aha, aha, our eyes have seen it!”

      22You have seen it, O LORD, do not keep silent;
O Lord, do not be far from me.

      23Stir up Yourself, and awake to my right
And to my cause, my God and my Lord.

      24Judge me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness,
And do not let them rejoice over me.

      25Do not let them say in their heart, “Aha, our desire!”
Do not let them say, “We have swallowed him up!”

      26Let those be ashamed and humiliated altogether who rejoice at my distress;
Let those be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves over me.

      27Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication;
And let them say continually, “The LORD be magnified,
Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.”

      28And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness
And Your praise all day long.

I am always inspired by David in that he praises God even while he is still in the middle of difficult circumstances… still facing what seems like an overwhelming number of enemies.

What situations are you facing that you feel are too much for you to solve on your own? Have you asked God for His help yet? He wants to hear from His children and He wants to help. Bring your concerns no matter how big before God and ask Him to help you.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

How Can I Proclaim Christ When People Come Against Me?

The more consistently and more widely I share the good news of Jesus Christ and the truth of scripture revealed in the Bible, the more I see a consistent set of responses from those who hear it.

  • Some will indeed hear the message and either be encouraged or be led to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Each person who finds this path is cause for celebration!
  • Some engage in genuine discussion of facts, evidence, and application of scripture. We can have a civil discussion regarding the facts and evidence of the gospel.
  • Sadly, there are also some who react with anger and hostility. They are not interested in listening but have already made up their minds. When you demonstrate the error of their logic, they do not admit that they are wrong and choose instead attack the messengers personally.

Paul encountered this same range of responses from people when he proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago. There is no new “modern” response to the message of Jesus Christ. We can learn much from studying the Bible and all that God reveals in it regarding how those who went before us handled these situations.

Acts 14:19-23

     19But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe. 21After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Some Jews actually came perhaps 130 miles to hinder the work of Paul. It was not enough just that they rejected Jesus. They felt they had to stop the message of Christ so no one else would accept the message either. They did not win on facts and evidence, miracles were happening where Paul went with the message of Christ. Those who opposed Jesus went to the most brutal response they could get away with… in this case stoning Paul in an attempt to kill him.

What was Paul’s response to such hatred and persecution? Did he stop proclaiming Jesus? No! He got up, moved on and gave glory to God by accepting and teaching that those who proclaim the good news of Jesus will face much tribulation. He continued to do the work of Christ, appointing elders for every church and commending them to the Lord with prayer and fasting.

What a remarkable servant of Christ! I can only hope to follow in the example of Paul in whatever opportunity I have to overcome opposition to the sharing of the gospel. Paul demonstrating true faith in Christ. He was willing to die to share the gospel. He stopped at nothing, regardless of the level of resistance he faced.

What resistance are you facing in your life that discourages you from sharing the gospel? What can you learn from Paul’s response to persecution that you can apply in your life?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Earnestly Seek The Lord To Reveal His Gifts And Purpose For Your Life

Those of us who are true followers of Christ are all part of one body. We are to work together for the glory of His kingdom, not fight amongst ourselves to each scratch out our own kingdom by our own strength.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

      12For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

It is a wonderful and awesome thing to watch when we see our fellow Christians living out the gifts and purposes that God has created them for and working together as a body of Christ to bring glory to God’s kingdom instead of creating our own selfish kingdoms. We see such an example in Romans 13:1-12.

      1Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

      4So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5When they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper. 6When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11“Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

It was through fasting and prayer and ministering to the Lord that Saul and Barnabus received their guidance from the Holy Spirit. They were not busy going about their own pursuits, but rather actively seeking and honoring God when they heard from Him.

A group of believers gathered together in prayer and fasting and laid hands on them to send them on their way. Their mission was one appointed from the Holy Spirit and that was important as they encountered spiritual resistance along the way. It was the power of God that allowed Saul (also Paul) to overcome the enemy who was coming against them… and what a powerful sight that must have been for those who saw it! It was enough for the proconsul to believe in Christ Jesus.

When God appoints you on a mission and you faithfully seek to fulfill it, He will provide the path and power to successfully complete it!

Have you heard from God what your gifts and purpose are? Have you earnestly sought after Him in prayer and fasting? Have you taken time to even ask Him and then listen for a response? Do you study His word and apply it to your life? Do you come humbly before Him in prayer? If not, challenge yourself to start today. Do not wait for tomorrow. Make time for prayer with our Creator consistently as if it is as important as the very physical food we eat… because it is that important.

Do not dismiss to easily the possibility that Satan is coming against you when you try to obey God’s commands and live for Him. Satan will absolutely come against you. With God’s help you will overcome! Gather together with other believers in fasting and prayer to seek God’s guidance and blessing for your life.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Put New Wine In Old Wineskins

Jesus teaches in Matthew 9:14-17 about the need to accept the good news of the gospel He brings, without holding on to the religious rituals that the people had gotten used to under leadership of the Pharisees. The new covenant builds on the foundation of the old covenant, and leads people away from onerous man-made rules. Instead, we are called to accept Jesus as lord and savior and follow Him… to accept His offer of salvation through grace.

14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast[f] like we do and the Pharisees do?”

15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

When you accept Jesus Christ, you must leave man-made rules and requirements behind. It is not only the Pharisees long ago, but even many churches today that have created and maintain extra rules beyond what God commands. In some cases they are the basis for different denominations of faith in Jesus Christ.

You can not accept the grace of Jesus Christ and then require yourself to execute a bunch of rules made by men. It does not work… like putting new wine in old wineskins will burst the wineskins.

Focus on knowing the will of God and following Jesus Christ. When you serve and follow Christ it absolutely changes your behavior and attitude and you become more like Him and less like the world.

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Prayer and Fasting

Jesus provides specific guidance on prayer and fasting in Matthew 6:5-18. Prayer and fasting are intended to be part of a personal relationship with God, not something intended for show or attention before men.

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,[a]
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,[b]
    but rescue us from the evil one.[c]

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair[d] and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

God does not want us to perform “religious” activities like prayer or fasting as displays for men. He wants us to develop relationship with Him through these activities by doing them privately.

Jesus lays out in simple instructions the way we should come before God in prayer. It is not about memorizing and repeating words. Instead let the words of Jesus guide us in our approach to prayer before our holy God. Focus first on God… on His kingdom… on His will.  Then ask Him for our daily needs and provision. He intends for us to come before Him every day… not once in awhile. As an extension of our daily needs Jesus guides us specifically to go beyond our physical needs and to ask for forgiveness and for help to resist temptation and the evil one. Satan is real. He is not a metaphor. We need Jesus’ help daily to resist Satan and the traps he lays out for us.

Jesus also reminds us in this scripture that being forgiven by God goes hand-in-hand with forgiving others who you believe have sinned against you. This forgiveness does not mean you endorse or agree with what they did. It means you will not hold a grudge or hold bitterness against them for something in the past. If they wholeheartedly repent you accept them back joyfully and relationship is restored. Even for those who choose not to repent, you should be careful not to harbor bitterness in your heart. Bitterness hurts most the one who holds it.

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