Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reset to God

The last thing he remembered was Jesus saying, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray."

Peter had no idea how long ago that was.

Judging by the look on Jesus' face, it was awhile ago.

Jesus rubbed his weary face, and Peter noticed the lines around his eyes, indicating that he was deeply troubled. But why?

Jesus had taken him, James, and John a little further then the other disciples into the garden, but he had also told them to wait while he prayed. But he said more. What was it?

Peter blinked furiously, trying to clear his sleep addled brain. That's right. Jesus had said, "My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death. Remain here, and watch with me."

He stifled a moan. Well, he hadn't done a good job of that. Honestly, he had tried to pray, and spend that time with the Father.

But sleep had been calling out to him.

Next thing he knew, Jesus had shaken him and the others awake, an unreadable look in his eye. Peter felt like he was acting stranger than usual tonight.

"So, you could not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," Jesus said.

What did that even mean?

"Watch with me while I pray," Jesus said once again. All Peter could do was nod. This time, he would stay awake. This time he would make it. This time he would commune deeply with the Father.

This time...he would...not...fall...asleep...

Based on Matthew 26:36-42

During a Bible study this week, my pastor briefly touched on fasting. He talked about how important it is for Christians, and to look through the New Testament. Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, and the believers in general all fasted regularly to get that set apart time with God. I thought these were all good points.

However, the only thing running through my mind was "Fasting - Time with God or a homicide in the making?" I don't handle not eating very well. I get grumpy. Who doesn't though? What's important is that time that's all about God that would normally be spent doing something else.

Then I started thinking some more...

My mom and I had a conversation about fasting a couple weeks ago. In reference to the "Daniel Fast," she brought up the excellent point that it wasn't a fast for them. It was their way of life. It was how they lived. It was who they were. They didn't force themselves to eat sprouts and drink mineral water to help them set aside more time for God. It was their life. They would fast, which is going without food, to do that.

Which reminded me about something we did in the youth group several years ago. As a youth group, we did a forty day fast. Only we didn't all fast food for forty days. We split the days up among the whole youth group so that every day was covered by at least one or two people. Everyday we had to fast something. Didn't matter what. You could "fast" TV, books, video games, sweets,food. Basically anything that takes your time, and refocus that onto God.

So let me say firmly. I believe in and support traditional food fasting. It is absolutely important in the life and walk of a believer.

What I'm talking about today is going without all those other things you feed on, and giving that time to God. You might be sitting there even more confused because of the story I chose to start my blog off with today. Peter had good intentions (like us), but he lacked that follow through (ahem, like us). If he had given of his time and physical need to sleep - fasted it, as you will - then he wouldn't have awakened to find Jesus standing over him.

Now lets apply this to us. For instance, say you watch 24 hours of TV a week. You may fast twice a week, but if television is the thing consuming you, then the forty minutes of time you spend watching TV while fasting isn't helping you focus on God. What about taking one day a month, and instead of watching mindless television for three or four hours, you read your Bible, worshiped, and prayed?

Awesome things.

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1

I'm not saying that books, television, marathon board game nights, or even sleep are bad things. I'm saying that there are times, days, hours, or even moments we when should fast, so to speak, from those things. Setting something else aside, and giving that time to God is the part that I'm focusing on today. And in today's culture, giving up those things for an hour or two will go a long way in your walk with God.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

It's that purposeful reset of your mind to the things of God that will make a huge difference.

V. Joy Palmer

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