“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” -Proverbs 25:28
One of The Collective's core values is fasting. We fast corporately the first three days of each month to pursue God’s plans for us and to pursue intimacy with Him. Recently, members in our body have been sensing an urgency to fast, and for a longer period of time, as a way for the Lord to prepare and train His church for what’s ahead.
To honor what is being heard from heaven and to ensure we don’t miss out on how God is interacting with us, The Collective is calling for a corporate fast with an emphasis on self-control for the entire month of September.
What does this mean for you?
First, as you read below, ask the Lord for guidance and conviction:
Are you called to fast for the first 3 days of September, for the entire month, or something different (i.e. 10 days, 21 days)?
Second, in what areas of your life can self-control be strengthened to increase your intimacy with Jesus? How can increased self-control equip you to thrive as a Christian during this turbulent time in history?
Third, whether you are a mature believer, a baby Christian or somewhere in the middle, what kind of fasting will help you reach your goal of intimacy with God and to be strengthened in self-control?
You may be asking, why does a call to fast for self-control apply to me?
As Christians today, being immersed in American culture often finds us in conflict with our Kingdom values. Immorality, perversion, idol worship, lawlessness, Godlessness, corruption and compromise abound. Sin has become normalized, including within God’s church. Society has become desensitized to abortion, the sanctity of marriage, the value of family, sex trafficking, and even satan worship. While as Christians, we believe in Jesus, desire to walk in relationship with Him, and aspire to live for Him, the temptations to fall into indoctrinating American culture and sin surrounds us from all sides. Add to that the polarized political climate in the USA, the upcoming November election, religious persecution, social unrest, racial tension, uncertainty about Covid-19, mask mandates, social distancing, loss of freedoms, the country’s divided opinion about how to approach the virus, and the emotional toll the quarantine is taking on us as individuals, families, professionals and humanity.
The temptation to lose self-control, lose hope and react based on feelings like fear and anger continue to increase in our nation and across the globe as humanity ventures into unchartered territory as well as darkness. Christians once strong in the faith are struggling with feelings of defeat, being overwhelmed, uncertain and frustrated.. Some are even walking away from God in this time. However, there is Hope in midst of the storm. His name is Jesus Christ and through Him all things are possible. Because Jesus has already defeated satan and we co-heir with Him, as believers we are also victorious in Him. However, until Jesus returns, the spiritual battle with darkness will continue, as will the Great Commissioning for souls.
Now, more than ever in our lifetime, we have to be ready defensively and offensively to represent the Gospel. The Biblical account of Daniel illustrates how circumstances contrary to our convictions can easily enslave us into bondage if our eyes are not fully fixed on the Lord.
In the Book of Daniel, the evil King Nebudchadnezzar defeated Jerusalem and brought Daniel and other young men of Judah’s royal family back to Babylon as captives. In Chapter 1 we see how, in an attempt to reprogram Daniel’s Jewish beliefs to Babylon’s beliefs, Nebudchadnezzar ordered that Daniel and his three friends be trained in the language and literature of Babylon for three years. Nebudchadnezzar even changed their names to Babylonian names to further scrub their Jewish identities. The beliefs and culture of the Babylonians were much different than those of the Jews: they worshipped multiple gods; they were lovers of self, controlling and immoral; and it wasn’t priests but magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers who were spiritual counsel in the king’s palace.
Can you imagine?
Although you know Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life ... imagine being hostage in a culture where your beliefs are in conflict with everything surrounding you. Escape is not an option. So, what do you do?
Do you forsake your belief in Christ and assimilate into a way of life you know is wrong? Or, do you retain your belief in Christ and refuse to compromise your faith?
Despite Nebudchadnezzar’s plan, Daniel came to Babylon with a firm belief in the Sovereignty of the One, True God of Israel.
So, what did Daniel do in response to being taken captive in a culture counter to his faith where the intent was to indoctrinate him and get him to compromise his beliefs?
Daniel first submit his appetite to self-control.
Daniel 1:8 reads, “But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods.”
Instead, Daniel requested only vegetables and water for ten days to prove that he and his three friends would not become pale and thin on this “diet.” Scripture says,
“At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So, after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others. God gave these four young men unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:15-17).
Not only are none of our current worldly circumstances a surprise to God, but in Him we have strategies to shine brightly and thrive during such tumultuous, dark times.
Like Daniel, we must submit ourselves to self-control.
Self-control is Kingdom behavior. Jesus exercised self-control when satan tempted Him in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). Self-control is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV).
In Greek, a sound mind, called “sophronismos,” is defined as “discipline, that is, self-control.” To have self-control is to be disciplined and to have a sound mind. When our soul (mind, will and emotions) is subjected to discipline so too becomes our body, and we are equipped for victory in any circumstance, just as Daniel was.
The wisdom of Daniel to deny his flesh by fasting so that he wouldn’t forget who he was or make compromises that would defile him strengthened him physically, mentally and intellectually. Not only that, but God honored Daniel spiritually, which gave him favor with his enemy. Because Daniel had self-control he thrived as a captive to an evil king without wavering in his faith in God. If we are willing, fasting as Daniel did is also a Biblical strategy for today that allows God to teach us, prepare us, strengthen us, protect us and sustain us so we do not waver in our faith or lose peace in difficult circumstances.
As Christians, the time is now to practice our faith through fasting for self-control and to be ready in all circumstances. Even if we are mature in self-control, now is a great time to sharpen it. If we want our self-control to increase, now is a great time to train.
Fasting is for the spiritually hungry.
Are you ready?
On behalf of the Collective, I invite you to join us in the September corporate fast for self-control beginning Tuesday, September 1st for any length of time and in whatever way you feel led to until 5pm on Wednesday, September 30th.
Heavenly Father, thank you for each person who is reading this and seeking your strategy to fast for self-control. In the name of Jesus, I pray that your Holy Spirit would speak with conviction and clarity to the heart of each person. We invite you to examine our hearts and reveal where our self-control needs to be strengthened and what we need to do to get there. Thank you that we can trust your Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path to show us which way to go. Thank you that you are faithful even when we are not, God. Thank you that we can trust you to be with us each step into unchartered territory and through the darkness. Thank you for the promise of Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Help us to learn how to fast and pray in the spirit of Daniel, full of belief and self-control. Amen.
In love and with great expectation,
Reflections and Fasting Tips below
Invite the Holy Spirit!
1. When it comes to self-control, in what area do you need to be strengthened?
Mind – anxiety, negativity, depression
Will – over indulgence, giving up, giving in
Emotions – (reacting to) anger, fear, unbelief
2. What are the distractions in your life that weaken your self-control?
Are you willing to give any of them up for a time of fasting?
3. How will you fast for self-control?
21-Day Daniel fast – no meat, no tasty bread, no wine, no oils for skin (Daniel 10:3)
Partial fast – give up chosen foods or drinks for determined time
Water fast – water only
Non-food fast – unholy things such as foods, items, people, places, practices, idols (Joshua 3:5)
Something else – skip a meal, don’t eat after 6pm or before 6am, etc.
STRATEGIES FOR FASTING
Pray during meal times to increase intimacy with God
Spend time in the Word
Meditate on Scripture for encouragement in this season. Speak it over yourself and others!
Find an accountability partner
If you have a moment of weakness, don’t give up! Start again!
“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4