“Jesus also used this illustration: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.’”(NLT)
Today’s One Year Bible reading in the New Testament contains five parables concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. They are powerful illustrations of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. Verse 34 says that Jesus never spoke to the crowds without using parables.
During a season of fasting and prayer the Kingdom of Heaven becomes front and center. It takes on a priority when you give more attention to prayer and God’s Word. Jesus illustrates it wonderfully in the verse above. A woman takes yeast and puts it in the flour and it permeates every part of the dough. This is why prayer and fasting is so important. The Kingdom is to permeate every part of your life—your thinking, your family, your health, your finances, your relationships, your view of the world, your purpose in this world, etc. This Sunday will conclude our 21-day journey of prayer and fasting. I hope your life has been changed, at least “permeated” with the Kingdom. I would encourage you to make fasting a part of your life. Consider taking several days a month throughout this year and fast and pray. It will keep you focused and will keep your heart on fire.
“The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it…The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”(NLT)
This passage in Matthew 13 is a portion of the parable known as the Sower and the Seed. Jesus gives us great insight to the process of preaching and evangelism and how God’s word works and the reasons it doesn’t work. When people hear the word and don’t understand it, Satan comes to steal the word from their hearts. When others hear the word and understand it, they produce a harvest. The key is in understanding the Word of God. Our season of fasting and prayer heightens the spiritual senses to perceive otherwise hidden things. It creates an alertness spiritually and allows you the ability to have insight to God, His Word, and what the Holy Spirit is doing. According to Jesus, when you understand, you will produce an incredible harvest. May this year be The Year of Blessing and increase in your life as you continue to pursue God through fasting and prayer.
“But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you, For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.” (NLT)
One of the powerful effects of fasting is the supernatural ability to cast out demons by the Spirit of God. This does not apply only to individuals who are demon-possessed, but situations, families, neighborhoods, cities, anywhere Satan is manifesting and exercising his influence. But I think there are far too few Christians who are doing so. They do not recognize who they are and the authority they have been given.
I recently saw a movie of the Saxon hordes invading England. The leader of the invasion, upon seeing King Arthur, said, “Finally, a man worth killing.” He had finally come upon an opponent whom he deemed worthy enough to engage in battle. My friend, Satan is an opponent that you and I must confront. There is clear evidence from scripture that you will emerge from fasting a spiritually stronger person. It is time to engage. It is time to cast out. It is time to advance the kingdom of God.
“Then God said to Jacob, ‘Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.’” (NLT)
Jacob has been on an uneasy journey and it’s time to settle down. There are two significant things that take place in his life at this time. First, God repositions him. Second, God renames him. His previous temporary home had been a place of contention. But it’s time to move on from turmoil to Bethel (house of God). Jacob told everyone in his household to rid themselves of idols. Moving to the place God has for you will require a new level of consecration. Verse 4 says concerning the idols, “he buried them.” It’s time to bury past ways, past sins, and past hindrances. Second, God says that he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, the name given him by the angel in chapter 32. It’s time to be who God called you to be. Wear it, walk in it, and live up to it. When God renames him He also reveals His name in verse 11: “Then God said, ‘I am El-Shaddai—God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply…” As we finish the last leg of our prayer and fasting season, let God re-position you, rename you, reveal Himself to you, and then you will enter a time of fruitfulness and multiplication to fulfill God’s purpose in your life.
“This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.” (NLT)
This is a day of reckoning for Jacob. He hadn’t seen his brother, Esau, in years. In fact, the last time they had anything to do with each other was just after Jacob deceived his brother and Esau was out to kill him. Now, Jacob is returning home and has to face his brother. On the eve of this meeting Jacob has contrived a plan to avoid total destruction by separating his family and his herds, which brings us to the verse above: “This left Jacob all alone…” This is where God needs to get us sometimes so He can talk to us. Our season of fasting and prayer is time set aside to meet with God. Have you had an alone time with God yet? Our 21-day season is set to expire this Sunday evening. Between now and then purpose to meet alone with God for at least an hour. He may just change your life as He did Jacob’s.
“Then He touched their eyes and said, ‘Because of your faith, it will happen.’” (NLT)
Jesus had just raised a girl from the dead and two blind men started following Him. They cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” When Jesus arrived at the house where He was staying the two blind men entered as well, eager for the Master to touch them. Jesus questioned them, “Do you believe I can make you see?” They responded affirmatively. Then our verse in Matthew 9:29 takes place. I believe Jesus’ proclamation to the blind men applies to us today: “Because of your faith, it will happen.” During our 21 days of fasting and prayer expect your eyes to be opened. Expect to see things you’ve never seen before. Expect to see things you’ve been praying and dreaming of. Expect God to do what only He can do. Remember, because of your faith, IT WILL HAPPEN!!!
“When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!’”
I would think that it would be somewhat difficult to awe the Son of God. After all, the Creator of the World has seen and done some rather amazing things. What did Jesus hear to cause Him to marvel? A Roman officer, a centurion, came to Him to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus agreed to come and heal the man. The officer referred to his unworthiness for Jesus to come to his house and then mentioned his understanding of authority. Rather than coming to his house he said this to Jesus, “only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” It was this request that amazed Jesus. The faith that the centurion exhibited captured the attention of Jesus…and it will capture the attention of heaven today. During this season of prayer and fasting for 21 days you and I should expect an increase of faith. I would encourage you to exercise your faith when you sense it actively in your life. Your week may change; your year may be different; and your life may never be the same.
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”
WHAT??? If someone slaps you let them do it again? I don’t know about you but this one is really tough to imagine. If someone slaps me I think there’s going to be some slapping going in the other direction. It’s hard to think that I would turn my face to the other side and simply say, “Do it again.” What is the lesson here, that we’re supposed to be stupid? If we look at the next nine verses I think we can glean the meaning that is intended. Here are the challenges: “If you are sued in court and they take your shirt, give them your coat also…If a soldier asks you to carry his gear one mile, carry it two…love your enemies…if you’re kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else.” Ah, there it is! Be different than everyone else. Don’t do what is expected; go beyond what is expected. If you show that you’re different, you will be acting like your Father in heaven. One thing is for sure, you can’t fulfill these teachings if the flesh is running the show. That’s why prayer and fasting is essential. Without it, we will be just like everyone else, and according to Jesus, that will not do.
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
Life’s journey with all its unpredictable events that get thrown at us, has a way of dimming our light and minimizing our effectiveness. We can easily lose sight of the purpose of our being on earth. The mission becomes lost in the busyness of everyday responsibilities. We lose our flavor and our flame. Fasting in the beginning of this year can restore the saltiness and also fan the flame. Our presence in this world is meant to make a difference. Let the earth feel the impact of your prayer and fasting. You add something to other people’s lives. They need what’s on the inside of you. Many people experience the blandness of their existence. You are the salt that makes life worth living. Far too many live in darkness. You are the light that opens the blinded eyes to the possibilities of living a life filled with meaning and purpose and joy. Thanks for going through the changes of fasting. Someone’s world will be better because you decided to skip some meals. And you will be more fulfilled, more focused, more in touch with heaven than ever before.
Tell your friends to checkout the site 21fast.net and share their experiences during our 21-Day Fast at Life Source.