Finish Strong With Fearless Faith

Fasting: The Supercharge for Faith #64

August 15, 2022 Fearless Faith Season 2 Episode 64
Finish Strong With Fearless Faith
Fasting: The Supercharge for Faith #64
Show Notes Transcript

The Christian walk involves a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit.  Our goal is to walk in the spirit not the flesh.  But how do we do that?

The Bible tells one of the most effective ways to overcome the desires of the flesh is through fasting.  Jesus gave us the ultimate example by fasting for 40 days before He began His public ministry.  There are many other examples of fasting in the Bible.  In this edition of Finish Strong, we will demonstrate how fasting doesn’t change God’s power but it will change your level of dedication and sets you apart for God’s supernatural use.

If you want to supercharge your faith, listen to this podcast and Finish Strong.


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Dan Wheeler:

And you know, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we have to take care of the temple. And sometimes I think why that isn't a great testimony. If you're walking around, you know, three 400 pounds,

John Matarazzo:

you got to definitely add a few more holes to the belt of truth for that, Pastor. Ah,

Dan Wheeler:

hey, that's a good one. John came up with starting to catch on.

John Matarazzo:

Best right here. Live your life with purpose, change someone's life for the better, and leave a lasting impact on those around you. Welcome to finish strong, the podcast designed to help you discover your unique purpose and develop a plan to leave a powerful legacy. So let's get started.

Dan Wheeler:

When you think about the Christian life, it's there's a battle that's always going on between our flesh and our spirit. And our flesh represents our sinful nature. And it's always wanting to fulfill its lusts and desires. So how do you break out of that flesh and get more and more into the spirit, one of the most powerful ways to do it is fasting. It's supercharges your faith, and we're going to talk about that today. My name is Dan Wheeler. I'm one of your hosts for finish strong. Terry Steen is another host. And the third is Brian rollin. Brian's under the weather today. He's battling COVID. So say a prayer for Brian and he should be back on our next episode. But our fearless producer John Matarazzo is here. And he's doing an excellent job of filling in. So John, thanks for being with us.

John Matarazzo:

It's great to be back with you guys. Yeah, great to be here. It's

Dan Wheeler:

great to have you here. And John has had a lot of experience with fasting. And I know you have to Terry as I have.

Terry Steen:

Yeah, I did it that one time. Yeah. So HA, HA funny.

Dan Wheeler:

He's funny. But you know, our goal is Christians, when you think about it is to break loose of that flesh. And I don't know, any better way than to deny your body calories because it's not only denying your flesh that's humbling. And it's hard to do, isn't it? It's not easy.

Terry Steen:

Oh, my goodness. Yeah. In fact, sometimes when I even hear the word fast, I get a twitch. Yeah, it's it.

John Matarazzo:

You're gonna say that you run.

Terry Steen:

Run fast. Yeah, yeah, exactly. It's probably one of the hardest disciplines in the Christian walk, wouldn't you say? It's not something people like to talk about?

Dan Wheeler:

I would say so. Because, well, back when we were in college, we were both pretty fast physically on the base pass. Yeah. And I don't think we ever could have fast that we were hungry, our whole college career because Zach burning calories. But that's, you know, that's that is the challenge. That's the battle. And I think that we need to look to Scripture. It's a very biblical principle, because Jesus Himself gave us the greatest example, before he started his ministry after he was baptized, and the Spirit descended on him like a dove. So He's baptized in the water, and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. You think the first thing you do in his public ministry would be to go out and do some great miracle feed the 5000? raise the dead? No, the first thing he did was he went into the wilderness. And he prayed and he fasted for 40 days. Can you imagine? Yeah, four down days. But that's where he was drawn. I think that's where he was building up a spiritual strength, don't you?

Terry Steen:

Yeah. And then it's not a coincidence that after those 40 days, the devil came to tempt him, isn't it? And obviously, we know that he won that battle. But even Jesus knew how prepared he had to be for the wiles of the enemy.

Dan Wheeler:

Yeah, before we we go into what fasting is and what it isn't. John, I want to ask you, because I know you fasted, like, what 17 days, 21 days will tell me what the biggest benefit for you fasting has

John Matarazzo:

produced. So for me the biggest benefit whenever I fast, and I've done several 21 day fast at the beginning of the year, and sometimes I'll do another one as I feel led by the Lord, but it's really for me, aligning my desires to the will of God. Hmm. And so if you say no to your desire for food, and instead of taking the time to prepare a meal, or even cleaning up after a meal, like I'm using that time to spend with the Lord, the best that I can, you know, for me, like I know, there's a lot of people that do like a Daniel fast, so they're just doing fruits and vegetables and some other things. But I would much rather not even prepare food and not even have to not be thinking about what can I eat? I just I'm like, let me just stop eating. I'm just going to do liquids. And it takes a lot of discipline, but it really helps realign me to the Lord and take my dependents away from the food. Like I even fast coffee, whatever I'm doing this to

Dan Wheeler:

Oh, yeah, that's tough because coffee is something we really desire. Terry, would you agree with with John that, that it's a form of discipline and disciplining yourself before the Lord?

Terry Steen:

Yeah, yeah. So much. In fact, that's probably the key to the whole thing is how much of our lives and our desires and our interests, can we refocus toward God, and totally turn away from any of our of our own personal pleasures for a season, you know, he obviously doesn't tell us to do it forever. But for a season, and like John says, when he feels led to do it, I think there's great benefit in doing it in a structured way. And the churches I attend tend to do it as a group at the beginning of the year, like John saying, for 21 days, but then sometimes the Lord leads us to that for various other reasons that I'm sure we'll talk about as we move forward. But

Dan Wheeler:

as we've been preparing for this podcast, I keep coming back to a verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew five, six, which says, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. And I thought, what an interesting choice of words the Lord use there, when you're talking about fasting, and that's what he did our hunger, our thirst. And he says, I am the bread of life. You know, I am the eternal water that will never run dry. You know, I'm the world. He's, he's all of that to us. But I think that's what fasting is about turning your hunger and your thirst toward the Lord. Because whenever I fasted whenever I start to get hungry, or you feel your stomach growling, I start praying. Yep. And I started seeking God. But what is not fasting a dairy? Have you ever heard people say, Well, I'm gonna skip dessert? I'm not going to eat chocolate for lunch? Or do you think that's fasting?

Terry Steen:

Well, I think everyone has to work out their own sense of what they're denying is because truly, people have different fleshly desires. And if you're denying that desire, then in a sense, you're fasting, and God's honoring it. You know, back in the old Bible times, food was kind of it, how many additional things did they have available to them to bring them pleasure? There's so many more trees today. Maybe that's why they had so many feasts all the time. That's right. It truly was. And so nowadays, we've got a lot of things that get into our nature that we find pleasure in, whether it's social media, or sweets, or, you know, you mentioned desserts and those kinds of things. We don't put as much stock in that as food necessarily, but for some people, I wouldn't want people listening to not think that they could do something, even on a smaller scale to begin a process of fasting and understand principle and denying themselves is the key to it, as opposed to what it actually is I write I think we're gonna

Dan Wheeler:

we're gonna give some ideas at the end of this podcast, and how you can start fasting if it's something you've never done, because you do, you kind of start small, and you kind of work your way up, but Philippians, 318 and 19. For many Walk Of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly. And that really caught my eyes as reading it the other day, because sometimes our belly can become a guide. You know, the joke about Christians was our biggest entertainment was going out to eat after Sunday, and that you'd have we accounted for all sins, we took them all seriously, except for the sin of gluttony. Because a lot of our pastors and preachers were really overweight. And you know, our body is the temple of God, the temple, Holy Spirit, we have to take care of the temple. And sometimes I think, why that isn't a great testimony. If you're walking around, you know, three 400 pounds,

John Matarazzo:

you got to definitely add a few more holes to the belt of truth for that, Pastor.

Dan Wheeler:

Hey, that's a good one. John came up with a start to catch.

John Matarazzo:

The best right here

Dan Wheeler:

are the worst humor. When and why should we fast? Well, for me, whenever I'm facing a really big decision, and I really need to hear from God, that's an important time for me, Terry to fast

Terry Steen:

Yeah, yeah, that's a good right time, and Jesus is another example of that when he came out of that 40 days, that's when he started selecting his disciples.

Dan Wheeler:

Boy, good point. Yeah, John,

John Matarazzo:

I know for me something that has always stuck with me, I heard one of my teachers in my missionary school use this phrase that he would fast until he was past the deception point, especially whenever he had to make a big decision. So he would fast until he felt like there was a breakthrough, like there was something that's like, you know, what I am now like, my flesh has been suppressed enough that I can now hear the voice of the Lord clearly. And I actually got to do a podcast episode with him and do a full interview about that. But years later, that phrase that he said, back in 2003, is still affecting me that whenever I have got a big decision, I want to make sure that I'm fasting past the deception point, because we trick ourselves into a lot of things.

Terry Steen:

So good, so good. And there are many examples in the Bible of when different people fasted another time to fast is if you're praying for someone who's in an intense spiritual or physical battle, or if you are in an intense physical battle, and I think about the disciples when they couldn't cast out a demon. And then the Lord came, and he did. And he said, this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting. And he added that second part of it, that extreme dedication and discipline to pray and fast for somebody very important. Yeah, that's good. Dan, I, I wrote down that exact example, on this point, because it was so poignant. Yeah. And maybe it increases our faith, that fasting process increases our faith, obviously, because Jesus said, Because of your unbelief, or because of your little faith, so they prayed, but they didn't fast. So I think we could read that to say, fasting will increase our faith, and allow us that better opportunity to overcome some of those physical and spiritual issues.

Dan Wheeler:

Absolutely. That passage is found in Mark 929. Jesus said unto them, this kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer, and fasting. Another good time to Well, I was gonna give an example of praying for someone who's in a battle, my mom needed healing. And she had a very serious heart attack, ended up needing a double bypass surgery, and I didn't know if she was gonna make it and I was on location with QVC at the time. And when you're on location with QVC, you go out for these big meals for dinner, huge. And I went out with everyone, and I was able to not eat, I was just drinking water. And everybody's like, how are you doing this? And I said, Well, it's gotta be God helping me because I, you know, physically, I really wanted to dive into that prime rib, they were all eating better believe it. And Terry, I know, you've got a really important story about your nephew and your brother.

Terry Steen:

Yeah. When, when we're talking about anything of really importance that we want to see God to. But in this case, it was seen somebody saved it was salvation. And one day I was sitting there thinking about my family, and how God has blessed our heritage so much. And I got reflecting on two individuals in our family that were not serving the Lord and didn't know the Lord and I just kind of got a little spiritual indignation or boldness to go well, why aren't they why can't they be? Why should we sit back and accept the fact that these two are not saved and don't know the Lord like they should? One was my youngest brother, Neil, another was a nephew named Derek. And so I contacted various family members, and we got six or seven of us together that agreed to fast one day a week. So throughout the course of a week, one of us was fasting for these two guys. And incredibly, within two to four weeks, I don't know exactly when, within two to four weeks, both of them dramatically accepted the Lord and turn their life around my brother Neil. He just was doing his own thing and not serving the Lord and came back to him. My nephew, Derek. He dropped out of high school. He was like 18 1917, somewhere in there, dropped out of high school, became a drug user lived in Iowa but had had a channel to Chicago and frequently was part of a drug ring. and trafficking in Chicago, made friends with a hitman. And the Hitman was beginning to train him to be a hitman. And this is the kind of life that this nephew was taking ball. And he agreed one day to go with his mom and dad to a church service where there was a play on the prodigal son. Hmm. And God grabbed him that night. Wow. And he turned his life around. Cold Turkey, went through everything for those two to three days of the Cold Turkey thing and never touched a drug again. Basically, he's in ministry, and has seen miracles take place through his ministry. He's written a book. God did incredible, incredible things there. And it just took us stepping up and adding that fast feasts. And then Watch God work.

Dan Wheeler:

Fasting works, no doubt about it. And it's are showing our obedience to God that we're following his example, which she gave us in Matthew for 40 days and 40 nights before beginning his public ministry, Daniel fast that I mean, so many people, David fasted when he found out Jonathan and Saul had died. So fasting is a way to express grief as well. It's a way to humble ourselves, you know, Second Chronicles 714 says, If my people are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land? And we need to be praying and fasting for America? For sure. So, John, since you've had a lot of experience with fasting and the 21 day fast, what were some of the other reasons you fasted for other than a major decision,

John Matarazzo:

so there's been major decisions, there's been most of the time, it's just making sure that I'm in right alignment with the Lord, and I want to serve his purposes from for my life, or I want my life to serve his purposes. I guess that's a better way to say that. But I just want to say that fasting is not a way to twist God's arm, it's more of a way for us to twist our arm. So that so that we're, you know, we're not doing the things that we're not supposed to be doing. I mean, it's, it's great. The results that I've seen when fasting has been pretty remarkable. And I'm not doing it for the results. So much as those are the results of being closer to the Lord. The first time I did a longer fast, I did it for 13 days, and I was my church was going through the book, the circle maker. And I tell you, every time I was reading something in that book, it felt like there was a practical application, like, based off of the things that I was praying, like, immediately after that, after that prayer break was done. My I was doing manual labor, helping a guy do construction at that time. And the first couple of days, he was like, you know, you might want to eat something. A couple days into it, though, he said, you're actually a better worker when you're fasting. I said that maybe I should try. That is what he said. And I'm like, that's definitely just the Lord. But actually, that job ended up wrapping up during the fast. And then my church hired me the next day. And it was, it was amazing, just to see how God did that. And then in 2018, I was seeking the Lord about some direction. And then my fast ended. And I was like, You know what, I'm going to start eating, but I'm not going to stop seeking the Lord the way that I've been doing. And so I wasn't watching much TV and I wasn't like, I was going into my room and praying, even though it was eating again. But then I just had a download from heaven. And And here was the plan to start my podcast along the way. And that's how that got started. And I was just like, wow, okay, God gave me some direction. And I'm glad that I, you know, I wrote down all those notes that I felt like God was saying, and so the next morning, I woke up, and I'm like, Oh, this actually still makes sense. This isn't just me having crazy dreams or crazy thoughts. But, you know, every time I've done a fast like, God has done something, whether it's during the fast or shortly after the fast, but at the very least, it's a way for me to align myself to His will.

Dan Wheeler:

I like what you said at the beginning of that, that it's not a way of twisting God's arm because fasting doesn't change God's power. He's still all powerful, but it changes our level of dedication, and it kind of sets us apart for God's supernatural use. And, you know, he can really use a willing vessel. We talk about that all the time. Being willing to humble ourselves and let God work through us.

Terry Steen:

Yeah, I think humbling is the key word there. Because when you think about what he's telling us about fasting back in the Sermon on the Mountain, what did he say? He said, Hey, don't do it, like the hypocrites, have a good countenance on your face, clean yourself up, walk around, like you're not fasting, because that becomes a pride thing. When you go, Hey, I'm fasting, you know, and telling everybody that you're fasting, then that indicates where your heart's at. And God doesn't honor that who honors the humble heart. So if we can keep that focus and know that the humility and our heart is the key to the process, then that opens up the channels for God to really do some of the things like John was just saying some of those incredible results he saw was from a humble heart.

Dan Wheeler:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think another reason we fast is for self discipline, self control. You know, so many times in our world today, people are, you know, if it feels good, do it, you know, go ahead, eat, enjoy, drink, be merry, you know, but we need to discipline in our lives or elsewhere, you're not gonna lead productive lives. It's the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, in First Corinthians 619, and 20. It says, What Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which he have of God, and you're not your own, for your bought with the price. So it's a way to show God that we are truly His. And we talked, you know, last podcast about praise and worship. Let's face it, fasting is a great form of worship. When we talk about humility, and doing it in honor of God, to honor Him to say I want to be set apart. I'm really serious for me, whenever I've fast that it's taken my prayer life to a whole new level. Because whenever I would get hungry, I would pray. And I'd say, Lord, I want to hunger ftu, but worshiping God directing our hunger towards him hunger and thirst after righteousness. It's so important. Another reason to fast is to express concern for the Lord's work. You can fast for a ministry that's maybe having trouble or need of help, or for preparing for the ministry, as John said, God showed him his whole new direction with the podcast. And when he fasted, I mean, that's pretty amazing. So it is a powerful form of worship. In conclusion, guys, I know I didn't tip you off to this. But what would you say to someone that says,

Terry Steen:

I'm not sure I need to fast? I'm not sure it's that important. My first thought would be it's scriptural. To be obedient to God. Number one, whether you because if we start letting our emotions come into play, there's tons of stuff we'll never do. That's true. But there are so many examples of how fasting is so beneficial for our life, and the results that can potentially happen. And it allows God to see our true heart and our passion for more of Him and to please Him, How can you go wrong? wanting more of God and wanting to please him?

Dan Wheeler:

Yeah, you can't, John.

John Matarazzo:

Yeah, I know. Fasting is something that I just want to encourage people to do. And the big thing that I would like, let everybody know is that it's okay. If you fail. Yeah. Like, don't be too hard on yourself. Like if you try fasting, and you're like, you end up by habit eating something small. Like, it's not that big of a deal. Okay, start small. And then you can work your way into longer fast. I don't recommend a

Terry Steen:

large bag of m&ms qualified there, or

Dan Wheeler:

is it the shareable kind or just a large? Yeah, you'd have to take that up with the Lord. Yeah. If it's the shareable then yes, if you share. Sorry.

John Matarazzo:

You know, the Bible says that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So if you feel like the Lord is telling you to do a fast and your flesh is a little bit stronger than you'd like to admit, and you end up eating something, just get back on the horse and say, You know what, I'm gonna move on from now, you know, and you don't have to necessarily start your account over. Just do what God has called you to do to the best that you can, and your spirit is going to get stronger as you feed your spirit. Yeah, that's good. Yeah, there's so much that we can talk about that. But don't put don't be too hard on yourself. That's my biggest piece of advice.

Dan Wheeler:

And that's good advice. Because I was gonna wrap up with some advice and that advice is start small, you know, maybe it's a meal. Or maybe it's you started out maybe everyday you to snack and you start out with the snack and then work your way up. meal or two and then a day, before you know it, you might be gone two, three days or longer. And you'll be amazed at the benefits that will come from that. So fasting is so important. As Terry said, it is biblical. There are so many examples in scripture of where fasting was important, but Jesus himself fasted yet John yet one more thought I got

John Matarazzo:

one more thing I got to say just for anybody that's doing a longer fast, please, please, please brush your teeth. Still not eating anything, brush your teeth, because your breath can get really bad. And that just that's a public service announcement for everybody around you too. So good dad.

Dan Wheeler:

Good advice in so many areas. But if you really want to supercharge your faith, you want to go to the next level. Try fasting Yes, it's hard, but you'll be amazed how God will help you. There comes a point when you just keep praying and you pray through where you don't even desire fruit anymore. That's what's happened to me in the past. And again, like Terry said, The Lord warned us Don't be as the hypocrites do who they make their face their countenance droopy and and look sad, and they want everybody to know they're fasting. No, be cheerful. Get up, take a shower, brush your teeth. So nobody knows. Well, we're so glad you guys took time to be with us, John and Terry, thank you and Brian should be back with us next time buddy. I hope you're feeling so much better. Thanks for joining us and we hope to see you next time on finished strong

John Matarazzo:

Thank you for listening to finish strong. For more information about finish strong and fearless faith. Check out their website, F faith.org. Make sure that you rate and review this podcast to help more people accomplish their God given purpose so that together we can finish strong