Last week we identified 3 tools (fasting, prayer and the Word) and 2 tactics (planning and being still) that will aid us on the Road to Pentecost. We identified these tools on their basic level in relation to our pursuit of an outpouring of God's Spirit and encouraged everyone to pursue them passionately during the lead-up to Pentecost Sunday. Today, we turn our attention to the challenges that come with using these tools and tactics in our journey to God's blessings and plan for us. We begin with fasting.
Have you ever decided to give up something for God and immediately begin to notice that very thing all around you. I began my fast last week by giving up sweets and coffee. Coffee is something very dear to me. It's not just something that gets me going. It's a part of who I am. Dessert, on the other hand, is something that is not too big of a deal to me. I felt I would be balancing my fast well at the beginning by giving up something I really liked to begin the fast with something I can live without. I was fully prepared to face the barrage of caffeine withdrawals and lamentations for lack of coffee. However, what happened was not what I expected.
I never had one caffeine withdrawal. I didn't see a bunch of coffee advertisements or even a lot of people carrying and sipping on coffee. I was even in a coffee shop for a brief time this past week and went unfazed. However, I can't tell you how many shake and ice cream commercials and ads I saw. I was at a wedding this weekend and they had four different types of cake. There was even cake being passed around at my office and donuts were out at Sunday School with no offerings of fresh fruit as an alternative (of course, I missed breakfast because my wife and I have 2 kids and getting to church on time is a miracle enough. Breakfast on Sundays is like seeing the Red Sea parted). It was so strange, but I was being tempted by that which I thought wouldn't give me trouble.
Thought for the Day:
The hardest thing from which to abstain is that for which you have least prepared
The devil doesn't want you to succeed on the Road to Pentecost. He wants you to be defeated and he'll hit you where he thinks you are weakest. I was fully prepared to face the coffee pains, but had not prepared for my sweet tooth to crop up. The devil saw this opening and he jabbed it time and time again. Thankfully, I knew I could rest in God and pop a couple grapes and that would see me through. Those grapes weren't the chocolate shake I wanted, but I felt rewarded that I faced a challenge and God saw me through. I also thought of the scripture in James 1:12:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
I am facing temptation, not from God, but from the world and the enemy. I know that by enduring temptation by standing firm to my commitments to God and the faith and trust I have put in Him, I will receive something great from on high and so will you. Don't give up when the hunger pangs hit or temptation rears its ugly head. Don't fall prey to the attacks of the devil. Endure by remembering God is with you and will never leave or forsake you. This fast that we have sanctified ourselves for is going to bring forth something great. Believe and continue on the road.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.