Daniel Fast 2023

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Message Text

1 Timothy 4:6-16

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Message Notes

Paul was encouraging his protege, Timothy. He had warned him in the previous verses that he would find people departing from the faith because they chose to believe in myths promoted by deceitful spirits and demons. They were things like the forbidding of eating certain foods and the prohibition of marriage. This type of teaching was gaining traction in the first century church and would gain a larger foothold in the second century and become known as gnosticism. Gnosticism promoted the idea that all matter was evil and only spiritual things were good. All physical pleasure was sin.

Paul tells Timothy to keep up the spiritual training: “Train yourself for godliness.” Physical training is good but pales in comparison with the reward that being spiritually disciplined brings. He describes it as “toiling and striving” and instructs Timothy to practice and immerse himself in the disciplines he had described.

1. Living a Godly life is not easy or natural.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Paul did not tell Timothy that overcoming the false teachings of that time would be easy. He was indicating that it would be easier for people to latch onto the false teaching. We live in a culture today where it is much easier to believe and reinforce every crazy demonic teaching that comes around than discipline ourselves to obey the truth of the Gospel.

Our natural inclination is to be undisciplined. No one has to fight culture because it is too structured or disciplined - the opposite is true. The farther away culture is from the truth of scripture, the more undisciplined it gets.

James 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

2. It requires discipline to live a godly life.

Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Being undisciplined and flippant about sin does not communicate a desire to be close to God; it is taking advantage of God wanting to be close to us. Spiritual disciplines move us closer to God just like figuring out how to relate to your spouse or best friend causes you to be closer. I am choosing to be disciplined in my thoughts, speech, sexual life, relationships, etc. in order to glorify God and draw closer to him.

Fasting is a physical discipline to provide a spiritual opportunity. I am in control of my body, therefore, I can be in control of my thoughts and actions. I will not eat certain things for a certain time and I will use that energy to train my spirit.

3. Your current problem is your opportunity to practice discipline.

Timothy was not in a place where everything was going perfectly and there were no issues so Paul was begging him to be disciplined in the extravagance of life. He needed discipline because of the presence of problems and false teaching. The truth is if you are not disciplined to read scripture you will end up believing something contrary to scripture simply because you don’t know it.

Whatever problem you are facing is providing you an opportunity to train, practice, and persist. Double down on the discipline that moves you closer to God, who can direct your steps and provide a way out. There may be a miracle for your situation, but you may not be close enough to see it. If you want to accomplish anything great, use every difficulty to practice discipline.

Jesus went to the cross to provide forgiveness of sins for all people, but he started out in the wilderness physically weak from fasting but spiritually strong from the discipline.

Connect Group Discussion Questions

If we have God in us, why is it more natural to move away from him than toward him?

What is the danger of using our own reasoning about right and wrong instead of checking scripture and praying for guidance?

What does the Bible say about how things will progress in our world as the time gets closer for Jesus to come back?

New Year's resolutions often involve some type of discipline to change something. How successful is this, usually?

How can we maintain the discipline it requires to grow in our relationship with God and keep getting closer to him?

Pastor Chris said, "Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the one to come." How does it hold promise for the one to come?

When we are in the middle of a difficult time, it is easy to become angry, frustrated. and discouraged. How can we change our mindset and glorify God instead?

If you're participating in the fast, what are some things God has shown you so far?