Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting will begin soon. As a follower of Jesus Christ, have you enjoyed the practice of Christian prayer and fasting?
Let's be clear. There is an indisputable distinction between fasting as a Christian and Muslim fasting. Muslims fast for merit -- hoping to add weight to the positive side of the scale of divine judgment.
A Muslim's hope -- the more merit earned through good works, the better his chance that Allah will allow him into paradise.
As redeemed followers of the living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our motivation for fasting is quite different. From approximately June 6th, during the daylight hours of the subsequent thirty days of Ramadan, many sincere Muslims will abstain from food and drink. Muslims will experience cherished family time at community evening meals. They will read the Qur'an at the mosque and pray. Their hope is to earn Allah's merciful favor.
So what about fasting for Christians? Clearly, God's grace cannot be earned. In fact, those two words don't fit logically into the same sentence, since grace is defined as "unmerited favor." Grace is not grace if it can be earned in any way. Grace is an undeserved gift from God. His grace is "lavished upon us" Ephesians 1:7-9, NASB.
So why fast and how do I get started? David Mathis at Desiring God Ministries has written a helpful beginners guide for Christian fasting.
Fasting for Beginners
Article by: David Mathis
Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.
Part of it may be that we live in a society in which food is so ubiquitous that we eat not only when we don’t need to, but sometimes even when we don’t want to. We eat to share a meal with others, to build or grow relationships (good reasons), or just as a distraction from responsibility.
And of course, there are our own cravings and aches for comfort that keep us from the discomfort of fasting.
We are so thankful for all of your responses to the announcement about this New Day in our lives and ministry. If you missed that first letter, you can read it at RefugeeMemphis.com. God is so good to lead us on this new journey, and we are grateful.
Mothers are especially remembered in May.
Please pray for three beautiful, young Afghan mommies and new babies here at "RT" in Memphis, the apartment complex where many newly-arrived refugees have landed. Two of the three had their babies in the last two weeks.
Please pray for these three families -- for healthy babies and mothers, and for the continued work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
New Partners -"Nations Within"of Navigators
Memphis Cup of Nations - May 21
In Athens the Apostle Paul found an altar with an inscription to an unknown god. As he preached the gospel of Jesus to the Athenians he chided them for worshiping an obscure god with no name. How much better, Paul explained, to worship the true Lord of heaven and earth. In fact, Paul described God as orchestrating the allotted times of our lives, and even the boundaries of nations. As we see the international crisis today unfold, we might ask, Why does God work in this way?
Paul answers: So that people everywhere "should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each of us." (Acts 17:27, ESV).
Recently God has redrawn our "allotted times and boundaries." He has led us to a new season of ministry among refugees, whose boundaries have certainly been upended!
Last month, we prayerfully chose to step away from a ministry and an organization that we have loved like family since 1983, The International Mission Board. Increasingly, Mark was spending half of his time in Richmond, Virginia -- making work with internationals here unsustainable.
We evaluated our current season of life at age 58, fasted and sought counsel before making this significant decision. Essentially this means three things:
1. Refined Focus - We now have time to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God's work among immigrants scattered from their homelands, landing in our city.
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Col. 3:23, ESV
2. Dependent Faith - Since we are no longer receiving an IMB salary, we are fully trusting the Lord to provide our needs, knowing this journey will require frugality, hard work and diligent prayer.
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19, ESV
3. Partnering for Discipleship - God is gathering a tight knit group of long time and new friends with whom we partner in ministry. Three young couples and a lovely single lady moved into the refugee apartment complex called "RT." Together we meet weekly to pray, share, worship and plan.
In addition, we have reconnected with Mark Lewis, our university Navigator campus leader from 1979. He invited us to travel to Chicago last month for an enriching Navigator gathering of theirNations Within ministry focusing on internationals in the United States. We learned so much!