2017 The Year of First-Fruits and Fasts

Disclaimer: This blog posts discusses Biblical fasting.  Before conducting any kind of fast, you should consult your doctor. 

For the month of January, I participated in a local church's 21 days of prayer and fasting.  Actually, I participated in two...my home congregation and another's.  Each one overlapped slightly and differed in execution, but both were extremely beneficial in setting my focus for 2017.

If you know me personally, you know that I am a recovering compulsive over-eater.  Food is both my delight and my millstone.  It's necessary for living, but when I worship it (and believe me, I've done my fair share of worshiping it), it becomes an hindrance to being able to hear God and sense His leading in my life.  For me, the way to remove that hindrance is to fast.  During this month of prayer and fasting, God revealed to me what He purposes for me to focus on this year...First Fruits.

Pastor Chris Hodges from Church of the Highlands presented a sermon that caused me to take an alternative look at the very first sentence in our Bible.. Genesis 1:1

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

But instead of reading it as a whole sentence, he read it this way,

"In the beginning, God."

His point was for us to focus, not on the creation story as usual, but on God being in the beginning of whatever we do. The beginning of our year, our month, our week, our day, our time, our money, our energy, etc. etc.  This really struck a cord with me.  Could I really be intentional about putting God first in ALL things?  So was born my 2017 theme...The Year of First-Fruits and Fasts.

Here is what He asks of me for one year:

     -Give Him the first month of the year
     -Give Him the first days of each month
     -Give Him the first day of each week
     -Give Him the first moments of each day
-Give Him the first of as many things as I can think of on a daily basis.
Journal it!

And so it begins.  Giving Him the first month is done, so now I focus on the rest of the year.  For me, first-fruits begins with 10% or a tithe of the first or very best.  I say begins, because my personal conviction is that a tithe is the starting point, not the end goal.

First Days of each Month
Since the average month is 30.4 days, the first 3 days of each month will be dedicated to Him with fasting and prayer.  I'm choosing a fast that eliminates all solid food and will take only water and light juices. Remember, food is REALLY important to me, so abstaining is the best choice for me. I could get legalistic and offer the first 3.4 days of each month or 2.8 days in a non-leap-year February, but this isn't about laws, it's about heart.

 If you aren't familiar with the discipline of fasting, there are several types of fasts, each with different parameters and guidelines, depending on who you consult.  Do your homework, search the scriptures, and above all else, PRAY before you begin.  Ask God what He requires of you.  I've listed a couple of resources at the end of this post that can help you learn to practice this discipline. One note-you can certainly pray without fasting, but fasting without prayer is just an extreme diet.  The purpose of a Biblical fast is to connect with your heavenly Father by clearing away something very necessary for life...food!

First Day of the Week
On each first day of the week, I will be abstaining from all media...social, TV, movies, secular books.  He made it clear that I am to feast with my family on this day!  Yeah!!!! Since Sunday lunch is one of the few days we get to sit down at the table together, I am particularly excited about this one.  Isn't He good and generous?

First of Each Day
Giving Him the first of each day is a habit that my mentor, Terry, helped me develop a few years ago.  I often refer to it as sittin'-ugly, a term I borrowed from another bloggers hilarious post on the subject.  It refers to that special time in the wee hours of the morning when the house is quiet and one can sit...bedhead-no-makeup-pajama-wearing-ugly...with coffee and for me, Jesus. It's honestly the best 30-45 minutes of my day.

First Fruits of Everything Else
The first-fruits of everything else will take a bit of practice.  Pause and think of Him before I respond to an email, especially if the sender is being a bit grumpy.  Pause and think of Him before I speak, before I take action, before I interact with any other human being!  Can I get an amen?  I think this part will be the hardest and one that we ALL could use a little more of! Another amen?

Journal It!
Finally, I am to journal the process.  Several years ago, Terry encouraged me and a group of women to begin a journal of our journeys.  I remember being really agitated about her request at first because I remember being a HORRIBLE diary keeper as a young girl.  I loved pretty diaries and had several, but never enjoyed writing in them. How weird is that?

  'Dear diary, today I snuck  six Little Debbies into my room and ate all of them because I was mad at mom...."

Yeah, that's where it started.  Anyway, I didn't like writing my thoughts, but being the compliant personality, I did it.  Can I tell you it changed my life?  I had to overcome wanting to write in complete sentences with good grammar and just write.  No matter what it was-joy, anger, frustration, deep-seated resentments....hmm noticing a pattern...I just wrote it.  Many times, I opted to write instead of speak, so that saved many a feeling in my house!  Long-story short, journaling is good for my soul. I don't know what He has in mind to do with it, but that's for 2018.

From time-to time I will post updates and share some of my thoughts and experiences, remind me to tell you what ketosis does to your breath! Eeeyeeww!  I hope you will follow along, and perhaps join me in a prayerful fast if He calls you to it.  It's certainly going to be interesting and I'm fully believing God will meet us in it!

Until next time,
Eat-Pray-Do!

Teresa

Fasting Resources:
I'm Hungry-Fasting to Experience the Presence and Power of God by Justin Hampton

Fasting for beginners by Desiring God

Church of the Highlands Fasting Guide


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