By David J. Stewart
Luke 2:37, “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him [Jesus] to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Fasting is letting go of the physical in order to grasp more of the spiritual. Fasting boosts one's faith. There was a widow who lived at the temple in Jerusalem, she was 84-years of age. She served God the Bible says through fastings, prayers, and told lost sinners how to find the redemption they were seeking. She was a soul-winner...
Luke 2:37, “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem was a heavily traveled area of commerce, since the city was located geographically in the center of many countries. There were many passers-by. Others came to Jerusalem for the sole purpose of finding redemption. They were ignorant of the truth, but wanted to learn. The temple in Jerusalem was a very popular place, with many visitors. It was no coincidence that this faithful Christian lady, who was a widow, fasted and prayed night and day while witnessing to everyone she could, speaking to people who were searching for redemption. What a precious Scripture passage. This woman was an elderly soul-winner who fasted and prayer. Multitudes of people had heard of the deliverer, the Messiah, and traveled to Jerusalem to find Him so they could have their sins forgiven and be saved.
“This Kind” of Answers to Prayer
Serving God hasn't changed in 2,000 years. By fasting, prayer, thanksgiving, and telling people how to find redemption, we are serving God. Fasting is skipping a meal to spend that time praying instead. It could be eating an apple for dinner only, and praying for something, instead of eating one's full dinner. Fasting is something that most people refuse to do; but God wants to see how much we really mean business. Giving up one's meal is not an easy thing to do. You're not earning an answer to prayer by fasting, you're letting go of the physical in order to grasp more of the spiritual, spending that time in prayer.
Fasting boosts one's faith, which pleases God. If you're not praying, you're not fasting. Dieting is not fasting. Fasting is giving up something to spend that time instead in prayer. There are many different ways to fast. Fasting is entirely a matter of faith and prayer, something woefully lacking in this apostate generation.
Although we cannot force a person to be saved, nor will God, by fasting and praying we can ask God to convict people's hearts to get saved. The Apostle Paul prayed regularly for His Israelite brethren to be saved. Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart's desire and PRAYER TO GOD for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Fasting and prayer are important. The emphasis is prayer. Fasting supports prayer. The idea is to let go of something physical, to spend that time in prayer instead, reaching out to God by faith for His Spirit to work through our humble labors in the Lord. I couldn't explain it any simpler than that. Time is running out my friend, we must redeem the time while we can and win (fetch) souls for Jesus Christ...
clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power,
to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour;
To lose one's wealth is sad indeed, to lose one's health is more,
to lose your soul is such a loss, that no one can restore.”
The Bible says that this elderly widow served God by fasting, praying, bring thankful, and speaking of Jesus Christ to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Multitudes of people from surrounding, even distant nations, had received word of the Christ-child who had been sent into the world to save men from their sins. Just as the three wise men who traveled 400 miles west to Jerusalem from Babylon to see and honor the Christ child, so had many others come to Jerusalem to find redemption. Acts 2:38 says that Anna, “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” This faithful widow shared the Gospel of Jesus with passersby who came into the temple to inquire about how to be saved. What a wonderful ministry and opportunity.
I don't know too many people who sincerely want to go to Hell. Most people who brag about going to Hell only do so because they really don't think Hell is real. They'll find out the moment their dust returns to the earth from whence it came, and their spirit returns into God's hands (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Satan Blinds the Minds of Unbelievers to Keep Them Lost
2nd Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
There are so many multitudes of people today in society who are searching for what it truly means to be saved. They are ignorant and simply need someone to teach them from the Bible. Most people are totally confused because of Benny Hinn, Max Lucado, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Pat Robertson, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Bill Hamon, Kenneth Copeland, TBN, Paul and Jan Crouch, Mike Murdock, Don Stewart, Melissa Scott, et cetera. With all the aforementioned names, money is the big issue; they all have something to sell.
All of the preceding speakers and writers are extremely talented and brilliant minded people, and their books do contain much food for thought (which is why they sell so many; however, they ALL side-step and completely ignore the most important truth of all; namely, the DOCTRINE OF CHRIST). Their focus is on love, trust, and unity; but they won't dare call false prophets and false religions by name lest they be criticized and ostracized, losing much financial support. God always raises up a man, an individual; not groups, clubs, nor organizations.
We are living in an apostate time of wishy-washy ministers. They all scratch each other's backs, and dare not speak a single word of criticism against the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican is leading over one billion people into eternal damnation. Their false notion that a priest can absolve a person's sins is satanic doctrine. Only God can forgive one's sins (Mark 2:7). Catholicism is a prisonhouse of religion! Religion tries to fit us with glasses; but the Lord wants to open our eyes. Have your eyes been opened? Or have you believed a lie?
Not one of the religious celebrities I've mentioned will come right out and expose the Roman Catholic Church for the fraudulent religion it is. And for that matter, not one CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) singer will either. They all speak of loving Christ; but not one of them will expose any lies and falsehoods of Satan that blind men and send people to Hell. They are wine and dine on the best of foods, vacations, and sporty cars; but none of them is willing to offend the world with THE TRUTH. I am woefully hated by many people because I speak the plain truth about so many things.
Jesus said in John 15:19 that the world would hate us. No one likes being hated. It is a lonely feeling standing for God, when so many people hate us because of Christ in us. This heathen world hates Jesus Christ and every born-again Christian who lives godly in Christ Jesus (2nd Timothy 3:12). Living godly means taking a stand for God. All of today's ecumenical apostates go along to get along. They despise soul-winning Christians. The only people I know who criticize soul-winners are lazy people who don't go soul-winning. Selfish ingrates don't go soul-winning. Jesus said in Luke 8:15 that those believers with “an honest and good heart” are soul-winners. The Christian life is all about caring, and the greatest concern one can have is for someone's eternal destination.
The Catholic Church is straight out of the pits of Hell. I say this, not to be unkind; but rather, because I care for your soul and don't want you to go to Hell when you die. Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus was speaking about the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders of the day. Jesus said they weren't going to Heaven. And I tell you friend, except your righteousness exceeds the self-righteousness of the Pope and your Catholic priest, you will go straight to the Lake of Fire to be tormented day and night forever without hope. You need the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, i.e., HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, which comes only by faith in the Lamb of God. You see friend, you and I have no righteousness of our own. We are destitute, hopelessly lost in our wickedness and sin. Apart from Christ crucified and risen, there can be no salvation.
The Danger of Water Baptism
The list of false prophets I just mentioned all promote the New World Order's agendized Ecumenical Movement (which aims to set aside ALL doctrinal differences and yoke together on some very basic, extremely vague, and non-offensive New Age principles). The end result is apostasy, all drawing the world's religions into a unified Luciferian type of religion where there are NO absolutes (such as the Bible), and they errantly teach that all sincere paths lead to Heaven. Even Roman Catholics believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose. The Biblical Gospel EXCLUDES all forms of self-righteousness.
In sharp contrast from the New Age concept that all paths lead to the light, the Bible proclaims that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, BUT BY ME. (John 14:6). This is why the King James Bible is so offensive to modern apostates, because it tells THE TRUTH (John 17:17). It's Jesus or Hell. Acts 4:10-12 teaches that the name of Jesus is the ONLY name by which people can be saved from their sins. You need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS my friend, i.e., the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:3-4).
We are living on borrowed time my friend. Life is a gift from God, an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ (John 1:12) and have eternal life and happiness. God loves us with an unconditional love. Oh that men would set aside their love of sin, anger, and unbelief, and trust upon the precious name of Jesus. Hanging onto particular sins won't prevent you from being saved; but it will hinder you from coming to Jesus Christ to be saved (John 3:20). Put another way, those who hang onto their sins won't come to Christ for salvation, lest their deeds should be reproved; but if they did, Christ would save them (John 5:40). No one can forsake and cease from all sins to be saved. That's impossible. Even the best Christians who try to live right still fall and mess up every day. The faithful Apostle Paul struggled with sin (Romans 7:14-25).
Time is running out my friend, are you a born-again Christian yourself? And if so, are you trying to fetch others and bring them to the Lord for salvation? That's what soul-winning is—fetching lost sinners and bringing them to Jesus Christ via the Gospel to be saved.
In youth I'm too happy to think, I've got plenty of time left.
In manhood I'm too busy to think, I'm trying to make a lot of money.
In the prime of life I'm too anxious to think, worry has taken over.
When I start getting old, I'm too old to think—life's wasted, heart's got harder.
Dying in bed—I'm too sick to think, I'm weak and suffering.
Death is too late to think—time's over and opportunity is lost.
In eternity—forever to think, I'm in Hell now with no mercy, and lost forever.
This faithful Christian widow that dwelt in the temple wasn't a busybody in other men's matters, breaking apart marriages, meddling with other people's homes, gossiping, and promoting feminist intolerance and hatred throughout the neighborhood. No, Anna (Verse 36) was genuine and a godly woman, whom the Bible says fasted and prayed day and night, and gave thanks unto the Lord continually, and she eagerly witnessed concerning Jesus Christ and how those searching could find rest for their souls by faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
This 84-year old woman ought to be an encouragement to all of us younger whipper-snappers. If an 84-year old woman loves the Lord enough to fast and pray, and maintain a grateful spirit toward God always, and witness to those who have an interest in the things of God; then I contend that we ought to take heed and learn a few things from this little ole lady. She is an unsung hero in the Scriptures; not mentioned in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11, but she would fit right in.
This temporal world places emphasis on all the wrong things.
'Tis one life, will soon be past;
only what's done for Christ will last.
Some believers go on a juice fast for a couple days, drinking only natural fruit juices and three times more vegetable juice. As a general rule you should eat more vegetables than fruit. Fruit contains fructose sugars. Too much sugar isn't good. A couple pieces of fruit daily is good. You can eat all the vegetables you want, preferably different colors for different nutrients. Fasting could mean eating nothing; but it is unhealthy to eat nothing for more than 24-hours. Proper fasting is eating a very basic meal for sustenance, but forfeiting all the enjoyable delights of a standard dinner.
Fasting ought to become a lifestyle, not just something we do every once in a blue moon because we're desperate for God's help. Anything that we give up to spend that time in prayer is a fast. Fasting can be done in various forms, which can include abstaining from sex (1st Corinthians 7:5), or giving up your favorite show on TV. Fasting is a way of making the Christian life more real, forcing one's body to let go of physical pleasures and needs, reaching out to God in prayer. Most people don't pray at all, and those who do merely mumble shallow and frivolous recited junk that isn't really prayer. Most people would never skip a meal for God. At what point does the Christian life become real? Fasting is simply taking out time for God, putting prayer first because we are trusting God with our life. That's not to say that God won't answer one's prayers without fasting; it does mean that certain things do require prayer and fasting as Jesus taught.
long I've laid me down to sleep, and prayed the Lord my soul to keep.
I should awake before I die, and realize time is passing by;
And rise and go and tell the lost, despite my plans despite the cost.
Too long I've laid me down to sleep, while multitudes about me weep;
And other cries of dark despair, for no one ever seems to care.
My life is short, and soon I'll stand, with sinner's bloods upon my hand;
Unless I wake before I die, and realize time is passing me by.”
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