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Matthew 4:2

The Power of Weakness

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Preparation for ministry must involve more than the study of God's word. Study is necessary for teaching or preaching but it is not enough. Rehearsals provide important preparation for the music ministry, but they are not sufficient. I said in yesterday's commentary that temptation is an essential element for strengthening and preparing God's servant, but it would be useless without proper spiritual preparation.

The first and foremost element in preparing for the ministry must be quality time spent alone with God. The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Facing the devil was as much a part of Jesus' appointed ministry as healing the sick, comforting the poor, and preaching His gospel. To prepare for His encounter, He would need to spend time with His Father.

Quality time with God is more than simple prayer. It is a time of surrender and trust. During such times we must learn to depend on God and not ourselves. We need to draw our strength from Him and we need to have our attentions focused toward Him. Fasting and prayer accomplishes both.

Fasting is a way of relinquishing our dependence on material things. It forces us to depend on God for our strength and it causes us to focus on Him in prayer as we seek His support. Without food and water our bodies can weaken very quickly, yet, when we fast, God always fills us with His power. He energizes us in a way that food is incapable of doing.

Before His encounter with the devil, Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. Moses fasted the same length of time when he was preparing to deliver the law to the people, and Elijah before he anointed new kings in the name of the Lord. Great ministries require quality time alone with God.

Fasting can take many forms. A church musician could refrain from practicing for a day, a week, or forty days and forty nights. He could convert his practice time to quiet time. This would require trust. We both know that it is no easier to play or sing without practice than it is to do physical labor without food or water. When you hear how well you play at the end of your fast, you will know that God is in your ministry. You will have renewed confidence and a new zeal for your ministry. Pastors and teachers could spend more time in prayer than in study or rehearsing their presentation, trusting the Lord for the message. But, going without food and water is the most powerful form of fasting, because it requires the greater exercise of faith.

I want you to see in this verse that Jesus did not hunger nor thirst during His fast. His power of endurance was imparted by the Holy Spirit. Focusing on God blots out the physical sensations that ordinarily distract us from Him. It was "afterward" that He first hungered. Jesus was fully man, and we should not forget this aspect of His being. When He broke His fast and ended His quiet time with His Father, the physical world affected Him like any other man. Yet, as we shall see in the verses to come, He was not weaker for the fast, but stronger.

Are you experiencing problems with your ministry? Perhaps you need to stop and do some additional preparation. Paul wrote, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2Cor 12:9) Set aside your reliance on the physical aspects of life and ministry for a few days. Back off and let the power of God take over your ministry and life. Watch what happens.

Before The Throne:

Pray that God will show you the right time and place for your fast. Set aside your normal activities and spend all of your time in Bible reading and prayer. Ask for the faith to trust Him throughout the fast. Place your ministry in His hands, and promise Him that you will let go of the controls. Pray for the wisdom to see where He wants you to join Him in His work.

For Further Study:

** fasted. Exod 24:18; Exod 34:28; Deut 9:9, 18, 25; Deut 18:18; 1Kgs 19:8; Luke 4:2; ** he was. Matt 21:18; Mark 11:12; John 4:6; Heb 2:14-17;


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