There was a group of church folks from a drought stricken community in West Texas. They contacted the local pastor and asked him if he would call a special prayer meeting to pray for rain. He gladly agreed and they set a time for the meeting. The people all assembled one evening on a hillside to pray for rain. When the Pastor arrived … he looked at the people and said, “Folks let’s just go home. There is no sense in praying tonight. The people were shocked, and they asked, “What’s the matter?” The pastor replied, “Not one of us brought an umbrella.”
TRUE STORY: Charles Blair for many years pastored Calvary Temple in Denver Colorado. Charles himself told the story of how when he attended college, he had a roommate who also became a pastor. As you know, Denver is a big town … Charles Blair’s friend was called to serve in a little town of about 1,000 people. One day Charles drove out to visit his college friend. His friend got up the next morning, and he took Charles with him to have him listen as he taped his daily local 50 watts radio program. The friend opened the broadcast saying, “Hello world” … He then proceeded as if he was speaking to a million people. Afterwards … Charles told his friend, “Don’t you think you’re putting it on a little bit thick. Are you acting this way because I am with you?” Charles Blair’s friend looked at him and said, ‘I am as honest as I can be. This is my world.” Then he went on to say, “Listen, any sissy can pastor 5,000 people in a great big town. It takes a man of God to pastor out here where we might get one visitor a year.” Even if God has placed us where not much happens, we have to be faithful anyway.
Did you ever hear the story about a widow who re-married. Her grown daughter later married her new husband’s father. Each couple had a child. One day the widow tried to explain the story of what happened next. She said, “This made my dad my son-in law, and my daughter became my mother, because she was my father’s wife. My father’s wife then had a son, and he became my grandchild, for he was my daughter’s son.” Since my husband is now my father’s father then I’m his grandchild, and as wife of my grandfather, I’m my own grandma. Got all that?” Families are confusing, aren’t they?
We have to realize that there are different types of fasting. Let me give you some of them from out of the Bible. *Absolute Fast – This means no water or food. The longest recorded is 40 says. Moses did this in Exodus 34:28. *Water Only Fast – This is where you have water only Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:34. *Partial Daniel-type fast – This fast you deny yourself of only certain food. Maybe cut out meat, maybe desert. This is a fast that can go on indefinitely. An Example of this fast is found in Daniel 10:3. * Juice Fast – This is a modification of the normal fast. Fruits and vegetable juices are used for a supplement. This is good for a person who is in an extended fast. *Sundown fast – This is a fast where you eat one meal a day. This time that you save with meals should be spent in time with God. This feast can go on a long time. But it is harder to maintain then you think. Most of us naturally assume that fasting has to do with abstaining from food. There is a reason for that. We as a society are driven by food. Look at the number of restaurants. Look at the number of food commercials. Look at the number of events we have with food. *Not all fasts involve food – Some people, due to health cannot do a dietary fast, it just does not work. But everyone certainly can give up TV, Internet, books, hobbies, etc. for a certain time period … this one can go on indefinitely. The bottom line is, it should be something meaningful in your life. (I cannot fast, by giving up spinach) It needs to be something that costs you … otherwise it does not demonstrate true fasting.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a famous painter. Perhaps, one of his most famous works was called “The last supper.” Leonardo attempted to capture the frustration that occurred among the twelve disciples, when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. It is believed to be a true story that it took Leonardo three years to complete the painting, from 1495 to 1498. The reason why is interesting … Leonardo had been in a fierce feud with another person. Leonardo was so angry with this person that when he painted Judas Iscariot, he put this man’s face in the picture. Leonardo had purposely waited to put Jesus’ face in last. He was hoping and praying to portray something very special about Jesus. That however, is where the problem came in. He tried over and over, but he could not paint the face of Jesus to his satisfaction until one day he realized the problem. He went to the person he had the feud with, settled their differences, and then re-painted Judas Iscariot. The next day he was able to paint Jesus to his satisfaction.
I had only been married a couple of years when one day my wife was misbehaving more than usual. I told her, “You know, that’s the third time today! And that’s also the 298th, 299th, & 300th time I have had to forgive you for something you did.” Before she could answer I reminded her that Jesus only requested her to be forgiven 490 times. She laughed and said, “Buddy … you’re already over 700 – but I’ll forgive you anyway!”
It was a poet named Heinrich Heine who wrote the following: “My nature is the most peaceful in the world. All I ask is a simple cottage, a decent bed, good food, some flowers in front of my window, and a few trees beside my door. Then … if God wanted to make me completely happy, He would let me enjoy the spectacle of six or seven of my enemies dangling from those trees. I would forgive them all the wrongs they have done me from the bottom of my heart. For we must forgive our enemies, but not until they are hanged.
Ernest Hemingway tells of a father and son who had stopped talking to one another. Things got so bad that the son left home. After several years, the father wanted to mend the relationship. He looked everywhere for his son but could not find him. Finally he went to the capital city of Madrid, went to the newspaper office and took out an ad in the newspaper that said this: “Paco, please meet me at 12 noon tomorrow in front of the newspaper office – All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” The next day at 12 noon, there were 800 men named Paco standing in front of the building!
The story is told of a man who came home to find two little girls sitting on the steps of the apartment building where he lived. Both were crying uncontrollably, shedding lots of big tears. Thinking they might be hurt, the man dropped his briefcase. He quickly went over to ask them “Are you all right?” Still sobbing, one little girl held up her doll. “My baby’s arm came off!” The man took the doll and its disjointed arm. After a little effort and luck, the doll was back together. The girl cried out, “Oh, thank you,” The man then turned to the other girl and asked, “And what’s making you cry, young lady?” She wiped her cheeks and said, “I’m okay, I was just helping her cry.” (How sweet! And what a good friend!)
One day, two travelers were on the road together, when a bear suddenly appeared on the scene. Before the bear noticed them, one man made for a tree at the side of the road. He immediately climbed up into the branches and hid there. The other man was not so nimble as his companion, and because he could not escape, he threw himself on the ground and pretended to be dead. The bear came up and sniffed all around him. The man kept perfectly still and held his breath. (They say that a bear will not touch a dead body.) The bear … thinking he was dead … just went on his away. When the coast was clear, the traveler in the tree came down. He asked the other what it was the bear had whispered to him when he put his mouth to his ear. The other replied, “He told me never again travel with a friend who deserts you at the first sign of danger.” (Aesop’s Fables)