Levi Lusko - I Mean Business
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But we do kick off a brand new collection of messages today, a brand new season in the life of our church today. And we're going to do so beginning with a message that I'm calling I Mean Business. I came to church today ready, y'all. I don't know if you can tell. I'm rested from a little trip away with my family, replenished. And I am ready to preach. Say it with me, "I mean business". Got work to do. We encounter at times, situations where we are sort of just casual. But we come up, we bump up against someone who means business. And it's jarring when all of a sudden your eyes are open. Oh, you mean business?
My wife and I were on a trip not too long ago, a few years back. It was the pandemic, kind of the pandemic. We were in California, so it was still full blown pandemic. Everywhere else had gotten the memo already. But California was still holding on pretty good. And so we were riding bikes around and we inadvertently accidentally ended up at the Navy SEAL training base in Coronado. We're just on beach cruisers, la dee da dee da. And we ended up somewhere we shouldn't have gone, maybe didn't see some signs. And the lady that came out who was ready for Fallujah, she meant business. We were confused. And all of a sudden, she said, wipe that smile off of your face, soldier. It was like oh dang, this just got real serious, real quick. I wasn't ready for it. We didn't mean business. We were just out for a pleasure cruise. And it was real up in there. There's other times.
I think about someone from our church, she was like, hey, I heard you like road bikes. You should go road bike with me. And I was like oh, I like rode bikes like I'm getting older and don't want to weigh 900 pounds. I like rode bikes. I didn't like road bikes like he did where it was like, I have too much testosterone in my system. You got to be real careful working out with a middle aged man who's got a little too much something in there that's not getting let out somewhere else. And it's just like hammered down. Back up Lance. You know what I'm saying? Like from the jump, it was like oh, I thought we were going to be chatting and riding. And it was just no, he had something to prove. He was out to declare that he meant something in this life. And it was on that ride that he was going to he was going to let it all out there. And I was like, I was not prepared for this.
And so I found myself on the side of the road vomiting and vowing to never work out with anybody before I vetted them carefully. He meant business. I was just recreational. I was an amateur. He was going pro. He was never, never mind he was in the HVAC business. He was going pro on that road bike that day, I swear. He was setting land speed records. Another time, I was in Florida my friend pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr., I was preaching at his church. And he said, hey, I love to work out before I preach, gets the engine primed. You get on the stage already going with your body already burning. And it just, I love it. I was like, I love experiencing new things. Let's go. And I walked into this gym. First red flag, the guy who was leading this little workout class was like 6'8" and the size of a refrigerator. His traps were just out to here. I was like oh no.
And so we began doing all of these things. And it was terrible. And then I was that man, I'm ready to preach now. I get my engines going. And he goes all right, that's the warm up. And I was like oh no, oh Lord Jesus, I began crossing myself. And predictably, it ended with me in the gutter outside. Oh no, should I mention, it was 100 degrees in Miami. 100% humidity. And this particular gymnasium had enormous garage doors that just rolled up all the time. So that the evil could come inside. And I don't know if it was swampy or outside or inside my workout clothing but again, like I said, in the gutter. I'm dry heaving. The last thing I remember was pushing a sled loaded with 45 pounds across turf. And that was when all the blood in my body went to my quads. And then yes, I went lights out. He meant, say it with me, business. And I was not prepared for such a thing. But then there are other times in life when a switch flips inside of you. And in a good way, you go from being casual, being tepid, being lukewarm, to meaning business.
It's said and it's been said that the change will not come into your life that you want until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. And I'll never forget how Jennie Lusko changed my life the day she broke up with me. And she said to me, I mean, business. But it seems to me based on your general kind of coolness that is set in now that we've been dating for a while that you don't. And so if you don't want to pursue me, you don't get to be with me. And I said, ouch. But I thought to myself, there's plenty of other fish in the sea. And she'll be the one that got away, fine. She'll regret the day that she, oh boy. I didn't come back to her though until I had decided I meant business. And when I came back, I came back in earnest. And when I came back, I was saving for a ring. And when I came back, it was with a plan to ask her to marry me.
You see, and listen up ladies, sometimes men need the wake up of a breakup. Results not guaranteed. So some of you have been in purgatorial situationships for eons. But I will say this. She did show to me that if I wasn't going to put a ring on the finger, I wasn't going to waste her time. And so it was in my life a wonderfully refreshing thing to be broken up with. Today, I want to talk to you about what I believe to be one of the most powerful things you can do to show to God that you don't intend to hobble back and forth, to use Elijah's words, between God and the gods of this world, between God and living for yourself, to stop doing the hokey pokey where you put your right hand in you put your right hand out, Friday nights for you and God gets one Sunday a month. And to say basically, with my heart with my life, God, I mean business.
The Bible compares the Christian life to a race commonly. And I believe that if we will do these things that we're going to look at today in scripture, we will see a speed boost. Maybe it's just because I've been playing a lot of Mario Kart with my son lately. But I sort of really in my time of studying God's word have just had this visual of us as a church receiving this word that God wants for us today in the season and getting the mushroom and going faster and getting bigger and going strong. Anybody with me? I want to mean business in my walk with God. I want to go all in. I want to hit that next level. I don't want to stay where I am at. I want all that God has for me. And I want that for you too. In this season, we're going to be uniting our messages together under the banner, amen. The banner amen between now and Easter is what we're going to be living out of. Can I get an amen in God's house today? Amen.
It is undoubtedly one of Jesus's favorite words. As you comb through the red words that come to us in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Revelation, and a few other places, you find Jesus commonly often using that particular word, Amen. I don't know if you're aware of this, but whenever you say the word Amen, you're actually speaking Hebrew. It is a Hebrew word. It is one of two words in the New Testament that are Hebrew words that didn't get translated. They just got transliterated. They, for whatever reason, didn't find an appropriate one to one conversion in the language, the New Testament was being translated into. And so they just sort of grabbed it and took the Hebrew letters and found the letters of the language they were speaking and just sort brought it over, brought it across the language divide without translating.
And you can tell when that happens whenever you're listening to something. It's a foreign language, foreign language, Coca-Cola, foreign language. They don't translate trademarks. And so it'll just sort of be brought across the language divide. And that's exactly what happens with two words in the New Testament, one being hallelujah and the other being amen. How interesting that we speak Hebrew when we praise. We speak Hebrew when we pray. What does it mean? Amen, essentially, if I can just speak to my Gen Z for a second, it means no cap. That's what it means. That is the best, I've spent dozens of hours on this. And the best possible way to say to you what amen means is this, someone says something and it's no cap. That is the truth. This is the way is what Amen means. It comes to us only 30 times in the Old Testament, but 129 times in the New Testament.
It has not only brought across, intact, but it is there taken to an entirely different level. And of those 129, 99 of them belong to Jesus. 99 of the times we read the word Amen and the New Testament, it is from the mouth of Jesus as well. You might go man, I've read the Bible before. I've especially read the New Testament before. You might be like I'm new to the OT, but I've read me some Gospels before. And I have not noticed that coming up so much. Here's why. For whatever reason, the translators of the New Testament in almost all versions have opted to not bring the amen into the English language. But have instead used the words verily, assuredly, and truly. And any time you find one of those words coming out of the mouth of Jesus, you might have just passed over it a million times without realizing he was saying Amen. Amen. Amen.
I think my personal opinion is that was a poor choice. Although it's true, Amen does mean all of those things and more. It does mean let it be, it does mean assuredly, it does mean truly. It does mean I tell you the truth. It does mean I am not lying. It does mean no cap yo. It does mean all of that. But there was a reason no doubt that Amen was brought across instead of being translated from the Hebrew. And maybe it's the same reason that God would have us to have our heart centered on this word as well. One scholar from Yale said whenever a word was not translated from a heart language, which is like I said what happened with hallelujah and happened with amen from the Hebrew, but it also happens many different times in the New Testament with Aramaic. Aramaic words that you might not have realized you know, maranatha, Hosanna, raca, talitha cumi.
These are times in the New Testament when it didn't get translated into English but got left in Aramaic. It was because and I quote, "a word was so charged with emotion that it sort of transcended its linguistic meaning". And so it had just some extra oomph on it. And I believe that Amen is one of those things. So we're on a quest to not bring sexy back. We're bringing Amen back. Because we, in this time, really trying to understand why did Jesus love this word so much? And if you come all the weeks of the series leading up to Easter Sunday including our Good Friday worship experience, I'm going to have you loving some Amen too and by God's grace, you'll see some different things as you've seen in, you've never seen before. And I pray that you'll never say Amen quite the same way again. Amen?
What's unique about the way Jesus uses it as distinct from anybody else in the Bible who chooses to say it is that he uses it differently. Classic Jesus. Classic Jesus. Got to use it differently. Here's what I mean. When in the rest of the Bible old and New Testament alike, someone other than Jesus uses the word Amen, it always occurs at the end of a sentence. And that's the normal way. That would be the culturally appropriate way for it to be used. That is to say that generally speaking, here's how it works. You say something true. I acknowledge it by saying Amen in response or I say something and then as a response to my own statement or confession of faith or doxological confession, I would go Amen to let what just was said stand and be sort of notarized. That's the purpose of Amen.
So we would pray a prayer. And at the end of it, we would say in Jesus' name. We're adding extra oomph by invoking the name above every single name that there is. And then saying, let it be. This is true. This is not a lie. And hopefully, our prayer was in line with his character and his agenda. Otherwise, we were using it frivolously we were invoking a name to ask for a prayer that wasn't in line with his character. And I think if we truly think about that, we'll be a little less hasty to pray things that aren't in line with what Jesus would want. And Amen should be for all of us sort of a little bit of a, is that really what Jesus would want? Is that what God would want in this situation? Or is that just me wanting to be comfortable? Is that just me wanting control? So that's the normal way. A statement is made. And we would then respond to that statement going, that's true. That's powerful. Yes to that by saying Amen.
Jesus uses it completely different. He has his own way to Amen, which is almost every single time Jesus says Amen, he says it before he says something awesome. He says Amen as a way to get us ready for something powerful he's about to say, which is so countercultural. You have to understand when Jesus showed up and began preaching and he started his sentences with Amen, everybody would have had their eyebrows raised from the jump. Why? Because he was saying, I don't need your co-sign. I don't need you to agree with this. This is true whether or not you think it's true. What I'm about to tell you is not something that you can validate, because it is truth because I am truth. Amen.
So he starts his sentence with what most rabbis and religious preachers of the time would be hoping you would say in response to their statements. But he says, I exist from eternity past. I have no end. I have no beginning. I have no rival I have no equal. I don't need you to tell me what is true. I get to decide what is true. So amen. Here's my statement. Punk rock. That's bold. Amen at the beginning of a statement tells us as well that the following words are not to be missed, because they are extremely important. And the 99 times you will come across it in the Gospels, all are there so that whatever comes after them are not missed. By him saying Amen, he's highlighting a very important truth about eternity. And obviously in the series alone, we can't even cover all of these.
So here's what we're going to do. In addition to the weeks we've divided up the statements between the ones I'm going to highlight during the preaching times as well as the ones that we're going to focus on Monday through Friday. So every single day, Monday through Friday until Easter comes, we're going to have an Instagram reel that's going to go up on the Fresh Life Instagram and Facebook accounts about noon mountain time. And when I say about noon, I mean noon, just noon or there will be hell to pay. And different people in our community, our team and staff and some impact team as well are going to be giving little devotionals on the additional statements that we're not going to have the chance to focus on.
So there's just going to be another way to take it further. So we invite you and encourage you to tune in to these each day so that it's just a little bit more of Amen in your daily life as we break from work. And so that's going to be awesome. And then they're also going to be putting on little questionnaires where you can put your own prayer requests in. And then we'll be praying for those things as well together. Then we're going to be having every single Wednesday between now and Easter Sunday, 7:00 to 7:30 AM at every single Fresh Life Church location as well as online, 30 minutes of prayer that we can focus our hearts in midweek. And you will be saying to us and to everybody else showing up for a midweek prayer service at 7:00 AM, I mean business. I did anticipate a more meager response to that.
So even the few of you who were hard core enough to aim in that were already more than I expected. So 7:00 to 7:30, encourage you to come and just have a half hour before work and before whatever else comes, midweek and all the information you can find on our website for those gatherings. They're going to be powerful for us to pray together. Amen? Amen. So we're going to be praying. And I can't wait to see what God will do every single day centering our hearts each week gathering mid-week to pray. And then of course, every single weekend. Our first comes to us in Matthew chapter 6. So if you have a way to get to the scriptures, Matthew chapter 6 says Jesus speaking and when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, amen.
I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room. And when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your father knows the things you have need of before you ask him. And then in the following verses, he gives a passage of scripture that we're quite familiar with. It's commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer. It's his template for all prayer. And then in verse 16, he continues the thought moreover when you fast, do not notice when you fast.
So when you're like, as you're following me and you want to follow me, and that's going to be part of what you're going to do when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Hold on, assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, because it's going to be something that's going to be important to you as you follow me, anoint your head and wash your face so that you do not appear to men to be fasting. But to your Father who is in the secret place and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I want to talk to you for just a few moments about the idea of the power unleashed on our lives through prayer and fasting. So we honor Jesus in the way that he taught us to, to pray and to fast. I heard of a pastor who was convicted about his lack of fasting, wasn't a real regular part of his life, maybe here and there. But he decided just to make it a weekly thing as there you can look into it has been throughout almost all of church history, a custom, of weekly of regular fasting where it's something that doesn't happen a time of year or two. It's a weekly part of the rhythms of following Jesus. And so he thought well, I'll do it on Sundays. I'll just not eat when I wake up, and I'll preach fasted. And I'll eat dinner that night. And so he decided to start experimenting with that and five, six months went by. And it was sort of new to him. But he really started to feel it.
And then one day, he came into a meeting. And the person on the team responsible for packaging up the sermons and getting them out to the world on the world wide web, how they would go out? She was like I don't know what is going on in this church. But there has been like a twice as many people listening to the messages from the church. So whatever you're doing, it's working. He looked at the calendar. And when the spike began was exactly literally when he began to preach while giving himself over to praying and to fasting. What does it mean to say to God I mean business? In choosing to honor him through the pausing of the eating of food to focus your soul on prayer.
I want to talk to you about switching gears on appetites, from living with the one that is the loudest earthly speaking, our physical appetite, to boosting another appetite, the appetite of our souls. You cannot read the Bible without seeing the importance of food and faith and how these things are connected. We talked at Christmas if you were with us about how the Bible begins with a meal. It ends with a meal. And in the middle of it, there's meals. It's just food everywhere. Man's first way of honoring God was not eating. You realize that? Our very first way to honor God was when he said eat all this stuff. Amazing. This over here, don't eat. So literally fasting was our first way of honoring God, fasting from a particular thing, pulling something out of the diet. Not eating this tree was the very first way we chose to live under God's authority so interconnected into everything about who we are is the honoring of God through not eating something. Do you see that?
That's a part of your soul. That's a part of your makeup? He made you in such a way where an intrinsic part of you honoring him was where you would be willing to say I'm not going to eat that I'm not going to eat that for in that, not in that case ever, but in our case, it's still a part of how we're wired as well. And we could go through the scripture talking about the significance of fasting and meals in general. And Jesus's first literal assignment after being baptized was to face a season of prolonged season of temptation in the wilderness. And the enemy came to him and said choose to eat this. Eat this. Given to your stomach right now, it's got to be ground man. And what did Jesus say? Jesus said man shall not live by bread alone, Matthew 4:4, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Our souls have a stomach and the stomach of our souls at times needs to be boosted by choosing to interrupt what is so loud and so normal. And that is the stomach of our bodies. And of course, Jesus is that bread. Jesus is the bread that has come down from heaven. That bread referring to the meal that was sort of a centerpiece of the time being in the wilderness in between Egypt and Israel, the land flowing with milk and honey that they got out of Egypt heading towards through a meal, a Passover meal. So food and faith, these things are so connected. How can we think that there would be no importance or bearing on the food that we eat on the way that we exercise our faith? And as you read through scripture, the list of Christians who fasts, believers who fasted, Esther, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Jonah, Moses, you're like that's a pretty important club?
If I don't fast and yet these are people I idolize, if a poor choice of words. But you know what I'm saying. If they're your heroes, but you don't, you're like, oh, but that's cool they fast. That was the thing about, Paul in fastings often. Peter, amazing, vision, revelation, in a time of fasting, so many people. And yet we don't experience what they're experiencing. But we're not doing what they're doing, how can we expect to have what they have if we don't do what they do choosing and realizing to flex the gear of prayer and fasting. The disciples of course got that lesson coming down from the mountain. The demon that couldn't be cast out as Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down from the amount of transfiguration the disciples were puzzled over this.
Why can't we help this person? Why can't we get breakthrough here? And Jesus said, this can't happen without prayer and fasting? So why would we view it as an optional add on in our faith as opposed to what it has been for the whole of biblical history and the majority of church history. Two reasons. Jot them down. Number one, because it's hard. That's it. And number two because the enemy wants us slow. And they don't call it fasting for nothing. If this is a race, then could it be that God gave us something to speed us up. And the devil wants our bellies full of the beans we get in exchange for our birthright. The enemy wants us to satisfy only our physical appetites and to ignore the pressing needs of our souls. So that he can keep us busy here, distracted here, instead of living at the level that God intends for us to live at.
So what is fasting? How can we define our terms. Well, it's not just not eating. So let's start there. Fasting is not just not eating. Fasting in the biblical sense is not eating while praying. And that is a highly crucial distinction. Fasting if you need sort of a definition is praying with your body. It's using your body to pray in the same way that we take singing and worshiping. And we don't just send our voices because when you're worshipping God through your voice, you're just singing. But why do we raise our hands? Why would we move our bodies? Why would we take a knee? It's so that we can take the worship act and involve our whole body in so in the same way that raising up your hands lifts up a hallelujah.
So choosing to abstain from eating in order to pray and eat the word of God that is more important to us just than our daily bread, which is also blessed. And what we eat, God's blessing is on that we eat to God. We eat to the glory of God. But so when we choose to not eat, we do so to the glory of God, to take the prayer experience. I mean, imagine if you just had to praise God with your song voice in a straitjacket locked up? I mean, you could do it. And there's freedom in it. But if you're literally standing there and some of you feel so seen right now. That's how I pray. Yeah, I've seen you. And I won't break through for you. All right. To raise a hand to raise your heart, to realize your body is involved in the halal. Y'all. And to know in the same way that if you were just all of a sudden to break free in worship, what you would experience in life.
So I believe the fasting act of obedience will similarly take your prayer life to another level. Fasting and praying is hungering for God from head to toe. Fasting then in the biblical sense is not just what it does for us. All right, which is what? Well, of course even just spiritual ramifications aside for a moment, fasting helps you get to ketosis, fasting helps you to lose weight then, fasting boosts mental clarity, fasting has been found to be successful in treating the epileptic seizures that come upon some as well as even potentially a factor in some breakthrough cures for forms of cancer. It is believed by some that it can if done regularly help cycle out pre-cancer material in the body. And that if your age 40 and many of us are, we are, a lot of us heading towards cancer in our future.
And it is posited by some that a regular three-day fast or something to that effect can actually help your body to dispose of things that can become cancerous. But all of these would be byproducts that would not be the incentive for fasting, the reason for fasting, and the focus for fasting any more than the sense of meaning or the sense of wellness or the sense of boosted confidence that comes when you stand for 15 minutes with your hands raised, declaring the goodness of God are the reason we worship it. Those are all byproducts and amazing benefits on the back end. But we don't worship God because of how it makes us feel. We worship God because he's Holy. And then we walk away marveling at how good God is. And I constantly look at how the secular world is seeking to bring into their lives, the things that will naturally have automatically in our lives if we would just follow God and do what he's called us to do.
As so many around the world today are on a quest for a transcendent experience and looking to the poison of a horned toad from Mexico or some other substance to bring psychedelic experiences to their mind because the job that they have is not bringing it for them. And the sex that they're having and the experiences with alcohol and money and all these things are not enough. So now, the Hollywood elite and all the world is going pandemonium, pell-mell after ayahuasca ceremonies, and rituals to have experiences with what the Bible would call pharmakeia, a sorcery of bringing in compounded chemicals into have some enlightened point. There is nothing but darkness to be found and wickedness to be found at the end of spiritual experiences where God is not present.
The problem is not that they won't work it's that they will. But who you will meet in the darkness is not the Prince of Peace, but the one who comes masquerading as the bright and morning star. But it's truly the lion that wants to carry you up and steal, kill and destroy. The point is the worship. John Piper said God rewards fasting because fasting expresses the cry of the heart that nothing on Earth can satisfy our souls besides God. Fasting says to him I'm not messing around. God, I mean business. There's nothing I need more than you. And of course, as with anything, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Jesus, in the text that we considered, helped us to understand the right way in the wrong way. He told us first of all five things I want to tell you about fasting never done.
Fasting is not flexing. Fasting is not you being awesome. Fasting if it becomes that, it then brings into our lives what it was invented to prevent, because it lifts you up. And fasting is all about saying to God there's nothing besides you that I need. And if your star is higher than him, you're then doing the thing that fasting was there to help you not do. You are doing it wrong. Jesus points to these jokers, the religious leaders of his day who love to run around making everyone aware of how long their fasting streak was and praying loud and praying for all to hear. And he's like all hat no cattle. He says, don't do it like that. He says go into your room and pray. OK now, hold on a second. He's not saying don't pray in community. He's not saying don't pray publicly. He's not saying don't fast to where people are where, what he was calling out would not be someone who's praying and seeking God doing so in public. But he's showing and exposing the hypocrites who when they pray in public, that's all the prayer that they're going to pray. You see?
That's all the prayer. That is to say they pray publicly and publicly what they're not doing privately. If and when you and I pray in public, that should just be what is already taken place being now seen and glimpsed. But the bulk of our prayer life shouldn't be when we're in a Fresh Life group or when we're in a gathering together. God forbid, when we are on a stage. The best and the realest prayer is what takes place in secret. And then if it had ever seen publicly, amazing. There's a great, that's where the power comes from. That's seen like when you... and you can tell. You can sometimes you can tell when you don't want the person who hasn't had a quiet time praying for food. Oh God, they'll pray you around the world. Oh India, orphans, so 2 Peter, Ezekiel 22, whatever that is. You're like oh God, have you quiet time. Not with me right now. I want to eat this hamburger.
All right. But where you can tell someone's prayed up, they've got, they checked their boxes and all their prayers, they're going to pray alone. And then just the simplicity of that. When it just does come out it's just like, Oh, we just got to see for a second. Your soul was already communing. There was not a lot you had to say. Because you were already just talking to him, you see. Let your heart be so sated on who I am and what I'm doing in private that if and when it's seen in public, people are just like well whatever that was, I want more of that which is why, by the way the disciples asked Jesus teach us how to pray. Because I'd never seen anybody like you pray. And that came from all the time he prayed privately in secret.
So whenever they did get to see him, it would be like a snippet, a sentence. And that's why he's like you don't need to pray a lot in public when you've prayed a lot in private. There's a power in it. So fasting is not flexing. And the more we pray alone, the more powerful and simple our prayers can be together. I was reading a book this week about someone who had had a chance to go and spend a little bit of time with Floyd Mayweather before one of his fights. And he was in the arena in the green room on a couch watching a basketball game when he walked in. And he said oh, Mr. Mayweather, Mr. Mayweather, I'm so excited to spend a few moments with you. I'll leave because you have your fight. He's like bro, sit down. And he sits down. And the basketball game continues.
And Floyd's just completely at ease. It's just like a Saturday afternoon. And he's in his sweatpants. This guy's about to go into a sold out arena and like literally, his life's on the line. This whole thing. And so he waits for a commercial break. Goes OK, look, I'm going to go, I'm going to get out of here. He goes no, no I'm enjoying you. It's cool. And finally, he said how are you so chill? He goes, the work's done, or it's not done by this point. Three months ago was when I was stressed.
Now, I just get to enjoy what I did back then. You see the difference there? I think sometimes we're scrambling, like, the prayer is going to be this big, big, big thing. And we work the moment through the big moment, the work was done or not done on your knees alone. So now, we just get to either see or not see what we say, we get to ride that piece that should be, there's such a strength to that when it's not now something I have to hype up and flex up. It's peace like a river. Fasting is not forcing, second point. Fasting is not manipulating God that we think now because of our hunger strike. He has to listen Oh did you see them. They haven't eaten since Tuesday. Gabriel, answer their prayers. Whatever they ask for.
Oh wow, that's what, he's like come on. Come on with that. Come on with that. You've disfigured your face and oh, you're so miserable. And oh. You think God with your many words is going to be up there going like what, what am I to do? They're so amazing. It's not twisting God's arm. So does God hear us better when we're fasting? I don't think so. I think we hear him better. We're not forcing God into something. We are creating the conditions and the circumstances under which our souls can tune in his presence. Fasting is not forcing.
Third, fasting is feasting. What is it now? If it's not flexing and forcing, it's feasting on his spirit, feasting on his presence, feasting on his word. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. And perhaps unlike any other time in our lives, we are capable and able to sense our true need for God's righteousness when we're in a fasted state. When we don't have food being digested in our stomachs we become spiritually, spiritually clearer just like we know our minds become clearer when we're not digesting food. I think there's a connection historically to fasting and grieving. The fasted state is somewhat similar to the grieving state. Those of you who have lost a loved one, you know what I'm talking about. There's almost a how can you eat at a time like this when you're in grief.
I found it physically impossible to keep food down for a long period of time after Lenya died. There was a season where we had to force ourselves to have green juices to get anything in. You just can't eat. You're sick. This world, the way I described it in my book Through the Eyes of a Lion is it's noxious in your nose. Because it no longer contains that person you love. There's a sense in which it was impossible to enjoy a Super Bowl commercial. I'm grieving here. There's sackcloth and ashes here. I can't enjoy what I used to enjoy because I was tuned into a different frequency in grief. Perhaps fasting approximates that. When we choose to intentionally afflict ourselves, we open a bandwidth up that allows us to see through the smoke and mirrors of culture. To seize through the passing pleasures of sin. To all of a sudden become aware that the song we were dancing to is no song or anthem or ballad to lift us up to worship. It just gives us the conditions where, and it's not full. It's not final. There's a fuzziness to it. We're tuning in between frequencies. But there's something opened up to us that I don't fully understand.
We're in a season of fasting, in a season of prayer. There's a sense in which even though we're not mourning, we become those who mourn. And those who mourn Jesus said shall be comforted. And what is the comfort that he gives us? It's nearness to us, his presence. Charles Spurgeon said of the times of fasting in the church that he led, never has heaven's gate stood wider, never have our hearts been nearer the central glory. What is it about fasting? It's choosing to put yourself in a state of discomfort on choice for a reason. The reason not being you're so awesome, but he's so good and I'm so weak. It's not, I'm so powerful because I do this. It's I'm so weak I would need to do this. Do you see the difference? And it's saying the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life are so powerful. They're going to get me if this is not a part of my story.
Fasting is fixing. Number four, we are almost done. Fixing our eyes, fixing our focus, fixing our treasure. Acknowledging that we have a sort of spiritual cataracts that gives us a blurriness to life. To how we see things every day, what's important, what matters. What we've got to do before we die like those things that they're always going to be distorted. If we don't have a continual influx of God's truth waking us back up, bringing us to our senses truing our true North on our compasses. Truly, I tell you those who fast for this world already have their reward. Here's the Amen. Amen. They're living for this earth just in a different way. But if you fast and pray as I want you to when you do he said, you'll pull your gaze to heaven because you're not doing it for Earth. You're doing it for laying up treasure in heaven. You're putting your value into my hands. You're walking by faith and not by sight. You're choosing to say that the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen 2 Corinthians 4:8 are eternal.
So you have to almost look at your life with your eyes closed and fasting allows you to do that. It's when you allow your stomach to become empty, I believe that while seeking God, your heart can become full. I'll say that again. It's when you allow your stomach to get empty while seeking God that your heart can become full, which is why I'll throw out there that during these days in between now and Good Friday, I'm calling out church to prayer and fasting. Many of you will choose to do the Daniel diet. I would just ask that skip meals somewhere in. Even if you're pulling things from your food, which is a great tradition of that as well, especially during the season between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in the church's history. But even if that's your method, skip meals in. Skip a breakfast, skip a lunch, if medically you're able, go through the day, just, you see, you can end up just walking around eating carrot sticks and never feel the hunger that's actually there as your ally to help you along.
So if it's something you can do, wake up and remain fasted and when you feel that hunger pains, encourage yourself yes, I'm going to press into God. I'm going to press into the Lord. I'm going to press into him. There's for a long time, Christian tradition that supports twice a week fasting where you would sun down to sundown fast a couple of times a week. That's just allowing the regular rhythms of this to be a part of your story, continuing to remind yourself that he is King. Fasting is fighting finally. Fighting battles that are not physical, not flesh and blood. You might not have a marriage problem. You might have a spirit problem. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they're mighty, you might be trying to fight eternal invisible battles with fleshly verbal human tactics. But when we switch the frequencies from seen to unseen, from earthly to Heavenly, when we change the battlefield, we are much, much less prone to falling to the enemy's tactics on us. We'll see through them better.
Perhaps Jesus knew that the enemy was coming to dazzle him with all the kingdoms of this world and the power of jumping off a temple and base jumping down to Earth. Or eating bread out of rocks. But he knew that the days of fasting leading up to that would allow him to see through the temptations better. One pastor said, and I quote. And I want to caution you with every day the fast going, is it working, is it working, is it working, is it working, is it working, is it working, is it working? I don't get anything out of it yet. I don't know, that's not a word. One pastor said, and I quote "surprisingly, after the fast is when I begin to realize something from the fast. I came back from the fast with a clearer sense of purpose and a renewed sense of power in my ministry. The anger which I unleashed at my wife and children was less frequent. And the materialism that was squeezing the life out of my spirituality had loosened its grip".
Think about fasting like running with a weighted vest or doing dips with a 45 pounds weight dangling from your weight belt. The goal isn't, I got so good at having a 45 pounds weight dangling from my belt that now I'm just going to do that all the time. So the goal of fasting isn't the fasting. The goal of the fasting is what God gives in you and the way you honor him and commune with him so that when it's released, there's a power and a strength and a fitness for the fight. And our readiness for the battle and your hands are trained for when you're not wearing the weight belts, for when you're not wearing the plated vest. We experience things in these days. And then we get to run out of the revelation on the back end as we eat and do so to the glory of God.
As I end, let me end with the realization, and I was listening to Tim Keller talk about the significance of the amens when he made reference to the fact that in Mark 14, there are three of them. 99 in the Bible I told you about our New Testament in Jesus's mouth. Three of them are in Mark 14. And he pointed out that, and this is crazy because read Mark 14 on your own time. Mark 14 when he told Judas, you're about to betray me. Mark 14 is when he told Peter, bro, you're about to deny me. And mark 14 is where Jesus vowed to fast to save us all. The way he put it when he held the cup of the wine of The Last Supper was this way. I will not drink this again until my kingdom, I won't drink, woo, I won't lift a cup of wine to my lips until we're all in heaven getting a drink together. You realize it's a vow. He's said Amen, Amen I won't drink wine until we get to drink in heaven. It's similar to first Samuel 14 where Saul said, no one eats or drinks until the battles does.
It's similar to the book of x when those 40 men took that oath. No one eats your drinks until Paul is dead. It's where you show something serious. You realize Jesus said, I won't touch the fruit of grapes until I've done what's necessary to get you to heaven. So what's our strength? What's our positioning going into this fast, Fresh Life Church? I'll tell you what it's not. It's not all of us together. It's puffing ourselves up and saying, I mean business. Look at us. I'm fat, we're fasting. Isn't that awesome? That's what Peter, I'll never deny you. I'll never deny. Mark 14, I'll never deny you? What did he say? Jesus, I mean, you don't know about me. I mean business. Jesus said, you're going to deny me. I know about that already. You're going to do it three times, roosters involved. Judas, you're going to betray me. And in that same breath, that same paragraph, is when Jesus made his sacred vow.
Do you see the point? The point is Jesus is not surprised by your weakness. It's the reason he came to save you. So when we say, I mean business as a banner to raise over this fast, it's not the I mean business coming out of our lives. It's the one that came out of his. Because when he said I won't drink until the kingdom, he was saying I mean business. And that confidence, that love, that awareness of our sin but his resolve to save us anyway is the standard under which we're going to march into the gates of hell to do whatever God calls us to do. Because being loved like that gives you wings. Amen. Who's thankful? Who's thankful? Come on. Stand up. Stand up to your feet.
Father, we're humbled by your love. It makes no sense. Oh, we're so broken. We're so frail. We're so easily drawn to shiny things. And yet, you love us. You don't disdain us for our weakness. You don't hate us for our frailties. God, you don't despise us for our lust, for our need for recognition, for our addiction to success. Your heart fills with compassion. You want to save us all more. So save us now. We pray. Save now your people from ourselves. We need you to come riding in on the wind to save us, to sweep us off our feet. We sense your spirit even now moving in our midst drawing us back to you again. God, there are high places that need to be torn down. There's sin that needs to be repented from. There are sips of the river of life we've been taking where you would call us to gulps. I pray that these sacred days of fasting and prayer would be a time in which you could do a great surgery in our hearts as you call us to lay down by still waters, being restored, God, in green pastures. So then in the coming days, we could run and we could fight. But first we need to hear. We need to listen. And we need to seek. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. So I pray Father for your people in these days of seeking you that you would bless them for your glory and our good.
If you would, just would say, "I'm touched by the Love of Jesus in this moment. I'm touched by the love of God". Can you just raise up a hand? Church online, every location.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. Oh Lord, help our stubbornness, our smallness. Help us to lift our eyes to you. Meet us God in secret so you can unleash us in public to be humbly used to build your work in this earth.
You can put your hands down if you would say, "Levi, I've never accepted that love and ever before. I sense it all around me. There's something so powerfully unmistakable happening. But I've never opened up my life to that kind of, the Salvation of Jesus that you're talking about is for me, I've been a box I check. It's been something I've got to do. I don't know anything about someone who vows to save me while telling me in the same breath, I'm going to betray him. But I want that kind of salvation. I want Jesus to invade my soul. Not so I can describe myself as a Christian in the same way I would say I'm also a Republican or a Caucasian or I I'm a bow hunter. I bet I'm saying I want to follow Christ as the Lord of my life. I want heaven. I want by the time they nail that pine lid on the box shut and put me six feet under that I will know I'm in glory I'm in heaven and not perishing for my own sins and foolishness".
If right now in this moment you would want to say, "Jesus come into my life and save me", I'm going to pray with you, giving you language to put around what you're saying. The church family, we're going to pray it with you, confessing with you your need for Christ. The Bible says there's joy and rejoicing in heaven over one person who repents. And I believe, whether it's in dear lodge as we've been preaching these now for years, if it's in Salt Lake or Portland, if it's in Cincinnati or New York, or San Diego, I believe God speaking to many. Right now, call on him and he will save you. Today is the day of salvation. You can't be saved tomorrow the Bible says. But today, you can always be saved. If it's called today while you hear it, you can be saved. Say this with us:
Dear God. I know I'm a sinner. There's nothing I can do to fix myself. But I trust Jesus who died for me, who rose from the dead, who stands to save me. I want to eat and drink with him in the kingdom. So thank you for saving me in Jesus' name.