There is something special about the first part of a New Year. I think every FIRST in our lives gives us an opportunity to put God first.
I like to give God some of the first time of my day through reading my Bible and prayer. I give the first part of my week to God through faithful worship in His House. I give the first 10% back to God the moment we get paid each week. I believe when we honor God with the first, he blesses the rest. I have seen God’s faithfulness in every area of my life where I have strategically put Him first.
So, I like to take the first part of the New Year to give God my best through a FAST. If you are new to faith in God, then fasting might seem strange. But it’s a spiritual discipline that can really move your life in great trajectory. Throughout the Bible, you find people who fasted because they were desperate for God.
Simply put, fasting is denying yourself physically, so you can draw closer to God spiritually. It’s choosing to give up something you love for someone you love even more – Jesus. I typically begin the year with a 10-14 day fast to help move me closer to God and to receive guidance from God for our church.
The fast I typically do is one that is challenging for me. There are many examples of established fasts that you can find, and I would encourage you to consider engaging in one. My fast not only is intended to help me get closer to God, but also to help me get a good start physically. I even gave my fast a name (it’s a preacher thing.) I call it “No Sweets, Meats and Social Tweets.”
I give up sweets because it is the hardest thing of all to give up for me. I have a HUGE sweet tooth. So this one is particularly hard for me, but I know it is also good to cleanse my body. I also give up meat for this season. As you can imagine, this one is pretty hard. If you are a vegetarian, this would be easy. Not me, I’m more of a caveman! Ugh.
Lastly, I give up social media. I have done this for the last few years to help break the bad habit of being glued to my phone for social media updates. I have found that social media is changing the way we view life and other people. In fact, I think that it is such a big shift for our culture, that I’m doing a message series in February about social media. It’s easy to be drawn into a make-believe world where you compare everything you have to what other people post. It’s easy to seek the affirmation of others online rather than to seek the approval of God.
I want to encourage you to consider beginning this year with some type of fast. If you want to join with me in my fast for the next 14 days, great! If you want to give up something else, wonderful. Whatever it is, make sure it is meaningful to you and will provide you with more time to engage with God through prayer and reflection.
So you might not hear much from me online. I might post an occasional inspiring Bible verse from my YouVersion app to encourage our church. Maybe I’ll try to write some inspiring words on my blog, or maybe I won’t have anything inspiring to say because I’ll be “hangry” all the time. But no matter what, I’m going to give God the FIRST part of this year and trust Him with the rest of it.