The Christian, for reasons not totally visible to him, is called to walk through the land of an enemy king on his way to the Celestial City. Christ in His high priestly prayer acknowledges the difficulty of this journey and prays not that we can detour, but rather that we can endure. “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from the March 1992 issue of The Pilgrim Witness.
Fasting generally means to refrain from taking nourishment from food or food drinks. Matthew 4:2 states that Jesus “fasted forty days and forty nights.” Luke 4:2 describes His fasting with the words, “In those days he did eat nothing.” Before Jesus fed the multitude who had followed Him for several days, He said, “I will not send them away fasting,” meaning, or course, that He would not send them away without giving them some food to eat (Matt 15:32).
The young man’s expression was confident as he approached. Tucked under his arm were the folders and books he needed for his next lecture at the university where he was attending. It was also where a number of us had gathered for street meetings. As he pulled his ear buds out, he courteously extended his hand, and with a slight grin he said, “I understand you are Christian?”
I replied, “Yes, I am a Christian, “Are you”?”
How recently have we heard a sermon on the dangers of strong drink? How often do we study a Sunday school lesson on temperance? How many of us are even tempted to drink alcoholic beverages?
We can hardly imagine an era like the 1890’s when it was deemed necessary to include a temperance lesson in every Sunday school quarter. Since that time, several generations of American Mennonites have taught and practiced total abstinence. For most of us, that is all we know. We could say that our Mennonite churches have generally succeeded in winning the battle with drunkenness.
Just reading the title probably brings negative thoughts to your mind. We as humans don’t typically like to be told, “No,” because it goes against our nature. Sometimes we bring the “no” upon ourselves because of disobedience, such as when God said, “No,” to Moses. “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land.... But the Lord ... would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter” (Deu 3:25,26).
Sleep is a God-given natural resource for the survival of the human body. We all are familiar with the feeling of a good night’s rest. Most people will use two or three thousand hours per year to close their eyes and sleep. A godly life contributes to good sleep.
James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
As we stand at the hardware store counter, the cashier offers the little boy by our side a candy fish. We watch to see if he remembers what he should say. A smiling boy saying a soft “thank you” is a welcome sight. It is encouraging to Dad when he remembers. And when he doesn’t, it’s a reminder to keep working at it.
As Christians, we are like the little boy. We are standing by God’s counter. God keeps handing us things. Some things we’ve asked for and others we have not.
The title for this article is taken from Second Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
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