About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Monday, May 18, 2009

When Ye Fast

(Article for publication week of 5-20-2009 AD)

“Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily, I say unto you they have their reward.” (Matthew 6:16).

In Matthew 6:1-18 our Lord teaches us that the practice of righteousness involves three major activities: giving, praying and fasting. As with giving and praying, our Lord does not say “if “ you fast but ‘when “ you fast. So we see that fasting is to be a regular part of the Christian life.

Our Lord taught us fasting by His Own example (Matthew 4:2). The early church practiced fasting (Acts 13:2). Our Lord taught us that urgent prayers should be accompanied by fasting (Matthew 17:21). The Apostle Paul said he was often in fasting (II Corinthians 11:27).

Fasting helps us learn several important things. First of all, we learn from fasting that our eternal souls are more important than our temporal needs. Our Lord quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to the devil when he tempted Him after His forty day fast: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.” It is not that we don’t need bread, but that the word of God is more important. Job said in job 23:12, “ I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Natural food is necessary, but not as necessary as the word of God. Our outer man is vanishing away, but our never dying souls are headed into eternity. Fasting helps impress this on out minds.

Another important lesson we learn from fasting is the grace of self-control. Self-control (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). By giving up a lawful need, we learn to exercise self-control. Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken, and without walls.” Foregoing a meal, or meals helps us learn this important virtue. Controlling our appetites cultivates temperance in other areas, like the use of our tongues. Now that is an area where we all need help!

James 1:26 says, “if any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” A tongue that is out of control is a sign of a graceless life. The unbridled tongue has disrupted churches, torn apart families, alienated former friends and worked a “world of iniquity.” How our hearts still break over some cruel or indiscreet remark we made that wounded the feelings of others. All of us need to learn to control our tongues more (especially yours truly), and fasting is a great help to us in learning this virtue.

There are many things that are lawful in themselves, but could cause another person to sin. In such things we must be careful not to give unnecessary offence. (By offence, I mean that which could cause another to stumble, not everything that immature people make into an issue.) Our daily food is certainly lawful. An abundance of food and pleasing foods are a blessing from the Lord and should in no way be despised. But a temporary disuse of our lawful food teaches us that there are more important things. May the Lord help us to learn the lesson of self-control.

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