As I sit here at my computer eating a delicious sandwich piled high with honey baked ham, specialty mustard, and a zesty pickle slice, I recognize what a blessing it is. I also recognize my ability and freedom to eat when I decide to. Here it is, two hours before lunch and yet, I decided to break into my brown bag and nibble a bit. I have the freedom to do that. Or, I could have decided to wait, put my hunger off and deny my stomach for a while. What was the purpose of Jesus deciding to fast for 40 days? For one, God commanded him to do so. And because God knew it would ready Him to encounter temptation. When Satan met him out in the desert to attempt to lead him astray Jesus was focused and ready to make the right decision. Denying ones "self" can be both cleansing and focusing. The times I have fasted weren't easy at first, but as the day progressed I found my strength actually beginning to increase. My body felt more relaxed and my mind seemed clearer. By the end of the day I wasn't so entertained by my stomach and my own desires. My blinders were lifted and I was opened to seeing the bigger picture. It doesn't always have to be with food, maybe skip TV, or video games, or whatever. Just the act of denying ones self is an enriching and strengthening experience. Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Matthew 16:24).