The Fast of the Lord

April 10, 2013

The Fast of the Lord

Isaiah 58:3-7
Wherefore have we fasted, [say they], and thou seest not? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as [ye do this] day, to make your voice to be heard on high Is it such a fast that I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul? [is it] to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes [under him]? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

The essence of what it is saying to us is this, we seek God in fasting in prayer and we are not hearing Him answer us. This chapter is addressing why we may not be hearing from God and why our prayers are falling to the ground. Many of us, myself included, often equate our spiritual service to God with our spirituality. We may pray, read our Bible, go to church, sing in the choir, serve on committees, we may even be a deacon or an elder, yet when we are seeking the Lord He is silent.
Recently, I heard a sermon from the noted minister, Charles Stanley. He was addressing the subject of knowing God’s will for our lives. The very first point he made I believe ties in with what the Lord is addressing here in Isaiah 58. He said the first step to hearing God is “Clearing the Path.”
If we are still regarding willful sin in our life it will fragment our spiritual mind and hinder us from thinking, seeing, and hearing clearly in the spirit. We have to deal with those sin issues in our lives if we are going to be in the position of hearing the Spirit.
If we are going through the motions of religious service to God as the Israelites were doing here, then we are in affect, just blowing smoke. God says this is a heart issue. “I desire obedience, not sacrifice.” A true fast of God is not about the going without food and afflicting ourselves outwardly, although I believe the Word does teach that this has it’s place. I believe it will not have the effect we desire in touching God until it is matched with the actions of faith and Christian service through true love in word and deed. As we begin to serve others in a practical way, physically, emotionally and spiritually it will, in itself, lead to a spiritual fast because it will cause us to lay down our lives and sacrifice our wills and desires in order for us to meet those needs.
This scripture talks about ministering to the needs of others but the last sentence says, ” and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” The New Living Translation says it like this, ” do not hide from relatives who need your help.” One of the areas I find I can be most neglectful in is really being sensitive to the needs within my own family and especially with my spouse. This is one of the first places we have to address to have spiritual success in the rest of our lives. If our house is divided and our relationships are broken within our homes and among our relatives, walls are built that hinder our spiritual progress and relationship with God. It is true that sometimes there is only so much we can do from our end and having done all we can we must continue in love and faith. I am reminded of the scripture in 1Peter 3:7 that says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” It is vital that we honor our wives and minister to their needs if we are to be successful in our relationship with God, hearing His will for us and receiving His full blessing. Sometimes I believe I have the mindset that if I am doing spiritual things and it is taking all of my time, my wife will understand if I neglect her, because after all it is for a higher purpose. I forget that one of the highest purposes of God is for me to be one with my wife. It is His plan and purpose that I spend time with my wife, children and grandchildren. That time spent with them is my opportunity to plant into their lives the love and ministry of Christ. It is the opportunity to make Christ real and alive to them through my practical application of loving time spent with them. Our families are one of the greatest acts of spiritual service we have and we can not neglect that if we want to maintain right relationship with the Father. They are our first order of ministry next to Him.
Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me through others, that while I may be going through spiritual motions, if I am not lining my life up with practical application through godly living the other is vanity and emptiness. It falls short in reaching heaven and my prayers fall short in reaching the ears of God. Maybe some of you, like myself, have fallen short in this area and are wondering why you are not hearing from God. These are areas of our lives we must objectively examine and judge, without justifying ourselves, but being totally honest and true before the Lord. Are we shutting up our hearts towards our fellow man, our family, and our neighbor? Are we harboring unforgiveness or bitterness? Our right relationship with God is not just vertical, but horizontal as well. If we fail to relate His love and nature to our fellow man then we fail to relate it to Him. May we learn what the true fast of the Lord is in practical daily living as His life is lived through us in true spiritual service to others.
Isaiah 58:8-14, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
Isa 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
Isa 58:10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noonday:
Isa 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Isa 58:12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken [it]. ”



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