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]. ”

Blessings,
kent

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God’s Love

March 27, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

God’s Love

God’s love will take you further than you want to go,
Cost you more than you thought you could give.
It keeps you sometimes longer than you want to stay,
Causes you to live and act contrary to logic of man,
Contrary to what you may actually think or feel.
It causes you to love those who hate you,
Pray for those who selfishly use you,
Bless those who curse you and speak ill of you.
Forgive those who disappoint and hurt you,
Go the extra mile and give more than is required.
It will cause you to see the best in people, not the worst.
It will cause you to see past people’s faults to see their need.
It will cause you to endure with longsuffering and self-control.
It will cause you to live with abandon to random acts of kindness.
It will give you patience to endure the pain and stay the course.
It will cause you to die that you may truly live,
Because the love of “Christ in you” is the life you give.
Kent Stuck

Blessings,
kent

Acts 4:36-37
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, [and] of the country of Cyprus Having land, sold [it], and brought the money, and laid [it] at the apostles’ feet.

Barnabas, Son of Encouragement and Consolation

Barnabas is a rich example of a tremendous man of faith and godliness. Barnabas is one of those ministries that was not at the forefront and limelight, but he was the backbone of those who were. God used Barnabas tremendously in helping Paul to gain acceptance as an apostle and come into the ministry and office that God had for him. Barnabas served as a co-missionary with Paul in the outreach to many of the gentiles. We see him as a very dignified man of wisdom, generosity and encouragement. Barnabas was the type of man and ministry that would see the gift of God in others and bring it out of them. Even when Paul and Barnabas took John Mark with them and he failed the first time; Barnabas didn’t give up on him. He and Paul had strong words and disagreement later on when Barnabas wanted to take him again. It was to the point that they went their separate ways, but Barnabas saw the ministry gift that was inside of John Mark and his ministry was to develop it and bring it out. John Mark goes on to write the gospel of Mark and even Paul later admits that John Mark is of use to him.
Many of us are not ministers that are seen or acknowledged by position, office or gifts of oration. Many of us may not be missionaries, pastor, evangelist, teacher, prophets or apostles, but we may be the means by which others may come into the fullness of their ministry and gifting. Each one of us in the body of Christ is essential for the success and development of others in the body of Christ. It may come through encouraging words, helps, financial support or mentoring. There are many ways that we can make a difference even though what we do is not seen or even acknowledged.
I love Barnabas because he brought out the best in others without seeking attention or recognition for himself. His office and calling was really much higher than many give him credit for. Your office and calling may be much higher than you actually realize. When we allow God to work through us in whatever means He chooses too, we become the instruments and distribution of His blessing. If we always deny that we are anything and are never willing to give ourselves to whatever it is that God would have us to do, we not only rob ourselves, we rob the body of Christ. We deny it the talent and gift that God has given us to give. ‘The greatest in the kingdom of God are the servants of all.’ They are simple people who just offered themselves to God’s service and purpose. Be careful not to neglect the calling and election that you possess. God has fashioned you for a purpose and He will reveal it as you seek Him and serve the body of Christ. People of the lowest stations in life can often be the greatest in the eyes of God. Don’t let who or what you are prevent you from being and doing what God has created you for. It is not about us or our strength or ability. We are simply the emptied glass that God can fill with the water of His life and be given for others to drink. Fulfill your calling and come into the fullness of what He has for you. In the process help others to do the same.

Blessings,
kent

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