The Fast of the Lord

January 20, 2014

 

The Fast of the Lord


Isaiah 58:3-11

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? 

 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 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; 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 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. 


Isaiah 58 is a good chapter to take and read in its entirety.  We have quoted enough here to give us some of the meat of what it is saying.  Many of us consider ourselves religious or spiritual. We profess to love God, we may have our set times to pray, read the bible, fast, go to church or other such spiritual activities we do in the name of the Lord for Him.  If we are doing all of these things to seek God and please Him, then we may ask, like the people of God in that day, “Lord, why don’t you hear our prayers and answer them?  We serve you, but we aren’t blessed.  How come you don’t acknowledge all of our efforts Lord?”  

He may in turn ask us, ” If you do all of these activities and things to seek and please me then why are your lives no different than those of the world around you?  Why is it you yell and argue with your family all the way to church and then come in to praise Me?  Why is it you fast and pray and then get up off of your knees to go and do your own pleasure?  Why is it you go to church, but are angry with the minister if he doesn’t get you out in time to beat the rush to the restaurant or see the sports game on TV?”   Could it be that a lot of our spirituality is phoniness and hypocrisy done more to make us feel like we have done our duty to God than doing what really pleases God.  If we want God to meet us in a greater way than He has before then it isn’t God that has to change, it is us, and more religious activity isn’t the answer.  

God takes the time in this passage to tell us where His heart is and what is meaningful to Him.  He tells us to do such things as “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and that ye break the yoke?”  What does all of that mean?  Could it mean that we are outwardly spiritual, but inwardly wicked?  We talk down to people, we talk about people in a demeaning way, and we’re critical, hateful, judgmental, gossips, backbiters and controllers.  We may want to put all of our baggage, laws, rules and standards upon others when we can’t even live up to them ourselves.  How often do we do things for others in the guise of being so nice and generous to help them out and then turn around and hold those things we gave or did for them as a yoke to control and manipulate them?  There are times we give or loan things to people and they can’t pay them back.  Sometimes we need to just release those debts and forgive them even as God forgave ours.  We can be cruel taskmasters to one another and to others.  When the world looks at that, are they seeing Christ?  Could it be that God wants us to quit being above others and treating others, that don’t have what we have in areas, as inferior and as servants?  Maybe it is time we become like Christ, to use what we have, to get under them to lift and build them up, to be their servants rather than them being ours.  

God goes on to tell us if you really want my blessing then you need to care about the things I care about.  Are you clothing the naked and feeding the hungry?  Are you visiting those in prisons, nursing homes, jails and shut-ins?  Are you even really taking care of your own family and making sure they have not only their physical needs met, but their emotional and spiritual needs met?  Are you spending the time you need to with them and nurturing them?  Are we pointing our finger in judgement and condemnation of others while we ignore the other three that are pointing back at us?  

When we start getting the heart of God then will we begin to hear from God and see His blessing.  This is the true fast of the Lord.  It is not about going to church, it is about being “the Church.”  We have to become in lifestyle and practice what many of us now only pretend to be.  We have a form of godliness, but we deny the power of it.   God despises pompous, pretentious spiritual pretenders.  I have been there more than I like to admit, how about you?  If we are going to have the real thing then everything we do has be about the Lord and what honors and pleases Him.  Ouch!  That’s pretty tough on my flesh, but then I said I reckoned it dead with Christ, so what’s my problem?  My problem is always “I.”  The more it is there the less effective I can be for God, because the less of Him that is in me.  It is only the death of self that can give place to the life of God.  This is the true Fast.  

 
Blessings,
kent

Jeremiah 31:25
For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.

Word from the Lord: Rest and Surrender

Lift up your head you who are weary and heavy laden. I am your rest, your comfort and your strength. Come and rest in My presence, commune and fellowship with Me. Worship me and be strengthened as My Life will flow back into you and well up within. Focus on Me, cease to allow your problems and challenges to consume all of your energy. I am your refuge. I am your strength. I am your wisdom, provision, power and deliverer.
I know it is often hard for you to open up your hand and release the control to me, but until you do, you will be continually frustrated and stressed about your circumstances. When you come to Me with open hands and open heart; sharing everything with Me and making me a partner in all that confronts you, then am I able to work on your behalf and bring about solutions and provisions that are far beyond your ability, power or wisdom without Me.
In My presence is fullness of joy. At My right hand are treasures for evermore. How long will you struggle and frustrate My better plans and purposes of you? I am not looking for what you can produce or how good you can be. I am looking for a life surrender to allow Me to live and show Myself strong in you.
When a child wants to help a parent with a project, left to their knowledge and abilities they will most likely make a mess of it. If the child is willing to submit to the guiding teaching hand of the parent then they are able to learn what they did not know and gain the experience they lacked in their immaturity. I am discipling you in My ways, if you will humble yourself and walk with Me, not ahead of Me. If you will wait and watch, you will learn. I am a faithful teacher, but My lessons take time and patience. They take faith, humility and the trust that I will do what I have said I will do.
Abraham got his Ishmael, because he and Sara ran ahead of Me, trying to produce in their own strength what I had promised them. Their efforts produced the works of the flesh and not of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit as you allow the process of the Spirit to work in and through you. If you try and produce it in your strength it will only be a counterfeit and not bear the fruit that only I in you, can produce.
Many things want to distract you. Many things rob the higher things that I want to give you. It is a time to put you focus upon Me. Operate out of a place of practicing, living and operating in My presence. Turn your will, emotions and your mind continually back to me. Abide in a place of continual prayer, praise, worship and acknowledgement of My presence that is with you. Your highest is not in being self-sufficient, but in being God-sufficient. This is what it is to walk in the Spirit and by the Spirit, overcome the works of the flesh. When your identity is in Me then you become what I am. What you see me do, you do. What you hear me speak, you say.
Come now and rest yourself in My presence. Experience My joy, My peace and My direction in your life. There is no richer place in this earth than the center of My will and purpose for you because there, My kingdom has come and there My will is done in earth as it is in heaven.
If you want My best. If you seek My highest, then come and abide with Me in My presence. The world will pass away and all that is of the world. My kingdom is not meat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There you will find fullness, rest and contentment.
Come and abide in Me.

Blessings,
kent

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