Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fasting!!!! Urgh!!!!

So, as you can tell by the heading fasting is not my favourite thing to do, or topic to discuss, because, well, its not my favourite thing to do.  😋

What I have learnt about it though is the following:  If you are going to do it with the wrong attitude, or for the wrong reasons (yes, come on ladies, the additional bonus of losing weight?! right?! right?!) then you should rather not do it at all.  And really, as an individual it should be done in private!  Not advertised to the whole world about how much you are giving up or sacrificing, or how much this sacrifice is costing you and how good you are to be doing it!

Fortunately, I have not had to worry about this.  I avoid fasting like the plague!  Sad, but true.  This year, however, I am choosing to do things differently.

Isaiah 58 tells us exactly what the Lord expects of us when fasting.

Verses 1 - 3 point out that when fasting the Jews of that time cried out telling of their fasting and how much it was hurting them, and yet the Lord took no notice, according to them.  The Lord says they even find pleasure whilst fasting and exploit the labourers.  I can only imagine this to mean they demanded to be looked after in their fasting moments and made their labour do more for their pleasure and at the labour's expense.

Verse 4 - 5 points out that God says they will no longer fast like this, making yourself heard and expecting people to feel sorry for you.

Verse 6 -11, God says He wants us to fast so that:

  • Bonds of wickedness are broken
  • heavy burdens undone
  • the oppressed go free
  • every yoke is broken
  • we share our food with the hungry
  • we share our homes with the destitute
  • we cover the naked
  • your light shines (sharing Jesus)
  • your healing springs forth
  • God's glory is revealed,
  • you can call on the Lord and He will answer and say "Here I am!"


Isaiah 58 v 1 - 13:  “Cry aloud, spare not;  Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.  2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.  They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;  They take delight in approaching God.  3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?  Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.  4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness.  You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.  5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?  Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:  To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?  7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast outWhen you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?  8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you;  The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;  You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.  11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones;  You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
  12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places;  You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;  And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.



It seems to me that a lot of what Fasting is, is to sacrifice your time, your home, your food, your prayer, your comfort, your everything, to the glory of God, so that your healing comes and your relationship with God grows.  I also feel strongly that fasting should be a private thing.  Between you and God.  Now, I am not detracting from fasting that one does jointly with your church, or your home cell, or ladies group.  However, even when doing so, your co-worker need not know, your boss need not know, your neighbour need not know.  Because then it becomes about how YOU are sacrificing your comfort and how its impacting YOU.  Fasting should be about denying self, which in itself proves it should not be about self.  

This section of Isaiah ends with one of my all time favourite verses:
Isaiah 58 v 11:  The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones;  You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Usually I read this verse without reading the verses before, which are about how God would want us to fast.  Now, when reading it in context, it becomes clear that fasting, although about denying self to a certain degree, the end result is clearly for our benefit!  IF we fast in this manner, the reward is most importantly, God's glory is revealed, in our lives, in our bodies (health) and we will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail, in drought as well!  Clearly, we are blessed by fasting.  BUT, not if it is all about us and our sacrifice!

Another lesson I have learnt, my mental image of fasting is no eating for the next 40 days, only water (tea and coffee maybe).  Can you tell I grew up in the era of those 40 day fasts?  Can't say I have heard of them lately?!  What I have learnt, its not about starving yourself to death, its about giving up something, for a season, be it a weekend, or whatever, that costs you your comfort.  It could be tea for a week, it could be social media for a month (yes, that one hurts), but in the Isaiah 58 it also points out that sharing with others is/can be uncomfortable!  So doing things like giving up some of your food for someone else, letting a family sleep in your spare room for a few days, buying something that someone needs over something you may need, all those are variations of fasting.  So long as they are done for God, unto God, for His glory, and quietly, between you and God!

What are your thoughts on the above?  I would love to hear from you!

God bless
Tracy


ABIDE scripture:  Matt 6 v 16 - 18:  (16) “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (17) But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, (18) so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


3 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this passage on fasting in Isaiah 58. Every, single time I read it or hear it, my mind goes back to one, particular spot in a parking lot outside the hospital where my dear Mom lay in very poor condition. My dear brother-in-law, LD, (who God just called home to Heaven on 12/26/17 - we are in such deep grief!), was standing there explaining Isaiah 58 to me. Oh, I got SO much insight and revelation there in that parking lot that night! It opened fasting up to me in a whole new light, and I have never forgotten those valuable lessons. When LD died, not even a month ago, our hearts were just shattered. The lessons he taught us, the support he gave us, the advice, wisdom, and understanding he imparted, will never be forgotten. We can't believe he is gone. THANK YOU for sharing this amazing passage today...I cannot even begin to tell you how much comfort it brought to me. The memories are endless, and the lessons are unforgettable. God bless you, my friend.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl, don't you just love how some scripture (it should be all eventually) just absorbs you in God's love? Love hearing from you
      God bless

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  2. Fasting is very important in our Christian walk because it enables us to tear away the flesh and build the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is always strengthened when we are in fasting. The knowledge of sin becomes clearer when we fast and pray. Fasting and prayer is a must for every born again believer. Be blessed in Jesus name.

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