Message of the Week: Resolve to add fasting to your life
It's the New Year. We ended last year with the generosity of Christmas, and we begin the New Year with a new resolve for good things. It is a good time to do such things, for God set the times and the seasons knowing we need the hope that change is on the way. So, we all in some way look at the past and then the future and make decisions.
Maybe you have decided to seek God first. Remember that Jesus said if we put God first "all these things (things the Gentiles are anxious over) will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). What Jesus is saying is we get these "things" others worry over without the anxiety the rest of the world puts into gaining it all. The prerequisite is putting God first. Along this line, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that God "is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him," (Hebrews 11:6). Wow! What a promise! God rewards those who seek him "diligently." What better resolve can we make than this, to put God first. He rewards all those seek him diligently!
Have you made resolutions to just have them fade away into dusty wishes? Have you found you are facing a particularly difficult year? Maybe your routine has become spirit numbing and you need a break through. How can a person diligently seek God? What does that look like to step it up?
God doesn't leave us without a guide for becoming extra ordinary. It is laid out for us in Isaiah 58. Israel had been fasting regularly and had been very faithful to their religious traditions but they were still easily angered and violent towards each other. Even today, religious people find excuses to be angry, cause divisions and still go to church and seek God without being changed. In spite of great sacrifices and admirable religious activity, God declared such religion unfruitful.
God told Isaiah to give his people a wake up call and to command them to change their ways. God didn't want a fast that was just making them miserable while leaving their hearts unchanged. God said that if they really wanted God's pleasure and fulfillment of God's promises, God's people were to enter into the Lord's fast. That was a fasting from selfishness. God commended Israel to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. In other words, if they want to really please God, seek his face and get his attention they were to join in God's great mission of caring for people in need.
Israel had been complaining that there didn't seem to be any profit to all their religious activity. For fasting the Lord's fast, God promises many things. Read Isaiah 58 and make a list of the promises. Read it again and list all the times God says he make something happen, himself. In other words, you won't have to make things happen if you "spend yourself on behalf of the hungry."
Can you imagine the difference in your church if just 10 people would fast God's way? Are you willing to be one to 10? Imagine the difference in our community if just 10 churches had 10 people fasting the Lords's fast. Now just imagine the difference if just one family in your neighborhood or one member of your family fasted the Lord's fast. Are you willing to be that one?
Remember what Jesus said to his disciples, "Now that you know these things, happy are you if you do them" (John 13:17).
Bob Fromm is pastor of North Valley Calvary Chapel, 613 Bogue Road, Yuba City. Message of the Week appears on Saturdays.