Back to the Basics

Have you ever considered a fast? What it is, how is done? Hot on the heels of Jesus sharing a corrective way of seeing and doing the life of faith where He asks us to revise how the scribes and Pharisees considered almsgiving, praying, and fasting, which were all taught as the three most important religious acts in a Jews life. We are now challenged by Jesus, the Son of God, to now embrace the fast. Jesus addresses the hypocrisy, or the stage acting in the fasting practices of His day. 

For us, fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines, in our culture today, where we struggle saying, NO. Do you struggle with NO? Let’s turn to our periscope and see what Christ Jesus says about it. Matthew 6:16~And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV) 

Slip your hand up if you know the 11th commandment on fasting? Do you have a reference for that, I believe it is in first Opinions chapter 9. In fact, this command is only found in the Bible in one place and it centers on the Day of Atonement, which is the sabbath of October 8-9, this year. The Lord required everyone in the faith to fast one day a year as penance for their sin, on Yom Kippur. Leviticus 16:29 & 31~This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the 10th day of the 7th month you must deny (עָנָה `anah) yourselves and not do any work–whether native-born or a foreigner residing…It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; (NIV) 

The word (עָנָה `anah) translated deny or afflict refers to abstaining from food and sexual relations. Apart from the Day of Atonement, as mentioned here by Jesus, fasting was a totally voluntary act. Moreover, the need for the Day of Atonement ceased when Christ Jesus died on the cross. Hebrews 10:10~For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. (NLT) We don’t celebrate the Day of Atonement as the Jews do, rather we celebrate Easter. The day the Lord came out of the grave. So, should we fast? Yes, fasting is still an appropriate spiritual disciple for us to participate in.

Why not ask God today what or who you might fast for and then take a positive step towards helping. I assure you, God will give you the strength.

You’re A Treasure

The Jones, do you remember them, once, a staple of our existence. They moved in and out of each one of our neighborhoods almost as if they possessed a Rolodex, jumping from frenemy to frenemy. Yes, all this does seem a bit archaic to whippersnappers today, with tech having placed information, desire and a not so personal touch, in the palm of our hands. Late last century, our fingers would do the walking as we’d attempt to reach out and touch someone. We would relocate ourselves to tangle up in the corded monster of a landline and the infamous book of names. Where fastidiously and religiously we wrote in margins and corners to preserve what Joe Friday called: Just The Facts. Today, we need only choose from a cornucopia of devices filling our lives, all sharing their content. The Jones stood as towering symbols of shiny and new, we called them names, like Yuppies. Younger, more upwardly mobile, they were DINKS, dual incomes more disposable, and better free time management than us. They taught us a desire and even new ways of speaking. We are, like, totally grateful, people who finally like stop talking this way, for reals.

No, the Jones never leave, instead, they transitioned to new platforms of sharing a kinder, more gentler nation. Dubbed as social media, they moved into every neighborhood at once. Brandishing their lives before us like a flaunting floozy they duped us into believing there was nothing wrong with breaking Ole#10. Something about our neighbors but I just forget. The world surrounding us, inundating us, is a culture consumed with accumulation. So profuse that a counter-culture has ensued to fight back a tiny footprint. In combat, we are building other tiny houses to hold fast our excess. It has even birthed of a $38 Billion dollars a year cottage industry, the is the fasting growing business opportunity, sharing almost 6 sq. ft per person, in America. Some even watch it unfold before them on shows like storage wars. Believing that your hoarding could never make an episode. Saying, I’m not that bad, I mean not so bad, I didn’t even make the list. 

Today, I want us to come to terms with the understanding that stuff isn’t the most valuable thing we have, it’s us. We are the treasure. You Are A Treasure of God, as Jesus Christ reveals this hillside, how we’re to be more concerned with eternal treasures, than our earthly ones. So, today, why take time to look at your life and ask God what you need to get rid of, what you need to move out of storage and put in to use?

A Child of the King

If I were to ask you how to emulate a prayer model, what would you say? Perhaps in a stroke of sheer genius, you would take me to the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9-15) Now to emulate, which is to say match or surpass the model given, would be a much taller task. Jesus gives us an example of living as God desires, to minister the care and compassion of the Father and says to us pray this way. Matthew 6:9~“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (ESV) This reminds us that God is a Parent, with you as His child, His position is in Heaven as Lord over all, and He is above all pure and holy. Because of who God is, we come to Him and do as commanded in 1 Peter 5:7~casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (ESV)

Mathew 6:10 ~Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (ESV) We face two choices in life and must keep in mind that life is about God’s program and no one, or nothing else. Romans 14:17 ~For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (ESV) Every time someone becomes a Christian, a little more of God’s kingdom comes to earth. So we ought to do our best to win as many as we can, to Christ. This is the will of the Lord, and our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19)

Matthew 6:11~Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (ESV) This reminds us of God’s provision and His pardon. Two of the greatest joy thief’s in life are worry and guilt. But, forgiveness is only an Authentic prayer away. Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (ESV) God is not just our protection and defense but He is our source of power and praise.

Our Takeaway for the week is, Are you and Authentic Child of the King? If so, live an Authentic faith-filled life that passes Blessing’s Test, Eradicates Hypocritical Prayers, and Emulates the one true Model, Jesus Christ. We are reminded in Psalm 8:1~O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (ESV) Why not just take time today to raise your hands in surrender, as you ask God to help you be all He’s created you to be. Praise and Prayer are mighty weapons always at our disposal.