Daily Spirit & Word: 792: A Time To Fast.
“When you fast”
In the life of the Spirit there is a time to fast, but let’s do it right.
Good morning my friends, I don’t know about you but I find fasting quite difficult. Going without food is not natural or normal. We were born hungry, just observe a tiny little baby and you’ll soon see that when it gets hungry it cries out loud, sometimes very loud. So too when we get hungry, we might have gone without food for a few hours and we’ll return home and say to our family; “I’m starving” or “I’m famished”… but we’re not really, we’re just a bit hungry. So eating food regularly is natural and normal. Going without food is not, so why would we fast? Why would we go without food on purpose?
However, notice Jesus’ words, “When you fast”… It’s like Jesus expects His followers to fast regularly, because He does not say, “If you fast”..
Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) FASTING
16 “When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (He will REWARD YOU: Openly or Publicly).
Like giving and prayer (See yesterday’s devotion), this open or public reward by our Heavenly Father should not be our motivation for fasting. However, accept it as a promise of the LORD that when you fast with right motives, your Heavenly Father will reward you openly.
Verse 16: In ancient times in Israel people fasted regularly. The religious Jews fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). However, they also had a tradition that they’d dress in a certain way and put things on their faces so that everybody knew they were doing something ‘religious’. Some I’m sure were trying to get closer to God, but others, as our LORD points out, were doing it to impress other people. Jesus has harsh words for them, “Hypocrites”… They’re not really doing it to honour God or draw closer to Him, they’re just doing it for show. You can’t FAST and have sin in your heart and expect the LORD of Heaven to bless you.
Verse 17: “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face”…
i.e. Don’t let anyone know by your appearance that you are going without food to get closer to God. In the same way don’t go getting all dressed up for a fast, if that is not your normal attire. Just be as normal as you can be when you are fasting for God.
Verse 18: Jesus gives us the reason we’re to be as normal a possible: “So that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father”… Only the unseen God of Heaven will know you are going without food.
If you are married, then your wife or husband will probably know too, that’s to be expected in any close relationship. But don’t let anyone else know.
REWARD: “When your Father in Heaven sees what is done in secret, He will reward you openly or publicly”.
Secret Devotion Yields Rewards.
When you really want to get close to God, He will always reward you.
Let’s see if that’s true:
James 4:8-10 (NIV)
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
What’s God saying in this little passage from James? “Come near to God” what will God do? “He will come near to you”… i.e. there’s no question about it, He will come near to you. This is a wonderful promise of the LORD of Heaven to come to you when you come to Him. However, we’ve got to believe, trust and accept it by faith. Because without FAITH it is impossible to please the LORD. If we don’t come expecting then we won’t get anything.
James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
In FASTING when you draw near to God, by going without food, if you don’t come expecting, then you won’t get anything.
So my friends, FAST regularly, draw near to God, believe His promises that He will come to you; He’ll lift you up, bless you openly (publicly), He is the rewarder of those who seek Him out.
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Faith is a gift from God, He gives it to EVERYONE who comes to Him (It’s a gift so that we can’t boast about our great faith ….)
WOWzer! Look at those awesome promises today:
- He will reward you openly.
- He will lift you up when you come to Him.
- He will reward you when you seek Him in faith.
Finally: ASK, SEEK, KNOCK:
Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Sometimes we don’t get because we don’t ask. I’ve known many wonderful Christians who’ve loved the LORD, but forgotten to ask when they are in need. I’ve done it myself. Just the other day, I was in a hurry to get out the house to go and pick up my wife, but I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched frantically but to no avail, then I stopped and prayed. “LORD, I need to find my wallet, You know where it is Lord, please show me”. Within a few seconds I got a picture of a shelf in my study, I put my hands up and there it was. I didn’t find until I asked. The LORD has amazing ways to remind us to seek Him and search for Him and when we do, we’ll find Him, always.
So today, FAST, it’s not easy, it’s not normal to go without food, but it yields rewards for your Father in Heaven.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come to you today in faith, believing Your promises that when I seek you, and seek you with all my heart, I will find you. (Jeremiah 29:13).
I’m going to ask You Father for my needs …………………………… (Name them specifically) I believe Your promise that I will receive.
I’m going to seek your direction for my life …………………………….(What decisions do you have looming in your life?) I believe Your promise that I will find.
I’m going to knock on doors ………………………………… (take steps in the right direction and try some doors). I believe Your promise that it will be opened.
Your Heavenly Father’s Heart is to REWARD His beloved children.
Be blessed in Jesus and full of Holy Spirit today,