A Time to Fast

Your Heavenly Father will reward you.

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,

Don.

 

God’s Ancient Gospel Revealed

Daily Spirit & Word, 465: “I WILL Walk In His Ancient Paths”…

The Ancient GOSPEL: How God Saved Precious Souls.

Are not very different to the ways He’s winning, warning and wooing people today.

Good morning my friends, I love the way that bluebells come back every year and seem to get better and better the longer you leave them in the ground. You know my friends, long before the New Testament was completed our ancient brothers and sisters in the faith used the Old Testament to proclaim the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul was writing to Timothy, he understood the Spiritual nature and value of the Scriptures. 2 Tim 3:16-17. Therefore today I’m going to show you that picking up a text from the most ancient of the Old Testament books, the book of Job, which is considered by some to be the oldest, we can see that God used the same ways to lead men to the awareness of their need of a Saviour thousands of years before Christ came and how the LORD provided them with a pathway towards Salvation, New Life and a much closer walk with God.

 Our focus text today is from the book of Job.

  • Job 33:14-33 (ANIV)
  • 14  For God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it.
  • 15  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds,
  • 16  he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings,
  • 17  to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride,
  • 18  to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
  • 19  Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones,
  • 20  so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal.
  • 21  His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out.
  • 22  His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death.
  • 23  “Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him,
  • 24  to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him’—
  • 25  then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth.
  • 26  He prays to God and finds favour with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
  • 27  Then he comes to men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.
  • 28  He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light.’
  • 29  “God does all these things to a man— twice, even three times—
  • 30  to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him.
  • 31  “Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak.
  • 32  If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want you to be cleared.
  • 33  But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”

WOWzer! You think you know the story of a book in the Bible, then the Lord opens it up by His Spirit and you suddenly observe new depths. You know the story of Job: How he was viewed by the LORD as a righteous man, then Satan came to test Job and was allowed to do so by the LORD. Satan wanted to see how far he would need to go to make Job curse God, but God knew Job’s heart and allowed the test. Remember Satan tests and tempts us to make us fail and fall from God’s Grace. The Lord, on the other hand, allows testing to come, so that we’ll be encouraged, strengthened and grow towards maturity in the Christian faith. God wants us to succeed and pass every test.

 First: God Speaks: (verse 14).

Some people think that God doesn’t say anything today, but as we’ll see from Job, God’s NOT silent, but uses many different ways to communicate with mankind. Job 33:14  “For God does speak—now one way, now another— though man may not perceive it.”

And in those ancient days it was the same; sometimes men could hear and sometimes, like today, they are DEAF. Jesus indicated that this was so too; (explaining the ancient prophesy of Isaiah) Matthew 13:13-15 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ” ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15  For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'”

Yes indeed my friends, God speaks today, as He did in ancient times, but there are hard hearts and deaf ears today, just as there were back then.

But their needs were the same then as they are today:

  1. a) They needed Conversion: Verse 14. (Even if they are unaware of it).
  2. b) They needed Repentance: Verse 17. (Pride says in the heart, “I don’t need God”).

Secondly: God Works The Same Way Today: RANSOM

Though men are deaf to God’s voice in Creation, though they may not listen or respond to an evangelist (Messenger), His heart so longs for men to turn in repentance and admit their need of God, that He’ll use the Ancient methods to turn are heart and soul towards Himself.

a) God Does ALL these things to a man: Job 33:29  “God does all these things to a man— twice, even three times—” He’s doing them again and again and again, to AWAKEN men and women to their need of God.

  1. b) God Speaks in their EARS: Job 33:16  “he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings,” Remember my friends, The FEAR of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
  2. c) God PAYS the PRICE for their SINS and Transgressions: Job 33:24  “to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him'”

Kidnappers: When someone gets kidnapped, the kidnappers ask for a RANSOM, it’s the price that needs to be paid to set the captive free.

It’s the same today, God has found the RANSOM, He paid for mankind’s Salvation in the life and blood of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. (WOWzer! Can you see the Gospel in the ancient text today?)…. Jesus Christ has died to set mankind free from Sin, Satan and Death and Hell. This is the very verse that JUMPED out at me as I was reading Job this morning… God doesn’t want anyone to perish and end up going down to the pit of Hell, but everybody to come to repentance, that’s why He’s speaking so much to men and women who will not listen to Him.

 Thirdly: God Wants The Same Thing Today:

God used trouble, hardships, warnings, dreams, visions, revelations, to turn a man from the error of his ways. A life lived without reference to God’s Holy Standards, a life lived without God is a Rebellious state and God wants people to come and confess (admit) their sinfulness, to turn from their wicked ways, be converted, and to receive His Divine pardon and New Life.

Job 33:16  “he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, 17  to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, 18  to preserve his soul from the pit, ….”

My friends, our Souls are even more precious to God than they are to us. No one would sell one of their eyes for even £100,000 punds would we? Would you? NO of course not, but why do we exchange our eternal souls for a few moments of pleasure in this life today? God wants to SAVE us more than we want to SAVE ourselves.

 Finally: When We’re SAVED by God the REWARDS are the same.

a) The Ransom Price Has Been Paid: Verse 24. Jesus Christ.

b) The Response Required Is The Same: Job 33:27  “Then he comes to men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.” We deserve DEATH & HELL, but God’s GRACE is revealed by the RANSOM price He paid in Jesus Christ.

c) The Reward of LIFE and LIGHT of God’s Glory: Job 33:28  “He redeemed (paid the ransom price) my soul from going down to the pit (Death and Hell), and I shall live to enjoy the light.’

It’s also revealed in our most famous verses from the New Testament: John 3:16-17.

  • John 3:16-17 (ANIV)
  • 16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • 17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
  •  Job 33:26  “He prays to God and finds favour with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.”
  •  My friends, when we today HEAR the GOOD NEWS and RESPOND to God’s Voice, we’ll also see the LIGHT. We’ll walk with God for the rest of our lives and for all eternity. We’ll be REDEEMED from the PIT.

God’s Ancient ways ARE the exact same as His way today:

Jeremiah 6:16 (ANIV) “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”

All God’s People today will say, “I WILL walk in His Ancient paths”… Amen!

That fact that the first Believers preached the Gospel from the Ancient Texts of the Bible should be an encouragement to us today, knowing that God’s WORD is the Inspired, Infallible, and Indefatigable WORD of God. Also, God’s Salvation PLAN has always been the same and His Ancient Gospel is Revealed in it’s pages. Praise the Lord! He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever. Amen.

Have an awesome weekend with your GREAT Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don.

God’s Ancient Gospel Revealed.

 

432: God Rewards Faithfulness.

432 Fire Leads to Promotion
God Rewards Faithfulness. Enduring the Fire: God is with them.

 

Daily Spirit & Word, 432: God Rewards Faithfulness.

And the World Will Stand AGOG in Amazement. 

Enduring the Fire Leads to Promotion.

God Rewards Faithfulness: Good morning my friends, Being faithful to God in times of trail, testing and fire. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego prove faithful and He rewards them.
I’ve got that Friday feeling 🙂 The weekend is coming and I’ve only got a few things to do before Saturday; A funeral this afternoon for a 92 year old man and the CRU (Youth Group) tonight, who’re making pancakes. We’ve also got our grandchildren and daughter staying for a few days whilst her bathroom is being renovated. Life is busy, but good. How’s your weekend looking?
Today is the day we finally get to see what happened when three of God’s chosen people refused to bow the knee and worship a created idol. Yes they aroused the King’s anger and rage. Yes they ended up being thrown into the fire, but WOWzer! They also get another transforming experience of God’s power over nature and the schemes of evil men.
INTO THE FIRE:
Daniel 3:19-30 19  Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude towards them changed. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual
20  and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21  So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
22  The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
23  and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
24  Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, O king.”
25  He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26  Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire,
27  and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
28  Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
29  Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
30  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Firstly notice: Fury, Anger and Rage will lead men to do the most evil things. We mustn’t make any mistakes, because King Nebuchadnezzar was a very powerful king. He’d conquered much of the Middle East and now commanded the obedience of millions of people, but three young Jewish men refused to obey him; no wonder then his anger was roused.
But what would have happened if he’d been less rash? What if he’d taken time to sit down and discuss this willingness to die rather than worship another person’s god? He may have discovered in a less dramatic way the God of the Universe is real, powerful and commands obedience even of great kings.
Secondly Remember: Nebuchadnezzar had stated in yesterday’s reading; “What god is more powerful than me, who can rescue you from the fire?” He thought himself untouchable, above everything and everyone, even the gods. We know there is only ONE God, but this account in chapter 3 reveals just how blinded men had become, their awareness of the true and living God was much like the people of our own day who think belief in Jesus or God an irrelevance to modern living. Faith and trust in God are outmoded because we’ve moved on from superstitious things like that 🙂 How foolish the people of the world are. Nebuchadnezzar’s pride led him into the most evil cruelty in his dominance of others, thinking nothing of human life, using fear and domination to get his own way. However, his intimidation of the three young men didn’t work.
Thirdly Notice: When they are thrown into the heat of the ten-times-hotter oven, though they were bound and helpless, the next time we hear about them, they are walking in the midst of the fire and heat and smoke without being harmed. The King was obviously sitting in a position where he could observe them being thrown into the furnace. He must have imagined that death would be instant, but here they were walking in the fire.
My friends, the people of this world are often totally amazed at how believers cope when the fiery trials come. It’s because at those times, God’s presence is known more keenly than at any other times in our life. That has happened to many of my friends and countless brothers and sisters throughout history. In the heat and smoke of disaster, God comes and brings relief, comfort and courage to face the flames. They’d trusted God with their lives and He’d proven to be faithful, present and powerful.
When you trust God in the HEAT: He’s promised to be with you too. Now we know that not everyone gets the kind of DELIVERANCE Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego enjoyed; because some of God’s chosen ones died at the hands of evil men; John the Baptist lost his head to an evil King, Stephen was stoned to death for proclaiming Jesus Christ as God’s Son. So sometimes being a believer won’t mean rescue from the trial, but we can be confidently assured that when we endure with faith, hope and trust, God will ultimately deliver us; either in this life or the next. That’s the confidence the three young men had too.
It’s my hope and prayer that your trials will lead to promotion as it had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but what’s more important for us to consider is the outcome of their faithful witness; not their promotion, but that God gets the GLORY. Because of what they did, being prepared to die for their beliefs, God Himself Gets the HONOUR and GLORY and PRAISE of the King of an vast Empire, Babylon would now honour God Almighty. Hallelujah. Praise the LORD!
Has there been a time in your life when you could say, “God Rewards Faithfulness?” or “The Lord has rewarded my faithful service?” Sometimes it’s just a feeling of deep peace or joy and gladness, but at others we receive great blessings from the LORD.
So our promotion or demise will both bring glory to the LORD, that’s what the Christian life is all about. When we get the revelation that it’s much more abut Him than Us, then we’ll experience the JOY unspeakable. Let that JOY flood your soul today as you praise HIM, and you sing of HIS glory, power and might. Honour God and even if the world throws you into fires and flames you’ll be lifted higher than you can ever imagine and they will stand agog in amazement.
Have an awesome weekend with Jesus my friends.
Don.
P.S. I do hope you’ve enjoyed our dip into the little book of Daniel this week. But please do continue reading, there’s so much more, but don’t just read it through quickly, take time to meditate upon each and every even within the book, you’ll be astounded at how valuable it is to take a week to look at a single story as we have. You’ll get fresh revelation for your life as a believer in the world today by thinking things through with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember my motto: “No READ, No FEED” If I don’t read the Bible I don’t eat breakfast. Why because going hungry reminds me I’ve skipped my ‘spiritual’ breakfast. I need God every day, and I’m not ashamed to admit I can’t do anything apart from Jesus, so I need to come to Him, to be filled afresh and fed by Him every day. If I skip Bible devotion I know I’m going to get hungry spiritually, I’ll feel the darkness creeping in, and it really does in tangible ways. Come afresh to Jesus every day and you’ll continue in the light of life.
Finally (Again) 🙂 I’ve been left with a Question that’s been bugging me all week. I’ve been pondering over it and wondering. “Where was Daniel when his friends were being thrown into the fire?”
Perhaps, because the King knew Daniel would never bow the knee, he’d sent him away to protect him from his own decree. Let us not forget that Daniel had already won the king’s favour, because he’d recounted and interpreted the dreadful dream.
What do you think my friends, where was Daniel?
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