Mar 28, 2019

Fallacious Fasting

1. The act or practice of abstaining from or eating very little food.
2. A period of such abstention or self-denial.
3. To eat very little or abstain from certain foods, as a religious discipline.

During this year, Cathy and I have been fasting in a variety of ways.

We are not fasting as a religious or a superstitious exercise; hoping to gain God’s special attention, or to tip the invisible scales of blessing in our direction.

Our goal as a couple (and individually) is to deal with our hearts; which tends to want what it wants. We are longing to have a heart change as we long to be in deeper fellowship with Him.

And fasting things like sugar also has some health benefits such as feeling better and weight loss.

Individually, we have been noticing that when we stop eating something like anything made of sugar or fasting from social media, just how often we go to what we are giving up rather than to Him.

It has been amazing to me how often when my heart is wandering or feeling “blue” that my flesh longs for chocolate; rather than going to the LORD for His help.

It is my observation that too many people fast for wrong reasons. John Wesley said that “some have exalted religious fasting beyond all scripture and reason, and others have utterly disregarded it.”

Fasting is not to be thought of as a means of earning God’s favor or improving one’s status with God. The general purpose of it is to humble the soul before God.

The Bible asks the question in Zechariah 7:5-6 (NKJV):
“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?

So it is possible to fast and not really be doing it for the LORD.

My favorite (heart exposing) scripture on fasting is from Isaiah 58. The prophet Isaiah (speaking for the LORD) is explaining to the people how their fasting is wrong. They had been fasting with no apparent success in reaching their goals.

Sounds like you and me doesn’t it?

The LORD lovingly rebukes them in an effort to correct their wrong theology and to share His heart on how He wants them to seek His face in a fast.

My prayer is that as you read Isaiah 58 from the Message version of the Bible, your heart will be corrected in areas where (perhaps) you too have been off during your times of fasting.

Remember, the LORD “did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17 NKJV)

Isaiah 58 
1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
    Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell My people what’s wrong with their lives,
    face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
    and love studying all about Me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
    law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask Me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
    and love having Me on their side.
But they also complain,
    ‘Why do we fast and You don’t look our way?
    Why do we humble ourselves and You don’t even notice?’

3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
    You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
    You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
    won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
    and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
    a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
    quit blaming victims,
    quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build a new,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again.

13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
    and don’t use My holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
    God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
    making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
    Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
    Yes! God says so!

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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