Tag Archives: Fasting

Tuesday


Psalm 109:21-31

But you, O God my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
I am gone like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.

Help me, O Lord my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love!
Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O Lord, have done it!
Let them curse, but you will bless!
They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

O Lord, we beseech thee to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from  fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; and from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by thy grace to love and fear thee only, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.— Akanu Ibaim (Nigeria/ 1906-1995)


Closer to Easter


Exodus 34:28

We are just under two weeks from Easter! I am really looking forward to Easter. Not only for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, but I have to admit that I am ready for my lenten fast to be over. I have been learning a lot from this fast… especially from the looking forward to the completion! I did not expect to learn this much or be challenged at this level.

What about you? What have you been learning? I’ve asked this before, but really, what are you learning? How is this journey helping you prepare for the celebration of Easter? How is your lenten journey helping you focus on Jesus?

Christians throughout history have fasted in preparation for the Lord’s Supper. In addition to the elements of repentance and humility before God in this kind of fast; it is also intended to help the person focus on adoring the One who is represented in the Supper.” Donald S. Whitney


Another Thought on Fasting


Romans 8:6-11
English Standard Version (ESV)

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Holy and lawful fasting has three objectives. We use it either to weaken and subdue the flesh that it might act wantonly, or that we may be better prepared for prayers and holy meditation, or that it may be a testimony of our self-abasement before God when we wish to confess our guilt before him. — John Calvin


Listen Closely


Today’s passage is from Matthew 6:1-21.

What stands out to you from this passage? What connects with you and your journey towards Easter? What do you believe Jesus wants you to hear today? What do you believe Jesus wants you to do today?

Spend time talk with Jesus…. listening to Him; responding to Him.


Fasting


Modern life offers many luxurious “perfumes” to cover up the smell of eternal death. When we are enjoying our favorite foods and entertainments, it can be easy to forget the decay of sin and death all around us. Lent helps us to remember that there is only one who actually reverses decay- the God who raises the dead.– Timothy G. Walton

As we move into the fifth week of Lent, this is a perfect opportunity to reflect on our fasting. Many of us gave up something for the season leading to Easter. At this point, it is good to ask, How is that going?

How is your fast? What are you learning? How is God using it to teach you? Has your fast become an annoying habit or a purposeful experience that is focusing you on God?

Let us not lose site of why we would participate in a fast. Instead, let us remember who God is, what God has done, and live in a way that responds to the grace of God.

Isaiah 58:1-14

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10  if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13  “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


Ash Wednesday


Today marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Lent is the season on the Church calendar that leads up to Easter. For the next 46 days, the focus of the Church will be to prepare for Easter… to prepare to remember the death and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

More specifically, today is Ash Wednesday. For many years, the tradition for the Church has been to mark Ash Wednesday by starting a journey which prepares us as individuals and a congregation for Easter. One part of this journey is sacrifice. Many Christians observe the season by fasting, or giving something up, for the 40 days that lead to Easter. (Many people do not observe their fast on Sundays because Sunday is recognized as a day of celebration with the congregation. Therefore, it’s a 40 day fast.)

The sacrifice that a person makes for the season is supposed to help focus his or her attention on the sacrifice that Jesus made. The longing for whatever it is that has been sacrificed should awaken a longing for Jesus instead. The journey is intended not to just be a random practice, but an opportunity to draw closer to who Jesus is by identifying with Him through sacrifice and longing.

The other part of the journey is the act of taking up a practice. If I give up something for the next 40 days, I need to consider what I am taking up to replace it…. What practice am I going to take up that will help me draw closer to Jesus? In giving something up, I’m creating space in my life. The space will be filled with something… the question is with what will I fill it?

I would encourage you to consider what Ash Wednesday will mean for you. What will you do during this season to prepare for Easter?

Scripture readings for today:

Joel 2:12-17

Return to the Lord

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14  Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the Lord your God?

15  Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.

17  Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”

Matthew 6:16-12

Fasting

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. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.