With only 5 days left of the fast, I am sure I am not the only one counting down until the end. As much as I have loved going through The 40 together, I am ready to celebrate and enjoy good things once again, as I am sure we all are. In the final days of this fast, there will be a shifting from talking about the importance of giving God glory in fasting, humility and repentance to glorifying Him in feasting, celebration, and obedience.
Today, I want to look at a place in scripture where the people were fasting out of a wrong heart but expecting good results. They were also feasting our of a wrong heart. Everything was all about how it made themselves feel and not what God wanted. Let’s examine the book of Zechariah:
Zechariah 7:2-3 when the people sent Sherezer… to ask the priests who were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and the prophets, saying, “Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?”
The people in captivity are away from their homeland, but are still trying to cling to their heritage, history, and traditions. They sent this man to the priests to ask if they should continue their ritual of fasting as they always had. This is the response they get from God:
Vs. 5-7 “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? Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets… ?’
God is not impressed with their act of fasting, because they are doing it for their own benefit. God is not getting the glory. Even in their eating and drinking that God could be receiving some sort of thanksgiving, praise, or honor, it is all about themselves instead of Him. Whether you are fasting or feasting, obedience to The Lord is what allows you to worship and glorify Him! If your heart is right, you will be able to praise The Lord whether you are fasting or feasting.
Vs 8-10 ” Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.’
The practical things God reveals to Zechariah for the people to do are not difficult, but neither are they easy for a people used to pleasing their own selves. God must be the center, the main goal, and aim of our hearts if we are to truly worship Him in every area of our lives.
Vs. 11-12 “But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.
The revelation of The Lord was streaming forth from the mouth of the prophet, but they would not obey, turned away, and would not even hear what God was calling out of them. Selfish people with selfish hearts were unwilling to change and come into line with The God of grace and mercy. This made their heart hard, and they had to suffer the consequences of their disobedience.
The 40 has been all about the softening of our hearts and the opening of our ears to hear. This becomes easier to do as we have a special time set apart to seek Him. However, as we near the end of the fast, and will soon return to our normal way of life, what is to keep us from hardening our hearts and continuing to walk in our own ways?
Obedience! Obedience is key to daily walking in worship. God is continually speaking forth His revelation, and we will continue to hear as we obey what we have been given. When we are disobedient to the Word of The Lord, our hearts will become hard. The more we disobey, the more we will walk in our own way. God longs to pour out His mighty blessings upon us. He always has the best for us, but this is dependent upon our obedience to come into line with Him.
My encouragement for us today is to seek The Lord for a new heart to walk in continuous obedience. We will not always want to obey. We will not always feel like obeying. In these times, we must truly believe that Jesus is worth our complete and total obedience. A heart of obedience will always lead us to worship and glorify our God and Father of grace, mercy, and love no matter what may be going on in us or around us.
Jesus, right now, when my heart is more receptive to you than ever, I want to be completely obedient to You, Your plans, and Your purposes. I want to follow You and walk in Your way no matter what may be taking place in my life. Whether it is something I want to hear or do, I want to totally obey all that You speak that You may receive all the praise, glory, and honor possible from my life.
- Ask Holy Spirit to give you a willing and obedient heart
- Glorify Him in your obedience today
- Thank Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do
Be be blessed today with the ability and willingness to walk in obedience to all God is revealing. May you be released and propelled into the next level with Him as you obey to the best of your ability!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
As we near the end of the second week, I want to encourage you to continue to return to The Lord for strength and life. Some may have incredible will power, but the point of fasting and prayer is to humble yourself and say, “God, I need You!” I would not have been able to make it this far without supernatural strength.
Here is another encouragement from Jesus’ words:
Matthew 5:3 Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
Those of us who realize our need for God are blessed and will be spiritually prosperous because we know it is His work in us and not the work of our hands. Continue to trust in the grace and mercy of a loving God, and look to Him for all that you need.
As we continue to press in to The Lord and seek Him, we come to a realization. Most of the time, food becomes built up in our lives as an idol, in the very least as a great treasure. It is what we think about. It is what we talk about. It is what we build our gatherings around. “Which restaurant do you want to go to?”, “What is for dinner?“, and “What are we going to do for food?” are common questions, especially in the American society.
Our culture is built around the value of food, and often our waistlines reflect it. You probably find this out more when you are fasting than any other time. It is almost necessary to become a recluse because family time, hospitality, and all social gatherings are food-centered. When this comfort is taken away, it can be hard to figure out what to do, for the one fasting and for those around them. If you are not eating, for whatever reason, often your own family does not even know how to treat you.
In Matthew 4, Jesus elects to go The 40 to strengthen Himself spiritually to stand up against the temptation of the enemy. What does the enemy tempt Jesus with first? Food! Here is Jesus’ answer quoting from the scriptures:
Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3 “It is written,‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Food is necessary and important for the body to live, but Jesus puts His focus on what really matters, treasuring the Word of God. Even though your body may be sustained physically, you can still become sick and even die of a broken heart or spirit. However, The Word of God brings life to you that you cannot get any other way. Your value has to be on what really matters.
As we are fasting, I pray that even though the comfort of food has been taken away, you replace it with the life giving Word of God. When we read The Bible and seek Him in prayer for a personal word, this is what will sustain us through every situation in our lives. If you have not already, I encourage you to set aside some extra time to read The Bible and pray, especially while you fast. This will help you not only grow spiritually, but sustain you during The 40.
Someone else who knew the importance of the word is someone we know for going through some of the most difficult trials anyone has ever had to face, Job. In the middle of his difficult situation where everything is taken away and even his wife and friends are turning against him, this is what He says:
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.
Everything that God has to say is vitally important. Job says it should be treasured more than the food that is necessary to survive. In his situation, he did not need food. Food could not help him out of his grief and loss. It could do nothing for Him. However, he was hoping, clinging, and longing for The word from the mouth of God. Life comes from Him! Hope comes from Him! Strength comes from Him! As we seek The Lord, we must have ears to hear His word. When we hear His word, we must be obedient to receive the true blessings He wants to pour out upon us.
Jesus, help me to truly treasure the words of your mouth more than anything in my life. Open my ears to hear You. Open my heart to obey You. I want to base my life upon Your life-giving, life-sustaining word spoken to Me.
- Commit 15 – 30 mins extra time to spend seeking The Lord each day.
- Read The Bible, 1-5 chapters a day
- Ask Holy Spirit to open your ears and help you to truly value The Word
Be blessed with eyes to see the face of God, ears to hear new revelations of His glory, and a heart to be truly transformed by His presence! May this propel you to the next level in Him!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!