5 Is this the kind of fast I choose,
a day of self-affliction,
of bending one’s head like a reed
and of lying down in mourning clothing and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
setting free the mistreated,
and breaking every yoke?
7 Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry
and bringing the homeless poor into your house,
covering the naked when you see them,
and not hiding from your own family?
8 Then your light will break out like the dawn,
and you will be healed quickly.
Your own righteousness will walk before you,
and the Lord’s glory will be your rear guard.
24 Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that those who rule the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. 26 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. 27 Whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— 28 just as the Human One [or Son of Man] didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”
Millions of gallons of water go into the products you buy, use and throw away? Water is used to create every product and the average American uses 583 gallons of water per day just through the products we buy. Buying less and reusing items not only reduces landfill waste, but can save thousands of gallons of water each year. (Supplied by Kelly Shorten from the EarthCOR ministry. Source: www.watercalculator.org)
Isaiah 58 spoke to Israelites who did many “religious” things, including fasting, but only from self-serving motives. (The prophet Micah made the same point in Micah 6:6-8 which we read on Monday.) Why, they asked, didn’t God honor their feasts and fasts? The prophet said they didn’t need showy, external fasts. They needed to “fast” from mistreating other people. Jesus called his followers to excellence, but not in human status and power. Jesus said his example would show them that in his kingdom true greatness grew from serving others.
Lord Jesus, in a world obsessed with seeking power and honor (a world a lot like mine), you relentlessly focused on serving others. Please walk with me as I seek to live a life that embodies your servant spirit. Amen.
Today is Day 2 of Lent. Many of you will be partaking in the tradition of a 40-day fast where you give up something to prepare yourself for remembering Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, as well as remembering his 40-day fast in the wilderness. The intentionality behind fasting is not just in giving up something for 40 days. It’s more about committing the time we would have spent doing or eating something else to growing closer to God.
Fasting, in essence, is a way of being thankful. How can we be thankful for depriving ourselves of something? Here’s what it makes me think of: every morning when I drive my kids to school we say morning prayers. As part of those prayers I ask them what they’re thankful for. My 7-year-old has figured out a shortcut and just says “I’m thankful for everything,” and I tell her that’s great, but ask her get more specific.
My 4-year-old son usually has a surprisingly long list. It’s usually things like “Thank you for mom and dad. Thank you for the colorful leaves. Thank you for...” What’s interesting is that he still uses those same words when asking for help. “Thank you for help me make friends today. Thank you for help my teacher to feel better cuz she was sick yesterday.”
In The Walk, Pastor Hamilton wrote, “We’re not called to give thanks because everything in our lives is going wonderfully. We’re called to give thanks because our life itself is a wonderful gift from God.” (p. 32). During Lent, fasting is very much an act of worship. It’s taking that time to say, “Thank you, God, for what you have blessed me with. Thank you for desiring a relationship with me. I’m making this relationship a priority right now. Help me to grow closer to you during this time.”
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