Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fast Theme Day 1: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"

It's good to remember that the point of fasting is not to prove ourselves to God or to anyone else. We fast from God's approval, not for God's approval. The point of fasting is that as we deny our appetite for food, we find that our appetite for God increases. Fasting is not just a hunger strike. It's denying ourselves food in order to feast on Jesus."Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled."

The night before a fast I always feel a mix of anticipation and agitation. Anticipation, because I know God is going to do something great, and agitation, because I know it's going to be a bit of a fight. Jesus experienced this when he fasted in the wilderness, but He overcame the temptation of the devil,  returning in the power of the Spirit. When we are willing to wrestle in fasting and prayer, we do muscle up spiritually, and we do it with the help of Him who also wrestled and overcame.

One of the ways in which we wrestle during a fast, is with our own sin. John the Baptizer's message was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Remember that John's message was to an oppressed people who probably thought the wicked King Herod and the corrupt Chief Priests were the one's who needed to repent. But John called them to stop looking outwards in blame, look inwards and own their own sin and look upwards to Jesus to take it away.

I wish I hated my own sin as much as I hated other people's sin, don't you? We very easily want mercy for ourselves and justice for everyone else. True repentance is pleading guilty myself, realizing that God is rich in mercy to me, and then extending that same mercy to others who have sinned against me. This is why Jesus told us to, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

Tomorrow as we begin our fast, let's ask the Holy Spirit to show us if there is any sin that we need to confess to God. He is the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of sin to make us more like Jesus. Let's confess our sin to God, and if need be to others, trusting Jesus to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Unrighteousness can include any attitude or action that does not glorify God. It can even include good things we do that have become ultimate things and have taken the place of God as idols.  Let's also ask the Holy Spirit to show us if we are living as debt collectors, with unforgiveness towards those who have sinned against us, asking Jesus for grace to send our debtors away debt free. Psalm 51 may be a helpful Psalm to pray through on this theme.

Repentance is the dinner bell to the table of grace and when we feast on Jesus' mercy, His Kingdom breaks in with great freedom.

See you tomorrow night at 6:30 pm. 

1 comment:

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