Fasting

fasting & prayer

Matthew 6:16-18
(Jesus said)“And whenever you fast do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

This passage doesn’t say if you fast. It says when you fast. In today’s world, few people fast. Some give up something for Lent and then make a public announcement about it.

The Greek definition here for “fasting” is “to abstain as a religious exercise from food and drink: either entirely, if the fast lasted but a single day, or from customary and choice nourishment, if it continued several days.”

We might do well to fast a certain food or meal for a certain period, being careful to follow today’s instruction from the scripture. Especially if we’ve prayed for wisdom or an answer to a prayer and haven’t seen any result. Fasting doesn’t force God’s hand, but I’ve found my spiritual ears hear better when my stomach is empty. Fasting is an act of obedience to God’s admonition to fast.

Father God, lead me in Your instruction
so I may gain Your insight and inspiration.

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Jesus, the Bread of Life

bread

John 6:33
(Jesus said)“For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

In this passage, the 5,000 people who had shared the little boy’s five loaves and two fish, asked Jesus what they should do to work the works of God. Jesus told them that the work of God was to believe in Him, the One God sent to earth (John 6:28-29).

He then told them He was the bread that comes from heaven. He and He alone gives true, genuine, life. That’s a life devoted to God. That life will last forever.

The manna that came from heaven and fed the Israelites for forty years in the wilderness was a foreshadowing, a type, of Jesus; the one to come who would bring the eternal, not the temporary bread.

Lord Jesus, may we feed on You,
the eternal bread from heaven.
Sustain our faith with Your power,
and cause us to share Your bread
with other starving souls
we find around us.

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God’s Peace

Gods Peace

I Peter 1:2
. . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

The apostle Peter writes this letter to believers scattered throughout the known world at that time. This is his opening greeting to them. Now we are the recipients of his greeting.
He tells us, the believing readers, that God the Father pre-arranged and knew we were earmarked for the Holy Spirit to purify our hearts and lives so that we might obey the requirements of Christ.
When we accept Christ into our hearts and lives, we are sprinkled with Jesus’ blood. Death will be forced to pass over us just as death passed over the Jews about to leave Egypt on their way to the promised land (Exodus 12:13). God instructed them to sprinkle the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the doorposts in order for the angel of death to pass over. Jesus is our once-for-all sacrificial lamb for our forgiveness of sin—our Passover lamb.

Lord God, purify our hearts and lives
so we may be obedient to You and Your word.
May we receive Your loving favor and bounty
to live in Your harmony and peace
forever.

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God’s Dynamite

dynamite

II Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

Another word for “timidity” is “cowardice” or “fearfulness.” God gives us holy boldness.

This word “power” is “dynamis” from which we derive our word “dynamite.” It refers to strength and ability, a power which resides within itself.

God gives us His power to perform miracles and to have moral power and excellence of soul. It’s that kind of power which rests upon armies.

In addition, He gives us His love, His affection, His benevolence, to love other people as He does.

The last on the list here is “discipline.” This can also be translated “sound judgment.” It refers to a calling of a sound mind, moderation, and self-control.

Lord Jesus, may we be filled with Your Holy Spirit
fearless in whatever You desire to be accomplished.
May we carry each task out with Your power,
in Your love, guided by Your sound judgment
so You may be glorified in all things.

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Sabbath Rest

rest area

Mark 2:28
(Jesus said) “Consequently, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus is the Lord, the Creator, and institutor of the Sabbath—a day of rest. We are to observe this weekly rest to revere and worship God. He instituted it clear back in Exodus 16:23 with Moses.

God didn’t create us to serve the Sabbath. We were created to serve Him. In fact, He made humans the day before He took a day of Sabbath rest. The Sabbath was created for our benefit. God knows our limitations. He knows we will function best if we rest one day out of seven. He’s the one who made us and knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought the way to please God was to follow every rule to the letter. That’s why they were angry with Jesus’ disciples. They “worked” on the Sabbath to pull standing grain in the field because they were hungry (Mark 2:23). They didn’t follow the rules.

Instead of resting on the Sabbath, the religious leaders worked very hard to impose their rest on the disciples. Any law, taken to the extreme, becomes a ditch to fall into.

Lord Jesus, may I observe a Sabbath rest every day
as I stop to worship and enjoy You along the way.
May I make Your heart glad each hour You give me life.
I pray to walk free of legalism and strife.

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Jesus the Mediator

one mediator

Hebrews 8:6
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

The old covenant was based on law; following rules in order to please God. It was meant to be a school teacher—a means to show us how far short we fall, and how we fail to measure up to God’s desire for our lives.

In comparison, in the new covenant Jesus brought and ratified a new contract or testament. He sealed it in His blood. This new covenant provides grace for us to live as God intended. It allows us to love the unlovely, to grow in God’s grace and in His holiness, and to be assured a place with Him forever in heaven.

Jesus is the mediator of that covenant. He’s God’s appointed one sent to restore peace and friendship between us and God. He established that contract when He said on the cross, “It is finished.” His work was done. The contract had been signed and sealed in His sinless blood.

Thank You Father for the new contract
You established with us
in Your Son’s sinless blood.
Thank You for Your Holy Spirit
to teach us, convict us,
and walk with us
as we learn Your grace
each day.

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Missing the Mark

Missing the mark

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.

The book of Isaiah is rich with prophecies about the coming Messiah written over 600 years before Jesus’ birth. Here God promises to divide the spoils of war with many because Jesus poured Himself out.

“Poured Himself out” here means “to lay bare, to strip naked.” When Jesus hung on that cross, He was naked. That phrase also speaks of His soul; His living being—His life’s blood. Jesus poured Himself out to death. That word “death” here means “death by violence as a penalty.”

He was numbered with the transgressors, the rebels, the revolters in order to bear, to carry off, take, forgive, the punishment for our sin. He interceded, entreated, requested, to reach the mark, for the rebels, those in revolt against God. You see, we’ve been in revolt since Adam and Eve.

When we sin we miss the mark. That’s what sin means. Jesus allowed men to beat Him, whip Him, and strip Him naked; then hang Him on a cross to die a violent death. He underwent our penalty in order to carry off, forgive, endure the punishment our sin deserved. Then we can reach the mark in order to inherit eternal life with Him and share in His inheritance.

Lord Jesus, I have no words to express my gratitude
for Your willing sacrifice on my behalf.

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