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  • Fast to Please God

    Jesus continues against hypocrisy, now focusing on fasting. Fasting is not commanded, but it’s a given that Jesus’ disciples will fast.

    When Fasting Falls Apart

    Over-doing it (Pharisees)
    This is the heart of today’s passage: Fasting must not be superficial or self-glorifying, but God-glorifying. Religious hypocrites love to over-do it: Pharisees fasted twice a week (only required once a year for Israel) They wear a “fasting face” (to gain the approval of men)

    Never-doing it (Today’s Christians)
    While not directly addressed in today’s passage, this is a very grave error.

    The Real Pitfall: Self-Worship
    We “over-do” it to glorify our selves in the eyes of men. We “never-do” it to glorify our appetites by never submitting them.

    When Fasting is Appropriate

    Why should we fast? To draw close to God.
    “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”
    (James 4:8)

    Four specific types of fasting found in the Bible:

    Sorrow for Sin (penitence)
    Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9), The City of Nineveh (Jonah 3), Saul’s Conversion (Acts 9)

    Facing Extraordinary Challenges (prayer)
    Moses (Exodus 24), Esther (Esther 4), Jesus (Matthew 4), Paul & Barnabas (Acts 13, 14)

    Increasing Self-Control (discipline)
    “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection...”
    (1Corinthians 9:27a)

    Helping Others (justice)
    “Is this not the fast that I have chosen … to share your bread with the hungry”
    (Isaiah 58:6a,7a)

    Note: Fasting does not necessarily need to be abstinence from food.

    When Fasting Gets Risky

    As worship, fasting’s first motive must always be to draw near to God. Some fasting is risky, because it easily loses sight of that purpose:

    To worship a calendar (not for spiritual reasons, but religious)
    To worship a scale (not for spiritual benefit, but physical)

    The Heart of the Matter

    Do you desire to draw closer to God? Ask Him to increase your faith in this area. There is nothing wrong if you do not fast; there is much to be gained if you do.

    New King James Version (NKJV)

    16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

    New King James Version (NKJV)

    6 Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

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    This blog is written by leaders of SVCC. The people who write here are not perfect or "holier than thou."  They just strive to seek after God with all their hearts.

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