Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jesus' Sermon: Intention of the Law on Fasting

Jesus' third example of religious hypocrisy concerned
(C) Fasting:
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:16)
The only fast that God required of His people was on the day of atonement, but the Pharisees fasted twice a week, Monday and Thursday, making sure everybody knew it so they could be congratulated on their holiness. All they were interested in was other people’s admiration, so they lost out on any blessing their fasting would have brought from God.

Fasting is good and right. Jesus fasted, and He said that sometimes something can’t be accomplished without both prayer and fasting.

Fasting helps to discipline our appetites and keep our spiritual priorities straight.

Judicious fasting has long been known to be good for your health. When you fast you are disciplining rather than indulging your appetite, which strengthens your ability for self-discipline and self-control in other areas of your life, too.

Pleasure and habit don’t become our masters.

Fasting gives you the courage to do without something, and strengthens your faith that you can persevere. Fasting helps you to appreciate all that God gives you. You know how to say thank you when you’ve done without.

This is private and intimate, between you and God.
(1) When you fast in order to be in a deeper communion with the Lord
(2) Then do it quietly, unobtrusively, so that it truly is a holy fast. (3) Fast in a way that does not drag everyone down with you,
(4) But that is uplifting and joyful, a pleasurable gift to God,
(5) And a deeper humbling of yourself.
Real righteousness is anchored in a vibrant relationship with God
It's all about the love -- this is for You, Lord, because I love you. It's intimate. You don’t even want other people to be looking in, because this is personal.

Worship of God contains three essential elements:
--> Generosity,
--> Communion with God
--> Self control

Real lovers of God commune with God, sustained by prayer that brings joy and spiritual energy, because it is focused on the love affair with God Himself, wanting always to do what pleases Him and is within His will.

* In what ways can your prayer life become more personal and intimate with God?

Real lovers of God control their own impulses to over-consume what God gives them, or to hoard God's wealth.

* In what area of your life might God be calling you to fast from as a matter of worship and devotion to Him?

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. It is His pleasure to give to us. Real lovers of God worship Him by joyfully sharing His spiritual and material wealth with others in a way that upholds the receiver’s dignity and deflects attention from the giver.

* What do you have that you now see God is calling you to share with someone else, as a matter of generous love towards God Himself?

If you and I do not worship the wealth, but worship God alone, this sharing ends up making all of us rich. God rewards the one who gives out of love for Him. Those who receive what is given are also richer.

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