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The Fast that Pleases God

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The Fast that Pleases God

Pastor Jim Langlois

 

Ezra 8:23 (NKJV)
23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

Fast / Hebrew = tsuwm – tsoom – To abstain from food.

Isaiah 58:1-14 (NKJV)
1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?
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?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Our Vision

1.     Prayer

2.     Praise & Worship

3.     The Word and the Spirit

4.     Faith Love and Giving

5.     Fellowship and servanthood

6.     Evangelism and discipleship

 

The Fast that Pleases God

1.     This type of fast can only come from a humble heart of worship, not by religious ritual – verse 2

2.     This type of fast can not be accomplished by people who live hypocritical lives – verse 3-4

3.     This type of fast is always accompanied by earnest prayer

4.     This type of fast should result in bring relief to the oppressed

5.     This type of fast should result in feeding the hungry

6.     This type of fast should result in the poor receiving shelter and clothing

7.     This type of fast should bring a decline in pride, finger pointing and evil

8.     This type of fast should lead to repairing things including relationships

9.     This type of fast should respect and observe the Sabbath

10.                        This type of fast should bring victory – verses 10-14

The Believer’s Bible Commentary:

6-8 God wants the fast that is accompanied by the loosing of the shackles of wickedness, lifting the yoke of oppression, feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the poor, clothing the naked, and helping the needy neighbor. Those who thus practice social justice are assured of guidance, healing, and a protective escort. “Your righteousness” may mean the abovementioned acts of mercy or it may mean the righteousness of God which is imputed to those who believe.[1]

 

 

 

The Believer’s Bible Commentary:

9-12 The godly one is assured that whenever he calls, the Lord will answer ... “Here I am.” If he will eliminate oppression, stop pointing ... the finger in accusation or in scoffing, and cease from mud-slinging and slander, if he will alleviate human need, both spiritual and physical, then God promises that his night will turn to day. He will enjoy guidance, abundant supply of good things, health and strength, beauty and fruitfulness, and national restoration.[2]

The Believer’s Bible Commentary:

13-14 If God’s people respect the Sabbath 68 by abstaining from business or selfish pleasure, if they consider it a delight to honor God’s holy day, then they will delight ... in the Lord who gave the day, and He will give them a place of leadership in the earth and the heritage that God promised to Jacob. Nothing can hinder this because the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

[3]

The Bible Readers Companion:

Isaiah’s point is that fasting as an expression of piety is of far less concern to God than a righteous lifestyle. Spirituality is shown by the loving quality of our personal relationships (Isa. 58:4) and by our commitment to social justice and to helping the poor and oppressed (Isa. 58:6–7), not by fasting.[4]

 

The Word in Life Study Bible:

Through Isaiah, God said that true worship is not just a weekly ritual, but a daily lifestyle. It may begin in a house of prayer, but it ends up in the public square.

What might that “public-minded” worship look like in today’s world? What would it mean for believers as they respond to the hungry, the homeless, the prisoner, the wage-earner, the debtor, the poor, and the hopeless? There is no easy answer, but one thing is clear: as Isaiah told the people of his day, God cannot be expected to shower good things on His people as long as they withhold good things from others (58:8–9, 11–12).[5]

 

Matthew 25:34-40 (NKJV)
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

What do we need: = resources / TPM = Time, Personnel, Money -

¨     A building for a thrift store – clothing, furniture, cars / food storehouse / car repair shop / We need financial counselors

¨     We need children’s ministers

¨     We need cleaning personnel

¨     We need a building / property in 17 months

Ezra 8:23 (NKJV)
23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

Our prayer list from the bulletin…

¨     To bring ourselves into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord. New bottles for new wine. (Psalm 42, Mark 2:18-22)

¨     To humble ourselves and seek His presence in our lives and community. (2 Chronicles 7:14, James 4:10)

¨     To specifically pray for His transformation and awakening in Ashland, and Hanover County. (Ezekiel 48:35, Isaiah 62:7 – replace “Jerusalem” with metro Richmond areas)

¨     For souls to be saved, bodies to be healed, marriages restored, and lives to be changed.

¨     For unity in the Body of Christ  - leaders & followers (Eph 4:3,13)

¨     To pray for increase, prosperity, and the fulfillment of God’s will in all Bible believing local churches. (3 John 1:2)

¨     To pray for wisdom, strength, vision, protection, and prosperity, for local church Pastors and their families.

¨     To take authority over & break the power of the occult, witchcraft & familiar spirits that plague our communities (Deut.18:9-14)

¨     To break the power of illegal drug abuse, alcohol, suicide, child abuse, crime, etc., in Ashland, and surrounding communities.

¨     To loose the bands of wickedness, the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. (Is. 58:3-12, Mk 9:29)

¨     For we are a hungry people – hungry for more of His presence, more of His deliverance, more of His salvation, more of His grace and mercy, more of His goodness, more of His power, more of His healing, more of His righteousness, and more of His miracles. (Matthew 5:6)

¨     For apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)


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[1]MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Is 58:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2]MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Is 58:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

 68 (58:13, 14) For a discussion of the Sabbath and how it relates to the Christian, see the NT volume of The Believers Bible Commentary, p. 64.

[3]MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Is 58:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4]Richards, L. (1991). The Bible reader's companion. Includes index. (442). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[5]Word in life study Bible . 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.) (Is 58:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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