A Time for God to Examine

JULY 9

MATTHEW 6:18_but unto thy Father which is in secret…

You want your fast to be seen by God. A time for God to examine your heart and motives. You learn more about how to let God lead, and you follow.  Your spirit grows stronger. These are the kinds of things the Father sees in secret.

Prayer, Bible study, and meditation on Scripture, are perfect condiments to fasting. This opens the door for The Big Three: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. Psalm 119:1-7 (KJV) comes alive, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.”

That’s some powerful stuff, but self-denial is a powerful act.

Fasting is by no means the only form of self-denial. Just changing the channel, or turning off the TV when something wicked shows up, can open these same doors.

Your Father sees everything that’s done in secret.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I seek You with my whole heart, I want to walk in Your ways. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ walked in the law of the LORD—He teaches me!

Because He Knew the Truth

JULY 8

MATTHEW 6:18_That thou appear not unto men to fast…

We have discussed how after His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into a time of great self-denial. Matthew 4:1-4 (KJV), “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ But he [Jesus] answered and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”

There were no people in this wilderness experience. Jesus did not have anyone to show-off His great piety for God. The devil came up with another form of temptation, since his, “See how good I am,” scheme would not work. The devil tempts Jesus to break the fast and eat. Jesus overcame the temptation because He knew the truth – “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus understood the purpose for His fast. He was led to fast in preparation for His earthly ministry. Jesus knew He needed this set-apart time.

You may think the cross was the only sacrifice Jesus made for you – but there is so much more.

PRAYER

Lord God, Praise You for all the sacrifices You made for me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ gave all of Himself—He did it to love me!

Not a Piece of Cake

 JULY 7

MATTHEW 6:17_and wash thy face.

Maybe Jesus added this instruction just in case you did pour that bucket of oil on your head! More likely, He added it as a way of saying, “Get up and prepare for the day just as you would any day.”

Food is the source of the body’s energy. When that source is denied energy begins to deplete. When you feel tired and lack energy, the sad, disfigured face could come naturally. Whether it is natural or not, Jesus does not want you to draw attention to your fast. He wants you up and at it. Jesus wants you to receive the blessing He has in store during this time of self-denial. 

Self-denial is not easy for whatever reason you are denying yourself, and certainly denying the body of its food source is no piece of cake. Hmm, that probably is not the best wording when discussing fasting. If the purpose of your fast is to be spiritually strengthened, trust that will happen. Once the fast is over, you may glean from your spiritual benefits for months to come.

Transformation is progressive. Some parts are instantaneous (like your love for Jesus), some come short term, and some transformations are a long term process. Only the One who loves and wants your very best will re-create you – so your spirit, not physical, controls your actions.

PRAYER

Loving Jesus, Please give me the strength when I need to deny myself. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ denied Himself—He did it to love me!

A Specific Purpose

JULY 6

MATTHEW 6:17_But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head…

Jesus’ reference is not to a priestly anointing – it is more like a personal anointing. I don’t know if oil is used in this anointing. I see set-apartness with Jesus as the issue here.

When oil is used, it is used sparingly and discretely so as not to attract attention. After all, if you pour a bucket of oil on your head and walk around in public, people want to know what is going on. Be careful not to fall into the hypocrite category. 

When Jesus tells you to anoint your head, He is saying, “Get serious about your spiritual life if you are fasting.” There needs to be a specific purpose for this fast. It needs to be about increasing your relationship with Jesus.

Spiritual fasts are not about some extreme crash diet in order to lose weight. That is not a good idea even if the fast is not spiritual. Again, this is an adult thing.  Children and youth are growing bodies. Seldom will the Holy Spirit lead them to fast.

Fasting has nothing to do with causing you to be saved, or not. Don’t worry about such things. Trust your faith to grow, and the truth of the Bible to free you.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I trust You to grow my faith and to lead me to freedom. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ calls me to be set-apart for Him—I will!

What’s Important Is …

JULY 5

MATTHEW 6:17_But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head…

Count on Jesus to teach the truth! He will not leave you dangling with a question mark. Once again, He has taught the wrong way, now He will teach the right way.

Anointing may sound a little unusual but it is all through the Bible. Anointing, performed with oil, was generally performed by priests. The purpose was to set-apart, or consecrate, or designate someone or something to/for God. 

I am going to stray from fasting and hypocrites just for today. This is a good place to discuss another viewpoint of anointing. I view baptism as a type of anointing. Baptism is all about set-apartness, designation, and consecration. It is a way to seal a contract of belonging to God. Baptism should be viewed as a serious act – as serious as your dedication to becoming a disciple of Jesus. 

Baptism can be another sad case of church bickering – how it is performed and at what age. Jesus was thirty years old before He was baptized. What’s important is baptism goes with belonging to God. Count on the Holy Spirit to direct you to be baptized, or to apply your new faith to an old baptism. Or if you feel so led – have a re-do.

Trust and obey – don’t bicker and argue.      

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I want an anointing in my life as a way of belonging to You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ was baptized—It is part of discipleship!