Well, Do Declare!

JULY 3

MATTHEW 6:16_for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast…

Any way you look at it, fasting shows up in the Bible. It appears in the Old and New Testaments as a part of the religious routine. Fasting was a normal part of worship. 

There is something else which shows up. Jesus has a way of spotlighting it – hypocrisy. Hypocrites are always around. They show up in high governmental offices, on sports teams, on the stage, and unfortunately, they show up in churches. 

You’ve already learned how the hypocrites’ giving alms and praying came from a heart of pride, not worship.  Well, do declare, if that isn’t the same motive for their fasting!

Jesus points out they disfigure their faces when they fast. This is not for repentance or somberness of the occasion, but for exhibition. As always when He speaks of hypocrites, Jesus says not to be like them. 

Religious hypocrites are great actors, and their stage is in the midst of the Christian community. They know how to manipulate the emotions of their audience. Their disfigured faces when fasting is more than feeling weak from hunger. It is to show to their audience they are making a great sacrifice for God.   

PRAYER

Father God, I never want to be a hypocrite. I want You to be my audience. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ looks for hearts of worship—I will worship Him!

You Desire to Change

JULY 2

MATTHEW 6:16_Moreover when ye fast…

Another Biblical principle for times of fasting is remorse – a deep, heartfelt, sorrow for something wrong in your life. The Holy Spirit convicts your heart with guilt. When you have enough sorrow, you desire to change. 

Another time for fasting is for a memorial or preparation for certain religious days or seasons. This kind of fasting is a time of serious mindedness – turning your mind away from the world to the spiritual realm of life.

Seeking God’s guidance for a certain decision or direction is another call to fast. Acts 13:2-3 (KJV) records this incident in the early Christian church, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate [to] me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”

When Queen Esther faced a life and death situation not only concerning the Jewish nation, but her personal life as well, she called for a fast. Esther 4:16 (KJV), “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

PRAYER

Lord God, You call me to worship and follow You, fasting or not. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ calls me to worship and follow—I will!

Who Knows?

JUNE 29

MATTHEW 6:15_Neither will your Father forgive your trespasses…

Why do you hold on to unforgiveness? Does it have something to do with forgiveness causing you to appear weak? God is not only willing, but wants to forgive you. Do you think He is weak?

Hanging on to unforgiveness because it makes you feel tough is straying. Hanging on to unforgiveness for any reason is straying. You are interfering with God’s desire to forgive you. If you are in relationship with Jesus you will forgive, because if you don’t the Holy Spirit will convict your heart. You will lose peace. Salty-lit-up disciples repent and come back to God’s path.

When someone’s straying trespasses into your life, you have to deal with the invasion – one way or another. You can react with anger and possibly physical confrontation, or seek the path of forgiveness. As we’ve said before, forgiveness does not necessarily mean the invaders should not be held responsible for their actions. Discernment must be applied.

Your life can be trespassed upon in many ways. Betrayal is probably the largest of the litter. It may certainly be the hardest to forgive. God does not measure trespasses by their size. God is more concerned about how far away from His path His disciples stray. It is His major concern because … He loves His disciples.

Your willingness to forgive the trespassers may be how God intends to bring them back on track.

Who knows? That may be why your life is the one He allowed them to invade.                  

PRAYER

God of Love, You are more than able to deliver from any trespass. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ knows all trespasses—He conquered them all!

A Fly in the Ointment

  JUNE 15

MATTHEW 6:12_as we forgive our debtors.

When God pays your sin debt, the kicks you used to experience in sin begin to disappear. If they don’t, then in the words of the great Miss Clavel, “Something is not right!” (Madeline – Ludwig Bemelmans). You sin because it supplies some kind of satisfaction. It may be physical, emotional, or financial. When it no longer produces satisfaction (which is the nature of sin), you sink deeper and deeper into sin. The deeper, the harder to come out.  

When redeemed by the Savior, sin begins to lose its hold. There is no joy in sin for the saved. Just when things look good for the debtor, Jesus adds another piece to the pattern.

He lets a fly in the ointment!

Jesus’ prayer causes vertical forgiveness (from God to you) to be based on horizontal forgiveness (from you to your offenders). That means to ask God to forgive you in the way you forgive those who wrong you.

I declare! Jesus just won’t let you get by with anything. It takes a lot of love to hold people you love to accountability.

If you confess, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness, why should that have anything to do with those who wronged you? They need to do their own confessing.

This is more of those natural instincts of your hard heart.

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is your offenders and their confession is between them and God. You forgiving them is between you and God.

A clear sign you have been redeemed is you want to forgive. Old sins lose their grip and hard hearts soften!       

PRAYER

Great Redeemer, Thank You for not only saving me, but changing me. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                               

Christ redeems me—He changes me!

You Owe

JUNE 13

MATTHEW 6:12_our debts…

A debt is an amount of money you owe. It can also be some type of work you owe someone. Any way you look at it, it comes out the same way – you owe. 

You have acquired or promised something you have not completed, or paid. Payment must be made. Until the payment is received, it remains in the ledger as a debt. That debt is attached to your name. It will remain attached until it is Paid In Full.

Unfortunately, debts are made, circumstances in life happen, and the debt becomes difficult to pay – sometimes it may appear to be impossible.

The word debt here can be translated as sin. If, as the Pharisees, you link forgiveness with law keeping, you may feel you have it in the bag. Knowledge of the laws covers it all. Acts 3:19 (KJV) sees it another way, Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

There is action here – repent. Repentance is to turn from a continual act of sin and let Jesus help you not to commit it again.

This verse adds to be converted. To be converted is to admit you can’t live or do right on your own. God does the work, the blotting out, and sends refreshing.   

PRAYER

Lord Jesus,  I confess I am a sinner and only You can renew my heart. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ covers my debts—He will send me refreshing!