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.
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!
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.3 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.“
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!
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.
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!
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 for. 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.
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!
MATTHEW 5:24_first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Be reconciled! Even if you never perpetrated a wound but feel the devil may have caused someone to misunderstand. Explain in detail, perhaps even in writing, if that will diminish the devil’s power.
This is not about political correctness. It is not about agreeing with something that compromises your faith and convictions in order to please another person. This is about genuine repentance and grief. This is about expressing shame for your anger, or attitude, or theft, or for whatever you are guilty.
If you stole something – repay it. Depending upon how serious you are, repay more than you stole. You are not obligated to do that by the letter of the Law, but perhaps by the spirit. If the one you wronged has deep unforgiveness toward you, that might light their way to forgiveness. If needed, work out a payment plan – but whatever you have to do, do it!
If earthly possessions are in any way holding you back from being reconciled with someone – you are in bondage. Give your gift to God and live free. You can never out give God. Whatever you give to, or sacrifice for Him – will return with interest.
True God, Give me a willing heart and teach me how to use it for You. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.
Christ wants me reconciled—I will do my part!