Beloved, in our last devotional together, we discussed the purpose of fasting, how it is a spiritual discipline with the intent of drawing us closer to God. We studied Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 and His forty days of fasting in the wilderness. Fasting brings you closer to God, but it also has the potential to weaken you for temptation.
How do you unlock the power of fasting? To overcome your fleshly desires — your appetite — and the evil one?
It takes the full power of the Spirit (just as Jesus was “led”) to take us that far, battling the world, the devil, and our own personal lust (where temptation originates — James 1:14). All three are ranged against us in this fight. We desperately need the power of God’s Holy Spirit, without and within.
And we can’t get close to God without righteous motives. As with all hypocrisy, it’s possible to combine the physical motions of a fast with other actions that reflect evil motives:
Note the glaring evil consistency here. Managers were oppressing their workers on the same days they were fasting. But they were not fasting for good reasons; they were fasting “for [the purpose of] contention, strife, and to strike with a wicked fist.” Their purpose was to make money by driving their workers hard and they wanted God to endorse it.
The Lord reminded His people that He accepts only holy motives — the true purpose of the fast is to express mercy and grace. Not only does exploitation have to go...
sharing has to begin...
But with right motives and action comes the promise of God’s power:
So many precious things are promised here. In verse 8 alone, we have promises of powerful testimonies, healing, and God’s defense (rear guard protection); in the next, answered prayer and the Lord’s presence; in the next, discouragement and depression turned to confidence, faith, and joy; in the next, God’s continual guidance and satisfaction no matter the places or circumstances; and in the last, reconstruction (foundation) of cities (we can add families, organizations, societies, nations) and restoration.
These promises were especially encouraging to the Israelites during their seventy years of captivity, just as they are to us in the context of our personal struggles.
We need God’s fullness, Beloved: we need it personally and we need it in our families and nation. Without it, we’ll perish.