Wednesday, February 5, 2014

40 Day Challenge Week Three

I hope that by now you have begun to assimilate the idea that fasting is an important discipline in the life of a believer. To assimilate a concept, or to make it part of who we are, we must do two things. First, we must fully embrace it in thought, "I agree with the idea." Second, we must fully act on it, "I change the way I live." Fasting is relevant to the life and faith of a believer. It is important to God. It is important that you do it and it is perhaps more important how you do it for the right reasons.

Matthew records a time when Jesus taught about fasting, among other things important for his followers to know. In Matthew 6:16-17 we read "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."

In Luke 18:9-14 we read, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: "God I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.'"

Avoid these potential negatives of fasting: spiritual pride and boasting. In the coming weeks we will look at some of the reasons believers fasted and prayed, seeking God's mercy. In no case is the purpose of fasting meant to gain God's approval for our own good behavior or to make ourselves superior to those around us. After all, we are justified by Christ! How often do you drive around hoping a cop will pull you over and thank you for using your turn signal properly?

Fast and pray, remembering those who have yet to receive God's mercy. Pray for revival in ourselves and our communities.