About the recent disasters of fire that we have experienced over the last few weeks, mankind has been through our share of disasters, and all we have to do is look to the bible for guidance on the proper ways to offer help to those affected.
[Acts 11:27-30 ESV]
27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).
29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.
30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
We have seen a great outpouring of aid from our neighbors in the community, from our fellow churches and from our own small fellowship, many of our membership gave of their time to help Mission Solano distribute supplies to affected areas, I think it is a true reflection of Christ, for us to show his love that is shining through us, to be seen and brought to life here in our little community.
[2Corinthians 8:3-8 ESV]
3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,
4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—
5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.
7 But as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you–see that you excel in this act of grace also.
8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.
The membership of Our Church has proven “by the earnestness of others” how genuine their love is for our neighbors.
So, the fires are mostly contained, people are being let back into their homes, if they indeed have a home to return to, they have been clothed and fed, sheltered treated for injury.
Job done, pack your kit, head home, take a break…right…..wrong
[Galatians 6:9-10 ESV]
9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Guess what everybody, we have opportunity, in abundance.
It is that time of the year to be thinking about the upcoming holidays, our brother Wordsmith is in the process of ramping up his annual toy drive, I know many of you have participated in this worthy cause over the last few years, I know that the idea of getting up before the crack of dawn, spending hours in the freezing cold on Christmas morning, might not sound like a fun time, it didn’t sound like it to me either, but if you stop and think about it for a moment, that that toy you hand out might be the only thing that a child receives for Christmas, the discomfort and the cold, even the lack of sleep, fade away.
We also hope to be able to participate in the nomadic sheltering of the homeless starting the first of the year.
More hard, but rewarding work, think of all the blessing you have, and how little some of these folks have in their life, put yourself in the place of the one thing you had to look forward to all year, was a warm, safe place to sleep for a few weeks.
We that have received so much, salvation through Christ, remember what he endured for us
[Mat 27:28-31 ESV]
28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.
31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
His love for us led him to the cross, in the same way his words exhort us.
[Matthew 5:14-16 ESV]
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Tonight, we need to pray for our nation, and our community, we need to seek the face of God on behalf of all of our land
[2Chronicles 7:13-14 ESV]
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Tonight, we will be discussing the purpose of fasting and how it relates to our relationship with GOD
Speaking of a relationship with GOD, lets take a look at David, and his relationship with the Lord.
[1Samuel 30:8 ESV]
8 And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”
[2Samuel 2:1 ESV]
1 After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.”
According to these, and many other examples, David speaks to GOD and GOD answers.
However, at a time of great sorrow, David fasts and weeps and his pleading went unanswered
[2Samuel 12:21-22 ESV]
21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.”
22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’
Sometimes the Lord will even tell us “it’s not happening”
[Jeremiah 14:11-12 ESV]
11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people.
12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
Sometimes prayer and fasting “works like a charm,”
[Jonah 3:4-10 ESV]
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water,
8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
I wonder, does it have go do with us not following instructions? Do we have any instructions to follow?
[Matthew 6:16-18 ESV]
16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
It seems to me that the Lord Jesus is telling us that fasting is a personal activity between us and GOD
Jesus gives us an example
[Matthew 4:1-4 ESV]
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
It is written, for many years I had never bothered to look up whet the Lord Jesus was referring to in this passage, (I felt pretty safe taking his word for it)
[Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV]
3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Let’s look a bit closer on how the Lord views our fasting:
[Isaiah 58:2-8 ESV]
2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
[Joel 2:12-14 ESV]
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?
So, what is the “upshot” of all of this
Is fasting a way to “tip the odds” in our favor, so we have a better chance of GOD doing what we want?
NO it isn’t that.
Maybe it’s the way we can show GOD we are really sincere in what we are praying for, after all we are giving up something, he should “take that bargain” and give us what WE want.
GOD knows your heart, when you pray, fasting or not fasting, is your heart righteous, that is what matters.
Fasting won’t “prove” anything to GOD
I am told that there is this “thing” called vacation, it is supposed to be something one does to refresh and renew themselves, has anyone here ever been on one of those?
Really, that many, huh
My understanding is that people plan them, setting aside time for them. Having itineraries, goals and such.
Did you take time to plan out time to spend with GOD? To renew your faith in him, to solidify your relationship.
Fasting is to “prove” to us that, we truly desire GOD, that communing with him means more to US than anything the world has to offer, that our spirit wants to be with him more than anything, earthly flesh be Dammed.
Abraham and Isaac
God didn’t tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac for what it would prove to GOD (remember GOD knew what would happen) but to have Abraham prove to himself how deep his faith was.
Fasting reinforces to us that our priority is GOD, nothing else.
If you remember nothing else in your life, remember this:
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Today I get to talk about the 2nd amendment, I mean commandment. I mean covenant
You know, it’s funny, when I wrote that corny joke, it was just an “icebreaker” to start this talk with, then later I started to think about it and saw that there were many parallels between the two and I could probably do this whole study on them.
Not today, maybe some other time.
Remember, the purpose of this covenant was for the Israelites not to follow the traditions of the Egyptians from whom they escaped or follow the practices of the inhabitants of the lands to where they were going.
[Leviticus 20:23 ESV]
23 And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.
So, what does the second covenant say:
[Exodus 20:4-6 ESV]
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,
6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Or “the readers digest version from Leviticus”
[Leviticus 19:4 ESV]
4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.
Now, every time I prepare for a study, I learn a lot of things, one of the first things I learned this time was that the Catholic’s have a different set of the ten commandments.
They go from:
[Exodus 20:3, 7 ESV]
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. …
7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
I toyed with the idea of us just voting to declare ourselves Catholic for today and then we wouldn’t have to do todays lesson, then I remembered one of “Dave’s” commandments, don’t mess with GOD
[Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV]
2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
By the way the Catholics are based around Rome, that is in Italy, the place where Ferrari’s come from
Ferraris and Catholics aside, haw hard can it be,
Don’t make any carved images and don’t worship them, shouldn’t be that difficult, it’s not like:
[Genesis 6:14-16, 19-21 ESV]
14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.
16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. …
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.
20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.
21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”
That’s hard, it’s not like Noah could just pick up the phone and say, “hey lumberyard, can you send over like 50 tons of Gopher wood”
The people in Kentucky, that reproduced the ark from the above description used over 3.1 million board feet of lumber, so that is more like 6000 TONS of wood, that is hard, building an ark.
Why do we have such a hard time with simple easy things, you know, Don’t eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, don’t make any idol’s
Maybe before the great flood, GOD should have told everyone, “don’t build an ark” there would probably be one on every corner.
Even better, if GOD said, Do not chip in and buy Dave a full size running Ferrari in perfect condition, man I would probably be up to my ears in Ferraris
Why do we find it so hard to not do something we are told not to do? If Yasmin tells me “don’t do the dishes” I don’t do the dishes, as a matter of fact I don’t do them whether or not she tells me not to do them.
Don’t hit yourself in the head with a hammer-
Not doing stuff isn’t that tough, doing stuff is tough
I can not do things all day long, so:
How tough was it to not worship an idol?
[Exodus 24:18 ESV]
18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
[Exodus 31:18 ESV]
18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
[Exodus 32:4 ESV]
4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” …
[Exodus 32:7-8 ESV]
7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’
So, if Moses was on the mountain forty days, there are sometimes I wish that Genesis told us how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before the fall, I would like to know, are we getting better or worse
What is the big deal about Idol’s, aside from GOD saying don’t make and worship them. And he does take that seriously:
If you fashion something to represent GOD and you worship the thing, then by definition you are not worshiping GOD, but are worshiping just the representation you fashioned
[Psalm 78:56-60 ESV]
56 Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies,
57 but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols.
59 When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel.
60 He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind,
GOD’S wrath seems like a good reason, to me anyway, to abide by this covenant, maybe you need more convincing.
You remember GOD, Created the universe and all that is in it, breathed life into us.
How can you take an infinite being like GOD and make a finite representation of him? And then worship the thing we created instead of him.
When we make an idol, even one that we have deluded ourselves into thinking represents GOD, what we have really done is demeaned and diminished an all-powerful, sovereign, all knowing, incomprehensible (by us) omnipresent entity and confined him into something our comparatively simple minds have fashioned, and I use fashioned to make this point:
We can’t create anything, only GOD can create, we can take matter GOD has created and fashion or rearrange it, but we cannot create.
[Acts 17:29 ESV]
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
Also, we do not understand the true nature of GOD
[Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV]
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
There is a five-year-old furiously drawing a picture, the mom askes, what are you drawing? The child answers, I am drawing a picture of GOD, the mom says, silly, no one knows what GOD looks like, the child says, they will when I’m done
Does that child know what GOD really looks like, did Michelangelo when he painted the Sistine chapel? Does the Pope know, do you?
Of course not, we are not sovereign, GOD is sovereign, we can’t take GOD and fit him into what we think he should look like, GOD can take us and make us look like whatever he wants, remember:
[Genesis 1:26 ESV]
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Made in his image, not him made in ours
But you know what, we don’t just idolize things we fashion to look like we think GOD looks like, no, we idolize many other things, like:
Money, people worship money, they think that it is the answer to their problems, it’s not
People, ever heard of people that worship other people, like Hollywood actors or sports figures.
The government, it will take care of us
Only GOD is worthy of our worship, why would you worship the created things as opposed to the creator of the things.
Which is greater, the scalpel that is used to cut or the surgeon that knows how to use it to cure you?
Be in awe of GOD’s creations, I am every day when I see a tree or blade of grass, or a cloud or anything else that he has created, but don’t worship the things, worship the one that created it.
As for the things man fashions, some are quite cool, not something to worship, and when man makes things to try and replace GOD
[Habakkuk 2:18 ESV]
18 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!
Who is worthy of your trust, and worship GOD or man?
Who is worthy of your love and devotion, GOD the creator of all things, or the things that were created by him, or created by him and refashioned my Man
Where is your focus and perspective, on the world or on GOD?
[Mathew 6:19-24 ESV]
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
Where is your heart today, is it focused on GOD, or you worshiping the things of this world?
By the way I don’t worship Ferraris, I covet them, but that is a different commandment.
If something isn’t to or for the glory of GOD, and our time is consumed by it, not only are we excluding God, we are in fact giving it the worship that belongs to God alone.
For those of you with a mathematical bent, try this simple formula:
Nothing of man can equal GOD, only GOD is deserving of our worship
The world loves the creation more than the creator.
The truly blessed love the creator above all and want t keep the covenant