Sermon on January 19 by Pastor Roland Eskinazi
Scripture: Isaiah 58:1-10; 2 Cor 11:1-3
Why begin the year with fasting? All our work for God will mean little apart from our walk with God.
As we seek more of God:
1. FAST EXPECTANTLY – FOR GOD TO OPEN DOORS!
Fasting in Isaiah’s day was empty: better had they laid hold of God in prayer and left fasting out, than fast without prayer.
‘So we fasted, and petitioned our God about this and he answered our prayer.’ (Ezra 8:3)
In 2020, Satan wants our love for Jesus to be diluted, only enough to make our lives easier.
Pray that at the end of this week, we will have re-vitalized prayer lives that will impact ourselves and our world.
2. FAST SINCERELY – FOR GOD TO KEEP US ON OUR KNEES!
Behind all the active sins in Isaiah 58 (exploitation, quarreling and strife), was the attitude of pride.
- Fast, because you know how poor you are
Our problem in the West can be the very abundance we have. (Jer. 5:27-28)
Fasting reminds us that we are made to eat to live, not to live to eat – but to hunger for God most.
- Fast, because you want to be more pure than you are
Worldliness is not simply ‘doing’ sin, but the mindset that is happy with just enough of God to keep me comfortable.
Pray that at the end of the week, we will love more what Jesus loves and hate more all that He hates.
3. FAST SELFLESSLY – FOR GOD TO USE US MORE!
Fasting and prayer did not turn the early church into passive spectators, but mighty soldiers for the gospel.
We can call the church to a week of fasting, but God is calling you to start strategizing.
‘Fasting helps to express, to deepen and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything (even ourselves), to attain the kingdom of God.’
(Andrew Murray : ‘With Christ in the School of Prayer’ )
4. FAST JOYFULLY – TO ENJOY GOD MORE!
Only those whose god is not their belly, or their mobile, or anything other can fast with joy in Jesus, the greatest joy.
Without enjoying God in our fasting (see Anna in Luke 2:37), we devalue what we say He is.
- If you fear fasting, will you start by repenting of that fear?
- When you fast, will you plead for the Lord to keep you hungry for Him after the fast?
- As we fast, will we expect to see a difference in our walk with Jesus and in our collective service
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1. Are you nervous about fasting? Why is it unhelpful to fast without prayer?
2. What was behind the outward sins in Isaiah’s day (see Isaiah 58)? What attitudes should therefore accompany our fasting?
3. See the quote by Andrew Murray above, under ‘Fast Selflessly?’ What personal sacrifices will you make this week to fast? More importantly what kind of sacrifices are you willing to make to be used of God more in 2020?
4. Pray for the Lord to keep us from legalism on the one hand and a faith with little self-denial on the other. Arrange an evening or lunch hour next week for focused prayer with someone or in a small group.
Photo credit FreeImages.com/Davide Guglielmo