Dear Praying Friends,
Next week we start our annual fast of ‘21’DAYS. During these days as a church we fast together and if you need a reason to fast, let me give you a few of the reasons that people in the Bible fasted:
1. To strengthen prayer (see Ezra 8:23)
2. To seek God’s guidance (see Judges 20:26)
3. To express grief (see 1 Samuel 31:13)
4. To seek deliverance or protection (see 2 Chronicles 20:3 – 4)
5. To express repentance and a return to God (see 1 Samuel 7:6)
6. To humble oneself before God (see 1 Kings 21:27 – 29)
7. To express concern for the work of God (see Nehemiah 1:3 – 4)
8. To minister to the needs of others ( Isaiah 58:3 – 7)
9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God (see Matthew 4:1 – 11)
10. To express love and worship for God (see Luke 2:37)
If we really want to understand fasting from God’s perspective, then the best place to go is to the Word of God; not just go out on a whim. My mother fasted on Thursdays every week in her journey with God and I never knew it. She did not boast or talk about it, she just did it, in some manner. Isaiah gives us the logical God Given way to fast in Isaiah 58.
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
It is good instruction to show you how you should not fast.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked dists.
You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own dlesh and blood?
This coming year, in the Year of our Lord 2023, we are fasting with a worldview in mind and will join with Gary Klein and over a hundred million people who are joining together to fast for the nations. On four different days in this year, we will be praying for God to have his way in the earth. A cry will come from around the globe, “EARTH, OH EARTH, HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD.” The question rings in my ears today, “IF NOT YOU WHO AND IF NOT NOW WHEN”. It is encouraging to know that we can fast with Global Initiative and the promise of God to us is as valid today as it was when Isaiah wrote these words so long ago.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing dinger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
On another note, GayNell and I are so grateful for the privilege we have as a couple to serve you and your families. It is a blessing to live our lives in the reins of the Lord with one purpose in mind; which is to help you live under an open heaven. A scripture that in on my heart today, in light of our celebration of Christ’s Birth this special time each year, is found in Titus 2:11 - “The Grace of God that brings Salvation has appeared to all men.” Salvation spoken of here means saved, healed and delivered. Each river and each power that works must have a source, which in this case is the Grace of God. There is no other way of Salvation. It is universal and it teaches us how to live in this present world as well as how to look toward the future.
God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-dilled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacridice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
Happy New Year and Blessing to you and yours,
Pastor Cleddie and GayNell