Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Is This Not the Fast?

I had a wonderful encouragement tonight on Facebook when I received a message from a friend from college. It read, in part: "I have never done this before, but I feel like the Lord is leading me to fast for you the next time you go to the abortion mill to counsel women away from making a terrible decision for themselves and their baby." I see this as one more way that God is providing for our needs in this battle. We truly wrestle not against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12)," so having prayer warriors covering us in prayer as we go out is such an encouragement...and need. But what was even more amazing was her reply back after I responded in thanks. She quoted the exact passage that has become very special to me since we've been going out to the mill...Isaiah 58. And, what is even more interesting is that in our Bible study, we've been studying Isaiah this year (I had already "claimed" this passage for my life, so I was excited when I found out we would be studying Isaiah) and just today we studied this passage so close to my heart, Isaiah 58! Read these beautiful verses and ponder their meaning a moment. You may even want to read the entire chapter.

Isaiah 58:6-9
“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
7 “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 “Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

I have such a burden that most Christians in our comfortable American culture don't understand that the way to truly get to God's heart is to simply obey...to go out and actively live our faith by loving our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, fasting has become the newest "thing", it seems...the latest spiritual gimmick. Everyone wants to fast and pray. It seems we think that is the key to revival. But God says differently! He tells us here that we have it backwards! He shows us the hypocrisy of simply following a list of "dos and don'ts" while ignoring His commands to live out our faith (James 1:22; 2:17,24). In a culture that so despises religious hypocrites, it is amazing how those who hate them most are doing the very things they claim to hate! We truly need to start taking the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7:3)!

When we go out and love our neighbor in these kinds of tangible ways, like standing in front of the abortion mill and pleading on behalf of the babies, it lights our hearts on fire for Him. Our faith becomes real because we are living it and we suddenly see the genuine importance of putting on the armor of God because we suddenly realize we really are in a battle (Eph. 6:10-20)! I truly believe that if Christians across this country would start going out and living their faith in tangible ways (doing good works) and giving the Gospel while doing it, we would see a revival in this country! I know He has started a revival in my own heart. I pray that He spreads it to the hearts of everyone I come in contact with, and then to the hearts of everyone that they come in contact with, and on and on! If you love Jesus, you simply cannot share that love without it causing a fresh stir in your own heart that is infectious. His love is powerful and overwhelming!

What a blessing this friend's message was to me tonight. I don't think she thought much about it...there was such humility in her words. She was just following God in obedience and speaking in the Holy Spirit. But God is a God of detail and He weaves all of these experiences together to encourage and strengthen us when we need it most! He used her words tonight to stoke the fire of my passion for this ministry and to lift my dampened spirits! What a wonderful God we serve!

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