Isaiah 58 The Message (MSG)
Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground
58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people— law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side. But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there— Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! God says so!
It became my mantra for 2016.
As I walked through my 6 Things fast,
I devoured this passage.
in many different translations.
And, I know what true fasting is not.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not going through the motions of self-sacrifice,
so that you will look holy to someone else.
Nor is it just to go without, for a specific time period,
only to later indulge, when that time period comes to an end.
True fasting is about so much more.
"True fasting is for the purpose of breaking the power of flesh in our lives." Joyce Meyer
The truth of this statement slammed me.
Even as I type, at this very moment,
I finally realize why He asked me to do this fast in the first place.
He wants to break the power of flesh in my life.
The power of my flesh.
My 6 fast,
was the start of a journey.
A journey to holiness.
When I made the choice to do this fast last January,
I was so fearful.
I was afraid that I would come to the end of it,
without having learned anything.
I was afraid that,
I would have bought only 6 personal items,
and 6 household items,
and at the end of the year, I would have gone without, for nothing.
But I didn't.
I went without, (which seems absolutely ridiculous to say, because in all truth, I have everything!)
to gain something better.
I went without new clothes and house trinkets,
and through that very small sacrifice, (it seemed so huge at the time!)
my spiritual eyes began to open.
I began to see myself with clearer eyes.
I saw my selfishness on a deeper level.
I saw my covetousness with greater clarity.
I see now, that, my fleshly self,
is keeping me from a greater depth of holiness.
And, He used my 6 fast, to show me that.
And, through my 6 fast,
He was able to begin the stripping away of my flesh. (Spiritually speaking.)
He is breaking the power of flesh in my life.
I learned so much this past year.
In some ways, it is almost overwhelming.
I hardly know what to do with it.
My eyes have been opened to the devastation of poverty.
I have become aware of how my blind consumerism has contributed to the oppression of others.
I have been shown that my accumulation of things, results in un-necessary waste.
I see that I have not been a good steward with my money,
or this good earth He created.
I have turned a blind eye to that which makes me uncomfortable,
like the suffering of others,
and the abuse of our North American wealth.
And I am ashamed.
I cannot un-see,
what I have seen.
I will move forward.
I will move past my 6 fast,
into another type of fast.
I will move into the kind of fast the Lord has chosen.
I will work to............
"break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts."
I will strive to...........
"get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, [I will be] generous with the hungry and start giving [myself] to the down-and-out,"
"[My life] will begin to glow in the darkness, [my shadowed life] will be bathed in sunlight. [The Lord} will always show [me] where to go."
My 6 fast has been completed.
True Fasting can start.