FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS A Study on the Book of Isaiah How To Fast Isaiah 58 - PDF

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS A Study on the Book of Isaiah How To Fast Isaiah 58 Introduction: I want to talk with you today about one of the most life-changing spiritual principles I have ever experienced
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS A Study on the Book of Isaiah How To Fast Isaiah 58 Introduction: I want to talk with you today about one of the most life-changing spiritual principles I have ever experienced in my 37-year personal relationship with Jesus. Even Isaiah addressed it in his book. It is the spiritual principle of fasting. Fasting is abstinence from food with a spiritual goal in mind. It is when you deny the most natural thing your body desires, which is food, in order to pursue the God of heaven to do something supernatural in your life. I have seen fasting change lives, including my own. I have seen fasting begin major spiritual movements. I have seen fasting result in churches seeing revival. When fasting is done the way God wants it done, the results are God-sized and supernatural. Listen: Other than having a daily time with God, I do not know of a spiritual principle that has had a more powerful, long-lasting impact on my life than fasting. Why? Obedience and sacrifice. (Balance) 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. This verse captures the real heart of the entire 58 th chapter of Isaiah, which we are going to talk from today on How To Fast. Tension in Isaiah 58: Performance-based religion versus an obedience-driven relationship with God. Isaiah uses the example of fasting, a spiritual practice, to illustrate this tension that not only exists in fasting, but in all spiritual practices. (Go over tension again.) *Are you doing things from the basis of performance, or are you doing things from the basis of obedience to God? *Are you doing things because formal religion requires it or from a genuine obedience in your relationship with God? Let s talk about this from Isaiah 58. The prophet Isaiah was told by God in verse 1 to cry aloud, literally to call with your throat, meaning do not hold anything back, preach this message with everything you have in you. ell the people how they are sinning against me. Then Isaiah preaches about Performance-based religion. The four characteristics of a performance-based religion - check these against your own life today. (1) Passion for the things of God. (v. 2) Is. 58:2 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. (Seek Me daily, want to know My ways, delight to draw near to Me.) (2) Motives that are selfish. (v. 3) Is. 58:3 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. (1 st part: People asked God questions. 2 nd part: God tells them why He has ignored them: motives are selfish because they seek their own pleasure.) Ill: Isaiah illustrates this to them using the Sabbath, the day for worship, found in v. 13. This is the day when you are to adjust your thoughts, concentrate on God, and worship Him. It is a holy day, NOT a day to use for your own pleasure. You are to keep the Sabbath with an obedient heart. (3) Lifestyle that is not Christ-like towards others. Is. 58:3c... and oppress all your workers. Is. 58:4 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. (Relational disconnect here: misuse your authority over others, you argue with others and fight with them. You cannot treat people wrongly and expect God to move in your life greatly, even if you are religious and fasting.) (4) Project outward spirituality. (v. 5) Is. 58:5 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? (In order for your voice to be heard in heaven, you try to mock repentance, you fast to prove your humility; you bow your head like you are praying; you even put on sackcloth to try to show your humility and repentance.) *God asks them: do you call this a fast? Do you think this is acceptable to Me? All you are doing is trying to project outward spirituality, yet your heart is wrong for the reason you are doing it, and the way you treat others is horrible. All you are doing is performing. I WILL NOT HEAR YOU. Psa. 66:18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. The deception of performance-based religion: You feel you can be truly spiritual and yet relationally indifferent to the way you treat people and respond to their needs. God says, I will not hear your prayers, I am not impressed, even if you fast. 2. Obedience-driven relationship with God. Listen: Obedience to God is the right motive and results in you desiring God to work in you, through you, and around you. (This is the heart of fasting.) *Proper fasting is from an obedient heart that desires God to work in you, through you, and around you. (Desperation) Therefore, God loves for us to fast and pray. He loves for us to abstain from food with a spiritual goal in mind. He loves for us to come to Him in fasting and prayer from an obedient heart that is desperate for Him to work in us, through us, and around us. (There is power in fasting.) I believe there are 22 promises in Isaiah 58 given to people who fast and pray with a pure heart. This morning, I want to highlight only seven of these promises. Therefore, when you fast and pray with a pure heart, coming to God out of obedience to Him, these seven promises are yours: (1) Freedom from anything that binds you. (v. 6) Is. 58:6 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? (God says this is the right kind of fast, the one that results in setting free those who are bound by sin and oppressed by others. Whatever chains someone and binds them up - God can break every yoke. Fasting can be used to break that yoke. There can be some breakthroughs that occur.) Ill: Many of us are like the church deacon who, week after week, prayed before the church fervently: Oh Lord, in your mercy, I beg you to clean the spider webs out of my life. He prayed it weekly. A fellow deacon who had heard him pray that week after week was called upon to pray one day, and he prayed, Oh Lord, It s time, kill the spider! (Do not settle with those spider webs, God can use fasting and prayer to kill the spiders!) *Fasting can set you free from sin. *Fasting can be used to help you treat others with the highest respect, rather than with injustice and inequality. (2) Learn to share. (v. 7) Is. 58:7 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? (When we fast and pray, God teaches us to share with people who have spiritual, physical, and material needs. We are to feed people, house the homeless poor, to clothe people, as well as to take care of our own family.) Ill: Our Blessing Basket Ministry (3000 families) (3) Light will shine. (vs, 8a, 10) Is. 58:8... Then shall your light break forth like the dawn; Is. 58:10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. (When your heart gets right, fasting and praying and you are beginning to meet the needs of others, God says your life will shine like the dawning of a day! With the brilliance of the morning sun, God will glow through our lives when we fast and pray. Look to v. 10 as it tells us, even in a dark work, God will shine through us. The darker the day, the brighter we can shine forth with the glory of God that comes to us when we fast and pray. Even your gloomiest moment will never be any less than the power of the noonday sun, all because of God s glory shining through you as a result of fasting and prayer.) (4) Healing for body, soul, and spirit. (8b, 12) Is. 58:8... and your healing shall spring up speedily; Is. 58:12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in. (Personal restoration and healing can come to those who fast and pray; Notice in v. 12 the words rebuilt, repair, and restore. All of those are indicators of healing. God can use fasting and prayer to heal you, to rebuild you, to repair you, and to restore you. While food is fuel for the body, your body can also be filled with toxins and poisons. Fasting is a cleansing process that can have healing effects for your body, your soul, and your spirit.) (5) Protection from the Father. (v. 8c) Is. 58:8 your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. (When you fast and pray, your righteousness will go before you and the glory of God will be around you and even behind you. In other words, you will be protected on the front and the rear, even when you cannot see. Why? Fasting and prayer results in unusual protection from the Father. When Satan comes after you, he cannot harm you. Be confident, God will protect you.) (6) Answered Prayer. (v. 9a) Is. 58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am. (God responds with answered prayer supernaturally when you fast and pray. I have seen Him do amazing things in response to my requests. God is attracted to an obedient heart that is sacrificing the eating of food or some pleasure we enjoy for the purpose of seeing God move in our lives or in a situation.) *Fasting and praying results in more answered prayers. It gets our hearts right and we get in on what God is doing and wants to do. (7) Clear guidance through life. (vs. 11a, 14a) Is. 58:11 And the LORD will guide you continually. Is. 58:14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; (Life can appear dark and make it complicated for you to see where you need to go, just like is happening in many of your lives today. Yet God, through fasting and prayer can become a spiritual GPS system in your life, guiding you and leading you through life. As you delight in Him alone while fasting and praying, He has the power to make you ride on the heights of the earth, meaning He has the power to raise you up to do great things, even in tough times and even when it does not make sense. All of this is in response to fasting and prayer.) Conclusion: I want insure you understand - fasting is not a formula; it is not a hoop you jump through to get God to respond to you. If that is what you attempt when you fast, God will not hear you and Isaiah 58:1-5 represents you: performance-based religion that appears to manipulate or negotiate with God. However, when you fast with an obedient heart that is pure and you want to see God work in you, through you, and around you powerfully, then these seven promises become yours. Therefore: *Do you need freedom from some sins or situations that are binding you? *Are you selfish and uncaring at times to people, not enjoying the privilege of sharing with others? *Are your wanting God to shine through your life? *Are you in need of healing for your body, soul, or spirit? *Are you desiring God to protect you in every way in this day and hour? *Do you want your prayers answered? *Do you need clear guidance in your life in this day and hour? IF you need any of these, then God may be calling you to set aside a day, two or three days, or a week or more, for you to fast and pray over your greatest needs and desires. Invitation: Just as a Christian cannot perform his/her way into pleasing God, if you do not have a relationship with Jesus, you cannot perform your way into heaven. (By grace alone, in Christ alone) Christian friend: Are you walking in performance or are you walking in obedience? God is calling you to obedience. Are you obeying God? What is God saying to you today? Is He calling some of you to join this church today? Is He calling others to a season of fasting and prayer? Is He calling some of you to this altar today? Come. Obey. Stop performing. Obey God.
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