Forgiving vs Fingerpointing
This blog has frequently mentioned the need for grace for our enemies (, , , ) and others. My mother always warned me that whenever I point an index finger at anyone (), there are three other fingers pointing back at me! So a lot of my reasons for blogging on this theme so often is that so often we . . . I . . . need it! Charles Spurgeon once said, “If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, because you are far worse than he thinks you to be.”😳 Thus, the apostle encouraged us “not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)
Forgiveness is not needed for someone who has not intentionally offended.
To forgive is defined as “to grant pardon, cancel a debt, cease to feel resentment, to give up all claim of accounting!”
I knew a man who was owed quite a few hundred dollars by another who had borrowed and damaged some equipment. A payment against the damages came the first month, late the second, and then excuse after excuse . . .
“I’ll get the next payment to you . . . soon.”
Another friend advised him to write a letter telling him the debt was forgiven in hopes that the offender would feel such guilt that he would promptly repay what was owed. But after writing the letter, he told me he could not hold onto the offense anymore. What his advisor had intended as a deceit to make the offender feel guilty in fact worked a miracle of grace in his heart! When the offender approached him to offer to resume repayment, he had to decline. He told him, “As I said in the letter, I have forgiven you in Jesus’ name. You do not owe me anything anymore.” That’s what it is to forgive!
So before you get mad at the driver who is tailgating you, why not just let him pass? Before you develop a grudge against a neighbor who throws their dog’s dung on your side of the fence, why not give them a container on your side of the fence in which to put it? And when they throw it beside the container, why not just pick it up for them? Instead of carrying that load of anger at that relative who insulted you in front of the rest of the family, can you find it in your heart to pray FOR them, asking Father to show them mercy? Think of that one who lied to you or about you, who cost you that promotion, who cheated you out of some money, who disappointed you so cruelly.
And with three fingers pointing back at me, I suggest that you forgive. It will not be easy, but oh, the grace and joy that will flow in your innermost being when you feel God’s love pouring through you to them. Enjoy it . . . until the next time you need to forgive . . . then do it again.
Here are a few more thoughts I have collected over the years about forgiveness. Apply the ones you need today:
- As C.S, Lewis noted in The Weight of Glory, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
- “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” Martin Luther King
- “It’s definitely not forgive and forget. There are some things I will always remember, but forgiveness changes the way you remember.” Chris Conlee, Love Works (a movie)
- “Forgiveness begins by your giving the offense to the Lord.” Paul David Tripp
- “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you!” Lewis B. Smeades
- “We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.” William Arthur Ward
- “Jesus calls his followers to sacrificially turn the other cheek. Jesus puts no cap on the limits of our forgiveness — 70 x 7. We can’t use another’s sin as an excuse for our own.” Ed Stetzer
- “Remember where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what he says.” C.S.Lewis
- “Regret cannot change your past; worry cannot change your future. Only forgiveness can change your past; only trust can change your future.” Steve Elliott
- “If we love Him, we obey Him. Forgiveness is an agonizing act of obedience, but after the agony we see grace flow, restoring what was broken. God can then continue to use us in His Kingdom work.” Jane Pappenhagen
- “The Christian life begins and continues on the foundation of forgiveness, not on a promise of protection and help in a difficult world.” Dr. Larry Crabb
- “Lord, forgive me for listening to the news and getting bitter and angry at the lost, forgetting that these are people who are deceived by the enemy of their souls.” gavin duerson
- “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Ghandi
- “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a great idea, until they have something to forgive.” C.S.Lewis
And from some sincere hearts who have been forgiven:
Rejoice In Our Suffering!?
Romans 5:1-11 1“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, knowing that suffering produces endurance,...”
Philippians 2:1-11 5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by BECOMING OBEDIENT TO THE POINT OF DEATH, even death on a cross…. “
The “revival” at Asbury University took on a life of its own for the two weeks of its progress since February 8, when about 30 students stayed after a weekly chapel service and began to pray. The story goes that other students heard about the spontaneous prayer meeting and came to find out what was happening … and stayed and prayed… and more heard and came and prayed… and faculty and staff heard and came and prayed… and eventually people from a couple hundred other universities all across the USA heard and from several other nations and they, also, came and prayed. There was no organizational planning, no big-name speakers or musicians, no fanfare or public relations effort. It was distinctively a “God Moment” where the Sovereign Creator drew thousands of people together to worship Jesus.
The University, not wanting to quench the Spirit of God nor interfere with what He was doing, have moved carefully to allow the round-the-clock prayer meetings without oversight beyond normal security concerns, coordinating with local law enforcement in Wilmore, Kentucky, for traffic and logistics issues when more than 20,000 people came to a little town of 6,000. Now, sensing it is time for something to develop from the renewal, they are curtailing the 24-hour prayer vigils in Hughes Auditorium and restricting access there to students.
The “Word” that is missing so far from what I have heard is that the young people, having enjoyed confession, repentance and a beginning of a transformation of their minds, have not been adequately challenged to prepare for what is to follow. My concern is that many of them will leave the meetings, return to classes, their own campuses or their families and be confronted with those who did not participate and do not appreciate that they have heard from the LORD. The questions will be, “What did you hear? What is different now that you spent two weeks in prayer? What makes you think God spoke to you?”
The caution is given by Jesus in John 15: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. … And you will bear witness, because you have been with Me.”
I blogged recently on coming persecution, here , here and here, and those warnings to believers in Jesus still remain. If someone is looking for an easy life or one without trouble, do not come to Jesus. He promises that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few,” in contrast to the “wide and easy way that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (Matthew 7:12-28) He challenges His followers to do to others what they WISH others would do to them; note, NOT what they actually do. He warns that false teachers will try to deceive them and show off many signs and wonders. Furthermore, they have to build their “houses,” that is their lives and understanding, on the foundation of the Bible; otherwise, they will be washed away in the flood of unrighteousness that will come against those who do not know it.
Peter and James both give clear warnings to those who want to follow Christ:
1 Peter 4:7-19 12“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you… “
James 1:2-12 2″Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…”
As the university students and faculty get back to “normal,” the question is, What will be the new normal? As Watchman Nee asks in The Normal Christian Life, “How does it work out in life? How does it become real in our experience?” The clearest evidence that this was a true revival, God-ordained and guided, and not just some kids getting out of classes or emotional surges of people copying social media what they saw others doing, will be what happens next! How will it affect our society? How will it change the way Jesus is presented… in your neighborhood? At your job? Among your enemies? To those who hate anything Christian?
Are you willing to suffer for The Name? Will you go where He leads, even if it is to your death like John Chau? Or will this “revival” just turn out to be a refresher in arm-chair Christianity? Feel good and let the world go to hell? God loves me and won’t let anything bad happen. Or will He? I’m saved and that’s all that matters.
Or is it?
Continuing the Renewal
It is a fascinating phenomenon when The God Who Is sovereignly chooses to intervene in the lives of people looking for a ray of light in our dark times.
See also https://capost2k.wordpress.com/2023/02/11/moments-jonahs-or-nahums/.
Moments – Jonah’s or Nahum’s?
THE best-known story of the Bible for its details, even better than the parting of the Red Sea or the Crucifixion or Resurrection, is the story of Jonah and the Whale. Of course, anyone might know from a cursory reading of the text and with limited knowledge of zoology that it was not a whale. It was a specially prepared big fish that Father had sent just for Jonah.
In Jonah’s moment of time, the Assyrians were the most obnoxious, bloodthirsty and immoral pagan society of his day! And as everyone knows, when The God Who Is told him to go to Nineveh, Assyria’s capital, and warn the people of impending judgement, he boarded a ship to go the other way, away from his job in about 750BC. One thing led to another; God sent a storm; Jonah confessed and told his shipmates to throw him overboard; they did, and the storm stopped, and the whole crew and passengers offered sacrifices to Yahweh and made vows. The fish eventually spit Jonah out after he had repented and agreed to go to Nineveh where he delivered a message of DOOM!
“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4) No suggestion that they might be able to repent and avoid the calamity… yet that is exactly what they did. From the king to the lowliest beggar, everyone in the evil city turned from their sin and violence and God relented from His judgement and forgave them. No disaster, no destruction, just forgiveness and a transformed society in the capital city of Assyria! (There’s a LOT more to this story and its lessons than this brief synopsis, but you can read it for yourselves.)
A generation later, the people of Nineveh had returned to their nefarious religious practices and violent behavior. The penitent had been forgiven, but they failed to pass their obedience to God to their children. Somewhere around 40 years after Jonah had preached to them, the Assyrians captured Northern Israel and subjugated its people, most of whom were carried off as captive slaves. Fast forward from Jonah’s to Nahum’s moment, and he prophesied about 100 years after Jonah that Assyria would be destroyed.
But this time the reaction was different. We do not know if Nahum delivered his prophecy in Nineveh, but in any case, he was ignored, and God’s judgment fell on the city and the society in 612BC. A conglomeration of Medes, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians (commonly called the Medes) sacked the city and put the most of its people to the sword. The Assyrian kingdom was completely destroyed as the Babylonian kingdom rose in power.
Joel Rosenberg asks this of we who are American today:
“Is America at a ‘Jonah’ moment or a ‘Nahum’ moment!? Will we hear the Word of the Lord and admit that we have strayed so far from the teachings of the Bible and allowed our land to become polluted with 63 million abortions, with pornography and violence and wickedness of all kinds? Will we admit how far we are from God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Will we confess that our hearts are far from Jesus Christ and plead with the Lord for His mercy and grace and forgiveness? Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us another Great Awakening? Or will we be like the people of Nineveh during the time that Nahum came to preach? Will we continue in our sins and watch our nation continue to decline, implode and/or face the full wrath of God in judgment?”
He also mentions the three Great Awakenings that have occurred in American history. From 1720 to 1740 a movement swept over the colonies prior to our separation from England, and it affected England almost as much as the colonies. With the teaching of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley in America and George Whitfield and Charles Wesley in the United Kingdom, focus on the “new birth” and pious living, Bible study and prayer meetings seemed to capture the entire Western society, even spreading to other parts of Europe through the preaching of men like Nicholas Zinzendorf and Daniel Rowland.
The Second Great Awakening occurred from 1800 to 1840 and was mostly a US phenomenon. Again, personal salvation was emphasized, but this time with a focus on human free will. People by the hundreds of thousands repented of sins and changed their lifestyles, much as the Ninevites had done when Jonah preached.
The “Jesus Movement” of the 1960s and 70s was spawned when the youth culture of the US was becoming disenfranchised with the drug scene, materialism and despair over Viet Nam and government corruption. Leaders such as Chuck Smith and John Wimber again emphasized individual responsibility for one’s actions and destiny and focused on the transformative power of the Holy Spirit to give peace with God as well as eternal life to any who would follow Jesus. A single index finger raised meant you were a follower of The One.
We are now faced with a moment of decision in the United States, and possibly globally with Europe, Asia and Africa following our lead. So with Mr. Rosenberg, I wonder, are we at a “Jonah moment” or are we at a “Nahum moment”? As I write this, a spontaneous ‘revival’ is breaking out in Asbury University and Asbury Seminary with continuous prayer, worship and Bible reading and study without any organizational sanction; just hungry people wanting to experience the Presence of The God Who Is!
Perhaps this tiny school in Wilmore, Kentucky, is the spark of what will become a nationwide development in the spiritual life of our country in countermeasure to the debauchery of last week’s Grammys, the Cancel Culture, abortion-advocacy, Critical Race Theory, transgenderism and pornography that plagues the US today. Or it may be a ‘flash in the pan’ of a small number of people who long for God in a society that will refuse His grace.
“Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us another Great Awakening? However, if we don’t repent and turn back to the Lord Jesus Christ, we may very well consign ourselves to suffer the fate of the Ninevites during the time of Nahum.” (Joel Rosenberg)
Are we in a “Jonah moment” or a “Nahum moment”?
Pray for Turkey and Syria – Guest Blog from All Israel News, Nicole Jansezian – Earthquake on the Border
UPDATED 1:31 Local Time: Third earthquake rocks Turkey-Syria border during rescue efforts – thousands feared dead
A third earthquake also reported after most powerful recorded quake since 1939 felt all the way to Israel and Egypt.
Nicole Jansezian | February 6, 2023
Thousands were feared dead after powerful earthquakes rocked southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday. The first was devastating, but a second – nearly as strong – came during rescue efforts and was followed just an hour later by a third which registered 5.8 on the Richter scale.
As of 1 p.m. Israel time, the death toll stood at more than 1,300 – a figure which is expected to rise dramatically as rescue workers dig through the rubble.
The first quake – measured at 7.8-magnitude on the Richter scale – struck just after 4 a.m., when residents were most likely sleeping. Footage showed buildings flattened into a pile of rubble. At least 500 buildings are believed to have been destroyed. This is considered the most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey in at least 25 years. According to the United States Geological Survey, in 1939 an earthquake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people.
The area of the quake spread 14 miles (23 kilometers) and was felt throughout Turkey, and as far as Israel and Egypt. Search and rescue workers were dispatched to the scene. Despite the wintry conditions, residents were advised to stay outdoors in both Turkey and Syria, as tremors and aftershocks rocked the region. “I convey my best wishes to all our citizens who were affected by the earthquake that occurred in Kahramanmaraş and was felt in many parts of our country. All our relevant units are on alert under the coordination of AFAD,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote on social media.
On the Syrian side of the border, the quake impacted the region where some 4 million displaced people have been affected by the Syrian civil war. The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense volunteer organization said entire buildings collapsed. Emergency rooms were full of injured persons, according to Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society. Hundreds of buildings have collapsed, according to reports.
An Israeli rescue team is expected to be dispatched to the region, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “At the request of the Turkish government, I have instructed all authorities to make immediate preparations to provide medical, and search and rescue assistance,” he said. “The foreign and defense ministers have already been in contact with their counterparts and we will – in the coming hours – agree on the dispatching of a delegation as soon as possible.”
More updates are expected at All Israel News and at All Arab News.
Thank You for the NO.
“God must often seem to us to be playing fast and loose with us. The adult must seem to mislead the child, and the Master the dog. They misread the signs. Their ignorance and wishes twist everything.” (C.S. Lewis)
I am such a small creature with such limited understanding. One of eight billion – 8,000,000,000! And some demographers estimate we are half of the total population that has ever lived since Adam and Eve, 16,000,000,000 in all.
News reporters should not be allowed to use words to describe such large numbers. Does it not seem easier to accept that our national debt is $31.12 trillion than to read our national debt is $31,120,000.000,000.00!? And it is growing by over $2,000,000,000,000.00, two trillion, per year or $5,480,000,000.00 per day! When you see $5.48 billion it just seems to not bother us so much as seeing the numbers stretching across the page.
However, I am writing about people today, not money. Eight BILLION is still a lot of people. Think of the crowds in which you have been numbered. You may have been one of 50 or 100 at a church or social club. If your church is a mega-one, maybe you were one of 5,000. You could recognize your children across the large auditorium and even see them wave to you.
Then you went to a concert with 25,000 attendees, and suddenly you could not find anyone you knew beyond those within earshot, maybe 20 feet (3.5 metres) away. A large crowd gathered in Washington, D.C. for a special occasion and the news outlets estimated your “group” was over 500,000 or maybe a million (1,000,000). All you could see was a “sea of faces” bobbing up and down, looking literally more like a lake than a mass of human beings.
So eight billion (8,000,000,000) are LOTs of faces!! And each one has his or her story; each one is troubled by a relationship or blessed by a colleague or family member; each one has had physical and emotional pains, and each has had offers of peace if he or she would take them. Each ONE.
Thus, when we ask God for a parking space and one suddenly opens up, do we accurately conclude the Creator of the Horsehead Nebula actually paid attention to our desire for a few minutes’ convenience? Or could it have been coincidence? Does the One who designed your DNA and spangled the universe with galaxies really care if your bird or lizard or dog dies? Would He not have more important things which require His attention?
When the apostle John encountered The Son of Man in Revelation 1, he was so overwhelmed by this Person that he totally blacked out and had to be revived. This revelation of Jesus continues through chapters 4, 5, 7, 13 and 19 to 21 and HE is amazing! He is beyond our full comprehension! The difference between us and an insect seems less than the difference between us and HIM!! He is more than our small minds can digest, and then we wonder why He sometimes does not jump when we say, “Do what I tell you to do.”
Yet, Jesus, Himself said that Father numbers the hairs of our heads! Such a mind with such vast power and yet such perception of the details!! So when we do not get the “answer” we demand from this Creator, we should not be dismayed, and conclude, “See, God does not exist because He did not do what I want.”
He knows; He understands; He cares more than we can grasp and loves you and me, us two out of 8,000,000,000 (or 16,000,000,000 depending on who you are counting). He knows and loves YOU more than you can imagine. So trust Him. Though he seems to be playing fast and loose with us, simply trust Him, believe in Him and receive His gift of eternal life. Then, someday, we will know fully even as we have been fully known. And thank Him for all things, even when He says, “No.”
CBDC – Faster Than You May Expect
Recently this blog warned of persecution coming via Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). This will make the Respect for Marriage Act look like protection of religious liberties. . . which it is NOT! In a previous blog I noted how President Biden authorized any and all government agencies with a vested interest in a CBDC to explore “the actions required to launch a United States CBDC if doing so is deemed to be in the national interest.”
When did a government ever invent a program that it then dumped? Just search for “obsolete federal programs still on the books” in a search engine and watch the boondoggles your computer will find!
So now, just eight months after executive order 14607 was signed, the NY Federal Reserve is rolling out a test of these actions. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and major banks will launch a three-month test of a digital dollar in hopes of studying its feasibility.” (The Washington Examiner)
“Citigroup, HSBC Holdings, Mastercard, Wells Fargo, [BNY Mellon, PNC Bank, TD Bank, Truist, and U.S. Bank] are the [nine] financial companies participating in the experiment alongside the New York Fed’s Innovation Center, they said in a statement. The project, which is called the regulated liability network, will be conducted in a test environment and use simulated data, the New York Fed said.” (Reuters)
The U.S. dollar will be represented as tokens and transactions will be settled through simulated central bank reserves on a shared multi-entity distributed ledger. This pilot will be conducted in a test environment and the participating parties have stressed that this experiment is not intended to advance any specific policy outcome or hint that the Fed is planning to make any big decisions about a central bank digital currency in the near future. 😉 Wink, wink, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 😨 (Ronald Reagan)
As noted, the US is behind the curve of other countries, so much so that there is discussion about whether the dollar is becoming less important in international transactions. If we fall behind advancing nations like China, India and …Jamaica (??😳) the dollar will lose its slot as the world’s reserve currency! The rise of the Euro and China’s Yuan increasing presence in the global economy all feed into this idea.
China has tested its digital yuan in several provinces, and the currency is even available to users on the popular app WeChat. It recently added four provinces to its list of regions for the CBDC trial. Nigeria also launched a digital currency, the eNaira. The governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank said it was responsible for more than $9,000,000 (in USD millions) in transactions in the past month. Earlier this month, France, Switzerland, and Singapore jointly conducted a trial for their digital currencies, one of the first of its kind. These cross-border trials are also an important agenda item in CBDC development as one of CBDC’s promises is to expedite international trade between financial agencies.
A news release referred to the experiment as a “proof-of-concept project” in which the largest banks in America will work with the Fed’s New York Innovation Center to simulate digital money representing the deposits of their own customers and settle them through simulated Fed reserves on a distributed ledger.
Of course, this is all for our own good: Safety, Security, Convenience! Those are the three catch words that will be used to draw us in. If you know you are not a bad person, but you enjoy convenience, it will be tempting to say to yourself, “I have nothing to hide.” Are you living a “sustainable lifestyle” and helping to fight alleged climate change? Do you support government views on race, abortion, marriage and even democracy? Are you a team player? If not, your participation in society may be affected. Although financial institutions claim a digital dollar boosts speed and convenience, the real motives are surveillance and control.
This is exactly how the recent vaccines were rolled out, through coercive policies enforced, not just by governments but by their corporate partners. John Kerry, at the COP27 conference in Egypt said that this is the model that can be used to enforce compliance with the sustainability agenda being pushed by the United Nations and its myriad partners in the private sector, headed by the World Economic Forum.
Once digital programable money is in place, you may not get to spend your money on certain things and may be limited to certain areas of commerce. A digital ID will be required for everything! Eventually, you will not be able to access any government or public services without that digital ID; you will not be able travel across national borders nor access healthcare nor the internet. You will be required to prove your identity through a digital program containing your unique biometric markers, a thumb print or a facial scan. Cellphones are already prodding us for this information. Many new driver’s licenses require biometric markers. Your face will be linked to a new digital CBDC account. Without it, you will be locked out of the system – no job, no healthcare, no social security check, no buying or selling . . . nothing.
The World Economic Forum wants to achieve this by 2030. After digital money backed by government is in place, cash can be all together eliminated. In June 2020, many world leaders gathered to announce the launch of a plan to “reset” the entire global economy, a proposal ominously named the “Great Reset.” Among the elites from around the world and powerful institutions that pledged their support for the Great Reset were the International Monetary Fund, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Prince Charles and CEOs from major international corporations. A frequent mantra of The Great Reset is “equality of outcomes,” a concept foreign to democratic “equality of opportunities.”
“Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. …In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.” Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, wrote.
New York Fed Announces Phase I Results of the New York Innovation Center’s Project Cedar – FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK
“The U.S. Federal Reserve has tightened the window for the launch of its FEDNOW instant payments platform to between May and July of 2023. According to a press release, FedNow will be open to financial institutions of any size, allowing them to facilitate instant payments for consumers and businesses, giving customers immediate full access to funds. The platform is currently in pilot phase with more than 120 organizations participating, including lender U.S. Bank and payment processor Alacriti Payments among them.” (Forbes)
Some people herald crypto-currency as the money of the future. Its blockchain accounting system made it attractive to investors who valued privacy and speed of transaction. Libertarians liked its independence from government or banks and saw it as a parallel system that would eventually replace modern monies. But the joke’s on those who thought the privacy and independence from government were its salient features. It will soon be Big Brother, more pervasive and intrusive than George Orwell ever imagined.
Once CBDC becomes the medium of exchange in our nation, China and others, it will be a short hop to a global cabal who will control our finances; one more step toward a global government. All it will take will be a cataclysmic event more astounding than the recent pandemic, and One Man will come along with the rest of the solutions. As Jesus warned His followers, do not “get ready.” Rather, BE READY! Christ-followers have nothing to fear, “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Matthew 24:27-18)
I’ve been here before: fasting.
Fasting is an intriguing spiritual discipline that I readily admit I do not fully understand. Thus, though I started to regularly fast several years ago, somewhere along the line I got sidetracked. We know that God does not “bargain,” as though we could approach Him and say, “Okay, I fasted ‘X’ number of times this month; therefore, You have to do ‘Y’ that I have asked for in prayer.” We remember that HE is God, we are not, and that He is never under obligation to His creatures.
Fasting does not particularly make us aware of spiritual realities more than if we simply pray with focused attention on Heavenly priorities. For me, prayer while fasting has never been an occasion of visions or angelic appearances, at least in my very limited experience. It just makes my stomach growl a little louder than usual, especially after drinking a little water.
Now, I must admit that fasting is not difficult for me. My body is unusual in this regard, and I hope on an autopsy someday, some researcher will look at my gut receptors and try to find some that would signal appetite, because I have never felt hungry. Even after going three days without eating (for whatever reason), if someone offered food, it was more a matter of “Oh, yeah, I guess I should probably eat something” than “OHHhh, I crave food sooo much.” If fasting is supposed to alert us to denying ravenous desires to promote spiritual ones, maybe that is why I have been lax with developing this as a regular discipline.
However, Jesus specifically expected His disciples to fast after He left the earth. “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day.” (Mark 2:20) I have addressed fasting before, so will not repeat all of that blog, but to say it is appropriate for a Christ-follower to fast at times. Specifically, Jesus mentioned fasting in Matthew 6 with a couple of prescriptions: go about normal business, don’t show off, focus on Heavenly things (Matthew 6:16-21). Like giving and praying, fasting was to be a normal part of a Christ-follower’s life.
Fasting should not be merely a time of dieting or controlling one’s intake for weight control (although that is one obvious side-benefit for us gluttonous Americans). It should also involve devoted time to prayer, utilizing time usually spent in meal prep or eating to a new routine of praying. And prayers should be more than merely, “Oh, Lord, teach me to pray.” We should know how to pray longer prayers than just “Our Father…” or announcing our “grocery lists.” (See A Catalog of Prayer here.) Be careful not to get caught in “vain repetition.”
Fasting also can involve immersing yourself in the Bible. In our busy lives, most of us spend every moment in moving from one task to another with very little time in Scripture meditation. Unlike Eastern meditative techniques that call us to “empty our minds,” Christian meditation is intended to fill our minds with what the Bible teaches, often focusing on Scriptures that we have not yet applied to our lives. This can overlap with prayer that is simply waiting on the Lord. “Remember that for the Christian, waiting is not about what you get at the end of the wait, but more importantly about what you become as you wait.” (Paul Tripp, The Gains of Giving Up)
The result of fasting should be to draw us closer to The God Who Is and to His word, and by that to reveal to us what kind of people we should be, where we are not measuring up yet, revealing hidden sin and opening our minds to new commitments that we should make.
There is a danger in any of the spiritual disciplines. Whenever we focus on what we do rather than on what Father is doing, there is always a risk of marking off a checklist, “There I fasted this week, so I am spiritual.” This was the major problem with most of the Jerusalem Pharisees in Jesus’ day: they thought that detailed observance of regulations was the way to serve God. With fasting, there is an additional danger if one is not prepared physically for it. It is not glorifying to Father when we put our health at risk or damage our “temples.” Look up Daniel fasts if your body or doctor tells you that you should not do an absolute food fast. I do not recommend absolute fasting that includes water avoidance.
So I have blogged on this before, but I have never developed the habit to do a “regular” fast, which is what this blog is inviting me to begin. You probably will not read here about any benefits I experience per Matthew 6:18, but enjoy exploring fasting on your own. Be thankful to a God who supplies our daily bread and then some! And let a growling tummy remind you of His blessings and how His steadfast love is new every morning.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, [YHWH].
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?”
. . .
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You
from the [coasts of California to Acadia National Park, from Seattle to Palm Beach].
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have gone over me.
By day [YHWH] commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
. . .
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in [YHWH]; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42 [with some personalization]