Monday: Feasting Turns to Fasting
Text: On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. (Neh. 1:1)
Teach: Fasting isn’t an easy topic to address with people, primarily because we don’t like to go without. But fasting also presupposes the awareness of need or sin, something isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Here in Nehemiah, the people had been listening to and convicted by God’s plan and purpose as lined out in the Law.
Take: Jesus speaks about fasting in the Sermon on the Mount: 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:16-18). Did you catch the implication? He isn’t commanding fast, he’s not even suggesting it, he’s assuming we will.
Task: Can you think of time when you don’t have or know of a spiritual need? Me either. Pray with me today and ask that God would enlighten us on when and how we should fast.
What brings you comfort?
Watching my mom fix brekfast this morning I realized her predictable ways are very comforting to me.
This revelation came as I watched her open a can of pineapple. She opened the can over the sink–just in case there was spiilage. Then she set it on the counter, on a washcloth she had laid there to catch any drips.
That’s how she is: always thinking ahead…anticipating need.
As I sat there watching, I actually thought about how much that’s like God. Remember he’s the great shepherd who provide for our very need. He is always one step ahead of us, anticipating not only what we need, but also the messes we might make.
Then I began to think about the implications of that for Advent and the whole no room in the inn thing. It was no mistake the Mary and Joseph delivered God’s son in a stable, because if God had wanted he could have made room in the inn.
God anticipated their need and provided. Jesus wasn’t born along the road in the middle of the night. No, he was born in a stable out of the elements and with a cradle of sorts.
Sometimes God’s ways confuse me. Both then and now. But they also bring bring me comfort. God anticipates my every need and though he takes m edown paths I don’t understand I know he does indeed lead me where I need to be.
And I don’t know about your life but he has always been faithful to stay right by me as we put the pieces back together. He wastes nothing…even using the messes I have made.
So as you sing carols about the comfort of God, remember that comfort may not come as you expect or want it, but it will come. You willhave exactly what you need.