2019-01-9 That Wretched Fast!

Good Morning!

I hope you found a little of God’s peace yesterday. I did, although I had to go through a rough hour or so until it came to me. You see, I had some stuff that I was not happy with God about. I couldn’t understand why some things were happening the way they were. That’s life, and it happens to everybody. Yet, it has been bottling up. So, I vented to God. I actually complained. I told him I don’t understand. I reminded him that David complained in the Psalms, so I asked forgiveness if I was being insolent. Job, too, complained. And, so did I. I asked God to show me that he heard and to reassure me. During that prayer, I noticed a notification from Facebook. Someone had let me know that they were encouraged by my post. I guess that God was listening after all.

Yesterday, I joined a friend of mine in a fast. I’ve been doing these from time to time. Water is the only thing I consume. Even the idea of a fast used to trouble me because I knew I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. Food was my master. In many ways, it still is; but the chains are loosening. When I think about it, why should it be such a big deal to miss a meal now and then, even a day here and there? Seriously. Don’t we find it silly when a child can’t wait 30 minutes for lunch, yet as an adult find it out of the question to fast for a day? Is regular intake of food something that is critical to keep me alive, or maybe it’s just something that I have come to expect?

Of course, I know that I can live without food for one day. In fact, given my present body fat, I could survive many days without food. So, why do I panic so with the idea of not eating for one? Heck, who am I kidding! I don’t like the idea of skipping lunch! I have no medical condition that would prevent me from fasting. Really, I have no reason at all. I have plenty of positive reasons presented in the bible. I have reason TO fast and no reason NOT to. So why is it so difficult?

I’ll tell you why, and it comes from one of the verses that bothered me most out of all the bible. Let me lead you into it. In Philippians, Paul talks about righteousness that is obtained, not from works, but through faith. Remember the verse that said he counts the previous things as rubbish? That “stuff” was all the Jewish rituals. Let’s go on from there:

Philippians 3:12-16 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what likes behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal it also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

So far, so good. I’m mature, right? I do as Paul says and forget what lies behind and strive for the goal ahead. But then he goes on.

v. 17-19 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Raise your hand if you have ever rubbed your belly and said, “Bought and paid for!” I have. Now, I know that I am no longer an enemy of God’s because I am born again. I WAS an enemy but will never again be so. However, especially a few years ago, I looked and acted like an enemy because my belly was still a god for me. I had my eyes set on earthly things, certainly, because I would not even consider something so simple as a fast. Oh, sure, I was greatly troubled by my gluttony and excess weight. Sure, I went on diets and lost all sorts of flab, but the fact remained that food was my idol. I still worshipped the god of my belly.

But, that is changing, and there is hope. Paul goes on.

v. 20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

I don’t know if you realize this, but yesterday I wrote about Jesus teaching us we are not of this world. Today, we see Paul teaching that our citizenship is in heaven. The last few days, I have been writing about Jesus’ return. Here it is again today.

Let’s see something. Who is the one transforming lives? Jesus Christ. Read v. 20-21 carefully. Jesus is the one who transforms me. When I transform myself, I am eventually frustrated to the point of giving up. When I get out of God’s way, things change for the better. Always.

1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conqu’rors we are!

3. His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Father, please turn and keep my eyes on Jesus. Amen.

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