Hello, and a very big welcome to you, both regular viewers/visitors and first-timers. May God bless you richly.
I’m Roy Godwin, from Roy Godwin Ministries, bringing you the Word For The Month in February 2024. If you prefer it in video format, just head straight over to RoyGodwin.org where you will find it waiting for you.
A Prayer and a Blessing for you are found a little further on.
Let’s get into it. You might notice that I’m including more scripture than usual this month.
It’s the season of Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter. This year, it runs from Tuesday, 14th February, until Thursday, 28 th March.
Traditionally, Christians have fasted during that time. It might be from some particular foods, such as meat, or more recently, it’s become common to fast from chocolate, or social media, or similar.
However, God challenges our understanding of what he really desires as a fast, and what he says might surprise you. Here we go from Isaiah 58.
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? “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? 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?Isaiah 58: 5-7, 10
And his promise:
v11… 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.Isaiah 58:10
Issue: They might fast, but their hearts are far from him.
They are fulfilling a religious ritual towards God, who has loved and delivered them and shown them so much compassion, yet they lack love and compassion for each other, let alone towards the less fortunate.
God cares more about our hearts and for the poor than he ever does about ritual fasting
Jesus reflects this in Matthew 25.
Matthew 25: 31-40 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? ’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’Matthew 25: 31-40
He seems to be referring to the Isaiah passage and, as usual, takes the principle far deeper. He isn’t judging on the basis of what we say we believe, but on the fruit that has grown from the tree of our life. The fruit reveals the true nature of the tree.
What we have done in reflecting to others what we have received from him is more important than ritual.
Now, a caution. I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with fasting from food or self-denial at all. What we are saying is that there is a deeper action which God looks for.
- Lent offers the opportunity to consider afresh:
- Our behaviour towards one another. Have we been generous in our forgiveness of others, or are we holding any grudges?
- Are we respectful and honouring of others, showing patience and having mercy?
- Are we remembering the poor? In what way? Are we shocked bystanders or engaged to bring mercy?
- Do we give generously? Just money, or do we give of ourselves with time and energy, pouring ourselves out for the poor?
Do we give because we should – or do we give because love compels us?
This, then, is the fast that God desires.
Heavenly Father, thank you for being so loving and merciful towards me.
Please help me to reveal your nature through me in all my relationships.
Stir up love and mercy in my heart towards the poor, that I might be just like you, and make a difference to others.
May your kingdom come in my personal world.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Don’t forget to head over to hit Subscribe at RoyGodwin.org, and for info about The Blessings Course and my latest book, And I Will Bless Them.
I bless you in Jesus’ name, that your heart might be quickened to receive all the forgiveness, grace, love and compassion that you need right now. I bless you, that you may be open to all the resources that God has won for you on Calvary.
I bless your heart in Jesus’ name, that you might be an outlet of love, mercy, compassion and supply to the poor.