The scripture for today, August 21 (8/21), is Ezra 8:21a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“There, by the Ahava Canal [from the Euphrates R.], I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God.”
In our modern society, does anyone fast anymore? Not drinking our food (juice) for a day and calling that a fast, but a true fast where we drink only water to stay hydrated, but that’s all? And we turn off all computers, phones, radios, and televisions for the day?
Jesus said in his sermon on the mount, “WHEN you fast….” (Matthew 6:16). He didn’t say, “IF you fast….” No, he assumed his followers would fast. Do we?
If you do, do you do it as a group? Jesus said we are to keep it a secret. Does anyone else know about your fast? They shouldn’t know unless they are the reason for our fast. Fasting is an act of self-restraint. It belongs to the sphere of humble self-discipline. It is strictly a personal and private matter.
All moral and bodily restraint, all humbleness of body and spirit are represented by fasting, and it is a complete failure of self-restraint to want to show the world our self-restraint. An unknown author wrote this:
- Let us keep our fast within,
- Till heaven and we are quite alone;
- Then let the grief, the shame, the sin,
- Before the mercy-seat be thrown.
Fasting is a way of starving yourself temporarily, a way of saying, “God, I would do this and more for you; I would die for you.” Or, “God, if it were possible, I would trade lives with this person I am fasting for to give them rest. I would even die for this person.” It is a deep expression to God that goes beyond words.
Also, when you fast, your mind is freed from guiding the digestion of food, so you can think clearer and deeper. You can face yourself more honestly.
Just what are you deep down? Do you truly love God as much as you claim? Do you truly love your family as much as you claim? Your neighbors? Your fellow Christians? Your enemies? This is your time of self-reflection and self-honesty.
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