Sometime the motive of our fasting and burdens hasn’t been fully submitted to God.
Isaiah 58:2-4 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
The motive of fasting is to take the strength of the situation out of our hands. We put ourselves in a weak position because we know that we have no power to get things done on our own. When the disciples could not cast out a bad spirit and asked Jesus why, he said it could only be done by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:14-26).
Isaiah 58:5-7 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
How many situations are beyond what we think we can do? Do we know how to approach souls and reach them? Fasting is a denying of ourselves and our own spiritual abilities so we will be able to reach souls. We need to have a spiritual understanding that isn’t dependent on others’ abilities, so we can draw out our soul to the needy. We also need to know that we have a testimony of what God has done for us and how God has moved upon us. We need to have a prayer that goes beyond ourselves and reaches out for the needs of others.
The apostle Paul had to deal with a situation because the Gentiles weren’t worshipping like those who had been Jews (Acts 15:1-31). The apostles were still following parts of the law in observing the evening sacrifice and other things. God was blessing and using them so people were healed and saved. The Jews and the Gentiles no doubt were fasting and praying about the problems. What the Holy Ghost was doing was very important to the outcome. If the way they were sacrificing and worshipping was more important than how the Holy Ghost had been working among the Gentiles, the outcome of the meeting would have been entirely different. What would have happened if they held their position about worshipping the Jewish way? They would have caused a heresy (division) and a sect if they hadn’t fasted and prayed for God to have his will and to work out the situation as he pleased. What would have happened if they hadn’t considered the Gentiles needs? The Gentiles later helped those living in Jerusalem, by sending donations for the needy saints (Romans 15:25-26). You can have good motives but they can be not good enough if there’s too much of us getting in God’s way. We can’t rely on ourselves, on our knowledge, and what we’ve done or experienced before. It’s so important to stay connected to the Lord and to those he wants us to work with.
Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
When it comes to delivering anything that is going to be of value, we’ll fail if we think we know so much and our opinion is so important. True fasting puts you in a very vulnerable position. These apostles and Gentiles put themselves in a vulnerable position where they depended on the power and direction of the Holy Ghost. They prepared their hearts before God and committed their works and thoughts to him.
Proverbs 16:1-3 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Sometimes we don’t have the answer for situations, but we need to let people know that God has the answers. We willingly put ourselves in a vulnerable position for God to use as he will. When we’re not trying to answer through our own understanding, God will open the door and give us the words. We can be ambassadors for the Lord as his representatives if we get out of the way. Then we will be known for repairing the breaches.
Isaiah 58:8-12 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Richard Lehman)