Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for January 7-8 are provided by Tina Hsu. She is a graduate of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.) and currently serves in E. Asia as a preaching intern.
Pastor Ryun’s series will return on Monday.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Luke 5:33-35 (NASB)
And they said to Him, “The disciples of John often fast and offer prayers, the disciples of the Pharisees also do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.
Isaiah 58:6 (NASB)
“Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?”
Every new year, I look forward to fasting and praying with my church for the first several days of January as a way to seek the Lord. What frightens me, though, as the new year approaches is that when the fast begins, I will have to temporarily separate myself from coffee, which I have grown to rely on too much on a daily basis. However, I can count this challenge a blessing, for it pushes me to rely on God and to consider the rich purpose of this spiritual practice.
Having criticized Jesus and His disciples for dining with “tax collectors and sinners,” the Pharisees now criticize Jesus for the lack of spiritual practices that he teaches his disciples, judging them as unholy and less righteous than the disciples of other teachers.
Jesus’ response implies that they have actually misunderstood the appropriate season for fasting. In addition, they have fasted for the sake of appearing holy, while missing the real essence of fasting.
Because Jesus’ appearance marks the arrival of God’s kingdom, Jesus is calling it a time of feasting and joy, similar to the sounds of joy and celebration at wedding feasts. But when Jesus is “taken away,” through the cross, resurrection, and ascension, then it will be appropriate to fast regularly as an expression of hope and anticipation.
Regular fasting is an expression unto God of our anticipation for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and for focusing our bodies, mind, and heart to remain faithful and to be found faithful when Christ appears. It helps us focus on eternal things and gives us a chance us shed off the temporary things we have learned to rely on or chase after.
Fasting is pleasing to God, when we attach it with daily reliance on God (Lk. 4:4: “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.”) and acts of justice and mercy (Is. 58:6). But if it is a way to claim self-righteousness or to build our outward appearance of holiness, it is an empty act and not a pleasing act unto God. (Lk. 18:11-12 “The Pharisee standing by himself prayed thus…I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I get”). However, as you begin this new year by engaging in spiritual disciplines, I pray and hope that your prayers and fasting will not be an end in itself but a means to meet with the Lord and to draw close to Him.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me not to pray and fast for the sake of doing spiritual things, but for the sake of yielding and relying on You as the Lord of my life. I anticipate the day when I will celebrate with joy with brothers and sisters at Your glorious coming, when we see You face to face. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 8