Summary: We live in a world filled with distractions which scream for our attention. Unknowingly these can diminish our desperation for God. Today we explore Matthew 6:1, 16-18, and the warning of Jesus to fast behind closed doors.
The Secret of Satisfaction • Matthew 6:1, 16-18
Introduction: We live in a world filled with DISTRACTIONS which scream for our attention. Unknowingly these can diminish our DESPERATION for God.
I. Fasting is an UNFAMILIAR PATTERN.
• Jesus expresses expectation that His disciples will fast yet in another passage (MT 9:14-17) Jesus defends His disciples for not fasting
• In this passage Jesus is focusing on abuse not activity.
• In the Jewish calendar year there were special fasts in which everyone participated particularly around high feast days, Day of Atonement – Jewish New Year.
• National Fasts – rain for crops.
• Personal fasts were common for moral or self-discipline reasons – sign of deep repentance & brokenness before the Lord.
• EXAMPLE… ORANGE OUTFITS…
• We understand giving to the needy… understand prayer… but these few verses for most are typically skipped or might as well be deleted from the Scriptures.
• Because it is an unfamiliar pattern.
II. Fasting is an UNDISCLOSED PRACTICE.
• Luke 18 we discover that the Pharisees fasted twice per week (Mon & Thurs)
• What began as spiritual self-discipline was cheapened and became (as spiritual disciplines often do) an opportunity for self-righteousness.
• Jesus is referring to the fact that some would wear gloomy and pained expressions on their faces and go about their daily life unkept and unwashed, some would sprinkle ashes on their head to let others know that they were fasting.
• What was once an act of humility became a display of self-righteousness.
• Religious or even devotional activity (John Ortberg) is not always equal to spiritual maturity.
• Almost anything that is designed to serve as an outward expression of an inward attitude can be cheapened by hypocrisy.
• We become more comfortable with the practice than we do the person of Jesus.
• Jesus says when you fast, act normally so that no one but God will know. Wash your face and anoint your head (common hygiene practices).
• EXAMPLE of wanting others to know…
• Challenge of these three examples is not in the discipline (giving, praying, fasting) the challenge is in not disclosing our practice to others.
III. Fasting is an UNDIVIDED PURSUIT.
• Fasting Explained – Isaiah 58… Why?
• Isaiah 58:5 – humble ourselves before God (deep repentance over sin – Nehemiah did called a fast among the ppl and they stood an confessed their sins)
• We become desensitized to sin and the need to be satisfied in God alone, when we recognize it a fast might be in order.
• Also an act of humility not just bc of past sin but also because of our dependence upon Him for future mercy.
• Isaiah 58:6 – for the bonds of wickedness to be broken in the lives of people (that’s are purpose for fasting this month). As we fast and prompted to pray everytime we desire, we are seeking God for the souls of people around us.
• Isaiah 58:7 – a deliberate doing without in order to share what we might have eaten (costs) with the undernourished.
• Truth is we have an appetite for things (food, gadgets, experiences) how we are wired. But we are also wired with the basic human sin of greed. We have difficulty being satisfied on things in this life… we always want more.
• CONFESSION: Transition to the SR Pastorate things were very clear in my heart and in my mind… I was undivided in my pursuit of Him… no distractions… almost two years, I have lost much clarity in moving from being on staff at a church to serving in the role of the pastor of this great church family. I have spent many hours being divided not in bad things but pursuing ways to light a fire under people for the things of God.
• This week GOD said you make ME the undivided pursuit of your life and I will do the rest. The goal of this church is not to make you happy! It is to be a family whose undivided pursuit is to please our Heavenly Father whom established this church for the purpose of redeeming people in this community.
• HE must be the undivided pursuit of our lives. We must long for the approval of God in secret more than we desire anything. God is the secret to our satisfaction and that is the ultimate purpose of our Fast.
When God is the supreme hunger of our hearts, He will be supreme in everything. – John Piper, A Hunger for God