Sunday, March 31, 2019

DAY 19 - New Weapon: Fasting (Please click here for English podcast)

1.   Put on your “brakes” and stop for a moment of silence
2.   Wait for God. Breathe deep for God's peace. Exhale your worries.

Praise and Thanksgiving
1.   Think through your day, all the times that made you smile
2.   Thank God for all those moments, and for all those people
3.   Open your heart to praise the Lord

      I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
            even at night my heart instructs me.
        I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
            With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
                                            Psalm 16:7-8

Confession and repentance
1.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in you:
     “Dear Holy Spirit, shine your light into the places of darkness in my life. Show me my sins, everything that blocks me from encountering God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

2.  Through the Holy Spirit, examine yourself for a short silence and then pray:
     "Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for our sins and being victorious over death and sin. I confess my sin to you(pause, to tell Jesus what the Holy Spirit has shown you). Forgive my sins by your blood and help me follow you. Holy Spirit, fill me that I may be able to receive your gift to love God and His people. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen."

The Word
16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.                 Matthew 6:16-18

Let's have a time to be still and give the Holy Spirit space to speak through the passage of scripture we have just read. Offer this time up to Jesus as you listen to him, while listening to "Gabriel's Oboe":

My Listening
      In the beginning of chapter 6, Jesus teaches the three things that Jews saw as standard obligations, namely giving, praying and fasting.  

      For Christians nowadays, most Christians only practice giving and praying but never fasting. How come a general practice, one of the three standard obligations is being lost?      

       This is not the time to talk about when did most Christians stop fasting. This is the time to "reinstall" fasting as a major lifestyle of Christlikeness. This is the time for us to start fasting again. Why? Because fasting is a spiritual weapon.      

       Bishop N.T. Wright says:     This passage is all about learning to love and serve God for himself, and in secret, rather than simply having an eye on the main chance, either to show off by being so religious or to store up wealth.

N.T. WrightLouisville,  Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. KY:Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p.62. 

       Bishop Wright is talking about today's passage and the next one. It's all about priority. In order to love God, serve God and to love His people we need to put our priority in giving, praying and fasting. But, these three standard obligations is not a priority anymore. We have other priorities pulling us away from loving God and His people.     

        My mother started to fast every Wednesday since 1981 when she knew that I decided to follow God's calling to leave my job in the Hong Kong Government as a Music Officer to go to seminary. She did that from 1981 to 2009 and she could not continue because of her health.  

         You know what happened? All three of her children, my younger sister Ada, younger brother Dennis and me got our degree in Theology. Both me and my brother are ordained clergy and my sister is a High School principal. All three of us planted at least one church and I was consecrated as a bishop in 2009! Mom, thanks for your fasting for us!    

          Yes, I believe fasting is the most powerful spiritual weapon. The fruit of fasting is always unity and love because it is unity and love that Satan so wants to destroy.    

          So, brothers and sisters, let start to reinstall this standard obligation of Christian discipline into our lifestyle.     Let's fast!     

Dear Lord Jesus, 
Lead us to be able to start fasting so that we can receive this new spiritual weapon from you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Reflect on these questions:
1. What have you learned from this passage about fastingDo you have any experience about fasting?

2. Jesus would like you to start fasting as one of your new lifestyle of Christlikeness, are you willing? 

Family Corner:
1. Is there any one in your family has a fasting habit? What motivates he/she to fast? What is the fruit of his/her fasting?

2. If you have learned the importance of fasting in today's passage, how can you start to try fasting in your family?

Praise and Thanksgiving
Let's give thanks for God with us. Let us praise Him:

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