Sunday, October 2, 2011

SEPTEMBER 29 "WASTED FAST...WHAT COULD BE WORSE?"

   WHAT could be worse than a wasted fast?  I can't think of anything worse! For all the agony and deprivation of the flesh, at least we can (or should) have the comfort that there will be great benefits, dividends, to come our way..or perhaps not!  According to our text these folks have fasted "for nothing".  God goes on to say, through Isaiah, "You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard", ughhh we can't?!!  This is revelation to these people, can you just hear them asking, "why, why can't we, what's wrong with our fast?" I wonder how much "religious activity" we do as Christians that is simply, at best being ignored by God or at worse, flat out annoying him. I wonder how much spiritual calisthenics we do that God that He would turn around and say to us, "you're wasting your time".  God is trying to bring us to the place where we ask ourselves, "why are we doing what we are doing?"  Because often, we can lose sight of it or those that come in after us have never really been enlightened as to why we do what we do they just simply follow suit and what once had tremendous meaning and impact is now just a religious exercise.  I once asked my mother as a young boy being forced to go to Catholic Mass every Sunday, "mom, why do we go to church every Sunday" and her answer was simply "because that's what we do, that's what we've always done". Unfortunately that answer wasn't good enough for me and as soon as I was old enough to stop going, I did and eventually our whole family stopped attending.  Are you ready to answer to your kids or anybody else that would challenge you and ask you, "why do you do ______ " There comes a point where we need to go back to our roots and probe and ask, "why are we doing what we are doing" because if we don't we will find ourselves doing things that would seem to have spiritual relevance but in the eyes of God we are wasting our time.       One of our lead Pastors in our Fellowship would always take off his shoes to pray and next thing you knew all his disciples started taking off their shoes when they prayed. Perhaps some reasoned that this probably had to do with God asking Moses to take off his sandals, "for this is holy ground", but nobody really knew for sure why they were taking off their shoes. Eventually he noticed this pattern and to diffuse all the misunderstandings and controversy he explained the purpose of his taking off his shoes. He explained that he often prays on this knees and he began to notice that the tips of all his shoes were beginning to curl up and be ruined, so to prevent the ruining of his shoes he began to take them off; there was no spiritual aspect, what so ever to the "taking off of shoes" but yet there was a multitude of men that were taking off their shoes to pray and not having a clue why they were doing what they were doing.
     If we are not careful this can become us, doing "something" but not knowing why, but thinking we are being spiritual and who can afford to waste time doing spiritual exercises that God is not honoring? I know I cannot.  I do not have the time to waste nor do I have the spiritual aptitude to be able to be doing stuff that God is not honoring. I cannot afford to have God ignore my fasts, I cannot afford to have God ignore my prayers, I cannot afford to have my wheels spinning and going nowhere spiritually.      God is trying to break us out of our habits and rituals and bring us back to a place of relationship. So easily, as humans, do we let activity and habits substitute relationship. Even prayer can turn into a vain exercise if it simply has become a habit. We can be in our place of prayer and simply be mumbling away, speaking repetitiously, minds wandering, same rout prayer every day and then walk away thinking we have prayed and touched God, but we have not. We have not met with God that morning, we have simply met with our mindless habit we have called prayer.  We must allow God to get through at times and break us out of our routine, habits and spiritual exercises.   I need what I am doing for God to count, to count for him and to count for my spiritual welfare.  I need to know what I'm doing, why I'm doing it and what I intend to get out of it or what I intend for God to bring out of it.  As the Apostle Paul said, "we are not beating the air aimlessly, as one swinging in the air". We are aiming to hit something! We are not doing "stuff" just to be doing stuff  (I hope). What we are doing we are doing that it will have impact, whether that be in our lives or in somebody else's, let it have impact.