Hey New Life Family!
Q: “What did the baby corn say to its mom?” A: “Where is my pop-corn?” Alright, just had to get a corny joke in there. Welcome to day 12 of our fast!! You guys are doing awesome! Hey wait… You over there! Put the cheesecake down. Anyways…
This has been the first time for me doing a 21 day fast. It has been awesome and extremely challenging for me. I have never made the practice of fasting a consistent practice in my life. Before coming to New Life, I believe I fasted for relatively short times about three different times. Every time was at a crossroads and a major decision point in my life. I needed to hear God’s voice. I needed direction. I needed help. And while God loves that, Jesus said in Matthew 6 “When…” we practice these listed things, it helped me understand that I should be practicing more often. It challenged me to develop a new habit and a new spiritual discipline in my life. I have had questions from people that I have been reaching out to in the community, that know I am a pastor ask me, “Why are you fasting?” In other words, why would you EVER do that?! They had just a complete confused look on their face. I felt the same way when I came to New Life and heard what we were going to do in January. But…
It has been one of the best things for me!! I am more aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence and more aware of his voice. I can hear more clearly as each day passes. I am more aware as He speaks to me on how to pray for people that surround me throughout my daily wanderings through Jamestown. I was in the grocery store and I asked my cashier how his holidays were. He proceeded to tell me they were very rough and that just recently his girlfriend went into the hospital because she stopped breathing. Completely and for no reason. She has no history of this and I felt this “nudging” of the Holy Spirit and I knew immediately I needed to pray for him right then. I can say I don't know if I would have been aware, or had the courage, to do this normally.
I read Isaiah 57 and 58 last night. It was so challenging because in Isaiah 57 God is addressing their idolatry and is actively condemning their worship towards those idols. As the chapter continues He gives hope and describes what happens to those who repent. In chapter 58, there is a contrasting outline between true and false worship. I noticed one major theme. When looking at false worship during a fast, the people say in paraphrase, “Look at me! Look at my piousness!” When in true worship during a fast, God is asking us to look around us! As God talks, you notice in verse 6 it starts the listed things He is looking for with this true worship. He says, “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind the people.” It sounds so familiar as you continue to read as what the second greatest commandment is.
I encourage you to keep looking outward! I encourage you to read these two chapters and begin to meditate on them. Read them out loud and begin to ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you people walking around you that you can actively live out the encouraging words that God is speaking in chapter 58 highlighting a true fast. Let the Holy Spirit convict you if there are idols in your life. It’s uncomfortable, but you won’t regret it.
Love you guys! Keep praying for others and fighting for them in prayer! Keep asking God to intervene into their situation and circumstances!
God Bless you all!
Pastor Josh Heilbrun