This week Pastor Keith Cowart is guest writing for Pursue Today as we prepare ourselves for next week’s Awakening meetings.
Scripture: Isaiah 58:6-8
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”Reading
Earlier this year, we said that one of the fruits of a genuine move of God’s Spirit is holiness – a growing hatred of sin and longing for righteousness. While the work of sanctification is clearly the work of the Holy Spirit, He will not do it against our will. We must desire to be transformed and be willing to yield to His work. Fasting can play an important role in preparing us for that work in two ways.
First, fasting has a way of intensifying the power of prayer. Mark Nysewander explains:
Isaiah says that if you fast, “then your righteousness will go before you” (Isaiah 58:8). Righteousness will work itself out in your life so that people see holiness. But fasting doesn’t make you holy. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fire of God transforms your human will so that you can consistently and passionately choose for God. The Holy Spirit begins to manifest within you the character of Jesus.
If only the Holy Spirit makes you holy, how is fasting a key to holiness? When you couple fasting with another spiritual dynamic, whether it is prayer, worship or brokenness, that spiritual dynamic moves into a deeper dimension. Couple fasting with the baptism in the Holy Spirit and it intensifies the work of the Spirit in your life. Fasting becomes the fuel infector for the fire of the Holy Spirit! (The Fasting Key, p. 51)
Second, fasting has a way of exposing sin or areas in my life where I am resisting God. Richard Foster writes,
More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. (Celebration of Discipline, p. 55)
- If you have not participated in the call to fasting this week, consider starting today. Give up one or two meals, T.V. or social media – anything that would be considered sacrificial. Devote that time to prayer and asking God to show you where He longs to work in your life.
- If you have been participating in the call to fasting, what has God already revealed? Where is he at work?
- The Isaiah passage reveals that when God transforms our hearts, the result is a new way of living. How have you found that to be true? What new changes might result from a fresh move of God’s Spirit in your life?
May the holy Spirit challenge you this week with this daily thought!