See God's power move.

SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 58:1-12

1 Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
7 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 them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

DEVOTIONAL

"Do not, however, define the benefit that comes from fasting solely in terms of abstinence from foods. For true fasting consists in estrangement from vices. “Loose every burden of iniquity.”61 Forgive your neighbor the distress he causes you; forgive him his debts. “Fast not for quarrels and strifes.”62 You do not eat meat, but you devour your brother. You abstain from wine, but do not restrain yourself from insulting others. You wait until evening to eat, but waste your day in law courts.Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting." [St. Basil, Homily on Fasting, 10].

"Fasting possesses great power. If practiced with the right intention, it makes one a friend of God." [Tertullian, On Fasting].

Fast.

Scripture: Romans 12:1

And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a]I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Devotional

"Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity...For it is not possible to dare to perform sacred actions without fasting." [St. Basil, Homily on Fasting, 6].

Be cleansed and resolute.

Scripture: Psalm 35: 10-18

10. With every bone in my body I will praise him: “Lord, who can compare with you? Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?” 11 Malicious witnesses testify against me.They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair.  13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. 14 I was sad, as though they were my friends or family, as if I were grieving for my own mother. 15 But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me. I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly. 16 They mock me and call me names; they snarl at me. 17 How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks. Protect my life from these lions! 18 Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.

Devotional

“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.”

--Saint Augustine  Sermon, On Prayer and Fasting, LXXII

"Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." 

--Andrew Murray

Let God be your source.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9: 24 - 27

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Devotional

"Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food." -- Dallas Willard

Remember God is the judge.

Scripture: Psalm 43 {NIV}

1 Vindicate me, my God,
    and plead my cause
    against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
    deceitful and wicked.
2 You are God my stronghold.
    Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Devotional

"People are free to choose the political system they want, but not free to do whatever they feel like. They will have to be judged by God’s justice in the political or social system they choose. God is the judge of all social systems. Neither the gospel nor the church can be monopolized by any political or social movement."

--Oscar A. Romero  The Violence of Love (119)

Cling to God's sovereignty

Scripture: Ephesians 6: 10 -16 

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[e] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[f] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Devotional

As we awaken this morning to a new political reality, we must cling to the sovereignty of God, and put on the whole armor of God!

 

Dr. King said:

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.


A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation."

Love your enemies.

Scripture: Luke 6:27-36

27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Devotional

On Sunday, Pastor Mike talked to us about the countercultural nature of soul force, & we reflected on the below quote from Dr. King. 

Take some time to reflect on it again, and do so in light of Luke 6:27-36.

The end is reconciliation; the end id redemption. The end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of love that transforms opposers friends. It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of people. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.