Thursday, May 28, 2009

All from Him!

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalms 143:10 (NASB) This morning I read a quote by Althea Gibson. The quote was, "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you." My eyes just happened to fall on the quote as I finished my devotional time and was jotting some notes on yesterday's planner page. It came after I read Psalm 143:10, but it really reinforced the thought that began with the Psalm. With my words I say that I belong to Christ. I try to make my actions say the same thing. But, there are also so many times when I take credit for my own accomplishments - times when I am personally proud of my growth. The truth is that I cannot learn and grow without the Lord's instruction and guidance. I do not have the power within me to become more like Christ without the presence of the Holy Spirit to make it happen. I'm really good at falling back into a sinful pattern, but when it comes to choosing the right way, I have to have the instruction of my God - the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The "somebody" who has helped me is the Lord. He's done it in many ways - through my circumstances, through putting the right people in my path, or through strengthening me from within and through His Word. But, regardless of the method, the growth is from Him. Always. I must not only acknowledge His hand, but I must also always seek out His guidance and teaching, for I am His.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eternal Promises

As I have read and studied through Isaiah and Micah this quarter, I have been so incredibly struck by His promises. One hundred years before the exile, God not only told His people they would be taken into captivity for their rebelliousness, He also told them that they would be restored seventy years after that! Meanwhile, there are prophecies galore about the second coming of Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. I have such a narrow view of promises. If something I am waiting for has not come to fruition in a day or two - a couple of weeks at the most - I get irritable and downhearted. But reading these prophets has reminded me that the promises of God really have little to do with the progress of my brief daily life here on earth. They have to do with His eternal promise. I go through making my day to day plans when His Word clearly warns me against it (Pr 27:1 and James 4:13-17). Then when my plans fall apart I complain to the Lord about it and He has to redirect my heart yet again. His promises are so much grander than my little plans. My heart has swelled with the amazing beauty of all He has promised. The visions of His return and His kingdom have exploded in my heart and mind through these reading more powerfully than ever before. I am in awe. I am filled with excitement and anticipation. So, my challenge? My challenge is to live like my daily plans are a drop in the bucket and His eternal promises are everything! What a victorious life I'd live if I truly were to face each day that way!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I am His!

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness. Micah 7:7-9 (NASB) Micah 7 deals with the corrupt nature of the world in which we live. It is quite the reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. Society in ancient Israel was just as corrupt and hostile to submission to God as our society is now - and they were supposed to be God's chosen people! But, verses seven through nine get very personal, and that is what grabbed me this morning. I struggle through my days. The more I grow, the more obvious my sin is. Things I used to just consider a part of my personality I now see as rebellion against my Savior. It's enough to discourage me into depression, seeing so clearly how I do not measure up. But, this passage is so beautiful because it reminds me that even though I will have to bear the consequences of my sin and the discipline of the Lord, there are a couple of things that I can always remember.
  1. He will still hear me when I raise my voice to Him in faith, repentance, and obedience. He still hears! I am His for the rest of eternity, and there is nothing that can change that! That brings tears to my eyes and a song to my heart.
  2. The discipline is not eternal. He is just, and that justice covers me. His goal is not to punish me forever, but to discipline me into submission to Him that I might dwell in His life-giving presence.
I am always His. I can always delight and rejoice in Him, in the midst of struggle and even in the midst of discipline. I just have to remember that truth and dwell in it!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eternal Hope!

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel. And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace. Micah 5:2-5a (NASB) I am studying Micah for Sunday school right now, and I am exceedingly impacted by the message of hope scattered through the verses of this book of prophecy. I'm struck especially by the image in these verses about when the hope is to come. There is a reference to the birth of Christ, but the hope that Micah is referring to - the time when the true peace will come - is not with His birth, life, death, and resurrection. That brief moment in history is powerful and indispensable. But, for us the true existence in peace will not come until His second coming. It will come in that time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. All our hope is bound up in the assurance that He is returning for us, returning to establish His eternal kingdom. Where does my hope truly lie? Am I so caught up in desiring to see Him work in my day to day existence here on earth that I forget the hope that is coming for eternity? True, I am confident in my salvation, and the salvation is needed that I may not be eternally separated from my God. But, do I live like that's where my hope lies? I do long to live like I believe that my hope is not tied to anything of this world. I don't want to hold on to my stuff, my circumstances, or even my family - I want to commit each to the Lord and have my focus be such that my every interaction shows the true hope - the eternal hope. My Lord is coming for me!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Perfect Tool

Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, to make you know the certainty of the words of truth that you may correctly answer him who sent you? Prov 22:20-21 (NASB) If you are anything like me, you have occasionally made the excuse, "But, I just don't know what to say!" The world tries any way possible to attack our beliefs and our understanding of Scripture. They come to us prepared to ridicule and degrade us. They know that many of us cannot truly argue our position because we have not studied the Word for ourselves. God has provided for me a perfect tool for having certainty and assurance in the truth of Christ, the kingdom of God, and the redemption available for me to be a part of that kingdom. That tool is found in His Word. His Word gives me everything I need to have confidence to stand before Him. His Word gives me everything I need to share that assurance with the world around me. The problem is that I'm not always diligent to utilize that tool. I am challenged to be diligent to truly study and utilize the Word of God. I want to stand before my Lord with His praise on my tongue. I want to stand before those in this world with infallible truth proceeding from my lips. I want to be diligent!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Obedience, not Results

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.' Isaiah 6:8-9 (NASB) I am a result-oriented person. If I do something, I want it to be worth my while. I want to know that there are going to be positive results. My motivation suffers when there are no positive results. Isaiah was told to go out and see a lot of negativity. People were going to close their ears because of his message. They weren't going to listen to him. But, he went anyway. Why? Because of obedience. He was profoundly compelled to be the vessel for God, to step out and accomplish a thankless task. I don't know if it's a Western mentality or just a human one, but if we watch someone try something and fail, we automatically assume it was because they never should have tried it in the first place. I'm very bad about making that assumption, both for myself and for others. But, as a child of God, maybe I need to look at it from a different perspective. I am not called to succeed or to fail. I'm called to obey. Whatever the outcome, whatever the result of my actions, I am not called to point to successes and say, "See, I obeyed and look what happened!" I'm instead called to be able to stand before God, as the writer of Hebrews did (Heb 13:18), with a clear conscience, knowing that I have obeyed in what I've been instructed by God to do...regardless of the results.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

His Light

If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. Psalms 139:11-12 (NASB) Are there ever days when you feel like you are groping around in darkness just trying to figure out where you're going? It's not even just those days when the world is falling down around you - when a job is lost, a child is sick, a financial challenge seems insurmountable. Yes, those are dark times, and yes I've experienced them all. But, I'm talking about the day to day darkness that sometimes creeps in. I'm talking about those average days when the sun is hiding, whininess abounds, and you aren't quite sure what to do to cheer everyone up. I'm talking about those days when one of your children just can't seem to find the path to obedience. I'm talking about those days when everything is going okay, but you don't want to face the norm one more time. Those days might not be the darkness of tragedy, but they are the bleakness of the day-to-day battle we live. My God is my light in the day-to-day just as He is in the struggles. He is my light whether things are good or frustrating. He is my light whether my children are obeying or fighting, whether I'm tired or energetic, whether the house is a mess or tidy. That is the light I must walk in and remember!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Every Moment in Submission

An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Isaiah 1:3 (NASB) Recently I taught through portions of Isaiah in Sunday school. Now I'm back to it in my regular read-through-the-Bible reading. It's amazing how boldly chapter one stood out to me, almost as if I'd never read it before even though I worked through it very recently! Chapter one is all about rebellion - about people choosing their way instead of God's. In total and complete honesty, my desire and my goal are to live my life with God as my Master. I'm not trying to brag or boast - that really is my heart. That's what His Word calls me to do, and that is what I so greatly want to do! But, as I read verse three, I realized that there are so many times when I do not acknowledge His authority over every little detail of my lives. Oxen and donkeys have no life on their own. And they know who's in charge. I have asked myself this question many times, but it seems I need to regularly come back to it; in fact, I'll probably have to come back to it now and then throughout the rest of my life! The question is I live each moment of each day in reflection of the fact that my life is not my own? Do I acknowledge that I belong completely to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Not just in the whole grand scheme of things, but in every moment? Do I truly grasp the significance of His control over every moment? Oh, how I want to live that way! Doug and I have awakened every morning lately to the song "All at War" by Downhere. It ties in to what is going through my mind as I ponder Isaiah 1 this morning. I want to close by sharing those lyrics with you.
08. All At War Ending Is Beginning by downhere Listen:
Lyrics: I'm learning to stand the more that I fall down, It's the law of inversion, and it's all turned around, And I'm staggered by the clash inside my soul, So purposed for good but inclined for evil It's justice and mercy the old dichotomies, All along the frontlines of my heart in both doubt and belief The sinner and saint, the old arch enemies,\ All at war, in me I was born depraved, but created for the divine, With death in my bones, in my heart eternal life, I'd love for Eden, but I'd kill for Rome, I'm native in a land that is not my home You are the beginning, and you are the end, Into your great reversal, I am born again, A beautiful redemption, you leverage even sin In me your final victory, I know you'll win Into light, from the shadows, Into life, from the grave, Into love, Into love

Monday, May 18, 2009

Complacent or Actively Learning?

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. Prov 18:15 (NIV) I can't remember her exact words, but my mom used to always say something along the lines of this...the day you stop learning, you start dying. That thought has stayed with me through the years, especially as I've watched her example. She hasn't just been content to learn what comes her way naturally. She's been determined to seek out learning experiences. When we actively pursue knowledge, sometimes it results in a mass of information from which we pick and choose the wisdom; sometimes it results in a temporary fad in our lives that is tempered as time passes; sometimes it results in a definite 180 degree turnaround that stays with us for the rest of our lives. Whatever the case, it always results in growth and a continuation of life. I have to admit, there are days when I just go through life very content with where I am knowledge-wise. I am willing to learn more, but I don't seek it out - I don't pursue it. I've been challenged lately in that area because I've been in the process of reviewing books for Thomas Nelson Publishing and for author Kathi Macias. I've also been teaching Sunday school and facilitating a Bible study this quarter. I have been learning out of necessity. I am challenged, though, to continue that - to seek that out - even when the natural course of my responsibilities don't insist upon it. "Acquire" and "seek out" are actions. I must move from passiveness to activity!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. Eccl 10:10 (NASB) The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Prov 14:1 (NASB) Reading through Proverbs every month, and now adding a trek through Ecclesiastes on top of that, it's hard to miss the lessons about wisdom versus foolishness! I'd like to think of myself as a wise person, but so often the verses about foolishness convict me, making me realize that I don't always heed wisdom as I should. These verses really hit me today. If I accept God's wisdom and utilize it in my daily life, things run much more smoothly. Life doesn't take as much effort. Even when things go wrong - and they will - it's easier to handle the set-backs because wisdom has been my guide. But, so often I go through my day trying to figure it all out for myself. I seek advice from other people, search the internet, read blogs, send emails - all of it can be pretty futile if I'm trying to seek answers on my own. According to James 1:5, God offers His wisdom freely to me. Why don't I use it?! I long to build my house in wisdom, not tear it down with my foolish behavior. I long to share in the success of wisdom instead of having to exert more effort to accomplish daily life. I am challenged to be very intentional in each step of my daily life - to consciously follow wisdom each day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sluggard or Diligent?

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat. Prov 13:4 (NASB) As I read this, I was quite convicted. I thought about the times when I'm not diligent to get up when I'm supposed to in the mornings. I go through the day wishing for more sleep and feeling exhausted all the time. I thought about the days when I don't push myself to complete my household obligations. I look around and bemoan the fact that my house is a mess and I am overwhelmed by it. It seems impossible to tame the chaos! I thought about the days when I snack away and don't discipling my body in the way of eating. On those days I might not have gained a pound, but my clothes feel like I've gained five pounds and a healthy body seems impossible to obtain. When I'm diligent, on the other hand, the contrast is amazing! I feel more rested when I get up regularly and discipline myself to go to bed. When I'm diligent to fulfill my responsibilities at home, the house isn't overwhelming (even if it's not always spotless!) and I seem to have more time for the other things I enjoy. When I'm diligent with the foods I put into my body, I'm rarely hungry and don't crave things that dissatisfy. I'm more confident with where I am health-wise and more encouraged about making progress with my health. Diligence is such an amazing thing! I am challenged to commit this verse to my heart - God will use it to remind me each time I start acting like that sluggard!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Source of Wisdom

I've been neglecful in posting! So, here's to catching up! There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, "Wisdom is better than strength." But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. Eccl 9:14-16 (NASB) I'd like to say that I'm not biased, but when I read these verses I really had to stop and look at myself. In all truth, I do have bias and prejudice lurking within me that just isn't good. I am picky about the sources of the advice I accept. And I, like this city, sometimes take wisdom but do not give credit for it. Wisdom comes from the Lord, as does discernment. I am challenged to make sure I heed His wisdom no matter what the source! I know I need to have great discernment, and oftentimes that discernment lets me know that certain sources just can't be trusted no matter what they say! But, other times wisdom comes from very unexpected places. Am I ready to receive it? Am I ready to give credit where credit is due?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Eager to be Angry

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools. Eccl 7:9 (NASB) When I first read this verse I thought, "Oh, come on. I'm not ever eager to be angry. Sometimes I just struggle with it more than other times." But, the honest truth is that sometimes I do act like I'm eager to be angry. I mull over irritating things in my head. I pounce on every little thing the kids do, not giving them any room to make mistakes or be...well, be kids! True, I don't like being angry, but when I don't stand firm against anger - when I don't let a soft answer turn away wrath (Prov 15:1) or when I don't choose to fill my mind with the things of Phil 4:8 - I am acting as if I'm eager to be angry! Ouch! That's not something I really want to admit. But, it's something I need to admit so that I can change and grow.

Mother's Day

As I was being honored as a mother yesterday, I was challenged by a I really stand as a worthy mother? Through this coming year I greatly desire to grow in my worthiness to be honored. I pray that through the coming year I will grow as a woman of God, as a wife to my incredible husband, and as a mother to my three precious gifts from God. Only in following the pattern of parenthood set my my heavenly Father can I truly even begin to be considered worthy of honor.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4 (NASB) I am reading in Ecclesiastes right now. It could be rather depressing reading, considering the concept that everything we do is meaningless. But, the same day I started reading Ecclesiastes, I was also reminded of the passage in John 15 about the vine and the branches. It is true - everything I do on this earth is pretty pointless and meaningless on its own. Day in and day out I try in vain to keep this house in order. Day in and day out I put my heart and soul into teaching my children, often battling through it all. I pay bills, but they come back up again the next month. I cook meals only to have to do it all over again in a few hours. It could all get pretty depressing. But, the glorious truth is that I don't have to do any of those things for the immediate, earthly results. I am told to do all that I do in such a way as to glorify my Savior. I must abide in Him! Suddenly everything I do does have meaning, and it is a beautiful one! Oh how often I forget why I'm here. If I will mentally focus on abiding in Him, what glorious joy I can find in even the most mundane of daily tasks!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Live Like I Want It

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" John 5:6 (NASB) This passage was actually Angela's devotional for the day. John 5:2-17 tells the story of a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years. He had been perched by the Pool of Bethesda hoping for healing, but could not get into the waters on his own when they were stirred. So, Jesus asked what seemed to be an obvious question, "Do you wish to get well." I remember as a child watching the cartoon Flying House which put many New Testament Bible stories into cartoon form. In this particular story, this man was grumpy, irritable, and anti-social. Yes, he wanted to get well, but he'd used his illness to push everyone away and had decided that he would always be sick. I don't know if that's what this man was truly like, but reading this verse this morning brought that image back up again. So often we claim to want something - we want to grow spiritually; we want to change a behavior; we want to increase in discipline; we want to see God move in a situation; we want Him to answer a long-time prayer; we want to see our hearts' desires fulfilled. But the truth is that we don't live like we want these things. Sometimes the Lord has to ask me, "Do you want this?" My quick response is, "Well of course I do, Lord! I've been asking and waiting for it, haven't I?" But, then as I process through it mentally, I realize I haven't truly been preparing for Him to work and move in my life. If I truly want His hand in my life, I need to live like it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fulfilling His Word

It just dawned on me that, thanks to the intense storms of the morning, I never posted today's challenge! So, here goes... Praise the LORD from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Psalms 148:7-8 (NASB, emphasis mine) We were awakened just before 5:00 this morning to very intense wind - I believe the report was that 60 mph winds came through with the storm. From the sounds of things - and the aftermath that I've heard and seen - I believe it! Once we realized that the early morning tornado was going to skirt just north of town, we settled down to have our devotional times while keeping an ever-vigilant eye and ear on the weather reports just in case we needed to dash to the kids' rooms and grab them out of their beds. It was in the midst of this that I read Psalm 148. "Stormy wind, fulfilling His word." I'd been thinking of the stormy winds with a bit of nervousness and uncertainty. But, the moment I read this, my heart calmed. Everything that happens is in the hands of the Lord. There is nothing - absolutely nothing - that is outside of His control. I just stand in awe of my God! He is so powerful, so amazing, so wonderful! Even nature itself is ordained to fulfill His Word! The massive five-hour storm we endured this morning was nothing for Him to control. And, He uses me. Gently. Lovingly. Yet powerfully. I don't know that I can articulate a true challenge from this passage, other than that I was once again motivated to go deeper in my usefulness to Him and my praise of Him. Each and every day I must grow more pliable in His hand. Each day I must be less visible and He must be more. And each day I must see more and more of Him all around me. He's there. What a thought.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Teach Me!

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalms 143:10 (NASB) As I was working on my memorization of Psalm 143 this morning, verse ten stood out more strongly to me than it did yesterday. It dawned on me that we really focus more on the correction of the Lord than His teaching. We confess our sins, ask Him to forgive, and then ask Him to teach us a new path. But, is He not there and willing to teach us how to avoid those very sins? Is He not desiring to teach us how to walk in His path in the first place? I don't want to wait until I've made a mistake to be corrected by Him. I long for Him to teach me now, and I long to be open. I want to be like a child who is growing and learning with complete trust. He is God, and I long to learn from Him and walk His path for me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's Weapon

Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. Psalms 143:8-9 (NASB) Psalm 143 was a balm for my soul this morning. Yesterday was a good but long day, and I was tired. This morning I was awakened by one of my children not long before my alarm would call me into a new day. When it came time to sit down for my morning devotional time, I would much rather have been curling back up under the covers for another couple of hours of sleep! Then I read Psalm 143. What a treasure! What an expression from thousands of years ago that spoke my heart this morning! God's Word is so incredibly powerful to step in and lift prayers that we cannot seem to put into words. The battle for my heart and mind - the battle to keep me crushed and beaten down so that I focus on myself instead of on spreading Christ's light - is a daily one. But God is always faithful to provide through His Word exactly what I need to fight that battle. Today He gave me this Psalm and I will be committing it to heart this week. Thank You, Lord, for always giving me exactly what I need to be strengthened to serve You!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hope and Strength

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29-31 (NASB) I think today I'm a bit lethargic. Maybe it's the gloom. Maybe it's the fact that I slept decently when I slept, but was awakened multiple times thanks to kids, cats, storms, and a weather radio (which eventually was turned off!). Maybe it's because we have a different and busy Sunday ahead of us, and I'm trying to gear up for it. Whatever the case, I struggled through my devotional time, had to work hard to focus in prayer, and have just felt tired this morning. I opened my prayer calendar and saw Isaiah 40:29-31 listed as the first passage for prayer and praise today! How appropriate is that! This has long been one of my favorite passages, alone with much of Philippians 4. Even as I have sat here munching on some breakfast and typing this post, I have felt Him renew my strength. I feel less tired and more ready to face the day. My hope cannot be founded on how well I slept, whether or not the sun is shining, or what the day's schedule looks like. It can't be founded on the condition of my heart and mind. Even in those times when nothing profound jumps out at me from Scripture and I seem to drag through my time with the Lord, I cannot let my hope be lost. Hope has to be based on the fact that I can have complete and perfect peace in my Lord and Savior. He is my rock, no matter what my environment or mental condition. And when I hope in Him, my strength is restored. Thank You, Lord!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Doing His Pleasure

If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 58:13-14 (NASB) Where is my delight? Is there anything - any particular day, event, or action - that turns my foot from doing my own pleasure and turns me instead to calling the things of God a delight? I am so frequently caught up in my own pleasure, and my pleasure is so minuscule and blah compared to what the Lord has to offer. Maybe delighting in Him will begin by honoring Him on Sundays, but then it should expand into every moment of every day of my life. My choices in everything from child-rearing to entertainment to possessions to activities should revolve around delighting in my God and choosing His pleasure over my own.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Active Fasting

It still amazes me that I can reread verses, passages, and even whole chapters of Scripture that I've read dozens of times and still suddenly see them as if for the first time. Isaiah 58 struck me that way today. Much of the chapter is about fasting, and it gives some very specific ideas about fasting. I've always been led to understand that fasting is to be a time when I set aside eating in favor of intensive prayer. "Whenever you get hungry, let that remind you to pray!" So, that's what I've always done. Isaiah 58 sheds a very different light on fasting. The first verses show God's children crying out wondering why He does not hear them in their fasting. Then He points out that they are fasting in their way, not His! Then we read... Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:6-7 (NASB) This paints the picture of a very active fasting. Not a holing up inside our homes to be in our prayer closets, but a dispersal of our resources and energies to minister to the needs of the others instead of our own. The rewards outlined in the rest of the chapter for fasting in this way are amazing! I'm really pretty self-centered in many ways, I'm realizing. And fasting is one of those ways. I fast to clear my mind to hear from the Lord. Scripturally, I am called to fast to clear my selfish obligations to make myself more available to minister to others. It's not about me!!! Wow, will I ever truly get that concept ingrained in every aspect of my life? I know one thing for sure - I am determined to actively work toward that goal.