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Friday 28 Feb
Saipan, Northern Mariana Isl.

Light Shall Break Forth (Part 2)

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?”

 

Wow.  Those verses hit home, and hard.  Is fasting, or any sort of discipline, supposed to be in order to attain our own ends or desires?  Fasting is a means of giving up physical needs in order to allow and trust God instead to fill and sustain us, both physically and spiritually, and also an opportunity to devote that time and attention further to prayer.  It is often supposed to be for prayers of intercession on behalf of others, not simply a self-serving prayer need.  Sometimes (myself included) we can elevate our spirituality by performing these certain acts. We may begin with the pure intentions of them being a means of deepening our relationship with God, but we so limit and narrow the possibilities of what God can do through the act by making it simply about OURselves and OUR relationship with Him, rather than turning outward and allowing God to point our eyes towards the needs and struggles of others, and allowing us the gift of intercessing in prayer on the behalf of others.  Not only is it a gift, but it is our responsibility to pray and love and help others by any means that we can.  God says that religion that He sees as pure is to look after the orphan and widow in their distress and keep from being polluted by the world (James 1:27.)  So according to Isaiah 58, what is the purpose of fasting?  To “loose the chains of injustice...set the oppressed free...break EVERY yoke...provide the poor…”  Is the type of fasting God seeks just for our own personal fulfillment?  No, it is for the sake of opening our hearts and ears to the cries of 27 million people trapped in trafficking, 153 million orphans, millions more stuck in poverty, and the statistics continue.  It is so easy to look at those numbers and feel so helpless.  Having held one such child in my arms for a matter of minutes, which was simultaneously the most beautiful and heartbreaking moment of my life, I have known the depth of those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, feeling completely unable to do anything to change the situation.  But praying on the behalf of those is not something for us to take lightly or see as worthless; it has great worth.  And it is often from the place of prayer and Scripture that God will move us to action.

 

8 “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.  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 yourself 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.”

 

There is the promise that there is hope, that our “light will break forth like the dawn.”  We are called to be a light to the world in Matthew 5:15, John 1:5 says that darkness cannot overcome this light, and here it is showing up in the Old Testament as well.  Light is something that God created and used from the beginning, and He is wanting us to be used as a source of that light for others to see Him.  

 

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.”

 

Another promise of God’s guidance and satisfaction, even in a sun-scorched land (also in Psalm 63.)  God promises to give us the strength we need.  We do not need to conserve or “save up” our strength in order to last, we should seek to “gladly spend and be spent for [Him]” (2 Corinthians 12: 15) because He will not fail to give us the strength and sustenance we need in order to do His work.  It is only when we begin to rely on our own strength and power that we begin to fade and wear out, because according to this verse, if we are in Him we will be “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.  13  If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

How wonderful would it be to be known as a repairer and a restorer?  How great to be able to say we did not go on our own way doing as we please, but that we surrender to Him and honor Him?  As it says here, we find our joy IN HIM, when we honor Him by refusing to go our own way, refusing to do simply as we please, and refusing to speak idle words.  As one who is stubborn and likes to get my way, I know God is getting me in the gut here.  It has to be a continual surrender, a constant recognition and decision to say “not my will but Yours God.”  In doing this, our selfishness will decrease and be replaced with His selflessness.  In doing this, our eyes and hearts will be opened to the struggles of others, and we will be moved to prayer.  In doing this, God will be able to move us from our comfortable couches of complacency into passionate, urgent action for His kingdom and His cause.  In doing this, His light will break forth like the dawn through our lives and shine into the darkness around us. 

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Saipan 2013-2014

Travel blog by hodgebrittany

 


I will be living in Saipan teaching 4th grade at Saipan Community School. I will attempt to post on here regularly to keep family and friends updated! I look forward to seeing what God has in store, and I appreciate all your prayers!

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