Today’s Scrip-Bit   22 February 2023 Daniel 9:3.

Daniel 9:3.        And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Behold my people, it’s Wednesday, the middle of our work week, and I’m chuckling here because my computer is telling me that snow’s a coming. The truth is that the snow is already here in the form of freezing rain. But anyway, snow or not, today is a big day in the life of believers, Ash Wednesday; the beginning of the 2023 Lenten season! And yes, all the carnival and the bacchanal done now for another year! Now it’s time to seriously turn to God and take a break from all the joys of the flesh that we’ve indulged in over the last few months. 

Let us find our own wilderness to repent and come clean and clear with our God, for remember He is a Spirit, and to worship Him properly we need to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Therefore, on this Ash Wednesday morning,  it’s of the utmost importance that we believers open up our souls and spirits to our great God and allow Him to come into them and refresh and renew them. It’s a time to do like Daniel and seek inward things, where he said. ‘And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:’ (Dan. 9:3) Then he went on to open his heart to God. 

Now we don’t do much sackcloth and ashes in this modern era, but for those who think fasting helps them to get into deeper contact with God, then go ahead and fast, but not merely as an outward ritual, to show off your supposed spirituality to others, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time did. But let it be a sincere process that has you earnestly seeking God and His holy will for your life. 

Jesus said it this way: ‘Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites (pretenders), of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.’ (Matt. 6:16-17) 

Remember friends, you can fool the people and yourself, but you can’t fool God. So whatever steps we take this Lenten Season to renew and deepen our spirituality, please, let’s make sure that it’s a conscious and true decision to really get right with our heavenly Father. Those forty days and night that Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness, and being tempted by Satan, were not a mere ritual, but a means whereby He could be strengthened and made ready for the awesome but ever so difficult public ministry on which He was about to embark. 

Likewise, whatever discipline we choose to embark on for this Lenten Season, in whatever wilderness we find ourselves, it ought to strengthen us, mentally, emotionally and spiritually so that we can continue doing a good job on Jesus’ behalf on this evil and godless earth, for that’s our avowed purpose. But whatever we do, be it more Bible study, or meditating on the word, or deep searching of our souls, fasting, sackcloth and ashes, (smile) let’s ensure that we spend more time with our wonderful Father these next forty days and nights of Lent. 

And it doesn’t have to be anything heavy, but even just spending more quiet time with Him, talking to Him, opening our hearts to Him, and then listening to what He has to say in answer. Like Peter advises: ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ (1 Pet. 5:6-7) Oh for sure, sometimes that’s the best way to go about it, for our God enjoys those li’l one on one tete a tetes with us, where we don’t hold back anything, don’t pretend to be who we are not, we just lay all of our cards on the table before Him. 

You’ll be surprised at how cleansing and far-reaching that kind of approach can be. Because we stop hiding, stop dissimulating, stop pretending and free up our spirits and souls. And that’s when the Lord is able to do great work in us, when our spiritual arteries and veins are free and unclogged, not burdened by all the foolishness of this crazy world. Now let’s listen to this interesting conversation about fasting between God and the nation of Israel, through the prophet Isaiah. 

As per Israel’s way of fasting, God said: ‘Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact (exploit) all your labours (labourers). Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite (strike) with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.’ (Is. 58:3-4) Basically nothing changed with Israel’s fasting, life went on as usual. 

But here’s God’s take on fasting. ‘Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day of the Lord? Is this not the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens (bonds of the yoke), and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal (share) thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out (wandering) to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health (healing) shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward (rear guard). Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.’  (Is. 58:5-9a) Yes my fellow believers, that’s what the Lord expects from us when we fast and cry out to Him: a return to righteousness, looking after the poor and needy, breaking the yokes we have on others and coming to Him with clean and contrite hearts. So, let’s ensure that whatever we do this Lenten season, it is in God’s will and brings true glory to Him. 

Now let’s go home declaring (yesss!!!) our Wednesday Wail, letting the whole world know of our wonderful position in Christ Jesus. In strong and sincere voice: ‘Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: I’m so glad to be alive on this Wednesday! Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: Thank God the breath of life is still flowing through me on this Wednesday! I am halfway home. My hands are fixed securely on the plough, and I’m not turning back. I’m not looking back at the past, not focusing on what has gone before. But my eyes are fixed straight ahead; straight ahead to a glorious future with Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!’ 

Then there’s li’l promise tacked on to that. If we endure right to the end with Jesus, then that future will be even more glorious than we can ever ask or imagine. Wow! We all surely want to see that, which means we’re going to endure to the end! Glory be my people! Much LOVE!

…Lent…a time to bestir ourselves…and delve deeper into God… 

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