The following are the devotionals on which we meditated during our EM fast. You are more than welcome to use this as a resource the next time you fast and pray.
REFLECTION: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:16-18
I struggle with corporate fasts, because some people may feel pressure to fast, and they fast for the wrong reasons. But I believe that this spiritual discipline can be applied for the whole church, and it can be immensely beneficial to our walk in faith.
Our passage lays it out clearly. Fasting is about the heart. It’s not for people’s praises. It’s not to lose weight. It’s not a work we accomplish, but it’s an act of faith. It’s an act of relationship as we seek and spend time with our Heavenly Father. Therefore, we don’t boast about our fasting, but instead, we cherish our time with our God and our Savior.
We can access the presence of God’s love, because Jesus received the presence of God’s wrath on the cross for us. Every time we fast, pray, and seek the Lord, we are living out the gospel.
PRAYER: Pray that today may be a blessing as you reflect on this past year and as you look forward to 2021. Pray that we may access such relationship with God in faith both in our personal walk and in our church.
REFLECTION: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” -Psalm 23:1
The word for want means that we are not lacking in anything. This means that if we have the Lord as our Shepherd, we are not lacking. We are not lacking in a pandemic. We are not lacking in the valley of the shadow of death. We are not lacking in physical hunger. This is because the Good Shepherd went through the ultimate lack and death on the cross to lay down His life for us.
PRAYER: Take some time to pray that Jesus may be your Shepherd. Jesus is enough. He is all we have, and He is all we need. We will lack nothing if we have Him. Pray that this may be the reality in our hearts. Pray that our ministry may receive Jesus as our Shepherd and experience the sufficiency of Christ in the new year.
REFLECTION: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.'” -John 6:35
When you’re immensely hungry, a plain slice of bread looks delicious. When you’re super thirsty, you would do anything for a drop of water. Jesus says that He is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water. There is no satisfaction apart from Him. The only Bread that satisfies our hunger is the Bread that was broken on the cross for us. The only Water that quenches our thirst is the Water that was poured out on the cross for us.
PRAYER: Pray that we may truly hunger for the Bread of Life and truly thirst for the Living Water. Pray that we may grow in our hunger and thirst. Pray for such hunger and thirst in our ministry.
REFLECTION: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” -Colossians 3:1-4
Fasting always reminds me of how I idolize food. Hunger affects the way I treat people and the way I view my day. It always reminds me of how I seek to be comfortable and how I get FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED with earthly pleasures. I need to die to my sinful desires, and I need to find my ultimate hope and satisfaction in God.
Paul just talked about our baptism in Christ. We have been raised with Christ. That is our identity and calling. Because we have been resurrected, we are called to die to our sin and live unto Christ by seeking Him. In the passages that follow, Paul calls us to take off our sin by repenting of them and to put on Christ by bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
What do we need to repent of? What do we need to die to? What do we need to put on? How can we seek Christ during this time?
PRAYER: Repent of your sins from this past year, week, and day. Ask the Lord for forgiveness, knowing that this has been secured by the cross. Ask God for grace to live unto Christ and to seek after Him. Ask God for repentance as a ministry, and pray for God to help us “put on Christ” this upcoming year.
REFLECTION: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” -Ephesians 4:1-6
We just talked about calling and identity in Part Four today. Paul here talks about our calling not just to God but to one another. We are called to be humble, gentle, patient, loving, bearing with one another, and united in Christ. This is rooted in Ephesians 2 where we see that Jesus makes us one by being torn apart on the cross for us.
PRAYER: Pray for our unity as a ministry. Pray for our unity as a church. Pray for the communion of the saints in the church universal.
REFLECTION: And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” -Isaiah 6:5-8
Isaiah is brought before the Throne of God, and after seeing God’s glory, He is undone. He confesses his sin and the sins of his people. Then, we see his redemption in the burning coal, representing Christ’s redemption/atonement through the cross for us.
After he is redeemed, he is the one who is sent. If we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we are also called to go and share this good news. The God of mission sent His Son to be on mission to save a people like us. And now, that God of mission sends us out as a people on mission to share Christ.
PRAYER: Pray that God may show you the opportunities for the gospel. Pray that some of your relationships may transform into discipleships in the new year. Pray that we may be on mission as a ministry.