Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Getting God's Attention

I debated on the title of this article. I fully believe God’s children always have his attention. But I also believe as his children, our cries get more attention than our laughter. Just as a mother will run to her child when they cry out, God will run to us when he hears our tears fall.

There are times when we need God in such a way that we cannot put it into words. There are times when only the groaning of the Holy Spirit within us can interpret the cries of our soul to God. It is then that we need to look at other ways to get our Father’s attention.

Since the beginning of time God has honored the sacrifices of his people. In the Old Testament they were used as a means to find forgiveness. But after Jesus became our sacrifice on the cross, all forgiveness is ours through the blood of Jesus when we ask. Sacrifice now is a way to honor God, to put Him first, to draw His attention to us. One of those sacrifices is called fasting.

Fasting has many different flavors, but the same substance. It is the denial of self while in prayer to God. Some people go without food for days, living only on water as a fast. Others give up chocolate only, or meat. Some give up sex with their spouse for long terms, and others will give up TV, or some other form of entertainment. It’s not what you give up that draws God’s attention. After all, all these things are gifts from Him. What makes the difference is where your heart is in the sacrifice, what you do with what is being sacrificed, and what you do instead.

If I gave up all food right now, God would not be impressed. Why? Because I’m also dieting. I’d have two motives – therefore, my motive to gain God’s attention would not be pure. My sacrifice would be tainted as if I’d given God a sickly animal instead of the unspotted calf. Your heart must be pure in the sacrifice.

While giving the sacrifice, we must turn our attention to God. We need to be in prayer, Bible study, worship, and praise to Him. In 1 Peter 2:4-5 Paul says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ“. Spiritual sacrifices – gifts from your spirit to God – those are our offerings to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus says in Matthew 9:13, “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” The sacrifice does not get His attention. Mercy does. While you are not watching TV, what will your TV be doing? Okay, now this next part is going to be hard, so bear with me. Don’t turn me off. Give it away. Yes, that’s right – I went there! Give your television away – out of your house – move the beast! Is there a ministry in your church that could use it to play Christian DVD’s? Is there a shelter in your area in need of one? Give it away. Be merciful!

Are you sitting there saying “Oh my goodness! I couldn’t give my TV away! I need that TV! Oh my!” Ask yourself which you need most – God’s attention, or the TV? Remember the widow who only had two cents, but she brought them – both of them, and gave them as tithes to God. Jesus said she was the greatest giver because she gave till it hurt. She gave beyond what was comfortable.

In closing, I want you to hear what God has to say through the prophet Isaiah concerning fasting. As you read this, open your heart to His words. Read it aloud. Listen with your ears and heart to the kind of fasting that draws God near.

Isaiah 58:1-14
1 “Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“ If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Lord, forgive me for all my sins, cast them far from me Father. Heal my brokenness. Bring forth the waters of your fountain of joy. Father, renew your spirit within me. Shield me from the enemy. Hear my cries, and comfort me Lord. Be ever near to me. Be with my every thought, my every care, and my every breath. Lord I desire only more of you in my life. Come closer Father. In Jesus Holy name I pray, Amen.

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