Monday, July 15, 2013

On 7-21-13, Ezra 7:6-10; 8:21-23 or 8:21-23 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Fasting and Praying

Fasting and Praying
Ezra 7:6-10; 8:21-23 or 8:21-23
International Sunday School Lesson
July 21, 2013

Jed Greenough

For me this week’s scripture is one of questions and I think it should be for you as well.
I read today’s scripture and I oddly enough thought about eating habits and if we were together we could compare ours.  I would have to admit to you that being detail oriented as I am it extends to my meals usually planned out a week in advance.  My wife on the other hand wouldn’t mind opening up the pantry and deciding at that moment what the next meal will be.
I am sure that many of you are meal driven and that some of us get more upset about a missed meal or a messed up one than we do about a missed Bible study or a messed up church service!  Those of us who think like that might want to rearrange our priorities.
When we read in today’s scripture about fasting it might make you want to know more about fasting or examine your ideas about fasting.  How much do we really know about it and is it correct?  There are those questions I brought up as we began. 
A simple concordance search on the matter will show only a little so what we may have been taught may have been more opinion of the teacher than Biblical fact but if it is serving to glorify God that’s okay this time.
About the most solid thing we can draw about fasting is that Jesus made clear in His own words that is wasn’t to be for show.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:16-18
So if we take this as our most important instruction on the matter we see that fasting is not a matter of if but when.  Frequency or length doesn’t seem to matter but sincerity does.
A further examination of the scripture shows penitent and sincere hearts are fasting often at momentous times such as in our scripture from Ezra today.
I believe that when you feel the need this is the time to fast.  It might be that you too need to repent or you urgently wish to come as close as you can to God.  God knows you need fuel for your body and how it drives you but when you put all things aside even that He will see in your heart and as Jesus said reward you.  God wants to be first in our hearts.

For Discussion:
1.      Do a concordance search of fasting and discuss examples
2.      If you fast discuss your experience
3.      Discuss misconceptions about fasting
4.      Discuss types of fasts
5.      Discuss how medically lengthy fasts are not for everyone
6.      Lengthy fasts medically speaking are serious and should be researched before undertaking
Upcoming Lessons
7-28-13:  Giving Gifts for the Temple aka Gifts for the Temple Ezra 8:24-35 or 8:24-30
8-4-13:    Feast of Tabernacles aka Festival of Booths Nehemiah 8:2, 3, 13-18 or 8:13-18
8-11-13:  Community of Confession Nehemiah 9:2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 30-36
8-18-13:  Dedication of the Wall Nehemiah 12:27-38, 43 or 12:27-36, 38, 43
8-25-13:  Sabbath Reforms Nehemiah 13:10-12, 15-22

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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