Jan 1, 2014 His Chosen Fast 1: Loose the Bonds of Wickedness Kathleen Maples When it's time, and it is past time now to fast and pray, we must never just out of our own understanding attempt such things. We must go to His Word and pray and seek understanding of how to do it so it will be acceptable in His sight. First, we have to remember He is talking here to His servant, chosen by Himself, to speak for Him. His Word only accomplishes when it is sent by HIM as He directs. It is a powerful, creative, living Word but when spoken through an unclean, unconsecrated vessel it is as sounding brass, just another noise. God told Isaiah to cry aloud so it would be heard, not to restrain or refrain from speaking the truth and warning His people. There is not much time, do it now, cry loudly as a trumpet so all His people can hear the message. He was not to withhold truth from them. God wanted His people to understand their transgression, how they had revolted and rebelled against Him, how they had offended Him. God is talking to His servant, giving Him both a terrible and yet amazing message-one that started with a rebuke but ended with hope and grace. God rebuked Israel, called them transgressors. To all outward appearances they seemed to be a people who delighted in and sought after God to know His Word and ways. They wanted to be known and seen as God's people, yet in reality it was a sham. They were a people ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth, a people who had an appearance, a form of godliness but had no power at all because they denied Him. They did not mind the religious rituals but their hearts never sought after God. They were His people in name only. In their hearts and lives they'd forsaken God and did not keep or treasure the law. They delighted only in the routine and in the appearance of being religious and godly but not in God Himself. They were so blind to their true condition they began to chide with God, accusing Him, questioning Him as to why He was ignoring their fasting and prayers. He told His servant, revealing the thoughts of His people's hearts how they sought for their own pleasure on His sabbath days, how they harassed and dominated their employees as tyrants. They only fasted because it was as a contest, because they had a quarrel with someone over something in the matters of the law they themselves didn't even understand. They presumed themselves right and chose to fast and pray as a means to get God to punish someone they disagreed with. Their motives were all wrong. Their methods even more so. They thought one day of fasting from food and praying to a God they themselves misrepresented would get results. Their method and motives were completely unacceptable to God. He said to them, you fast for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do this day won't cause Me to hear your voice. This is unacceptable. It is colossal arrogance to think we can serve God using our own understanding and thoughts about how it's to be done-no matter what we attempt to do. Yet so many people, many sincere Christians, trust their own understanding or their preacher's understanding of the Scripture and base their whole religious life on that. It is a dangerous thing to do. We are warned not to ever lean on or trust in our own understanding, because the Word of God is not open to private interpretation. Only the One Who wrote it is capable of accurately teaching it to us and making it real so it actually works in our lives. It's up to us to seek God first for ourselves and His understanding, His divine revelation of truth which He offers to those who come seeking. God tells them how to do it so it is acceptable in His sight. In verse 6, He tells them THIS is the fast I've chosen, and He lays out the right motive for doing it. Is not this the fast I have chosen? To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and that you bring the poor that are outcasts to your house? When you see the naked that you cover him and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? These are the objectives and motives God wants for His people to fast. Each one He mentioned bears further study and consideration. Prayerful consideration. Lord, how do I apply this head knowledge to my life and please make it the desire of my heart when it is Yours. Help me do it the right way, the right time and not yield to temptation to walk away from this truth, this responsibility. There are people out there who are bound, who are in bondage, captives of the devil, of wicked spirits, because of wrongs done to them, because of guilt, because they or someone else in their lives broke the law of God. It could be because of demonic influence and temptation that has been yielded to. Some have been victimized, injured, deeply wounded and that has led to bondage of bitterness, fear, shame, resentment. So many have been wounded in the house of God, and left discouraged, disillusioned, and bitter, thinking God is just like those people who hurt them, so they walk away from Him and are lost. Whatever the reason they are captives of the wicked one, God says He wants people to fast and pray so those in bondage can be and will be set free. He wants His servants to exercise the spiritual authority He's given to throw open their prisons and let them go free. But we must first be under His Authority before we can have authority. Again, we dare not attempt these things under the inspiration and instruction of our own minds or trust anyone elses. We must pray, turn to the Word of God for the pattern we are to follow that has been God given. And it is the job of the Holy Ghost to show us these things-but we must show up for quality, alone-private time with Him, willing and ready and prepared to hear and receive His instruction and then obey. God wants people to fast and pray to undo, shake off, unfasten and relieve others from carrying heavy burdens they aren't meant to. He wants to unbind, untie them and set them free. That word 'undo' means what has been done to bring that person into captivity can be undone. The word used here in the Hebrew is a word that is used of one who acts, violently agitated by the pitiful condition of the one in bondage. The kingdom of heaven suffers (endures, allows) violence and the violence take it by force. (Mat_11:12) That devil is not going to peacefully surrender what is his. And all our religious activity and hollering and quoting scriptures and naming it and claiming it will work no better than what the 7 sons of Sceva tried in Acts 19. No, there is only One Authority on earth he is subject to and that is the Holy Ghost. Let me by the help of the Lord show you what this looks like when it's demonstrated in reality. Go with me to Mark 9, starting with verse 14. This is about a boy bound, possessed and tormented by a wicked demon. 9 of His disciples that were not with Him on the mountain of Transfiguration were surrounded by a crowd of people. The people were angry, or willing spectators to the drama unfolding. Accusations of fraud were being thrown at them by a group just looking to accuse and find fault with Jesus and His followers. A miserable father, vexed over the terrible condition of his only child who is possessed by an horrible spirit that has cut off the child's ability to communicate. The child could not hear or speak. The demon continually, regularly sought to inflict pain and torment on this child's body in an attempt to destroy him. This father went looking for Jesus but found the church instead, and if you will, the Presence of the Lord was not there. A church without the Presence of God in it is powerless and impotent. Just another religious institution. Moses knew this which is why he insisted that if the Lord not go with them he wasn't leading these people anywhere for they would be as the other nations without God. The father had begged them to cast the devil out of his boy and they couldn't do it. Someone had called in the scribes to investigate this. The scribes were known as guardians or keepers of the law, and when it was suspected the law had been violated or misused they were called in to investigate and most often reported back to the Pharisees. Jesus sees this, and intervenes. "Why question you with them?" He asks. That word question means to investigate, dispute with. They were arguing. The inability of the church is met with questions, disputing, contention and strife by the crowd. This isn't to be a debate, not to be a source of contention or an ineffective thing. Before the scribes get a chance to respond to Jesus' question, the father speaks up. He comes and I'm sure he had a hold on his boy as he came, and knelt before the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Hope of the world. They've all had their say, arguing the Scriptures, debating, accusing the church and as a result of the church's inability, their Christ, of being frauds. This father cries out to Jesus in desperation. The man's son is demon possessed and so very tormented and His church could not help him. Beloved, we have to carefully consider what is unfolding here. We can't just read over this and assume things like this don't happen anymore because now more than ever there is a suffering world out there in great bondage to this same devil. These events are related in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Three times. Matthew 17 says the child was crazy, as a lunatic. He was miserable, ill, grievously sick, suffering painfully. Look up the words in the Greek and pray. That is what I have done and am continuing to do because all the dictionaries in the world won't shed light on the Scriptures without the ministry of the Holy Spirit to open our understanding. This child is being thrown down when this demon seizes control, and this demon will throw this child into any danger present, be it fire, or water. This was the only child of this man and he loved his son. The boy hadn't always been like this. Once he had been normal, like us. Jesus asked how long had the child been like this? The man said since he was a little child. The son must have grown since then, aging in years but his condition growing worse. He had been suffering far too long, far too much. And all the church could do in the face of such suffering was face accusations and the contempt of a disbelieving world because they were powerless to help him. Luke says the demon would seize control of the boy, claim his body for itself, take possession of him suddenly, without warning and there would be a shriek, a cry, as the boy would begin convulsing uncontrollably. Remember, it's a demon that cut off the boy's hearing and speech. The boy would go into spasms of convulsions as the demon would tear at his flesh, causing him to foam at the mouth and roll on the ground. All this did great damage to the boy's body, bones and muscles. Bones were broken, his body was bruised and torn. Mark describes the child's suffering as being seized by this demon that would take control of him, break him, distorting and convulsing his body. It would throw him on the ground, breaking bones, bruising and ripping at his flesh, creating horrific injuries that had to be painful. The Word used here means to break, wreck or crack, separating of parts, shattering to small fragments, to lacerate. It also speaks of grinding of the teeth in a frenzy. As a result of all this suffering and abuse, the boy's body was wasting away, withering, shriveling up. His health would not allow him to continue to live long in this condition. The boy couldn't hear truth or speak to cry out for help. If this demon could inflict such physical suffering, how much worse was the mental anguish of this child? Jesus had sharp words for those present that day. "You faithless, (perverse, unfaithful, not to be trusted, unbelieving,) perverted generation! You're corrupt, you've turned away from the right way, opposing it. I know that's not exactly what He said, but you look up the words faithless, perverse generation and you'll find that's what it means. You pervert something when you change it from it's original intent, meaning and demonstration. This demon was stronger than the disciples. It knew how to put on such a fearful display that would shake their faith and incite fear in those who saw. But look at its reaction when Jesus turned His attention to the boy. The demon began to do as much damage as possible to the child, throwing the boy's body down on the ground and ripping at him viciously. When Jesus asked the boy's father how long the child had been like this, I believe He asked that question to bring home the fact that this child hadn't always been like this to the people. It was an unclean spirit that had taken hold of this boy, a foul, impure, lewd demonic spirit. Demons will take what God created and pervert every part of it when they can. Jesus not only rebuked it and ordered it to come out, but forbid it to return because He knew it would try to come back. He didn't have to scream, or work up a sweat. He didn't have to raise h is voice. He just had to speak the Word of God. He had authority over it and it knew it and so did He. When they were alone, the disciples asked why they couldn't cast it out? He said because of your unbelief. Unfaithfulness, disobedience, disbelief, without faith. But, He continued, this kind, this kindred, offspring, this sort, those who function under the control of the same nature as this beast will only leave by prayer and fasting. By abstaining from what strengthens and supports that same nature in us that is operating in that demon. When Adam fell in the garden, he lost the nature, the likeness of God and that left an emptiness-a vacuum. Satan was quick to rush in to that emptiness and recreate the nature of man in his own image. He could not dethrone God in heaven but he did succeed in dethroning God in man. This is evident in the fact that when we are born, no one has to teach us to lie, or hurt others or be selfish, or get angry. It's a natural response that children have to be trained not to do. Beloved, I do not want to be one who is unmoved, blind or who can easily turn away from the suffering of others who are in bondage to a devil that is so cruel and merciless. God forbid! Lord help us to feel what You feel and care for what You care for! Help us to get over ourselves, look away from our own trials and problems, put them once and for all in Your hands and embrace the cross. Only God can change us and cause us to love and have His compassion as we allow Him to fill us with His life and love. Psa_146:7-8 says the Lord executes a just verdict for those defrauded, cheated, done wrong, exploited or crushed. Those who've been violated, deceived. He gives food to the hungry, sets those who are bound free. He opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up and comforts those who are bowed down. He is our Strength and Power. He makes or sets me free so I can join the battle in ensuring others are also set free on this journey as well. This is a hard truth, one we must have His guidance and instruction to walk in. As I am beginning to understand these things better, my heart bows before the Lord in utter helplessness and awe. I do not know nor am I alone capable of fighting this thing. Yet David said it is the Lord that taught his hands to fight, it is the Lord that gave him the shield of salvation and by His gentle dealings with him was he increased, made greater than he was. 2Sa 22:33 God is my strength and power: and He makes my way perfect. 2Sa 22:34 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet: and sets me upon my high places. 2Sa 22:35 He teaches my hands to make war; so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms. 2Sa 22:36 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation: and Your gentleness has made me great. 2Sa 22:37 You have enlarged my path under me; so that my feet did not slip. 2Sa 22:38 I have pursued my enemies, and destroyed them; and turned not again until I had consumed them. The same Bible says He is no respecter of persons. What He will teach David, he will teach us. The Word says the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward Him. (2Ch_16:9) Let us not be like Asa and do foolishly turning to flesh and to other people for help when there is a God in heaven on the throne who promised He is greater in us than he that is in the world. (1Jn_4:4) It's by Him that we are enlarged, made able to by Him do much, be in authority, grow up, mature and accomplish His will. Paul told the church in Php_2:13 that it is God who works in us to will (want to) and to do (be our ability to do) His good pleasure. He is not going to tell us to do something He isn't going to enable us to do. God wants those who have been crushed, oppressed, broken, bruised, those who are struggling, discouraged, to be freed from these things, both the cause and the effect. Sometimes it could be they have sinned and opened the door for the enemy to come in and crush them, by their own actions giving him place. But when they cry to God in repentance, He hears. He will move. It's not right for us to look at them and write them off as beyond hope and judge they did it to themselves. Where would we be if He had the same attitude toward us, beloved? Testifying of His Servant, our Pattern, Jesus Christ, in Isaiah 42:3 He says He will not break a bruised reed or quench the smoking flax. He doesn't meet discouragement and depression with harshness, anger or arrogance. Those who are struggling, who've been hurt, He loves them. He wants to revive them. Just as the devil walks about seeking whom he may devour and does it operating in people, so God operates through people. Who do you think is causing human beings to steal, kill others, and destroy people's lives with violent acts of crime? It's the devil who is walking in them causing this. He demonstrates his nature and power by using those he holds captive to do his will. God chooses to use human beings as well through which to demonstrate HIS power and do good works. But it must be a vessel that is clean, prepared and dedicated to Him, for Him and by Him, else it will not work. He wants people free from bondage, that every yoke be broken. So why aren't they? Because of us! We have been content to let them remain in captivity because we haven't been willing to pay the price. He wants the yoke torn off, broken, plucked up by the roots, torn out, cast off, so it no longer is effective, but destroyed. Isa_10:27 says the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing. The Anointed One was and is the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to destroy the works of the devil. And He did. The anointing is the presence work of the Holy Ghost living the life of Christ in, through and among His people. 1Jn_3:8 tells us those who are the authors of, who provide the way and means to commit sin, who make provision for it, agree with it, continue in it, are of the devil because he sinned from the beginning. For this purpose was the Son of God declared, made manifest, that He might destroy the works of the devil. That word "destroy" deserves a deeper look. It means to loose any person or thing tied or fastened in bondage. To loose one's bonds, to set free those bound with chains, discharge from prison, undo, dissolve, let go, to annul, do away with, deprive of authority, put off, overthrow. Each part of that definition of that one word must demand prayerful consideration, again. Think about that! He's warning His people, don't be deceived. Discernment is a must as you must know those who labor among you. You can't get that on your own. It is a result of our intimacy with Him, our familiarity with His Word-as it is taught us by Him. Psa_102:20 Testifies that He looks down from the heavens and hears the groaning, that inner sigh and lamenting and crying, from those in bondage who long for deliverance. He hears that inner cry of the prisoner, who has been appointed to death. And what did He do? Declared the Name of the Lord, and His praise, and when the people are gathered together and the kingdoms to serve the Lord. That's the answer. Isaiah 61-The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to open the prison of them who are bound. He doesn't stop there, He goes further, ministering to the results of being bound! He proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord, a time to comfort those who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes, oil of joy for their mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness! We must understand He has ministered life and deliverance to us so we can share it with others. Those who are afflicted, needy, weak, depressed, brought low in mind or circumstances, those who are destitute. Oh, they can cry out to GOD! Psa 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. Are we sensitive enough to His Spirit and full enough of the love of God to even hear the cries of the prisoners ourselves? Can He share His grief over these lost ones with us and move us to go to their aid however the opportunity is t here? Do we even care? So much of the church is so complacent, so self absorbed, so caught up in small, imagined or real trials there is no energy or compassion for the needs of others. That is so unlike Him. He wants us to fast and pray for those who have strayed, wandered from the right way. He wants them in the House, the family, the kingdom. He wants them restored, brought back, and received, just as the prodigal was. There is a lost and dying world out there who long for deliverance, who hate how they are but know they are powerless to effect real change in their hearts and lives. I know what feels like. I've been there. And I praise God He had the keys to my deliverance. We have the keys to theirs. If we are His Body, let us love as He loved, live as He lived and do what He did. If we can't then stop calling ourselves Christians and get on our face before Him until something changes. We cannot do this but by the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. It must be HIM living HIS life through our surrendered vessels. Let us be willing to say, Lord my time is Yours, my money is Yours, my life is Yours, my thoughts are Yours, let my mouth speak only Your Word, not my will but Thine, Oh Lord.
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