“You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16
“Fasting is abstaining from anything that hinders prayer.” -Andrew Bonar
- It’s time to meet with your Savior! Grab your Bible, pen, and journal. Find a place of solitude. Spend one minute in silence, relaxing your body and focusing on Jesus. Prepare your heart to be fully in tune with the Lord’s leading. Ask Him to open your eyes to the His Word.
- Read Isaiah 58:1-12. If you have time, read the entire chapter.
Before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, the Lord wants us to remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Unless you grew up in a home where Lent was observed, you might not even know how to start. Even if you do celebrate Lent, you can easily be distracted by the busyness of life.
During the Christmas season, many countries make it easy to remember what we’re looking forward to; even if Christ isn’t mentioned, we know the real reason. Other than some egg hunts and photos, Easter does not lend itself to decorations, music, and other lifestyle reminders quite so readily.
Therefore, it is all the more important for believers to make opportunities to focus on Christ, whether you celebrate Lent or not.
If you don’t practice Lent but would like to prepare your hearts for Easter, pray and ask God to show you to how to make Easter more meaningful for you and your family. Ask God to help you to make your Bible study a daily priority instead of getting so busy that you forget or run out of time. Include the reading of one of the Gospels to help you to focus more on Christ’s life and death on this earth.
If you do decide to give up something for Lent, remember you are making a conscious choice to draw closer to God. From this perspective, Lent is a form of fasting! We give up something for a specific period of time in order to prepare our heart for the Easter season. But how often do we reduce Lent to an act of obedience without any hope of transformation?
Let’s say you decide to give up chocolate for Lent; however, you end up eating three desserts every day. You gave up chocolate, but you filled yourself with other sweets. Not only that, it was in excess. He wants our hearts to be on Him, not on chocolate or any other thing we love.
Friends, don’t get down on yourselves if you struggle during Lent. Let Lent be a reminder that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13)! Sustain yourself with Scripture because: “Man does not live by bread [or chocolate or steak] alone but by the Word of God,” (Matt. 4:4).
I remember there was one semester in college when I decided to fast one dinner a week to pray. I didn’t always do well. However, there was one time when I asked my friend to fast that dinner with me. She said yes. Years later, I still remember that as being one of THE BEST times of prayer I’ve ever experienced. That one evening alone made the fast worth it!
The main thing for all of us to remember during this season is to draw our hearts closer to Jesus. If you need ideas to help you and your family to be more focused on Christ, be sure to check out the Faith-Filled Ideas, Mom Tips, and other devotionals during Easter With The Help Club. Dear friends, if the Apostle Paul could “boast all the more gladly about [his] weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on [him],” then surely we can use Lent to remind ourselves that we need Jesus (2 Corinthians 12:9)!
Before we finish today’s study, let’s dig into this passage.
What’s the context? The Lord called Isaiah to preach to the people of Judah about their unfaithfulness. Let’s go through this passage together. Write the answers in your journal.
1) Read verse 1. What have the Lord’s people done?
2) Read verse 3. The Lord’s people defend themselves, questioning why God has not seen them or noticed them. What actions do they state they do?
3) Read verse 4. Does their obedience lead to Godly behavior?
4) Read verse 6. Where does the Lord expect their fasting to lead?
5) Read verse 8. What is the blessing from this verse? How will you be changed? All of verse 8 is the answer, so read it out loud. Read it out loud again, with boldness and confidence!
Question to Ponder
- Are there any acts of service, ministries, or Christian traditions that you follow, but your heart isn’t in it? Take time to pray and ask God how your life can be wholehearted for Jesus.
- If you don’t practice Lent, that’s okay too! Simply pray and ask God to show you how He wants you to prepare your heart this Easter.
- Which part of verse 8 excites you the most? Tell Jesus that you can’t wait to see how He transforms you!
The rest of chapter 58 continues with more remarkable promises. Read them out loud as well. Use these verses to fill your heart with hope.
Would you like to get your heart ready for Resurrection Sunday? Try reading the whole Gospel of John. There are 21 chapters and over a month left until Easter. That’s less than one chapter a day! Pray for God to teach you something about the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
Use your phone or another method to schedule a daily time to spend with God- in addition to your regular time with God. Make it a specific amount of time. If you work outside the home, consider using your lunch break. It could be waking up earlier or after the children go to bed.
If you have trouble praying alone, ask a friend to pray with you.
Answers To The Bible Study Questions
1) Rebelled. Sinned.
2) Fasted and humbled themselves.
3) No, they quarrel and fight.
4) Loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke, set the oppressed free, break every
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