The Old Testament shows us lots of situations where the people of Israel turned away from God to follow their own ways, and it always got them in trouble. Time after time, God sent prophets or judges to his people to remind them of his truth. Even when Jesus was on earth, the Jewish people were very religious, yet their hearts were far from God: “He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’” (Mark 7:6)
One time, God sent word through Isaiah that even though the people were religious by fasting regularly, they were doing it selfishly and without honoring God or other people (Isaiah 58:1-5). Then he goes on to tell them what kind of fasting that he wants them to engage in:
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7).
There is a big contrast between the types of fast depicted in Isaiah 58. The first is done selfishly, with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. The second is others-focused, taking action to meet practical needs of those around us.
Where are you engaging the needs in our community? Pray and ask God to reveal where he wants you to serve, and begin this month. There are many opportunities to serve at Venture, in the Bay Area, or on Short-term Mission trip. You can check them out at: http://venture.cc/serve.
1. Pray for God’s favor in the conversations we have with people who are not yet Christians.
2. Pray and thank God for His provision in 2017. Thank Him for the challenges, the successes, and the failures. Thank Him for being with you in all of them. Ask for a heart that is quick to hear His voice in 2018.
3. Pray for our Film Team as they create various tools to teach, share, and connect with the hearts of people.
4. Pray for our Communications & Marketing Team as they serve to help provide clear pathways into ministry and discipleship.
5. Pray for the guests and non-Christians who attended Christmas at Venture. May the seeds of the Gospel that were planted take root and produce a harvest.