Third Thursday Devotional: December 2014

THIRD THURSDAY AND FASTING

This Thursday is our the third Thursday of the month. The time that Anthem church has set aside to pursue Jesus and to see that pursuit become a rhythm of our lives. Ideally this is a day of fasting and devotion that culminates when we gather in the evening for worship and prayer.

This Thursday, we intentionally want to ask that you make an effort to fast. That is, very specifically, we’d like to you to consider skipping your lunchtime meal as you pray.

WHY FASTING?

In the Scriptures, fasting is given to the people of God as a discipline to aid our prayers. When we deprive ourselves of something, usually food, it sort of forces our hand and puts in a posture of humility (Ps. 69:10, Ps. 35:13). It is display of our desires both to the Lord and to ourselves, where the petition we bring is of more value than our own well-being. It’s a reminder of the bigger story that we participate in, and Isaiah even points to fasting as a launching point for mission: that our self-deprivation is not meant to make us feel super holy and self-righteous, but to increase our heart and actions for the sake of the other (Is. 58:6-8).

As we grow in the discipline of fasting, it is important for us to walk in those reasons that Scripture provides. However, we want to ask you to fast this week though for a different reason…we want you to fast simply to be hungry. That’s it.

If that sounds crazy and mean and unbiblical/sadistic to you, please keep reading! Yes, we want you to feel hunger, and yes we know that’s an odd request. Here’s why: Because Jesus felt hunger. "In the morning, as [Jesus] was returning to the city, he became hungry” (Mt. 21:18). That’s amazing.

THE GLORY OF THE INCARNATION

This Jesus, who “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,” and who "upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3), this Jesus felt hunger. This is the glorious mystery and wonder of the incarnation. We celebrate this and remember this at Christmas. That Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7).

So, yes it is an odd request that you would simply feel hunger. But its even more odd that God ever felt hunger at all! This is the wonder of the grace that God has for it. He is the one who participated in the true and better fast, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

Our goal is that in simply feeling hunger throughout your day, you might begin to marvel and even experience in some small but tangible way the glory of the incarnation. God became a man, he condescended and felt our pain. He did this in order to remove the pains and to begin a work of new creation. Jesus is worthy of all worship, this season and every season.