October 11, 2020
This week we’ll discuss Fasting in our ongoing Matthew series. This completes the section of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is focusing on internal motives for spiritual practices.
Here’s how you can prepare for this Sunday!
1. Read our text, Matthew 6:16–18.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.””
This is the third teaching on the importance of tending to the internal motivations that drive your spiritual practices. Here Jesus is focused on the practice of fasting. Fasting, which is to purposefully refrain from food (or some other basic need) for a set period of time, has been a common practice for the people of God throughout the ages. In first century Judaism, the whole community would fast together in weekly rhythms, during certain annual holidays, and for other situational reasons. Though the specific purposes for fasting may vary (deliverance, direction, provision, renewal, etc.), Biblical fasting is a physical expression of a spiritual hunger for God.
Like all religious activity, this good spiritual practice can easily get commandeered and distorted for self-exalting purposes. Jesus again calls His disciples to turn away from the desire to practice these religious activities in order to gain the approval of others. Instead, He encourages His followers to fast in the context of their relationship with their Heavenly Father who sees the heart. Fasting is not to earn God’s love. Rather, it is an expression of a hunger to know and experience more of the Father’s power and love towards His children.
2. Read, pray, and sing through the service:
Don’t use Spotify? Click the song title below to see song on YouTube.
CALL TO WORSHIP: From Psalm 36:7–9:
How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house,
and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light do we see light.
Promises (Alvarado, Barnes, Bowe, Gaines, Marin, Moses)
CONFESSION OF SIN: From The Worship Sourcebook:
God of everlasting love,
we confess that we have been unfaithful
to our covenant with You and with one another.
We have worshiped other gods: money, power, greed, and convenience.
We have served our own self-interest
instead of serving only You and Your people.
We have not loved our neighbor as You have commanded,
nor have we rightly loved ourselves.
Forgive us, gracious God,
and bring us back into the fullness
of our covenant with You and one another.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Yet Even Now (Joel Limpic)
ASSURANCE OF PARDON: Psalm 103:8, 11–13
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.
PASSING THE PEACE
(Click to Read)
When we’ve met as a large group on Sundays, we’ve always had a time of greeting one another after singing. Many churches call this time “passing the peace.” In some church traditions, one person will say to another, “The peace of Christ be with you” to which the other person responds, “And also with you.”
While potentially unfamiliar for some, we felt that “passing the peace” during greeting times at home could be a powerful act in this age marked by very little external peace. In Isaiah 9, Jesus is described as the Prince of Peace. He wants His kingdom to be marked by this very peace! We want to “pass” to one another this peace that only Jesus can give, especially at a time like this.
It might feel a bit cheesy, but we encourage you to actually pray the peace of God over each other during our times. We encourage you to look into each other’s eyes as you say, “The peace of Christ be with you!” and have others respond with, “And also with you.” Be open-hearted to Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His peace.