Who can tell whether God will be gracious to us
There is an item very close to prayer that I would like to address to you in the sermon today. It is a doctrine that comes directly out of the pages of the Bible, and its concept is at times difficult to understand.
We don’t understand how it works, most importantly, we don’t understand why it works, but we do understand that it does make a difference and we do understand that there is a right and a wrong way to attend to it.
I am speaking of the doctrine of prayer AND Fasting.
The doctrine is spoken of many times in the Bible and it contains within it many characteristics, only a handful we will deal with in todays message.
The first thing I would like to touch on is what Fasting is NOT.
- Fasting is not abstaining from cigarettes, coffee, alcohol, television, music etc.
Ridding yourself of any of those things is a GOOD thing…except coffee maybe.
Either way the Bible says nothing about the abstinence of single elements of a lifestyle in the hope that it will be considered a Fast before God.
In short, fasting simply refers to not eating of food for a given period of time. Sometimes it includes both food and water. Simple.
There are some other elements that we will take a look at, but for now that is the simplest form of the doctrine.
Today we will take a look at several ideas presented in the Bible and pray the Lord encourages further into its consideration.
Fasting Committed To The Will of The Lord
2 Sam 12:15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
The first thing we notice in the account in Samuel is that it is the Lord who struck the childthat was the product of the adultery of David. It was a direct judgement upon David that Nathan had told him would occur in the previous verse.
If we turn back only a couple of verses we see both David’s repentance but also Nathan’s proclamation concerning the outcome of David’s sin;
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
Even though David knew this would be the outcome, he set himself to pray and to fast for the life of the Child.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth
But it was in verse 22 that we see David’s heart was fully committed unto the will of the Lord.
As the account continues we discover that the child died, but when David discovered the truth of the matter he got up, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, worshipped the Lord and set himself to eat.
He went back to life as usual in peace.
Beloved this attitude stems from trusting that you have done all you can do and the outcome was Gods will.
When your heart’s desire is ONLY Committed to the Will of the Lord, the outcome of your fervent prayer is NEVER that you did not get what you wanted, but that the Lords will was done and we rest in the comfort of it.
If there is one thing that I desire you might learn from this passage, it is that.
Our desire is for the Glory of God, and if that means God has a better plan for our outcome other than that which our limited understanding can see, then trust him and rest.
The Victorian Pandemic Management Bill
Let me give you a very present understanding.
I am going to encourage you all to Fast and Pray this week against the bill that will have its final debate and vote this coming Tuesday to Thrusday.
We MUST pray, becaue this bill will usher in the worst form of government you and I have ever or may ever experience.
It will be a government that does what it wants, when it wants and without accountability to anyone. It will write its own rules, and undertake some of the greatest injustices in the name of “health” that we have ever seen.
WE MUST PRAY and WE MUST FAST
In attending to both of those elements, you can then know will total confidence that you have done ALL you can do, you have petitioned the Lord to the best of your ability and you can then rest in knowing that the Lords will, will be done.
If he answers in accord with your plea, you can rejoice and glorify God.
If he answers contrary to your plea, you can rejoice and glorify God that he has done in accord to his will and that is all you care about. You have no complaint!
If, however, you DO NOT PRAY, or if you do not believe you have done all you can do before the Lord in prayer, YOU WILL HAVE NO SUCH COMFORT.
David was comforted because Gods will was done, JUST AS GOD SAID.
Those who do not pray, or those who are not confident they have saught the Lord, have no right to complain.
Maria mentioned to me as we were driving, that those who donkey vote at election time have no right to complain about the government they did nothing to oppose when they had the opportunity. TRUE.
We see this attitude of, perhaps expectant grief in Gods response, expressed by the servants of David.
The servants expressed confusion as to how he behaved himself, thinking he should have mourned and sorrowed, but David responded in verse 22;
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
Beloved this text is directly applicable to us today.
Who can tell whether God will be gracious to us
Our desire is that sanity will prevail and that the government will hear the pleas of the people to put a stop to the madness.
As a Church we have set ourselves to pray, and some have done so daily and together since the beginning of October, those that have not prayed can determine for themselves any comfort in the outcome, but we have not called the Church to a fast.
The prophecy for David was that the child would die, but David expressed that perhaps the Lord would be Gracious to him, and of all people he would know of how often he deserved Chastisement but instead received Grace.
The bible teaches with clarity of the days that are ahead for the world, and we see also with clarity that what is occurring in our state has its counterpart to varying degrees around the world, so we know that judgment is poised by the Lord upon this wicked and adulterous generation that will conclude in the day of Gods wrath spoken of throughout the scriptures…..But who can tell whether God will be gracious to us?
To David knew the Lord may repent of the evil he determined to do and David set himself to both fast and pray.
To us is the same knowledge of the Lord.
We see many times in the Bible that there were pronouncements of judgements of the Lord, to which the Lord had either repented of his judgement, OR removed the devices of the wicked to ensnare the people.
In Exodus 32:14, “the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people”.
The people JUSTLY deserved what God had install for them, but petition was made on their behalf and God stayed his righteous hand.
In 2 Samuel 24:16, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite”
This passage shows that the anger of the Lord and his judgment was LIMITED by his own mercy upon the people.
In these two passages alone we can see that the Lord can be both petitioned and can limit the evil he brings upon a people, he can and has been often gracious.
BUT David Committed Himself to the WILL of God and was so evidently content with either decision the Lord had made.
There are a multitude of ways God can answer our prayers and respond to our fasting respecting this current evil.
He could stop the cars of the MP’s from arriving in time.
He could change the mind of only two of them.
He could even in a moment prevent them from even raising their arms
Because our greatest desire is that the will of the Lord be done. If we have set ourselves to pray, and we have earnestly petitioned the Lord to the full extent of our ability, then we can know with certainty that God has attended to that which is his desire for this time.
And we rest and rejoice.
Fasting Committed For the Judgement of Evil
Turn in your Bibles to Judges 20:26-28
26 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28 And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the Lord said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.
What we have here is the outcome of a shocking series of events between chapters 19 and the end of the book.
In short it is the account of a man who is a Levite who traveled with his adulterous wife from town to town but none of the Children of Israel would take them in until he was found by an Old man, an Ephraimite who lived in the area of Gibeah which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin.
Tradition was that any person or traveler who sought refuge in a home for the night would be taken in. it was the very minimal offering of hospitality that showed care for wayfaring people.
But it was not until late at night and in the wrong City, that this man together with his wife, were found and given lodging.
Sadly however the city was filled with evil men permitted to continue in their evil by the populous and therefore grew in number. They surrounded the house with evil intentions upon the man, the wife was given them to satisfy their lusts and they abused her.
The morning came, and she was found dead upon the threshold of the door.
Our passage takes its course after the nation of Israel had responded to the man’s message and had come to take vengeance upon the evil that was done.
From verse 14 in this chapter to verse 25 we find that on two occasions Israel had sought the Lord to smite the stubborn Benjamites for this evil, because they would not deliver the wicked men up to justice, so the entire people entered into a war. Sadly for Israel, the first two attempts, though sanctioned by God, were lost with the death of forty thousand men.
But this third occasion they set themselves not only to petition the Lord, but also to Fast and to sacrifice to him, and they finally took judgement upon the evil.
Beloved there are several things we can learn from this account;
- That evil which is permitted to fester in society by the godly eventually grows to overtake them.
So common was it for wicked men to act this way in that City, that there were few who saw it for the evil that it was. It was permitted to continue because the godly of the City turned a blind eye, they ignored it.
We are living in a time when this is exactly what has occurred in this civilization.
Godly people never held their politicians to account for the evil laws they wanted to pass.
Godly parents never held their primary schools and high schools to account for the evil corruption of their children’s education.
Godly churches never held their pastors to account for their willful distortions of Gods words.
And so on.
Evil that is permitted to fester in society by the godly eventually grows to overtake them.
- A late desire to address evil can still cost us.
Israel had far too long tolerated wickedness, even to the point where the people no longer trusted the integrity of the wayfaring man to enter into their houses.
Tell me how many of you would today be willing to entertain strangers in your home, to permit them to stay for a while?
Some of you have done so and seen that wicked people will take advantage of your grace with thanklessness.
Petitioning the Lord now for the judgment of evil long tolerated may still have a cost.
Israel twice petitioned the Lord, but on neither of those occasions are they seen to have repented of their own sin over the years which tolerated evil in the land.
Beloved we need to repent of that part in which we have played to permit an evil man like Daniel Andrews to ever have gained power in this state. Our blindness to evil has had a cost in our society.
It does not matter that you did not vote for him.
It does not matter that you warned about him.
You permitted evil being taught to your children in School. You permitted the pastors of your churches to corrupt the word of God. You permitted the bribery in your workplaces, the theft of tax dollars, the pornography of the mind, the music of the age.
You had a part to play that so degenerated the ability of this generation to discern good from evil, they had no chance to vote against it.
A late desire to address evil can still cost us.
- Fasting and prayer with the sacrifice of repentance will work a miracle.
Jud 20:26-27 Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27 And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord,
This time the people of the Lord had seen their own evil that permitted the inevitable atrocity that had taken place, the offered to the Lord that which he commanded for sin, they repented of their own evil and even set the High Priest before them to petition the LORD as the Law commanded.
They committed their fasting for the judgment of evil, and began with themselves.
When Daniel prayed for his people in the ninth chapter of his book, he broke his heart to the Lord for the sin of his nation. Unlike us, there is no record of sin in Daniel. Daniel was one of the three men in Ezekiel that could have delivered his own soul before the Lord, that is not a description of you or I.
Nevertheless he prayed the Lords forgiveness for the sin of his people that had evil overtake them.
We are not innocent respecting the evil of our state and nation, we have played our part in justifying and extending the sin of our culture, and if we truly desire judgment of evil and a miracle to turn it about, then we must FAST, PRAY and REPENT.
Fasting Committed For the Deliverance of People
Turn to Esther 4:13-17
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? 15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. 17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
Esther was in a no win situation. On the one hand evil was determined upon her people and, according to her cousin Mordecai, if she did nothing she would not escape it. And on the other hand, if she did not find grace in the sight of the King for entering his presence without being summoned, she could still die.
There was a risk either way, but something needed to be done, it would take great courage and self will, but she was here in the most unique time in the history of Israel, in the most unique position of influence for the sake of Israel, and who knows for certain whether she was come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Fasting and Prayer was her only request and her only commitment to work about a miracle for the saving of her people, and if she perished, she perished.
Well beloved, if you have read the account from this chapter to the end of the seventh, you would have seen quite an incredible turns of events.
- Esther succeeded in petitioning the King, she did not die.
- Esther was not prepared to state her case completely and seemed to have been overcome with nerves.
- Haman exalted himself to his family for being invited to Esther’s banquet and, not knowing that Modecai was her cousin, built a tower to hang him.
- The King could not sleep, and the book of his Chronicles was given him to help him rest, in which he was reminded of how Mordecai saved his life.
- The King sought to reward him.
- Haman was heard in the house, and the King ask of his opinion.
- Haman’s desire to kill his enemy Mordecai, was tuned about to have him honour him.
All this preparing the way for Esther’s petition to the King at the last banquet.
And we all know how this turned out.
Fasting was Committed for the deliverance of a people, and this account has been celebrated in the feasts of Purim annually for several thousand years to this day.
Beloved, we are ourselves in a unique time in history. Never have the governments of the world been so unified and entwined against their populations to force the world into a new world system of absolute control as we see today.
We Victorians are ALSO in the most unique place in all the world, for no nation or state in the free world has experienced what we have during this time and no nation has such an evil law set to be unleashed upon its population as we have this week.
Between the Tuesday and Thursday this week, the 16th to the 18th, the Victorian Pandemic Management Bill, a document of over one hundred pages, that grants to the evil leader of this state unmitigated power to do anything he chooses with whomsoever he sets himself against, will be debated and voted upon.
Each day thousands and tens of thousands of people have petitioned the government since the bill passed the first stage.
Lawyers and queens councils, shadow governors and business people from around the state and nation have written to the government to ask them to withdraw this bill, but none seem to have moved them.
We, as the Church of the Living God, have the single most unique position to be in this state for such a time as this, the Church alone has the ear of the Lord and the opportunity to petition him and, above all, the power of Fasting for the sake of this people.
Who can tell what turn of events might transpire?
When it comes to the vote, ALL parliamentarians must be present to vote. Only two are required to vote counter to their current intentions and the bill fails, but only one may not turn up with one other voting against their current intentions, and the bill fails.
Who knows what can transpire if you set yourself to pray and fast this week between those two dates?
Will you commit yourself to pray and fast for the deliverance of our people?
Will you work to stem the tide of the evil that is before us?
Will you pray for the lengthening of our tranquility and a turn of events that lead to freedom in this state?
Will you fast for a miracle?
Fasting Committed For The Glory of God.
2 Chron 20:1-13
20 It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. 2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazon-tamar, which is En-gedi. 3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? 7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? 8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, 9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help. 10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee. 13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.
There comes a point at which you give consideration of the circumstances you are living in and the trials that are before you and realize that you have no ability in your own strength to do anything about it.
Jesus spoke of the wise man that counts the cost of an effort to ensure he has enough to finish the work, lest he be ashamed in the attempt.
Jehoshaphat could see with clarity that he had no might against this great company that comes against him.
There come times in our lives where this is exactly the case, personal trials, private difficulties that we have already weighed up the price and can see with certainty that we have nothing to offer in our own strength to deal with the situation.
- Children that go astray.
- Financial situations that get away from you.
- Enemies that come against you for one reason or another.
- Tragedies that unfold before you
- Things that YOU JUST CANT FIX.
These are the times when God would show his glory if you let him.
Fasting in times of great trial and great fear brings to God the Glory he desires to reveal to you at different times in life.
As I said at the beginning of this sermon, I do not know WHY fasting makes a difference to the Lord;
- Perhaps its your willingness to refuse to your body that which sustains its very need.
- Perhaps the Lord sees your willingness to sacrifice the nourishment of the Body in your trust that he will manifest his glory for a work.
- Or perhaps its only that you are giving up more than time to petition him.
Like I said, I don’t know why it makes a difference and perhaps In time I will. All I know is that it does.
In the case of this great company coming against Judah, Jehoshaphat knows he has no power, in fact he tells the Lord;
12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee
I will not lie to you in this current matter, the trial is no small issue and the enemy is not limited to one man, the entire world is wrapped up in this endeavor and the determination of them is that there will be no return to that which preceded 2020.
I believe that even if one million souls marched on the Streets of Melbourne it would make little difference.
But I also believe that what is impossible for man is possible for God.
Who can tell whether God will be gracious to us?
One thing is certain, if we do not pray and if we will not fast, we will never know.
“ And Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout Judah, and Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord” (v3-4)
Perhaps that’s it, perhaps fear is the motivating factor to fast.
The greatest blight of Christianity today is apathy.
The “she’ll be right” notion that Australians are known for, is a blight in a church that is commanded to DO SOMETHING.
We look at the prophecies of the Bible and we see, yes we see, that the end will come and so we sit like a duck awaiting the hunter.
The END WILL COME, but NOT for you beloved, you are to be caught up and ever be with the Lord, you are awaiting Christ, not antichrist and you are charged to occupy till he comes, and if that is to pray, then pray, if to fast for the temporary tranquility that enables to fulfillment of the commission of Christ, then fast!
You are NOT DEAD yet, you are MORE THAN CONQUERORS BY HIM THAT LOVED US, you are his children, his brethren, his saints, his beloved, his bride, his priests and his kings.
You have your dwelling in him and he in you and YOU HAVE HIS EAR AND ATTENTION.
Then while you have his attention, say O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
We put these people into the houses of Government, and “behold, I say, how they reward us!”
We entrust to them the seats of power and they employ those seats against us. They would stem the tide of the Gospel of Christ, is that not enough for us to be willing to fast and pray before the Lord?
Should these mad regimes get their way, the gospel will be more hindered than in anytime before it, is that not worth fasting and praying to prevent?
Who can tell whether God will be gracious to us?
You, whose desire it is to see the glory of God and to have him be revealed to you, set yourself to fast and pray this coming week between Tuesday and Thursday.
He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think!
Fast for the work.
Fast for the salvation
Fast, lest the government make shipwreck of this state.
And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
For fourteen days 276 men, most of whom knew not the Lord, fasted.
The ship they were on with Paul was destroyed, but not a hair fell from the head of any of them.
There is no guarantee that, after your time of fasting, this state will not become a shipwreck, but there is one guarantee that I can make, and that is that you will be preserved through your faith, so much so that not only will your life survive, but it will thrive.
Yes, there may be a change of how things are done, but in Christ there is such a joy, such a piece, such a comfort and such a hope, that no government on earth can quench our joy.
Fast and pray as if your lives depend upon it, and leave the response and responsibility to the Glory of God.
Until, he comes.