Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?'” Zechariah 7:4-5
The people had come to Zechariah asking if they should continue to fast as they had while they were in captivity for seventy years. When he presented that question to God, He asked if they were really fasting for Him during that time. In the next verses God accuses them of mourning and fasting only for themselves and not for Him.
Very often people do many things that appear to be good and done for the right reasons. Wealthy people give millions of dollars every year. It may be that they are doing it for the right reasons, but often it is more for a tax write-off, then out of love and care for the people. In this way it is done out of personal, selfish reasons.
In the church, the same type of action occurs. People who claim to be believers in Jesus, pray and give money…in public, but at home never take time to pray. In the church they will sing songs of praise to God, but at home listen to and sing songs that do not honor God at all.
Most of what is done is about appearance, just like the Israelites. They would fast and pray, but it was all about themselves looking good, or attempting to get God’s favor. People often do things in church to make themselves look like a good Christian believer. No one wants to be seen as they really are.
No matter what is done in the church, it should be done out of love for God and love for others. This is whether it is praying, worshipping, teaching, preaching, or serving in some other way.
As you do the actions that you do, ask yourself why you do them. Are those actions for God, for others, or for yourself?
Your focus of all that you do, should be for God’s purpose. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Every action that you do should mirror those of Jesus–to seek and save the lost. Your prayers should be for God’s will to be done, not just to meet your own desires.
Why do you do what you do?
I pray today that you will do all things for God; that you will act according to God’s desires; that you will pray for God’s will, not your own desires; and that you will be a witness to this world.
Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” Daniel 10:12
Daniel had a vision that troubled him and he could not understand what it meant. He chose to fast and pray, setting his mind to wait for God to give him the answer. When the person came to answer him, he was told that God had already dispatched the answer twenty-one days before, but was detained by the enemy.
There are many times that a person will want an answer from God about some situation in their life. He will pray for a moment, asking for the answer, then will give up on waiting for that answer. The prayers of many will not last more than a few moments, a few times, before many give up.
The reasons for giving up can be of several reasons. Some feel that they are not worth getting the answer, others are because they are impatient and give up on God, others feel God will not answer them, and still others just don’t make the time to wait on God for the answer.
Most people are in an instant, microwave set of mind in this world. They want the answer and they want it now. If God does not answer immediately, they immediately give up on God. Daniel did not do that, he set his mind and waited for God to answer.
God is always ready to answer, but He does not always answer immediately. Sometimes a person is not ready for the answer, while, as in Daniel’s case, the enemy holds back getting the answer. And when God does answer your prayer, be willing to accept His answer to you. Do not reject it because it was not the answer you desired. Let God be the one in control of your life.
When you are in need of God for an answer, you must set your mind to getting that answer. Deny yourself of yourself and focus on God and Him alone until you get the answer. Spend more than two minutes in prayer. Take time to fast, denying yourself the pleasures of this world. God will answer, in His time and way.
I pray today that you will set your mind to hear God’s voice and direction; that you will trust God to answer all of your prayers; that you will accept all of God’s answers for your life; and that you will not give up on God.
Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles. Ezra 10:6
The Israelites who had gone back to rebuild the temple, had turned away from God’s laws and began to marry those of the foreign nations. Ezra was disturbed by their actions and wept before God for their unfaithfulness. He, himself, had not done anything wrong, but was weeping over the fact that the people had been unfaithful to God and did what was forbidden.
It is easy for a person to see the sins of other people. Christians are always talking about the sins of the nation they live in or the other people in their church. They, then, want to enact laws to change the ability to sin. Or they complain about what other people are doing or are allowed to do.
Ezra did not complain about the sins of the people, but wept and fasted over them before God. He admitted the guilt of himself and the people to God. Ezra was not guilty of the things that the other people were guilty of, yet he was willing to mourn before God about the sins being committed.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He looked at their sins that the followers of God were committing against God. He did not just condemn them and point out sins. He allowed God to work in their lives by His Holy Spirit, while doing everything that He could do.
As a believer, you can point out God’s word to other people and strive to point them in the right direction, but you cannot change their hearts. Only God can change a person’s heart and draw them back to Himself.
When you see the sins that other believers are committing, how are you reacting?
Do you condemn them and gossip to others about their sins?
Or do you go before God with weeping and fasting for those who have walked away from God into sin?
I pray that God will soften your heart for those who have walked away from God; that you will seek God to touch the lives of fallen believers; that you will remain faithful to God; and that God will use you to draw others back to Him.