Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The New Year is finally here. The new thing that God has promised will come to pass in this year if you want it, desire it and pursue it. I believe that with all of my heart, mind and soul. However, to have what God has promised as you prepared to enter this new chronicle of time requires a change. You cannot expect a different outcome doing exactly the same thing. Radical change is required for radical results. Many people have a list of New Year’s Resolutions. Top two are probably heath and financially related. Am I warm? Or probably spot on. The church across America prepares for the annual Daniel’s Fast that has spread like wildfire. We have been doing the Daniel for about a decade now I think – give or take. Handouts, pamphlets and booklets have been provided with a long list of foods that you can and more importantly cannot have. Starbucks braces for a steep fall in sales as the caffeine addicts attempt to go cold turkey. Lord, help us all. The health food aisle and produce section of the local grocery is stocking its shelves for the army of resolutionists and fasters to come empty their supply. There are support groups for those seeker better health such as Weight Watchers as gym memberships soar in the month of January. The church has blogs, menus and messages to encourage the Daniel Fasters to stay on course, not to give up telling us just how to eat and survive 21 days of no meats, sweets, bread or caffeine. However, on the morning of this brand new day filled with good intentions, I am lead to a somber reminder. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the Mouth of God.” I wonder where that came from…
Exodus 24:12 (NIV)
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
God provided Moses with His Word that would become the Book of Covenant. As Moses shared the Book of Covenant with the people they agreed that they would obey the Lord. (Exodus 24:7) So we know that Moses is ushered into God’s Presence, and is given the Ten Commandments. He would spend 40 days and 40 nights with God. During that time, we know that the people who had agreed and vowed that “everything the Lord has said we will do” change their mind and decide to make a god to worship that is in the form of a golden calf. God sees this and sends Moses back to the people with the stone tablets written by His Hand. The time that Moses spends in the Presence of God is filled with instruction on the elements and activities of how to worship God corporately. (Exodus 25-31) We have the rules and now this is how to worship.
Exodus 34:4-7 (NIV)
So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
After Moses throws down the first two tablets and destroys them, there is no mention of them again until now in Exodus 34. Moses has been in the Presence of God since that time but has not recorded his time there. In Exodus 33, Moses is with the Lord, he begins to remind God of His Very Words to him and it is clear that he has some natural questions. The Lord responds to His Servant and tells him, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” I believe the word “rest” means peace as well. Moses responds by telling God if you do not come with us then do not make us go. Again, the Lord promises Moses, I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Moses then asks the Lord to show him His Glory. (Exodus 33) God tells Moses to come to the mountain, again with two tablets chiseled out of stone. Moses does just what the Lord asks and arrives on Mount Sinai early the next morning.
The Glory of God is His Presence. It is promised to His People in limitless supply. The Holy Spirit is given to those who desire Him freely and without limitation. When Moses approached the Lord desiring His Glory, it was when the Lord revealed personal and intimate worship details to him. No longer was it all about the tabernacle but the Temple of the Living God. This is what you must do Moses. This is what my people must do all proceeded by the Knowledge of our God who is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. God introduces relationship rather than religion. The place where we choose to commune with the Lord. Though the veil was still intact and sin kept us from entering the Holy of Holies. God was still available to those who loved Him and dared to pursue Him beyond religion seeking a relationship. God would provide the Ten Commandments again. The Presence of God allows us to move past performance to achieve rest and peace with God.
Deuteronomy 30:9-10 (NIV)
Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Before the death of Jesus for our sins, religion was all that people had to move closer into the Presence of God. God gave them the Ten Commandments to follow and sacrifice to atone for their transgressions. If you think about the steps of sacrifice given the time in which they lived it would seem easier to avoid the sin then pay the price of that sin. There is no doubt that religion produced prosperity in God’s People – the Israelites. They came out of captivity with opulent wealth producing gold and more in the midst of the wilderness. The Word works in our life even when we do not pursue intimacy with God. It has the power alone to make us successful and prosperous in ordinary life. If you obey the Lord your God and keep His Commands and Decrees that are written in the Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul…He will prosper your hands and the fruit of your womb. This was God’s Promise to the Jews. This would be completed by Jesus Christ on the Cross allowing us – the Gentiles – to enjoy the same benefits as God’s Chosen and to be blessed by His Presence and experience His Glory. “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
Romans 15:4-8 (NIV)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed
I know what you are thinking. What does this have to do with New Years? I thought we were talking about fasting. Or maybe resolutions for a more successful and prosperous New Year? Look lady, I just want to be blessed. We move from the Old Testament (often left behind at the Cross) to move into the New Testament. Now every man and woman who desires a relationship with God is able to do so through His Son, Jesus Christ. Everyone without exception. Now what? Well, according to most churches, just wade through His Grace, get covered in His Blood and live your life. You are saved. I agreed that the Blood of Jesus is all we need to be saved. However, He must be our Savior and Lord. The Lord part is what we struggle with not so much calling Him Savior. See the word “Savior” itself implies that Jesus did all the work. Now how do we make Him our Lord? We must serve Him. Lordship will always require obedience. We must be of the same attitude and act like Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice glorifying God.
To make a New Year’s Resolution is common each year. If you look at last year’s list, there are probably some things that are again on this one, too. Human nature does not embrace change. It rebels against it especially if it leads to the end of self. To be one with Jesus Christ and live in His Presence to experience His Glory means to become one with Him. If you want this year to be different, you cannot do the same things. This is just common sense. If you fast just like last year worrying more about what you eat in the natural rather than feasting on God’s Word, your life will not yield the fruit that God has promised. Again, it is just common sense.
Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days and nights. Funny, that sounds familiar huh? After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was hungry. No really it says that in Matthew 4:2. He was God in man so Jesus still had human feelings and emotions. The enemy came to tempt Jesus. Of course, he did just like he will do to us during our Daniel fast if we remain faithful in doing so. “If you are Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” What the enemy was telling Jesus was look you don’t have to change or suffer or endure or doing anything you do not want to do, just make bread and be satisfied (paraphrased and embellished, of course but you get the picture.) Your flesh is going to fight any positive change you try to make naturally and spiritually as it exerts its independence and dominance in your life. The devil continued to tempt Jesus and each time the Lord countered with the Word of God. Now He is God, too so why would Jesus use the historical word from the Bible rather than just throwing down on satan in His Own Power and Authority as He would in future text? For you. For me. To be our example as we strive for a deeper, closer and more powerful connection. The Lord is showing us that the Word of God is essential to make the change that we desire. Obedience is absolutely a necessity based on the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit led Jesus to fast and pray in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. It was the Word of God that sustained Him.
John 1:1-5 (NIV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:14 (NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word of God is eternal. Through God’s Word, everything was spoken into existence. With His Hand, He has recorded the days of our life (Psalm 139:15-17) including working every detail for our good (Romans 8:28) and supplying everything we need. (Philippians 4:19) Through Christ all things were made and without Him, I am nothing. Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh never contradicting the Word but confirming it in His Life, Death and Resurrection that all may be saved, healed, delivered and set free to live in His Kingdom forever. We cannot forget the Word, ignore it, change it, or refuse to obey it and still live in unity as Children of God. It is impossible.
Today as we begin to move forward into the coming year and make the changes that we believe are necessary to live successful, prosperous lives, we must know this that if our desire is to live in unity with God and walk with Jesus Christ – His Word is essential and necessary which means that obedience will be as well. To fast without praying is useless. To pray without reading and meditating on God’s Word will lead to nothing more than frustration. To fast without pursuing the Presence of God is nothing more than a religious diet which you will give up on half way through as your flesh will overcome the weak spirit inside you. Man cannot live on bread alone but EVERY WORD that proceeds from the Mouth of God. That means it is all relevant and true. It means it IS directed and you. It is a requirement for greater intimacy and expectancy from God. Until we take God’s Word and digest it and use it to change us – our lives may seem to get better but we will never find totally rest and peace provided by total faith and confident hope in the Living God.
“It is written.” Your life. Your destiny. Your hope. Your dreams. Your plans. Your life is found in Jesus Christ. To have the best life you can possibly have will mean radically obeying the Word that completely contradicts your flesh. We all have some level of self-control but God’s Spirit can bear the fruit of complete self-control that allows us to live faithfully obedient to God. He works on us from the inside out. Are you one of those listening to the Man or Woman of God telling you what God says responding affirmatively like the Israelites? “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Without Jesus, His Word and His Spirit, you will not make it 21 days much less 40 days or even through the coming year. The Presence of God is available. It cannot be entered by anyone who does not believe or continues in darkness holding on to sin. We must let it all go in the flow. The Flow of Blood that gives way to grace so we can come boldly before the Throne of God as we call Jesus our Savior and Lord. Fasting and praying requires the Word of God as a steady diet. When the enemy comes to tempt you, taunt you or trick you into giving up or giving it, it is your only response that will cause him to flee. Many blessings in this New Year are hidden in the Presence of God – it is written which makes it so. The new thing God has promised in within reach for those who are clinging to Jesus, His Word and His Way.
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.