Students sitting outside Bockman
Previous Day

Monday, February 27, 2017

I have only tried to fast a couple of times in my life. It is an ancient and important spiritual practice so I felt it was important at least to try. Unfortunately, whenever I did, the purpose usually shifted from meditation or worship and became more about detoxing my body and losing a little weight. I may have started out with good intentions, but as with most things, I made it about myself.

Isaiah reminds us that true worship is more than just going through the motions. Motive matters. The people did all the right things religiously speaking, but never let their faith compel them to have compassion towards others. They made their actions about themselves. We aren't saved by deeds, but if our faith doesn't lead us to reach out, it lacks sincerity. God wants our service to go beyond our own personal growth to acts of kindness and generosity of spirit.

Lord, thank you for traditions and practices that remind us of your grace. Help us to let that grace compel us to go beyond ourselves to help others. Amen.

Laurie Neill, '12
Discipleship Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D.

Isaiah 58:1-12 (NRSV)

1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.