By Leo Mendoza

“Will the fast I choose be like this: A day for a person to deny himself, to bow his head like a reed, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? Isn’t the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?” – Isaiah 58:5‭-‬7 (HCSB)

As we start the new year I hope all are doing well, and keeping their commitments during this time of fasting and prayer. Whatever you have chosen, if it’s abstaining from a certain food or getting back into shape. I pray that we have aligned our hearts with the very heart of God. Before starting my fast, I asked the question, “Lord what can I bring to catch your attention? What can I sacrifice to receive your blessings?”

God’s Word says: “You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart” (Psalms 51:16‭-‬17).

“For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

Then Samuel said: “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

To what is it that God has asked us to obey and to pay attention? Jesus answered the Pharisees question of what was the greatest commandment, the greatest thing that we could obey. He didn’t answer with one command, but two when he said: “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands'” (Matthew 22:37‭-‬40).

Essentially, the fast that God choose can be summed up in One word: Love. It’s is done in seeking the welfare and good of one another; In loosening the bonds of wickedness that keep so many in a state of despair, (Isaiah 58: 6-7).  In other words, to divide our bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into our house, and to cover the naked. This is the fast He requires – it is a fast of kindness, love, service, giving, personal restraint, forgiveness, mercy, and humility. It is a fast of going into our communities and being a mother to the motherless and a father to the fatherless. It is a fast of tutoring, teaching, loving, inspiring. Its is a fast of compassion. Be bless in 2017! May it be your greatest year yet. May the Lord guide us and lead us. May we be filled with His presences. God bless you, let us be people after God’s own heart!