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Janet's Corner

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God's Faithfulness to Guide Us

Isaiah 58:11

The LORD will guide you always;
       he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
       and will strengthen your frame.
       You will be like a well-watered garden,
       like a spring whose waters never fail

I read this verse and such peace comes over me. The things listed in this verse are things I desire. Last week we came to the conclusion that it is Jesus and his life bubbling up within us that brings us satisfaction – that fulfills our desires, our expectations and even our needs. I desire for God to continually guide me – do you? There are times when I get dry – I need God to give me water. Or I loose strength emotionally, physically or spiritually and I need God’s strength. How about you? I would love to be like a well-watered garden - like an ever-flowing spring.

I believe in Isaiah 58, there are three things that can be a part of our lives, that when kept in balance, allow God to easily guide us so we receive his life giving Spirit’s water and strength.

God is faithful to guide us as we:

1.     Come and Worship Him in spirit and truth: vs 1-5

Blow a trumpet! Do you think Isaiah is trying to get their attention? Since the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry, he has been addressing the attitude of the Judeans’ about worship. In the first chapter of Isaiah he speaks to them about their multitude of sacrifices that were meaningless to God. He cries to them to listen and obey and they will eat the best of the land. They were going through the motions, but not worshipping from the heart. Isaiah gets to the heart of the issue in Isaiah 29:13, which is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 15:7-9 when he identifies the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

The Lord says:
       "These people come near to me with their mouth
       and honor me with their lips,
       but their hearts are far from me.
       Their worship of me
       is made up only of rules taught by men.

They appear eager to want to know God’s ways, but yet are not doing what is right. They seem eager to want God to come near to them. (vs 2) He specifically addresses their motive for fasting. They are fasting, expecting God to hear them and notice them (vs 3) because they have humbled themselves (vs 5). Their day of fasting was not a day of meditation and prayer, but just like any ordinary day. In fact they even mistreated their own employees. The day of fasting ends with quarreling, strife and oppression. They don’t understand why God doesn’t hear them. Fasting and fighting don’t go together. They were only required in the law to fast annually on the Day of Atonement, but were permitted to fast if they wished. What was their reason for fasting? Perhaps they were trying to buy God’s blessing or gain God’s favor. Do we worship God even through fasting today in order to get something from God for ourselves - doing something to gain God’s ear or favor. It leans toward manipulating God, instead of delighting in him, honoring him, respecting him. Worshipping God involves more than observing an outward ritual; there must be an inward obedience and submission to the Lord. Worship is an attitude of the heart, not outward religious activity. Worship is recognizing the worth of our Rock and Redeemer. –honoring, respecting, adoring the one who is our savior.  Worship is not where you go or what you do, it is who you are seeking and serving. In John 4:23-24, Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers, those who would worship him in spirit and truth, not in the flesh, full of hypocrisy. Our worship, even fasting, should be from an overflow of our love for Jesus, an overflow of a satisfied soul, a soul satisfied with God’s love.

What kind of worshipper are you?

God is faithful to guide us as we come and worship him from our hearts and…

2.     Come and serve others, not ourselves: vs 6-7

Isaiah makes it quite clear what kind of fasting pleases God. “Isn’t this the kind of fast I have chosen?” Fasting is an emptying. Satisfaction is a filling. God’s grace leads to self-forgetful holiness. To self denial. To acts of mercy and love, of compassion and kindness to the needy, both physically and spiritually. We have learned of our Redeemer Jesus who has relieved the suffering of our sin -sick soul. Jesus said in Matthew 20 that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. That’s his model to us. And now God’s plan in history is for those of us who love and worship him, to be Christ’s lips to tell others about Christ and his hands and feet to put His love into helping others. These actions listed here in verses 6-7, reflect the attitude of a heart who delights in the Lord and serves him in love. Fasting is a time of denying yourself of any other resource but God, reminding yourself the source of your strength and resources. True fasting will lead to humility before God and ministry to others. What kind of fast is God calling you to? What kind of emptying of self and ministry to others? A woman shared with me that this is the scripture that God gave her to confirm her path to home-school her children. Talk about denying your own plans and time and serving another. Perhaps the kind of fasting God is calling us to today is one where we forget about the inconveniences in our lives and serve others – when there is a call for help at an inconvenient time, there is a need for a family who has nothing to share God’s provision with them financially or in clothing or food, when you really had planned to buy something else with that money.

 

 

God is faithful to guide us when we are worshipping him, serving him, and..,

          3. Come and Rest in Him; vs 13-14

These scriptures speak of the Sabbath day. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. We enter into god’s kingdom by resting from our work and in the work of Jesus to bring about our salvation. How do we come and rest in him? How do we practice the Sabbath in our lives? We all need day of rest, just as God rested from his work after 6 days. A day of rest. not because we have to keep the law, but because in this busy society we are human and need to put some priority on our spiritual rest, as well as physical rest. In the generation we live in, the rush of activities becomes more demanding and stressful. We could end up to be a generation of workers and pleasure seekers. The need for a day of rest increases in our complex society, rather than diminishes. It is a time where we slow down and listen to God, resting from our usual work. Taking time to rest is one way to listen more intently for that guidance and rest from the cares of this world. It can be a tremendous blessing. Maybe you can start by adding some time to your quiet time one day. Or thinking about a day of rest –a quieter day than you usually have – purposefully saying no to some activities for yourself or even you children. By our example we can teach our children this principle of rest as well, which is not only healthy physically, but spiritually as well.  To be satisfied is not a life full of activities, but a soul filled with Jesus.

 

So these three things, worship, service and rest, when kept in balance, allow God to easily guide us so we receive his life giving Spirit’s water and strength. Look at the promised blessing in verses 8-12

”Then your light will break forth like the dawn,”: there will be a new awakening and light to see by, just like at dawn.
       “and your healing will quickly appear;” Deep wounds will be healed as you worship and serve others.   
       “then your righteousness will go before you,
       and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

You will follow the path of righteousness for his name sake, leaving the correct estimate of your God behind you!

 “9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
       you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
       "If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
       with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
       then your light will rise in the darkness,
       and your night will become like the noonday.

 11 The LORD will guide you always;
       he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
       and will strengthen your frame.
       You will be like a well-watered garden,
       like a spring whose waters never fail.”

When you empty yourself of your comfort, your time, your money, there is a deep filling of your soul. Have you ever experienced that? Pouring yourself out for someone else and being satisfied deep within your soul? A satisfaction only Jesus can give? And in those times of dryness, which could be times of deep trial, he gives you water to drink and strength to sustain you. In fact you will be like a well-watered garden with an ever-flowing spring. Don’t you like to look at a well-watered garden. What beauty, what fruit! That is the same in our lives, when we allow God to fill us, we are growing and bearing fruit and are attractive to others! That brings us to the last verse.

 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
       and will raise up the age-old foundations;
       you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
       Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

You will - Rebuild… Repair…Restore

As worship, service and rest are kept in balance, you will not only grow spiritually, he will enable you to make a difference in others lives. You will rebuild the ancient ruins. You’ll be able to repair the fall-out of the problems or strongholds that may have plagued your family for generations. You’ll be able to establish or sustain solid foundations for the next generation to build on.

We will repair broken walls – walls that need repair.  There will be streets of homes which are filled with peace and joy, instead of strife. And our homes can be one of them! Others will find a sense of security and peace in us, as we stand firm in our faith. People will come to you in times of crisis and you can point them to the One, Jesus Christ, who can guide them in a sun-scorched land.

 

As we desire God’s continuous guidance in our lives, let’s remember that rest is God’s gift to us, our worship is our offering to God, and our service is our ministry to others in the name of Jesus whom we serve.

Remember…

The LORD will guide you always;
       he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
       and will strengthen your frame.
       You will be like a well-watered garden,
       like a spring whose waters never fail.     Isaiah 58:11