Targeted Prayer for Ourselves and Others

This reminds me of my friend Stephanie.

My friend Stephanie is a woman of prayer. She believes in the power of prayer to effect change in her life and lives of her family and friends. She recently was the chairwoman of our Pastoral Search Team and brought prayer into this process continually. Through prayer we were all more closely engaged in the search for a new pastor and linked to each member of the body of believers at our church. It does not surprise me that her favorite portion of scripture is a prayer from Ephesians 3:14-19. The Apostle Paul here is praying for the believers at Ephesus.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul knew these things to be true in his own life and ministry and desired that his fellow believers experience the same. Here is what Paul knew:

*God is accessible and he could come before him in prayer (14)

*Believers are all in the family of God under the name of Jesus (15)

*God provides inner strength through His Holy Spirit (16)

*God has vast resources at His command (16)

*Christ lives in our hearts through our faith in Jesus (17)

*God makes us firm in our faith through His abiding love (17)

*We can individually and collectively grasp a portion of how great God is (18)

*We can know through faith God’s unapparelled love, which is more than knowledge

*As believers, we can be filled to overflowing with God’s love, presence and spirit. (19)

Paul knew each of these truths personally. How many do you know? Do you pray for these for other believers you know and experience? The army slogan “Be all that you can be” could be applied here. God wants us to be all and experience all that He has for us. I challenge you to choose one or two of these and pray them for a believing friend so that they may experience God more fully and grow in their faith.

Thanks Stephanie for pointing us to this wonderfully rich passage that puts a priority on prayer and shows us how we are to pray for others while deepening our own experience of faith.

Linda

Are you on the Right Pathway?

My friend Wayne is a man of great faith and perception. He has chosen Psalm 1 to have in his mind each day. I love Psalm 1 and there is a song called ‘Blessed is the Man’ which is based on Psalm 1 which I love to sing. Here is Psalm 1 in the Message translation. It loses the poetry of other translations but paints a clear picture of the man/woman God want each of us to be.

How well God must like you—
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,

Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

Do these first 3 verses look and sound like you? Do you seek to reject the ways of the world and delight on God’s Word? Is Bible study a priority in your life? What does the fruit of your faith look like?

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.
We should be able to easily see the difference between one who walks with Jesus and one who is worldly. Is this difference evident in your life?

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere.
This last verse is so telling. Going with God, walking His pathway in life leads to Him- somewhere important and purposeful, somewhere we can commune with God and serve Him and His pathway leads to eternity. As they say the road to destruction is wide and as the psalmist reminds us- it lead to nowhere!

Thanks Wayne for the reminder from Psalm 1 that His way is the road to a life that is pleasing to God and fruitful for us.

Linda

Stories Lead to Truths about God

Just a slight deviation from favorite verses today to favorite Bible stories. When I asked my friend Kathy for a favorite verse or two she responded with her favorite stories. As I thought about this, it so suits Kathy. She is a lifelong student of the Bible and the consummate Sunday School teacher. She sees things relationally as they impact our lives. Here are her favorites:

“I love the story of Esther because it tells me that even though the name of God is never mentioned, He is there, working in our lives.” Do you see God working in each area of your life? Is He with you in the hard times- rescuing, helping, guiding and providing all that behind the scenes encouragement? Do you also turn to Him in praise when things go well? I am reminded of God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Esther believed God was there with her and her people. What about you?

I love the story of Ruth because of the love and devotion it speaks.” Ruth gives us an example to follow because of the love she showed her mother-in-law, Naomi. Do you have someone you are serving even though it is hard? Are you letting the love of God shine through you towards them? Paul put this in another context in Romans 12:9-11 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” What does your love reflect?

I love the story of Jonah because it tells me that I can’t outrun God.” Jonah is such a great example of thinking we know better and can get away from God. Do you try to second guess God and tell Him how things should be? Submission is not easy but it is biblical. Christ is our example in Hebrews 5:7 “ During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Let us learn from Jonah and strive to be like Jesus.

I love the story of the blind man in John 9 because it tells me that even though people can see, they may still be blind.” Jesus made mud and put it on this man’s eyes and his eyes were opened. He had been blind from birth. The Pharisee’s were incensed that Jesus healed this man and did it on the Sabbath. They considered healing work and Jews were not permitted to work on the Sabbath. They questioned the man’s parents to verify he was born blind. They questioned the former blind man about who had healed him. He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not (meaning Jesus), I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” He was blind physically but Jesus gave him sight. The Pharisee’s were blind spiritually and could not see the truth of Jesus and His power. Are you open to His work and leading so that you can see God’s truth in your life?

I love the story of Ananias and Sapphira because it tells me that God knows me so well, I can’t lie to him (and lying never brings about a good ending).” This story occurs in Acts 5. Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. It would seem from what happened, they said they were giving all the proceeds from their land sale. Maybe they wanted to look good in the eyes of the apostles and their fellow believers so they would think well of them, think them generous and selfless when they secretly held back a portion for themselves. Their actions were deceitful and here is what happened. Ananias came before Peter:

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

Next his wife came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. “About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.  The sin was not that they did not give it all to the Lord’s work but lying about it. If they had been truthful about the price and what they were giving, all would have been well but they tried to lie and get away with it. What a price to pay for pride and trying to be more than they were. I agree with Kathy this is an example of God’s Omniscience and man’s pride. God knows, and we kid ourselves, when we think we can get away with things. God always knows. I am reminded of 1 John 3:19-21 “This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

Be encouraged today with these stories displaying God’s character. He is Omnipresent and Sovereign as in Esther showing His providential care and guidance. He is loving and the great Provider as seen in Ruth. He is Omniscient in the case of Jonah and Ananias and Saphira. He is Compassionate, Loving and Almighty God as seen by the blind man. Who is God to you? How do you see him in the story of your life? Is He Faithful, Unchanging, Savior, Redeemer and friend? Take time to thank Him for His presence in your life today.

I’d love to hear your favorite story too. Thanks Kathy for directing me to these gems of scripture that give us foundational truths to live by.

Linda

Paul’s Therfore’s lead us to Christ

My friend Cheryl has chosen Romans 12:2 as her favorite verse. This is one of the most well known and quoted verse in the book of Romans for good reason. Here are verses 1-2:   Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Starting with Therefore, Paul is saying because of all I have said in the previous 11 Chapters this is how God’s wants you to live. Paul has told us in Romans 1:16-17 of the power of the gospel leading to God’s righteousness.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” In Romans 3:22-23 that faith comes through Jesus and no one is righteous on their own “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In Romans 5:1 Paul concludes that we are justified by faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” I particularly love Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In Romans 7 we hear of Paul’s own smuggles with his sin nature but he reaches another conclusion in Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, In Chapter 8 Paul tells us we are son’s of the Father (14), coheirs with Christ (17), all things in our lives God can work for good (28), and nothing can separate us from the love of God (37-38). Paul tells us in Romans 10: 9-10 that confession of Jesus as Lord will bring about salvation.  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Given all these facts about God and what He has done for us Paul reaches the conclusion stated in Romans 12:1. Think about God’s mercy towards us and commit yourself to a life of loving Him sacrificially. It will be pleasing to God.

In verse 2, Paul goes on to tell us that we need to let God transform our body and minds so that we will not be led astray and seduced by the world’s motives and standards. When your mind is renewed through faith in Jesus you will be able to discern what is worldly and stay away from it. You will be able to test things against His Word of truth, pray for discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit and call upon the name of Jesus for help. Then you will be able to walk with Jesus doing what is pleasing to God and aligned with His will. Faith in Jesus is the key to this transformation.

Thanks Cheryl for pointing me to this verse. I can see how you use this verse to give you strength to reject world culture and seek alignment with God’s Word. Leaning on God’s mercy, clinging to Jesus and using His Word to lead us in life will lead us to pleasing God.

Linda

Actions and Reactions, do they reflect Christ?

My friend Laureen has chosen Colossian 3:23 as her favorite verse. This verse comes after Paul has given standards for conduct for husbands, wives, children, Fathers and slaves. (Colossians 3:18-22) Verse 23 begins Paul’s summary of why we do what we do. He explains more fully in Colossians 3:23-25.

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Paul’s reminder of why we need to act with submission, love, respect and obedience towards those we are in relationships with is so that we can reflect Christ in our actions and show the nature of our heart. Our hearts motivate us into action for good if based on our love for Christ or not if centered in ourselves. All of our actions should seek to reflect the love of Christ because we love Him for all He has done for us. Not only are we redeemed and forgiven but will live with Him for eternity. Our purpose is to reflect Him in all we say and do so that He will be glorified. God promises rewards – an inheritance which includes a home in heaven and a relationship with Him. Our inheritance brings us into His family and makes us an heir with Christ. So knowing all this, Paul reminds us to remember who we are serving and that those who choose not to serve Him will receive a different kind of reward. The last line states that God shows no favorites. He loves you and me equally and desires that all should come to repentance! 2 Peter 3:9 reveals God’s heart and promise, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

How does this effect me today? Examine your own heart and motives. Do you do things for the Lord, to bring glory to Him? Or do you do things for self-gain, pride or greed? Are you working 100% for the Lord or are you only giving less than 100% effort and holding back? Each day we need look at our motives and be sure we are speaking, doing things and interacting with people through godly motives. You can ask yourself, Am it reflecting Christ in what I say and do? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern your motives and help you to align them and your heart with Christ so that He may be glorified in your life.

Thanks Laureen for pointing me to this group of verses to better understand how I am to act and react towards others and hold right motives in my heart.

Linda

What has God done for your Soul?

My friend Gary has chosen his favorite verse from Psalm 66. His verse comes at the end of this wonderful psalm, Psalm 66:20. Before we get to verse 20, let’s look at some of the other verses that set the stage for the conclusion in verse 20.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah
The psalmist begins this song with praise to God for his name and his wonderful and awesome deeds. This is a reminder to us to enter into his presence with praise on our lips. God is great and has done and will do great things. The approach of praise has a tendency to put our life’s problems in perspective and helps us to see the greatness and majesty of God. In verses 5-15, the psalmist recounts times when God has rescued them from their enemies and brought them to the promised land. This is a continuance of his praise as he tells what God has done. He then invites all to come and hear.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
    and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
    he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
In this section, the psalmist proclaims what God has done for him personally. He cried out to God with praise and a repentant heart. The results were a transformation of his soul and the knowledge that God had listened to his prayers. Now, verse 20:

20 Blessed be God,
    because he has not rejected my prayer
    or removed his steadfast love from me!
The psalmist ends with praise to God as he knows that God has listened to his prayers and loves him always. The transformation of his soul that he attested to in verse 16 led him to the conclusion that God hears our prayers and loves us always. Praise God as He continually reveals himself to us in prayer.

Thank you Gary for pointing me to this verse. I am encouraged by the reaffirmation that God transforms us and answers our prayers. We can be assured that He will always love us. I am reminded of Romans 8:38-39 “ For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Have a great day knowing you are heard and loved by Almighty God.

Linda

Relying on the Character of God

Today’s favorite verses come from my friend Aifen. She has chosen Isaiah 55: 8-9. So that we get the context around those verses I have included the entire stanza. They are verses that show the power and majesty of our God.

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah first tells his listeners to seek to find God and call upon Him. He implores the listener to do it sooner than later. Don’t wait until you are lost or overcome by the ways of the world. Turn to God and seek His compassion and love. Know assuredly that He will forgive you and provided for you with care. How can we know this is true? Because, God is not like us. He is not entangled with a sin nature that seeks to rebel and serve for self gain. God is not human but Spirit and Truth. God assures us that His thoughts and ways are truly higher than any man could ever have. His are lofty, heavenly and not bound to this earth.

God’s Character

How does this encourage you? I am comforted that God is not like me. He is not bound to earthly ways, thoughts, motivations, competitions, materialism, greed, selfishness, etc. His character is pure, true, holy, kind, loving, compassionate, filled with mercy and love. Each of His character traits are perfect as He is perfect. We cannot fully understand God and His ways as He is so far above us in character and intellect. Yet, we can know is that He is just and faithful. Looking into scripture tells us about God and shows us who He is and what He can and will do. He does not sin and cannot be controlled by anyone or anything. God will pardon sinners abundantly. He is Sovereign and Almighty God.

I know my friend Aifen takes great strength from knowing that she loves and worships the Almighty Creator who is Sovereign over all things, thoughts and ways! Be encouraged as nothing will ever happen in your life that catches God unaware. He knows and can be with you. Deuteronomy 36:3  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Be of good courage!

As you reread these verses, seek to catch a glimpse of Almighty God and His power.

Linda

Simple Directions Produce Great Results

My friend and fellow servant Wayne has chosen as his favorite verses ones from 1Thessalonians 5:16-18. These verses are placed in a paragraph in which Paul is encouraging the Thessalonians to be diligent in practicing their faith. Let’s look at the passage as whole and then Wayne’s verses in particular,

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Paul wanted the Thessalonian church to thrive. He wanted them to be working together in faith, encouraging and uplifting one another. He warned against putting the work of others down by asking them to esteem highly those that are working for the Lord and appreciate their efforts for the kingdom. Paul encouraged them to live in peace, working, helping those that are struggling and to be advocates of patience. He wanted them to not try and seek revenge when wronged but seek to do good. Paul does not want them to stop the flow of power from the Holy Spirit into their lives, but to be open to His leading. He also wants them to not believe everything they hear but to test it against scripture and pray for guidance. I particularly love his advice- ‘hold fast what is good’. Rather than focusing on the negative, hold fast, cling, proclaim in your life that which is good and from God. Lastly, he just says stay away from evil. Don’t even let it be in your heart and mind, keeping clear of it.

In the midst of this instructive paragraph come Wayne’s verses. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  These verses give practical actions that will lead to being able to carry out the instructions in the passage. Rejoice always speaks to the heart attitude that God desires. When working for the Lord, do you have an attitude of rejoicing? Are you doing things at church more as an obligation rather than joyfully for the Lord? You will know the difference because joyful service makes for an uplifted countenance and hope in Christ. We are not be be joyful in our service just when we feel good but always. Rejoicing in the Lord brings joy and encouragement to the saddest of hearts. Verse 17 tells us to pray without ceasing. I take that to mean proceed through your day and pray as you go. When you need to make a decision, speak to someone, tackle a hard or boring task… in all things pray! If we can do this, we will see God in all things and know His presence continually!! Verse 18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. This one is really hard to do at times in our lives. This is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit and true believe in Romans 8:28. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. As believers we need to cling and proclaim the sovereignty of God over all things in heaven and on earth. We know that God’s will is perfect and that He will see to all the details. What might be hard or devastating can and will be used for our good and His glory. How is your faith in this area? Can you trust God for the hard things in your life and know He will bring good out of them? The last part of verse 18 tells us why we need to do these things- rejoice, pray and give thanks because for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  All of these actions are part of God’s will for our lives. He desires these things for us so that we may glorify Him with our lives. What do you consider your purpose in life? In the Old Testament passage from Deuteronomy 10:12-13 God lays His purpose for our lives:  “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?  All these things- loving the Lord with our heart, mind and soul and seeking to follow His ways, are for our good and His glory. This is God’s will for our lives. He knows we need to rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all things to keep ourselves in His will and our attitudes aligned with His purpose.

Thank you Wayne for pointing me to this powerful paragraph filled with encouragement and direction. As I serve with you in the cause of Christ, I see your heart attitude of joy and thanksgiving and your desire for prayer. May we all seek to live with these in mind so as to glorify God and walk in His will.

Linda

A Word, A Thought… What are you Doing and Thinking?

My friend Wendy’s favorite verses go to the heart of Christian living. She has chosen these two verses to guide her. Knowing Wendy and the opposition she has faced from unbelievers, they are perfect and have given her courage and direction as she seeks to live each day for Christ.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”. This verse hits to the heart of good relationships with others. If we are to reflect Christ in all we say and do, Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”, then we need to be concerned about what we are saying. James talks about the power of the tongue, see James 3:1-12. He talks about the need to tame the tongue and not letting it lead one astray. Paul is warning us here that our talk can harm others, (we know this to be true), and that what we should be desiring is to engage in conversations that reflect Christ’s grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor. Having conversations that are kind and not judgmental, gossipy or hurtful. With the goal of glorifying Christ with our words, we need to seek to uplift and encourage.

Wendy’s second verse is Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. Her first verse zeroed in on what we say, this one focuses on our mind’s attitude and expression. That which happens in our minds help to drive our actions and words. Our character is important to Christ and He desires that we be sanctified in Him. Paul explains this wonderous transformation he calls sanctification in Romans 6:21-23 “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are to glorify God with our heart, mind and soul becoming more and more like Jesus with each day. Let the truth of the character God desires sink into your heart and guide you as you ponder and meditate on Philippians 4:8.

With both of these verses before us, Ephesians 4:29 and Philippians 4:8, we must recognize that without the indwelling power of Christ’s Holy Spirit within us, we will not be able to live as He desires. It is God alone who empowers us and equips us to do His work and act worthy of His calling. The author of Hebrews prays a prayer we can claim over us too, in Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Thanks Wendy for reminding us of Christ’s goals for our speech and conduct. May we strive to keep these verses before us as we interact with others in the name of Christ.

Linda

Direction for God Needs Heart

My friend Greg is a thoughtful and dedicated believer who seeks to continually examine his walk and relationship with the Lord. It does not surprise me that one of his favorite passages in Isaiah 58:6-12. Take a close look at these verses with me and see why Greg receives insight, challenges and reassurance for his walk with Christ. I have chosen the NLT as it makes it easier to understand.

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
    and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
God was speaking to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah. They were fasting and proclaiming their ‘religiosity’ before men without having their hearts dedicated to the Lord. God is telling them, and us, that He desires true dedication and devotion that is evident in our lives by the things we do. Do we see to the needs of others? Seek to help the less fortunate? When was the last time you worked at a soup kitchen, gave to the homeless or sought to uplift a suffering friend? Food for thought and action.

What a wonderful promise from God!

God told them if they did these things and had a right heart for others then they would be truly rewarded. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
    and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
    and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
    ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Seeing to the needs of others leads to blessings and a deeper walk with God. Here Isaiah mentions- salvation, godliness, protection and answered prayer as benefits of being a humble servant.

I love this is a promise from God of His continual care.

“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
    Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
    and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
    and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like an ever-flowing spring.

12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
    Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
    and a restorer of homes.

In this last section, Isaiah continues with instructions for not gossiping or putting down others but challenges us to be about feeding the hungry and seeing to the needs of others. Then we will find that the Lord guides, restores and strengthens us like a well-watered garden! Verse 12 reminds us that all of us are not called to do the same thing. God has many ways for us to show ourselves to be His humble servants. It is a challenge with confirmation. Pray and seek God’s guidance of where He has for you to serve and to whom He has for you to give a helping hand.

Thanks Greg for challenging us with this wonderful passage. May we all be more open and receptive to His guidance and may we receive the benefits of His blessings with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts.

Linda