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

Advent Reveals Messages of Power and Hope

Joseph was such an important person in Jesus’ life, I wanted to take another day with the scripture of God’s intervention on Joseph and Mary’s behalf. Matthew 1: 18-25 NLT

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,  for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!     She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,    which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

The angel’s message to Joseph, in addition to the words he spoke to Mary gave them confirmation that the child she carried and that they would raise was from God. The angel told him his name was to be Jesus and his purpose in coming was to save his people from their sins. The angel did not want any confusion concerning his name, since like Zechariah the friends and family would expect the baby to be named Joseph after his father. The confirmation of the child’s purpose was something only God could do-saving from sin. The reference to the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 is one Joseph and Mary would have known and would have been further confirmation that the messages were from God.

The information this new husband and wife had is amazing about their unborn child: He was to be called Jesus, meaning God with us. He was coming as Savior to redeem people from sin. He was be called Son of the Most High and Son of God (Luke 1:32,35). He would reign on the throne of David (Luke 1:32). His kingdom would be eternal (Luke 1:33) and He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). I’m sure Mary and Joseph discussed this miracle and the future effect on their lives. As the story continues to unfold, they would have to draw on their strength of faith and fully trust in the power of God.

Is God asking you to step out in faith and walk with Him in some area of your life today? What evidence can you draw from to gain perspective and hope so you can continue walking in faith? Mary and Joseph had the angel’s messages, confirmation in scripture and the Holy Spirit abiding within Mary to guide them. Where can you look for guidance? We have the whole Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Dive into scripture, pray and ask God to reveal His answers to you. I am confident Mary and Joseph clung to their faith and decided to walk with God in faith even though they did not know all the ins and outs of what lay ahead. God has confirmation, hope and assurance for you just as He provided for Mary and Joseph. Choose faith and walk with Him.

Linda