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

Our Real Life is Protected in Christ

Have you ever thought of your life being hidden in Christ or protected by Him? Paul tells us in Colossians 3:3-4 that our new life that comes through faith in Jesus is hidden with Him. This real life, our new nature, is guarded by Christ. “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory”.

This idea of our life in Christ being protected by God was written about many times in the New Testament when the Apostles explained the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit seals and guarantees our new life and inheritance in Him. 2 Timothy 2:14 “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” The indwelling Spirit of God testifies with our Spirit so we are assured that He is with us and that we have a new life in Him. Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” Ephesians 1:13-15 also explains this relationship between our new life in Christ and the Holy Spirit. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” We can think of this protection of the Holy Spirit as hiding our new or real life in Christ. Paul wanted to give encouragement to the believers at Colossae. They were struggling with warring ideas and ideologies and this assurance of their life in Christ being protected by the Holy Spirt and hidden by Christ would have been very welcome. I can identify with that also, as I find Paul’s assurances bring hope and comfort to me in a world that is filled with doubt, uncertainty and chaos.

The idea in verse 4 that Christ will return and all truth will be revealed, would have been of great comfort to these believers, also. We, too, can gain comfort from knowing Christ will return and will be victorious over Satan. Christ’s return is a sure thing. In Matthew 24:35-37 Jesus spoke of His return. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my ,words will not pass away. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Later the Apostles spoke of Jesus’ return in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When Jesus does return many things will take place but we do know that Jesus will rule and all will bow before Him. Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” As an added bonus, because of our faith in Jesus we will share in the glory as we stand amazed. Romans 8:17 “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” and Ephesians 2:6 “and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,”

Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have a life with Christ that is assured, protected and expectant as I await His return! Praise God! Thank you Jesus!

Linda