Tuesday, March 01, 2011

It Helps To Do What God Says

During our staff chapel today, the president of the organization for which I work took us to Isaiah 58 for the devotion. In this powerful passage of Scripture, God (through the prophet's pen) chides His people for making like the uber-religious, but then wondering why God doesn't respond to them. It's worth reading and pondering . . .

Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God. ‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’

Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD? Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail
(Isaiah 58:1-11).

How often do unbelievers (and by that I include those who give nominal lip service to believing in God but who have no time for Him in their lives) moan, groan and curse over their life circumstances, and finally hit their knees, only to forget about the One who loves them and graciously answered their prayers?

More than that, how often do we who really believe in the Lord and purport to follow Him do the same thing? We go through all of our little routines and rituals, but when it comes to really putting what we believe into practice, we don't do it. Worse yet, we yap loudly about what we believe, but our words and actions speak otherwise, and it gets noticed by unbelievers. Their unspoken question is, "If that's what being a Christian is, why would I want it?"

Here's another one to ponder. If the words, actions and attitudes of those of us who profess Christ are indistinguishable from those who are unbelievers and living in open sin, what's the point of even identifying ourselves as Christ-followers? Perhaps the Lord would rather us keep quiet rather than embarrass Him by our words and behavior.

Something to ponder, isn't it?

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