Sunday, July 29, 2012
Welcome to Day 210 of our Life Journal!
Click here for today’s reading: Isaiah 57; Isaiah 58; Isaiah 59; Psalm 103; 2 Peter 3 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Isaiah 56-66, These prophecies are addressed to the exiles returned from Babylon before the rebuilding of the temple in 520 b.c. (64:8–12). They still suffer from idolatry, hypocrisy and indifference. Isaiah prophesies concerning their responsibilities toward the coming glorious kingdom and the certainty of its arrival. Reformation Study Bible Commentary
Isaiah 57:13, “When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you!” (Ouch!)
Isaiah 58, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
11b “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 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.”
Isaiah 59:19, “From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.”
Psalm 103:2, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and
forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
2 Peter 3, continues his rant against false teaching and his call to righteousness… declaring the Day of the Lord. 14 “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
Isaiah 58 is an amazing passage of scripture about the type of fast that God desires.
Isaiah 58 is an amazing passage of application, taking a deep spiritual discipline, fasting, and making it practical.
Isaiah 58:5, “Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”
He is basically saying, when you fast, you are doing your own thing and calling it a fast. That is not fasting. Then he gives clear, practical application as to what a fast should be.
Ironically, it is to share your food with the hungry…
… to provide the poor wanderer with shelter…
… when you see the naked, to clothe them…
… and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.
It is clearly to care for the less fortunate.
I would add that a fast goes beyond this social justice to also drawing close to the Lord. Spending time in the word, in worship, being in His presence. Waiting on Him. Listening…
Often times people (or groups) fast for a purpose… to prepare for a mission trip, for instance. Or for an upcoming conference. That is good, and even makes sense, as long as it is not to try to manipulate God to do what we think should happen, versus seeking His face for what He wants to do. Seeking Him for wisdom and guidance.
Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert, then he began his ministry.
Caring for the poor has always been a part of our church’s DNA…
When John the Baptist sent word to Jesus from prison, asking if he “was the one who was to come?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and
the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matthew 11:4-5
God has always had a soft spot for the poor. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you.” Throughout the Bible, justice is a common theme. Why? Because the poor are often taken advantage of. They don’t have the resources to fight back. We are called to “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke,” Isaiah 58:6.
It’s right there in black and white…
Yet, it has to be more than just social justice… more than a bag of groceries. There has to be concern, justice, prayer, relationship. Genuine concern for others. “Share” your food with the hungry. (“Don’t turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Ouch.) Offer shelter… Not merely a handout.
That’s the point of the fast… relationship. Seeking His face, not just His hand.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to ask. He is a generous father… but in the context of relationship. He’s not a butler or an ATM.
Relationship with the poor. Relationship with Him.
Relationship. Relationship. Relationship.
Help me to never lose sight of this…
Thank you Father for your heart of compassion. And for all the benefits in Psalm 103!