Pastor T (our pastor of family ministries) spoke on Isaiah 58. The chapter talks about how God's people would cry out loud to the Lord, they were being obedient in what they were doing:
Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know my ways,The people fasted and humbled themselves, but they felt God was not listening to them, or seeing what they were doing.
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.
So often, I think, we also feel that way. I know in my own life, especially these last few years, I have definitely felt like God has turned a blind eye, and ignores the things I do (or try to do) for Him.
There was one problem, however, with what the Israelites were doing. We read in verse 3 that, "...on the day of your fast you find your desire."
Basically, they were being selfish in fasting and in being humble (which, really, is a false humbleness or humility). They weren't helping others, and they put the focus all on themselves. They fasted and had food that they weren't eating, but they did not share it with those who did need it. They were doing these things (fasting, being humble, etc.) but yet were acting in an evil manner to others - "..you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist" (verse 4). That is totally not the way to behave!
God goes on, in verses 6 and 7 to tell his people:
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?
The people needed to be putting their focus on others, and not themselves. They needed to stop being wicked and evil, and to start sharing their food with those who had none (or very little), share their homes and their beds with those who were homeless, and give their clothing to those in need.
During my walk, for the last while, I have felt like God has been ignoring me (even though I know He hasn't). You see, I put the focus on why God has not done something for me, or answered prayers; but, in actuality, it is because of what I haven't been doing.
While Pastor T was speaking, it occurred to me that I have been acting the same way the Israelites were. For so long, it has been all about me - what I need, what I want. I definitely think it's time for a change in my actions! I need to start focusing on the needs of others.
I love what God promises (in verses 8 to 11) if we put our focus on others and not ourselves, and do as He says in the verses above:
Then your light will break out like the dawn,Isn't God awesome?!
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.
Are there any Bible verses that are speaking to you today? I'd love to hear what they are in the comment section!