Yesterday in my prayer time, a question from Experiencing Prayer with Jesus by Henry & Norman Blackaby pierced my heart:
“Do you spend enough time with God to know what His heart is for the world in terms of spiritual awakening and revival?”
To be honest, I had not asked Him. Perhaps I assumed I knew. Perhaps I was too busy telling Him what was on my heart. But I stopped. And today, His Spirit led me to Isaiah 58. You may remember that this chapter centers on the ‘fast God chooses.’ As I read, it thrilled my heart to see how COVID-19 has helped us move closer to the fast God prefers.
In the passage, God tells Isaiah to ‘declare unto God’s people their transgressions.’ The outward actions of God’s people evidently were appropriate…they called to Him for justice, they fasted, they ‘took delight in approaching’ Him. But with piercing honesty, God says all of their actions were for their pleasures, in an argumentative spirit. God said, ‘Isaiah, tell them not to fast in that way to be heard by Me.’ God exposes hearts celebrating self…not Him.
This year, the legislated confinement around the world denies us Christians many of our self-centered pleasures. Our joyful gatherings, our celebration of love shared and our church families are off-limits. Family gatherings are outside the legal guidelines too. Loved ones are dying alone. Finances are dwindling, jobs evaporating. Families are grieving losses without the comfort of friends’ hugs. All of which prepares hearts to receive the most freeing truth of all. Jesus is all we need to live with joy and fullness.
But it isn’t until Jesus is all you have that you can truly understand Jesus is all you need!
COVID has moved us toward God’s desires by separating us from the things we trust in and rely on for pleasure and contentment. But there are still actions we must choose. The chapter goes on to explain ‘the fast God has chosen.’ His fast – the things He wants us to separate from – brings incredible results!
The oppressed set free – (We are the first to be released!).
The hungry fed – (Our hearts find what it truly hungers for!).
the homeless sheltered – (We learn to shelter in His love!).
and the naked clothed – (Our flesh is covered with His righteousness!).
Moreover, as we Christians humbly receive and honestly share our struggles and longings, others will come to know His glory too! That fast produces God’s desires. Our light bursts forth like dawn and healing springs up – we fulfill the plans He planned for us!
Whenever God commands us to do something, it is for the good of all!
- His ways produce a well-watered garden…a place of refreshment.
- His ways produce an enduring spring of fresh-flowing, living water.
- His ways produce Christians who rebuild ruins and restore foundations.
- His ways produce streets where people want to dwell.
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of Jehovah shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and Jehovah will answer; thou shalt cry, and he will say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking wickedly; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul: then shall thy light rise in darkness, and thine obscurity be as the noonday; (Isaiah 58:8-10)
May Easter 2020 launch each of us on a fast from the things that are of this world – the things that we use to please ourselves – and into a life of delighting in Him!
STEPS OF FAITH
Where do you need to ‘get rid of the yoke among you’ – stop finger pointing and bad-mouthing?
How can you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted – what hungers, what needs is God bringing to you?
As you seek to honor His commands, Christ goes before you. The glory of God becomes your rear-guard. When you cry, He will say, “Here I am.”