Focus! Purpose! Stop!

Isaiah 58:11

Why are you doing it? How are you doing? Where are you doing it? When are you doing it? What are your intentions? What are your expectations? What is your focus? What is the purpose for doing it? Are you stopping to take it in? Will you do it the right way with the right intentions?

Consider this when you think about if you should or shouldn’t do something…

True Fasting

1The Lord says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshiping me.” 3The people ask, “Why should we fast if the Lord never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?” The Lord says to them, “The truth is that at the same time you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that? 6“The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7 Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives 8“Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond. “If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”

The Reward for Keeping the Sabbath

13The Lord says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
–from Isaiah 58
Are you going after it for the right reasons? Are you going after it with the right intentions? Are you going after it with the right motivations? Is God’s will your purpose? Are you trying to get into alignment with God? Will you turn back when you notice that you are off track? What would it take for you to turn back and get back on track? How far off course do you have to be? How low do you have to get before you look up?
The Prophet Condemns the People’s Sins
1Don’t think that the Lord is too weak to save you or too deaf to hear your call for help! 2It is because of your sins that he doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him. 3You are guilty of lying, violence, and murder. 4You go to court, but you do not have justice on your side. You depend on lies to win your case. You carry out your plans to hurt others. 5-6The evil plots you make are as deadly as the eggs of a poisonous snake. Crush an egg, out comes a snake! But your plots will do you no good—they are as useless as clothing made of cobwebs! 7 You are always planning something evil, and you can hardly wait to do it. You never hesitate to murder innocent people. You leave ruin and destruction wherever you go, 8and no one is safe when you are around. Everything you do is unjust. You follow a crooked path, and no one who walks that path will ever be safe.

The People Confess Their Sin

9The people say, “Now we know why God does not save us from those who oppress us. We hope for light to walk by, but there is only darkness, 10and we grope about like blind people. We stumble at noon, as if it were night, as if we were in the dark world of the dead. 11We are frightened and distressed. We long for God to save us from oppression and wrong, but nothing happens. 12“Lord, our crimes against you are many. Our sins accuse us. We are well aware of them all. 13We have rebelled against you, rejected you, and refused to follow you. We have oppressed others and turned away from you. Our thoughts are false; our words are lies. 14Justice is driven away, and right cannot come near. Truth stumbles in the public square, and honesty finds no place there. 15There is so little honesty that those who stop doing evil find themselves the victims of crime.”

The Lord Prepares to Rescue His People

The Lord has seen this, and he is displeased that there is no justice. 16 He is astonished to see that there is no one to help the oppressed. So he will use his own power to rescue them and to win the victory. 17 He will wear justice like a coat of armor and saving power like a helmet. He will clothe himself with the strong desire to set things right and to punish and avenge the wrongs that people suffer. 18He will punish his enemies according to what they have done, even those who live in distant lands. 19From east to west everyone will fear him and his great power. He will come like a rushing river, like a strong wind. 20  The Lord says to his people, “I will come to Jerusalem to defend you and to save all of you that turn from your sins. 21And I make a covenant with you: I have given you my power and my teachings to be yours forever, and from now on you are to obey me and teach your children and your descendants to obey me for all time to come.”
–from Isaiah 59
God is love! He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to come and make a way for us to be reconciled back unto Himself! The only way for a way to be found was for God to take it into His own hands in order to make a way!

The Future Glory of Jerusalem

1Arise, Jerusalem, and shine like the sun; The glory of the Lord is shining on you! 2Other nations will be covered by darkness, But on you the light of the Lord will shine; The brightness of his presence will be with you. 3Nations will be drawn to your light, And kings to the dawning of your new day. 4Look around you and see what is happening: Your people are gathering to come home! Your sons will come from far away; Your daughters will be carried like children. 5You will see this and be filled with joy; You will tremble with excitement. The wealth of the nations will be brought to you; From across the sea their riches will come. 6Great caravans of camels will come, from Midian and Ephah. They will come from Sheba, bringing gold and incense. People will tell the good news of what the Lord has done! 7All the sheep of Kedar and Nebaioth Will be brought to you as sacrifices And offered on the altar to please the Lord. The Lord will make his Temple more glorious than ever. 8What are these ships that skim along like clouds, Like doves returning home? 9They are ships coming from distant lands, Bringing God’s people home. They bring with them silver and gold To honor the name of the Lord, The holy God of Israel, Who has made all nations honor his people. 10The Lord says to Jerusalem, “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, And their kings will serve you. In my anger I punished you, But now I will show you my favor and mercy. 11Day and night your gates will be open, So that the kings of the nations May bring you their wealth. 12But nations that do not serve you Will be completely destroyed. 13“The wood of the pine, the juniper, and the cypress, The finest wood from the forests of Lebanon, Will be brought to rebuild you, Jerusalem, To make my Temple beautiful, To make my city glorious. 14The descendants of those who oppressed you will come And bow low to show their respect. All who once despised you will worship at your feet. They will call you ‘The City of the Lord,’ ‘Zion, the City of Israel’s Holy God.’ 15“You will no longer be forsaken and hated, A city deserted and desolate. I will make you great and beautiful, A place of joy forever and ever. 16Nations and kings will care for you As a mother nurses her child. You will know that I, the Lord, have saved you, That the mighty God of Israel sets you free. 17“I will bring you gold instead of bronze, Silver and bronze instead of iron and wood, And iron instead of stone. Your rulers will no longer oppress you; I will make them rule with justice and peace. 18The sounds of violence will be heard no more; Destruction will not shatter your country again. I will protect and defend you like a wall; You will praise me because I have saved you. 19“No longer will the sun be your light by day Or the moon be your light by night; I, the Lord, will be your eternal light; The light of my glory will shine on you. 20Your days of grief will come to an end. I, the Lord, will be your eternal light, More lasting than the sun and moon. 21Your people will all do what is right, And will possess the land forever. I planted them, I made them, To reveal my greatness to all. 22Even your smallest and humblest family Will become as great as a powerful nation. When the right time comes, I will make this happen quickly. I am the Lord!”
–from Isaiah 60
You don’t have be somewhere out there! Call on God! Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him! Need a savior? God has provided one and His name is Jesus! God’s Word tells us “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So don’t give up! So don’t give in! Turn to God and reach for Him! Turn to the one source of hope! Turn to the one source of truth! Turn to the one who can make a difference and change your life forever!

The Good News of Deliverance

1 The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. 2He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, 3To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow. They will be like trees That the Lord himself has planted. They will all do what is right, And God will be praised for what he has done. 4They will rebuild cities that have long been in ruins.
5My people, foreigners will serve you. They will take care of your flocks And farm your land and tend your vineyards. 6And you will be known as the priests of the Lord, The servants of our God. You will enjoy the wealth of the nations And be proud that it is yours. 7Your shame and disgrace are ended. You will live in your own land, And your wealth will be doubled; Your joy will last forever.
8The Lord says, “I love justice and I hate oppression and crime. I will faithfully reward my people And make an eternal covenant with them. 9They will be famous among the nations; Everyone who sees them will know That they are a people whom I have blessed.”
10Jerusalem rejoices because of what the Lord has done. She is like a bride dressed for her wedding. God has clothed her with salvation and victory. 11As surely as seeds sprout and grow, The Sovereign Lord will save his people, And all the nations will praise him.
–from Isaiah 61
1I will speak out to encourage Jerusalem; I will not be silent until she is saved, And her victory shines like a torch in the night. 2Jerusalem, the nations will see you victorious! All their kings will see your glory. You will be called by a new name, A name given by the Lord himself. 3You will be like a beautiful crown for the Lord. 4No longer will you be called “Forsaken,” Or your land be called “The Deserted Wife.” Your new name will be “God Is Pleased with Her.” Your land will be called “Happily Married,” Because the Lord is pleased with you And will be like a husband to your land. 5Like a young man taking a virgin as his bride, He who formed you will marry you. As a groom is delighted with his bride, So your God will delight in you. 6On your walls, Jerusalem, I have placed sentries; They must never be silent day or night. They must remind the Lord of his promises And never let him forget them. 7They must give him no rest until he restores Jerusalem And makes it a city the whole world praises. 8The Lord has made a solemn promise, And by his power he will carry it out: “Your grain will no longer be food for your enemies, And foreigners will no longer drink your wine. 9But you that planted and harvested the grain Will eat the bread and praise the Lord. You that tended and gathered the grapes Will drink the wine in the courts of my Temple.” 10People of Jerusalem, go out of the city And build a road for your returning people! Prepare a highway; clear it of stones! Put up a signal so that the nations can know 11That the Lord is announcing to all the earth: “Tell the people of Jerusalem That the Lord is coming to save you, Bringing with him the people he has rescued.” 12You will be called “God’s Holy People,” “The People the Lord Has Saved.” Jerusalem will be called “The City That God Loves,” “The City That God Did Not Forsake.”
–from Isaiah 62
It’s Jesus who makes this possible. He proclaimed this while He was on earth in front of the people. We see this experience retold and testified to in Luke 4:18
17And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”…
So where are you at today? Are you at the end of your rope? Are you looking for hope and answers? The answer to your needs is Jesus! Not Jesus plus something else, just Jesus! He has come and made a way where there didn’t seem to be a way! He has come that we may have life and life to the full. It’s all about starting and living a relationship with Jesus!
The battle belongs to the Lord! Jesus has come so that even though we may have trials and challenges, we can still have hope because Jesus has overcome the world!

The Lord’s Victory over the Nations

1  “Who is this coming from the city of Bozrah in Edom? Who is this so splendidly dressed in red, marching along in power and strength?” It is the Lord, powerful to save, coming to announce his victory. 2“Why is his clothing so red, like that of someone who tramples grapes to make wine?” 3  The Lord answers, “I have trampled the nations like grapes, and no one came to help me. I trampled them in my anger, and their blood has stained all my clothing. 4I decided that the time to save my people had come; it was time to punish their enemies. 5 I was amazed when I looked and saw that there was no one to help me. But my anger made me strong, and I won the victory myself. 6In my anger I trampled whole nations and shattered them. I poured out their lifeblood on the ground.”

The Lord’s Goodness to Israel

7I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love; I praise him for all he has done for us. He has richly blessed the people of Israel because of his mercy and constant love. 8The Lord said, “They are my people; they will not deceive me.” And so he saved them 9from all their suffering. It was not an angel, but the Lord himself who saved them. In his love and compassion he rescued them. He had always taken care of them in the past, 10but they rebelled against him and made his holy spirit sad. So the Lord became their enemy and fought against them. 11But then they remembered the past, the days of Moses, the servant of the Lord, and they asked, “Where now is the Lord, who saved the leaders of his people from the sea? Where is the Lord, who gave his spirit to Moses? 12-13 Where is the Lord, who by his power did great things through Moses, dividing the waters of the sea and leading his people through the deep water, to win everlasting fame for himself?” Led by the Lord, they were as sure-footed as wild horses, and never stumbled. 14As cattle are led into a fertile valley, so the Lord gave his people rest. He led his people and brought honor to his name.

A Prayer for Mercy and Help

15Lord, look upon us from heaven, where you live in your holiness and glory. Where is your great concern for us? Where is your power? Where are your love and compassion? Do not ignore us. 16You are our father. Our ancestors Abraham and Jacob do not acknowledge us, but you, Lord, are our father, the one who has always rescued us. 17Why do you let us stray from your ways? Why do you make us so stubborn that we turn away from you? Come back, for the sake of those who serve you, for the sake of the people who have always been yours. 18We, your holy people, were driven out by our enemies for a little while; they trampled down your sanctuary. 19You treat us as though you had never been our ruler, as though we had never been your people.
–from Isaiah 63
God sent Jesus the first time as the peace maker! Jesus came to reconcile man to God! The next time He comes back will be the final battle! The victory has already been won! We have to choose which side we will be on! Choose wisely! Choose Jesus!
1Why don’t you tear the sky open and come down? The mountains would see you and shake with fear. 2They would tremble like water boiling over a hot fire. Come and reveal your power to your enemies, and make the nations tremble at your presence! 3There was a time when you came and did terrifying things that we did not expect; the mountains saw you and shook with fear. 4 No one has ever seen or heard of a God like you, who does such deeds for those who put their hope in him. 5You welcome those who find joy in doing what is right, those who remember how you want them to live. You were angry with us, but we went on sinning; in spite of your great anger we have continued to do wrong since ancient times. 6All of us have been sinful; even our best actions are filthy through and through. Because of our sins we are like leaves that wither and are blown away by the wind. 7No one turns to you in prayer; no one goes to you for help. You have hidden yourself from us and have abandoned us because of our sins. 8But you are our father, Lord. We are like clay, and you are like the potter. You created us, 9so do not be too angry with us or hold our sins against us forever. We are your people; be merciful to us. 10Your sacred cities are like a desert; Jerusalem is a deserted ruin, 11and our Temple, the sacred and beautiful place where our ancestors praised you, has been destroyed by fire. All the places we loved are in ruins. 12Lord, are you unmoved by all this? Are you going to do nothing and make us suffer more than we can endure?
–from Isaiah 64
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