Isaiah 58–Fasting Like This Slows You Down

Chapter 58 reads like God is expressing a moment of complete exasperation. Picture the scene as the rabbi’s and the people are leaving synagogue;  everyone is saying Shalom and God Bless You and oh, yes, we are doing well.  Inside, their lives are shattered and empty because they are not getting the fulfillment from checking off the boxes in their Jewish religion.  God, the creator, the master of the universe is feeling completely at a loss.  

In His mind, it was never, is never, and will never be about checking the boxes.  In the Lord’s construct, it is always about the state of one’s heart.  God takes joy in our obedience–not, our sacrifice.  God does not care if you ever skip a meal–if you are loving Him and loving others. If you want to skip a meal, fine, but at least take it to someone that is hungry.  God says in short, if you want to be spiritual, I am grateful–but, do the right things and do them for the right reasons.  Feed the hungry, cloth the ones who need clothes. House the homeless, visit the sick and the lonely ones.

God is not taking attendance at church.  He is not putting stars by your name for religious endeavors.  God has always looked at our lives and our hearts and simply asked that we surrender both to His leadership.  If we will do that, the actions we do in His name will be real, heartfelt, and selfless–some would even say Christ like. That was the message from Isaiah on that Sabbath afternoon, and that is still the message thousands of years later.  “Please, My dear ones, trust and follow Me.  Don’t try to keep score–it is not a competition.  Simply lose yourselves in learning to be like Me and serving others–that is the fasting that will bless Me!!!

God Bless You


“Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And [b]exploit all your laborers.
Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the [c]heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are [d]cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

“If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The [e]pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your [f]darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Isaiah 11–Jesus, The Game Changer

In his delivery of the difficult message to God’s chosen people, Isaiah never seems to give a tough decree without the follow of great hope.  Isaiah had just finished describing the enslavement of the people to Assyria and to Egypt he also talked of the return of the remnant anf the destruction of Israel’s captors.  Then, from that, Isaiah stops and begins a description of the shoot from the branch of Jesse that restores and brings peace.  

In Isaiah’s description, The one that will restore will do so with peace, wisdom, and understanding. There will be no need to raise a sword because he will unify and protect His own.  He will bring peace accross all nations and will rule with wisdom and not with might. Sadly, the description is not the description of most rulers.  The Messiah was not sent to be a mighty tyrant or warrior king, He was sent to seek and to save that which was lost.

Looking back at the coming of the Lord, He truly divided time and taught peace and unity.  He changed the world by reminding us that to be first–one must get to the back of the line.  The great should act with the most humility, and the leaders should be the most selfless servants. 

Then and now, His people are to be the ones to lead the nations to a right knowledge of God and draw them to God not push them away.  Make no mistake, God is all knowing and all powerful. He brings up nations and then takes them down.  He allows men the ability to destroy themselves–but desires most to restore and unify them.  Jesus, the shoot of Jesse, waits to be the change agent; if we will simply trust and follow Him.  Let’s Pray for revival for ourselves, our families, and our nation.

God Bless You


A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
    with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
    with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
    and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
    their young will lie down together,
    and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
    and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 

Real Faith Is Seen and Not Heard–James 1 Part 4

We are learning, as life goes on, that the labels we are given or that we stick to ourselves–do not define us nearly as much as what we do with our lives, our actions and our mouths.  This week has brought almost unbearable tragedy to families across the greater Houston area; and many are left literally with only the clothing on their backs.  But, the community, and people from across the country have, dived in and taken the opportunity to assist in any and every way possible.

As a part of the community of believers–it is clear, that we need to do more than be spiritual.  We need to provide assistance to the ones in need. We must get over our own frustration regarding the inconvenience of devastation to our lives, and focus on trying to relieve the pain and troubles of others. We need to listen intently to those who are hurting and say as little as possible. The church needs to quietly and humbly press forward to encourage, restore and release folks–to start fresh and follow God’s leading.

The most effective way to honor God is simply laying our personal baggage on the alter, and then living selflessly.  As we do–petty gossip, harsh language and tired grudges from past wrongs; all become obsolete and inappropriate.  The tireless, selfless and kind words and deeds–ring louder than a 500 person gospel choir and orchestra–in spotlighting the Lord and his impact on the world. 

 Pastor James knew that the best way to sustain the life of the church was for its people to live like Christ. He was wise to see that the words from our mouth and the behaviors of the day–act as the gauges to measure our true worth to those around us. Please help me, Lord–to honor you with my mouth and with my actions. Help me to keep you at center stage of my life.

God Bless You

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger[g] does not produce the righteousness[h] God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows.

I Samuel 22–When Life Loses Value

What happens when life no longer matters? That was the issue that faced Saul as he faced the priests that assisted David.  He had already committed to killing David—to attempt to keep what He had already lost. Once Saul started down that road, killing more became meaningless.  In a swift decision he ordered the deaths of God’s priests simply because they helped David. His men refused to kill God’s priests. They still saw the line…but Saul had allowed his personal desires and fears to obscure the value of life and so the line of being a ruler and being a killer.

In current culture, we struggle with similar issues. We have allowed our selfishness to color our perception of life’s value. The unborn, the poor, the sick and the elderly—once considered treasures to be protected and preserved are now considered inconvenient and obsolete.  We are more than willing to help unless it becomes a bother or a conflict in our schedules.  Like Saul, we try to gather and keep things we have no control or title to.  Jim Elliot, a missionary that was martyred in South America said it best, “He is no fool that trades what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Life holds great value—God knew that.  That is why he sacrificed the life of his soon to redeem the world. But, when we discount life’s value to the point that anything else becomes more important—we soon find Life totally loses its value. Help me Lord to always remember the value of life and especially the value of your life.

God Bless You

Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the Lord.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”