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.

I Samuel 15 part 2–I surrender Some

There is an old hymn that I sang as a child—I Surrender All, by J.W Deventer that always haunted me.  The Hymn is very straight forward and simply speaks of a walk with God that pictures complete surrender and the freedom that brings.  Sadly, as I compare that to my life, I find that rather challenging.  So did Saul. God’s command was clear.  Completely destroy the Amalekites, leave nothing alive.  Saul mostly destroyed the Amalekites, he kept the King and some of the livestock, but, the issue was not an issue of misunderstanding, it was an issue of Lordship.  This became obvious as Saul was building a monument to himself after the battle, it was also obvious as he told Samuel he kept livestock to sacrifice to the Lord “Samuel’s” God. God always looks at the heart, and Saul had made Saul lord of his life.

We often battle the same temptation.  We set out to follow the Lord and surrender to his leadership, but, somewhere on the way, we decide to amend God’s plan to benefit us –just a bit.  We think ourselves clever—we figure God will understand.  Sadly, the Lord does not take partial allegiance.  His throne only has one seat.  He is a gentleman—he will only take charge if invited to.  But, he will never condone partial surrender.  This journey has to be under his care and authority.  That allows God to provide and protect those in his family. If we only partially surrender, there can be no consistency and no real faith.  When circumstances get easier, then we reassert our Lordship—We do it our way.  As with Saul, God says, I cannot allow a shared throne, I neeed a leader that is seeking me with his heart.  As Joshua said—choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house—We will serve the Lord.

God Bless You

Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves[b] and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.

12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”

15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”

Matthew 19 part 2–Then Who in the World can be Saved

The rich young ruler came to Jesus with an absolutely sincere question—sadly, it was the wrong question.  Too often in our journey we ask the same wrong question—What can I DO to be saved.  The answer is and will always be the same.  Surrender and follow.  The young ruler was trying hard to do it right.  He came to the right person, he addressed the right issue BUT, he came unwilling to DO the one thing necessary for salvation.  SURRENDER. So many are willing to do church, do good deeds, avoid bad deeds and even seek the truth.  The problem lies in the fact that simple knowledge of the truth is not sufficient.  Jesus told the rich young ruler that he would be saved if he would walk away from the only thing he loved more than God—his wealth.

In our lives, Salvation will never come down to the list of things we do and avoid.  It will simply be a function of our faith that Jesus is Lord and our willingness to follow him.  For us to follow him, however, means we have to quit following the other God’s in our lives.  In Israel, God always became furious when the Israelites worshipped Him AND Baal, Him and Golden Calves, Him and Money, Him and Power. Him and sex. God wants complete allegiance.  He will not be your part time Lord.  Only when you surrender and allow him to be the leader all the time—will you begin to experience the freedom of salvation. We can never earn the gift of salvation.  We can accept it, we can enjoy it and we can rest in it.  We simply are not capable of achieving the holiness we need to face God without the cleansing that comes from surrendering our lives to him. Thank you Lord, for your Gift of Salvation and allowing me to enjoy it.

God Bless You

16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher,[f] what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[g] the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’[h]

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” 21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked