Isaiah 58

As I read this chapter in Isaiah, I could not help but think of our nation, our people, and the church. Like all of scripture, we can apply this chapter to our lives today. It’s a good “self-check” and offers points of prayer as we seek God on behalf of our families, communities and nation. May God’s church kneel down in prayer and stand up for God.Isaiah 58

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

This says it all. Amen.

Joy and Happiness {3.2.17}

I heard it said once that happiness comes from happenings. I think for the most part that’s true, don’t you? A lot of things/circumstances/happenings make us feel happy. Maybe it’s a surprise birthday party when you didn’t think anyone knew or cared. Maybe it’s a new baby that has long been awaited. Maybe it’s the first flowers of spring or sunshine after many cloudy days. Maybe it’s a hug from a friend. Perhaps it’s a valentine from your sweetheart or an unexpected surprise visit from someone you haven’t seen in a while. Many things bring about happy thoughts. And yes, those do kind of revolve around happenings. happinessI believe that I am mostly a happy person. I love life and I love people. Small things make me smile. I’m easily amused. That does not mean however that I don’t have sad times or even the rare angry times. And, those certainly do relate to happenings.

Happiness though can never replace true joy. A circumstance in a friend’s life brought the differences into the light. Several years ago my friend’s husband died. She certainly was not happy about his death. Oh, she knew he was in heaven and that blessed her but still – she missed him terribly. Her life on earth was never going to be the same. But, she had a relationship with Jesus and that’s where true joy of the spirit and soul comes from. Unfortunately, an acquaintance of hers said something to her one day to the effect of “how can you be happy and just go on with life so easily”? Well, I can tell you – it was not easy and it wasn’t happiness that she was exhibiting, it was the joy of the Lord. That was her strength. What a testimony she was to me during that time. I saw the difference.joy

I have another very dear friend who has endured much heartache in her life, more than I can imagine. However, she is one of the most joyful people I know. She lives out the joy of the Lord and the fullness of life to overflowing that God tells us is possible in Christ Jesus. I love to be with her and so do others. She inspires me.

Isaiah 49:13 – “Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

Romans 12:12 – “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 15:13 –  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” joy-john-15-11

Life is full of positives and negatives, good and evil. However, our attitude can turn our frowns into smiles. God makes all the difference!

Psalm 16:11 – “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 119:111 – “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”

Let’s spread a little happiness and joy today as we truly love one another.

Happiness comes from happenings. JOY COMES FROM JESUS.