Daily Devotion for August 3, 2017

'Giving Out'

Isaiah 58: 1-11 NLT
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about Me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near Me. ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’
 
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with Me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord?
 
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
 
THEN your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. When you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply.
 
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
 
(Not sure of the source for the following commentary on Isaiah 58, but it came from a trusted Farmer:)
 
All too often, Christians in our culture can become narcissistic and self-absorbed, always talking about their needs and problems. Meanwhile, there are people facing a certain judgment...
 
God addressed this problem in Isaiah 58, where His people were complaining of spiritual dryness, deadness, and unanswered prayer, even though they were observing outward ordinances like prayer and fasting. God said, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:6-7). The passage goes on to say, “THEN your salvation will come like the dawn...The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (verses 8,11). Effectively, God was saying, “Though you are doing all of these outward things, you have become too focused on yourselves. All you are thinking about is yourself. Here's what I have asked you to do: Reach out to other people. And then when you get your priorities right, your soul will be like a watered garden, and I will satisfy your soul in dryness.”
 
What a wonderful promise. The key is giving outIf you are generous in giving out what God has given you, He will replenish you in the process. We as believers have a choice: 1) give out or stagnate, 2) evangelize or fossilize, 3) give out what God has given to us or hoard it, stagnate, and miss out on being used by Him.
 
Beloved, what's your choice?

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