If The Times Of Blessing Are To Return To Us, We Must Return To The Lord.
Without Christ’s righteousness we are naked and ashamed. Sin brings shame. Before sin, there was nakedness without shame (Genesis 2:25). After sin, ‘they realized they were naked… and made coverings for themselves’ (Genesis 3:7). Spiritually, we are naked before the all-seeing eye of God (Hebrews 4:13). Christ says, ‘buy from me… white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness’ (Revelation 3:18). Do you want to enter God’s Kingdom? Make sure you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
We have been ‘earmarked’ as servants of the Lord (Deuteronomy 15:17). Being ‘earmarked’ for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3).
No one seems to be listening. What are we to do? We must remember God’s promise: ‘My Word will not return to Me empty’ (Isaiah 55:11). We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize – ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts…’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). We may be feeling very despondent – ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything’ (Luke 5:5). The Lord still comes to us with His Word of encouragement: ‘You shall go out with joy…’ (Isaiah 55:12). Before there is joy, there may be many tears. When there seems to be nothing but disappointments, we must remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy…’ (Psalm 126:5-6). We must not ‘judge before the time…’ (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Before we call upon the Lord, He calls out to us. He calls us to ‘seek Him and live’ (Amos 5:4). “Let the wicked forsake His way and the evil man his thoughts, Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon’ (Isaiah 55:6-7).
God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must return to the Lord.
Are you anxious about ‘an unpardonable sin’ ? Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the Saviour. Take your sin to Jesus, and let His ‘perfect love cast out your fear’ (1 John 4:17). Do you think you cannot be forgiven ? God’s thoughts are ‘higher’: ‘Return to the Lord… He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7).
For you, this may be God’s time. The Lord may never be so ‘near’ again. You are in ‘the valley of decision’: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Joel 3:14; Hebrews 4:7). There is still time – to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him. Here is a prayer you can pray: ‘Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!’ (Psalm 80:3,7,19).
Let Us Glory In God's Abundant Mercy. Let Us Magnify His Amazing Grace.
We look at God's way of salvation. We look at His call to service. We marvel at the wonder of His abundant mercy and His amazing grace. He leads us from strength to strength, assuring us day-by-day that His grace is all-sufficient - more than enough for every challenge we will face in our walk with Him and our work for Him.
Doing ‘what was evil in the sight of the Lord’, ‘the people of Israel’ brought themselves under God’s judgment (Judges 10:6-9). When Israel began to return to the Lord, He said to them, ‘Mean what you say’ (Judges 10:10-14). When they persisted with their confession of sin, He answered their prayer - ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted... In His love and in His pity He redeemed them’ (Judges 10:15-16; Isaiah 63:9). Saved by the Lord, let us glory in His abundant mercy.
God’s answer came in the shape of Jephthah, ‘a mighty warrior’, a man who ‘spoke all his words before the Lord’ (Judges 11:1,11). Thrust out by men (Judges 11:1-2), he was loved by the God of grace. Called to serve the Lord, let us magnify His amazing grace.
In the service of the Lord, we become deeply conscious of our own weakness. How are to receive strength from the Lord? Jesus emphasized the importance of praying with faith (Mark 11:24). We are to ‘ask in faith’, to pray ‘the prayer of faith’ (James 1:6; 5:15). We are also to pray ‘according to His will’ (1 John 5:14-15). God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He does not always answer our prayers in the way that we want. Sometimes, rather than changing our circumstances, He simply speaks His Word to us: ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Always, He ‘gives grace to the humble’ (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
Living for Christ is not easy. There are many times when things don't go according to plan - our plan. What are we to do when things are going badly? - Don’t forget God’s long-term purpose. He is preparing us for ‘eternal life’ (Matthew 19:29). Sometimes, we wonder what’s going on in our lives. We must remember that ‘God’s ways are higher than our ways’ (Isaiah 55:8). We must learn to look beyond our sufferings. They are ‘slight and short-lived’. We must look ahead to the ‘eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine’ (2 Corinthians 4:17).
We do not see all that God is doing. He is doing much more than we realize. God's Word lifts us out of the despondency of our own negative thinking. He lifts us of our defeatism and into the joy of His victory.
We look to the Lord to ‘give us seed (His Word)... that the land may not be desolate’ (Genesis 47:19; Mark 4:14; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 126:5-6). We ‘sow’. We ‘reap’. ‘God gives the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:6-7) !
We are to play our part in seeing that the praise of the Lord ‘reaches to the ends of the earth’. We are to ‘be glad’ in the Lord. We are to ‘rejoice’ in Him (Psalm 48:9-11). We must not keep this joy to ourselves. The Lord is ‘the joy of all the earth.’ We must share His joy. We are to ‘tell the next generation.’ How will they know if we do not tell them? Many are slow to come and worship the Lord. We must not be slow to witness for Him. Let’s remember God’s promise - ‘My Word...will not return to Me empty, but will...achieve the purpose for which I sent it’- and let’s say, ‘Here am I. Send me!’(Isaiah 55:11; Isaiah 6:8).