Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Very Loose Paraphrase of Isaiah 58

Isaiah, shout as loud as you can that my people are rebels who do nothing but walk in sin. They go about looking really religious. They look like a people that are really concerned about me and my desires. It’s all pretend. They’re hypocrites. Do you hear them praying their false prayers? They want people to see them calling out to me—but I promise you. It’s not for me they call.

Listen to them. It’s a mockery.

“Oh God. Don’t you see us down here? We are fasting and praying! You don’t seem to see how good we are. You are ingnoring us God. Why?”

Listen people. The reason I am ignoring your kind of fasting and prayer is because you are only concerned with your own pleasure. That is number one for you. You go to all this trouble to appear spiritual and it is not even about me! You fast and pray and as fast as you can you just go out fighting, trying to get your own way. Your attitudes toward one another have not changed. You are selfish people looking out for no one but number one. Even worse, you want me to treat you with grace and kindness and favor and just look at how you treat your workers. You’re filled with injustice.

Listen people. I am not going to hear you! I am not listening to that! My desire for you this—humble yourself before me. Get into your heads that I am God. I am your creator. It is me that chose you to be my people. My greatest desire is for you to know me and my ways and walk in the joy of them all! No more pretending. Just humility and honesty before me. That is what I am calling for today.

When you are fasting in humility before me, I want you to see your putrid sin. I want you to confess and repent from it. I will gladly forgive you and set you free from the wickedness that is binding you down. I will lift your burden when you come to me in that kind of attitude. You will be clean. Then, when you experience the cleanness of forgivenss, I am going to help you see the problems of people around you. I am going to fill you with a heart of love—just like I have for you—in order that you might go and serve those in need.

See the hungry man? Then here’s the power to be compassionate. Go feed him.

See the homeless man? You sin is forgiven. Now you can see his burden. Invite him into your house.

See the naked man? You’re free. Go to the store and buy him a new outfit.

There will be great joy in this service. And your joy will increase as you continue to be honest before me about the condition of your heart. No need to pretend. No need to act all goody-too-shoes. You can be honest and repentant and continue to receive the refreshing of my forgiveness. I hate hypocrisy. I love honesty and humility. Here, let me lift you up!

Do you need hope? Here it is.

Do you need healing? Here it is.

I love to give good gifts to you. I love to give myself to you. There is no need to keep pointing out the sin that everyone else is doing. Honestly, aren’t you just doing that to make yourself feel better?

Just keep on doing the good work I show you. Keep on feeding the hungry. Help those that are suffering from injustice and pain and sorrow. Be their friend. Be their advocate. You can risk doing that for them because that is exactly what I do for you. It is for your joy and my glory that you do such kind things for the broken people in this broken word. You shine out as a real life example of how things can be. You show the world that God is real and that He can be known.

When you live the humble life, filled with honost fasting and repentance and doing the good work I show you, guess what? I will fill your life with light. Even in the times when you feel sad, your will overflow with joy and contentment. I am for you and with you. I am going to make you strong. I will care and water you life just like a master gardner cares for his most prized rose bushes. You are going to be like a flowing spring of fresh water that never stops flowing. All the sin has been forgiven. My spirit will flow unhindered in your life.

The places in your life that have been destroyed—I will rebuild them!

The generations that come from you—they will have a strong and godly foundation because of your humility before me!

Do you know what people will call you? That is the one who brings healing around here! People will say, “If it is broken, we can trust him! We can trust her! They are people of God! God is one there side! They make our neighborhood and city better! Because of them we know God!”
Oh precious people. Keep walking in honor before me. On the Lord’s Day, take time to forget what you want and remember what I want. Seek my face. Seek my word. Seek my ways. Do good. Serve and help people who need it. Here’s what is going to happen. Your delight in me will keep on growing and my delight in you will keep on growing.

You will go higher and farther and wider than you ever thought possible. My blessing will be so rich and heavy on you that even when you do sin, you will thirst for repentance that you might continue to walk in the goodness of my blessing. I will restore all that has been lost. I give you a faithful foundation on which to live and build generations to come.

Listen. I promise!

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