What was Christ’s most frequent emotion? It was compassion. That’s significant because we’re living through some of the most hostile, oppressive, and angry days of our history. What does God want from us in this unusual time we’re facing at the election season of 2020? One word, compassion. Our Almighty God is not prejudice. He is not unjust. He is not oppressive. Our great God has immense compassion for the poor, the orphans, the widows, the oppressed, the afflicted, and the outcast. God, we could say, has unchanging social compassion. God’s unchanging concern for His people is that we reflect, and support, and seek a just social treatment of fellow humans. It’s a constant theme in the scriptures from the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible; to the Prophets, the last 17 books of the Bible; all the way through the New Testament and everywhere in between God speaks with a consistent voice about His desire for justice, for mercy, and for compassion.
So, how can we most reflect Christ to our lost world? That’s the title of this lesson. We’re on lesson 13. How can we, each of us individually, meet you? If you’re a believer, most reflect Christ to our lost world. That takes us to two very crucial scriptures in the Old Testament. Isaiah 58 and verse 6, get your Bible and follow along with me. As we go there, we’re going to look at the way that God said we could cultivate at all times, compassion in our lives. Isaiah 58, verse 6. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the 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 cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily.” Isaiah 58 is the key passage for understanding how God wants us to be compassionate, and how we can most reflect Christ’s love to the world, and how we can keep that sensitivity to God.
Now the other passage is right here. You all know this by heart, but I’ll go there anyway. John 13 and verse 35 says, Jesus says in 34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” And here it is, verse 35. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love for one another, compassion.
Now look down at your slides. That’s what we’re looking at. How can we most reflect Christ’s love to the world? This is the 13th class, on compassion, how we can best reflect Christ’s love. We’re going to be looking at Isaiah 54 to 58.
The next slide, Isaiah 54 talks about Israel, the restored wife. Now this is God teaching us something that most of us don’t think about. Take your Bible, go to Isaiah 54, and I’m going to just point out three or four verses. Verse 4, the Lord says to Israel, “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; you will forget the shame of your youth.” Now, what’s He talking about? God considered Israel, His wife. In fact, Jeremiah the prophet said, He gave Israel a certificate of divorcement when she was unfaithful to Him and then He took her back. That shame of her sin is what we see in verse 4. The shame of her youth, “the reproach of your widowhood.” Basically, the reason, now remember what we are in here, in Isaiah, is God has already said in chapter 39, they’re going away into exile because of their sin. Because of their unfaithfulness. He is throwing them out of the house for a while, but He’s going to bring them back. The glories of the future kingdom that are all throughout this section from 40 to 66 are something to look forward to, as Israel is going through these troubles.
Verse 5, it says, “For your Maker is your husband.” See, Israel was married to the Lord. “The Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” So, the future is, “He is called the God of the whole Earth.” He has this plan. So, you see, look back at the slides, that Israel is a restored wife and that the Lord has promised them restoration.
Next slide. Starting in chapter 55, we’re going to go through all the descriptions of the promises of Isaiah 53, salvation worked out. So, go to Isaiah 55 with me and let’s just walk through these points. You take your Bible and notice what the first word is, of chapter 55. It says “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread.” Basically, he says everyone. Now think about this, the Servant, Isaiah 53 My Servant, the Servant’s redemptive work and glorious kingdom is open to all who will come.
Do you see why Isaiah 55 and 54 we just saw, and going on through, is so vital? It’s what we saw in 53, that the gospel’s going global to us. The prophet invites his readers to participate in the benefits obtained by the suffering Servant in chapter 53 and described in chapter 54. No money, see you can’t earn salvation. Do you remember Isaiah 53? That the ultimate question is how do you get right with God? Because no one can justify themselves. No one can merit. So, the Lord says come with no money.
Now look at verses 6 and 7. I love this, 55:6. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Think about that verse. It’s the clearest Old Testament invitation to salvation now and future kingdom of God and Heaven’s blessing in the future, the clearest. It’s probably also the best example of how people were saved in the Old Testament period. How did people before the cross receive salvation? See, understand that here’s the cross, here we are today 2000 years after this was written, 700 years before the cross. So, how were people saved back here? You all know the answer, right? The same way they’re saved here. Think about it. When did Christ die? Right here. When was that? 2000 years ago. So, that means when I call in the name of the Lord here, I have to believe that a past event; because how many times did Jesus died on the cross? Once. Isaiah 53. He gave Himself, the offering, His stripes, His punishment, His substitution. Once and for all on that cross.
So, I look back. I did look back, when I called the name of the Lord as the gospel is prepared and presented to me. They said, would you like to… my mother asked me; would you like, Johnny, to ask the lord to forgive you? I said, yes. She said, I want you to remember He died on the cross for you. Now to my little mind back then, 2000 years was a long time, but I just knew it was a long time ago. So, I looked back. What did they do? They look forward. See, on the basis of Isaiah 53, the promise of this substitute, this Lamb of God, this person you would look forward and say, I trust that what you’re going to do for me to take away my sins. That’s no different than me saying, looking back and saying, I believe that what you did on the cross will pay the price for my sin.
So, back to verses 6 and 7. Think about it. Salvation, grace, and mercy were available to the soul that was willing to, number one, seek the Lord. See what it says in verse 6 and 7? “Seek the Lord,” “Call upon on Him while He is near,” still available. Then at that instant, they receive a complete pardon. How? Because their sin is covered by the substitute that was coming, just like my sin and your sin is covered by the substitute who came. Everyone throughout all the ages has been saved the same way, either looking forward or looking back.
Do you remember the serpent, the original example of salvation, Moses? Here’s the camp of Israel, which by the way, if you know anything about having 600,000 families camping with their animals and everything, the camp of the Israelites in the wilderness probably measured about seven miles by seven miles. That’s how much space was needed. Go on Google and get an average campsite and have 3 million people in one campsite. You would have at least 50 square miles in that. That’s just packing them in there. What did Moses do when the serpents, remember those fiery serpents were killing people all through the camp in Numbers 21 and people were dying everywhere. What did Moses do? God instructed him to make this brass serpent, a picture of sin, lifted up on a pole. So, he lifted up this picture of Christ, this snake on a pole. You say how do you know it’s a picture of Christ? Because John 3 says, even “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” That’s what Jesus told Nicodemus. That He was portrayed in the Old Testament by the serpent lifted up.
How did people get over their snakebite to death? Here’s someone. Let’s just take this campsite. They were on the outside, the snakes got them first. Dad is foaming at the mouth, starting to be paralyzed by the snake venom and someone runs, some cousin or uncle runs, and says Moses has put up a serpent in the corner right by the tabernacle. Right here in the heart of the camp there’s a snake on the pole. They say, I can’t get there and they’re dying. He says no, Moses said just look. Look toward the serpent lifted up on the pole. It’s three and a half miles away. Do you think that guy saw, the man dying of venom from a fiery servant, do you think he saw that tree with a brass snake attached to it? No. What did he do? He looked toward it, believing it was there by faith. He trusted that this offering lifted up, an act of faith, would solve his imminent death.
There’s nothing different. That is the illustration Jesus uses for salvation. This is the same everybody past, present, in the future, all look toward a substitute before the cross, back at the substitute after the cross. Keep reading in Isaiah 55. The sin of anyone who would look back in faith or forward, and faith was covered by the substitution of the Messiah in his place. That’s Isaiah 53. That’s the Old Testament pattern of salvation illustrated.
Now look at verse 7. Again, what it says, “Let the wicked,” what? “Forsake.” An integral part of seeking the Lord is turning from sin. What’s that called in the New Testament? Repenting. Repenting is a change of mind that leads to change of behavior. If you’re not willing to repent, Jesus said, then you really don’t want salvation. Now, repentance is granted by God and it’s energized by God, but it begins with, I want. It’s a change in my attitude towards Him. Look back at your slides. So that’s the provision of salvation beautifully illustrated.
Now in Isaiah 58, what we’re going to see is God’s purpose for fasting. Look with me at again at verse 6, Isaiah 58. Turn your Bibles to verse 6. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen.” Isaiah 58 is God’s purpose for fasting. What is God’s purpose for fasting?
Keep looking at the slide. In the Old Testament we can see that biblical fasting was an urgent call to get serious about knowing God. Look up, do you see the intensity of what it says here? This is a fast I’ve chosen “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens.” This was a significant call by God to these people to get serious, look back at the slide, to get serious about knowing what God wanted.
Next slide, in the New Testament. See some of you were thinking, oh this is so interesting, we’re studying Isaiah, but it really doesn’t apply to me today. Oh, in the New Testament we see biblical fasting was an ancient, spiritual discipline to reschedule my life with God at the center. Instead of having dining at the center; or relaxing at the center; or amusing myself with games, and videos, and music; and recreation; or accumulating, always trying to use every moment on Robin Hood to do trades and earn more money; or advancing myself; or getting more secure; and a multitude of other things that aren’t wrong – they’re just deadly to intimacy with God.
Now look up. Think about what the Lord is saying. The Lord is saying that fasting… by the way, what is fasting? When I teach about fasting, biblical fasting, in fact on our website I taught about 15 or 20 lessons on biblical fasting if you’re really wanting to get into something you can go to the website you see there, discoverthebook.org. Look that up, it’s called biblical fasting. But what is fasting? Just a simple description of it is, fasting is to deny yourself; praying is to seek God.
Do you remember how? When there was this demonized boy, and Jesus was up on the mount of transfiguration and the disciples were waiting for Him. Someone dumped this demonized boy at their feet. He was riving and thrashing. They couldn’t do anything. They didn’t know how to get the demon out of him. Jesus looked at them, do you remember all this in the gospels? And said, “this kind goeth not out but by prayer” and what? “Fasting.” Jesus assumed the disciples would be fasting. Look at this in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:16. Jesus, didn’t say if you ever fast, you don’t have to, it’s probably nothing you’ll ever do. He said. “When you fast.” See, fasting was assumed by Christ that His followers would practice this ancient, spiritual discipline that reorders our life with God back at the center.
How does that work? I deny myself, then I seek God. See, most of us… we have this top shelf. This is my top shelf. Top shelf means everything else is below it. When we get saved through Jesus, we are so excited, He’s the top shelf. He saved us. He forgave us. Our lives are new. We’re forgiven. We have a new beginning and like a baby we only have a future, not a past. All those truths, we’re justified. We have our job, and we have our fun, and we have our family, and we have amusements, we have our electronic devices, and guess what? Slowly other things are on the same shelf. It’s not they’re more important than Jesus, they’re equally. How do I know that? Test yourself. Do you spend more time online, gaming, music-ing, movie-ing, music video-ing, social media doing, posting, instagramming, and Facebooking; than you do growing and knowing the God of the universe. That is just putting other things on the same shelf.
See, none of us would say that my iPhone, or my galaxy 500 is more important than Jesus. We would be laughed at. People would laugh at us, even unsaved people would say, your phone’s more important than Jesus? But we make it as important. I just spoke, Bonnie and I flew into an airport, we were meeting 250 missionaries. They were all young couples. They were in their twenties and thirties. They were going to the largest unevangelized country on Earth. They were going in a unique way and it was amazing what they were going to do. They asked me to address them at the airport before they launched. They said, would you talk to them about Bible study, devotions, scripture memory, and stuff like that? I said why? They said, well… I said, these are full-time missionaries? They said, yeah. Fully supported missionaries but they’re relatively all new at this and we want you as an old timer to challenge them. I said, okay. So, the first thing I did when they sat down, I said it takes 72 hours to read the Bible. These were 250 religious professionals; they’re all sitting out there. I said, all of you that have read every word of the Bible raise your hand. Guess what? Full time, headed to the darkest most demonized country on Earth, not even half of them had read the whole Bible.
I said okay, everybody take out a piece of paper. It scared them. They thought they were taking a quiz. I said, write on a piece of paper how much time you spent this week on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, video games, movies, just texting and all that. I said, just estimate. They’d say, oh man, I spent half hour, no, an hour a day. So, seven hours a week on that – snapchat, on not that much – Instagram. Then the men said, oh, video games. Yeah, I play once a week with my buddies. Oh, we have date night, movie night. Social media, oh at least an hour a day. So, they added that up nine, 13, 19, 26 hours a week. I said, okay. Let’s go back. How many of you have read the whole Bible through? Not even half. I said, it takes 72 hours to read the whole Bible. You spend 26 hours a week, or whatever their total was, I said how about this? How about saying; God, I’m going to give you an hour out of Facebook, I’m going to give you an hour out of Snapchat, and an hour out of Instagram, or whatever. I’m going to start reading the Bible. It only takes 15 minutes a day to read the whole thing. Half hour, you read it twice a year. You see, how other things have gotten on the top shelf? They’re not more important than Jesus, they’re just as important.
Back to your slides. In the New Testament, we see biblical fasting was an ancient, spiritual discipline to reschedule my life with God at the center. We get rid of other things that aren’t wrong, like everything on that list. They’re just deadly to intimacy with the Almighty.
In the early church of Acts, the book of Acts and the epistles, we see demonstrated that this hunger for God, that’s what fasting is… it’s hungering for God by denying myself… shaped their lives, their ministry, their worship, their outreach. In the early church, we see biblical fasting was a powerful way to yield every part of my life to God’s supremacy.
What’s the conclusion? Right there, biblical fasting is an immediate way to declare your allegiance to God’s way and glory in every day of your life. How do we do that?
Next slide Isaiah 58, God explains fasting. God explains social compassion. God says this will impact our worldview.
How? Because we learn how to have compassion like Jesus. Which is reflecting God’s love. Now look up, what was Christ’s most frequent emotion? When we read the gospels, and I have the New Testament right here, there are 89 chapters in the Gospel. So, when we read those 89 chapters, we find out what Jesus was like. So, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John have 89 chapters. As you read it, you find out all about Jesus, what He did. There are by the way, the 89 chapters record 250 events. Isn’t that interesting? Okay. If you add up all the different events, from blind Bartimaeus, Zacchaeus, the death, the burial, the resurrection, the first communion, the triumphal entry. Those are all events. There are only 250 events in the life of Christ. Of all of those events, there are only 52 days of His life chronicled, in all the gospels. When you read the gospels, if you look at His emotions, do you know what His most frequent emotion was? Compassion. The Greek word, it’s the word splagchnizomai, which means right here in your stomach, it’s a visceral term. It means deep seated feeling. Back to your slide. Compassion is when we, like Jesus, reflect God’s love.
God speaks about how He wants us to reflect that love in Isaiah 58.
What we’re going to do is, look here, I have pages right out of my Bible because I want to show you how, as I studied this passage with you, it just touched my heart, what the Lord talked about. It says, “It is a fast I’ve chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?” “To bow down his head,” “to spread out sackcloth.” “Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?”
Then right here at verse 6, this now God describes what biblical fasting means to Him. Biblical fasting involves me having God’s heart to see wickedness not prevailing in my life and the life of those around me. For me to see heavy burdens that people are carrying around undone from their lives. To see people oppressed by all kinds of oppressions to be liberated. The yolk, the bondage, to be broken. So, that’s what all of this is about. Bondage broken to all kinds of things. Think about it. Sexual bondage, fear bondage, bad habits broken, emotions, all kinds of stuff.
Verse 7, “to share your bread with the hungry.” God says, now wait a minute and look up, all of us experience this. We’re driving along and all of a sudden… will work for food, out of work, please give. You see some of those signs and they’re all so nicely lettered. You drive far enough; you see they all look alike that. Slowly we get desensitized to all these people. Homeless, poor, out of work, whatever they are, that are holding up those little signs. Now, thankfully part of God’s plan for me is I’m married to someone that has such a tender heart, Bonnie Marie. She can’t go by any of them. In fact, Bonnie secretly is collecting dollar bills and gets gospel tracks and get some together. If we’re anywhere near in the car, the edge. She’ll say, honey, can you and I go? I’m going to… I know what you’re thinking… and she’ll get her window down. As soon as we get up there, she’ll say, I’m giving you this in Jesus’ name; there’s some money short term, but the Bible, the gospel track will impact you forever. Why does she do that? Because her heart reflects Christ’s compassion. Her heart deeply feels for people that are in bondage.
Look back at the slide. Do you think about sharing your bread with the hungry? Do you ever bring into your house the poor that are cast out the homeless house? Did you know my parents when I grew up, I can’t believe it. We lived in a house so small that all three of us kids lived in one room and it wasn’t much more than about this size. They had a trundle bed. You know what a trundle bed is? A trundle bed is, it was a top bunk where my sisters were, my oldest sister was and then a little mattress pulled out. Then below that in a drawer, the bottom drawer pulled out and that was my mattress. In a space from here to here, there were three little, tiny mattresses and we just all trundled in our little beds in one room. My parents had the other room and there was a bathroom right there. The dining room, living room was right there. That was the whole house. Do you know who my parents would always invite over? When we would go to the rescue mission, which we went once a week and ministered, we would wash the dishes or serve the meals or whatever they needed because my parents wanted to help in our town and express Christ’s love. If there was someone the mission director said, Merle, had graduated from the program and doesn’t have anywhere to go, my dad would say, oh, we’ll take them. I was just a little guy. I’d go, where will he stay? Did you know, many times I slept on the floor and snoring in my drawer was some guy from the rescue mission. Or missionaries would come to our church and my parents, when they said the missionary needs a place to stay, my mom’s arm was on the way up before they even finished the question. And who slept on the floor and who slept in my bed? Look back at the slide. Do you have a desire to bring into your house those who are needy? Do you want to clothe those who don’t have food and raiment, and not hide yourself from those that are humans that are needy?
Next slide. Here’s God’s plan. See, I wrote it right in my Bible. I love to remind myself God’s plan for powerful personal ministry, meditate on these things. God says, if you get this compassion, this fasting, denying yourself we just read about verse 8, “your light will break forth like the morning.” Your darkness will be lighted, I wrote in my notes. “And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer. You will cry, and He’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ ‘If you take away the yoke from your midst.’ “ That’s no prejudice, “the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness.” This is racial slurs and denigration, and all the pride of that racial prejudice brings. “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light will dawn in the darkness, and your darkness will be as the noonday.”
Verse 11, and “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought.” “You’ll be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water.” This is oasis living, you’ll build up if you have a godly heritage. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,” the rest and peace God promised, the Sabbath a delight.
Let’s look up from this, because now we’re going between the Jewish commands, the law they were to keep and the spiritual application of it. Basically, what the Lord is saying is, I want to be on the top shelf of your life. I want you to have a life that has room for people. Fasting is denying self. The Sabbath is not a command to worship on Saturday for us, because the Lord’s day is Sunday. The only one of the 10 commandments Jesus never repeated was the fourth. About remembering the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. What the Sabbath is, is that there is supposed to be room for God. See, that’s the true rest. That we make room for Him. That we are not overloaded. That we’re not so full of everything, that people say I just don’t have time to read the Bible. I don’t have time to memorize. I don’t have time to pray. You have time for everything else. Do you remember the 72 hours to read the Bible? How much time are you spending on, Instagram? We have time for whatever we want. God says the Sabbath means; you make room for me. You get in a cycle that has rest, which comes from worshiping the Lord on the Lord’s day. Setting aside the normal things of life to focus on Him. See, this whole passage is not just law for the Jews, but principles that we see in the New Testament. We see a whole life cycle in the New Testament church that had room for God.
Back to our slides. God wants us to be compassionate. That’s the bottom line of everything we just read. God wants us to reflect His compassion. I would summarize it this way, in Isaiah 58:6-12 we find that God explains what He wishes to see happening inside of us. See, Christianity is a transformation, not of our externals, it’s not what we were and what we look like. It’s what God is doing inside of us. What does He want to do inside of us? As we live and work in a sin-stained society, He wants us to not get hardened or insulated. Hardened, you see it so much you don’t care. Insulated, you never see it because you stay 50 miles away from every known sin. No, we can’t get hardened or insulated to the needs of fellow humans around us.
The first impact God wants to have on our lives through fasting is to stir a need in our life to help the needy people living around us, in the darkness of sin. We get hungry to minister to them. How does it happen? As soon as we deny ourselves, as soon as I say no. I’m under grace. I have Liberty. I can watch television as long as it’s not occultic, or gratuitous violence and bloodshed, or any kind of immorality, or suggestive things. Now, those are all sin but all the rest you can watch. Tiny, the new Disney series of all the little creatures, or you can watch Planet Earth, and, or you can watch some magnificent sports event, or whatever. It’s not sin, but it doesn’t make me hunger to be compassionate like Christ. It just entertains, and amuses, and rests me, and takes up my time. God wants me to never get hardened or insulated. The first impact God wants to have in our lives through fasting is, stirring a longing for the needy people living around us in the dark.
God says the pagans, the lost, are sitting on the edge of a precipice, blind, in the dark and they don’t even know where they’re going, and I do. I want to come and share with them. How do we do that? Back at your slides? God wants His compassionate. What does He want?
Number one, God desires us to seek biblical deliverance for people captivated by enslaving sins around us, by telling them the gospel. That’s what we read in verse 6.
Number two, God desires us to seek to feed the needy and hungry around us by showing them Christ’s love and compassion. That’s in verse 7.
Number three, God wants us to seek shelter for the homeless and the unprotected around us by showing Christ’s love to them and His compassion. Remember we’re supposed to be the hands and the feet of Christ.
Number four, God desires us to seek to never get calloused or indifferent for the oppressed around us by maintaining Christ’s love and compassion. That’s what we read in verse 7.
The Lord wants us, look the next one, number five, to seek to refuse prejudice in any form around us. We need to say all lives matter and we are opposed to prejudice. We will treat others in the way of Christ’s love and compassion, Jesus always displayed towards sinners. That’s verse 9.
Number six, God seeks and desires for us to display Christ’s love for the poor, the needy, the outcasts, and the afflicted in society. That is verse 10.
Next slide. How do we apply a biblical worldview, this love and compassion? How do we do that? Look up for a second. Let me share just a challenge to you. Jesus saved us to live for Him in our corner of the world. There’s something, there’s someone there, there are a group of people that only I will come in contact with, that God wants me to reach. That’s amazing to think about. Did you know every morning when I get up, I think about who am I going to, as I walk in the Spirit today, who am I going to reflect Christ’s love to? One of the things I do is take a tract, a gospel tract, pray over it and say, Lord, who will you make a divine appointment with me to share this with? How can I raise the flag and let someone know that I’m a believer? Even yesterday, Bonnie and I were at an appointment that we had. We were sitting there, and I could tell, both of us, we were being polite to the person that we were meeting with and they were doing their job really well, but both of us were trying to figure out how we’re going to bring Jesus Christ into the conversation. How do we do that? Jesus saved us to live for Him in our corner of the world. He called us to become salt and light in the world in which we live. Salt speaks of spreading the healing and life-giving work of the gospel, that’s what we’re supposed to do.
Look back at your slides. So, how do we apply this? It says in Acts 13:36 that. At salvation each of us were designed by God to impact the world around us. Now look up and go with me to Acts 13 and verse 36. One of my favorite verses. It’s the most talked about person in the Bible, it’s David. Do you remember David is mentioned in 141 chapters of the Bible. Look how God describes David’s life. This is how we should think of our life. Verse 36, “David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.” Served God’s purpose in his own generation. Do you understand? God has a purpose for me in this generation. Part of what I’m doing right now is fulfilling, that He gifted and called me to teach His word. The world got shut down by COVID-19, so friends taught me how to set up a virtual studio and keep the classes going in East Asia and everywhere else. Back at your slides, at salvation, each of us were designed by God to impact the world around us.
The next slide, salt speaks of us spreading the healing, life giving work of the gospel. You should tell people about Christ. You should buy some tracts and share them. Light speaks of us shining Christ, by the way we live. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life in this world of darkness when we follow Him.
We are supposed to live the rest of our lives serving God. What does it look like?
Think about the pattern early believers were known for their love, patience, endurance, and compassion. What did the early believers do? If you read history, church history, they rescued orphans, they took in the helpless, they fed and clothed the needy. Wherever they lived life was better around them.
Next slide, they were different. Did you know that’s one of the things we can do? Just be different by being hopeful, by being joyful. They were real people. They struggled through life like everyone else, but they had a contagious hope. How did they have that contagious hope?
Compassionate people just reflect Christ’s compassion. How can we do that?
In this sin parched world, we are supposed to be overflowing with the Spirit of God, as He generates streams of living water within us. It doesn’t come unless we deny ourselves, that’s what the fasting is in this sin darkened world. We’re supposed to reflect the light of the world who lives within us. It doesn’t happen if everything else is on the same shelf. In this sin cursed world and starving world we’re to share the bread of life with all around us. He lives within us.
So, God promises 10 blessings to His followers. Now, take your Bibles again, look at chapter 58. Before we go, we just have a couple of minutes in this class period left, but Isaiah 58, let me read to you again the blessings. The blessings of what? The blessings of denying ourselves, the blessings of seeking God, the blessings of learning to fast. People always ask me; can you give us a diet? This is not about dieting. It’s not about weight loss. It’s not for your cholesterol. This is denying myself. I deny myself coffee. I deny myself being online. There are many ways you can fast. It’s just, whatever is denying yourself. Here are the blessings that come, starting in verse 8.
“Your light will break forth like morning.” Our darkness is lighted.
“Your healing will spring forth.” Our bodies are strengthened.
“Your righteousness shall go before you.” Righteousness overflows in our life. People, I’ve had people say, could you explain to me why you act like that? Bonnie and I, we’ve had people walk up to our table and say, we saw you, you just had peacefulness, could you tell us why. The Lord blesses.
“The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Our lives are overshadowed by His protection.
You can just read the rest of this. Look at your slides, God promises 10 blessings. Read all the way through verse 12. It only comes to those following Him.
So, each of these blessings are just a reflection of Christ living in us. Of Christ shining through us. Of Christ flowing out of us. It isn’t us. It’s never about us. The question is, is Christ reflecting His love through you.
Next slide, that’s how we can most reflect Christ. How can we most reflect Christ to our world? Look up, that’s our lesson, that’s our challenge. It’s by inviting Christ’s compassion.
Let’s pray and invite His compassion into our lives.
Father in Heaven, I thank you for Isaiah. I think he was a faithful prophet. I thank you, that you inspired him. You breathed out through him chapter 58. Lord, I pray that we would deny ourselves, that we would look at everything else that’s on the same shelf with you and start saying no. I want to reorder and reschedule and recalibrate my life with you at the center, you as most important. That will reflect in my time in your word, that will reflect in my time in prayer. That will cause compassion because I can’t be close to you without feeling your heart for this needy world. I will begin to actively be a light, be a salty influence to all around me. That’s our prayer. Energize us Lord Jesus to reflect you. We pray in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people said, Amen.