July 23, 2014

Isaiah 58:8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

This chapter is a perfect example of glorious, conditional promises. People love verse 8, the first half of verse 9, verses 11 and 12, and verse 14, but they ignore the rest. What the Lord is saying through Isaiah here is that if we get our focus off of pleasing ourselves and instead concentrate on obedience to God and serving the needy around us, we will find more blessings than we could possibly gain by being self-centered. We are forever approaching things with the attitude of what’s in it for me, and God is saying that’s no way to get the blessings we really want and need. This problem actually goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden. Satan was successful in trapping Eve by getting her focus onto what seemed good to her flesh and her understanding, instead of on simple obedience to God. He pulls the same trick with us today all the time. The thing is, God is not at all adverse to blessing us. As Jesus said, He delights to give us His kingdom. (Luke 12:32) However, we aren’t going to be positioned to receive, recognize, and enjoy the kingdom of God if our focus is on ourselves. One of Jesus’ most famous teachings is in Matthew 6, and it’s really on exactly this point. After going through our fundamental physical needs for food and clothing, Jesus says we need to get our attention off of them and onto being and doing what God wants, and He promises that if we will do that, all of our needs will be met and we will get kingdom blessings as well. (Matthew 6:33)

It has become something of a catch phrase with me that selfishness never leads to happiness, but as much and as often as I say that to others, I sometimes forget it myself. Instead of really seeking God and what He wants for me, I build up images in my mind of what I want and need, and when those don’t seem to be happening I stress out. How foolish! God has more and better in store for me than I could dream up, but as long as I’m demanding that things be my way, as I see it, I won’t get God’s best. I am to be earnest in asking, seeking, and knocking, (Matthew 7:7) but I am to focus that on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, (Matthew 6:33) rather than on my physical pleasures.

Father, life on this earth in this body is constant training in this area. Help me not resent that, but rather rejoice that You are indeed transforming me from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29) May I be and do what You desire, sooner rather than later, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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