Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
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.
I am familiar with virtually every verse of this chapter set to music, in one song or another. I quote verse nine frequently, as well as verse 11. However, this morning it is this section that resonates in me most strongly. As I mentioned on the 25th, on Sunday the 23rd the subject came up of people who don’t think they are worthy of salvation. It was mentioned in the testimony before the message by someone who had no idea what I was speaking on, and it was already in my sermon notes. As I said then, anyone who is worried about it is already ripe for salvation! However, repentance is essential. As it says here, we need to be willing to forsake our wicked ways and our evil thoughts. The devil tells us we are incapable of doing that, but he’s a liar as always. If that is our desire and our commitment, God will enable us! We really have a lot of trouble with both God’s absolute purity and His deep, abundant mercy and forgiveness. If He weren’t so pure and holy, sin wouldn’t be such an issue. However, He is, and sin is a huge issue. If that were all there is, then mankind would be totally hopeless, but fortunately, God is incredibly merciful and forgiving. Just how much? He sent His Son to take the penalty for our sin, so that by faith we might receive life. (John 3:16) The issue is our response, our appropriating the mercy and forgiveness God offers. We’re back to repentance, the decision to forsake that which is not right in God’s eyes. Distance is a strange thing when it comes to God, since He is infinite, so we can be rightly said to exist in Him, (Acts 17:28) but at the same time the Bible speaks many times of God being “near” or “far” from one person or another. I think those distances are subjective, related to our perception of God. God is always right there, if we will only open our heart to perceive Him. We don’t need to shout to call on Him!
I have experienced this countless times, because I have slipped up and needed to repent countless times! My danger is in taking God’s mercy and forgiveness for granted, since I know it’s so abundant. That would be spitting in God’s face! I am strongly aware that I am a deeply flawed individual, but then we all are, and God still loves us. It is my privilege to share God’s love with others, and I must never take that lightly. I must be quick to forgive, since I need to be forgiven! (Matthew 6:14-15) Japanese culture has very little understanding of either love or forgiveness, so it can be very challenging. However, every culture has its weaknesses, so I’m not to complain. God has demonstrated that He can get through to people through me, so I’m to keep myself available at all times, so that as many as will may repent and believe for their salvation, for God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for this magnificent chapter in this magnificent book in Your magnificent Bible. Help me indeed live out Your Word, allowing it to flow through me to accomplish everything for which You send it, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!