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Monday, October 30, 2017

2017.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 58:1-12

Questions for Littles: What does v1 say Isaiah is to be telling God’s people and the house of Jacob? Whom does v2 say that they seek daily? What does v2 say that they delight to know? What does v2 say that they ask of God? Whom does v2 say that they take delight in approaching? What questions do the people ask in v3? What does v4 say are the reasons that they were fasting? What were they trying to make happen? What does v5 say that they did to their souls when they fasted? What did they do to their heads? What does v6 say that God wants their fasts to be like? What does v7 say they should do as a result of their fasts? To whom should they bring their bread? Whom should they bring into their house? What should they do for the naked? If their fasts are like this, what does v8 say will break forth like the morning? What will spring forth speedily? What will go before them? What will be their rear guard? Upon whom does v9 say they will call? What will He do? To whom will they cry? What will the Lord say when they cry? What does v9 say are three things that people who trust in and worship God will take away? To whom does v10 say they will extend their souls? Whom will they satisfy? What does v10 say will then come into the darkness? And what will their darkness be like? Whom does v11 say will guide them continually? Who will satisfy their souls as in drought? Who will strengthen their bones? What does v11 say they will be like? What does v12 say they will rebuild? What will they raise up? What will they be called?
In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we heard about false religion that thinks God owes us for making ourselves miserable by obeying Him. Such religion treats worship and obedience as miseries that we endure so that God will be satisfied with what we do.

Doesn’t it frighten you, dear Christian, that these people sought God daily, and delighted to know His ways, and asked from Him ordinances of justice, and took delight to approach Him (v2)… and yet the introduction to this entire chapter was a trumpet-blast announcement of their sin (v1)?

If such eagerness for worship, and zeal for learning, and commitment to obedience can be condemned by God as wicked, how can we tell by the fruit of our lives if we genuinely belong to God or not? Thankfully, our passage highlights a fruit that comes from false religion: driving others hard, accusing others, speaking wickedly (v9b). It turns out that if we consider God hard and demanding and uncaring with us (v5), requiring us to manipulate Him by what we do (v4), we will be hard and demanding and uncaring with others.

But the Lord has given us His worship and law generously, giving us that which is for good and for joy—to free us precisely from that sinful mindset that belongs to our natures (v6), and to turn around and be as merciful with others as God has been with us (v7).

What’s the great difference between the two kinds of religion? One says, “look what great things I have done for God!” (v3). The other says, “look what great things God has done for me!” (v9a).

Those who trust in the Lord and rejoice in His mercy and grace become those who are merciful and gracious with others (v7, v10). Their lives become abundant not by the impressiveness of their effort, but by the continual work of God’s grace in them (v8, 11). And God uses them to bring life and healing and strength to others (v12).  Isn’t that what you would like, dear Christian? Which religion is yours?
Does God’s goodness impress you into trusting Him and being good (as His grace helps you) to others? Or, do you find yourself trying hard to impress God with how good you are? Which of these two approaches to religion is being displayed in how you treat others?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness,” or HB368 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

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