Is going to the Lord with something the first thing you do…or is it only after you’ve exhausted all other options? Do you seek His presence at the beginning of a situation, or at the end when all your hope is gone? It’s all a matter of timing, priorities, and pride. If I think I can “fix it” why should I bother God with it, right?! But it says that we should seek His face always…continually and at all times. And when we look to God first, not as a last resort, He gives us His perspective, and purpose for the situation, along with His peace.
The invitation is there for you to draw near to the Lord…but what could be holding you back? Maybe it’s the idea that God isn’t talking to you. In John 7:37 He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” The Lord is no respecter of age, gender, class, creed or color of skin…He died for all, and He died for you. But maybe you feel that what you’ve done in your past is too heinous for Jesus to forgive. I John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So, sorry, there’s no one that’s beyond the forgiving grace of Jesus. Or maybe what’s preventing you from coming to Him is that one immovable stronghold within you. Call it pride, rebellion, or spiritual independence…it rears its ugly head and stops you cold from accepting this invitation. But regardless, His invitation still stands and will until you draw your last breath. “Come to Me…”
Nothing good happens after midnight, or so the saying goes. And Ephesians 5:11 warns us, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.” Darkness and wickedness go hand and hand…and they like it that way. For evil is more comfortable in the dark…because it naively thinks no one can see. That’s why men love darkness instead of light…it shines forth brightly with truth and all their deception, lies, and falsehoods are laid bare for all to see. The penetrating beacon of God’s truth is absolute, transcendent, and divinely revealed to those who willingly come into the light.
The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
If you look around today at all the unrest, division, and decisiveness…not to mention the ongoing pandemic and all that goes with it…you could easily be discouraged. Maybe you’re out of work due to COVID 19 and the bills are mounting up, or you’ve lost a loved one to the virus and were unable to be with them at the end. We are all feeling the repercussions of this unprecedented year. So much, that many of us are ready to just give in to all the trouble with a defeated spirit. But we have someone who has gone through all we are currently enduring…someone who is our example…His name is Jesus. For in Hebrews 12:3 it is said of Jesus, “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We not only have the illustration of Jesus’ life here on earth as a road-map to follow, but we have God’s gracious disposition towards us in Christ – it’s called Grace. And under-girded with both…we can move forward victoriously and not lose heart.
Walk is used in the Bible to express the character of a person. It’s how a person conducts his life and moral reputation in everyday matters. So this verse in Isaiah shows us that if we abide in the Lord we’ll be able to attain God’s ultimate purpose in our life despite the evil that surrounds us. It says we’ll be able to walk and not faint…that is not becoming fearful, our minds not becoming foggy. So how do we walk in this broken world and not faint? We ask God… as Jeremiah wrote, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ ” There is only one good way. After Moses had given the people the Ten Commandments he then exhorted them to, “Be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the ways that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33) There’s only one good way…and if we follow it…it will lead to righteousness and life.
What’s your motivation to pray? Is it to be admired for your long and flowery prayers…or to commune with God? When Elisha was praying for the dead son of the Shunammite woman it says, “He went in, shut the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord.” (II Kings 4:33) He had no audience to hear him pray…no spectators to applaud and compliment him on his beautiful words…it was just Elisha praying and God listening. The Lord isn’t impressed by our vain repetitions of “Oh Lord” or how long we can pray. That’s because He’s more interested in what’s in our heart not what’s in our head. And when we’re alone with the Lord, we can be real and honest with Him, not hiding things we don’t want others to know about. Hidden prayer is then perfect prayer…perfect fellowship and oneness with God our Father, with nothing between us and Him.
God is calling His people back and saying here, “Turn from your evil ways.” Even today we have become too comfortable with the status quo. Things that would make our Great-grandparents blush are shown on a daily basis to our children. We have become desensitized to the outrageous, immoral, and just plain wrong. So when Satan twists the truth just ever so slightly, we flock to it as the next new thing, when in reality it’s counterfeit. Yes, God is calling His people back to a life of truth, justice, and integrity…and as Hosea 12:6 reminds us, “You must return to your God; maintain love and justice and wait for your God always.”
Many times throughout the Bible God was silent. I Samuel Chapter 3 starts out, ‘In those days the word of the Lord was rare…” There was little if any prophetic revelation and a real lack of those who truly had a message from God. At those times in history it seemed like a desert…a dry place with no hope or encouragement. The Psalmist summed it up well when he wrote, “O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.” (Psalm 83:1) A famine of food or water pales in comparison to the bread of life and the living waters of God’s precious word.
King Saul was in a bad place. Because he had rejected the word of God, the Lord rejected him as king. (I Samuel 15:23) Saul tried to get answers from other approved sources with no luck. So in his desperation, he went to the dark side. And he knew better, for the Lord had commanded the people to abstain from occult practices way back in Leviticus and Deuteronomy…but Saul did it anyway. We all want answers and we want them now, and when we feel the Lord isn’t being quick enough…we’re apt to go to the dark side too. Maybe it’s reading our Horoscope, or having our Tara Cards read, or having a Psychic Reading…all things that are far away from the illumination and truth of God’s word and can only lead us down the wrong path.