Church calendar readings for Sunday, May 6
Isaiah 55:1-11 – Let us change before God and seek His higher ways
Psalm 98 – Praise God for His changes brought through salvation
John 15:9-17 – Jesus’ way changes the world as we abide in His love and joy
Acts 10:44-48 – Our challenge is to change how we regard people not like us
1 John 5:1-6 – As changed people, we are empowered to live unselfishly
MONDAY, APRIL 30
A call to come and turn to the Lord and know His love
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
“Come…” – Who is speaking? The voice of wisdom personified speaks in a similar vein in Proverbs 9:1-6.
“Buy… without cost” – Reflecting on Isaiah’s earlier description of the Servant who has paid the price, Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
“Listen, listen…” – Literally ‘listen listeningly’ which explains the “rich fare” metaphor. Those who are discerning in what they hear will be feeding on what is truly good.
3 Give ear and come to Me; listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David.
“My faithful love promised to David” – David was a faithful and wholehearted worshipper who witnessed God’s truth over his extensive kingdom. In this, he anticipated God’s Messiah. The blessings promised to David are quoted by Paul, Acts 13:34, in the context of the Resurrection.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for He has endowed you with splendour.”
“A witness to the peoples” – This passage brings together Isaiah’s depiction of the Royal Messiah (chapters 1-37) and the Servant Messiah (chapters 38-55) who is clearly shown to be the Lord’s witness, Isaiah 42:1–4, 49:2–3.
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
“Seek” – in this context, to come confidently and find. “Forsake” and “turn” are the two dimensions of true repentance, 1 Thessalonians 1:9.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
“My ways are higher” – These verses are widely applicable, and they inform our prayer relationship. Start with turning from sin, including the sin of thinking we know best, then find God’s ways and words for the situation – what He has already said and what He is is flagging up now.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is My Word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
“Will not return to me empty” – As we turn to God in repentance, what are we hearing? That act of forsaking and turning opens us up to hear. What word comes to mind as a prompting of the Holy Spirit? That is the word to agree with and to pray back as a declaration, because this is the word that God has already spoken.
Much later, in dialogue with the Pharisees and recorded in the gospels, Jesus spoke of knowing the truth and being set free by the truth, John 8:32, 36. The devil keeps us in bondage mainly through deception and fear produced by thoughts he nags us to believe, which of course are not true. Nothing the devil says is true. He is the father of lies, according to Jesus.
Truth, and especially truth declared, is the most powerful weapon in our armoury against this onslaught. This passage sets out an important principle of a God-orientated life: finding out what is the truth, agreeing with the truth and saying that we agree with it by returning, in other words speaking out or declaring, the truth. This is a form of praying.
For reflection and discussion
When we are under pressure, what is in our hearts is expressed through our words. Are our feelings true?
Is it better to be sincere in how we feel, or to be agreeing with God in what He says about how we feel?