God's Heart

Isaiah 1: 27
Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.

If you want to see God’s heart, read chapter one of Isaiah. The parental frustrations we feel have been felt by the God who created us. His heart cries for his children. He wants to give us the very best, but we make it difficult because of our rebellion.

To get past the language barriers some Bible translations cause, I’ve made up my own paraphrase, the LSV, or Laura’s Simplified Version. I read verse 2 like this: “I raised children, but they rebelled against me.”

I know how it is to plan good for my children and have to change plans because I can’t let the in-my-face disobedience go by without notice. I have to make my kids aware that they’re not going to be rewarded for bad behavior.

God taught us how to raise our kids. He taught us how to love with kindness and with discipline. He taught us how to recognize the empty pleadings of children who aren’t sorry they sinned, but are sorry they got caught.

Verses 13-15 speak to that. (LSV: Laura’s Simplified Version) Stop begging. Your prayers aren’t being answered because they’re not being heard.

Or in The Message, it reads like this. “Quit your worship charades. I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – meetings, meetings, meetings, – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance, I’ll be looking the other way.”

But God doesn’t complain about our bad behavior without giving a way to improve our attitudes and actions. Check out verse 17: (NASB) “Learn to do good. Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”

God also tries to give us help with our decision-making. He wants us to know that a reward is available. There is something to work toward. Verse 18-19 sounds like this to me: (LSV) Think this through. Be reasonable. There is hope for the obedient.

Part of the reward for obeying God fully is being known as God’s obedient child. Verse 26 lists a couple of other names: (LSV) After I restore justice, you will be known as the faithful and righteous city.

Just like I love my kids enough to do what it takes to help them turn away from bad behavior, God is determined to help us get our heads on straight. He’ll discipline us if we need it. God shows us that his ways are better than ours, and he will help us become what he designed us to be. Verse 27 is filled with hope for us. (NIV) “Zion will be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness.”

Ignoring Empty Talk

Job 35:12-16
He does not answer when men cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked. Indeed, God does not listen to their empty plea; the Almighty pays no attention to it. How much less, then, will he listen when you say that you do not see him, that your case is before him and you must wait for him, and further, that his anger never punishes and he does not take the least notice of wickedness. So Job opens his mouth with empty talk; without knowledge he multiplies words.

I love my children. Always have. Always will. Nothing they do or say will change that – and they know that.

However, they sometimes become unhappy when they don’t get their way. In those situations, they tend to say things they don’t really mean. “Nobody loves me” is said just to vent frustrations. I’ve dealt with that attitude before, but now I usually ignore the empty words.

As a parent, it’s my job to train them to think, speak, and act with dignity and kindness. I’m supposed to teach them and show them love. Just as God gives me time to grow up spiritually and improve my attitude, I should allow my kids to make mistakes and learn from them.

I don’t correct my kids every time they say something wrong, and God doesn’t correct me every time I say something wrong. God ignores our empty words more often than we realize.

If you want to hear from God, give him something he can respond to. Give God your words of faith and love. Look in the Bible to see what he’s responded to in the past.

When my kids believe what I say and remind me of what I’ve said to them before, faith colors our discussion.

I believe God ignores our empty talk because he’s waiting for us to believe him – so he can respond to our faith.

God Will Take Care Of You

Job 34:21-22
"His eyes are on the ways of men; he sees their every step. There is no dark place, no deep shadow, where evildoers can hide.”

Are you whistling in the dark? Trying to pretend you’re not scared? Why? God gives us plenty of reasons to relax.

When my mother was a little girl, she often had to walk alone to the neighbor’s house. Something she saw along her path scared her every time, but she still had to make the journey. To strengthen her courage and to keep her feet moving, she decided to sing the song she’d learned in church, “God Will Take Care of You”. Civilla D. Martin wrote those very comforting lyrics in 1905.

Once my mother got into the song, she wasn’t as worried. She continued singing the same song every time she was scared because it reminded her that she was never alone. Funny how God uses a variety of things to show his love. For her, it was a song. For you, it may be something different.

When you find yourself afraid to venture out into the tasks you must complete, talk to God about it. Let him know you trust his hand of protection. And then act like you trust him. Sing if you have to, but go where he leads.

Rescued From The Pit

Job 33:26-28
He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. Then he comes to men and says, 'I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.'

The Lord is the one who rescues. He has made a way for everyone who reaches up to Him to be pulled from the pit.

If you think you’ve been in the pit, let me remind you that you still have breath and one more chance to return to the Lord. When you leave your last unrepentant breath behind, then you’ll know what the pit is really like. Hopefully, you’ll never experience that. Jesus did what was necessary to keep you out of the pit. Our responsibility is to accept his gift of pit-free life.

We can experience God’s goodness while we’re still on the Earth. We can find favor with God right now. He wants us to live and enjoy our lives. He wants to light our path with His love.

When you’re walking in the light of God’s love, look up to see His face. It’ll make you shout for joy.

Warnings

Job 33:15-18
In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

God sees our days at a glance, like he’s flipping through a desk calendar. He knows what we’re planning to do and what trouble we’re likely to get into. Do we call to Him in advance of our trouble? Not usually.

But God is merciful. His mercy responds with a warning to us. If we think all is well and it isn’t, God may really wake us up in the middle of the night with a memorable message. The wake up call isn’t because God likes to scare us. He doesn’t. He likes to get us back on the right path so we won’t get ourselves into horrible trouble.

If you get a wake up call, answer. Respond to God with an appetite for obedience.