READ: Isaiah 57-58
THINK: A lot of people who call themselves Christians seem eager to know God and to experience the benefits of His power and presence. But God doesn't want pretense; He wants practice. He doesn't want followers who claim to know His love but refuse to show His love. God doesn't care how humble or committed a person appears to be. The commitment that pleases God involves active compassion for those who are hurting or in need. While good works can't save us, helping others in practical ways is one of the best ways to demonstrate love for Christ. We must make a sincere effort to discover the needs of those around us and to help in whatever ways we can.
RESPOND: How were righteous people being "taken away" (57:1), and how were they actually spared through death? (See 57:1-2 note.) What behaviors characterized many in Judah, and what would happen as a result? (See 57:3-14 note.) In the midst of a sinful society, who would enjoy God's inheritance, reward and blessing (57:13)? According to 57:15, who does God refresh by His presence? (See 57:15 note.) What does it mean to be "contrite and lowly in spirit" (57:17), and how does this allow a person to relate to a "high and holy" God? (See 57:15 note.) According to 57:20-21, what will the wicked not experience, and why? (See 57:21 note.) Why and how did the people's seeming eagerness to know God's ways only add to their offenses against Him (58:2)? (See 58:2 note.) Even as people claimed to devote attention to God, how were they behaving toward one another (58:3-4), and how did this affect their relationship with God? (See 58:3 note.) Rather than insincere religion, what practical acts of compassion does God expect from His people (58:6-7)? (See 58:6 note.) In what ways would God bless and respond to those who showed compassion to others out of love for Him (58:8-11)? (See 58:8-12 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to give you a sincere, humble spirit that's always ready to receive His refreshment and pass it on to others. Ask God to help you recognize opportunities to demonstrate active compassion to others for His honor.
ACT: Demonstrate humility in all you say and do. Look for opportunities to actively demonstrate God's compassion, kindness, and encouragement to individuals who are hurting, mistreated, lonely or in need.
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