God’s unconditional love comes with conditions of his direction. The blessing of God’s promised message includes verses 1-10: the fall of Babylonian captivity, true repentant heart or not, along with true prayer and fasting or not, and worship. Truth examined by Almighty God who created all of us and sees everything, if we practice or not.
Years ago I belonged to another denomination. The church split after a horrible meeting; it was decided that the pastor would be relieved and a large group of the church left with the pastor. With a single righteous heart for defending the pastor, we called for 40 days of prayer and fasting. There was no space for caring and reaching out to other unfortunate people, nor visiting sick neighbors. We only asked for God’s guidance for our future church, believing that God would provide a clear message for a new church. Instead, on the morning of the 40th day, the church closed, and there was more hurt.
Twenty-five years later and now facing troubling times in the United Methodist Church with the pandemic, God continues to invite us to receive his promises on the condition that we practice and apply Isaiah 58. James 2:14-17 says, “faith without works is dead.”
Sometimes we become complacent with no desire to draw closer to God as Isaiah was instructing the leadership of Israel. Yes, we are human, not perfect, but the truth is Christmas and Easter never cancel regardless of a pandemic. God still invites us to receive his blessing, and his children to practice true repentance, fasting, and worship to our Lord Jesus so we will be like a spring whose waters never fail this Lenten season and always.
Merciful God, please forgive our sin and that of our churches. Please lead us to true repentance of heart so we can reach out to a suffering and broken world in such a difficult time as now with your love. Help us to become more like you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Yuko Miller is an evangelist and missionary in the North Carolina Conference