Isaiah 55:7

Verse of the Day Devotion Isaiah 55:7  

“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:7

When we look at the verse just prior to our focus verse, we see Isaiah’s call to His people to become more diligent in their relationship with God.  “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6.  Isaiah tells us to seek God while God allows Himself to be found.  Back then at the time of the writing of the Book of Isaiah, as well as now, God can be found because He is near.  We can call out to Him and He will hear us and we can cry out to Him for mercy while repenting of our sins, and He will answer and forgive us.  For when the Messiah comes for His people, this time will be gone.

Now in our focus verse, the writer says that one of the things that a wicked person must do when drawing near to God is to forsake their evil ways, their evil thoughts, and their evil plans. The verb “forsake” is traditionally translated as a continuation of God’s invitation expressed in a mildly commanding wish or desire, in this case, let the wicked forsake his way. The act of forsaking past ways and thoughts involves the rejection of these behaviors and a decisive break from past beliefs, assumptions, priorities, and plans. Of course it is not always easy to separate instantly from past friends, past ways of doing things, or a past philosophy of life. The second verb encourages the audience to “turn” to God after they have turned away from their past wicked life. This requires a transformation of the mind and heart by the Spirit of God. The plans of God may require his people to give up their dreams, change jobs, and move to live in another place, but the person who truly turns to God wants to serve him and eagerly desires to follow his direction. This request to return to the Lord is a spiritual change of the will and a person’s thinking. This is a turning to follow God. 

And the results of this forsaking of an old evil way of thinking and accepting a new godly perspective is that God will have compassion and will freely pardon those who respond. Although it is clear that God will have mercy on those who repent, it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that repentance is required before God can show mercy on anyone. That would almost suggest that certain works of faith automatically produce or earn for the believer a gracious divine response. Yet, many passages speak of God’s love and compassion for sinful people, so it is clear that various aspects of God’s mercy happen both before and after repentance, though no human acts can earn God’s grace. As an example, “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ To a nation which did not call on My name.  I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way, which is not good, following their own thoughts,” Isaiah 65:1-2.  

God is calling us to come to Him, seek Him while He may be found, and call upon Him while He is near.  We have time now, therefore we should go to Him in humility and ask forgiveness and turn from those ways that are against the calling of Christ in our lives.  We must go to Him and if there is anything we do or think that is not pleasing to God, we must forsake those ways and fall in line with what God desires of us.  And what is the outcome of truly doing this, returning to the Lord and His ways? He shall have abundant mercy on us and will pardon us.  God is ready with compassion and abundant pardon in His hands that a way has been found and that those who will turn around from their rebellion, confess their sin, and accept the sin offering of the Servant may have something infinitely better than restoration in Judah, which is restoration to God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Luke 6:37

Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 6:37  

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” – Luke 6:37 

This is an important idea that many find difficult to apply, not because it is hard to understand but because it is not something we think we need to deal with.  In order to see what Jesus is saying here, we need to see what He is actually speaking against.  Matthew puts this same teaching in a clearer way.  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2.  Notice the wording here, ‘in the way you judge’.  He is not saying we are not to judge, for John records the following words of Christ. “Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:21-24.  In essence, Jesus was saying follow the law, but understand that mercy and love subordinates some other parts.

So, how does what John said relate to our focus verse?    If we judge only by what we see, we often are missing the truth behind what is taking place, and this can lead to a false understanding.   For instance, back in the 1960’s and 70’s, a famous Christian rock singer named Larry Norman would often go into the streets and spend time conversing to those who were deemed the dregs of society, namely prostitutes and drug dealers.  Many would see him and determine he was seeking their services, when in actuality He was witnessing to those that many would have nothing to do with.  They were, in essence, condemning him for doing the work of God by introducing Jesus to people no one else would take the time to even acknowledge.  They were making a rash judgement believing he was sinning when in reality he was introducing them to Christ and the truth of the gospel.

Now, there is another idea expressed here that is just as important to understand.  We see this farther down in Luke 6.  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42.  This deals with hypocritical judgement.  How can we judge someone for excessive drinking when we  ourselves get drunk?  And how can we condemn someone who tells dirty jokes when we tell them ourselves?  If we judge someone for sins that we ourselves do, how will they take us seriously?  How can we help them to give up any wrong doing when we continue in the same actions? 

We, as Christians, need to apply wisdom when we look upon the actions of another.  In the first instance above, we do not know the hearts and motives of another.  We need to be careful that we do not judge what appears to be problematic or downright wrong when actually they are doing the right thing as God called them but not necessarily in a way we would do it.  As in the Larry Norman example, he reached out to those no one else would reach out to, giving them the opportunity to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.  And in the second instance, we need to address any sin in our own life before we judge another for the same sin.  If we do not stop the sin ourselves, how can we clearly help another to stop?  And if they know we continue doing the same thing, why would they stop when we address it with them?  Be wise in all judgements, and God will be pleased.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.