Going Deeper 3/19/2019

The first reading for Lent 3...
Isaiah 55:1-9   Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.  I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.  See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.  See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.  Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This incredible section of the Scriptures, believed to be addressed to people who had returned to Jerusalem following the Babylonian Captivity, is absolutely packed with meaningful passages.  With this being the season of Lent, let's focus for a moment on these words: "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Please note the action verbs which point to our efforts: Seek, call upon, forsake, and return.  The Lord had demonstrated grace and mercy by preserving a remnant from among the rebellious people who had consistently rejected God and His calling upon their lives, breaking the Sinai covenant and ignoring the pleas of the prophets to repent and return.  As a result of their continual rebellion, everything had fallen apart-- Jerusalem and its temple had been demolished and most of the people taken away captive to Babylon.

However, that was not the end of the story.  God once again demonstrated great grace in calling His children to seek Him, to call upon Him for mercy, to forsake the sins that had led them astray, and to return again to love and serve their gracious Lord, knowing in advance that He will "have mercy on them, and... he will abundantly pardon."

During Lent, we hear that same call to repent and return and to receive God's merciful healing.  We do well to go deeper, and with the guidance and assistance of the Holy Spirit recognize the depth of our sinful brokenness.  Have we loved and served God with our whole heart?  Have we loved and served our neighbors as ourselves?  Have we been pure in our thoughts, words, and deeds?  Have we been faithful stewards of the time, talents, and treasures God has placed in our hands to manage?  Have we done all of the good that we have had the opportunity to do?

Knowing in advance that our Abba/Father desires to forgive and heal, with can come clean.  Let us repent and return to the Lord our God, "for he will abundantly pardon."

With You in His Grace,
Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

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