Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! — Isaiah 58:1 (NLT)
Lord, sanctify my mind, my will, and my emotions. Help me to keep guard at the gates of my heart, taking care to be intentional about what I allow myself to see and to hear, to keep my heart from being polluted by sin. Please help me not to love sin or tolerate sin, but to stand firm against it. May I not be ashamed of the way You have called me to be set apart. May Your light come into places of darkness and through Your power, drive the darkness out, releasing more of Your light. May I be faithful to You in being the “light of the world” as you have called me (Matthew 5:14).
Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. — Isaiah 58:2 (NLT)
Father, expose any hypocrisy in my heart that I may repent. Help me to keep an authentic relationship with You at the core of my desires, and if I ever fall into a place of just pretending and acting like I know who You are rather than truly knowing You personally, I ask that You open my eyes to the deception I’m hiding behind and teach me again what it is to know You.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ — Isaiah 58:3a (NLT)
Lord, sometimes in my sinful pride and arrogance, I expect some sort of recognition for the things I’ve done in the name of religion. Father, forgive me. I renounce the sin of pride from my life and ask that You fill me with Your Sprit of humility. I offer my body to You as a living and holy sacrifice as my spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).
“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? — Isaiah 58:3b-5 (NLT)
Jesus, I’m reminded of your warning against hypocrisy to the teachers of the law and Pharisees in Matthew 23. I ask you to wash me from the inside out. I want to pure through and through. Please teach me the discipline that it takes to continually be allowing You to make me holy by cleansing me by the washing with water through the Word (Ephesians 5:22).
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. — Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT)
Father, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in myself and to fall into the lie that it’s all about me. But I will not settle for the illusion that I was simply saved from darkness to light without being saved for making Your name great. I ask You to reveal to me Your heart for the imprisoned, burdened, oppressed, bound, hungry, homeless, and needy. I want to see them through Your eyes. I want to represent You to them. Please increase my faith, and may my faith and deeds go together hand in hand. In James 2, Your Word says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17). Increase my faith. Fill me with your spirit of compassion, grace, and love.
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. — Isaiah 58:8-9a (NLT)
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You (Psalm 86:5). Thank you for saving me, healing me, leading me, protecting me, and answering me when I call. I praise Your glorious name.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. — Isaiah 58:9b-10a (NLT)
Jesus, may I continually be spreading Your gospel and Your kingdom and not vicious rumors. May I point others to You where they can find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-29). Father, just as is said about Jesus in John 5, I want to do only what I see you doing. As your beloved child, I want to imitate You, Father (Ephesians 5:1). Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey you (Psalm 51:12).
Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. — Isaiah 58:10b-12 (NLT)
Lord, I trust You. I trust that the entirety of Your Word is truth (Psalm 119:160). I trust You as my Shepherd, my Father, and my God. Lord, I know that I can trust you more. Help me to do that. Help me to trust You wholeheartedly and always. I want to grow and mature and for Your kingdom to become more fully established within me. Thank you for being faithful to me as You transform me into Your likeness.