The Only Thing That Counts Is Faith Expressing Itself Through Love

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ISAIAH 30:12-33:9 | GALATIANS 5:1-12 | PSALM 63:1-11 | PROVERBS 23:22

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Isaiah serves as the Lord’s mouthpiece to the children of Israel, and it is his task to inform them that the Lord is not happy with their ways.  This is what the Lord is saying through Isaiah:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

But this is a merciful God who will not forever remain angered.  Inasmuch as he allows for devastation to come upon them, he also pities them eventually and promises to restore them.  Isaiah reminds them of this when he says this:

18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah continues to offer even more words of comfort in these verses: 

19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

And there will come a day, says Isaiah, when peace will reign and the Lord’s righteousness will be established.  These are dear promises that the children of Israel must surely hold steadfast to:

16 The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

May it be that like Isaiah’s prayer, we might also cry out to the Lord Almighty these same words:

2 LORD, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.

And the outcome will be what Isaiah assures the children of Israel concerning the Lord’s doing:

5 The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Turning now to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we find Paul stressing the concept of faith and grace over the observance of the Law, akin to slavery. 

He says, 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

And he couldn’t be any more clear than he is in these lines:  4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

So aggrieved is Paul for the state of the minds and hearts of the Galatians who have been evidently led astray by someone either in their midst or another preacher from without—someone who has successfully persuaded the men in the church to practice circumcision—that Paul makes no disguise of his outrage about this person or persons, and in a style that is not too common, Paul employs some humor in not wishing this person the very best when he says this:  12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

We now turn to our psalm for the day, and find one in which David is plaintively crying out to God for help.  It is obvious that David must have been in some form of danger or distress to pen these words, but there is still an element of great calm and confidence in the undertones of these pleas.  Also, the style in which David addresses God is so highly personal that it speaks volumes concerning the very personal relationship that David had with the Lord. 

Like David, each of us also has the same ability to strike up just this kind of a relationship with God, and I would daresay that nothing would delight the Lord more than to see his children call out to him in this way:

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs, penned by the wise king Solomon:

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

2 thoughts on “The Only Thing That Counts Is Faith Expressing Itself Through Love

  1. I think I may have commented on this the last time through but Psalm 63 is one of my favorites. Anytime I have travelled through a desert or desert-like landscape, these words have come to mind. And they also work very well for those times one wakes up in the dark of the early morning (3:30 AM) and all the worries of life decide to visit all at the same time. The words are so honest and true and yet deeply faith-filled. TFS!

    1. Yes, and like I said earlier, it is a testament to David’s personal relationship with God. One that each of us also has the privilege of enjoying. Many thanks for sharing, as always. GBY!

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