Devotions on Isaiah 55:1-11–Word Does Not Return Void
December 11-17, 2017
Monday, December 11, 2017–Word Does Not Return Void
“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1a).
Thirst is a primal craving. When people are dying of thirst, all other cravings, desires or urges are suppressed. This is because it is a life or death issue. We cannot live without water—and thirst is the way our body reminds us of this fact.
In the scriptures, God’s relationship with humankind is frequently compared to water. Jesus highlights this truth in John 7:38 where he says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’” Our relationship with God is a primal craving. We might attempt to satisfy this desire with comfort food like possessions, career and even family. Our thirst is never quenched, however, until we drink from the river of life—Jesus.
Fill our cups Lord, we lift them up, Lord! Come and quench this thirsting of our souls; Bread of heaven, Feed me till we want no more–Fill our cups, fill it up and make me whole! Amen. (“Fill My Cup, Lord,” lyrics.)
Tuesday, December 12, 2017–Word Does Not Return Void
“Come buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1c).
It’s a seller’s market. People are desperately hungry and thirsty. At the same time there is an abundance of wine and milk. Those who have the wine and milk can sell them at a premium price to the people with the parched tongues and growling stomachs. That isn’t what happens, though.
The Lord doesn’t hold back the abundance as people learn to love God above all else, seek God with all of their hearts or keep the commandments fully. God freely gives and provides the necessities of life with lavishness to all who come to the waters. The Lord’s invitation is all inclusive; no one is excluded. Life and its fullness is ours to be had.
Thank you, Lord, that you provide the essentials of life for us without restraint. Amen.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017–Word Does Not Return Void
“Why do you spend … your labor for that which does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2)?
It had been a stressful day for Juanita. A couple of projects, on which her team was working, were not going as well as she hoped they would. She was also given another assignment that not only added to her work load, but it was also a task that she was unsure she could satisfactorily complete. To top it off, the pressure at work was causing some relationships to fray and come apart. Juanita arrived home feeling vulnerable, fearful, overwhelmed and angry. Rather than confronting these feelings directly, Juanita decided to seek solace in a bag of Oreo cookies and a half gallon of Tin Roof ice cream.
In addition to hunger and thirst, we crave security, comfort and meaning. The Lord offers all of these to us in a relationship with God. We want something a little more tangible, though. So we seek meaning in our careers, comfort in our possessions and security in our wealth and health.
God’s offer to all who hunger and thirst is not a limited time offer. Time doesn’t run out (even at our deaths). Whenever we realize the fruitlessness of our efforts to provide for our security, comfort and meaning by other means, we are free to turn to the Lord and receive all that God has to offer us.
Forgive us, Lord, when we turn from you to seek things that do not satisfy. Be patient with us and draw us back to you. Amen.
Thursday, December 14, 2017–Word Does Not Return Void
“I will make with you an everlasting covenant” (Isaiah 55:3).
It is hard to imagine an everlasting covenant. In life, everything has an expiration date. Repairs are covered by a ninety day, parts and labor warrantee. Refrigerators come with a five year guarantee. Some cars are covered by a ten year 100,000 mile maintenance contract. We know what happens, though. A day or a week after the warrantee runs out is when the part, for the refrigerator or car breaks down.
God’s covenant with us, though, is an everlasting covenant. There is no expiration date. The Lord has made a contract with us that God will always love us and that nothing will be able to separate us from God. That promise is all we need. Things may get a little sketchy in life, but as long as we have God’s steadfast love and know that God is with us we can make it through.
Lord, thank you for the promise of your love and of your presence in our lives. Amen.
Friday, December 15, 2017–Word Does Not Return Void
“Nations that do not know you shall run to you” (Isaiah 55:5).
Carrie was lonely and wanted to make friends, but she really didn’t know how. When she looked around the classroom, when she realized that most of the students didn’t have a lot of friends. A few, though, had many friends. Karl was the class bully. He had several friends. Some were impressed that he was so powerful. Most of Karl’s friends, however, were his friends to keep from getting bullied. Anabel had many friends, but most of them were friendly to her because she gave them things. Anabel would give people the dessert from her lunch, or let them copy her answers on a test. Only a few of Anabel’s friends really liked her.
Then, there was Carlota. She had many friends because she was friendly. Carlota was interested in people and wanted to know more about them. She helped others and complimented and encouraged her friends. Carlota’s friends liked her and were loyal to her. Carrie decided she would try to be more like Carlota.
Nations were not going to run to the Israelites because of Israel’s might. They weren’t going to be attracted by Israel’s wealth, either. What would attract them, though, was God’s loving presence and abundant grace. As we seek to be witnesses for God, it is important for us to keep in mind what truly attracts people.
Lord, move through us so that others see your love and grace and choose to follow you. Amen.
Saturday, December 16, 2017
“Let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them” (Isaiah 55:7).
This invitation was best personified in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which is found in Luke 15. After rejecting his father, spending his inheritance wastefully and falling into poverty, a son comes to his senses and decides to return to his father. The young man seeks servanthood rather than a return to sonship. He is surprised, though, when his father runs toward him with open arms and welcomes him back into the family. The father even throws a party for him.
The Lord’s actions toward each and every one of us are the same. We have gone our separate ways and we have sought to be Lord of our own lives. When we finally recognize the error of our ways and return to the Lord, the Lord welcomes us with open arms. Our return is never rejected and our punishment is assumed to be the separation that we have already endured. Love and grace abound in place of rejection and revenge.
Lord, forgive us when we wander away from you. Draw us back to you and never let us go. Amen.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:11).
It’s a law of nature—action/reaction. Hot air blasting out of a jet engine pushes the airplane forward. April showers bring May flowers. A smile brings forth another smile in response and acts of love have the power to change lives.
It is the same for God’s word. It necessitates a response. At the time of creation, God spoke and there was light. There are times when God speaks and the results are not so evident, but the effects of God’s word are still present and God’s will moves forward toward its accomplishment.
We sometimes fool ourselves into believing that the Holy Spirit doesn’t accomplish anything when the Spirit moves through our words and actions that share God’s love and grace. The result may not be immediate. The promise, though, is always there. God’s word will not return to him without producing results.
Lord, move powerfully in our lives and in our world to accomplish your will. Amen.