Verse 10 of the 55th chapter of Isaiah talks about how rain and snow come down from heaven and is never wasted, but accomplish God’s purpose. Then in verse 11 we are told that God’s Word is the same – it goes out and never returns empty.
When we understand what the word ’empty’ means, we understand the text. God’s Word won’t come back unfulfilled or unsuccessful.
God’s purpose is to bring his people into the richness and fullness of eternal life. Our good intentions always fail, and others will always let us down, but God’s promises succeed. This teaches us so much about the character of God, who is sovereign and all powerful. He uses his Words to 1. accomplish what he purposes and 2. to succeed in the thing for which he sent it.
Isaiah 55:11 is for believers as much as it is for unbelievers. When God’s Word goes out, it either lands on the good soil, the rocky soil, it gets choked with thorns or trampled on by passersby.
What we do with the Word is a huge responsibility. It must be a priority in our lives, and when we use it to it’s fullest potential, we know that God will bless it. This will take time and discipline, it won’t come naturally for most, as other things will crowd God’s Word out in our busy and distracted lives. Our goal to be ‘in the Word’ is not to know all the facts and minute details, it is intended to change our hearts and lives and so conform to who God wants us to be – and that is imitators of Christ.
What practical ideas can you share that help you ‘be in the Word’ on a daily basis? What helps you stay focussed?
High res PDF here Isaiah 55:11
“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”
It’s a song we are teaching Jacob at the moment. With short, catchy, repeating phrases, it’s an easy song for a child of his age to learn, plus the actions are fun too. He loves making those big strong muscle arms!
For children, it’s easy for them to imagine that their God is so big and so mighty. They hear bible stories about how God divided the Red Sea, gave David the ability to fell a giant with a small pebble and then the stories of Jesus… wow! He rose people from the dead, fed the 5000 and made blind people see!
Why then do we seem to lose the wonder of just how big and mighty God is when we are older?
Is it the busyness of life? Do we get distracted with everything else and then leave little time for God in our hopes and dreams?
Do we become pessimistic because of all the hardship and trials we go through or see others go through?
Why do our prayers become small and based on what we could do, not on what God is able to do?
How come we are quick to forget his promises?
It’s all in his Word when we go looking for it!
He promises to fight for us. Exodus 14:14
He promises us a new land. Exodus 20:12
He promises strength to the weary. Isaiah 40:29
He promises to renew our strength. Isaiah 40:31
He promises to uphold us. Isaiah 41:10
He promises to help us. Isaiah 41:13
He promises us unfailing love that will change. Isaiah 54:10
He promises us wisdom when we ask it of him. James 1:5
He promises to protect us from the devil. James 4:7
He promises to forgive our sins if we confess them. 1 John 1:9
He promises to heal our land if we humble ourselves before him. 2 Chronicles 7:14
He promises to never leave us. Deuteronomy 31:8
He promises to prosper us, and give us things to look forward to. Jeremiah 29:11
He promises us eternal life if we believe in him. John 3:16
He promises wrath and judgement to those who reject him. John 3:36
He promises us spiritual freedom. John 8:36
He promises to give us all things we ask of him in prayer. Mark 11:24
He promises to be with us wherever we go. Joshua 1:9
He promises to meet all our needs. Philippians 4:19
He promises to guide us through dark valleys. Psalm 23:4
He promises to be the stronghold of our lives. Psalm 27:1
He promises to never forsake those who love him and call on him in faith. Revelation 3:5
He promises to work even the horrible things in our lives to good. Romans 8:28
He promises to fill us with peace when we are anxious. Philippians 4:6-7
He promises to make our paths straight when we learn to depend on him. Proverbs 3:5-6
He promises to raise up the sick and make them well, either in this life or the next. James 5:14-15
These things need to be our prayers. And our prayers need to be as Big and as Mighty as our Lord and Father.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” John 14:13-16
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
If there is something that you are struggling with, do a search in your bible for that topic. Read that passage and pray to God about it.
Our priority needs to be opening his word and praying to our Father in Heaven.
The Bible is quite clear : If we say we are Christians, we are to show hospitality.
Romans 12:13 “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
1 Peter 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Matthew 25:34-46 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? …”
These are just a few Biblical commands to show hospitality. Examples of people showing hospitality in the Bible are numerous, and if you’d like to read a few accounts of these you can read them here.
Before we have this quick, one-sided chat about hospitality we need to remember that hospitality does not only refer to having someone over for a meal or a cup of coffee. Hospitality can be defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way”. Using the commands and examples in the Bible, hospitality could be defined as “love for strangers.” It’s a state of mind. It’s a behaviour and a quality as a disciple of Christ. For the purpose of this short post, I’d like to just talk about hospitality in terms of those times when we ask someone/or their family over for a meal.
Hospitality isn’t just to be shown to members of the household of faith. When we invite people into our world, we invite them to see a small glimpse of what Christianity might look like – warts, grumpy kids, moody teenagers and all. “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:1-3
Hospitality is seasonal.* Give yourself grace when life is just not compatible with having people over. We need to also give each other this same grace and not judge those who could be in this season of life.
Keep it easy and simple! It’s ok to ask your visitors to help with setting a table, cut up veggies etc. Sometimes these opportunities allow for great conversations. If you are having a family over for a meal, ask them to bring something to contribute. Ascertain before hand what food allergies your visitors might have. Use disposable plates, cups and cutlery!
Don’t do it all yourself. If you know that you will be having a big group over, offer your house as the venue and let the visitors do the catering.
Be clear about your boundaries. If you don’t want children running though your house, set that expectation early on. If you need to have some quiet time with your family on a Sunday, set the expectation that your guests leave at a time that suits you. It’s not being bossy. It’s being smart!
Hospitality does not have to be carried out at your home. How about at a park? Our family has been included in a few great park dinners at a local botanic garden. The organiser texts the day before, everyone brings a picnic dinner and a picnic rug (or chair), the kids enjoy the great outdoors and the adults get to enjoy fellowship. The best bit is that no one needs to get their house ready and no one needs to clean up afterward!
It’s not about how tidy your house is! Practicing hospitality is more about the personal connection than what your state your house is in. Don’t get too carried away with getting it all hunky-dory before hand.
This is kingdom work, so make sure you include your King! (No, not Elvis…) Make sure you pray together. This is one thing that we as a family are trying to get better at. Not just as word of prayer before or after a meal, but about what you discussed, what situation your visitors might find themselves in. Read from his Word. Ask what a favourite scripture is, or if it’s a pre-believer or new believer, read from the book of Mark.
Do you have anything to add? What do you find helpful when you are being hospitable?
*This point is one I heard at a talk and it is the key to accepting that your expectations might not match with your reality. It’s one that has helped me explain that time in our life when hospitality was the furthest thing from my mind… not because I didn’t want people in my house, but because I just had no energy to be hospitable to anyone other than my direct family as I was super busy with three little kids.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” Luke 14:28-30
There is a lot that you could fill your time with when you are part of a church community.
People who could do with a visit.
Babies being born and so a meal for the family would be a nice.
Meetings to attend on almost every night of the week.
Cards, emails or texts that you could send to those that need encouragement.
Causes that could use an hour of your time.
Baking to do for events.
Then there are school commitments, sport commitments, community commitments. The list goes on and on. You can always find that ‘one more thing’ to commit to, even if you have no time to actually do it.
“In my head I am so distracted by the busyness of all those ‘one more things’ that have piled up on my plate. So many jobs to do and commitments to follow up on. I have little to give back to my family. One more thing and I might snap. Some one please give me more hours in my day! There are so many people to please…”
This was me most of the time before I started using the following heart questions to weigh up if I do indeed have the head space/ time/ money to commit to that ‘one more thing.’
Do you have the time to do it? If you do commit to it, what will suffer? Your home, your family? Will having to rush around doing that ‘one more thing’ cause you to be short with your husband or yell at your kids? Will saying yes, leave you with little reserves for the important things in your life? Are you able to nurture your family, husband or children when you have nothing left to give?
Can you commit emotionally? Sometimes you have a little nagging ‘no, don’t commit, you know you have a busy week (or month or year), you know you have enough on your plate right now’ voice in your head. How often do we listen to that little voice? Or if your heart is saying ‘yes’, does it match up with your reality?
Can you afford it? This applies to anything that will cost you money, like a meal, going out for coffee, that bunch of flowers. If you can’t afford it, don’t commit.
Where is your heart at? Why are you saying yes? Is it to save face? Is it because you are worried about what people think of you if you say ‘no’? Are you trying to be ‘as good’ as the lady sitting on the next pew? Do you think your ‘good works’ might make people like you more?
Where does this leave God? We can be very busy doing all the ‘one more thing” and then have less and less time to spend with God. Resting in His Word and coming to Him in prayer has to be our number one job on the list everyday. You will never regret making Him your priority.
Keep your list manageable. Commit only to the things that will allow you to have Him as your priority! Say ‘no’ or ‘not this time’ to requests that you know will leave you gasping for air or wishing you didn’t commit. Realise that your commitment list might look totally different to the next person as God has all given us different gifts.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5