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Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 55 (Selected NASB).

Come to the Waters (v. 1)

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.”

I think all of us knows what it means to be thirsty, though certainly some people much more than others. Our mouths get dry, and swallowing becomes difficult. Our body then begins to long for and to crave water. We may even become faint and dizzy and pass out because we have become dehydrated due to lack of water in our body’s system. Our bodies need water to survive. That is the way God made us.

God also made us to worship him, to know him, to be in relationship with him, and to obey him. In Romans 1 we read that what may be known about God was made plain to all humankind by God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Ro. 1:20). All humankind know God exists.

Because of the sin of Adam (and Eve) in the Garden of Eden, though, all humankind has been born with a sin nature, devoid of God, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in hell. So, there is a God-void in our lives, which only God can fill. And, many are searching to fill that void, but they are searching in all the wrong places. So, God is calling out to the thirsty, to those who long to have that emptiness filled in their lives with what can satisfy the deep longings of their souls. And, he is calling them to come to HIM.

What God is offering is a relationship with him through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is offering to save us from our sins – both from slavery to sin and from eternal punishment for sin – and to give us the hope of eternal life with him, both now and forevermore. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve this salvation. It is a free gift from God because Jesus paid the price for our sin through his blood shed on a cross, so we could go free. This gift, though, means death to sin and living to righteousness. Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk no longer according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives in agreement with and in the power of the Spirit. The gift of salvation, of God’s grace, is not a free license to continue in sin, but it is the freedom from bondage to sin and freedom to become servants of righteousness. It is a heart transformation which moves us away from living for sin and self to empowering us to walk daily in God’s holiness.

Eat What is Good (vv. 2-3)

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
“Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live…

As I said, many people are trying to satisfy this thirst with things other than God. Again, in Romans 1 it says that even though humankind knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor did they give thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (v. 21).

They began to worship what was created rather than the creator. And, that is where many people are today. They spend their money and time on things that will never satisfy the deep longings of their souls, only to come up empty, for the things of this world will only bring temporary satisfaction which is fleeting. Even many who call themselves Christians or even those who have truly been born again of the Spirit of God may find themselves going after the things of this life in order to satisfy a void in their lives which only God can fill, and that is a very sad reality, and something we must all guard against. So, God is calling us to find our satisfaction in him, and in his righteousness and holiness, to where if we lost all that we have in this life, although it might be inconvenient, we would be ok, knowing we have Jesus.

Seek the Lord (vv. 6-7)

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

Instead of running after the pleasures this world has to offer us, we are to seek after the Lord and his righteousness. If we are not yet in relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith, then this is a call to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life, and to accept his gift of eternal salvation and freedom from sin. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We put off our old lives of living for sin and self, we are transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and we put on our new lives in Christ. We are filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit, and we now walk by faith in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.

Yet, even those who know Jesus as Lord and as Savior of their lives can drift away from their pure devotion to him, and can become entangled once again in the trappings this world has to offer, so this is a call, as well, to the adulterous and idolatrous church to return to the Lord, to repent of sin, to forsake idols, and to cease looking to the things of this life to satisfy the deep longings of their souls. It is a call for them to find their meaning and direction for life only in God/Jesus, and to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives, for it is only in the center of his will that we are truly satisfied and at peace. It is only there that we can know true joy and fulfillment, even when all hell may be breaking loose all around us, and even though all else may be taken away from us.

Follow His Ways (vv. 8-11)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares 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.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Some of us may presently be going through some very difficult times. Perhaps the life you had been living has been turned upside down. Your house was washed away in a flood and you have lost all your earthly possessions. Your spouse has left you for another person, and now you don’t know what you are going to do. You are living in a war-torn country, and have been forced out of your house and land, and you are now having to try to find a place to live. You may be going without food, and you may be lacking for shelter. You lost your job and you can’t find another, and now you wonder how you are going to pay your bills or feed your family. You are suffering an illness or injury, and it has completely changed your lifestyle. People are spreading lies about you, and you have had to face much rejection and persecution for your faith in Jesus Christ. Even those you love have been killed for their faith. And, the list goes on.

Some of you may be calling out to God and asking him “Why, Lord?” You may not understand why such bad things are happening to you, or what you are supposed to do now that your life has so drastically been altered. Yet, as humans, we often don’t think like God thinks. His ways are sometimes way far beyond our ability to comprehend. Yet, God has purposes for all that he does, and for all that he allows. Sometimes he allows us to lose what is precious to us in this life, so that we will see our need for God, and so we will thirst for him instead of going after the things of this world to meet our needs and desires and deep longings. So many times when we, as humans, have too much, we can become complacent and too casual about our relationships with God, and can take him for granted. So, there are times when he allows us to go through hardship so we will look up, and so we will seek his face, and so we will honor him as the holy God that he is.

You Will Go in Joy (vv. 12-13)

“For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,
And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,
And it will be a memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”

When we cease looking for love, joy, peace, satisfaction and fulfillment in the things of this world, and in the people of this world, and we submit to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, running after him with our whole hearts, we will know true joy and peace that only God can give, and we will rejoice in our salvation, because Jesus Christ set us free from slavery to sin, and he gave us new lives to be lived in his righteousness and holiness. In fact, the return to God will be accompanied by much joy and peace, and will produce much spiritual fruitfulness in our lives to the glory of God, because we learned that Jesus is all we need. Not only that, but we would rather have Jesus than anything this world offers us. Amen!

I’d Rather Have Jesus / Rhea F. Miller / Joel A. Erickson

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold…
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand,
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway…