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(ISAIAH 58:10-11)








 When Steve took some extra training in Fargo for a year, we were blessed to have Greg Scharf, the back-up speaker for John Stott, as our pastor. (Our own Renee and Wanda were blessed by that church and Greg’s preaching as well.) I remember the Sunday he preached on Isaiah 58 and we were riveted. He said that Christians tended to define morality in terms of very narrow issues instead of seeing the broad spectrum of God’s heart. At one moment, in application, he said that one of the ways he and his wife were able to practice hospitality to those in need was by simply have someone move right in with them. (Twenty years later, Greg and Ruth invited our daughter Sally, who had just lost her dad, to live with them while going to school near them.)

Steve and I left church that day determined to follow his suggestion “to have someone move right in with us.” Our house guests have not always been easy, but oh, we have seen God move in marvelous ways. Greg’s exhortation also led to our adoption of five-year-old Annie from an orphanage in Seoul. Oh, how this child is a blessing!

And yet, years later, when Steve wanted to adopt again I dug in my heels.

He said, “This time, I think we are ready for a challenge — a handicapped child, an older child, a sibling group!”



Way too scary.  We’re way too busy. That’s way too much.

Then, when Steve and I prayed about it, he said he heard “a little girl crying.”

“I think you imagined that,” I told him.

But God patiently, through His Spirit, His Body, and His Word persuaded me to go His upside down way. I think one of the happiest days in Steve’s life was when we went to Bang-Kok to pick up twelve-year-old Beth as our daughter.

Steve at Beth’s school in Bang-Kok
Beth- Thailand copy
Beth when we took her to the beach in Thailand before bringing her home

When we saw the orphanage in Bang-Kok where Beth had grown up, we were shocked. With ten other girls, she had shared a shaky structure that was a little bigger than a one-car garage. On the dirt floor, there was barely enough room for each girl to lie down on a mat. In the corner were eleven stacked shoe-boxes that contained each girl’s worldly possessions. The privy outside made me gag, and the tin tub they bathed in had a layer of mold caked on.

But it was not the paucity of material things that scarred these children, but the paucity of love. Often the guardians were broken people themselves, and instead of protecting the children, abused them.

When Beth began college in our town, her speech teacher called to tell me that she had given an unforgettable speech. She said Beth walked to the front of the class and startled everyone by saying,

When I was a baby, my parents cut off my arm and threw me away. But I didn’t die – someone found me and rushed me to the hospital.

Then Beth pressed a button on her recording device and the class heard the chorus to a contemporary version of Amazing Grace.         

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see.

Then she continued:

In the orphanage people hurt me. I wanted a mom and a dad like some of the kids were getting, but they didn’t want me. When I was going to turn ten I figured I’d never have a family of my own. People don’t want old kids. They want babies, or at least little kids. At night when no one could see, I’d cry.

But way across the ocean a man was praying, asking God if he and his wife should adopt, and he heard me crying. He came to get me and take me back to his home in America.

Then Beth played the same refrain:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind but now I see.

Beth is an inspiration to me. On Thursday of last week she gave birth to her third child. How she does what she does with one arm amazes me. She is a joy. Her dad was so sad he had to leave her — but I’ll tell you more of that story next week.

I don’t want to paint a picture that adoption is easy, or that working with prisoners is easy, or that pouring yourself out for the poor is easy. But I will tell you that happiest people I know are Isaiah 58 people. I think of my own sister, Sally, who works with ex-sex-offenders, “the lepers” of our society; of my friend Linda Strom, who works with prisoners constantly; of our own Rebecca who is pouring herself out for autistic children; of Ann Voskamp, who flew to Iraq to see what she could do! And I think of saints of the past like George Mueller and Mother Theresa. What do they have in common? The joyful presence of the Lord.


This week let’s consider how to be Isaiah 58 people. How to practice the upside-down secret.


1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Prepare your heart with this:


2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.

3. Greg Scharf said that Christians tend to define morality in terms of a few issues. (That is not to say those issues are not important. I pray in agreement with Eric Metaxas who hopes the new Planned Parenthood videos are a Wilberforce moment for the world.) But what are some of the additional issues in which God defines morality according to Isaiah 58?

4. Read Isaiah 58:1-3a

A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1?

B. Why were God’s people upset?

C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves? 

5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity.

6. What is pleasing to God according to Isaiah 58:6-7?

7. What does God promise of you live this way according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

8. How is this upside-down thinking to how the world, and often we, think?

9. What speaks to your heart personally? How could you be more of a Isaiah 58 woman?

10. Is this scary? What truth could you speak to your soul?

11. How could you pray Isaiah 58 into your heart? Write your prayer here.



Turn my heart of stone to a heart of flesh!

Thursday-Friday Free Keller Isaiah 58 Sermon

Justice – Timothy J. Keller


12. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 7. What does God promise if you live this way according to Isaiah 58:8-14?


    In verse 8 where it says that “your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear”, it made me think of “the people living in darkness have seen a great light.” This speaks to me of God’s presence being with them again, as they do what is right. He will forgive their sins and be with them.

    Verse 9 says that then the people will call on the Lord and He will hear and answer them.

    Verse 10 has those same images of light and darkness. When the people are living in hypocrisy, they are as men in the dark, but God promises that if they do what is right, “your night will become like the noonday.” I think again it is because He will be with them. “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) And, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9)

    Verses 11-12 speak of God bringing blessings upon His people and their land. “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins…” just wondering if this refers to when Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem?

    Verses 13-18 talk about if the people keep the Sabbath holy – again, not with hypocrisy, merely “observing” the Sabbath but acting right on the Sabbath – not doing as they please or speaking idle words (gossip, slander, arguing…) God says He will reward them with HIMSELF and they will find their joy IN HIM.

    My application of all of this is that God is light and He lives in the light. My sin and selfishness and hypocrisy place me in the darkness, and He will not abide with me there, and I feel it when I feel all alone and I know in my heart that my relationship with Him is not right. In these passages, God really tells them how it is and to stop deceiving themselves by thinking they are righteous when in reality, they need a heart-check. My heart is SO deceitful it is painful to peer into the depths of it, but I need to take a good hard look there.

    1. Susan, I love what you posted here 🙂

      Verse 11 & 12 brought to mind Joel 2:25 for me:
      “I will restore to you the years
      that the swarming locust has eaten,
      the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
      my great army, which I sent among you”

      1. thanks for this reference.  I love that and I always forget where it is found.

    2. Yes, Susan, I also love your posting.

      I agree that I also need a heart-check. This passage is so convicting. Loving to participate in worship is emptiness if I do not respond to the needs around me.

      The need of relatives who need your help…Sometimes the needs are so close. May I turn from my selfish desires and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

      I  love verse 11. You will be like  a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

  2. 7. What does God promise of you live this way according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

    WOW! How we will be blessed! He will listen to our cries! Too much to mention, it’s kind of embarrassing….

    I like this one:

    “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭58:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  3. If you are keeping track, I had trouble posting on my phone this morning. My post disappeared before I posted it! So weird. I think it got confused because I didn’t have a name or email entered at that point. Maybe it refreshed and lost my post? Also, the bold, italics, and such is all gone from the screen.

    1. I had this exact problem last night, Laura.  I was responding to something Jill wrote and I lost it all.  It told me there was an error because I hadn’t put in name and email, but then I didn’t have the option to do that before it disappeared.  I haven’t had that same problem today though.

  4. 7. What does God promise of you live this way according to Isaiah 58:8-14?

    Then shall your light break forth like the morning

    Your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily

    Your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity]

    The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard

    You shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am.

    The Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones.

    You shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not

    Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

    Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

  5. 8. How is this upside-down thinking to how the world, and often we, think?
    It is almost opposite to the culture we live.  We want to guard that which sustains us for our own use, those who claim Christ have become professionals at pointing the finger in scorn, both at the world and at one another (verse 9).

    Going our own way or seeking or finding our own pleasure or speaking with our own [idle] words…this is like the way our culture tells us we will find fulfillment.

    I hate this statement that is often posted on Facebook, it illustrates well our culture mindset that is opposite Isaiah 58:
    “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

    I also think of the company my son worked for, it was a restaurant group that is making a good profit, but doesn’t ever seem satisfied, like making the crew work on Mother’s Day, when normally the restaurant was closed on Sunday, and underpaying the chefs and cooks, the servers routinely make a lot more than the cooks do in high end restaurants. Even when the staff is doing a great job and the restaurant is making a nice profit, they don’t seem to appreciate that the people who are working hard to make that happen should share in the ‘harvest’.

    1. Wow, Chris.   Everything in this post speaks to me.    This:

        We want to guard that which sustains us for our own use, those who claim Christ have become professionals at pointing the finger in scorn, both at the world and at one another (verse 9).


      Oh, that is such an insightful (and sadly true) description.  How we spend time stressing over (and worse) other believers.  And how we alienate ourselves from unbelievers by doing it.  So hard to break the image that our culture has of Christians.


      I have not seen that facebook forward, but how wrong it is.  I agree.   Ironic that some people really look at selfless people as ‘heroes’.  Who doesn’t like a good movie about someone who gave themselves for others?  But it doesn’t mean it translates into their own lives.


      And oh…..your thoughts about the restaurant where your son works.  My son has been in the restaurant business for a dozen or so years; many of them in very high end, exclusive places.  He is definitely getting burned out by the greed.  He once ‘busted’ the management for actually bouncing their employees’ paychecks.  He was a server so he made his money in tips but the underpaid kitchen staff; single mom with children to feed relied on her paycheck; hand to mouth.  He blew the whistle by going to the corporate headquarters and then handed in his resignation because he knew he’d be fired.  We were very proud of him.

    2. I’ve never heard that quote from FB…it sounds so good at first glance, doesn’t it? Yet, the self-respect described equals selfishness. Many Christians even are leaving their marriages because they are no longer “happy”…and here I’m even sounding a bit self-righteous, and I will be honest to admit that in my unhappiest times in my marriage, I’ve thought of divorce.

    3. Wanda and Susan, it was curious to me that you have never seen this. Bill and I are friends with a lot of young adults on Facebook, we were heavily involved in school activities, and Bill with youth group stuff, plus we are friends with many of our kids friends, we bonded with a lot of the kids who are now in their early twenties, many who aren’t believers. This particular quote gets tons of traction with that age group.

      You are right Susan, it does sound good for a second, until you really think about it for a minute, no one would be committed to anyone who had become inconvenient if we all really lived this way. I was thinking a I read your comments how opposite the statement is of the way God deals with us, His people, makes me praise Him for His mercy and steadfast  love!

      1. Chris, I thought of that, too, that we are fortunate God doesn’t operate by that quote or we’d be in real trouble. He’d have left us a long time ago. I’m not on FB and many of my sons’ friends, for example, they met away at college and we haven’t met them. Or maybe I’m just out-of-touch! Also, I was thinking that many situations or trials or relationships in our lives that are especially difficult are the very things that God uses to grow us.

    4. Chris, I keep pondering that quote you mentioned seeing in FB:

      “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

      Though I don’t remember it, I have seen others like it. It is sad, though some tend to overwork, feeling guilty for taking any time for themselves and then complain (or is it brag) about how “busy” they are; while other people do feel justified in walking “away” from anything that does not make them feel good. How as Christians do we find the balance and how do we explain it to others? I try not to talk about how “busy” I am, but I also am not sure how to respond when people bring it up as if talking about the weather (small talk). I also have been pondering how to respond when people say something like, “I’ve got to look after myself first and walk away from anything or person that stresses me.”

  6. 9. What speaks to your heart personally? How could you be more of a Isaiah 58 woman?

    I want my heart to more truly love people. To really care, like consistently see, the people who are living under oppression, spiritual or physical and be moved to action because God’s love for them actually affects my heart and behavior.
    I want to really believe that God will meet out financial needs if we pour out that which sustains us to satisfy others. That my husband and I can give recklessly like the widow with her mite and trust God fully to provide our needs.

    10. Is this scary? What truth could you speak to your soul?

    That God has promised to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. He is moving and working, even this topic this week grows the desire in me to live a live that pleases Him, loving other people and laying down our lives for them is not just possible, it holds the promise of eternal reward, satisfaction that goes beyond the temporal fleeting pleasure of pursuing my wants.
    He will meet ALL of my needs.

    1. How true are your words, Chris. It is scary for me to go out of my comfort zone and be vulnerable, but it is where Jesus went.

      He calls me to follow him.

      His promises are true: The  glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer.

  7. 11. How could you pray Isaiah 58 into your heart? Write your prayer here.

    Oh Father forgive me for all the ways I make a show of my dedication to you for the approval of others, the ways I expect a blessing while ignoring your ways.
    Show me my sin, grant me true repentance, help me trust that you’ve washed me whiter than snow.
    Create in me a clean heart, one that sheds your love abroad, that is willing to be poured out without asking if the people I am serving are worth of my help. Grow my ability to even see them, and to care about their needs.
    Help me truly rely on You and not my own understanding and resources.
    Convict me quickly when I am being scornful, when I am speaking idle,harsh, unjust, or wicked words, when I am seeking my own pleasure.
    Help me understand what a Sabbath rest that honors you should look like in my life.
    I want to delight in You so much so that I am changed by beholding you.

    1. This is a beautiful prayer, and I would echo these words. Thanks, Chris.

    2. Amen Chris.

  8. testing.  seeing if I can make a new post, after reading Chris’ comment.

    1. Okay.  well obviously that worked.  And my name and email automatically are inserted in the right places.  I didn’t have to add them.

  9. 2. Read Isaiah in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you. V. 6 and 7. Fasting is not to fake humility and brokenness, but to deprive oneself in order to share with another. Wow. So often people speak of fasting as a way to get God to answer them or to speak to them, but here is a new vantage point? And then the chapter moves on saying that when we pour out what we have (and don’t partake of ourselves) then His light will shine! I will be healed and my righteousness wil go before me. We must be careful that we do not see this as manipulation of God… I did this so you’d better do that…or because I did this He will do that…. The center of that thinking is me, myself, and I. But rather the joy of serving others comes from the heart God gave, or may be a vehicle to the heart God desires for us, but the serving cannot be a tool to trick God into giving us blessing.

    I also really, really like v6 – that the fasting will loose the bonds of wickedness. To give up my selfish desires and give to others (love) looses me from the bonds of wickedness! This is the upside down secret, yes?! Heart before actions, but when I give up myself, I am loosed!!! Praise be.

  10. What stood out? The story of Beth. I shared it right from my phone with my prayer group this week as it touched my heart and was relevant to our conversation. Every detail of it orchestrated by the Lord. So beautiful. And Dee your transparency with us always blesses me. The smile on your husbands face a picture speaks a thousand words

    1. really sorry to post as a reply to Liz, but it did not allow me to access the name and email box as a post. I’ll try another browser if it continues, but out of time now. Obviously it’s something on my end, so no worries! 😉

      2. Read Isaiah 58 in its entirety and write down anything that quickens you.

      v. 1—“do not hold back”—as with an honest lament, He wants ALL of me, nothing ‘cleaned up’ or tidied, but all of me, take my life and let it be, ever only all for Thee.

      v. 2—“they seek me daily and delight to know my ways”—they are trying! They do a lot of the right things in their minds, but something is missing.

      v. 6-“is not this the fast I choose” (and the following description)—He says, ‘they do a lot, but they are missing it’

      v. 10—“pour yourself out”—I think this is a picture of being willing to empty myself, not afraid that I will not have enough left for my own needs…I must not be afraid to be uncomfortable!

      v. 11 with v. 14-“and the Lord will guide…and satisfy” and “then you shall take delight in the Lord”—I am seeing that in v. 2, they delighted to know His ways, but if they pour themselves out in true sacrificial LOVE, then they will delight not just in knowing His ways, but IN HIM. He will be their filling, their satisfaction, their food.

      This week’s family devotion, we’ve been talking about generous love. One of our discussions led to how it is actually easier to “give” than to “share”. My kids agreed that they find it easier to give toys, clothes, etc…than to actually think about sharing their room with someone! And how much more am I this way? I feel like I give a lot–of time, and resources, -but still, if I am honest, I think I have an unspoken “comfort meter” I stay within. We have participated in many missions trips and projects and always, as many of you know, we receive so much more than we give. I think of John 13:35, and the old song “They will know we are Christians by our love”. I think I too easily define what that love looks like instead of asking Him to define it for me. And then being willing to act on His definition, “poured out” for others.

    2. What stands out to me?

      Beth’s beautiful face and her speech are a blessing. Steve’s heart , hearing a child cry and being responsive.

      I think of my little cousin in Thailand, Porsha, age 10. She is hurting from the pain of a selfish mother and a recent divorce.

      She cries nearly every day, wanting to be with Dad, Phil, but her mother is preventing an easy relationship with him.

      Tears of a child, but Jesus hears.

      1. Dear Shirley,

        So good to see you here today. ( I always miss someone when I haven’t ‘seen’ them here for awhile, so glad you are!)  What a heartbreak for little Porsha.   Lord, give her comfort today and make a way in this very hard situation.  

      2. Shirley, I just have to say that my heart aches for Porsha and her cries for her Dad. My grandsons went through that when they couldn’t see their mother much during a difficult period during their divorce when their father was making access difficult. I also know others who are or have experienced the same thing. It just tears my heart! Oh, so difficult to bear! But Jesus hears and will ultimately wipe all tears from our eyes. Thank you, Jesus. “Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.”

  11. ok, now my name is already there–kinda nice, it just wouldn’t let me type in those boxes before, unless I said “reply”. I think that’s what Chris was referring to above. Now I guess it “knows” me again 😉

    1. kinda glad to hear that you had the same issues I did.  I always think I missed something and it was all me.  Seems to be getting straightened out though 🙂

  12. One more thought (sorry for all the posts at once), but I’ve been pondering this lately. Sometimes I feel like we as a culture (or at least myself) are more concerned with the immediate, physical needs of others, and we lose our eternal perspective. When I think eternally, my neighbor who is fit and has plenty of money, but doesn’t know the Lord is far ‘worse off’ than those we immediately identify as “needy” (sick, poor, etc). Sorry, just thinking out loud–probably should pray more first over this, so I’ll stop here (thanks little p in the corner!). But I’m interested in others’ thoughts.

    1. Lizzy!   I haven’t read all your previous posts, but oh, this one hits such a chord with me right now.  Especially in light of a recent sermon I mentioned, where we were challenged to love our  literal neighbor.  Not just those far away who so obviously need our help.  I think of my ‘put together’ neighbor next door, who I admire and enjoy, but with whom I have never gone deep.  (and I’m embarrassed to say, we’ve lived next to each other for 26 years.   🙁  ugh.  heart tug here. )   And I love that the friendly little ‘p’ at the bottom of the page means PRAYER.  I had thought of Peace.  But I think that almost every time one of us posts, it could be enhanced by prayer.  (speaking to myself here.  loud and clear.)

    2. Lizzy, I’m reading from the bottom up right now… So agree with this.  I’ve sometimes joked about what people might assume about church priorities and values if they only heard prayer requests.  The vast majority of prayer requests I hear would indicate that Christians are a bunch of sick people who travel a lot  (with some grief and spiritual needs sprinkled in)

      1. Renee, this is so sad but so true, make us safe, make us healthy, make us happy, so little of confessing our sin one to another…

  13. 8. How is this upside-down thinking to how the world, and often we, think?

    I know that I would like my enemies to get their “just desserts” 🙁 I also believe that I work hard, so others can work hard as well. I forget that some of us are just not as strong as others. God made us the way we are as a human race, to compliment one another. When I help the homeless, needy, of afflicted, I show them Christ.

    1. It helps Laura to remember that were were Gods enemies when he saved us, and praise God he doesn’t give me what I deserve!

  14. A. How do we know this is important, according to verse 1? It says to shout it out, do not hold back in regards to declaring the message to Israel.

    B. Why were God’s people upset? They thought they had “done everything right” in order to hear from God. They think they have been righteous and “deserve” what they desire from God.

    C. What phrases show that God sees them differently than they see themselves? The word “seem” …
    “As if…”

  15. 5. Read Isaiah 58:3b-5 and describe the hypocrisy of their religiosity. Apparently (in verses 2-3) they have declared they have done what is right and God should be answering them. However, it becomes clear that they have lied, instead “doing what they want” and making others do what is not right on the day of the Sabbath in order to be able to say they did do what was right.

    What is interesting is that their arrogance is obvious. They have asked God, “have you not seen?!” But the fact is He has seen, He always see, but they never stopped to realize that perhaps God wasn’t answering them because they were in sin… Instead they are indignant and self-righteous

    1. Well, now I’m back to having the same blog problem others have been having.  So sorry to be tacking the post onto your post, Jill.

      (btw:  I did finally respond to your much earlier post, which I started once and lost my comment.  It must be on page one or maybe earlier on two.)


      ANYWAY, here is my TAKEAWAY:  Need to just say that it was another Stellar Keller sermon.   Oh.  so much to summarize.  I didn’t take notes as I’m busy working in my kitchen and getting ready for a trip, but it was excellent.  And yes, convicting.   I liked that he said ‘guilt’ doesn’t motivate us for long, though.  We have to be motivated by love and sincere dedication to the Lord’s purposes.  (my paraphrase).   Loved the definition that he gave for Shalom from Plantinga.    But I will have to go back when I have time and write it down.


      I haven’t been able to sit down long enough this week to do the study in an organized way.  But I’ve been reading Is. 58 daily and every night before bed.  And I’ve been gaining much from reading other’s discoveries and ponderings and processing some with you in that way.

      And THIS:   I am signing off now, because I am driving to meet our own Beth, who has periodically participated here and is very regular praying and participating on the facebook page.  Very excited for this!    She and I live about 4 hours apart and have never met in person, but have visited a lot via messaging.   It’s just amazing how the Lord has brought us all into such a close unity in this place.  Thank you, thank you, DEE for facilitating this great fellowship.   I hope these ‘meetings’ of twos or threes or more continue!  I love hearing about when others get together.  🙂  I’ll have to begin late next week, but I hope to join you at some point.


  16. Love this Wanda! You and Beth are fortunate to meet 🙂 will pray for your safe travels!

    1. THANKS!  Laura.   Scrolling here while I eat breakfast.  Then loading the car.  🙂

  17. 9. What speaks to your heart personally? How could you be more of a Isaiah 58 woman?

    I suppose, not being a hypocrite. I accepted my pregnant, unwed daughter to my home this year…..that constitutes taking care of your own “…flesh and blood….” I struggle with my children’s choices, so they receive the brunt of my judgment. I suppose I could be a bit more tolerant of their viewpoints? Tough.

    I am a co-advisor to our high school key club, a community service
    group. The students participate in a program called “end 68 hours of hunger.” They receive food donations and pack them weekly for 21 families in our district who are in need. The program is one that professes to feed the family from the end of the school day on Friday to the beginning of the school day on Monday (68 hours). I have just begun helping when I can and it is such a nice service project. I have learned so much from the giving of our students!

    I could visit some elderly friends of ours to have a cup of tea. I feel bad for the elderly. They need friendships.

    I’m sure there is plenty to do in and around my community; I could offer my services to others around their homes as was done for us last weekend.

    10. Is this scary? What truth could you speak to your soul?

    It is scary (I would add italics to the word “is,” but my choices for bold, italics, and such have disappeared!)…..it makes us somewhat vulnerable. For example, acceptance of illegal immigrants into our country at an unprecedented rate with no screening….having sanctuary cities where they may take refuge. I bring this up because being “friendly” can sometimes put you in a position where you are in danger also. The recent murder of a young woman in San Francisco is a perfect example. She was out on a walk with her father and was shot and killed by an illegal who had been deported 5 times! The city will not accept responsibility, and the U.S. senate just voted down (!) a bill to make sure this never happens again! Basically, the government (in my opinion) is only here to protect us and they are saying it’s okay to have these bad people here that can kill you in broad daylight, no problem? This is where my un-Jesus like behavior enters in. I think there is a fine line where you are giving to others, but then there must be a point where the other needs to step up too. I’m not sure I am explaining that very well, but suffice it to say there has to be some guidelines to know when you are being made a fool of, or running out of your own time/money that you can’t take care of yourself, or are a doormat, right? If the giver isn’t taken care of them the giver runs out of steam and energy and risks giving up. There must be a healthy balance. As Chrisitian as my mom was, she used to say to me to not get too busy at church that I forgot my own family. I think there is some wisdom there.

    1. Laura, you do raise some tough issues here. Helping, but not being taken advantage of. Jesus did tell his disciples to be innocent as doves, but shrewd as serpents. I think of all the mostly men that we see around my area who are on street corners, often at exit/entrance ramps to highways, holding signs that say they are homeless, or out of work, and anything you can give will help. There is a man at my church who volunteers at our city’s homeless shelter, and he said that he knows many of these men by sight, as they are at the shelter every night. He warned us not to give them money, as he said their needs for food, clothing, etc…were being met at the shelter. My co-workers and I were talking about this very thing yesterday. You feel bad to see someone holding their sign, and the sign most always says “God Bless You”…then you feel more guilty if you don’t give, yet we said that you could hand out $ 20 bills every day, and they’d still be standing there…it’s not a solution. Then one of the gals said that she always remembered from her childhood Sunday school days that she was told you never know when a person might be “Jesus in disguise”, and if you turn them away…

  18. 8. How is this upside-down thinking to how the world, and often we, think?


    In verse 14, the conclusion is that when we do what is right in the sight of God, when we care about those He cares about and spend ourselves loving and helping those with needs, we will find our joy in Him. The world’s message is that we will find joy in our jobs, success, lots of money, great vacations, “me-time”, hobbies, following our hearts and our dreams, entertainment, food…the list is endless, but it’s all basically living for yourself. I get caught up in this, too. I forget that all other sources of happiness and joy are only temporary and don’t really satisfy; I always have to come back for more, I always want more.


    9. What speaks to your heart personally? How could you be more of an Isaiah 58 woman?


    I admit I am mostly family-focused, as my own family takes up most of my time. At present time, I do not volunteer anywhere in the community. Other than taking care of my home with all that entails, my daughter and her needs and driving her to practices, etc…working part-time; I try as best I can, along with my two sisters, to assist my parents. They have practical needs that need to be met, like providing meals, help with cleaning their place, and just spending time with them. Sometimes I stay with my mom if my dad has to be away for a length of time, as we don’t like to leave her alone for a long period of time. She does okay if he goes on errands for an hour or so. In a Bible study that I am participating in now, one of the leaders is a lady I’ve known for quite a number of years, having taken her studies before. She is an older, very mature Christian, and she says, and in fact just said it this week, that if you are married, your number one priority/ministry is your husband. I’m not doing so well at that, as he often comes in more towards the bottom of my list.

    I do see my job as a nurse somewhat as a ministry, even though I get paid for it. I do see a call in this chapter to make sure that I am in a right relationship with God, that I have confessed any known sin and am not harboring things like unforgiveness towards anyone. To examine my heart for selfishness and wrong motives, and to see who is really sitting on the throne of my heart.

    I do think a lot about what the next season of life will hold for me, when I’m an empty-nester, and what I might do to serve Him and others.

  19. So this is weird….it wouldn’t let me edit my own comment! It said I didn’t have permission to edit “this comment!” Sorry for the typos and spacing. I usually do my blogging on my phone and many of the convenient features are gone. This new version reminds me of the old, where we didn’t have bold, italics, etc. also, when I am typing, the text is hidden as I increase the number of words. Only thing good is I don’t have to re-enter my name and email each time.

    So, I didn’t get to add in what I could speak to myself when I’m scared (#10).

    I could say, even though I am afraid of what is happening, I know You, Jesus, have control of the wheel. I know You are in charge.

    I guess I just think it’s wrong that someone can enter a country, kill a citizen, and then just be excused. Where is the justice? Where is the “taking care of your own” here? It’s wrong. We need laws here on earth to survive well while we are still here.

    I went in to see if I could edit this one, and it let me this time!

  20. 10. Is this scary? What truth could you speak to your soul?


    After reading Isaiah 58, and Jackie saw parallels to the Proverbs 31 woman, I know I can never be this perfect “Isaiah 58 woman”. I can never be 100% sure that my motives are pure even when I do something good! I fall so short of God’s standards. Yet, I know there is a verse somewhere that says that He can use “cracked pots”, and some “vessels” are made for noble purposes and others for more common household use. I am not a super Christian, for sure. I am studying 1 Corinthians in this study I’m in now, and it says, in chapter 1 verse 26, “Brothers (Susan), think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth.” Then, going on, Paul says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. IT IS BECAUSE OF HIM THAT YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, WHO HAS BECOME FOR YOU, SUSAN, WISDOM FROM GOD – THAT IS, YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOLINESS, AND REDEMPTION.” (personalized for me)


    I may do some great things for God, I may utterly fail. I may descend into selfishness for a time, then repent and turn back to Him. But Christ is my righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Even if I have a “good day” being “good”, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:31)

    1. I listened to Keller’s sermon, then tried to post but it wouldn’t let me enter my name/email, so I had to reply to myself to post!


      Certainly a convicting sermon, yet as Keller said guilt is a poor motivator. Some notes:


      Keller said this passage in Isaiah tells us about 1) The importance of justice. The opening verses describe people who are seeking the Lord, meaning they are worshipping. They are diligent, seem passionate to know His laws, their personal morality is perfect. Yet, they ask why God isn’t answering their prayers? Bad things are happening to them. God’s response in verses 6-7 is similar to Jesus in Matthew 25:41, when He said that if you don’t love the poor, the hungry, etc…you don’t really love Me.


      “A super-sensitive conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to others, especially the poor, is the inevitable sign of real faith, of real connection with God.” Justice is the great symptom of real relationship with God. It may develop slowly, but it will develop. Isaiah 1 also talks about seeking justice.


      2) The meaning of Justice


      Behind every place the Bible talks about justice, is the rich concept of Shalom. The “poor wanderer” in verse 7 is a person from another country, or another race – a refugee who has nothing. “Flesh and blood” means blood relatives. How does this apply to a refugee? Keller talked about the importance, almost to idolatry, of family in ancient times which led to tribalism and racism. Yet, the Bible says that a person of another race or nationality who is hungry and poor, in your neighborhood, is as much your flesh and blood as your own relatives. God says that He holds us responsible for them.


      At the foundation of the Hebrew Bible is the concept of Shalom, which means peace, but also that “God created the world to be a fabric, woven together, interdependent.” Threads thrown onto a table do not make a fabric; they must be woven together. All the entities of this world were made to be in a beautiful, harmonious, knitted, interdependent relationship to each other. Keller gave examples such as when all the parts of the body are working together as they should, that equals health. Cancer/disease is the unravelling of physical shalom.


      When people have money and they invest it in the community for great housing, schools, parks – that is social shalom. But when those that have ignore those who have none, the social fabric unravels. Example: “Potterville”.  God, humans, and Creation are webbed together – that is Shalom. Shalom means: universal flourishing, wholeness and delight, a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied, natural gifts are faithfully employed – all under the arc of God’s love.


      Shalom is really the way things ought to be. This is really different than the western idea of justice, which we think is freeing individuals from the group. Biblical justice is making you see that your stuff isn’t just yours, that you are woven together with the group.


      A righteous person says much of what I have belongs to the community. The wicked person says it’s all mine-my stuff.

      To do justice means you go to the places where the fabric is breaking down, where the weaker members of society are falling through, where the interdependence of things isn’t happening. “Share your food with the hungry” literally means “Serve, wait on the hungry.” To do justice means to take all the threads of your life – your emotions, time, body, your stuff, money, and you plunge it into the lives of others through thousands of involvements. If you don’t share what you have with others, it’s unjust.


      Are you feeling guilty? That’s a poor motivater. And doing justice isn’t a way to pressure God. When you use fear and pride to get people to be good, to get people to help the poor, you are actually nurturing evil in the very heart of your moral life, and at some point, the jury-rigging will fall apart. You haven’t changed the heart, you’ve restrained the heart, and that will never produce people who do justice. What will? Beauty.


      “Beauty stops us, transfixes us, takes the individual away from the center of his preoccupation with self and prompts a distribution of attention towards others.” God identifies with the poor. “I began to realize that Jesus did not just suffer for us, He suffered with us.” Jesus plunged Himself into our lives – that’s the beauty that gets you out of yourself. He threaded Himself into our lives. Does away with fear (He died for me) and pride (He had to).


      The most profound experience of grace is what leads to justice.

      1. Susan, Thank you for your notes!

  21. 12. What is your take-a-way and why?

    This week sharpened my appetite for the promises at the end of the passage, promises straight from the Mouth of the Lord. I want to pursue right desires, to be guided by the Lord, to have my desires satisfied by Him, to be fruitful, to build up the communities I am a part of, to delight in the Lord in life changing ways, to actually ride on the heights of the earth which sounds pretty spectacular!

    I want to stop doing anything for a show, or to feel as if I am up a rung higher on Gods approval scale than my neighbor. I want to be even more mindful that every material thing that is in my life or ever will be has come as a provision from my Father, who wants me to care deeply about my brothers and sisters, whether they are in the pig pen or standing outside the feast unwilling to come in because of their pride or fear.

    I don’t have to self protect, the Glory of God will be my rear guard!
    I don’t have to worry about what I will eat or what I will wear the Lord will continually satisfy me, He will make me strong.

    I want to be useful, to do my part as a thread in the fabric that works together in unity, bringing Glory to the Master Weaver!

    This passage from the Message came to mind:
    Romans 8:15-17
     This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

    1. I loved this week Dee, thank you for feeding and shepherding us 🙂

  22. Ok, so I listened to the Keller sermon (I have heard this one before) and understand what he is saying regarding what he is saying about the need to take care of each other because God designed the world this way. However, I disagree with him on the analogy of the schools and student learning. I’m very low on the “guilt” meter; I am a teacher and have 4 kids of my own….here is what I see everyday:

    – Tons of money getting spent
    – good, solid teachers and teaching
    – lots of parent involvement (my mom NEVER would come to school!)
    – enough supplies
    – a decent salary for teachers
    – A LOT of support for each individual child whether they have an IEP or not.
    I’m sure I could go on and on….I work in a profession that is TOTALLY catering to the students.


    – a majority of students who are interested in learning
    – a majority of students who try hard
    – a majority students who take responsibility for their own learning
    – a majority of students who have a desire to do well in school and think it’s important

    Notice what is common in these statements? It’s THE STUDENT. Unfortunately, our country is trying so hard to be the “helicopter” educational system that the student is figuring out they really don’t need to do anything because all the buzz is around them and if there aren’t any consequences then why bother taking charge? Let others buzz around you and you get off easy! Of course, I am not speaking of the honors students, but face it, they are few and far between! I believe that students will succeed when they feel threatened or gain an intrinsic desire to learn because it becomes important to them for some reason (fight or flight). We do too much FOR them. They need to feel like they are the ones in charge of their education, not all of us. If they take ownership then they will take care of their own learning. It is sort of a spiritual awakening they need to have of sorts. Think about this fact, Washington, DC spends the most on each child in our country (last stat I have is $29,000), and they have the LOWEST test scores. Whoa! What’s up with that? Inner city kids appreciate school because they don’t have too much to start with and realize they need help. Maybe I should be the next sec of Ed?! No, I would abolish the department of education!

    Anyway, back to justice and off my soapbox….I still think his idea is kind of “Pollyanna,” in that we have to live too. Yes that is selfish, I know. So human, I know. So negative, I know. But, I DO TRY in my local community, and I am going to a silent protest at the state Capitol on November 1 to support the persecuted Christians in the world (you should check out the other states to see where their rallies are that day). I do put myself “out there” and don’t always think of myself.

    I forgot to mention that my own kids had a VERY nice upbringing in a plush house with caring, involved parents, and Sarah still doesn’t have much in the way of an educated mind.

    1. Laura, thank you for your perspective on this, from your inside view because you are a teacher. I have a friend who just got a job as a 5th grade teacher, actually in the same school where I went to grade school, but things are very, very different there now. What she has shared with me is that the home life of some of these kids is so horrific, they can’t help but bring their problems into the classroom. They can’t separate their school life from their home life. One child, for instance, right now is homeless, along with his mother. Another child shared that her pregnant cousin was murdered last year by her boyfriend. My friend struggles to teach the curriculum but she said that these kids have so many needs that aren’t being met it’s hard.

      Then you bring up the problem of some who just don’t want to learn, aren’t motivated. I guess I’ve been sheltered because each of my kids has been motivated to do well educationally. I really don’t “push” them, nor did I have to fight them to do their school work. And yes, my mom was never at school, either…other than parents belonging to the PTA, we never really saw any parents in the classroom! I’m not sure what the essence of the problem is, or what the solution is, either. When Keller talked about how shalom is really the way things OUGHT to be, I did think, well, but we live in a fallen world where nothing is as it ought to be, and it won’t be, until Jesus comes back. Yet, I know that’s not an excuse to do nothing. I guess we each have to do our own small part, yet I don’t think we are the ultimate “Fixer”…only God can do that.

    2. Laura,

      I have posted my comments before yours came up. I always love your honesty about how things are. Smile. And I do agree with what you said about STUDENTS. I see so many of them just going through the motion. I ache for some who have the potential but have been operating on the victim mentality- “I can’t help it. I have been raised poor..this way.. my parents are….etc. I do try my best to make them responsible for their learning but it is an uphill battle. Entitlement. That is another thing I see among my students. I sure do need God to direct my steps or I will just be overwhelmed to my detriment.

    3. Laura, The part you wrote about students is true all the way through grad school (and it is encouraged by some teachers and administrators), especially in education and some social sciences.  Doesn’t help society and is embarrassing.  I’ve heard it said that education is the only area people don’t want to get their money’s worth.

  23. Susan, you raise a very good point about the street sign holders. I saw one at a local Walmart….his sign said will work for food and that he has 4 kids. Then I saw him 30 miles away at another Walmart. I wondered how he got there? I always feel guilty passing him (and others) by, but I just don’t think it’s safe for me to stop.

  24. Dee, I have always been able to “talk text” my comments to the blog, but that feature is no longer available since the new upgrade to the blog. I have always done this on my phone.

  25. Saturday
    12. What is your take-a-way and why?
    I struggled this week to keep up but have to remind myself not to feed my idol of approval (Got to write something to be “in the group”). Smile. Realizing I just need to be still before God and He will direct my steps. and so glad to have this quiet week-end to catch up on reading everybody’s notes. As the comment feed became longer, I found myself feeling like I am missing out and started resenting the requirements of my job (grading papers, getting lesson plans ready and so forth). Then it dawned on me that Isaiah 58 applies to what I am doing in my job! The principles of social justice can be carried through where I am at. Social justice has many facets and I just need to listen to God and to look closely.
    Tim’s example of the literacy problems particularly reading among children in New York struck a chord in my heart. I teach high school seniors and an alarming number of them struggle with reading and writing. I teach health science and presumed literacy skills among seniors should be at proficient level by the time they get to my class. Then, they would just be learning the technical terminology. Boy, was I wrong!  So even though my students complain about their research activities ( one student dropped my class because he thought I gave too many writing assignments), I plug along knowing it is a life skill that would put them in a good place in the future. And after many years of pushing for embedded credits of Language Arts for my class, my boss finally announced yesterday that they are working towards this effort! Only God can orchestrate the timing of this announcement with the Keller sermon today! Never have equated shalom with social justice.
    Praying for guidance as what to get more involved with-the opportunities are plenty to reach out to the poor, naked and hungry in the school and community where we work at and live in-our elderly with dementia and quality care (my passion), pregnant teen-agers (I have had 5 in class the last 3 years!); my students who are struggling academically because they are forced to grow up too soon (one is supporting her family and she is only 18!).
    Lord, create in me a passion for the poor. Forgive me for being one of those who care from a distance. I am afraid of pouring my life out in behalf of others-loss of comfort, health and possessions. Let me keep my eyes on your Son as my example and all for you and those you love. May you be the End of my endeavors.

  26. Take-away:  I liked Keller’s sermon and don’t feel guilty — and I’m very prone to guilt, mostly false guilt.  Isaiah 58 is a lot less scary for me than getting trapped in a middle class lifestyle, with a house, job, car, and stuff — and the need for a job to pay for and maintain  a house, job, car, and stuff.  I have a hard time extricating myself from the bureaucratic trap.  This week’s study reinforces what I think about often.  No guilt, a little fear of giving up health insurance, but my primary sin is that I don’t slow down enough to listen to the Lord and see His beauty.  It is idolatry with a gazillion little idols that add up to one big huge one that draws me away from the Lord.  Keller talked about having an experience of beauty.  May I see HIS BEAUTY — and “let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”  I LOVE that the Gospel draws us to social justice vs. “do social justice” to get the Gospel.

    My next “step” isn’t doing more — or doing less, well, maybe a little less; it is seeking Him, gazing on His beauty.  I’m thankful for this answer about how to “escape” the prison of bureaucracy, as well as get me “out of myself.”  Yes, “GRACE leads to JUSTICE.”  Also like that he ended the sermon with Micah 6:8 — one of my faves.  Keller’d better watch it; he’s sounding kinda liberal cuz liberals use this verse!!  😉

      1. Dee, I tried to post in the new week but since there is no comment to piggy back off of it won’t allow me to enter my name & email.

        Perhaps you might enter a comment on the week? Then we can continue as we have been until the bugs get worked out?


  27. What stood out: Read this at 5:30 am and even though my brain is dysfunctional at that hour, a whole bunch stood out. THEN, I read that Dee is talking to publisher tomorrow and that really really stood out — SoS! PRAYING!

    Couldn’t post through computer so am on cell phone.That’s my excuse not to write much about what stood out. I am soooo hopeful about and looking forward to this study