(photo credit: theunsecretshopper.com)
"God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: 'Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me--The very thing you've been unwilling to do.'" (Isaiah 30:15, The Message)
Several verses in Isaiah 15 stuck out for me this morning, but this is the one I sensed God leading me to share for your encouragement.
There are many "works" based religious systems in the world. By the multiplied thousands, they are gaining adherents. They jump through religious hoops, perform rituals, submit themselves to rules that change at the whim of their leaders. In some of the more bizarre and cultish of these, there is even abuse involved.
Unfortunately, even Christianity can become ritualistic and rules based. It seems much simpler to have a formula that says, "If you do this certain thing (or avoid this other thing), then God will bless you." Here's the problem with that: it puts us in charge. If God works in formulas, then He is obligated to do what we want as long as we have pushed the right buttons or jumped through the right hoops.
In case you have missed this along the line, I want to let you in on a little secret: God has not put us in charge.
Today's verse (with New Testament understanding): "Your salvation requires you to turn back to me (repentance--turning to God, thus away from sin) and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves (rituals and works). Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me (trust in the completed work of Christ)--The very thing you've been unwilling to do (because it requires faith instead of formulas).
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9, New Living Translation)
Question: What do you need to stop doing that you are doing hoping that it pleases God? What do you need to start doing because He is pleased with you and you just want to make Him smile?
Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts.