I like to barter; I really do. I’ve been to countries such as Turkey or Tunisia, where if you don’t try to haggle, barter, or otherwise get a better deal, it’s viewed as an insult. I once spent three hours in Kusadasi talking a chess set down from two hundred dollars to forty. I could’ve likely gotten it for twenty-five, but by then, I’d had so much apple tea that my bladder was ready to explode, and it was an open-air market that did not have what one might call facilities. I still have the chess set somewhere; I think it’s in Romania. Jade pieces, with a marble board that weighs a good twenty pounds, all told.
God, however, doesn’t barter. He’s not interested in playing
let’s make a deal. He’s not trying to sell you anything, nor is He so hard up
on cash that He’s willing to take less than the offer on the table. Your life
for His because He gave His life for yours. Your dirty, filthy rags, for robes
of righteousness. Your broken ruin of a present, for a born-again you that is
whole, healed, and purposeful. And yet, somehow, people want more. That’s not
enough. Throw in a Bentley or a mansion. Throw in a jet or fame and fortune.
And God’s reply is “no”. This is the offer on the table; take it or leave it. I
hope you take it. He’s facilitated the opportunity for you to be reconciled to
Him, but He won’t force you to or compromise Himself.
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in
Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk
While most believers know the previous verse in Ephesians and
can quote it verbatim from a dead sleep, about being saved by grace through
faith and not of works lest anyone should boast, few can quote the next verse,
which is a continuation of Paul’s exhortation, bringing a much-needed balance.
Yes, we are indeed saved by grace through faith, but once we
are born again and we are created in Christ Jesus, it is with a purpose. We are
created in Christ Jesus for good works, and these are works God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.
How hard does one have to twist to get from “you were created
in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared that we should walk in them”
to “do what thou wilt?”
So what are these good works we should walk in? That is the
question, is it not? They’re not something subjective that we can choose on our
own; they’re something God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Isaiah 58:6-7, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to
loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed
go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the
hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you
see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
God has long established and prepared the ways in which we
should walk, and they have nothing to do with flash and everything to do with
substance. Jesus encapsulates all the things that make for the fast that God
has chosen into three words: Justice, Mercy, and Faith!
Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected
the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to
have done, without leaving the others undone.”
If you go through the itemized list of what Isaiah relayed to
the people of his time, they can all be boiled down to either justice, mercy,
or faith. The roots of every one, from loosening the bonds of wickedness to
undoing the heavy burdens, breaking every yoke, or sharing bread with the
hungry, can be traced back to justice, mercy, and faith.
Fasting doesn’t change God; it changes us. The closer we draw
to God, the more we change, the more we are transformed, and the more justice,
mercy, and faith God will see in us. We walk in His ways by walking in His
ways. Not by talking about it, thinking about it, pretending to do it, or
telling others that we are. You can’t fake walking in His ways because He will
search your heart to the innermost and know the truth of it.
You can call it cause and effect, reciprocity, or Newton’s
third law, but God said if you do these things, your light will break forth
like the morning.
Isaiah 58:8-11, “Then your light shall break forth like the
morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall
go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall
call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If
you take the yoke away from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and
speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the
afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness
shall be as noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul
in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and
like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
Through the prophet Isaiah, God lays out what the people will
receive if they pursue justice, mercy, and faith. As individuals and as a
nation, relationally with each other and with Him, and what He promises can by
no means be readily dismissed. Just one of the things in this long list of
things God promises His children if they would pursue Him as He desires is
worth anything He would ask.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Posted on 10 February 2024 | 10:40 am
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