Mother Theresa became known throughout the world for her work amongst the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. This has been just one more powerful prompt from the Lord to me, about his call upon my life, and in particular to reflect his love and compassion for the poor and marginalized in our society.
Then again, just yesterday, someone read a passage from Isaiah 58 which has always tugged at my heart. The text goes like this;
"Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free,
And break every yoke?
"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry,
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
"Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
"Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry,
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness,
And your gloom will become like midday.
"And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
"And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell." [Isaiah 58:6-12]
It causes me to reflect upon a parable Jesus told in Matthew 25:31-46 about the sheep and the goats (I encourage you to read the passage for yourself). Again and again in the Scriptures, from the old testament to the new, we see God's compassion for the powerless. I feel that to some extent my own ministry has not had sufficient focus upon relieving the needs of the poor. As I read the prophesy of Isaiah 58, God seems to calling Israel to a fast of compassionate ministry and justice. Working for the needs of those who are being unjustly treated and overlooked. God has a special heart for such people, he identifies with their suffering.
Surely the goal of his salvation being worked out in our lives, and our experiencing the liberating truth of the kingdom, is that we should seek justice for others. That we should spend ourselves on behalf of those less fortunate. In our desire to spread the good news of Jesus, we must first of all BE the good news, meeting real needs in people's lives. This a the way in which we demonstrate the love of God in a practical way simply because we want to be like Jesus who came to serve.
We can demonstrate genuine, practical love in all sorts of circumstances, we just need to ask the Lord to open our eyes and hearts to the needs around us. But I also believe that the Lord has opened a door through our connection with Myra Cross and the Dream Center. Just last night Carol and I shared a meal with Myra in our home. We were meeting to talk about a monthly worship and healing/prayer gathering we are planning to start next month. But she told of a man who had come into the food ministry yesterday morning to get some food. He had come with his wife. Despite being only in his 30s, he was bent over and found it difficult to get up and down. They took him into the chapel, invited him to kneel and prayed for him. There and then he received healing in his body and was able to stand up straight and touch his toes, when even just standing up had been very difficult for him. You can imagine the impact that trip to the food bank had on him and his wife!
We will experience the Lord's provision, his guidance and his light more in our lives when we give away what we already have. Our lives will become like a well-watered garden according to Isaiah - just like my Texas back garden today due to the persistent rains we have experienced - another beautiful sign in the natural of what God wants to do in the spiritual with all his children.
Praying for the harvest,