Lord, incline my heart to Your testimony and not to covetousness. Amen.
Text: Isaiah 58:9-11
“Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke 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 the 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.”
God is rich. He always has enough to share. He is also ready to do it. He delights in blessing and making us happy and filling our hearts with good things. If we will simply submit to God’s will, renounce our unbelief, live from God’s mercy, and practice it toward others, then we shall have the Lord’s blessing abundantly, draw water from the wells of salvation, draw more and more for friends and foes and be sweetly refreshed ourselves. In that case what you ask, you shall have, for then the Lord’s will is your will, so that you desire what is good for yourself and others. Just as it is the Lord’s desire to feed and refresh, so it is also your desire and joy to feed the hungry, and to comfort the afflicted. The Church is the home of love and mercy. There are all kinds of sick and troubled people in Bethesda’s porches, so that we may practice mercy. But also there is always divine healing in Bethesda’s pool, since God’s Son came and offered Himself on the altar, from whose wondrous side water flows forth, so that we never need to stand helpless toward one another’s needs.
Our text has precious promises for the people of love. Darkness and deep darkness shall become like noon for you, that is: the worst shall become the best. The Lord shall always lead you, always, every hour—today and from now on, every moment and continually through your whole life, and through death. My heart therefore rejoices. He shall feed your soul in dry places and strengthen your bones. When your heart is tired, and your bones ache, when your strength is dried up, so that you wither and bear no fruit, — then God who has a heaven full of everything that you need shall feed your soul, strengthen your bones, make you into a blessing: you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters never fail. This the Lord’s mouth has spoken. Believe it, and you will not be disappointed! — Understand: you are not first rich in love, so that then you believe and receive God’s blessing. But in the midst of your sinful poverty believe God’s love as pure grace, and practice it. This is the way of life from the first to the last moment.
Give us, O God, Your Holy Spirit to know You, believe in You, and live in You. “Set our hearts with heavenly fire aglow” for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Bless us, O God, our Father good,
Bless us, O Jesus, by Your blood,
O Holy Spirit, do now come,
Throughout the world, bless Christendom.
Go forth then, by Your God now blest,
True chosen Bride of Jesus Christ!
Go forth with peace and joyous song,
God is with you your whole life long.
Blest be your going out with cheer,
Blest be again your entrance here,
Blest in the light that once was won
By Jesus Christ, God’s precious Son!
Herbert: Vor Herre Gud og Skabermand L 90:4-6 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Erhalt uns Herr (ELH 589); alternate hymn: In Adam we have all been one ELH 431