““Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Isaiah 58:6-12 NIV
For a while now there has been oppression and difficulty. But God challenged us at CLC with this promise. Like many of God's promises this one is conditional. It is a promise that we will RISE and that the glory of the Lord will make sure this happens when criteria are met. (I recognize that this is an unpopular message to those who misunderstand the grace of the Lord, as it requires some obedience. Let God be true...)
So here is a simple checklist. Perhaps you will go over it from time to time to check to see if your life is the kind of life that God can bless. I encourage you to make adjustments according to the Spirit of God's leading.
FASTING-Are you more interested in what heaven see's when you fast or what men see?
INJUSTICE- Are we speaking up against the unfairness of the system? The systemic racism, economic disparity, the blindness of the eyes of those who have and the oppression of those who have not?
YOKES- Are we interested in keeping people in their place of ignorance or are we teaching them the way of righteousness? Are we living, speaking, and teaching kingdom values?
OPPRESSION- Are we standing in the gap for those who are oppressed by darkness, the demonized and the downcast? Are we setting people free?
FOOD, SHELTER, CLOTHING- Are we meeting the physical needs of those who come to the Lord's house? Are we giving to benevolence funds? Are we sharing what is rightfully ours with those who have little?
GOSSIP and MALICIOUS TALK- Are we done with the petty trifles of interpersonal politics? Are we more concerned with what kind of person we are rather than what he or she thinks about us?
Then we can expect that our "light will rise" even in the environment of darkness. Then we can be assured that the Living God will strengthen us and be our supply; that he will hear our prayers and answer; that he will satisfy us and guide our lives. Then we can know that faith in the Living God is more than the words from our mouths but has become our lifestyle.
And that is the life that God can bless.