Our opening line makes me think about God from a marketing perspective. “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’” In our marketing classes, we tell our students to be looking for those people who are looking for them. That’s the whole idea of attraction marketing. You want to be attractive and provide the goods or services to those who need them and want them. The image of God I have here is that he is waving his hands trying to get our attention.
How frustrating it must be for God to have given us the keys to the kingdom (in Jesus) only for us to leave them sitting on the table. It’s not just us. These prophetic words were originally directed to the Israelites, a people who was lost. That is, they were separated from God. What do we know of them? They rebelled. They were selfish. They followed other gods. Hmmm. That could be our society.
Are we as hard-headed as those in Judah? Do we look to the might of men instead of the majesty of God? Isaiah is pointing out to us again “What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” Can you imagine how hard it was for Isaiah to sit back and watch his friends and neighbors continue in their sinful ways?
We probably have friends and family, too, who are content going about their lives with little attention to God, much less giving him the respect he deserves. It is frustrating for me to see the indifference. Does it help that I read passages like this and realize that people today aren’t acting that much different than those in Isaiah’s day? Maybe just a little. Not many of us are looking to Egypt for help!
The church in Thyatira is a good example of how “one bad apple spoils the bunch.” I don’t know about you, but when I’m sorting through my fruit and vegetables, particularly fresh cilantro, I remove the rotting pieces so that the others can stay fresher longer. But what happens when we overlook the bad apple in our midst?
Jesus commended this church on their love, faith, service, and endurance. Those are qualities that build a strong church community to be sure. Jesus’ words also speak truth when it comes to recognizing the false prophets among us. Sometimes we can’t see and are blinded to the truth. After all, they call themselves prophets. But who is leading them? Whose message are they bringing? They may even be disillusioned themselves to believe they are holy, when instead they are being controlled by the evil one.
We have all been sad about something. That’s when we
experience sorrow. How we handle our sorrow is what Paul is talking about here.
Do we let our sadness overtake us? Depending on what we are sad about, we might
even need to repent. Are we sad because of how we have sinned against God? That’s
the sorrow Paul is focusing on. Take a moment to think about what has caused
Sorrow alone accomplishes nothing. Sorrow is a feeling. If it
is caused by circumstances we cannot control, it only hurts us and robs us of
our joy. If we are saddened by something we have done (or not done) to sin
against God, there is a fix. Repentance.
We have been teaching our clients lately about establishing authority. It’s important in business for potential customers to see you as an authority, that is, knowing what you’re talking about. Here, the Pharisees are doubting the authority of Jesus. How crazy is that?! Granted, we know who Jesus is because we have the Bible.
When people question your authority or know-how, they aren’t very likely to listen to you. Think how much the Pharisees missed out on because they were not able to see what was right before them. It is a bit puzzling how the leaders with the most knowledge couldn’t see Jesus for who he was. They knew what they were looking for and expecting. They had access to all the Scriptures. Prophecies of old were likely passed down from generation to generation. Yet, their radars must have been turned off. Did God do that on purpose?