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Breathing Out: Here & There - Week 4 - Sermon Notes


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Righting Wrongs

Isaiah 58:1-12

In Genesis 2, all things were right in this world. In Revelation 21-22, all things will be right in God’s world. Now, they are not right. But God promises all things will be made new when he’s done with his work in a remade heaven and earth in which all things will be right. And, God’s Word declares that we get to 1) be made right ourselves and 2) participate in God’s mission to make all things new and right. And that enterprise is what the Bible calls “doing justice”.

God is involved in making right what is wrong in his creation – and he invites us to be involved with him in this task. The word the Bible uses for this is “justice”. In Micah 6:8, God says that his own character and his way of dealing with us shows us what is good. “What is good?” God asks. “It is good to seek justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with him.” Because that call to seek justice is so controversial in our day – and yet so important to God – let’s look at it head on.

#1: What Justice Means (58:9b-11a)

Our world doesn’t grasp what justice is about. What the Bible means by it is not at all what most of us think about when we hear this beautiful word. Some think justice has to do with governments forcing people to redistribute wealth. That, of course, smacks of ineffective and costly social programs. Others think of justice in a very selfish way saying, “If I don’t get what’s mine, it’s unjust.” But, in the Bible, justice has to do with all things in creation being the way God intends them to be.

Justice is directly connected to the Hebrew word shalom meaning “well-being” – the way life is supposed to be. A life of shalom is a life in which everything is in harmony. In Genesis 2, before sin entered creation, the world was ashalom-filled garden. When God created the world, it was a beautifully connected fabric of healthy relationships. Our relationship to God is the central thing. That relationship affects our relationship to ourselves and to other people. And those relationships affect how we relate to the rest of the created world – to our environment. Like a carefully knit fabric, it is only beautiful and useful if the fabric holds together – and each part is essential. God’s creation was a connected and interdependent fabric with each part affecting the whole.

We know that some fabrics are carefully interwoven – so carefully that when one thread is broken, the whole fabric begins to unravel. Some say that the more carefully interwoven the parts are, the more beautiful, the stronger, and the warmer the fabric is.

So, in Genesis 3, when the people rebelled against God, the fabric of this created world began to unravel. We feel the affects of it every day of our lives. No part of this world is all it should be. But God has promised he will make things right. This is what it means to do justice, i.e., to see things in God’s world that are wrong and to take action to make them right. This is what God is doing. And, when he is done, all will be new. Relationships will all be restored in a new heaven and earth.

Jesus came into this world to make us right with God. The word for that is justified. We first are declared right with God – forgiven of our sins. But, God’s justifying work is not to forgive us of our past and leave us in sin. He promises to make us new – to conform us to the image of Christ. All of us who are in Christ are now in the midst of God’s process of being made fully right.

And, amazingly, while God is remaking us, at the same time he sends us into our world to be engaged in his mission. We do what Jesus did – we look for places where the fabric is broken and we use whatever God gives us to repair the damage. We call people to be made right with God through faith in Jesus. That’s our most basic human need. But, we see other places where the fabric of God’s beautiful creation is broken. What kinds of places? Isaiah 58:6-7 speaks of things like human beings being poor and hungry. People made in God’s image who are poor and hungry are not experiencing God’s shalom. Isaiah speaks of immigrants who have no shelter or place of belonging. People made in God’s image are not meant to be alone, alienated and without a place to call home. Isaiah speaks of our families. When our own flesh and blood – including our spiritual flesh and blood – are hurting and we have resources, we are to do what we can to right wrongs.

Those of us who are made right with God through faith in Jesus – whom Jesus calls the just or the righteous in Matthew 25 – use whatever God has given us to rebuild walls and to further his rule in our broken world. Those who are wicked consume all that we have for ourselves. When we make a commitment to being involved in God’s work of making things right, we cannot do everything but we look for opportunities of furthering God’s kingdom in the world. We live each day with God’s perspective on the world. When we see the fabric of God’s world broken around us, we engage in seeking his justice. We see evil or suffering and we say, “That’s wrong! So, how can I make a difference through the power of God and to the glory of God?” That’s what doing justice means.

#2: How Important It Is to Act Justly (58:6-7)

Some people are a bit shocked by what looks like a contradiction between v. 1 and v. 2. In v. 2, God says he’s speaking to people who “seek him out”. That phrase was a Hebrew idiom for the entire worship life of the people. It’s what we call “breathing in” here at LAC. For them it included things like the temple worship, the prayers, the sacrificial system, the days of fasting, and the celebration of God’s festivals. So, this message is for what we would call church people – and, not unfaithful church people. God says in v. 2 that the people are engaged in their religious activities “day after day”.

But, the shock is that these church people are the very people God says are in rebellion. God calls them sinners in V. 1 and he tells his preacher, Isaiah, to blow trumpets and preach loud because their sin is serious. Why isn’t God saying that all these people who don’t know God and are pouring into Israel’s borders are the sinners? (That was happening in Isaiah’s day.) Why doesn’t God tell Isaiah to preach to those who are ignoring worship? That’s what we have to ask.

Notice also that these church people are upset with God. Interestingly, they think God is the one being unjust in v. 2. Why do they think this? It’s because they keep showing up at worship and even trying to be moral people but God is not giving them what they want! See v. 3a.

But God says there is something that is not genuine about their worship. Yes, they are breathing in. They’re singing the songs, listening to the messages and taking days to fast. But, what God says is that their lives are showing that all their “religion” is not real. What God says is that when we know him personally, we will see the world the way he sees it – we will see people the way he sees people. That means that we will get involved in furthering his rule in this hurting world.

What kinds of things will show that are connected to God personally? Look again at vv. 6-7:

  • Caring when people are shackled – in prisons or in addictions or trafficking. We will seek to set the oppressed free and break every yoke (v.6).
  • Sharing food with hungry people when we have food ourselves (v. 7a).
  • Getting people out of homelessness (v.7b). This was especially true of the immigrant in Israel. The family was Israel’s social system – and immigrants had no family. They were not Israelites but they were people – people made in God’s image. God has always existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and it is not good for people to be homeless and alone.
  • Providing clothing for those who do not have it (7c).
  • Providing focused care for our own families (7d).

In summary, Isaiah 58 (and Jesus in Matthew 25) teaches: If we do not love the poor, the hurting, the hungry, the imprisoned, and the alienated, then we do not really love the God whose image they bear. Our religion is only an outward form – it’s a punching of the clock at the office. The way we deal with the hurting is an accurate reflection of our relationship with God. This is why it’s so important.

#3: What Motivates a Life of Righting Wrong

Miserable Motivators:

  • Not guilt – Do you feel guilty already when you read a passage like this? Well, I know this – guilt doesn’t last. It blows over. The Bible doesn’t use guilt as a motivation (though we who are preachers often are inclined to do it).
  • Not a way to earn God’s favor – God doesn’t say, “You’ve shown up for worship and Bible studies and you’ve tried to live a moral life. Now just add one more work to all that – help the poor too and you’ll get be OK.” That would just make us tired – and we’d never do it perfectly anyway. Mark it down: We don’t earn God’s favor. We are not saved by our works!
  • Not fear – The Bible does not teach, “Do good things or God will get you for it.”
  • Not pride – The Bible never says, “Do good and everybody will think you’re a good person.” In fact, pride is the main problem that breaks the fabric of God’s creation. So, God never motivates us by saying, “please do some good things so that you can feel good about yourself.”

All those things would just contribute to our already existing self-centeredness. The above motivations won’t last. So, what will motivate us to live a life as Jesus lived?

I’ll simply mention them and then call Lisa Borden to come up and tell how her life has been blessed through living a life of seeking justice. Two factors motivate us in a lasting way:

God’s Motivators

  1. 1) Humble gratitude for God’s grace and love to us – Rom. 12:1: In view of God’s mercy to us, we offer our lives as living sacrifices. This is what a life of devotion and worship is all about.
  2. 2) The joy of participating in God’s healing work in his world. When we live a life of seeking to use whatever God has given us to bring his love, his hope, and his healing to the world, we know that this is how life is to be lived. Isaiah puts it more beautifully than I see it anywhere else in the Bible:

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousnesswill go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard…

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 58:7, 11a-12


To His glory,

Dr. Greg Waybright
Senior Pastor

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歸正: 這裡與遠方的使命


在創世記2章中,所有在這個世界上的事情都是對的。 在啟示錄21章至22章中,所有在神的世界中的事情都會是正確的。現在,他們是不正確的。但上帝承諾,當他完成他的工作來重做天堂和地球後,所有事情將會是新的,所有的東西將是正確的。
上帝邀請了我們參與這項任務。聖經中使用的詞是“正義”。在彌迦書6:8,上帝的性格以及與我們交流的方式指示了什麼是好的。什麼是好的?”上帝問。 “世人哪!耶和華已指示你何為善。他向你所要的是什麼呢?只要你行公義,好憐憫,存謙卑的心,與你的神同行。” 因為尋求正義的這一個呼籲在我們的日常生活中是充滿爭議的 - 但對 上帝 是如此的重要 - 我們現在直接來看看。

#1 正義的意思
不是在我們大多數人認為的意思。當我們聽到這個美麗的詞的時候,聖經上所指示的意思和我們大部分的人所想的是非常的不一樣。有人認為,正義是政府迫使人們財富重新分配。 有些人自私地認為正義指得是,“如果我不得到我應得的,就是不公正的。” 但是,在聖經中,正義指得是當創造萬物的 上帝 想要萬物如何地運行。
正義直接連接到希伯來文裡,是“幸福” - 生命的方式應該是如何。一個平安的生活,這一切是在和諧的生活中。在創世記2章,在罪進入創作之前,世界是一個充滿平安的花園。當上帝創造了世界,是一個健康的關係就像是精美的織物互相連接。我們與神的關係,是萬事的中心。這種關係會影響人們之間的關係和與其他人的關係。並影響到我們和世界其餘創造的部分 - 我們的環境的關係。就像一個精心編織的織物,只有當織物是編織在一起的時候才是美麗的和有益的,- 每個部分是必不可少的。神的創造是一個關連相互影響整體的,和相互依存的織物。

有些經過非常經心設計的織物, 當其中有條線斷了, 整個織物就會開始脫線。整個織物越經心設計,其中的織線就越美,越強壯,越溫暖。
所以在創世記3章中, 當人們開始反叛上帝時, 這個織物就開始斷線了。 但是上帝答應會把一切更正的。 這就是正義的意思。 在 主的世界裡, 採取行動改正不正確的事。 這就是上帝正在做的事, 當祂 完工了, 一切都會是新的 。 所有的關係都會重建復原。 所有的關係都會復原在一個全新的天地。

耶穌來到這個世界來使我們與上帝的關係正確。 我們首先與神被宣告 - 赦免我們的罪。神並不是原諒我們的罪後就讓我們留在罪裡 祂 承諾,使我們更新 - 使我們符合對基督的形象。現在我們所有在基督裡的人都在經歷神使我們完全正確的過程之中。

奇妙的是, 當神在重造我們的過程中, 祂 同時並把我們派遣到世界各處來從事祂 的使命。 我們要做耶穌所做的, 找尋織物損壞的地方, 然後使用上帝給我們的才能把這織物修補。 我們呼籲人通過信仰耶穌與讓神使人復甦更新。這是我們人類最基本的需要。但是,我們看到神的美麗創作被打破的其他地方。是什麼地方呢?
以賽亞書58章6-7節說人類貧困和飢餓的事情。人是以神的形象造出的,而貧困和飢餓的人沒有經歷神的平安。以賽亞說到沒有地方住, 無處可歸的移民。以神的形象造出的人不應該是孤獨,疏離,無家可歸的。以賽亞講到我們的家庭。當我們自己的親骨肉 - 包括我們精神的骨肉 -受到傷害而我們有資源時,我們要盡我們所能來糾正錯誤。
如同馬太福音 25章所寫,當我們看到我們周圍神的織物被破壞的地方,我們要尋求 祂的正義。我們看到邪惡或痛苦的事 我們會說,“這是不對的!所以,要怎麼能改變這些,通過神的力量和神的榮耀呢? 這就是尋求正義的意思。

經文第一和第二節之間看似的矛盾讓很多人都很吃驚。 在第二節裡上帝說祂和尋求祂的人說話。 這個短語是用在整個敬拜生活中西伯來俗語, 這就是我們在LAC所說的吸入。 對於他們來說這包含了教堂敬拜, 禱告, 獻祭, 禁食, 和對上帝節日的慶祝。所以這條訊息是給我們所說的教會人員, 而且不是沒有信心的教會人員。 上帝在第二節經文中所說, 人們日復一日的參加他們的宗教活動, 但是讓人吃驚的是, 這些教會人員 是上帝所說的不馴服的人。 上帝在第一節中稱他們為罪人。 祂告訴祂的傳道人以賽亞 去吹號角, 並大聲宣教。 因為他們的罪太嚴重了。 為什麼上帝不稱那些不知道上帝 的人,和湧入以色列邊境的人,為罪人呢? (這是在以賽亞的年代發生的事情) 為什麼上帝不讓以賽亞去像忽略敬拜的人傳道呢? 這是我們要尋問的。 請注意到這些教會人員對上帝很失望。 有意思的是他們覺得, 在第二節裡, 上帝是不公平的。 他們為什麼會這樣想呢? 這是因為他們堅持參加敬拜, 甚至努力成為有道德的人。 但是上帝卻沒有給他們 他們所想要的。 請參見第三節a。 但是上帝說, 他們的敬拜裡有不真心的成份 。是的 他們在吸入他們在唱歌, 在聽傳道, 並且花好幾天禁食。 但是, 上帝所說的是, 他們的生活表現出來他們的"宗教"不是真的。 上帝說當我們親身經歷祂 時我們會按祂看世界的方式來看世界。
我們會按祂看人的方式來看人。 這意味著, 我們會積極地參與到在這個受傷的世界裡傳揚祂的法則。

什麼樣的事情會和上帝親自有關?再看看第 6到7節
•關懷在被束縛捆綁中的人們 - 在監獄中的,成癮中,被拐賣的。我們將尋求 使被欺壓的得自由,折斷一切的軛(6節)。
•幫助無家可歸的人(7節b)尤其是在以色列的移民更為如此。家庭是以色列的社會制度 - 但是移民沒有家庭。他們不是以色列人,但他們是人 - 是以神的形象所造的人。上帝聖父,聖子和聖靈一直存在,無家可歸和孤獨的對人們是不好的。
總之,以賽亞書58章(耶穌在馬太25章)教導:如果我們不愛窮人,受傷害的,飢餓的,被囚禁的,被孤立的人,那麼我們就不是真的愛他們所反應的神的形象。我們的宗教就只是外在的形式 - 就像在辦公室的時鐘打卡。我們對代受傷害的人的方式是我們明確地反映我們與神的關係。所以它是如此重要。

•不內疚 - 當你讀到這樣的一段話 ,你已經感到內疚嗎? -內疚無法持續。它會被淡忘。 聖經不使用這個當做動力(雖然我們傳教士往往傾向於這樣做)。
•不是用來贏得上帝的青睞 - 神不說,“你有參加禱告崇拜和聖經研讀 你也試圖過著道德的生活。現在只需添加更多的工作, 幫助窮人,你就會好的“”這只是讓我們覺得累 - 我們也沒有辦法這麼完美地做得。請注意:我們不是獲得上帝的青睞。我們不是靠著做好事而得到拯救的!
•不要害怕 - 聖經並沒有教導我們, 做好事否則神會處罰你。”
•不驕傲 - 聖經從來沒有說:“做好事,大家會認為你是好人。”事實上,驕傲就是破壞了上帝創造的織物的主要原因。所以 神 從來不會以此來激勵我們,說,“請做一些好的事情,所以你可以對自己感覺很好。”
我會簡單地提到它們,然後請麗莎博登(Lisa Borden)上來,告訴我們她的生活是如何受到祝福 ,如何尋求正義的生活。 兩個因素促使我們持久的方式:

1)謙虛感激上帝的恩典和對我們的愛 - 羅馬書12章1節:因為神對我們的憐憫,我們將將生命獻上,當作活祭。這就是虔誠和崇拜的生活的模範。

" 這樣,你的光就必發現如早晨的光,你所得的醫治要速速發明,你的公義必在你前面行,耶和華的榮光必做你的後盾。

以賽亞書 58:7; 11a-12


格雷格 Waybright 博士



Greg Waybright • Copyright 2012, Lake Avenue Church