Crossroads: What We Do Matters to God

Isaiah 58:1-8

Your Story

Talk about a time when you helped someone else.

My Story and the Bible Story

I tend to give up soda every year for Lent. Part of it is because there’s a ton of sugar in soda and it’s not good to drink it every day. But part of it is also because soda is my crutch. When I’m stressed, I drink a Coke. When I’m upset, I drink a Coke. Instead of giving my worries and my fears to God, instead of talking to God about it, I try to solve things on my own. I drink a Coke and try to work things out. Giving up soda for Lent so that I turn to God when I’m stressed, worried, or upset, is good. It’s good for me to rely on God in those times instead of trying to do things on my own. But when I read passages like this one in Isaiah, I think that instead of giving up something for Lent, I should decide to do more. Instead of fasting from soda (or TV or Facebook or whatever it is you lean on), we should focus more on working to help those around us.

Read Isaiah 58:1-8.

The people were seeking the Lord. They wanted to know His ways. They even fasted to be closer to God. But they weren’t loving their neighbor. They were arguing with each other and hurting others. And in Isaiah, God reminded them that He didn’t care how much they fasted. What He cared about was how they were loving their neighbor. The way to be closer to God is by loving your neighbor, by sharing your food with the hungry, by giving clothes to those who need them, by providing shelter to those who need it, and by caring for others. Then, when we do that, when we show our love for our neighbors, 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.” God wants us to seek Him. But He also reminds us in Isaiah of how important loving our neighbor is. Giving up things doesn’t mean anything if we aren’t showing God’s love to our neighbors. It doesn’t matter how much we give up at Lent if we are ignoring the poor and hurting. As we begin Lent this year, find ways that you can show love to your neighbor. By doing so, you will be seeking after the Lord. And the glory of the Lord will go with you.

Discussion and Prayer

  1. Talk about concrete ways to love your neighbor this Lenten season.
  2. Use this list to create a schedule of ways to love your neighbor each week during Lent. Or, use this list to create a grab bag in a bowl at your home so that each week, each person draws a way that they can show love to their neighbor that week.
  3. Talk about what fasting means and its purpose.
  4. Pray, thanking God for reminders to love our neighbor. Ask for help in finding ways to share God’s love with others.

Rev. Jessica Asbell is the Minister to Children and Families at First Baptist Roswell, where she has been serving since 2012. She has written the children’s curriculum for Smyth & Helwys’s Annual Bible Study for the books of Daniel; Ezekiel; Luke; Jonah; 1 Corinthians; 1, 2, 3 John and Jude; Colossians; The Story of Israel’s Ancestors: Living toward a Promise; and Where Faith & Family Meet: A Book of Weekly Devotions. She has also written for CBF’s Spark and Form and for Affect in CBF’s fellowship! magazine. Married to Jonathan Oravec, Jessica reads every chance she gets.

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