This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea” (Isaiah 48:17-18 NLT).
Friend to Friend
I was in a Bible study once with a woman who shared honestly about her struggle with passages in Scripture that contain God’s commands and correction. She grew up in a home where good behavior and church attendance gave their family a public reputation that didn’t match the abuse behind closed doors. She admitted that her childhood trauma often clouds her lens when reading Scripture. A counselor helps her separate her earthly father’s behavior from her heavenly One.
Whenever we seek to unpack Scriptures with a focus on trusting God’s commands and correction, we want to be sure we hold onto God’s character and heart behind His instructions and identify places where, like my friend admitted, our own filter of experience might skew our understanding.
Remember God’s instructions are not tainted by a human sin nature. You may not have endured spiritual abuse, but your parents, church leaders, employers, teachers, coaches and other authorities have all been imperfect. At times, they may have punished you unfairly, or their own lives may not have reflected the standards they enforced on others.
When it comes to the Lord, though, we want to be careful not to transfer the behavior of imperfect human authorities onto Him. In Isaiah’s message, we will find that His commands actually invite us closer rather than push us further from Him. Listening to God’s commands leads to peace. I know peace sounds really good to me right now.
In Isaiah 48, the Lord revealed this about His people, “You don’t keep your promises, even though you call yourself the holy city. And talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Isaiah 48:1b-2). These verses aren’t the feel-good ones we find on T-shirts or coffee cups. They remind us that God takes stubbornness and disobedience seriously.
I wish I couldn’t so readily identify with my own tendency toward self-sufficiency. Depending on the Lord isn’t my natural default, and I’m guessing it isn’t yours either. Our sin nature doesn’t direct us toward obedience. All of us struggle to stay within the boundaries God provides. This problem started in the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the tree God marked as “off limits” and continues to plague each one of us.
In order to grow in trusting God’s commands, we must acknowledge our propensity to ignore them. We need the Lord’s help – His Word, His Spirit, His community – to support us in our pursuit of obedience. We can’t comply on our own. And even when we get off course, the Lord doesn’t turn away. Instead, He disciplines us like a loving Father and charts a course back to Him.
We can trust His commands because they reveal the way God created people to live. While God gives us grace in our failures, He also empowers us through His Spirit to live holy lives. Thankfully, we don’t have to walk down the path of sin because God offers us everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).
We won’t ever be perfect this side of heaven, but we can grow in obedience to God’s commands. And when we listen, God showers us with blessings. God is always faithful, but His blessings are sometimes contingent upon obedience.
I am not saying you’ll have health, wealth, and prosperity if you obey God. The blessings God offers those who listen aren’t circumstantial ease or material blessings. God’s commands lead to life and freedom, and one of the side effects on this path is peace. God said He wanted to give His people peace like a river if they had only listened. Trusting God’s commands with our obedience leads to a life of peace. God offers supernatural power to help us as He calls us to active trust that evidences itself in behavior.
Lord, You are the First and the Last, the Creator of everything. You have the right to set boundaries and reveal commands. I confess my stubborn and obstinate nature. Help me to turn from sin and turn toward You. Show me where I’ve gotten off course and empower me toward holy living. Thank You in advance for Your peace!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
How might other authorities or experiences in your life (past or present) impact the way you approach God’s commands in the Bible?
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Melissa’s new Bible study titled Isaiah: Striving Less and Trusting God More for an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah.
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© 2023 by Melissa Spoelstra. All rights reserved.
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I needed this! So Timely
Dear Sister Melissa,
Have just re-read this devotion from yesterday.
Thank you for your words,”and even when we get off course, the Lord doesn’t turn away.”
That is something that those of us who have been “church hurt” need to hear.
I just didn’t realize, how deep and long standing, those hurts can go?!
Please know, how much yours and the other GIG writings, are so helpful to us everyday.