I’m not usually into using other people’s sermons. Every preacher has his or her own style of writing and speaking. It’s usually obvious to the hearers that you’re preaching someone else’s message.
Last night however I broke my own rule. With Annual Appeal, a funeral, extra rehearsals for the Saxhorn Band cabaret and the beginnings of some bug, all in one week, I was struggling to prepare. And Saturday morning we brought a young family home from their holiday at a Salvation Army caravan near Berwick.
I had downoaded the resources provided by The Salvation Army for a day of prayer around Human Trafficking. The sermon outline on Isaiah 58 caught my eye. Verses 6-12 in The Message paraphrase are particularly striking. They speak of God’s anger at injustice and oppression, and of his expectation that his people will work to restore society.
But he also promises that in renewing the society around them, we will be renewed:
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. (V10)
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
To an aging congregation that wonders where the energy will come from to work for growth, this is re-assurance indeed.
But beyond that, God promised a growing reputation. The line that really grabbed me was:
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again. (V12)
In a society with so much loneliness and isolation and brokeness, here is a vision worth our devotion and sacrifice
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