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Joining Jesus' mission: make our world more like God’s kingdom now

May 15, 2023

Daily Scripture

Isaiah 58:2-8, Isaiah 61:1-3

Isaiah 58

2 They seek me day after day,
    desiring knowledge of my ways
    like a nation that acted righteously,
    that didn’t abandon their God.
They ask me for righteous judgments,
    wanting to be close to God.
3 “Why do we fast and you don’t see;
    why afflict ourselves and you don’t notice?”
Yet on your fast day you do whatever you want,
    and oppress all your workers.
4 You quarrel and brawl, and then you fast;
    you hit each other violently with your fists.
You shouldn’t fast as you are doing today
    if you want to make your voice heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I choose,
    a day of self-affliction,
    of bending one’s head like a reed
    and of lying down in mourning clothing and ashes?
    Is this what you call a fast,
        a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 Isn’t this the fast I choose:
    releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
    setting free the mistreated,
    and breaking every yoke?
7 Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry
    and bringing the homeless poor into your house,
    covering the naked when you see them,
    and not hiding from your own family?
8 Then your light will break out like the dawn,
    and you will be healed quickly.
Your own righteousness will walk before you,
    and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 61

1 The LORD God’s spirit is upon me,
    because the LORD has anointed me.
He has sent me
    to bring good news to the poor,
    to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim release for captives,
        and liberation for prisoners,
2     to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
        and a day of vindication for our God,
    to comfort all who mourn,
3     to provide for Zion’s mourners,
    to give them a crown in place of ashes,
    oil of joy in place of mourning,
    a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
    planted by the LORD to glorify himself.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Isaiah 58 likely spoke to Israelites back from exile in Babylon. Why, some asked, didn’t God bless their fasting? “The fact that people continue to act unjustly even on fast days suggests that religious devotion isn’t causing worshippers to think about their treatment of others…. The acceptable fast means refraining from taking economic advantage of others, and instead offering assistance needed for health and dignity.” * God usually works through people. Jesus quoted chapter 61 (cf. Luke 4:16-21) calling people to join in his mission to make our broken world better.

  • In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet promised that God would give those who have been poor, captives and mourners “a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement.” Jesus, in the gospel of Luke, claimed that passage as defining his mission. How do those prophetic words guide us in defining our calling as Jesus’ followers?
  • Through the prophets, especially the prophetic Jesus, God has defined the “big picture” shape of the divine mission God calls us to join. But actually living out God’s big mission calls for you to understand and use your individual gifts, strengths and dreams. In what ways have you been able to incorporate your gifts and passions in what you do to help carry out God’s mission in the world?

Lord, use me in your mission to invite the world to Your Kingdom. Thank you for your guidance through the Holy Spirit in my life. Transform me to be more like Your Son. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She was ordained in the Rio Texas Conference where she served as an associate pastor in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb and Jacob, friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” –Frederick Buechner

People are often curious to learn how someone who grew up in California ended up moving to Kansas to serve with Resurrection. The shortest and simplest answer is that this is my dream job. I feel like everything that I love about loving God and serving people is what I am blessed to do on a daily basis. Spend time with adorable babies and baptize wonderful kids–yes! Pray with people before they head into surgery–yes! Meet with a couple to support them and perform their wedding–yes! At every funeral celebrate the good news of Easter and our belief that the worst thing is not the last thing–yes! Serve alongside the most incredible people as we share God’s love with our neighbors–yes! While ministry can be challenging, I feel so much joy serving as one of your pastors.

With each personal story Pastor Adam shared in his sermon yesterday I found myself in awe of how people said, “What now?” rather than solely focusing on “Why?” Assured that God was walking with them, those who experienced suffering and tragedy were willing to see how God might work good out of something heartbreaking. Finding new purpose, every person opened themselves up to how the Spirit might be moving in their lives. God didn’t cause the suffering, but every personal story reminded us that God can redeem our suffering. As we conclude the sermon series, Why? God, Suffering and Hope, I pray that we will begin this day and every day saying, “Here I am, God–use me.” You have distinct gifts and your story is unique. God can use you to be a blessing. So remember this day that you are not alone. God is with you. Your church family surrounds you. And the world will be blessed by what you give.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Patricia K. Tull, study notes on Isaiah 58:3-7 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1189-1190 OT.