All Who Are Thirsty

All Who Are Thirsty   Isaiah 55:1-11

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Introduction

 Maybe everyone has an idea of what they want for Christmas, or what the perfect Christmas might be. Are you dreaming of a White Christmas? God has an idea of what he wants his people to experience. In the end, His idea will prevail and his Kingdom will look just like he wants it to. In the mean time, our own sin and weakness prevent us from experiencing all that God has in store for us. Isaiah was a prophet to Israel – and they had lost their entire image of what God wanted for them to enjoy. The loss of the Promised Land because of their own idolatry and failure was stunning to them. In the hands of their enemies they at times felt there was no hope … but God is not in the giving up business!

Isaiah 55 is God’s open invitation to the beaten up, discouraged, broken, hurting humanity … it’s His “Christmas list” that all would follow Him. God’s List is much different from ours. It’s not speculative nor doubtful, but certain, inviting. It’s not only for the shining special ones, but for those who’ve come through the mud and dirt of a long  messy journey through life. Through Isaiah God invites us to into his vision for His eternal kingdom. Today I hope we hear God calling us closer to Him, and that we will joyfully respond in faith!

1. WHO NEEDS TO HEAR GOD’S CALL? (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Those who are living in great need. (1)

Isaiah 55:1 All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!
 Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!
 Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!

Thirsty, poor, hungry people are called toward Him. “When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that God is enough.― Maude Royden. Whether physically or spiritually, the needy are wanted and welcomed.

It’s for the frustrated (2)

Isaiah 55:2 Why spend money for what isn’t food,
 and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?
 Listen carefully to me and eat what is good;
 enjoy the richest of feasts.

Unfilled, unsatisfied, unable to take another step. “Isaiah said that this offer is for everyone…God’s grace leaps over racial barriers, leaps across class distinctions, soars over social bars, and finds its way to every hungry, languishing dispirited souls. The Church of Jesus Christ is the only institution in the world some doors are open to every class, caste, race,  color and nation.” – Billy Graham

If anyone ever felt that life was too big a mess for God to accept them, take heart… God built his Kingdom for you and calls everyone to come.

2. HOW WE CAN ANSWER GOD’S CALL (Is 55:6-11)

Thirsty For God 

Isaiah 55:3,6 Listen and come to me;
 listen, and you will live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
 my faithful loyalty to David. … Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
    call him while he is yet near.

God is outreaching to Israel, even after their continual rejection that landed them in captivity. God is reaching out to us no less…no matter what rejections or failings we have experienced. His offer is based on an everlasting covenant he made with King David – a great example of someone who had everything a human could want but still blew it. What are you doing to seek God in your life?

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Thirsty For Mercy

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked abandon their ways
    and the sinful their schemes.
Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
    to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.

Because of our sin: Mercy is for those who need it – a withholding of what we deserve because of our sin. 

Because of our thoughts: Isaiah instructs to leave behind old sinful ways and thoughts.

Psalm 10:4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Because of His grace: We should be eager to seek God because He is generous with forgiveness. 

Thirsty For His Wisdom

Isaiah 55:8, 9 My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways,
 and my plans than your plans.

The more we follow our hearts, the more we get into trouble. We need the insight of One who is greater than we! God sees a much bigger picture than we do.

Thirsty For His Word (10-11)

Isaiah 55:10,11  Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
 and don’t return there without watering the earth,
 making it conceive and yield plants
  and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater, so is my word that comes from my mouth;
 it does not return to me empty.
  Instead, it does what I want,
 and accomplishes what I intend.

“His word, which once spoke the universe into existence…has lost none of its ancient power. Nothing can frustrate it, or divert it from its course.” –  Webb

“Take heed in how ye hear. In all tenderness and yet with great earnestness and great conviction. … How shall we hear? Prayerfully, obediently, and in faith. Let us pray that in our lives God will plow up the fallow ground, give us the receptive heart, the child heart, willingness to hear and learn…” – G. Campbell Morgan

Conclusion

All who are thirsty are invited to come to God seeking His Mercy, His ways, his words. We do this by seeking Jesus who calls us to to Kingdom in vivid ways.

He calls us from His amazing birth!

He calls us from his amazing teachings!

He calls us from the cross!

He calls us from the empty tomb!

With Jesus the hungry, thirsty, needy find fulfillment in every way that matters.

You might get everything on your wish list for Christmas, but in the end it’ll leave you empty and unsatisfied. No possession in this world offers can fulfill us and lead us to the Kingdom of God. Seek God, Listen to Him!

“When Christ went to Jericho, He touched the lives of two men: Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus. One was at the top of the social ladder, a tax gatherer; and the other at the bottom of the social ladder: a beggar. Christ saw both of them, not as rich and poor but as miserable, disillusioned, unhappy men. Freely He applied His grace to the needs of both, and sent them on their way rejoicing and satisfied. I submit to you that if Christ can meet the need of the highest, and the need of the lowest, then He can meet the needs of all of us in between.”  – Billy Graham

LifeGroup Questions

1. Christmas wish lists have probably changed a lot over the years. Can you remember the kinds of things you had on  your list as a child? What are some things are on Christmas wish lists of children of today that you would have never asked for?

2. Isaiah’s initial invitation in chapter 55 is for all who are thirsty to come and drink. In what ways was Jesus’ ministry open to all who were thirsty? What are some examples of people Jesus talked to that were unexpected of a Jewish Rabbi?

3.  What does it mean to you when God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways” (v. 8).

*Can you think of some ways that our thoughts about things are so different from God’s?

*Read Matthew 5:45-48 and as a group talk about how different God’s thoughts are than our typical thoughts as expressed in that passage.

-How can we be more like God by adopting His attitude toward people who have made themselves our enemies?

– Jesus asking us to be perfect – in what sense?

4. 2 Corinthians 10:5 addresses the difficulty of our thought life: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself  up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

*How do you think we can take our thoughts captive?

Charles Stanley suggests three ways we can govern our thoughts:

1. Screen them – ask yourself about your thoughts…if they are going to build you up or tear you down? Can I  share this with someone else? Does it make me feel guilty? Does it fit who I am as a follower of Jesus Christ?

2. Select them. Every time an opinion or teaching hits your screen, you can choose to either let it through or discard it.

3. Cultivate them. Dwell on ideas that align with God’s word and then start practicing them.

5. Isaiah says that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his ways are higher than our ways. What is another way to say that? In what way does this verse impact your faith?

6. In verse 12 God affirms that his word “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” What do you understand that passage to be teaching?

7. What are some promises that God makes to the wicked that respond to Him? (Isaiah 55:12-13) In what ways does Jesus fulfill those promises?

8. If God had a Christmas wish list, what do you think would be the first thing on it? Go around the room and share your thoughts on this.

No LifeGroups will meet next week. You might want to have a discussion about December 31st .. the next Sunday night is New Years Eve.

Resources

http://www.aplainaccount.org/single-post/2016/02/22/Isaiah-5519

Barry G. Webb, The Message of Isaiah, IVPress, 1996.

Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 396–400). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

G. Campbell Morgan, The Harvests of the Word of God, The Westminster Pulpit, Volume 9, No. XX.

Billy Graham’s sermon Are You Getting What You Want is from 1957 and is found in A Treasury of Great Preaching, Volume XII, p. 336.