I saw the meme I have used here “Where God guides, He provides” on Pinterest (a paraphrase from Isaiah 58:11). It made me feel good to remember that the Lord will provide for my needs. The verse (NIV) says, The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” What a beautiful picture of being provided for in the midst of a barren land!

I went to read a devotional on this verse, The Flowers of God’s Garden. Toward the end of the devotional it said, “You are the main show, the primary exhibition in God’s great garden of Life. Yes, you!  Don’t be ashamed but rather be glad, be joyful, be glorious for that is how God, our Gardener sees you. Glorious, Filled, Given every chance to exceed! You are His prized selection! There is no pressure to perform, just be!”

Hmmmm…The first sentence would tell me that the reason I am here is for God to enjoy me. That is at odds with a verse from Isaiah 43:7, “…whom I created for my glory…. The Word is constant and does not change. Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Prov. 30:5-6) We aren’t here for our glory, but for His! But the crux of this devotional was for me to feel good about myself.

You won’t have to search far to find “pastors and teachers” (who can be best described as entertainers) that want to make you feel good about yourself, even about your sin. They are focused on making you feel happy in the moment, and base their strategies on programs and experiences that lift people’s emotions. In contrast, a godly pastor not only want to emotionally lift the soul of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls to know Jesus Christ! At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they (and their followers) stand before God? In eternity, it will be known that many loved the glory that comes from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43). “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)

To get back to Isaiah 58:11, as we discussed yesterday, in order to understand the meaning of a Scripture, we need to read it and study it in context. The prophet Isaiah is generally considered to be the greatest prophet, but he wasn’t popular because his messages were difficult for the people to hear–his message didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. He called for the people to turn from their lives of sin and warned them of God’s judgment and punishment.

So if this verse isn’t all about me being glorious, what is the Lord wanting us to know? When you read chapter 58, you see that the Lord is NOT telling His people that “there is no pressure to perform, just be” as the writer of the devotional says. In fact, He is chastising them: Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.” (v 1) He goes on in vv 2-10 to let them know that true worship of our Lord is more than religious ritual. He doesn’t want us acting pious when we have unforgiven sin in our hearts and perform sinful practices with our hands. “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7b)

He wants us to change our hearts and our focus to Him before He will hear our prayers. THEN He will guide and provide! “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. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” There’s a lot of “thens” and “ifs” in this passage — the Lord demands our obedience.

The Lord wants our hearts to yearn for Him and His ways, to glorify Him, and for us to humble ourselves before Him, and be obedient to Him.  “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Rom. 12:1-2 MSG) We are to set aside our self-centered thoughts and glorify Him.

So, yes, He will guide us and provide for us, but first He wants us to humble ourselves before Him so that He will be glorified. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phil. 1:6)

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)