************ Sermon on Isaiah 55:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 11, 2011
"Come to the Waters"
What does the Lord say to us this morning as we stand at the start of another church year? What does the Lord say to Lindsay as she professed her faith this morning? "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters" (Is 55:1).
Is God giving us an invitation? Is He pleading with us? Is this a nicely worded suggestion? Is this a general announcement to anyone who will listen? No. No. No. No.
Our text for this morning is filled with commands. All the verbs are in the imperative: Come, come, come, buy, eat, Come, buy. These aren't suggestions. These aren't announcements. These aren't pleas. These aren't invitations. They are commands. From God. To us.
And, what is the result if we do listen and obey? You will be satisfied: "your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Is 55:2).
Satisfaction is a big, huge concern today. I buy something on the Internet and I am asked to fill out a questionnaire expressing my level of satisfaction. I get warranty work done on my car and I receive a telephone call asking me whether I am satisfied with the service, friendliness, price, and cleanliness of the dealership. Every year I am asked to help PC World as it conducts its satisfaction survey on computers, cameras, printers, laptops, smart phones, projectors, and other electronic items. Big and small companies today are concerned with the job satisfaction of their employees. One of our members had an unsatisfactory experience at Kaweah Delta hospital and I went straight to the President's office. A couple of days later I received a phone call telling me what they were doing to satisfy our concerns.
God wants us to be satisfied. He wants us to be filled. So, He commands us to be satisfied in Him, to find satisfaction in Him.
As we stand at the start of another church year, as we stand before God and His people to profess our faith, we need to ask how we can find satisfaction, real satisfaction, in God.
I Recognize Your Thirst
A "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters ..." (Is 55:1).
Do you see the first step to satisfaction? Do you see the first step to satisfaction in God? You need to recognize you are thirsty. You need to recognize your need for the water of life (Rev 21:6; 22:17). You need to recognize your need for living water (Jn 4:10-13).
B The problem with many people is that they do not recognize their thirst.
Do you remember the Samaritan Woman, the woman Jesus talked to at the well? This woman had been around the block a few times – and it showed. So, Jesus talked to her about her need for living water – water that satisfies and refreshes and quenches her tired soul.
The conversation reached the point that Jesus told her, "Go, call your husband and come back" (Jn 4:16). How that must have hurt. "I have no husband," she said (Jn 4:17). At that point she didn't. When it came to husbands, she went through men like Elizabeth Taylor – five of them by the time she met Jesus and she was living with a man who was not her husband (Jn 5:18).
Why did Jesus mention her husbands? Was He being mean? Did He want to point out her poor choices in men? Was He telling her she was nothing but a "loose" woman? Of course not! Jesus was pointing our her need. Jesus was pointing out her thirst. Jesus wanted her to realize she was searching and thirsting for something deeper and more satisfying, something which only God can satisfy.
C "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters ..." (Is 55:1).
Are you one of these thirsty ones? Is God pursuing you even as Jesus pursued the woman at the well? Do you recognize that without Jesus and God filling your life, your life is empty, your soul is thirsty?
II Recognize Your Helplessness
A "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!" (Is 55:1).
To be satisfied, you not only need to recognize your thirst but you also need to recognize your inability to satisfy yourself. Those who are commanded to come "have no money." They are weak. They are helpless. They are without resources. They are poor.
Only those who recognize they are spiritually bankrupt can find satisfaction in Jesus.
Isn't this also the requirement for salvation? No one can be saved who tries to save themselves. Only those are saved who realize they have nothing to bring, nothing to give, nothing they can do. Only those are saved who recognize their helplessness. Only those are saved who look to Jesus – and to Jesus alone – for salvation.
"Come," commands Jesus. "Come, all you who are thirsty. Come, all you who have no money. Come, all you who are spiritually bankrupt. Come, all you who are poor and helpless. Come, all you who recognize your helplessness." "Come, and I will satisfy you."
God does not save the self-sufficient. And, God only satisfies those who look to Christ and NOT themselves.
B Do you remember what Jesus said about the rich and salvation? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19:23). Now, in the eyes of the world, all of us are rich. Unlike so many in the world, none of us go to bed hungry. None of us are homeless. None of us have only one set of clothes. None of us are barefoot because we have no shoes. We may think we are poor but we are anything but. So, Jesus is speaking to us.
Why is it so hard for the rich to be saved? Because we have gone through life trusting in ourselves instead of trusting in God for daily needs. We pray as Jesus commanded us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." But we have a job or a business that pays the bills. If we lose the job, we know there are unemployment checks, savings accounts, family, welfare, and Obama's back-to-work programs. In other words, even in our current economic climate we are generally secure. And, that security fights against a faith that trusts in God for daily needs.
We in North America and Western Europe are secure in ourselves. We are satisfied in ourselves. We find fulfilment in ourselves. And, yet, we are an empty people in an empty culture. Like the woman at the well, we move desperately from one thing or one person to another looking for satisfaction, looking for fulfilment, looking for meaning. But we cannot find it as long as we look to ourselves. We need to move beyond ourselves and recognize that only in God and His Christ can we find real satisfaction and meaning in life.
C "Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (Is 55:1). Your money, your work, your power, and your achievements do you no good. Not what your hands have done, not what your toiling flesh has borne, not what you feel or do, not all your prayers and sighs and tears, will do you any good. Leave your wallets behind if you want satisfaction, real satisfaction.
Why? How can you buy without money? How come it is without cost? Because it is free. A gift of grace. Not something earned. Not something deserved. Not something merited.
III Do Not Labor for What Does Not Satisfy
To be satisfied, we need to also recognize the emptiness of what we do work for.
(Is 55:2) Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?We all labor and strive for something. But much of what we labor and strive for is not worth it. Much of what we labor and strive for does "not satisfy" and leaves us empty and unsatisfied.
What do you strive for? Wealth? Power? Comfortable retirement? Paying off your home? Marriage? Children? Pleasure? Long life? Health? Good looks? Youth? Good grades? Sports? New car or truck? Everyone strives for something. So, what do you strive for?
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes tells us about a man who had it all and tried it all: wisdom, pleasure, work, power, riches, relationships, women, wine, song. He had it all. He tried it all. He was a man who drank deeply from all that life had to offer. When he looked back on all of this he had only one thing to say: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" (Eccl 1:2). It was all vanity. It was all emptiness. It was all a puff of wind.
How long will it take you to come to the same conclusion? How many silly dreams will you chase? How many fantasies will you pursue? How many mirages will come and go before you realize it is all a chasing after the wind? Before you realize it is all "Meaningless! Meaningless!" (Eccl 1:2)?
If you are laboring for the things of this world, then it is a lost cause. Then you are bound to be disappointed. Then you will end up unsatisfied and dissatisfied. Then you will end up empty. I challenge every one here to make life with God their number one priority in this new church year.
Labor, congregation, labor, Lindsay, for what lasts. Work for what truly satisfies. Find fulfilment and meaning in what only Jesus brings.
IV Listen to Me
A We are thirsty. We are helpless to satisfy ourselves. The things of this life for which we strive and labor leaves us empty and dissatisfied. So, where does this leave us? The answer lies in verses 2 and 3:
(Is 55:2-3) Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (3) Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
Do you hear the new set of commands? Five new imperatives: Listen, eat, delight, Give ear, come, hear. At the start of this new church year, these five commands all deal with the same thing. They all deal with the Word of God. And they all suggest the same thing: that we listen to the Word of God. And when we do, "your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Is 55:2). And when we do, you will be satisfied.
Notice, we are commanded to "hear" and "listen." What is the difference between hearing and listening? Every teacher and every parent knows the difference. A child or a student can hear without listening. In their ears what we as teachers or parents say is "Yada, Yada, Yada." Boring or empty or meaningless talk. "Yada, Yada, Yada." "Junior, it is time for bed." "Yada, Yada, Yada." "Your homework assignment is ..." "Yada, Yada, Yada." "Take the dog for a walk." "Yada, Yada, Yada." But say it is time for the football game, or time for dessert, or time for recess and they hear you even if it is only a whisper.
As we start a new church year, God calls us to listen to Him and to Jesus Whom He has sent. It starts, of course, with worship. Let me remind you that we have two worship services. Central to worship is the Word of God. But there are endless other opportunities as well. Look at the back of the bulletin (HOLD IT UP). We have Sunday School and Bible Study for all ages. Spend time with the Word. Spend time in the Word. Spend time in worship. Spend time meditating on what you have heard and learned. And, I promise you, you will be filled and satisfied and fulfilled. You will have found what you have been seeking. Or, as Jesus puts it, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 7:33). That is what God is calling us to do if we want to be satisfied and fed and filled. In professing her faith this morning, that is what Lindsay is saying. She is saying she is pursuing God and life with God. She is saying she is seeking first the kingdom and its righteousness. She is saying she will listen to Him and not to the world.
B God's goal, of course, is not our satisfaction. God's goal is our relationship with Him and with Christ. As Isaiah tells us, God – out of love and mercy – makes a covenant with us, His children (cf Is 55:3). He desires a relationship with us. He wants us to spend time with Him: in worship, in prayer, in Bible reading.
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost" (Is 55:1). When we do come, we are satisfied and filled to the brim and fulfilled.
Our text contains an implicit warning. I am sure you realize that not everyone who calls themselves "Christian" come to the waters. You see, my brothers and sisters, there are Christians who start off so well. They get baptized. They profess their faith. They attend worship twice each Sunday. They know their Sunday School lessons and even their Catechism. But, then, they start backsliding. If you are one of these, I urge you – before it is too late – to come again to the waters. If you are drifting from the faith, if you are not faithful in worship attendance, if you rarely take time for devotions, then you have to take immediate steps to fix this – or, you may be one of those who end up with nothing, with vanity, with a pocket full of wind.
So, congregation, Lindsay, I say to you: "Come. Come to the waters. And, you will be satisfied!"
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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