New Year’s Resolutions
Most resolutions about “Eating Right”
What if I told you God had the perfect diet for you? In fact, this diet has to do with much more than your physical weight and nutrition – it has to do with the health of your soul, including such important matters as happiness, fulfillment and longevity. Interested?
I invite you to consider the words of one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, Isaiah. In the 55th chapter he is speaking for God to the Israelites whom He is chastising for their repeated sin. They are stationed in captivity in Babylon and they are sad, hopeless and depressed. They miss being in the Promised Land.
In this passage God is holding out hope to them. Really, He is extending to them an invitation to a banquet for their souls. Isaiah 55:1 – 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.
This is not about literal food and drink, of course. God is inviting His rebellious people to come back to Him. They need to repent and come clean about their rejection of God. To admit their need for Him and return to His table of spiritual nourishment.
And His promise is that when they do He will supply everything their lives are lacking as they languish in the misery they brought on themselves.
This is the invitation He offers every man, woman and child yet today. The opportunity to be healed and forgiven of their sins; the opportunity for amnesty from the punishment they justly deserve; and the opportunity to be restored to fellowship with their God. The tantalizing result of receiving this forgiveness, amnesty and reconciliation, God promises will be like the most satisfying meal you ever ate—a meal that is not only delicious and nutritious to your soul, but this meal lasts forever.
The whole point in these few verses is to show a sharp contrast between the food that satisfies and the food that does not satisfy. The God Who made you and me, and knows what makes life what it ought to be and can be, tells us here, “You can eat junk food and like it for a moment, or you can eat what I have for you and be fully satisfied forever.”
Verse 2 – Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
Do you remember when your mother used to say, "Don't eat candy before meals?" Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal. The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don't feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks your hunger for the real nutrients that you don't have.
Things like sex, power, money, and success—these all produce the illusion of happiness, and a temporary distraction from this nagging idea that our lives are not what they should be, not what they could be. There’s a hollowness, an emptiness—a void that longs to be filled with just the right thing. And God alone has it.
But we continue to pursue these illusory idols in the impossible hope that someday they will fill that empty spot, satisfy the deeper cravings of our souls. They never do. But we keep on snacking on this sugar. And the real tragedy is, then we are not hungry for the food that is good for us.
People run from God and His goodness all their lives, enjoying the best junk food this world has to offer—from fame and fortune to drugs and drunkenness, from the busiest schedules and the best sex to empty entertainment and ruined relationships—always looking for the magic mixture that will finally make them happy. But it never does. Momentary pleasure gives way to life-long misery and the junk food rots their teeth and makes them sick.
All the while, God is saying, “I have your satisfaction. It’s right here in my presence. Come to me, I want to give it to you.” He will not, and cannot force it on you—you must come and get it from Him. And he waits patiently—as long as He can—until the time when His prodigal kids come to their senses. Then they come home, heart-sick and hurting, for the food that satisfies—the feast that their souls really crave.
We all hunger for the food that truly satisfies. But in our sinfulness we allow ourselves to be distracted by the allure of the candy that masquerades as happiness. The case that Isaiah makes is most reasonable: Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me…
The choice is clear: you can either spend all you have and all you are on worthless food that will not nourish you or truly satisfy you, or you can come to God and receive the most satisfying of all foods—food that will nourish and delight you, and will last forever.
The food that does not satisfy is very expensive. In fact, it will mercilessly drain your life and substance to the point of sorrow and exhaustion. You’ll spend all your time trying to make yourself happy with futile and worthless projects. You will waste your energy and resources on things without eternal value.
Many have lost themselves in such vain pursuits and it has cost them the things most valuable to them, including their relationships and their families. Ironically, in the pursuit of joy they find that joy is the very thing that eludes them.
Far too many have strayed so far and so long from the God who longs to save them that the one thing they feared most—a wasted life—is what they ended up with. The things of this life can simply not satisfy. They are temporal; they are illusory; and they will never provide fulfillment for the restless human soul.
Most tragic of all is that those who run after lesser gods never hear and respond to God’s invitation. They’re too busy running, too preoccupied with craving, too enamored with candy. And it costs them eternity. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.
Refusing God’s offer is expensive. But look what Isaiah says about the food God offers: it is free. It is a gift of God’s grace. We don’t deserve it, we could never earn it and a million lifetimes of holy living could never pay it back. It is free to those who have no money.
Ironically, though, Isaiah bids those who hear to come and buy and eat. Verse 1 – Come, buy [this] wine and milk without money and without cost. You can’t pay for it and you can’t pay Him back. But you still must “buy.” How do you “buy” without paying? How do you “buy” something that’s free?
You come in faith to God and ask Him to give you the salvation He offers. But your asking must be sincere. You must sincerely repent (turn) from your sin and rebellion. God wants you to be devoted to Him and not those other gods you have served. This is your offering of faith. As you come to Him, you are saying you no longer will trust in those non-gods, but you trust in Him.
Author Frederica Mathewes-Green addresses people who hunger for God's presence but rarely feel it—at least not in dramatic ways. She writes:
“My hunch is that you are already sensing something of God's presence, or you wouldn't care. Picture yourself walking around a shopping mall, looking at people and the window displays. Suddenly, you get a whiff of cinnamon. You weren't even hungry, but now you really crave a cinnamon roll.
This craving isn't something you made up. There you were, minding your own business, when some drifting molecules of sugar, butter, and spice collided with a susceptible patch inside your nose. You had a real encounter with cinnamon—not a mental delusion, not an emotional projection, but the real thing.
And what was the effect? You want more, now. And if you hunger to know the presence of God, it's because … you have already begun to scent [God's] compelling delight.” The Bible speaks of those who have come to God’s feast as those who have tasted the kindness of the Lord. If you are close enough to sense His love and His invitation, it is time for you to respond in faith.
How do you believe God? By trusting in Jesus as your Savior. Those who come to God in faith must come through the Son who died to pay our debt of sin.
How does someone trust in Christ? Romans 10 makes it plain – you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Turn resolutely to God and admit that you are lost in your sin and incapable of living the life that please Him. Say to Him, “I need Jesus to save me.” Salvation costs you nothing, but you must surrender everything.
The result of your turning your life over to God in faith will be these: your sins will be forgiven forever, your eternal future in heaven will be assured, and God will come to live within you by His Spirit. And through His Spirit He will soften your heart, change you daily into the image of Christ and satisfy your soul.
The next two verses explain what that satisfaction will be like. It will be like the promises made to King David. Those who come to God and entrust their lives to Him will become leaders for God and His faithful witnesses to others, verse 4 says.
Verse 5: Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. God promises to renew His ancient covenant with His people—to bless them and to make them a blessing to all the nations of the earth, and to use them to draw others to Himself.
Those who entrust their lives to God will be so blessed, so satisfied, that it will show, and others will look on and become jealous. And it is because they will recognize what life—real life—is supposed to be. They will want the same thing. Those who trust in Christ have the privilege of sharing with them this invitation from God: Come thirsty and hungry, and be satisfied.
Make no mistake, though. Even though God’s offer is free, it is real and it requires the faith act of coming to Him. To hesitate is to refuse. When you put God’s invitation off, you are remaining unforgiven and unsaved. You must respond in faith.
Listen to the words of verse 6 – Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. God is always near in the sense of being available. This “near” is about you hearing Him. If you resist Him and shrink back to this world without responding in faith, you put yourself at risk.
There are two risks: one, you don’t know that you will have tomorrow—Seek the Lord while he may be found. The second is that you risk not hearing Him again as clearly as you do in the moment. His voice may well sound more distant and less compelling if you put Him off. Call on Him while He is near.
For those who have already come to Him, who have tasted His kindness but have wandered away from His table, you already know what to do to come back. Repent and renew your commitment to Him.
In a few minutes we will close this morning’s service with a time of prayer and commitment. If you are ready to give your heart to Christ, repent and respond to His gracious invitation, you are invited to come to the front of the auditorium and confess your faith in Christ.
Verse 7 brings our study to a close. It is Isaiah’s impassioned appeal to all who hear the invitation to respond in faith. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Acts 2:42 records the four habits of the very first Christians in the Lord’s new church. It says they practiced these four behaviors out of love for the Lord Who saved them. They became, in effect, the spiritual diet of those who responded to the Lord’s invitation to come, buy and eat.
But they also understood that these habits shaped and sustained their ongoing faith. Whatever you think about making New Year’s resolutions, we who have tasted the kindness of the Lord and who love and serve Him, should be in inclined to commit ourselves anew to these habits:
Bible – the apostles’ teaching
Sunday morning Celebration,
Personal reading and study
Fellowship – the fellowship
Sunday morning Celebration
Personal relationships with other believers
Worship – the breaking of bread
Sunday morning Celebration
Prayer – prayer
Sunday morning Celebration
Personal times of prayer and intercession