We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Meghan Hendrickson, a student at Truett Seminary.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 58:2
“For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”

Reflection: Living Justice
By Meghan Hendrickson

The most chilling word of Isaiah 58 is seem

“They seem eager to know my ways… and seem eager for God to come near them,” (Isaiah 58:2). To say Israel seems eager to know God’s ways and for God to come near them implies they are not.

Could the same be said of us?

Israel is caught up in rituals rather than their Redeemer. God says, “day after day they seek me out,” yet God calls Isaiah to shout like a trumpet against Israel’s sinful rebellion (Isaiah 58:1-2). Who, or what, are they seeking?

Are we eager to know God’s ways?

We know God’s ways by examining the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is the way of the cross (Luke 9:23). The way of Jesus is one of self-sacrifice for the sake of our neighbor and to the glory of God.

Are we eager for God to come near us?

When God comes near us, he humbles us and shows us the oppressed we are freed to free, the hungry we are filled to feed, and the naked we are clothed to clothe (Isaiah 58:6-7).

What if God clothes us with his Holy Spirit that we may clothe the naked of our own day with dignity and grace? What if everything God has done for us he intends to do through us?

Israel asks why they have fasted and humbled themselves before God without applause (Isaiah 58:3). Israel was not worshiping God as much as themselves.

God declares the fasting he desires from his people is justice (Isaiah 58:5-7).

When we seek to know God’s ways and are eager for God to come near us, God calls us to a life of justice. In God’s kingdom, justice is not a distant ideal. Justice is an ongoing activity spurred on by a confident hope in a future reality.

The entire life of Jesus, culminating at the cross, is a demonstration of God’s justice.

How are we, as followers of Jesus, demonstrating God’s justice?

God’s command is clear and constant: love God and love our neighbor, just as God first loved us (Mark 12:30-31, 1 John 4:19). If we humble ourselves and walk in God’s way of justice, Isaiah tells us both our help and our joy will be found solely and wholly in the Lord, and our light will rise in the darkness (Isaiah 58:9-10, 14).

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the King’s son…
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight. — from Psalm 72

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 58 (Listen – 3:09) 
Matthew 6 (Listen – 4:35)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 59 (Listen – 3:54) Matthew 7 (Listen – 3:31)
Isaiah 60 (Listen – 3:55) Matthew 8 (Listen – 4:09)

Readers’ Choice Begins!
As we wrap up Student Writers Month, it is also time for us to start accepting your selections for Readers’ Choice posts that will begin in August.

This is a time of year when you, our community members, can encourage one another by sharing about the posts that blessed your spiritual walk this past year.

What devotional this year did you share with a friend? What devotional this year did you tell your small group about? What devotional this year did you email us about to thank us for it? Tell our community about how these devotionals helped you in your walk.

Submit your selections via this link.

Read more about Praise God for the Justice of the Gospel
Seeking justice for the oppressed, demanding changes when our justice system fails, and working to rehabilitate and redeem those convicted in our justice system are a part of our calling to serve as God’s representatives on earth.

Read more about A Worn Out Welcome
“Defend the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1.15)
“Defend the oppressed” can also be translated as “correct the oppressor.” Will you confront the powerful?