Isa. 58:1-14




God says, “Cry aloud.”

“Get my people's attention.”



“Show them their sin.”

“They do not know what is wrong.”



So God's people were sinning.

But they did not know it.



And God tells us why.

Listen to all the good things God’s people were doing:



          1. They seek me daily.

          2. They delight to know my ways.

          3. As a nation they did righteousness.

          4. They forsook not the ordinance of their God.

          5. They ask me the ordinances of justice, and

          6. They take delight in approaching to God.



If we stopped right here,

We would have to say they were doing pretty good.



And they were, as far as their outward appearance was concerned.

Did you hear me?



This is the problem,

God's people were trying to impress each other with their righteousness.



They wanted a pat on the back.

They were like the Pharisees of Jesus day.



Do you remember them?

They loved to paint their faces white so people would think they were pale    

from fasting;



Loved to give standing on the street corner where the crowds passed;

Loved to pray long prayers standing in the synagogues.



Loved to sit in the best seats at the synagogues where everyone could see     


So these people went to their synagogues;



Abstained from unclean meats;

Observed the laws;



Observed the holy days;

Observed the rituals;



Offered the proper sacrifices;

Paid their vows regularly;



Washed their hands meticulously.

In other words, they went through a form of worship.




Notice, I said, “A form of worship.”

They went through a “form of worship” over and over again.



And they were pleased with themselves;

So pleased with themselves they decided they were doing more for God than         

He was doing for them;



So pleased with themselves they decided that God was coming up short with         

His blessings.

Who are you trying to please with your worship today?



Are you trying to please God?

Or, are you trying to please others?



Whose applause do you seek?

Do you seek the applause of God?



Or, do you seek the applause of others?

If we seek the applause of others when we worship, we seek the wrong thing.



The only applause that counts is the applause of God.

George Whitefield was a great preacher.



He was very forceful.

He angered many preachers in his day.



Many would not let him preach from their pulpits.

So he went outside and preached at the ball parks and stadiums.




He won multitudes to Christ.

His followers wanted him to be remembered for his great work.



They suggested that he form a new denomination of the church under his own        


He said, “Let the name of Whitefield perish.”



“And let the name of Christ be glorified.”

That is the right attitude.



We should never be so shortsighted as to try to glorify ourselves with our     


At the end of a fantastic ministry, John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) must      

increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30).



It was Jesus who was crucified;

Jesus who bore our sins in His own body;



Jesus who rescued us from the jaws of hell.

Why should we think we deserve the recognition and praise.



Anyway that was the problem with God's people.

They thought they deserved the recognition and praise.



And they thought they weren't getting it.

Our text implies that they asked God five questions:



          1. “Why haven't you noticed us?”

          2. “Why haven't you answered our prayers?”

          3. “Why haven't you given us food and drink?”

          4. “Why haven't you blessed our land?”

          5: “Why haven't you noticed our worship?”



Get ready because God knows how to step on toes.

He said, “Behold in the day of your fast, ye find pleasure and exact all your  




In other words, “I'll tell you why.”

“You are living in evil pleasure while you are fasting” (Living Bible).



We would say, “You keep right on sinning even though you go to Church.”

“Instead of praising God, you seek to praise yourself.”



“Instead of praying for what God wants, you pray for what you want.”

“You want an image, attention, a reputation.”



“You value the approval of men more than the approval of God.”

Do you yet the point?



God was telling these people they had ritual instead of worship;

Religion instead of righteousness.



They had made a religion out of observances like fasting, giving and praying.

But true Christianity is not what we look like on the outside.



True Christianity is what we are on the inside.

It is not attending Church---although that is right;



Not fasting---although that is right;

Not giving---although that is right.


Not even holding a revival---although that is right.

We can attend Church, fast, give, and hold revivals,



And still drop into hell.

True Christianity concerns our relationship with Jesus.



That should affect our worship;

And that should affect our relationship with others.



Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy  

soul, with all thy strength and with all thy mind.”

“And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”



We should love Jesus more than anything else.

And we should love those around us as much as we love ourselves.



Many Church members don't do this.

Many are religious.



But their religion is a public show instead of a way of life.

I want to give you a very important principle.



God will take our worship serious when we take Him serious.

We need to understand that being acceptable to God is more than doing just a        

few things right;



It is more than attending Church on Sunday;

More than attending revival every now and then;




More than wearing sackcloth and ashes;

More than praying with a bowed head.



God said, “Even a bulrush bows down his head in the wind.”

Do you know what a bulrush is?



Bulrushes grow in swampy, marshy areas;

Near ponds and rivers.



They look like cat tails.

And they bend over in the wind.



This tells us what God thinks of the prayers of some people.

He said, “Even a bulrush bows down his head in the wind.”



Anyway, the Jews complained that God was not noticing their fasting,

sacrifices and prayers.

And God countered by saying you do those things,



But you also keep right on sinning.

You go to church.



But you haven’t changed very much.

Rev. James W. Moore said, “Talking a good game is not enough.”



“Unless creeds are translated into deeds,”

“They become dull, insipid, dead, worthless.”



 He said, “If our faith is not lived out,”

“If we do not practice what we preach,”

“If our Christian profession does not burst forth into Christian expression,”

“Then it is but 'sound and fury' that signifies nothing” (Yes, Lord, I Have      

Sinned---p. 25).



I f what we say isn't backed up by what we do, then what we say is     


Next, God asked a question:



“Is not this the fast that I have chosen;

“To loose the bands of wickedness,”



“To undo the heavy burdens,”

“And to let the oppressed go free,”



“And that ye break every yoke?”

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry;



“And that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?”

“When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him.”



“And that thy hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

God said, “I want to straighten you out on fasting.”



“Instead of giving up food, I want you to give up playing Church.”

“Give up your sins.”



“Bring the needy into your homes.”

“Feed and clothe them.”




“Do not hide from your relatives who need help.”

In other words, stop sinning.



And start caring about people.

Someone may ask, “Preacher, are you saying we can attend church, give,     

pray and still sin?”



“Are you saying we can do SOME things God wants us to do and still not   

please God?”

I sure am.



Because that is just what the problem was in Israel.

God's people were saying, “we are doing good.”



“But God is not noticing us.”

And God was saying, “I see your good.”



“But I also see your sins.”

And God said, “IF you will give up your sins, THEN certain things will        




And He answered the five questions.

1st---“Why haven't you noticed us” (verse 8)?



Wouldn't you like to have God notice you?

God said, repent and “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,”



“And thine health shall spring forth speedily;”

“And thy righteousness shall go before thee;”



“And the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.”

God says, “Repent.”



“And I will notice you.”

Righteousness is more than a lukewarm interest in the things of God.



Closeness to God is more than adhering to a few practices that society deems        


Singing a few hymns on Sunday;



Bowing down like a bulrush when the preacher prays;

And sitting like you have sackcloth and ashes on for 30 minutes while the      

preacher preaches can be a form of religion just like the Jews practiced.



As far as God is concerned, a form of religion is a waste of time.

We can come here every Sunday.



We can like every word the preacher says,

But we will think God has forgotten us, if we do rot repent of our sins and    

help people.



The way to get God’s attention is to do what He says.

When we do what He says the glory of Christ shines through us.



And when the glory of Christ shines through us God notices us.

2nd---“Why haven't you answered our prayers” (verse 9)?



Wouldn't you like to have God answer your prayers?

God said, repent and “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer.”


“Thou shalt cry, and He shall say, here I am.”

God says, “Repent of your sins and the minute you pray (The very minute    

you pray),”



“I will say here I am.”

God said, “If thou:

          1. Take away from the midst of thee the yoke;

          2. The putting forth of the finger; and

          3. Speaking vanity.”



“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul;”

“Then shalt thy light rise in obscurity and thy darkness be as noon day.”



He said, “All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak.”

“Stop making false accusations.”



“Stop spreading vicious rumors.”

“Feed the hungry.”



“And help those in trouble” (Living Bible).

God does not want our church attendance, our money, our prayers, or our   




If we are going to hurt people's feelings, point fingers, gossip, lie and neglect          

the needy.

We cause people to turn their back on Christ when we do that.



We cause people to talk about hypocrites in the church when we do that.

We do more harm than good.




Put on Christ.

And your light will be brighter than the noonday sun.



The noonday sun is the brightest part of the day.

Put on Christ.



And God will look down and say, “What is that bright light?”

“Oh, that's old so and so.”



It’s his darkest hour.

But he's still brighter than the noonday sun.



Richard Wurmbrand writes about a prisoner in a Romanian jail.

He was kept in solitary confinement in an underground cell.



He could hear the cries of others who were tortured around him.

He begged God to take him to heaven for just a little while so he wouldn’t     

hear those cries.



He soon began to soar higher and higher.

He listened to hear the voices of angels singing.



But the closer he got to heaven,

The louder he heard the cries of suffering.



By the time he reached heaven, the cries of suffering were unbearable.

He asked God, “Is heaven not a place of serenity?”





God said, “You seem never to have paid attention to what you read.”

“It is written that the cries of the oppressed come to Me, and I hear them”    

(Ex. 2:23, 24).



“The blood of Abel cried out to me” (Gen. 4:15).

“Those with Me in heaven also hear these cries and that of all the innocents   

who are slain.”



“In your cell you heard the groanings of only a few.”

“In heaven we hear the weeping of all who suffer.”



God says, “Repent of your sins.”

“Help those who are hurting.”



“And I will answer your prayers.”

3rd---“Why haven't you given us food and drink” (verse 11)?



Wouldn't you like for God to give you spiritual food and drink?

God said, repent and “The Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy   

soul in drought and make fat thy bones;”



“And thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose    

waters fail not.”

Repent of your sins.



And God will satisfy your desires with spiritual things.

John G. Lake was a missionary in Africa.






After returning to this country, he said, “My wife, my seven children and I sat         

down to eat in Africa hundreds of times when all we had to eat was        

corn meal mush.”

“And sometimes we did not even have salt to put on that.”



“I preached 3 or 4 times a day.”

“I ministered continuously to the sick.”



“My heart is hungry to go back to that.”

“I would say Goodbye to America's pumpkin pie and everything else.”



“And I would go back to eating corn meal mush in Africa if I could have

the same victories for Jesus Christ.”

That great missionary desired God's spiritual food more than the best physical       

food America has to offer.



God says, “Repent of your sins.”

“If you get thirsty, I will give you Living Water.”



“If you get hungry, I will give you the Bread of Life.”

4th---“Why haven't you blessed our land” (verse 12)?



Wouldn’t you like to know why God is not blessing America the way He used        


Today, we want character in government when we don’t have character in the         




We want prayer in the schools when we don’t have prayer in our homes.

God said, repent and “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste      




“Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be  

called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.”

God said, “Repent of your sins and your descendents will rebuild your         




“Repent of your sins and you will be known as one who brought revival to   

your country.”

When Francis Asbury came to America, there were only 600 Methodists in   

this country.



When he died 45 years later, there were 214,235 Methodists here.

The number of Methodists in this country soared from 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 40 in        

just 45 years.



Can you imagine what God could do in this congregation, if we would all      

repent of our sins?

Can you imagine what God could do in America if, the United Methodist      

Church would repent of its sins?



5th---“Why haven't you noticed our worship” (verses 13 and 14)?

Wouldn’t you like to know why God sometimes ignores our worship?



God said, repent and “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing       

 thy pleasure on my holy day,”

“And call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable,”



“And shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways,”

“Nor finding thine own pleasure,”



“Nor speaking thine own words;”

“Then thou shaft delight thyself in the Lord;”


“And I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth,”

“And feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, thy father;”



“For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

God said, "If you will treat the Sabbath with reverence;”



“Treat the Sabbath like it is a holy day;”

“Quit using the Sabbath for your own business and pleasure;”



“Quit saying the things you want to say on the Sabbath,”

“If you will enjoy the Sabbath as God’s day;”



“And speak of the Sabbath as God’s holy day;”

“Then you will have a right relationship with me.”



“You will have a prominent position on earth.”

“And you will receive your full share of blessings.”



“The Lord God has spoken these words and made these promises.”

In closing, a worship service is not a time for us to polish our reputations;



Not a time for God to satisfy our desires;

Not a time for God to serve us.



This is God’s time;

God’s holy time;



A time for us to serve God;

A time for us to honor God.


Did you serve God while you was here today?

Did you honor God while you was here today?



Will you do something for God today?

Will you accept Jesus as your personal Savior,



Rededicate your life,

Move your membership to this Church?



Will you do something for God right now?

You ask, “Why do I need to come forward?”



Because you need to openly admit your faith and show your desire to serve  





Second Invitation


God will take you serious when you take Him serious.

How serious are you about Jesus?



Are you serious enough to do what you know God wants you to do?

If you are spiritually dry, He will give you living water.



If you are spiritually hungry, He will give you the bread of life.