Search your heart for indications of prejudice or condescension. Ask God to help you love others as he does.
Read Isaiah 61:1-11
 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,  and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.  Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.  And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.  Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.  “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.  Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”  I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow does Isaiah view his mission (and ultimately that of Jesus)?
When the people first heard this, they must have been delighted. “Freedom for the captives” (1)? “That’s us!” But can you see in this prophecy that there is a hint of God’s bigger, more controversial ambitions? How do you think this might have been received? The coming “year of the Lord’s favor” (2) will be marked when aliens and foreigners are present with the covenant people of God (5,8). Jesus quoted this passage at the synagogue in his hometown (cf. Luke 4:17-21). He went on to make explicit what Isaiah had already said, seven hundred years before. God doesn’t limit his love to the Jewish people. He loves Gentiles too. The polite congregation became an angry mob who tried to throw Jesus off a cliff to his death (cf. Luke 4:28,29). Isaiah’s words remain challenging to this day. There can be certain others who don’t seem to us to be fitting recipients of grace. Yet God is working a revolution by his Spirit all over our communities and all over the world. We were enemies of God once too!
How might God be challenging you or your church to be more inclusive, seeing diverse people as objects of his love?
Pray about the people who feel excluded from your church because of skin color, social class, or other reasons.
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