Bible Reading: Isaiah 1:1-17, 21-26; 2:6-18; 3:8-26; 4:1; 5:1-23; 32:9-11

The anguish of God's heart is easily felt here, as he describes the rebellion of his children, whom he had lovingly raised and tenderly cared for, only to watch them grow into "people loaded with guilt" and "given to corruption" who turned their backs on him. His grown children were badly beaten and bruised by the results of their persistent rebellion: “From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness--only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil” (1:6). If they would just let him, God would have cleansed their wounds with his forgiveness, bandaged their injuries with his grace, and soothed their sores with the ointment of his love. Israel, however, unlike even an ox or a donkey, didn't recognize her master or understand where to find her sustenance (1:3).

God describes Israel as a vineyard, and Judah as "the garden of his delight" (5:7), which he had dug up, cleared of rocks, planted with the choicest vines, carefully cultivated and watchfully guarded. "Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit... He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress" (5:2, 7). God asked in bewilderment, "What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?" (5:4). God longed for his people to bring him hearts of sincerity, but they brought him only "meaningless offerings," which became to God like a heavy, tiresome burden. God urgently pleaded with Israel, "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!" (Isaiah 1:16b-17a).

The book, "Taming Your Private Thoughts", presents an acronym for STOP. When I am tempted to do wrong, these four steps empower me to stop the thought. I also thought up an acronym for LEARN, of steps that enable me to do right. (Verses are written out below.)

S - Sinful thoughts confessed (I John 1:9)
T - Think on these things (Philippians 4:8)
O - Order every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5)
P - Pursue Christ-mindedness (Colossians 3:2)

L - Listen to godly wisdom (Proverbs 8:33)
E - Endure hardship (Hebrews 12:7)
A - Apply God's truth (James 1:22)
R - Rely on God (2 Corinthians 1:9)
N - Notice what God is doing (Psalm 66:5)

Lord, teach me, every day, to run from wrong and choose to do right. When wrong thoughts enter my head, put up a big STOP sign in my mind and say to me, "STOP doing wrong! LEARN to do right!" Help me to flush sin out of my life by filling up my mind with your truth, until it overflows into my actions and into the lives of others. Teach me to rely on you for the strength and wisdom to do what is right. When you look at me, may you always see a child who has grown to genuinely love her heavenly father, one who desires to please him and make his heart glad, one whose wounds have been healed by his touch. May you see a crop of good fruit from your labor of love.

  • Sinful thoughts confessed: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
  • Think on these things: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever, is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
  • Order every thought: "We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • Pursue Christ-mindedness: "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians3:2).

  • Listen to godly wisdom: "Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it" (Proverbs 8:33).
  • Endure hardship: "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons" (Hebrews 12:7).
  • Apply God's truth: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (James 1:22).
  • Rely on God: "This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God" (2 Corinthians 1:9).
  • Notice what God is doing: "Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man's behalf!" (Psalm 66:5).