Overcoming Isolation

Isn’t it crazy. With all our devices—smart phones & plain old phones, iPads & computers—and all our means to stay connected—calling, texting, emailing, writing, Skype, FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pintrest—that we can still be so lonely. So isolated. Isn’t it crazy.

We are lonely people. We live within proximity but without presence. We have relationships without personal contact. We exercise familiarity without true feelings. 

Due to fear. Or busyness. Or pride. Or selfishness. Or pain. Or past. Or depression. Or psychosis. We live alone in a world of people. We live not truly knowing or being known.

We are naturally self-centered and tend to view the world through the filter of our own lives. But we were not designed to be isolated. God created us for relationship. With him and with others. God calls us to live for him and for others.

1 Peter 3:8-12 shows us how to overcome isolation. 

Be selfless—verse 8 says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” What characteristics of selflessness are listed here? Exercising them will break isolation as you do good to others. 

Be forgiving—verse 9 states, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Unforgiveness leads to bitterness, anger, enmity, and hatred. Forgiveness restores unity and breaks isolation. 

Be self-controlled—verse 10 quotes, “For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.’” How do you  control your speech? You might be able to control it sometimes by yourself, but God can change your heart and your speech will follow.

Be peace-making—verse 11 instructs, “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” Where does true peace comes from? Peace overcomes isolation; it reconnects you with God and people. 

Be righteous—verse 12 reminds, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Where does my righteousness come from? Righteousness restores unity. It overcomes isolation.

If you are wondering how you become any of the five "be" statements above, then seek God first. Break your isolation from him. Through his love, by the Holy Spirit, he will work this character qualities within you.

Then put down your electronic device. Step away. Go look someone in the eye. And have a real conversation.

Restoring Righteousness

Sad bunch, those People of God. Every time we turn around they are in trouble again. Here they go in Malachi, the last Minor Prophet in our Major Stuff blog and sermon series.

God laid out pretty clear rules for His people repeatedly over a thousand plus years: I’m your God; you are my people; you obey my rules; you don’t serve other gods; you stay holy; you worship me as I desire; I’ll bless you. Period.

Simple. Right?

The problem: Simple is not always easy.

The reality: Sin is tempting to humans.

Sin is when we act like God, when we do things our way, which is invariably contrary to God's way.

So, once again, in this concluding book of the Old Testament—not only the last in book order, but written last too (430 BC)—we have Judah, God’s Chosen People, falling back into sin over simple stuff.

God asked faithfulness. God asked worship. God even prescribed how to worship.

Yet Israel was cheating the prescription. They “placed defiled food” on God’s altar and then acted like they didn’t know (1:7). They brought blemished offerings they wouldn’t give a governor, but tried to pass off on God (1:8). They called God’s table a “burden” and would “sniff at it contemptuously” (1:13).

“You might as well turn out the lights and shut the doors of the Temple,” it’s as if God says in Malachi 1:10. Ouch. Problem. Big problem.

God requested worship via the Temple sacrifice system. They had taken it so much for granted that God basically says, “Shut it down. Your worship is an insult. And you are in trouble.”

If ever, did God’s people need righteousness restored? In Malachi’s day, once upon their roller coaster history again, they needed God's imputed righteousness. But how, as 3:4 asks, could their offerings become “acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years?”

The Holy Refinery. The Divine Laundry. God purified them (3:2-3). Only He could restore His people to righteousness. “Then,” and note well what Malachi 3:3b says here, “the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.

Did you catch that? In chapter one God’s people were called out for impure offerings, but here in chapter three it is not the offering that it called righteous or unrighteous, but the person offering it. Righteous people offer righteous offerings. Righteous people do righteous things. 

Righteousness comes from from God within the heart of a person. Righteousness is a gift of God, manifest in right action, but rooted in a right heart.

The righteous heart gives birth to righteous actions.

Our righteous God makes us righteous.

Ask yourself today:

  • How is my personal righteousness with God?
  • What secret sins or unforgiveness am I harboring?
  • What must I confess to God without delay?
  • How should I express thanks to God for His forgiveness? 

Restoring Righteousness is the twelve and final entry in our Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets series of posts and sermons. You can read all those posts in the previous weeks herein. You can hear any of those sermons via iTunes or our church podcast page. Please share this post and leave comments as you wish.

99 44/100%

Ninety nine and forty four one hundredths pure.


We like the idea.

Clean. Fresh. Real. Simple. Virtuous. Upright. Good.


Ninety nine and forty four one hundredths pure? Not me. Not on my own.

I need purity imputed, righteousness received.

But how?

How does a person who is sinful and impure by nature become pure?

Authority. I am not God. You're not either. We can not conquer sin alone. We need power beyond our performance and authority beyond our ability. Purity starts with submission to God's authority.

Humility. Submission is an act of humility. Without which when continually striving on our own we will continually fall. Into sin. Purity grows where pride is pruned by humility.

Accountability. You can not do it on your own. Humility knows even with Holy Spirit empowerment, you still need external, flesh and blood accountability. Purity flourishes through shared accountability.

Need purity? Struggling with a secret sin? Debt? Pornography? Gluttony? Gambling? Jealousy? Judgmentalism? Anger? Worry? Adultery? Gossip? Fill-in-the-blank-thing-you-want-to-keep-hidden?

Be bold enough to submit to God's authority.

Be vulnerable enough to exercise humility.

Be courageous enough to engage in accountability.

Your purity is supernatural. It's a gift from God. Stop giving in to temptation. Forget the Deceiver's lies. Confess. Repent. And receive your gift of purity. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Thanks for reading, Friends. Please share a comment, share this post, or subscribe. And, if you are struggling with a secret sin and need some accountability, then use my confidential contact page. You'll get no judgment, just guidance.