Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Isaiah 10

“By my own powerful arm I have done this.
With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it.
I have broken down the defenses of nations
and carried off their treasures.
I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
14 I have robbed their nests of riches
and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs.
No one can even flap a wing against me
or utter a peep of protest.”
15 But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it?
Is the saw greater than the person who saws?
Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it?
Can a wooden cane walk by itself?

The arrogance of the King of Assyria is about to get him into trouble. Little does He understand that The Sovereign Lord has used him for His purposes to get the attention of Israel. But this King thinks he’s the one in control, that his armies have done this because of his might, his wisdom.

How many times are we just like him? He shouts out numerous “I” statements with a trumped up haughtiness: “I have done this” “I have broken down the defenses” “I have robbed their nests”. And ends with a “No one can touch me”. Not once does he acknowledge the God who used him as a tool for His purpose. All too often we act like this King. We take credit for how wonderful our lives are, or for the talent we may have or for how well our children have turned out. Or for how successful our ministries are, or how big our congregation is. Lest we forget we are merely a tool in the Masters hand.

How foolish it would be for the ax to take credit for the hard work and sweat of the lumberjack. For the ax can only cut down the tree while held firmly and swung in the mighty grasp of the lumberjack.

And can a saw take credit for the beautiful cabinet built by the carpenter? Can it plan out the cuts? Can it follow the line, matter of fact can it draw the line? Can the hammer place the nails in the cabinet to put it together? Or even choose where the nails will go?

All of this sounds pretty silly, we KNOW that an AX cannot cut down a tree without someone holding on to it and doing the swinging, and the same for the SAW and the HAMMER. The question is do we understand that we are like the AX, the SAW and the HAMMER. That we are a tool in the Masters hand to be used for His purposes, and we should never take credit for the beautiful work He longs to accomplish through us. Lest He puts us down and picks up another to finish the task. Remember to give Him the glory and the praise!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Isaiah 9

2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death [a]
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Each of these three verses speak of a difficult task; walking in the dark, planting a field and waiting, being oppressed.

Walking in the dark may seem easy as you feel your way along the wall in the middle of the night, when you need to use the bathroom. That walk is one you’ve taken many times over in the day, the floor is familiar. But what about a prolonged season of darkness, in unfamiliar territory? Would you have the same confidence, could you get to your destination without fear and frustration. What a relief when the light gets turned on and you can see! Your journey now is filled with a light step and a joy in your heart.

Many years ago now my dad rented a field and he and my cousin planted it. I can remember many Saturdays as a family going to that field, weeding and watering it, it was very hard laborious work. And I can assure you none of us liked it. It was hot and dirty work. But I can still remember the excitement the day we harvested all the potatoes. There was an abundance of them! Digging them up was the best part, we were all shouting “Look I think this one is the BIGGEST”. A true change of heart over the previous work.

No one likes being oppressed, the weight of it on our soul feels like it could crush us in an instant. I’ve been there, I’ve felt oppressed on every side, the very life inside you feeling like it has been sucked out. Just a few months ago I went through a short season of oppression, I know the burden it comes with. And when it was lifted, when I was prayed over by a friend it felt like I could walk on air.

Each of these speaks of a joy that comes, a joy that comes after a great distress. There is a stark difference between the weight of the distress and the light of the joy! And these are just earthly joys, Isaiah 9 tells us an even greater joy is coming:

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, [b] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The Prophetic announcement of Christ is the GREAT JOY! A joy that is of spiritual depth, not earthly. It will be even greater in weight, then those described in the previous verses. But keep this in mind… the JOY still comes after distress. For its when we know of our great loss without Christ, THEN experience Him in all His fullness as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace will we know the true JOY!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Isaiah 8

11 The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
12 "Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy [f] ;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,

Fear can be an overwhelming emotion. It can paralyze you from moving forward on any front. It can keep you from enjoying life, friends, family and God. We can struggle with all kinds of personal fears never mind getting caught up in the fears of others.
The media calls us from nearly every major tv channel announcing gloom and doom, death and destruction in every state, and continent around the world. There’s enough bad news on any given day that could cause us to fear walking out our doors.
But instead of fearing all that, a healthy fear of God is what I choose. This past week in the bible study I’m doing we talked about just that. I’d like to post a few paragraphs I found most helpful:
Anointed Transformed Redeemed – Week 3 – Day 5 – “Beth Moore”
“A healthy fear of God draws us toward Him. An unhealthy fear of God draws us away from Him. A healthy fear of God bows to His holiness and obeys His precepts but all the while is compelled like a magnet to the source of its fascination. It seeks Him like hidden treasure. It stretches and strains to peer into His perfections. It yearns to be captivated by His beauty from so near a place that it becomes beautiful too. It longs to approach the One who dwells in unapproachable light. To know the unknowable till faith turns to sight. To be ruined for every other contesting love.
Unhealthy fear runs from God and recoils at the thought of trusting Him. It associated Him more with pain than praise. It sees Him as an angry god to appease rather than a wise and holy Father we need to obey but whom we can also trust. Unhealthy fear associates the glory of God solely with the agony of man. It believes that His gain always means our pain. Oh, if we could only comprehend that His gain cannot fail to also be ours, whether or not pain is involved in the worthy process.
God can never do Himself right and do His children wrong. God’s glory and goodness are inseparable. We’re scared to live fully surrendered to God because we’re afraid It will kill us. If only we understood that any part of us crucified in doing His will becomes a hotbed of resurrection power. Where we die to self, the Spirit of Christ is raised in us. “

A healthy fear of God is one of the things I am discovering as I read through Isaiah, and I feel its one of the things we are missing most. With a proper awe and wonder of Who God is, we will find ourselves less afraid of what this world shouts to us, and safer under His wing that we could have ever imagined.