Archive for July, 2020
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2).
This prophecy, fulfilled and confirmed in the person of Jesus Christ, continues forth as a flesh and blood demonstration in the life of all those who follow him (John 14:16-17). In pursuing the life of faith, we make possible the fruit of the Spirit being borne out for the world to see. Thus, the importance of no one ever diminishing who they are and what they do. It is in who you are, and in what you do, that the work of the Spirit makes the presence of God a living reality.
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1).
A shoot, a peasant couple from a peasant village, a mustard seed, a child, fisherman, tax-collectors, you, me…God has long history of utilizing the unexceptional and unexpected to reveal his presence and fulfill his purposes in the world. Perhaps God works through the weak and lowly, rather than the high and mighty, so that what is being accomplished could never be attributed to human ingenuity.
“But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14).
The laments of the psalmist may appear as whining and complaining, but they cry out from a heart of faith and confidence that has come upon a time of confusion and distress; it is a longing for God to fulfill his promises. A lamenting faith reflects a relationship with the Lord that is honest and transparent; offering no religious platitudes. Yet, through every trial and circumstance, hope for the future and praise of the Father are the remaining constants.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).
It’s no mystery that the Bible often speaks of sleep as a metaphor for death. What then is the mystery of which Paul speaks? It is the humanly incomprehensible nature of what God has done, is doing, and will do. How could we possibly explain a creation from nothing; a resurrection to life from a death by crucifixion and, then, the perishable changed into the imperishable. It is the certainty by which we hope.
“Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them of be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:9).
Long before Ford was advertising their built tough trucks, God was raising up a tough people, fully equipped to meet head-on the tasks to which they are called. While saying, “God made me this way” is never a good excuse when accused of being hard-headed, it is an admirable trait when it leads you to stand and persevere against those in opposition to the things of God.
“A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it” (Isaiah 35:8).
Regardless of how meticulous and focused they might be, life has a way of disrupting the execution of our plans; detouring us off the interstate and fast-track arrival for which we had hoped; leading us, instead, down farm-to-market roads filled with unexpected pitfalls and opposing forces at every turn. By journeying this path faithfully, we are paving the way for our walk upon the Highway of Holiness.
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:5-6a).
Isaiah foresees what is fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus, and offered to John the Baptist (Luke 7:20-23) as an assurance of the Kingdom of God having burst forth upon the world stage. Through his miraculous healings, Jesus gave us a glimpse into what is to come. Just as our weeping may endure for the night, according to the psalmist (Psalm 30:5), the same can be said of our groaning. Today’s physical maladies will soon give way to joyful expression.
“Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you” (Isaiah 35:3-4).
Whether it’s exile, pandemics, or any number of things in between, certain events and seasons in life can be overwhelming. The prophet describes that sense of being traumatized; feelings of weakness; powerless, unable to move forward with purposeful direction. Like a loving parent, God the Father offers this assurance to his fearful children, “Everything is going to be alright.” All is not right in the world, but it will be made right…with a vengeance.
“The wilderness and the desert will be glad. And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (Isaiah 35:1-2).
God’s redeeming work of salvation isn’t just about the forgiveness of our sins and making it to heaven; it includes the entirety of his created order. Even the most hostile, unfertile, and desolate places will be transformed into a paradise reflective of God’s glory. From its initial creation, to its corruption, to the return of the Lord and its final corrective transformation, it will have been a project of inconceivable scale. With this kind of creative and transformational power, one can only imagine what he will accomplish in our lives between now and then.
“Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3)
More than our intuitive response or emotional reaction, the praise we offer to God becomes the very means by which he dwells among his people. Through our expressions of praise the invisible God, who is Spirit (John 4:24), is made visible. By our individual and concerted praise we receive the answer to the petition of the model prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”