Isaiah 52 tells us about the God we serve. Isaiah tells us to “pull up your boots….dress up in your Sunday best”. Time to meet God. He relates the facts that the children of Israel had been “hauled off….sold….lived as strangers”. But that is changing. And he states the truth we all need to recognize and proclaim: “Your God reigns”. God is in control. He “has rolled up His sleeves” and is making things happen. God is alive. Does that describe the God you know? Is He active and involved in what happens in your life? The answer is that He is whether you recognize it or not. He is at work. He is in control. He does reign!
God also wants to have us experience His power and touch in our life. Isaiah says it this way: “Just watch my servant blossom”. Are you blossoming in your life today? That is God’s desire. He desires us to experience life to the ultimate, to live abundantly and to be consumed by His love for us. He is at work and active all around us. God wants to express Himself in us and through us. He wants this to be the way the world sees us: “For what was unheard of they’ll see with their own eyes, what was unthinkable they’ll have right before them”. God wants to do amazing things. He wants us to see them and experience them. He wants others to see them happen in and through us too. Does God reign in your life? Or maybe the better question is – do you recognize that God reigns in your life? God reigns! Shout it form the mountaintop. Let everyone know He is alive.
Isaiah 51 talks about the impact one person can have. Isaiah recalls the life of Abraham and shares a powerful truth that we should all keep in mind. “One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied”. God has changed the world multiple times through the life of one, or very few. Consider Adam where it all started, or Noah were it all started again. Abraham was promised to be multiplied beyond the ability to count. And Jesus – He selected 12 but those men changed the world for eternity. So what we do matters. We have the ability, as a piece of clay in God’s hands, to leave a mark on the world for eternity. Far too often we don’t think our life makes any difference. But it does, or it can, if we live it for Him.
Isaiah also goes on to share the truth of our salvation. God tells us “my salvation will last forever, my setting-things-right will never be obsolete”. We are living for some pretty high stakes when it comes to eternity. That is a very long time, and God’s salvation lasts that long. It is important we get that relationship right, that we allow His plan to bring us into an eternal future with Him through Jesus to occur. It will never be obsolete, nor will there ever be another plan. God has given us the path to eternal life, and it is up to us to take the steps to make that part of our life and future. Have you got that locked in? Have you made the commitment that will allow you to spend eternity with the Father? Now is the time to do it before it is too late!
Isaiah 50 is a few short verses but a couple very powerful truths. Isaiah begins by asking a very penetrating question: “So why didn’t anyone come when I knocked? Why didn’t anyone answer when I called?” Do you ever forget to respond when God calls or knocks in your life? Do you even notice, or are you so busy and in the midst of so much noise you miss it completely? Unfortunately that describes me some days. I get so wrapped up with the day to day stuff I wouldn’t even know it if God tapped me on the shoulder or whispered in my ear. But that is often how He comes to us. It isn’t with a loud roar or a shout – it is with His still soft voice – and we need to be listening and tuned in. My experience is that when He comes in a loud and strong way, it is usually with a 2X4 to the side of my head after I have missed His instruction for a while. I find that to be a poor way to learn and listen any more – at least I am getting that figured out. But God will get our attention one way or another, it is just much better for us to get it before the volume gets turned up.
Isaiah also asks a very penetrating question, and then gives a very promising answer: “Who out there fears GOD, actually listens to the voice of his servant? For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, Here’s what: Trust in GOD. Lean on your God”! Do you fit in the boat of “doesn’t know where you’re going”? Are you struggling to know what life has for you? The answer is clear – God. He knows, He wrote the plan, He controls the outcome, He is God. So often we wander aimlessly in the desert like the Israelites did for years, because we don’t stop and take the time to ask God and then LISTEN to His voice. God doesn’t want us wandering in the wilderness. He wants to tell us His plan for our lives. He has a plan for us, a perfect plan filled with goodness and abundance. But we miss it because we grope around in the dark rather than coming to the light. We have to trust Him and lean on Him. We have to have a relationship with Him. It takes time and it is work, but it is so very worth it. Are you spending time with God asking what His plan is for your life? Are you listening to His leading? Are you trusting and leaning on Him to guide you? It is so very good when we do. He never fails, has 20/20 vision into our future, and is faithful to the end. Don’t miss the truth here – God wants to show us His way for our life. We just have to trust and obey!
Isaiah 49 captures God’s goodness to His people. They have gone through difficult times (sound familiar?) and this chapter captures the many wonderful things God does for us. A key truth that jumped off the page to me was this: “….because of God, who has faithfully kept His Word….” There is a reality that we need to cling to and live by. God is faithful and always keeps His Word. What the Bible says is so. He cannot not keep it. It is His very nature. We can take that to the bank. It will happen. So the reality is that if we learn it and live it, we can predict the outcome…ever consider that. God tells us much of what He will do. We need to align with it and live by His Word. Time to get into that Book and read it and learn it. Are you willing to do that in 2009?
Another key truth that hit me today were found in these words: “Look up, look around, look well”! So often we get trapped in the busyness of the day and we don’t stop to look up. We keep our nose stuck in our problems and our face to the ground as we feel defeated and overwhelmed. The solution is above – to turn our eyes upon Jesus (sound like a familiar song to you?) and turn it over to Him. God is there, He is watching, He knows every detail….so why do we try and deal with it all on our own? I know that is my habit – to exhaust myself trying before I finally remember that the answer is above. Or it may be in the help of a brother or sister around me. God has placed us as members of His Body for times like these too. But I am so busy looking down and being consumed by the issues of the day I forget the tools He gave me to live victoriously. And don’t forget that – it is His goal for your life and mine – Jesus came to give us “life abundant” and that only happens when we learn to look up and let God have control. Are you focused on the up, or are you buried in the down. God wants to set us free from the burdens of life. He has volunteered to let us “cast your burdens” on Him. He is there and willing. We just have to look up!
Isaiah 48 is filled with questions from God about relationship. He asks his people, who have been using His name and praying these things about the love they show off: “But do you mean it? Do you live like it”? Our life needs to match up with what the words we speak. Our walk needs to match our talk. We can’t just “act as though you lean on God” as so many of us do. Life needs to match up with speak. Actions always speak louder than the words we use. That is the issue here – the words didn’t match up with the activity. God defines the problem this way: “I know you’re a bunch of hardheads, obstinate and flint-faced”. Sound like anyone you know. Sure does remind me of the guy I see in the mirror in my bathroom. I get a little bull headed at times – want to do it my way and in my time. Want to act like I am God’s, but want to live like I am on my own. The problem: “You’ve never been good listeners to me. You have a history of ignoring me”. We have to listen and act God’s way. We can’t just go about doing whatever we want and pretending we belong to God.
That brings us to the not so fun stuff – God’s plan to fix us. He is committed to making us holy, to bringing us into alignment with His Word and His very nature. His commitment is to refine us: “I’ve refined you, but not without fire. I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction…. simply because of who I am, I do what I do”. God is going to refine us and get rid of the junk in our lives. He wants to upgrade us so we can experience the wonderful things He has for us. Refining is never fun, but the results are so worth it. Check out what He says: “I show you what to do, where to go…. If you had listened….your life would have flowed full like a river, blessings rolling in like waves”. God has a plan for us, a plan for good and it requires that we be refined and that we get lined up with His plan for us. When we do, good things, no great things, lie ahead. Are you letting God clean up your life? Have you committed to love Him and let Him love you in return? Awesome things lie ahead for those who do.
Isaiah 47 touches on the reality that God doesn’t really look kindly on people who think they are king of the hill. He starts off the chapter saying “get off your high horse and sit in the dirt” and it gets stronger from there. Certainly I think many of us allow self to get in the way of relationship, particularly with God. We think we are the important part of that whole connection, when in fact, it is God who is the central point. Life is not about me. Life has never been about me, although certainly I thought it was for a long time. Why do we mere humans think the universe revolves around us? What gives us the right to even contemplate that we are the key to all that happens? We aren’t and God makes that point exceedingly clear to us when He says this: “You’re acting like the center of the universe, Smugly saying to yourself, “I’m Number One”. Oh boy, not a good place to be. Time to climb down off the horse and sit in the dirt. Probably need to rub some dirt on our face to boot. We are no where even on a scale when we compare ourselves to God.
Pride is a big issue. Scripture in the New Testament warns us not to “think more highly of ourself than we ought”. But we tend to do that – to allow then enemy or our self focus to convince us that we are on the throne. It is just way wrong. We will never be on the throne of the universe, that is God’s place alone. And as long as we are on the throne of our own life, we will flounder and struggle and fall flat on our face. We have no possible way to succeed when we try and run our own life. Oh it may appear like we are doing just fine, but that won’t last. God alone is worthy of being in charge. He created the universe, He is in complete control, and our attempt to drive will definitely cause us to be in the ditch at some or most points in time. So why do we insist, because of our sin nature and our desire to have control. Jesus came to set us free from that issue, but we have to be willing to give over control once and for all to the Father. We have to let God do His thing, and we need to learn humility and submission and obedience. God’s plan will work marvelously when we let Him be God. The problem comes when we try to take His place and do His job. We can’t and every time we try we will fail and fall and make a mess out of life. Are you letting God run things in your life? Do you need to get off your high horse and stop acting like the center of the universe? You are not number one, the world does not revolve around you, and life is not about you. The sooner you get that right, the better for all. That is what the mirror is saying to me today, how about you?
Isaiah 46 continues the story of God’s relationship to His people. These words give us some insight into that: “I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born….I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old….I’ll be there….I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you”. God is the rock of our lives and the foundation of our future. He has been there, done that when it comes to being faithful to us and being our source of life and living. The issue is not with God, it is with us. I love how the Message version captures our problem. Does this describe you as well as it does me: “You’re a hardheaded bunch and hard to help”. Why do we get hardheaded when it comes to God? Why do we insist on doing things our way? Ponder for a moment your role as parent. If you had an instruction book that told you exactly how to raise kids wouldn’t that be a great value. I know for some of you, reading instructions is just not in your makeup no matter how long you flounder trying to figure out how to assemble things on your own. But God has given us an instruction book for life – the Bible – and many of us don’t read it and learn it and live it. We insist on trying things our way. God tells us how to have a relationship with Him – one filled with power and love – one capable of moving mountains. God tells us how to have a marriage that is magnificent, how to raise kids that actually obey, how to have friendships where people will lie down their lives for each other. God wrote the Book.
Problem is not with God, it is with us hard headed people. There are days when I sort of feel that way about people too. At work, in the church, in other organizations I am involved in. Why does it have to be so hard? Because people are hard headed. And I am one of them, maybe worse than most. When I run into that in my day I often wrestle with just giving up on them and moving on. But catch where God’s heart is right after He identifies how hard headed we are: “I’m ready to help you right now. Deliverance is not a long-range plan. Salvation isn’t on hold. I’m putting salvation to work in Zion now”. God is not controlled by the circumstances. He sees the big picture and you and I are right in the middle of it. He has a plan and we are it. He is not going to cut and run, but stands ready for us to get over ourselves and our stubborn approach to living and is waiting to be our God. Are you ready to let Him do that? Are you reading His instruction book for life so you can avoid all the issues that come from being hard headed? Life can be simpler if we let the One who created it in us lead us……..are you willing to let go and let God?