Sunday, October 20, 2019

Comfort ...

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins." ~ Isaiah 40:1-2
Some years ago I was visiting my father-in-law in the hospital. As we talked, I happened to notice a fellow pastor that we both knew. Pastor Charlie was sitting at the bedside of an elder in his church who was terminally ill. The man wasn't able to feed himself and Pastor Charlie, patiently and lovingly, fed his parishioner. It was a touching moment to watch the one who delivered God's Word every week with distinct authority, extend needed comfort in the most gracious way. We're never more Godly, than when we comfort those in need.
Some have been totally misled to believe that God, as revealed in the Old Testament, was a God of judgment and wrath alone, without love or compassion. For these people He was a hard task master, demanding perfection without mercy. Yet, we find in the passage above a very different picture of God. His heart was opened wide with tenderness and pardon for sin. Trials had passed, corrections were administered, but at the end of the day our God cried out to comfort, ... comfort his people.
Do you really know the heart of your God my friend? David knew Him as his personal Shepherd, when he wrote ... "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4) Paul the apostle knew Him as "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3) What are you struggling with today? Have your trials overwhelmed you? Then look to your heavenly Father and find his comfort in this time of need.

Image result for isaiah 49:13

Saturday, October 19, 2019

At the top...

"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite." - Isaiah 57:15
It has been said that nice guys end up last. In the fight to get to the top, most big wheels follow this worldly wisdom very closely. Climbing up the corporate ladder often means trampling over very humble and lowly people who get in the way. Then, when the battle is won and they become a big cheese, they finally learn that... "it's lonely at the top".
In contrast to the "kings of the earth" we see the Lord, "high and lifted up". He inhabits eternity, dwelling in the high and holy place. Yet, a red carpet is always rolled out for humble and lowly people, such as those who were trampled by the "big wheels" of the world. Rather than trample the lowly, our Lord welcomes them and revives their hearts. So, it's never lonely at His top.
No matter where the top is in this world, it's lonely. Getting there can cost you your health, family, friends and even your faith. Why fight your way up the ladder of success when the invitation is extended to join the Ruler of the universe in the highest and holiest place, without price? Come, just as you are, with a humble and lowly spirit. Then, you'll enjoy the revival of heart, and never have to be lonely at His top.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Happy Feet...

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” - Isaiah 52:7
Prior to entering the ministry, I worked at a specialty shoe store fitting and selling shoes. Some shoes were made for orthopedic needs and others were made for glamour. Some people came with special needs, while others with special desires, but everyone left happy. The big question my employer always had was... Would those happy feet carry a happy message? 
The Lord's heart desire was that... "all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (vs. 10) Such a goal would involve those who would bring the good news of happiness, as well as publish peace and salvation. Both Israel and the world had a special need that could only be met by the God who reigns. With the promise of such joy (vs. 8), would there be happy feet to carry a happy message?
How beautiful are your feet my friend? Have you received the good news of happiness, peace, and salvation? Has your life been transformed and blessed with great joy by a God who reigns in your heart? If all of this is true, are you busy telling, sharing and passing on this good news? Will your happy feet carry a happy message? 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"IF"....

"Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;" - Isaiah 48:18
Have you ever purchased a new lawn hose to water your precious flowers? Was the spigot on the other side of the house? Were you all primed to give your garden a steady flow of a much needed shower? Were you surprised and frustrated when nothing came out of your brand new hose? Did you soon discover that you caused a kink in your hose when you pulled it around the house? Oh, if you had only paid attention.
With all the pushing and pulling to get their own way, Israel couldn't seem to get anything right. The Word of God had been faithfully passed down from one generation to the next. But, it was regularly ignored. The prophetic warnings came with clear instructions on how to repent and turn to the Lord. And, they were ignored as well. The Lord had spoken, taught and lead them, but He was ignored to their loss of rivers of peace and waves of righteousness. Oh, if they had only paid attention. 
The words seem so simple don't they? I suppose the most haunting concept can be wrapped up in one word... "IF". When we reach the end of our rope of godless living and find nothing but turmoil and more dark days ahead, what can we say? Oh, "IF" I had only paid attention to the Lord...my life would have been different. Why wait my friend? Decide today to pay attention and be blessed with rivers of peace and waves of righteousness. 



Wednesday, October 16, 2019

He will carry you...

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save." - Isaiah 46:3-4
Our little grandson is now walking. And so it goes, he's off into a lifetime of walking on his own. The many months of being carried seemed like such a very long time for the little guy. Then again, whether it's infancy, injuries or down right old age, being carried by someone else can be frustrating. But, what a blessing to have someone who cares enough to carry us when needed.
The Lord had shown the foolishness of an Idolatry that involved man-made gods that had to be carried. He now reminded the people of Israel that it's God that carries His people. He was there from the womb to old age. He made, bore, carried and saved. He alone is God. Throughout the years, there were so many occasions that Israel needed to be carried, even when she resisted, He was there. What a blessing to have a God who cared enough to carry them when needed.
One of our greatest weaknesses is the pride that resists being carried by someone else. Like our little grandson Nate, once we can do it ourselves, we just don't want any more help. But, as we move through the seasons of life, we all face unexpected challenges that can rob us of our independent abilities. These are the days when we should welcome and  treasure our God and His people who care enough to carry us when needed. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Life long commitment...

“You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:9-10
My wife and I have watched" Bluebloods" (a police drama) for ten seasons. As those seasons developed, so did a romance between two lead characters. As marriage came into view, they wrote their own vows, which read as follows: "Groom: I will always have your back. If you fall behind I will wait up. Bride: I will earn your respect and pay you respect every day we have. Groom: I’ll be your scout, your night watchman, your cavalry. Bride: Your medic, your chaplain in our army of two. Groom: No retreat, no surrender. You can count on me. Bride: You can count on me." Well, it certainly strayed from traditional vows, but what a thoughtful and thorough life long commitment!
In a far greater way, the Lord called Israel to be His own, and He promised to never cast her off. His vow was one sided... He would be: "with her", "her God", "her strength", "her help", and always "uphold her". With the same devotion He promises us today, the following in John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." and Hebrews 13:5-6: "I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Wow, what a thoughtful and thorough life long commitment!
As you can see, it's much more than a religious belief to know God. It's a true love relationship. He calls us to His side and promises to never cast us off and to never leave us or forsake us. The only logical response is found in our verse above... "Fear not and be not dismayed." Why? To put it In contemporary lingo, because He'll always have your back. So, you can count on Him. Now, that's commitment! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Is there any hope?

"Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. . - Isaiah 38:17
Illness and physical pain can cause overwhelming frustration. It can reduce our capacity to focus and, for the believer, even our faith. We are often haunted with the worst case scenario and may wonder if we've come to the end.  We are desperate for hope. 
For Hezekiah, it was even worse, the warning of verse 1 seemed final, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” Yet, the King held firm to faith in his God. The Lord heard his prayer, saw his tears and responded with hope.
You may feel great this morning my friend, but will your health change? If it does, how will you respond? What will you do if the Doctor's report comes back with little hope? Follow the example of Hezekiah and seek the One who delivered his life in love. With the Lord, there's always hope.