August 15, 2015

God plans, hears, and is worthy of worship

Isaiah 30:18–32:20, Luke 11:1–36, Job 7:11–21

The prophet Isaiah talks gloom and doom, but he also tells how God will bless His people when He is done chastening them for their rebellion. He says,
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

Learning to wait for the Lord during those times when life caves in is not an easy task, but His promises are reliable. That is why I read the Bible every day. It is good to hear words like this:

“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20–21) God will guide me even in affliction. It is also part of His saving plan.

“Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.” (Isaiah 30:26) God will also heal my broken spirit and everything else that has suffered because of the trials I have been through.

“You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.” (Isaiah 30:29) His blessing also includes joy that sings — first thing in the morning, all the day long, and even in the night. How precious!

Almost all of my trials are meant to teach me to rely on God, not on anything else including whatever the world offers, or my own strength. I’ve learned as Isaiah says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!  . . . The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together.” (Isaiah 31:1, 3)
Others will rebel against God, yet He says everyone will realize the folly of their idols. “Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.” (Isaiah 31:6–7)

The power of God can open blind eyes . . . “Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly. The fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable” (Isaiah 32:3–5) and when He does, “The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:17–18)

In the middle of a trial, Job understood that sin hurts the sinner, not God. God cannot be changed or damaged by our foolishness. As Job’s friends accused him of sin because they thought his trial was a punishment and not a test, Job said to God, “What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment? How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit? If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind? Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my transgression and take away my iniquity? For now I shall lie in the earth; you will seek me, but I shall not be.” (Job 7:17–21)

This man was despondent and thought he would die in the trial. He knew it was not about any specific sin for otherwise God would forgive. He was confused and burdened. Yet his story shows us that a trial is under the control of God and is not always about chastening or learning a lesson.

The NT reading gives Jesus’ answer to a request about prayer. He told them to be persistent using a parable about pestering a friend for a loaf of bread. Jesus said the friend would not get up because of friendship, but because of that persistence. He then said, “Everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:5–13)  Job was like that; he did not turn from asking God about his plight. Also, Isaiah told the people to persist in seeking God.

As Jesus said these things, he also warned about where we direct our worship. A woman in the crowd said him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27–28)  . . . . “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (Luke 11:35)

Worship the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows what He is doing. He hears and answers prayer. He alone is worthy of our faith and our praise!

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