August 27, 2015

His Word gives great joy

Isaiah 55:1–57:21, Luke 21:25–22:23, Job 12:13–25

Much of today’s three chapters from Isaiah are underlined in my Bible. God enriches me each time I read them and today is no exception. He invites me to come, to remember His covenant, to remember that His thoughts are higher than mine, and that His Word is powerful: “It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

He declares His plans for the future, plans that give me peace, joy, and delight in trusting Him. He also speaks of the Sabbath. According to the New Testament, this rest goes beyond not working one day a week. It refers to resting in the salvation of God rather than working to justify or save myself. He explains that the righteous sometimes die early because they are “taken away from calamity” and enter into peace. He promises that He will not contend forever with His people but will lead them and give them comfort.

All of these thoughts have an effect; they give me assurance, a deep sense of His presence, and a soft, willing submission. He promises renewed blessing besides . . .  

“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) There is nothing like the presence of God to give me renewal and joy!

Job also knew the greatness of God and gave good reasons for being contrite before Him: “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding. If he tears down, none can rebuild; if he shuts a man in, none can open. If he withholds the waters, they dry up; if he sends them out, they overwhelm the land. With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his.” (Job 12:13–16) God and only God can do whatever He pleases. Any feistiness in me is futile and a waste of energy, but trusting Him brings contentment.

In the NT reading for today, Jesus tells me how to use my energies. Rather than trying to do my own thing (sin) or trying to justify myself (self-righteousness), I am to watch for His return and stay away from those things that are contrary to His will.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:25–36)

The promises of God are clear. By believing them, He gives me grace to do what He says with a humble and meek heart. His blessing protects and preserves me now and into eternity. Admitting sin and needing Jesus might be humiliating for some, but for me, His gifts — lowliness of spirit and a continual sense of His presence — fill me with overwhelming joy.

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