This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…. (Isaiah 30:15)
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)
the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted (Isaiah 30:26b)
Many times, we’ve heard that we are to take the yoke of Christ for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). A yoke is meant for two animals to be bound together so that the weaker can find grow in strength from the stronger, more experienced animal. Christ died to carry our burdens and to allow us to take His yoke as opposed to struggle with our own. The Old Testament passages above speak of the same God willing to unload us of our troubles. We are called to rest in our salvation because our trust in Him is our strength. God strength is shown in our weakness. Sometimes that weakness is simply found in the submission of rest. When we stop trying to fight the hand of God as He guides us we can we can find the grace His steadfast love offers, and the compassion found in His justice.
I was thinking about the quality of meekness as this passage opened up to me. As a fruit of the Spirit we are called to meekness which make the Lord our vindicator. The definition of meek is humbly patient or submissive. We are not to vindicate ourselves against the things that come against us as we walk submitted to the Lord. Any battle we fight will have to be continually fought with small no real victory. As believers our victory is in submission to God who wins all battles and brings them to completion. Once God is fighting for us the battle will be over and our peace and joy will continue in Him.
Then we come to the last passage above. God allows the trials in life to come against us so that we can draw closer to Him, our Refuge. It also allows us to submit to His yoke and grow in patience and meekness. What a blessing to see above that God intends to bind up the wounds caused by His affliction. Anything God takes away He does for our good, binds our wounds and draws us into His peace and the closer relationship with Him. Take up the yoke of Christ God has provided in His love. Let God be your Vindicator, Provider, Counselor, and Strength. He wins all battles and heals all wounds, but only if your faith will rise up to allow it.
I was listening to a sermon about spiritual warfare and had a thought about what kind of motive and opportunity the deceiver has to try and derail the walk of God’s children as they sojourn in a world where they are not made to walk. Our dependence on God, to lead us in this foreign place, leaves us vulnerable and leaves the enemy salivating as he prowls looking to devour. As believers we can accept that our Father loves us. He made that clear through His son, our savior, on the cross. He makes it clear again with His grace and mercy. I see the patience of my Heavenly Father as I stumble through this journey. At the same time, we have to recognize that the enemy opposes God in all things. He hates us because we are loved by our Creator. When God blesses us, the deceiver grows frustrated. When we turn our voice and heart to God in prayer, the deceiver is angry in his helplessness against the name of Jesus. A name that will force the devil to flee as we resist his attacks on us because of who we are in Christ.
Have you ever met a person that opposes instruction or advice just because of who said it? They want to cause trouble and make the person giving instruction seem ignorant or wrong. We can benefit when we see this motive in the deceiver, God’s adversary. We have to remember that he is our adversary too, because we are children of God. He doesn’t want to see God’s plan prosper in this family, His kingdom. The devil wants to steal God’s word when He gives it to us. If it can’t be stolen, he wants to manipulate it in order to make us struggle. If the word finds its place, the deceiver will manipulate the things around us to reduce the effectiveness of the word in us. When the Lord is working in us and through us, we will get the attention of the opposition. Count your alliance with God as joy along with the trials that will come in the process.
When we see the method and intent of satan, we can become more effective at receiving God’s word through the bible and through His Spirit. We can develop discernment and become tuned to God’s voice over the deceiver and even over our own. Not only do we need to get better at receiving the word but also more effective at walking in that word. We have to walk in trust with God, growing our faith. We have to rely on God as our refuge and strength. Walking with God creates opposition in our lives. If the deceiver is not against us, we haven’t gotten his attention with our walk and its effectiveness in the kingdom. When we wake each morning with new mercy to face the battle with the devil, find comfort in your certain victory in Christ and in the alliance that brings the adversary of your Father against you His child, His prized possession.
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. (Isaiah 6:9-10,13)
The first verse here, from Isaiah 6, describes those who walk blindly through the darkness of this world. They have access to the holiness of God but refuse to let it penetrate their heart and cause changes that lead to sanctification. They miss the fullness they have access to in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. The biggest hindrance is people’s refusal to submit to God bigger purpose for His people. They can’t imagine that they are not the center of His movements in this world. The thought of suffering or becoming a servant leave them seeking gratification in their own way. The constant struggle against the pull of their hearts toward their Father cause them to become calloused so that the desire for God becomes dull. They fall into the trap of putting their desires over those of God. God desires that submission to Him and a deep relationship rooted ion love would lead our desires to become His desires.
The voice of God becomes drown out in the business associated with self-servitude and self-gratification. The calloused heart isn’t the pliable vessel where the Holy Spirit is meant to thrive and shine forth the light of God through His children. When a person wrapped in the cords of the enemy comes to the end of themselves, they are then in a position to receive the greater gifts of God. Their eyes can then see, ears can then hear, and hearts can then receive the power found in Jesus Christ through their weakness. They can then turn to the faithful Father who stands patiently waiting for His children so that none may parish.
The second verse above talks about the holy seed of God. In this case it refers to the remnant that God uses to carry His glory through time even as the people turn away with callused hearts. I think of this as the holy seed found in every person that we refer to as a conscience. God speaks into our spirit and writes His moral code upon mankind made in His image. Even in a calloused condition the draw toward God, the empty place we look to fill with lesser things, still causes us hardship and struggle. Acknowledge the holy seed that pulls at you when God isn’t first place in your life. Never let your heart become so calloused that the Holy Spirit cannot shine through your life. Refuse to let yourself be ruled by your fleshly desires. Be restored to, submitted to and led by your Heavenly Father so that your life finds the purpose and joy for which it was created.
As we grow closer to God we not only grow away from the things of this world we also create a distance from other believers who’s walk is different from ours. It might be that God’s timing or direction for them differs from ours. It is important to support those around us while still seeking our own growth in God through His Spirit. There will be times where people will be unable to support your steps and upward calling. That can be to your advantage in many cases. God guides your steps, lights your path, and is the source of your calling. Your first resource for growth in your spiritual walk should always be the Spirit God has sent to dwell in you. The Holy Spirit should always be the source of your conviction and truth. Allowing the Spirit to be your filter as you seek God through His Word and through Spirit driven sermons means you can receive what the Lord has for you specifically. The living Word of God can speak to you a different way each time you seek guidance through its pages. Allowing the Holy Spirit, which dictated every word, to speak to you with scripture means you can get exactly what you need in your time with the Lord.
There are times when we look around and realize that our walk with God has brought us to a place of unique experience with Him. He speaks to us and grows us in ways that are specific to how He made us. There will not always be someone to share that moment with. It is those times we can take our love and gratitude directly to God, our Source. We can use those moments of revelation to worship and praise Him.
Seeking fellow believers to walk with is God’s desire, but we cannot rely on human counsel as our primary source of revelation and growth. People are fallible where God is not. He designed you and seeks to mature you in His way at His pace. Your growth will drive the right people closer to you and some people away from you. Some of the people who were closest to you in your worldly life will be the furthest from you as your spirit matures. Let God bring people into your life that will develop you through His Spirit. Seek God first and let the Spirit be your counsel.
We are each uniquely design as part of the body of Christ (the Church). He created us and now grows us in different ways to strengthen His Church. Allow God to grow gifts in you that you can bring to grow His Kingdom here on earth. Don’t let people pull you from God’s unique design for you. Make God first and let His light shine forth from you to serve Him and His purpose for your life.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
To justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ.
You are saved in the profession of your heart and justified in the righteousness received in Christ. Justification and salvation come from your heart. Being saved is much more than words spoken when prompted. Salvation is evident from a changed heart and the love that grows from it. People can say anything, but the condition of their heart is what speaks to the Father. Their heart is what has to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23) The will of the Father is to love Him with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. It is the love of a changed heart that truly allows a believer to walk in the salvation of Jesus Christ. The knowledge of Jesus has to fall from your head to your heart where is can grow and blossom into spiritual fruit.
Let your faith come from more than words. Ask God to let His grace and mercy fill your heart. Let the indwelling of the Spirit which comes through receiving Jesus change your heart in a way that magnifies God through you. Let the words of your mouth reflect the condition of your changed heart and not the content of your mind. The deceiver looks to plant seeds into your mind, but your heart belongs to your Savior. Your heart is the source of your salvation and relationship with God.
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory (Romans 9:22-23)
Just because we see sinful people prosper doesn’t mean that God has looked away from their sinfulness. We are told not to envy wicked people in their prosperity, for that prosperity will lead to their ruin. Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong (Psalm 37:1) The scripture above tells us about God and the great patience He shows toward the “objects of His wrath.” It then ask us to consider what purpose He has in showing them patience. He looks to show His children the “riches of His glory.” What could that mean? The Hebrew word for glory originally means “weight” or “heaviness.” The same word is then used to express importance, honor, and majesty. Take a moment and consider that definition in this context.
How many people that the world views as prosperous are dead and empty on the inside? They have sought and gained the best the world has to offer at the expense of their peace and are now left with nothing to fill the void in their heart. Our sovereign Father gives us the opportunity to see what gaining the world and losing your soul looks like in the flesh. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26) These people who have chosen to ignore God are without the most fulfilling thing available to us, a relationship with the Father.
As the “objects of His mercy” we can live with the joy of knowing the riches of His glory. We know that the presence and provision found in relationship to God outweigh the lesser things of this world. God’s provision is designed for us by our Creator, not our sinful desire. Believers can live with the peace of knowing God and the assurance that we have more than enough to walk the path He has called us to. Gaining more might drive us into worldly assurance. God loves us too much to let us wonder from what is best for us. We can let His light guide us on our walk with Jesus and be an example to those God has “prepared for destruction.” God desires that none shall parish.
Let God’s glory shine through you. You might be the reason His patience benefits someone who is looking to fill the place in their heart where God is meant to dwell. Let others know what it means to see the riches of God’s glory and what it is to grow in His mercy. Show the world that God’s great power can also be shown in the grace and mercy of His patience toward all of us.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved…. When the Lord heard them, he was furious; his fire broke out against Jacob, and his wrath rose against Israel, for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (Psalm 78:18,21-22)
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. (Psalm 78:32)
When events happen in our life that are contrary to our plans or painful for us, we seek God to deliver us from that circumstance. We ask for a miracle that will make the problems and pain go away. We want immediate relief and resolution so that we don’t have to suffer. There are times when God will bring miracles to His children but there are many times when the trouble is the beginning of a process.
God in His infinite wisdom allows these troubles to draw us into relationship with Him as our faith in Him grows. Faith in His love, protection, provision, and plan for our life. The Bible shows us what society verifies everyday: Wonders do no good. We draw to God in trouble as our faith is genuinely grown. Our short attention span draws us to the situations that are immediate in our life. We easily forget what God has done for us both in big ways and in the things we take for granted. It’s a miracle that you have the opportunity to have a relationship with God. Of all the lost souls on this earth God has chosen you to walk with Him in adoption as His child. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5)
The Old Testament is filled with examples of God performing miracles and the people immediately returning to idols instead of God. Then God allows troubles to come upon His chosen, they seek Him in these times, He delivers them, and they turn again to worldly idols. Even if a devout follower of Jesus were given their requests immediately as miracles each time they asked, the relationship with God would suffer. The faith He desires to be at the center of that relationship would fade over time, and He would assume the role of a genie who grants wishes, no faith, trust, or relationship required.
Our perfect and all wise God knows what His children need to grow. His greatest desire is to be glorified as we grow in deeper relationship to Him. The depth comes from faith, trust and dependence through submission to His will. Focus your eyes in Him and watch Him guide your steps. It is then that you will discover the life He has for you. A life full of peace and joy that not only passes all understanding but also your wildest dreams.
The relationship God desires with His children calls us into the deep and of the metaphorical swimming pool. You can never feel the power of God fully manifesting in your life until you can’t touch the bottom anymore. Your Father is calling you into the deep water where He is your Sustainer and your own provision is exhausted. You either admitted your best attempts are worthless or they have left you empty.
The deep water is where we find spiritual connection with God. We have a heart-felt connection with His love and His Spirit fills us. Our trust and faith have lead us to follow Him into the deep water where our reliance on His will and bigger plan matures our faith and grows us. God has plans for us that exceed our wildest dreams. Those plans are found in the deep waters where He grows our character to receive something we could not handle otherwise. It is through growing closer to Him that we can see His bigger plan and walk in a way that glorifies Him in His provision.
The shallow end of the pool, where most people are too afraid to leave, reflects self-reliance. We feel ok as long as our feet are touching bottom and we perceive that we have any control over what is going to happen. We have a mental connection to God but our reliance on our flesh makes us too heavy to tread water. We find security in our own abilities and the things that the world can provide. We are in danger of missing the plans that God has to grow us. There is also the inevitability that God’s full power will never be able to fully manifest in our lives.
I pray that each of us will seek God in the deep waters. We will allow our water treading muscles to grow. As we rest in God our weight becomes irreverent as we find rest in Him. Our best efforts in life will never compare to what the Lord has for us. Our best will always be incomplete because God is not there with us. If we rely on God and walk the path He has, we will find rest and we can always be sure that His plan is one of completion. Our daily battle to maintain stability will fade away and His peace and joy will fill our hearts as His Spirit overflows from us. Follow God into the deep water and see His glory manifest in and through you.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:17-19)
You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. (Psalm 18:39-40)
Take a moment and read the scriptures above. Think of God as your Deliverer in the first. He rescues you because He delights in you, not because you turned to Him. He brings you into a spacious place where you are no longer bombarded by your present trouble. Now think of God as your Provider and Vindicator in the second. He gives you what you need to battle the darkness of this world and walks before you in battle.
Now read the scriptures again knowing the character of God but this time see that the “foes” and “adversaries” represent your sin and your flesh. Many times, you are your own enemy as your flesh battles the spirit that is put inside you when you accept Christ as your Savior. Many times, God has to rescue you from yourself and give you weapons to battle the sin left in your soul.
We tend to think of our enemies as outward influences but many times we are at odds with ourselves. Our humanity founded in worldly things fights our spirit founded in eternal things. It is when we submit to God and the character shown in His Word above that we have the ability to fight the residual sin found in our flesh. It is when we crucify our flesh daily that the Spirit of God in us can shine forth and lead us to deeper relationship with Him. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God…. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:6-9)