Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 6:01 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Change My Heart, Oh God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 43 (Select vv. NASB).
His Servant (vv. 10-13)
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
“I, even I, am the Lord,
And there is no savior besides Me.
“It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And I am God.
“Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are his servants and witnesses; “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,” so that we “may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called” us “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
As his servants, we do his bidding. We serve him according to his direction, not according to what we are willing to do “for” him, nor according to what we think is best. If he is our Lord, then he is our owner-master, and we are his bond-slaves. We don’t serve ourselves, and we are not in it for the fame or the fortune. And, we don’t serve for the glory of man or human approval, either, but for the glory of God. Thus, we give God all the honor and glory and praise for what he is doing through us, and we take no credit for ourselves, because we realize that every gift we have comes from him.
As servants and laborers for Christ and for his gospel, it is our responsibility to teach the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ, as he was presented in scripture, and the truth of the gospel according to Jesus and his NT apostles. Yet, in order to do that, we have to really know God through intimate relationship with him via God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We have to spend time with him in his Word, drinking it in, listening to the Lord speak his truths to our hearts, and then we need to obey what he shows us. We must walk in holiness and righteousness in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us, too, so that we not only teach rightly, but that we live rightly.
As his servants and witnesses, i.e. as laborers for the gospel of Jesus Christ, we should serve the Lord in humility. We should care for the legitimate needs of others, and we ought to do and say what is in their best interest, according to their needs, not according to their wants. This means that we will speak the truth in love, we will confront sin within the church, and we will warn of divine discipline (judgment, correction), and of false teaching. We will expose lies, and we will counter them with what is truth. We will call for repentance and obedience, and we will encourage and urge fellow believers to live lives of purity, honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and holiness in the power and strength of God’s Spirit now living within them. And, we will do this wherever our Lord opens doors for us to proclaim his Word.
Declare His Praise (vv. 15-21)
“I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”
Thus says the Lord,
Who makes a way through the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
Who brings forth the chariot and the horse,
The army and the mighty man
(They will lie down together and not rise again;
They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick):
“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
“The beasts of the field will glorify Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My chosen people.
“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise.
When we are serving the Lord by sharing with people the truths of God’s Word, we will face opposition from sinful humans, much like the children of Israel faced from Pharaoh and his armies who pursued them after they had been delivered from slavery out of Egypt. Pharaoh was a type of Satan, for that is how Satan works, too, i.e. he is not willing to let us go, and then when God does deliver us from slavery to sin, Satan goes after us with his armies to try to get us back, i.e. to attempt to defeat us in battle.
One of his biggest weapons against us is his lies, and the fears which he tries to instill in our hearts in order to get us to doubt God and his many promises to us. He will try to get us to be afraid, to get discouraged, disheartened and to doubt God’s sovereignty over our lives. He will try to get us to fear opposition and roadblocks and circumstances, hoping that we will give up on our mission and turn back in dismay.
Yet, this is a reminder to us of God’s absolute power and sovereignty and control over all things, and of how nothing in this world and no enemy forged against us can prevail. They cannot thwart God’s purposes. What may appear like setbacks are really God’s delays, because it isn’t his timing yet for something to happen. Just because something promised hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen, though that is what Satan would like for us to believe. We just have to wait on God for his timing, and keep trusting him to do what he says he will do.
God is able to do what humans are incapable of doing. If he wants us to go a particular direction, he can remove all the obstacles, and he can make a way for us on dry ground while there are walls of water standing tall on either side of us. He has no limitations other than he can’t do what is evil. Even if things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would before, he can make them happen in the future or even in the present. We should not let our pasts define our present or our future, in other words. God can make all things new! He can change our hearts, and he can change the hearts of others to conform to his purposes, and he can do what he said he would do even if humanly it doesn’t seem possible.
Not Honored God (vv. 22-24)
“Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob;
But you have become weary of Me, O Israel.
“You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.
“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money,
Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices;
Rather you have burdened Me with your sins,
You have wearied Me with your iniquities.
Even though God promises all these wonderful things for his children, that they will take place, it doesn’t mean that, for everyone, it is a present reality in their lives. Although there are certainly some who are truly walking in righteousness and holiness, and who are serving the Lord faithfully in being his servants and witnesses, there are many today who are not living like Jesus truly set them free from sin. They are not honoring God with their lives, nor are they serving him as he requires and desires.
God is not first place in their lives. He may not even be on their radar much at all, for they are busying themselves with all the things which give them pleasure, and which satisfy the desires of their sinful flesh. Many of them are not even calling on God, or if they are, it is not in truth, or it is being faked for the purpose of deception, to make others think they are living righteously when they are not. So, they just use God and his grace as a cover-up for evil, but their hearts are far from him.
They may give token sacrifices to God, but their hearts are not surrendered to Him. Their service to him is minimal. They are not fully devoted followers of Christ and he is really not their Lord (owner-master), nor are they truly his bond-slaves (servants), although they are called as such, and they are intended to be. They should be filled with the fruit of his righteousness and they should be scattering the seeds of truth and love so that it can multiply in people’s lives, but instead they are self-consumed. And, it isn’t that they don’t have the time or the opportunities to do so, but it is that they don’t take advantage of the opportunities given to them.
So, God is calling out to his wayward children, and he is confronting them with their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery. He is warning of divine correction (judgment, discipline), and is calling for repentance and walks of faithful obedience to him. As well, he promises hope, healing and restoration for the repentant. If they do not repent, he will make a way for them to repent, but it will be painful. So, turn from your sins today, ask God to change your heart and to make you like him in holiness and righteousness.
Change My Heart, Oh God
Change my heart, oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, oh God
May I be like You …