Words to Encourage

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 9:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 44 (Select vv. NASB).

Water on Thirsty Land (vv. 1-4)

“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant,
And Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus says the Lord who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you,
‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant;
And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;
And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.’

In case you are not familiar at all with the book of Isaiah, although it is Old Testament, nearly one third to half of it, perhaps, is given over to prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, our Messiah, and the messianic age and kingdom. Some prophecies are clearly last days (messianic) while others seem to combine both a more current (of that time) fulfillment, as well as a future fulfillment in the end of the age (messianic era). A common theme among these prophecies is that of a last days revival of the church.

Much of the church at the end of time is complacent, rebellious, idolatrous and spiritually adulterous. Thus, God is calling out to his adulterous people, he is confronting them with their sins, warning of divine judgment, calling for repentance and obedience, and he is promising a time of spiritual refreshing, renewal, revival, restoration and healing for the repentant. Where things right now look pretty bleak (the dry ground), at least for the church here in America, because of all the idolatry, complacency and spiritual adultery, there is a promise of hope that one day God’s people, his church, will return to him as their only God and Lord (owner-master).

Yet, this is also a prophecy concerning the coming of their (our) Messiah, of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and of our redemption: By God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ, we have new birth in Christ. And, Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and to empower the lives of those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Still, I see this, also, as the pouring out of God’s Spirit in revival on the church in these last days. It is very hopeful!

Who is Like God? (vv. 6-8)

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:

‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.
‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it;
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order,
From the time that I established the ancient nation.
And let them declare to them the things that are coming
And the events that are going to take place.
‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”

The main problem with much of today’s church is that they have lost the awe (honor, respect, fear, esteem) of God, for they have reduced God down to human level, and have made him out to be not much different from us. God is often pictured as a doting grandfather in the sky there to grant our every request while requiring nothing of us in return. They picture Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins as nothing more than him paying the price so we can go free of the penalty of sin, and so we can have the hope of heaven when we die (or when we leave this earth). And, they picture our faith in Jesus Christ as a mere acceptance of what Jesus did for us in taking our place so we are not punished for our sin, while they ignore the fact that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24; Ro. 6:1-23).

Because the church has lost the fear of God, they have no problem, on a large scale, with diluting the gospel message of salvation, too, to bring it down to an acceptable level for human consumption. So, instead of teaching the gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, they pull scriptures out of context to make them say what their itching ears want to hear, while they ignore the verses which make them uncomfortable, or which don’t fit with their theology or with their chosen lifestyles. And, this, too, is why they have no issues with idolatry, because they have lost the fear of God.

They think that all they have to do is repeat some words after someone in a prayer and they have their salvation and eternity secured, but that they can continue living sinful lifestyles, because they are taught that God does not require repentance or obedience and that he is pleased with them no matter what they do. But, that is NOT at all what God’s Word teaches us.

Idols of Humans (vv. 9-11, 18, 20)

Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame… They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend… He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

In today’s world, at least here in America, I don’t know of many people who physically carve for themselves, with a knife, what is clearly an idol (a god) to be worshiped. At least, I don’t think that they think of it in those terms. Yet, America is full of idols, and the church is full of idolatry. And, it is so because people are deceived, and their eyes are blinded to the truth, and their hearts are so filled with their chains of idolatry that they cannot deliver themselves, nor are they willing to submit to the one who died for them that they might be delivered from their chains (bondage; addiction). And, this is largely why the gospel has been diluted, in order to soothe their guilty consciences, and to give them license to continue in sin without remorse.

Yet, no idols of human making will ever profit us anything. They may bring some temporary sense of security, peace, comfort and/or pleasure, but it is temporary, and it does not bring true peace, but frequently only more guilt, and often negative consequences, too. No sports’ hero, no political hero, nor even religious personalities will ever heal our sin-sick souls. No wide-screen TV, or smart phone, tablet or personal computer will ever satisfy the hunger and thirst God has planted within each one of us for Himself alone, either. As well, no career, no ministry, and no possessions, houses, cars, and money, etc. will deliver us from ourselves and from our selfishness, pride, envy, and lust for what is evil. Not one of these will ever give us true hope or healing.

Shout Joyfully (vv. 21-23)

“Remember these things, O Jacob,
And Israel, for you are My servant;
I have formed you, you are My servant,
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it!
Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it;
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob
And in Israel He shows forth His glory.

Our only hope is Jesus Christ and him crucified on a cross for our sins, and him resurrected from the dead so that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we might be born anew of the Spirit of God to new lives in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Our God created each and every one of us for his glory and for his purposes. He has a plan for each one of our lives. His plan is that none of us should perish (die in our sins), but that we should all come to repentance and have eternal life with God. And, repentance means leaving our lives of sin behind us, and turning to faith in Jesus Christ, and walking now in the Spirit in obedience to our Lord, and in submission to his will for our lives (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Acts 26:16-18; Gal. 2:20; Lu. 9:23-25).

Since Jesus died for us, that he might put sin to death in our lives, and that he might give us new lives in Him to be lived to his righteousness, he is grieved when his children turn away from him to follow after their idols (gods of human making) and their own fleshly desires. So, he is appealing to his wayward people on the basis of his sacrifice for our sins, and on the basis of his grace to us in delivering us out of our sins, and he is calling them to return to him as their only God. Not only is there rejoicing when a lost sinner is saved from sin by God’s grace, but there are also shouts of joy in heaven when wandering saints return to the Lord and make him their ONLY LORD!

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”

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