Arise and Shine

Sunday, April 2, 2017, 5:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Be Strong and Take Courage.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 60 (Select vv. NASB).

Your Light has Come (vv. 1-3)

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.
“Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

Do you ever get discouraged or disheartened by all the wickedness and evil in the world? Or, even by that which exists within the gatherings of the church, or within the individual lives of those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Do you grieve over such? Does your heart hunger for revival and for the church to be who God created her to be? Do you cry out to God to deliver his children from the grip of Satan and the wave of deception which is covering the earth? Are you heavy at heart when Christians see “fellowship” as merely a time to party, but not as a time to get intimate with God and to share the deep truths of God’s words with one another in order to encourage each other in our walks of faith?

Are you grieved over many Christians, who have returned to sinful ways, and who are largely ignoring God’s truths? Does your heart ache when you witness church gatherings which are not for the edification of the saints, but are for the entertainment of the world? Do you want to shout “NO!” at the top of your lungs when those who profess to be ministers of the gospel dilute the gospel to the point to where it loses its power to deliver people from slavery to sin? Does it concern you that so many who profess Christ as Savior spend hours upon hours a day watching TV, getting on social media, surfing the NET, playing video games and chatting with friends, but then claim they don’t have time to read their Bibles and pray? Or, that they don’t understand why they can’t hear God’s voice speaking to them?

If you experience any of what I have just described above, and perhaps more, you may find these things weighing in on you, and you may find yourselves focusing in on only or primarily the negative, and you may begin to drown in your sorrow, wondering if you will ever see the light of day.

If so, there is hope! While we should feel most of what I have described above, as that is how God largely feels about these things; and while having such deep concern as this should lead us to being passionate about getting out the truth of the gospel, we must guard our hearts against discouragement. We must not let these things get us down and depressed. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ, and on the hope he has given us, not only of our own salvation, but that we will see fruit for our labors, if not now, in the days to come. His word will never return empty, but it will accomplish what his heart desires. Although sometimes now things can look pretty bleak, we must know that it will not always be this way. God has a plan to bring many people to Jesus Christ in these last days. So, we should never lose hope, but we must persevere and never give up!

Lift up Your Eyes (vv. 4-5a)

“Lift up your eyes round about and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
“Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice.

When these kinds of things weigh in on us, we need to lift up our eyes and see what God has promised. Our labor in love for God’s people will not be for naught. God has a plan and a purpose for it all, and he will accomplish all that he has planned.

Have you been praying for years for an unsaved loved one? Are you struggling to raise a rebellious teenager? Is your marriage in trouble, but the healing has not yet come? Do you serve the Lord in ministry without much evidence of any fruit for your labor? When you teach the Word of God, does it seem to go in one ear and out the other of those whom you teach? Are you despised and rejected of men, a person of sorrows and acquainted with suffering? From all outward appearances, Jesus’ death on a cross looked as though he had failed, as nearly everyone had deserted him. Do you feel deserted and abandoned by those who should love and support you?

I believe with all my heart that there is hope. I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for everything we are going through, and that we must persevere, even when all looks hopeless, at times. We must keep trusting him, believing him, and keep doing what we know he has called us to do. And, we must believe that he is going to change hearts, like he changed ours and is continuing to change our hearts to make us more like Jesus. So, we must focus on the hope that we have of a harvest of righteousness in people’s lives, whether we ever see those results in this life or not.

Forsaken and Hated (v. 15)

“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated
With no one passing through,
I will make you an everlasting pride,
A joy from generation to generation.

There are many reasons why we might be forsaken and hated. It could be because of sin in our own lives, or evil things we have done to others now or in the past. Or, it could be for the same reasons Jesus was hated and persecuted, because he told people the truth, and they didn’t want to hear the truth, because they didn’t want to change their lifestyles.

Jesus said that if we are his followers, meaning we are walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are doing what he says, and going where he sends us, we will be hated as he was hated. It is a given, so we should not let this discourage us, but it should be cause for rejoicing that we are considered worthy to suffer for the sake of His name and for His gospel.

So, when we are feeling sad and tears are streaming down our cheeks because we have been abandoned, forgotten and rejected by others, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our stand on his Word, we must remember these words of encouragement. God is going to bless us for our faithfulness to him, and we will bear fruit for his eternal kingdom.

Maybe we don’t see it now, but it is coming. Now we may be met with much resistance to the truths of God’s Word, but one day, if not now, God is going to move in people’s hearts in a mighty way, and many are going to turn back to the Lord, and many, too, will put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. Even if we don’t see the fulfillment of this while we are still on this earth, we will see the results in heaven in the people who will be there, whose lives we have touched with God’s love and grace. And, that is hope! And, it is something worth waiting for.

Sorrow Will End (vv. 18-20)

“Violence will not be heard again in your land,
Nor devastation or destruction within your borders;
But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day,
Nor for brightness will the moon give you light;
But you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And your God for your glory.
“Your sun will no longer set,
Nor will your moon wane;
For you will have the Lord for an everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning will be over.

Now, this is definitely a future promise of the time when Jesus returns for us and he takes us to be with him, and of his millennial reign on the earth, at which time we will also reign with him. Although my finite mind has difficulty grasping this concept, at times, I know that God’s promises are true, and that they will be fulfilled. A day is coming when all evil, sin, sickness, hatred, violence, war, and sadness will be gone. We will no longer need to grieve, because all that we now grieve over will be no more. He will wipe away the tears from our eyes for good. And, we will be in perfect fellowship with him and with one another, too. Won’t that be grand? And, our Lord will be forever all we will ever need to live and breathe and serve him. Oh, that will be glorious! What a wonderful day that will be when my Jesus I will see!

Be Strong and Take Courage / Don Moen

Why don’t you give him all of your fears?
Why don’t you let him wipe all of your tears?
He knows, He’s been through pain before
And He knows all that you’ve been looking for

So, be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way…

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