A devotion of today, a reminder of a lifetime: Isaiah 41
8 “But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
God longs for us to draw strength from His greatness. Do you see here how He lingers over His commitments to His people? He chose us. He called us. He is committed to us. People who have a sense of that in their hearts are unstoppable. The word “but” at the beginning of these verses, Isaiah is drawing a contrast. The nations nervously prop up their helpless, homemade saviours. On the other hand, the Sovereign Lord of the universe chooses us and upholds us by His unerringly righteous right hand. He is saying “I want you to know what you can expect from me: my presence, my strength, myhelp, my perfect support.”. And when He calls us His servant, He is not putting us down. He is saying we are HIS responsibility, and He will act responsibly.
We live for God in this world, we are bound to stand out in an awkward way. We even draw fire. But totally apart from any imagined strength of our own, God is our Shield and Defender.
13 For I am the LORD your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
There are ocassions that I am gravitated toward the path of least resistance. Yet the Lord anchored my heart and said, “I am not like those idols, those eye shutting with a smile on their faces idols. I will prop you up. Fear not. Live for me with an audacius faith. I am he, I am the LORD.”
The first of the 3 strong assurances in 41:8-20. And when we are opposed, He will uphold us. The 2nd assurance in in 41:14-16. Isaiah is heaping reason upon reason for us to live out loud for God.
14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob,
little Israel, do not fear,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge,
new and sharp, with many teeth.
You will thresh the mountains and crush them,
and reduce the hills to chaff.
16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up,
and a gale will blow them away.
But you will rejoice in the LORD
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
He is saying He intends to use us to do it, to make every valley lifted up, every mountain and hill made low for the display of His glory. We are totally inadequate. But God makes a worm into a threshing sledge – and not an old, worn-out thresher but a sharp, new one, and have teeth. Isaiah is not talking about Christian political power taking over. He is talking about the gospel of human weakness triumphing over opposition and our timid faith overcoming the world. And that prepares the way of the Lord. He makes us more than conquerors, for His glory. And in HIS strength alone, our priviledge is to thresh into smithereens every obstacle to rejoicing in the Lord. That’s our job, let’s get on with it, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The final emboldening assurance is in 41:17-20, the most thrilling of all to me personally. God is a life-giving person.
17 “The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.
19 I will put in the desert
the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
the fir and the cypress together,
20 so that people may see and know,
may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
that the Holy One of Israel has created it.
We get the mercy, He gets the glory. So the answer to the qusetion “Who?” in 41:2 is grander than we might have thought. The One stirring up the turbulence of history is not someone to dread; by His sovereign greatness He also pours life-giving refreshment upon dry people. Water outpoured symbolizes bountiful salvation overflowing with the Holy Spirit. When thirsty people “seek water” in prayer, God answers with the greatest gift in the universe: Himself in his immediacy and fullness. He promises not just a morning dew or a light sprinkling but rivers and fountains and pools and springs. We need that much of God.
By refreshing us, God increases His own glory. The outflowings of His renewing grace open people’s minds to see, know, consider, and understand how good He really is. The most convincing witness in a truth-denying world is not an apologetic argument of our own brillance; the most convincing answer to our times is the manifest presence of God in our midst.
Stake your life, your very survival, on the reality of the Holy Spirit. Think of Him, and treat Him and pray to Him in keeping iwth his own self-revelation in His word. Believe that the Sovereign Lord can uphold you, strengthen you, refresh you. he will make you invincible.
Am I a living proof of what God can do? May the Holy Spirit guide me into His presence to weep, to repent and look to Christ alone, because authentic Christianity is miracle, not management.
Sources: Robert C. Ortland Jr.
Isaiah 41 is the passage by which I am being so blown away. My recent devotion is to work through the book of Isaiah, this comes to me as a big reminder. It’s the hands of the Lord has done this. What we are called to do is to do whatever it takes to bring Him the glory He deserves. To live audaciously for Him. A whole new lesson for me to experience how difficult to tread on roads untravelled and yet that is exactly what His cross invites us to walk. To take up the cross and follow Him, despite the costly cost!
The Lord is good and so consistent to see from the same power of His shine in Cambodia, and to His strength sippping in me when I deal with responsibilities on this side of the pond. Our great God is here announcing He is the one, I am he, I am the Lord, though the world would incline to go to goldsmith for hammering idols with nails and all. Yet the Lord beckons us to trust Him, not the little hammered idos with nails and gold and silver. “Live for me, I will prop you up, not the little idols from the world. Live in audacious faith, for me, for me alone”. Such a road untravelled by many, yet bring about the essence of how His glory shines when He hangs on the cross. I am challenged, yet I would not trade for anything for journeying on with Him.
Merely from my own brokenness and weakness, His supernatural power shines so bright on roads so narrow, yet He knows, and I trust Him even when I walk on roads with thorns. I would covet your prayers to speak in humility and with love, may His name be glorified and be the front and the centre, be on the left and on the right, be my inside and outside, on my tongue, in my breath, in my heart, in my actions.
On another front, I feel so priviledged to do all these for the Lord!! Like a pressure cooker I am at right now, yet in such a confined container, I can see His face shining and His vision showing “this is what I called you to do.” He shows me the “Joy of the Redeemed”, He shows me the horror of that pink room, yet also the glory of His redemption rescuing and restoring children out of that pink room. He shows me His promises for us is ever so bigger and louder!! He is ever more so trusthworthy and faithful!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow, to be chosen by Him. I love You Lord so much so much!