I came across the passage in Isaiah 59 that talks about God’s Warnings against Sin. What struck me the most about this passage was how accurately it depicts the world we live in today. Isaiah begins by explaining that God is still willing and infinitely able to save the people, but it is their sins that have “cut them off from God.” In fact, it’s “because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” (v. 1-2) Tell me this doesn’t describe the direction our country is headed?! The reason for this is simple- in the same way light and darkness can’t coexist, good and evil cannot either because God himself despises sin! (Proverbs 28:13) Continuing on in the passage verses 9-20 deeply resonated with me in terms of the state our society is in these days:
“So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but only find darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope around like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us. For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are. We know that we have rebelled and have denied the LORD, We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies. Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. He was amazed to see that no one had intervened for the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him. He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself in a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth. In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD. “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins.” says the LORD.” -Isaiah 59:9-20 (New Living Translation)
It is astounding to me that even back in Bible times, people were sinning just as we do today and God’s love for His people never changes because the same is true for you and I. In the words of Lysa Terkeurst, “God is good. God is good at being God. Our job is to obey. His job is everything else!” This was the case with the people of Israel at the time: All they could do was be obedient to Him by turning from their sins and he took care of them. Earlier today when I read this I found it as no coincidence that it matches so precisely with our society today. We, as a country, need to be admitting our sins to the Lord just as the people of Israel did in this passage from Isaiah. Will you join in fervent prayer for our country? Lastly, as I praying and prepping to write this, the Lord brought 1 John 1:9 to my mind, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us all wickedness.” (New Living Translation)
Have you ever wondered what our circumstances or the situations we are given in the flesh really mean? What’s the purpose of the pain and frustration? I can identify with these questions in my own life and I’m sure all of us have asked the same of Jesus at some point along the way. I found an interesting quote from Christine Caine that reads: God does not ask, “Are you capable?” He asks, “Are you willing?” From the moment I read it its sheer simplicity left me in awe before my beautiful Savior.
The Apostle Paul provides such great wisdom and insight into the reality of having a willing spirit in the midst of unwilling flesh. We find Paul’s personal application of this in 1 Corinthians 12 where he talks about his revelations from God along with his thorn in the flesh. In the beginning verses (v.1-4) Paul basically says that he was taken up into paradise and the reality of what he experienced was too great to be expressed in words. As he continues writing we learn that Paul only wants to boast about his weaknesses because he doesn’t want anyone to give him credit for the things he didn’t do. (v. 6-7) I can see this reflection of Paul’s attitude in my own life because I never want myself or others to take the credit for something God has done in and through me. My question for you is this: Have you ever given a certain person or situation credit for something God has done for you? I have been there myself. Most often I can remember a season of my life where I was giving Satan acknowledgement for the things I had been blessed with rather that the God who created and formed me in my mother’s womb!! (Jeremiah 1:5) I was doing this for years with my disability and didn’t even recognize it because I was so blinded by the Enemy.
Looking back on that season of my life I can see where Satan wanted me to only feel sorry for myself and view having Cerebral Palsy as the end of the world whereas God paints a totally different picture. My favorite part of Paul’s testimony of his thorn in the flesh are verses 8-10 which say, Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (New Living Translation)
Although it is unclear exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, I’m pretty sure he probably asked the same questions we’re asking as Christians today. Nevertheless, God knows that we are strong enough to handle the situation or circumstance He has given us or it wouldn’t be ours. God’s question for us all is “Are you willing?”
As I sit here at your feet on Valentine’s Day, I’m simply at a loss for words when I think about everything you’ve done for me and everyone else who believes in You. Thank you will never be enough. I am beyond grateful to call you dad and to have the privilege of telling people about you. Honestly, you know how much I would love to have a boyfriend right now, but I’m trusting and believing that in Your perfect timing you will bring a Godly man in my life who loves you and desires you just as much as I do! I want my future marriage and family to acknowledge and put you first in everything we do. Help my husband to love me with Your love, so that it will never lose faith just as you say in 1 Corinthians 13:7. Let him love his children in the same way along with myself. I’m not asking any less of you because I know that you will bless me beyond anything I could ever imagine. Lastly, thank you for blessing me with an earthly dad who has been a great example of what a Godly husband and father looks like. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I’m so glad you have it all in Your hands! I never want a day to go by without telling others about you because that’s what we are called to do as Your children.
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
When we hear the word hope in the world today it’s most often associated with the things we can’t see. Interestingly, Meriam-Webster defines hope as a transitive verb meaning “to desire with expectation of fulfillment.” The second definition is “to expect with confidence.” (Meriam-Webster, 2015) The more I continue growing in Christ, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that the worldly definition of hope and what God says about hope sometimes tend to contradict one another. You see, even though the world wants us to be hopeful in the life it can become very easy to hold on to the hope but lose the “expectation of fulfillment” as the definition states. So, the next obvious question to ask here is what are you and I placing our hope in? If your answer isn’t Jesus, I would strongly encourage to consider changing it because although God desires for us to have hope while we’re here on earth, that hope shouldn’t come from the things of this world, it should come from Jesus Christ.
If you have any doubts about what I’m saying let me encourage you to read a passage from Luke’s gospel. In Chapter eight (v. 43-48) we read the story of a woman who has suffered from bleeding for quite a few years. Although it’s unclear how many years she had been suffering I can only imagine how worn she must have been from her circumstances. If we’re honest everyone is probably worn to a certain extent because that’s just how this life is. Furthermore, what I admire most this lady is the fact that she wasn’t placing her hope in the world, but she placed it in Jesus. She believed and knew that He was the only one who could totally heal her because her faith allowed her to see beyond her physical circumstances and the current reality before her. In the last three verses of her story (46-48) we witness he faith turning into action when she actually touched Jesus. But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” I want to have the faith of this woman. A faith where absolutely nothing can separate me from Him including a disability!
I would’ve given anything to have seen the look on her face as she stared into the eyes of her Creator as she was healed. How exciting! There are a few verses from Romans that I would like to leave with you about having faith in Christ and it’s my hope and prayer you’ll be encouraged by these words today!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Some “seasons” in life can feel seemingly impossible to endure. Since we’re being truthful it really is if we are only choosing to rely on our own strength. However, if we choose to rely and trust in God’s strength, the outcome is quite the opposite. Luke 1:37 says it all: “Nothing, you see, is impossible with God!” (The Message) Recently, I’ve been faced with situations that I feel like there’s no way I can do what He calls me to and truthfully I can’t if I’m only relying on myself, or the people around me.
In keeping with the theme of possibility through Christ, I always like to refer back to the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). This experience in the Bible is yet another prime example of what it means to rely on God’s strength and not our own. Even as a teenager David knew that he was incapable of defeating Goliath by himself and he recognized his need for God’s strength. The reality is: David trusted God to help him. Let me ask you this: Have you ever truly experienced what it means to trust Him and the peace that can only come from Him alone? Personal confession: It wasn’t until several years ago that I encountered the reality of totally trusting Him in every aspect in my life. Until that point I had become so full of bitterness and discontentment toward the Lord that I couldn’t possibly trust him wholeheartedly and in every circumstance. Once I was convicted of the bitterness and shortcomings through the Spirit, I was able to be unblended by Jesus, in the sense that I understood in that very moment I was faced with two choices- To trust or not to trust. Upon recognition of this the choice was simple: I’m going to continually trust in Jesus Christ for everything I need until the day I meet Him. Will you be doing the same?
The bottom line is this: We were put on this earth to reflect Him and bring even more glory to him through the lives we live. Besides, we are the Light of the World!
“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.”