Saturday, August 1, 2009

God's Mighty Missionary Movement


Isaih did not know what he was talking about when he uttered these amazing words...

I'm going to come and then gather everyone—all nations, all languages. They'll come and see my glory. I'll set up a station at the center. I'll send the survivors of judgment all over the world: Spain and Africa, Turkey and Greece, and the far-off islands that have never heard of me, who know nothing of what I've done nor who I am.

I'll send them out as missionaries to preach my glory among the nations. They'll return with all your long-lost brothers and sisters from all over the world. They'll bring them back and offer them in living worship to God. They'll bring them on horses and wagons and carts, on mules and camels, straight to my holy mountain Jerusalem," says God. "They'll present them just as Israelites present their offerings in a ceremonial vessel in the Temple of God. I'll even take some of them and make them priests and Levites," says God.

22 -23"For just as the new heavens and new earth that I am making will stand firm before me" —God's Decree— "So will your children and your reputation stand firm.

Month after month and week by week, everyone will come to worship me," God says.

These last two centuries have seen the mightiest missionary movement of all time.

It will not die down.

It will not stop.

It will build into a mighty crescendo as God builds His People - His Church.

And THEN will the end come.

Amen!

Piteous Plea - to Powerful Promise


Isaiah cries out to God in a prayer and a reminder

8 -12Still, God, you are our Father.
We're the clay and you're our potter:
All of us are what you made us.
Don't be too angry with us, O God.
Don't keep a permanent account of wrongdoing.
Keep in mind, please, we are your people—all of us.
Your holy cities are all ghost towns:
Zion's a ghost town,
Jerusalem's a field of weeds.
Our holy and beautiful Temple,
which our ancestors filled with your praises,
Was burned down by fire,
all our lovely parks and gardens in ruins.
In the face of all this,
are you going to sit there unmoved, God?
Aren't you going to say something?
Haven't you made us miserable long enough?

God answers with His reasons for punishment to His people

1 -7 "I've made myself available to those who haven't bothered to ask.
I'm here, ready to be found
by those who haven't bothered to look.
I kept saying 'I'm here, I'm right here'
to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
a potluck religious stew.

And ends up with a Powerful Promise:
for now, and for ever

17 -25"Pay close attention now:
I'm creating new heavens and a new earth.
All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain
are things of the past, to be forgotten.
Look ahead with joy.
Anticipate what I'm creating:
I'll create Jerusalem as sheer joy,
create my people as pure delight.
I'll take joy in Jerusalem,
take delight in my people:
No more sounds of weeping in the city,
no cries of anguish;
No more babies dying in the cradle,
or old people who don't enjoy a full lifetime;
One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal—
anything less will seem like a cheat.
They'll build houses
and move in.
They'll plant fields
and eat what they grow.
No more building a house
that some outsider takes over,
No more planting fields
that some enemy confiscates,
For my people will be as long-lived as trees,
my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work.

Freedom to the Captives!


This passage has a historical context.
But the words are just as powerful and true today
as they were when the prophet Isaiah first uttered them...

Isaiah 61
Announce Freedom to All Captives
1 -7 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by God to display his glory. They'll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks
and foreigners to work your fields,
But you'll have the title "Priests of God,"
honored as ministers of our God.
You'll feast on the bounty of nations,
you'll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble
and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
and your joy go on forever.
8 -9"Because I, God, love fair dealing
and hate thievery and crime, I'll pay your wages on time and in full,
and establish my eternal covenant with you.
Your descendants will become well-known all over.
Your children in foreign countries
Will be recognized at once
as the people I have blessed."
10 -11I will sing for joy in God,
explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
and puts praise on display before the nations.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Come to the water!


In Seattle yesterday we broke all records for heat. 102 up to 108.
(Of course, if you live in Arizona that seems tame. But for us it was huge.)

Isaiah called out to people used to being in a "dry thirsty land." It applies to us today just as well. There is a thirst for meaning. For eternity. For security. For hope. All things that are only found in God. He calls out...

1 -5 "Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway—buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money—everything's free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I'm making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. I set him up as a witness to the nations, made him a prince and leader of the nations, And now I'm doing it to you: You'll summon nations you've never heard of, and nations who've never heard of you will come running to you Because of me, your God, because The Holy of Israel has honored you."
6 -7Seek God while he's here to be found, pray to him while he's close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beloved!


Patti.
Today is our 37th wedding anniversary.
A while ago I asked her how was it possible that she keeps getting better looking as she gets older.
"I'm not," she replied. "You are just going blind!"
My sweet, loyal, humble godly wife.
The Bible says,
"Relish life with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! " Ecclesiastes 9:8,9

Monday, July 27, 2009

The One. The Only.


This summer I decided I would revive and nourish my little back yard lawn.
So every morning I turn on the sprinklers as I read in the back yard.
Birds chirp and whir by.
Occassionally our little bunny hops through the yard.
And my lawn is green and lush.

Today's words of comfort from Isaiah talk about desert, dry ground and water...

Isaiah 44
1 -5 "But for now, dear servant Jacob, listen—
yes, you, Israel, my personal choice. God who made you has something to say to you;
the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you.
Don't be afraid, dear servant Jacob,
Jeshurun, the one I chose.
For I will pour water on the thirsty ground
and send streams coursing through the parched earth.
I will pour my Spirit into your descendants
and my blessing on your children.
They shall sprout like grass on the prairie,
like willows alongside creeks. This one will say, 'I am God's,'
and another will go by the name Jacob;
That one will write on his hand 'God's property'—
and be proud to be called Israel."


No embarassment to be called one of God's own.
Because, who is like God?
There is One.
He is the Only.

6 -8God, King of Israel,
your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says:
"I'm first, I'm last, and everything in between.
I'm the only God there is.
Who compares with me?