Tag Archives: Isaiah

Dismayed, No Way

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The Lord is with us we need not fear. His presence guarantees strength to endure every trial, to bear up courageously under all suffering, persecution and affliction. God with us assures that we are never without help. The God of no limits is ever present to help when we have reached the end of our proverbial ropes.

Finally, God upholds us with His mighty power. When our own strength is small and spent, when we fall and have no might to raise ourselves up, the loving Lord reaches down His powerful right hand and lifts us. As long as we confidently know that God is with us, we can boldly proclaim, “I am not afraid; my God is ever with me! I am anxious for nothing; the Lord is my God!”

Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

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The Coming Messenger

candles-3Luke 1:46b-55 “And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;  he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

As God’s very own, we are called to be messengers of the salvation brought through Christ’s first coming and the hope, for those who believe, of His Second Coming. We can see our selves as God’s representatives in the world – to be living examples of God’s forgiving, transforming power in the life of a believer.

The Coming Lord

Mark 13:26-27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

candles-2The Israelites longed for, prayed for, and hoped for the Messiah to come and establish justice, end oppression, and usher in the Kingdom of God in this world. Yet, the coming of God’s justice is cause to recognize one’s own contribution to the sin and evil in our world. Repentance is a key characteristic of being ready for the coming of Christ the Lord.

The Coming Deliverer

Mark 1:2-3 “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

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Jesus brings deliverance in the moments of our deepest need. As people with prepared hearts, we can ask, seek, and wait with expectation that rescue—redemption—is coming!

Joy

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, ‘Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.’ But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end'” Luke 1:26-33.

candles 3Happiness is an emotion that can disappear as quickly as it rises to the surface. Joy, however, is a choice. We have a choice. God gives us a joy that is unconquerable. We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger, and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ. So what is the picture of joy in the Bible?

Joy is trusting when you want to doubt.

“Trust in the LORD forever, because in Yah, the LORD, is an everlasting rock!” Isaiah 26:4. As Christ followers we aren’t pressured to do it all for everyone. We trust in Jesus to do the heavy lifting. The key is trust. We just need to have Mary’s response to the coming of Jesus, “‘I am the Lord’s slave,’ said Mary. ‘May it be done to me according to your word'” Luke 1:38.

Joy is receiving what you want to reject.

Can you imagine how the innkeeper would have felt if he said to Mary and Joseph, “Of course you can’t stay in that stable! That’s for paying customers. Who do you take me for?” We find joy in making room for people in need. Reflect on the mysterious words found in Hebrews: “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it” Hebrews 13:2.

Joy is celebrating when you want to fear.

What’s the first thing angels say to mortals? It’s standard protocol. In just about every divine encounter the angels say: “Fear not.” I can hear Jesus instruct His most trusted angels. “OK, let’s go over this again … Most of the people that I’ll tell you to speak to will be scared out of their wits! So let’s practice the greeting one more time.” Then the angels would all say in unison, “Fear not.”

The message is clear. God is not looking for ways to scare us into faith. He drew near to us to relieve the worries we have about crossing over the divide between heaven and earth. He wants us to know that He’s going to take care of us no matter what happens. One of the names that He was called long before he ever stepped on this world’s stage was Immanuel meaning “God with us.” No matter what we go through we can whisper this simple truth: “Jesus is with me.” Think about it. He is with you in your greatest victories and your most humiliating defeats. Jesus is with you at all times in all things.

 

*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee

Prepare

“Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor, a lifetime. Weeping may spend the night, but there is joy in the morning. When I was secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken'” Psalm 30:4-6.

“‘Comfort, comfort My people,’ says your God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.’ A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert'” Isaiah 40:1-3christmas candle light

Whenever we’re on mission with God like Joseph and Mary were as they waited for the birth of Jesus, we have to prepare. No one plants seeds one day and expects a harvest in the morning. There are things to do. We are called to cultivate our lives and rest in the fact that God has our future in his hands.

In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus tells the story of a father. This father knew that he couldn’t control the will of a rebellious, spiteful son. He just gave him what he asked for and let him go. But after the son left with his share of the farm in his back pocket, the father began to prepare for a celebration. He started fattening a calf. He bought a ring and a robe. There were things to be done. Their relationship was broken, but he still had hope as he watched every afternoon for a familiar figure to appear over the horizon.

Preparation is a statement of faith. It’s committing to trust even though you’re hurting and heartsick. Every detail of the Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph endured more than their fair share of trials as they waited for the arrival of Jesus. Mary left town. Joseph refused to reject her on the basis of an angelic dream. We can just hear the neighbors gossip about the scandalous events of Mary’s pregnancy. But they prepared and endured it all to be on a much greater mission than any carpenter’s family could imagine.

As you prepare for Christmas and all God has in store for you in the new year, be challenged to prepare for all that’s in store in the following ways:

  • Eliminate distractions. Don’t allow the stress of the Christmas season to distract you from what is really is important. Spend more time with the family and less time at the mall. Simplify your life. Be still and listen to God’s voice. “… keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of faith …” Hebrews 12:2a.
  • Notice God’s hand. Reflect on this past year. Perhaps you, like many, have faced financial difficulty. Or maybe you’ve escaped danger or disease through an unforeseen miracle. Perhaps this year has been a time of suffering or relationship disasters. How has God carried you through all these things? Remember the words of Joseph in the Old Testament: “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good …” Genesis 50:20.
  • Determine God’s will. Ask God to give you direction. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9.
  • Unite in a mission. Mary and Joseph undertook an amazing mission on the way to Bethlehem. It certainly must have strengthened their bond as they conquered many obstacles and challenges. There’s nothing more powerful than a couple, a family, or a church rallying around a cause.

*** Matt Tullos is pastor of Bluegrass Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee

You Need A Word

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

Isaiah 30:21

A “word” from God can bring you the solution you need. God created the world with a word, so imagine what a word from Him could do for your situation. The Bible says, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Notice the words, “Your ears shall hear a word.” But if your spiritual ears are not open, trained and attuned to God, you won’t hear what He is saying to you. Furthermore, if you filter what He’s saying to you through human intellect in order to harmonize it with your own opinions, you will get nowhere.

 

God gives a “word” to those who have an open ear—and heart. When you pray, what are you looking for? A spiritual high, or a time of intimacy with the Lord in which He speaks and you listen? When you read your Bible are you seeking confirmation of your own thoughts, or are you seeking God’s will? Imagine what one of God’s ideas could do for your life! 

“… but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.

” (Daniel 11:32). If you dream of doing great things in life, get to know God. He will reveal Himself to you through His Word. You’ll hear a lot of different ideas each day; some will benefit you, others won’t. But when you get a “word” from God it’s like a seed; it has the potential to produce a tree; or better yet, a whole orchard of fruit.