Prepare for Flames and Floods

forest-fire1

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.

2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:1-2, NLT

“YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) — July 1, an Arizona forest fire into an out-of-control inferno that trapped and killed 19 firefighters, nearly all of them members of an elite crew of “hotshots,” authorities said Monday. It was the nation’s biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years.”

“This is as dark a day as I can remember,” Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. Firefighters have a dangerous job. They put their lives on the line.

The promises here in Isaiah 43 meant to prepare us, and promise us. Fires burn and consume. Floods keep growing and multiplying. Yet in this world full of fires and floods, we have these promises of His presence in the middle of it all. He intends to be right there when things are going very, very wrong.

And dear broken believer, trials and tribulations are a fact of life for us. Life is often full of badness, but my God, we learn. (Oh, how we learn.) You may be struggling now, but we are being made into something wonderful.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” –1 Peter 4:12

No surprises– burning trials– something strange? Hardly, it’s just the life of a saint, as he travels home to heaven. And isn’t heaven is worth just a little temporary pain? (I walk with a cane, so I’ll be behind you a bit.) 

The reality is this, the Isaiah verses declare that there will be floods, and rivers to cross, and fires and flames. These are going to happen. But, the Lord does promise that He will walk with you, as your Companion, and Protector.

“It is quite useless knocking at the door of heaven for earthly comfort. It’s not the sort of comfort they supply there.” –C.S. Lewis

We are looking to be given comfortable things, naturally easy things. Like lots of money in our bank accounts, bills paid off. A redesigned kitchen would be nice. And one of those huge refrigerators (big enough to hang a cow in.) A new VW Jetta, maybe. But this is not the comfort that God is supplying us.

You may have to shift things in your thinking. But maybe you have already learned this, and might just need a tiny reminder. There is a definite upside to this– the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is standing at your side, and you will know his true comfort and assistance. It is a promise. And it is yours. (But not the VW, most likely).

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ybic, Bryan

Kyrie elesion. (Lord, have mercy)
 
faithfulbloggers

God’s Gift to the Broken Ones: Isaiah 61

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, 
      for the LORD has anointed me 
      to bring good news to the poor. 
   He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted 
      and to proclaim that captives will be released 
      and prisoners will be freed.
 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn 
      that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,
      and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 
 3 To all who mourn in Israel,
      he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, 
   a joyous blessing instead of mourning, 
      festive praise instead of despair. 
   In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks 
      that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

Isaiah 61:13, NLT

Jesus is presently speaking. Isaiah the prophet, has developed an understanding of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus would read from this scroll, and publicly announce that it is speaking exclusively of Himself. He owns it. The kings of Israel had been anointed, and Jesus now wears this anointing. He is the son of David. He is the real King.

There is a unique presence, that has saturated Jesus’ ministry. He is as full of the Spirit as you could possibly get. Jesus has been immersed and soaked in the Spirit. When you touch Him, He spills God all over you.

These verses in Isaiah 61, funnel His presence unto the most unfortunate. There is the poor, the brokenhearted and the prisoner that benefit from His work. The margins of society are suddenly electrified by His presence. He simply lights up those who have been passed over.

These sweet verses in Isaiah 61 carry a gentleness and kindness, to the extent we aren’t used to. But they also carry exceptional authority. The “Isaiah Jesus” declares freedom. A new kingdom has just arrived. An emphasis on “the mourners” here in v.v. 2 —3 gives us a sense of direction. Mourners are sad, they weep over what could have been. All they can really see is a painful loss.

Jesus’ work is “zeroed” into these dear ones who are full of sadness. His work among men will gravitate to these who are in anguish and despairing. But He speaks of a healing or a restoration. Grace has now come, and something quite significant and alive is available. Healing, focused on the “inside” is now actively working us to a wholeness.

There is something more. There is not just a negation of the bad, but a terrific step to what is quite good. His new kingdom has been honed down to work in our confused hearts. This kingdom now enables us to wear crowns. And to be joyous in the middle of sadness.

He really wants us, to exchange our gritty ashes, for beauty. The idea here is elegance, and gracefulness and goodness. He insists on completely removing the darkness and the nastiness. He very much intends for us to become best friends with goodness and kindness.

In verse 3, we are given an understanding of oak trees now planted in good places. We exist now for people to be directed to God’s glory and honor. That dear one, is a great description of us being redeemed ones. We are oaks who declare God’s goodness and healing.

The Lord Is Our Shepherd

This is what is called a “found poem,” which means that every line of the poem was found in some other writing. In this case, all of  the lines of this poem are found in the Bible, from the Old Testament prophets, the words of Jesus, and all the way through Revelation.

The lines of the poem do not appear in the order they do in the Bible, but are arranged to illustrate how Scripture maintains a consistent Biblical theme of the Lord as our Good Shepherd watching over His lost and straying sheep.

Lost sheep, may you find yourself in the arms of our Shepherd today.

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The Shepherd

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who sit enthroned
between the cherubim.

Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep
without a shepherd,
each will flee to his native land.
Save your people and bless
your inheritance; be their shepherd
and carry them forever.

He had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who only take care of themselves!

Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
“I will place shepherds over them
who will tend them, and they will
no longer be afraid or terrified,
nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

Then I will give you shepherds
after my own heart, who will lead you
with knowledge and understanding.
They will follow my laws
and be careful to keep my decrees.
And David shepherded them
with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

For you were like sheep
going astray, but now
you have returned to the Shepherd
and Overseer of your souls.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.

For the Lamb at the center
of the throne will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs
of living water. And God
will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
So the LORD’s people will not
be like sheep without a shepherd.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.
“I have other sheep that are
not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

He will stand and shepherd
his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD
his God. And they will live securely,
for then his greatness will reach
to the ends of the earth.

“I am the good shepherd
who lays down his life for the sheep.”
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.