Monday, December 26, 2011

What Do You Have to Be Afraid Of?

I've been studying the book of Isaiah over the past few months.  It's rich with the depth of God's love for His people and His passion for justice.  God will establish justice - holding the wicked accountable and bringing salvation to the righteous - yet He always adds that His desire is to extend mercy and forgive.  Isaiah 55:6-7 sum this idea up - "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."  Isn't that encouraging?

Isaiah chapter 51 talks about how the story ends - when God brings everlasting salvation to His people and makes everything new.  It offers hope both for this life and for the future.  Listen to what God has to say.  These are excerpts from the first sixteen verses that really spoke to me.

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD:   4 “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. 5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. 

 7 “Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults. 8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.”

   12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, 13 that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? 

 14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread. 15 For I am the LORD your Godwho stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—    the LORD Almighty is his name16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

It's so easy to forget God when we're going through a trial or difficult times.  Sometimes we try to push through it on our own strength and then are surprised when we fall short.  Other times we curl up in a ball and give up.  But God says, "HELLO?  Remember me?  I am YHWH.  The I AM.  Everything that I AM, I will be to you.  Comforter.  Protector.  Creator.  Almighty.  Rescuer.  Provider.  Abba- Daddy.  What do you have to be afraid of?"

Psalm 27:12 says,  The LORD is my light and salvation - whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life.  Of whom shall I be afraid?"

God says to you, "I've got it covered.  I've got your problems, your fears, your pain.  I cover you with the shadow of my hand.  What do you have to be afraid of?"

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