“…giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (CSB – Read the chapter)
This is a day for giving thanks. It is Thanksgiving, after all. At least it is in the United States. If you are one of the many folks reading somewhere else in the world today is probably just Thursday where you are. A few other nations around the world have some sort of national day set aside for giving thanks, but not very many. There is a reason for this. As you pause for a moment in your busy preparations for food and family (and probably football) later today, let’s talk for just a moment about why we give thanks.
“Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy. For people will live on Zion in Jerusalem. You will never weep again; he will show favor to you at the sound of your outcry; as soon as he hears, he will answer you. The Lord will give you meager bread and water during oppression, but your Teacher will not hide any longer. Your eyes will see your Teacher, and whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: ‘This is the way. Walk in it.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
The most common characterization of God people have from the prophets is that He is angry. He is filled with wrath and is waiting up in heaven to catch us in some wrongdoing so He can smite us. He’s like a kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day perched over an ant hill. The first time we show our head out of the pile, He’s going to smoke it off with a blast of lightning. And, there are some passages scattered throughout the prophets that would seem to justify such an image. But what you perhaps don’t realize is those are the exceptions, not the rule. The rule throughout the prophets is something very different and entirely more New Testament-y in their flavor than you might expect. This morning as we finish up our short look at Isaiah 30, I want to set before a passage that is much more in line with the major picture of God we get from the prophets. Let’s talk about it.
“Woe to the rebellious children! This is the Lord’s declaration. They carry out a plan, but not mine; they make an alliance, but against my will, piling sin on top of sin. Without asking my advice they set out to go down to Egypt in order to seek shelter under Pharaoh’s protection and take refuge in Egypt’s shadow. But Pharaoh’s protection will become your shame, and refuge in Egypt’s shadow your humiliation. For though his princes are at Zoan and his messengers reach as far as Hanes, everyone will be ashamed because of a people who can’t help. They are are of no benefit, they are no help; they are goo for nothing but shame and disgrace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Think for a minute about who you turn to when you need advice before anyone else. Call to mind this person’s face. Think about the conversations you’ve had with him and the counsel he’s given you. What is it about this person that makes you so inclined to seek him out before anyone else? Is he particularly wise? If so, what garnered him this distinction in your mind? Have the two of you shared particularly significant experiences together and so you feel like he knows you better than anyone else? Do you seek him out because of his position? Let me ask one more question: Did you even fleetingly think about God as the person you turn to first for advice? The places we go when we need help say a lot about us. They said a lot about Israel too. Today and tomorrow, I want to look with you at an example from Isaiah that has much to teach us about where to seek help first and the character of God.
We’ve been talking about the heavy loads we carry when we try to do life without Jesus for a month now. This past Sunday morning we flipped the script and talked about why life with Him is so much better than life without. Don’t miss this powerful conclusion to our series. Then, make sure to tune in starting next week as we see together through the story of Jesus’ birth how God turned the world upside down. Thanks for reading and sharing.
The Sweet Life
Alright, as we get started this morning, I have a confession to make. This may come as a surprise to some of you, so I want to make sure you’re all sitting down. I’ll wait. Okay, good. Here goes nothing. Try not to act shocked if this catches you completely off guard. I have a bit of a sweet tooth. No, seriously, I do. I love sweets. There aren’t too many I don’t like. I’m not all that thrilled with dark chocolate. Nougat isn’t really one I’ll rescue from the post-Halloween garbage dump either. The same goes with Milk Duds. I’m not really sure what the point of those are anyway. But other than that, I’m a pretty open book. I actually have a whole desk drawer dedicated to it. Okay, so really it’s more than one, but there’s one primarily committed to candy…and extra file folders because I don’t have anywhere else to put those. You have to dig through a lot of Skittles and Pretzel M&M’s to get to them, though. And I don’t limit myself to candy either. Pastries, cookies, brownies, cakes, most pies (I’m not really a custard guy), donuts (I’d probably knock you out of the way for a donut if I was hungry), and Dot Alsobrooks cinnamon rolls.
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
What kind of a Savior do you want? Given that a Savior has already come, that may seem like a somewhat irrelevant question. After all, if the Savior has indeed come, the kind of Savior you want is a moot point. You get the Savior that is. But it is perhaps not so irrelevant a question as you might imagine. The thing or person we imagine will save us tends to become the object of our worship. The reason that matters is we gradually become like what we worship. I’m thinking about this today because I recently finished watching the latest science fiction film, Dune. Now, as a disclaimer, I haven’t read the book (although it is on my shelf and on my list). That simply means I’m pretty new to the story. I’ve seen most of the 1984 version of the movie, but don’t remember it. That being said, I know there’s a second movie coming eventually so there’s more story to come. Still, the idea very obviously driving the story so far is that the main character, Paul, is believed to be a messiah figure by many people. And the kind of messiah they believe him to be affects who they become. This morning let’s talk about the kind of things we want to save us, the kind of Messiah we have, and why this all matters so much.