But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
This last leg of Isaiah is a good reminder of the Lord's promises for our future and our journey as His children. One thing I love about Isaiah is God's fierce reassurance of His promises for our lives. God not only expects us to trust Him but to do so in boldness, recognizing that all the goodness and grace we need for our lives is already ours to accept. In my walk with God, I've come to understand that having faith in who Christ is goes hand in hand with who it makes us. The frustrating part is that we think we have faith in Christ, yet many times we have trouble accepting those good things that happen in our lives as followers of Christ. As a Christian, you might not doubt who God is, but are you ready to accept how that defines your life? The moment something goes right, or we feel like God is moving in our lives, we praise God and experience the uplifting feeling that we are so "blessed." When the euphoria fades, we begin to second guess. "It must have been a fluke." Maybe I just imagined things; it might not have been God". "Ok, it worked out this once, but that can't happen again." "God can't be calling on me since I am unqualified." "I don't deserve any more mercy, favor, or grace in this situation. This time, it was my fault." And on and on until we realize our life of faith is still reflective of an anxious life. The idea that being a child of God is enough to expect mountains to move in your life seems radical. Yet, if we have faith in our God as a Mountain Mover, why is it so hard to accept that He is moving mountains for us?
The Servant of the Lord Isaiah 49:3-4
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
This kind of doubt can be dangerous because it involves an element of faith. We can walk and talk as if we have surrendered the situations of our lives to Him, but deep down, we are protecting the deepest parts of us. We pray about the small things, and then we pray about the biggest fears and wants. We hide the most personal pieces of our story, eventually giving up on genuinely committing to Him. The devil likes to use doubt, fear, and complacency to have us believe that the blessings in our lives are more likely mistakes or illusions. The devil wants us to forget God's blessings, discounting the love and protection that has kept us until now. The devil wants us to be blind to the presence of Christ when really, He never leaves us, even in our darkest hours. The devil wants us to forget that there are no mistakes or coincidences in this life. As mortals, you and I see people fall and perish in many ways. You look at the news and
know this world can be vicious and unforgiving. Despite evidence that wickedness, greed, and deception rule the world, to have faith in the Lord is to believe that we do not live by the ways of this world. Our faith compels us to the fact that we are children of the one true God. We are who God says we are and have what He says we have. We have victory in Christ Jesus.
Restoration of Israel Isaiah 49:7-27
7 This is what the Lord says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
8 This is what the Lord says:
“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’
“They will feed beside the roads
and find pasture on every barren hill.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.
12 See, they will come from afar—
some from the north, some from the west,
some from the region of Aswan.[b]”
13 Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
the Lord has forgotten me.”
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten back,
and those who laid you waste depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live,” declares the Lord,
“you will wear them all as ornaments;
you will put them on, like a bride.
19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate
and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement
will yet say in your hearing,
‘This place is too small for us;
give us more space to live in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
I was exiled and rejected.
Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
but these—where have they come from?’”
22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I will beckon to the nations,
I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”
24 Can plunder be taken from warriors,
or captives be rescued from the fierce[c]?
25 But this is what the Lord says:
“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
It might be hard to imagine that you or I, in our seemingly broken states, could be prime subjects for God's plans. It implies that we accept ourselves as being "good enough" and having everything we need to fulfill God's intent and purpose for our lives. The reason why we are good enough is not that God doesn't see or know the mistakes we make. I would argue that our mistakes and imperfections prime us more for God's plan because our shortcomings illuminate His perfection. He always intended to create ways for you in the desert before you got lost. The only way to understand this is to accept that your life's purpose is not based on merit, skills, or characteristics. We do not measure our hope for this life based on what we can see or fathom. If today you are tired of yourself, this message is for you. If you are tired of your mistakes, the things you don't know, something you haven't achieved, the future you can't see, you deserve to feel light. Put faith in the Mover of mountains, the one who sees the end from the beginning, who is never surprised. You might not know it now, but He never failed, never left, never forgot about you, and wants you to put your burdens down at His feet. Not because He's not working out issues in your life. Or because nothing will ever go wrong or ever hurt you. Have faith because you serve a good and loving God who promised to sustain you by His grace through the issues and His peace. Today is when you can stop looking within and beating up that person you used to be, the person you couldn't be for a loved one, and you're tired of being. Today you can choose to look up, reacquaint yourself with who He is, and let Him define your life differently. JM
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the Sower, and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”