Further Along My Passage

July 2013

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Colors of Summer

“And if we could show the world today that being committed to Christ is no tame, humdrum, sheltered monotony, but the most fascinating and exciting adventure the human spirit can ever know –“joy unspeakable and full of glory” – then thousands of strong and stalwart lives that have been holding back from Christ and looking askance at the Church and standing outside the Kingdom would come crowding in to His allegiance; and there might be such a revival as the world has not witnessed since Pentecost.  James S. Stewart in a sermon, The Magnetism of the Unseen.

dont fence me in

July found me immersed in the prophecy of Isaiah.  I learned that prophets are persons who speak for God, though in Isaiah’s case, he was preaching and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit was also foretelling the future.  Uppermost in his thoughts were the sins of his people in the southern kingdom of Judah.  They had forgotten the grace of God and in their idolatry no longer recognized their total dependence on Him.

James S. Stewart, in his sermon “My Times Are In Thy Hand”, wrote that human pride and self-sufficiency is the basic sin, discounting our dependence on the sovereign Lord of the universe.  “The nation whose ultimate trust is in its own power and resources; the scientific humanism whose final confidence is in itself; the righteous man who regards his righteous deeds as meritorious and creditable and self-justifying; the Church that regards itself as a miniature Kingdom of God – all are guilty of the one fundamental sin of which all other sins are but derivative.”

At a time when Assyria had captured and enslaved the northern kingdom of Israel Isaiah was calling upon the rulers in Jerusalem to repent of their unbelief in the Lord God of the universe.  Failing to heed Isaiah’s admonitions, Judah would itself be conquered one hundred years later by the Babylonian Empire and carried into captivity for seventy years.

Interspersed in this wonderful book was Isaiah’s vision of the distant future.  A Messiah would appear who would do away with the people’s need for blood sacrifices.  “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow”, he wrote. 

In his own dramatic encounter with God, Isaiah’s vocabulary is exhausted as he attempts to describe the awesome holiness of God in recognizing his own sins.  The Lord, encompassed by angels and seraphim, speaks to Isaiah in the temple:  “Who will go for me?”  Isaiah responds:  “Send me.”

         The final chapters of Isaiah trumpet a great truth:  something intrinsic to human nature is eternal.   All will either spend eternity with God in His fellowship or will be alienated from Him in judgment, having rejected His provision for life eternal through His Son who died on the Cross to take away the sin of the world.  Reading Isaiah, those who yearn for a King who will avenge the great injustices of our time can be assured that His return is certain.  How soon....and are we ready?

In the Mulberries

“Remember the wonderful works that He has done” goes David’s song – remember what He has done in the lives of each of us, and beyond that remember what He had done in the life of the world; remember above all what He has done in Christ – remember those moments in our own lives when with only the dullest understanding but with the sharpest longing we have glimpsed that Christ’s kind of life is the only life that matters and that all other kinds of life are riddled with death; remember those moments in our lives when Christ came to us in countless disguises through people who strengthened us, comforted us, healed us, judged us, by the power of Christ alive within them....Remember and hope. Remember and wait.  Wait for Him whose face we all of us know ...whose life we all of us thirst for because somewhere in the past we have seen it lived, have maybe even had moments of living it ourselves.  Remember Him who Himself remembers us as He promised to remember the thief who died beside Him.  To have faith is to remember and wait, and to wait in hope is to have what we hope for already begin to come true in our hoping.  Praise Him.  Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember


On the Lamb


He shall feed His flock like a shepherd:  He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11