Thursday, March 24, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-24 [Lent 2016] Crushing the Serpent

Crushing the Serpent

And I will put enmity
between you (the serpent) and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will crush your head,
and you will strike His heel.      (Genesis3:15)
Today many congregations will have footwashing and Tenebrae services as we remember the Last Supper, Jesus praying in Gethsemane and the arrest in the garden.

In the movie, the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson portrays Jesus praying in the Garden - and Satan, in the form of a serpent, is trying to talk Him out of going to the cross. The scene culminates in Jesus praying "Not my will, but Yours be done." As Jesus gets up to meet Judas and the soldiers coming to arrest Him, He stomps His heel on the head of the serpent who is tempting Him.

It is a powerful portrayal of the fulfilment of the oldest Messianic prophecy...

When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God announced the consequences on Adam, Eve, humanity and the serpent. The prophecy reveals the ongoing enmity between Satan and humanity. Right at the very beginning - just hours after Adam and Eve rejected God's commands and tried to be their own gods - God promised that their enemy, Satan, would be defeated by a Son (an offspring of the woman) who would crush his head. But it will come at a cost - the serpent will strike the Saviour's heel)

The arrest, the mocking, the scourging, the nails, the cross - all of this is Satan's strike to the heel of the Saviour. But the Saviour will rise. Sin, Death and Satan are to be defeated.

As we head into this third last day of Lent and the beautiful Easter story unfolds, let us consider this:
Right at the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, God was clear - this is what it would take and this is what it would COST.
- Right at the beginning Jesus was willing to pay the price,
- just before He was sent into Mary's womb Jesus was willing to do it (See Philippians 2:6-7),
- during the temptations Jesus was willing to do it,
- in the Garden He was willing to do it.
And then He DID it.
They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn--for he has done it.
(Psalm 22:31)

Let us worship Him in awe-struck wonder!
This brings us to the end of the devotions for Lent and Holy Week.
May you and your loved ones be blessed as we celebrate the greatest love ever shown.
EmmDevs will resume when schools re-start.

(This was a re-worked EmmDev tweaked from a few years ago.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-23 [Lent 2016] Appalled


He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.       (Isaiah59:16-17)
This is a goosebump chapter for me. It starts with an assurance that God's arm is not too short to save, but then plunges into the extent to which humanity is drowning in its brokenness. Just look at the opening verses of the chapter:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear...
Like the blind we grope along the wall,
feeling our way like men without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead.
(Isaiah 59:2 & 10)

To summarise verses 2-15: Our sins separate us from God, justice is driven back, truth is nowhere to be found and those who strive for righteous are victimised.

But then Isaiah reveals a staggering glimpse into God's heart: When He saw our predicament God was profoundly moved!
- He was appalled at our predicament.
- He set out to work salvation for us with His own arm.
- His righteousness became the sacrifice that paid for us
- Our salvation was the concern that would take Him to the cross
- He was determined to break Satan's power
- And He wrapped Himself in zeal.

Jesus wasn't resigned to His fate in a Oh-well-I-suppose-I-had-better-save-these-people way. No! He was appalled at where our brokenness takes us, and He rolled up His sleeves to get stuck into saving us. He passionately and zealously offered up His very best - even His righteousness (He carried the guilt of our sin) - so that we might be saved.

  • Look at Him route-marching to Jerusalem (Mark10:32)
  • See Him submit to the Father's will in Gethsemane (Luke22:42)
  • See Him forgive us on the cross.(Luke23:34)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews says: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame."

CHALLENGE: Pause for a moment an reflect on fact that it was our sin that put Him on the cross. Take a moment to give thanks.

(This is a re-working of an older dev...)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-22 [Lent 2016] Indignant


On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written:
" 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations' ?
But you have made it a 'den of robbers.' "      (Mark11:15-17)
Many people use this passage as justification for losing one's temper: "Even Jesus got angry!" they say.

Mark is clear. Jesus went into the temple on Palm Sunday after the Triumphal Entry but He did nothing because it was late.
"Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve." (Mark 11:11)

Jesus saw what was going on...

The priests were strict about the animals that were offered for sacrifice. They had to be perfect and without blemish. If they could nit-pick and find something wrong with the animal you bought, you would be forced to go and buy a "pre-koshered" animal at inflated prices from the traders in the court of the Gentiles. But you couldn't pay with Roman coinage because this "unclean money" was not suitable for the temple so you had to exchange it for Jewish shekels, again at an exorbitant rate. The worst was that all of this took place in the Court of the Gentiles - the only part of the temple that a non-Jew could go into to pray.

I imagine that Jesus spent Sunday night thinking about the temple. On Monday morning on the way to the temple he sees a fig tree without fruit. It had leaves, but none of the pre-fig-buds that promised a good fig-harvest. Jesus curses it because of this fruit-lack - it is symbolic of the temple.

Then He goes to the temple and overturns tables and drives out the traders. He hasn't "blown His top" or "lost His cool." He has thought about it and His anger is righteous and calculated.

People misunderstand this passage - they think it's about the trading. But it's about keeping people from connecting to God and it's about using religion to cheat people.
And it makes God really angry.

CHALLENGE: Are there things in your life that prevent others from experiencing God?

Friday, March 18, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-18 [Lent 2016] John's Gethsemane

John's Gethsemane

"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."      (John12:27)
John's Gospel doesn't have the Gethsemane scene where Jesus prays that the cup of suffering be taken away but commits Himself to do the will of the Father.

Instead, John records something that happened at the Triumphal Entry when Philip and Andrew brought some Greek seekers to Jesus which prompts Jesus to talk about the cross and how He would be "lifted up" on the cross.

And although the cross troubles Jesus' heart greatly, He is resolute in His purpose - this is the very reason He came! And so He prays: "Father glorify Your name."

"Glorify Your name."
"In me."
"In my words and in my actions."
"As I lay down my life to do Your will."

The significance of this moment is underscored by the Father's words from heaven - God's glory will be revealed in Jesus.
Crucifixion will end in Resurrection.
Death will be overcome.
Sin will be forgiven.
Satan will be defeated.

Lent is a time in which we quieten our lives and our souls to draw near to God and discern His will. It's about beginning to pray the same prayer as Jesus did: "Father, glorify your name!"

We don't have to go to the cross - Jesus has already done that.
But our lives (ransomed by Jesus) can be used in His service.

CHALLENGE: Try to pray "Father, glorify your name!" throughout today

Thursday, March 17, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-17 [Lent 2016] Succintly - part 3

Succintly - part 3

"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"      (Mark1:15)
In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. The last sentence brings us to a place of response.

The Kingdom has been brought near through the coming of Christ. His human presence in our broken existence is our evidence that no matter how dark it may be (remember Psalm 139? See below) God is with us. The kairos has come about. The time is now - now rather than tomorrow or next week! It is time for us to repent and believe the Good News.

Both of these verbs come in the imperative form, they are urgent instructions crackling with the energy of the enormity of concept (the kingdom is near through Christ's incarnation) and the occasion (the time has come). But what do they mean?

To repent is to turn away from something towards something new. It is to change one's ways. It is a change of focus or direction, it is a new beginning.

To believe is to put one's hope, trust and confidence in someone or something. It is to base one's existence on a set of hopes and convictions. It is to adopt a new value and meaning system.

What are they turning (repenting) towards? What are they basing their confidence (belief) on? The Good News!
But what is the Good News?
The Good News that the kingdom is emBODIED in Christ. That His Presence in our darkness is Good News. The Good News is that religion is not "pie in the sky one day when you die" but the reality of kairos (the time that has come)- hope that can pour into my life right now.

The order Jesus places these two verbs in is interesting: I would have placed belief before repentance and elsewhere in the New Testament this is the case. But I think there are times that we are so "stuck in a rut" and trapped in old patterns of thinking that we don't see things clearly. Sometimes it is only when we take the plunge of letting the old go that we can see the new clearly.

My question, at the end of all of this, is:
"Do you think this instruction is a once-off? Do you think as Christians we can say 'Been there done that?' Or are we so "stuck in the rut" of routine and sameness that we need to repent before we can believe afresh? The Good News is a "Kairos" thing (not yesterday or 20 years ago when I became a Christian) it is about today. Do you need to repent and believe today? I'm pretty sure I do...

PS 139:11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-16 [Lent 2016] Succintly - part 2

Succintly - part 2

"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"      (Mark1:15)
In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. We'll look at the second one today.

"The kingdom of God is near..." There is a lot that can be written about the Kingdom of God. In General Terms, the Kingdom is more than the Church - it is where God is King in the hearts of those who have placed their allegiance with Him. Whatever they do according to His Will and in His name is an extension of the Kingdom of God - the place where God is King.

In this context, however, I believe that Jesus is being quite specific. The Jews had hoped for a political kingdom. Jesus is the ultimate embodiment of the Kingdom - He did not try to grasp power from God the Father or compete with Him - He submitted to the Father's Will. It is in the absolute obedience of the Son in coming to Earth and going to the Cross that ultimately embodies the Kingdom.

Jesus was saying, "Because I am near, the Kingdom of God is near." What was once far away has now been brought near. While we could not come to Him, He came to us.

The absolute obedience and submission of Jesus to the Father is the foundation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus didn't have to do the "strip off your power and glory and enter a human womb and live the limited life of humanity" thing - He did it out of love and obedience.

He brought the kingdom near simply by doing what His Father wanted.

When we submit to God, when we place Jesus in the driving seat of our lives then the Kingdom of God is near! The kingdom is in the hearts of those who let God be the King of their lives.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-15 [Lent 2016] Succintly - part 1

Succintly - part 1

15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"      (Mark1:15)
(These next three devs are a repeat from a few years ago - but appropriate in view of the Vision Presentation we had on Sunday...)

In Mark's Gospel these are Jesus' first words. There's a lot of meaning squeezed into these three sentences. We'll look at the first one today.

1. The time has come: According to my dictionary, the Greek Word for time (kairos) indicates "occasion rather than extent." In other words Jesus was not saying that 33AD was a good period of history for the message to be preached (even though it was if we think about the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome), the common use of Greek worldwide and the network of roads and communication.)

What Jesus did was to bring each of His hearers face to face with the urgency of the decision that is needed. When it comes to making a decision concerning Christ, now and not tomorrow is the best time. Paul says a similar thing in 2Cor6:2 "I tell you, NOW is the time (kairos) of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."

This "occasion" comes to us as we are. So often people argue with the call of Christ on their lives: "I need to go and sort myself out first. I need to get my ducks in a row. I need to deal with this or that issue."

The other clue that the original Greek provides us is that the word used for "come" can also mean "been fulfilled" or "has been brought about." There is nothing accidental or incidental about it. When a kairos moment takes place in our lives, it is not by accident but by Divine Design!

Jesus pronouncement of the Kingdom is an occasion and not a timescale. To what extent do we "procrastinate" doing serious business with God?? If you've been putting some aspect of your relationship with God on hold until a "better" time, why not sort it out now? It's Kairos!

Friday, March 11, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-11 [Lent 2016] Understanding Jesus' Temptations (4)

Understanding Jesus' Temptations (4)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' "      (Matthew4:8-10)
(I'm going to stretch a premise this morning - you may or may not agree with me, but bear with me, I think it is a valid and helpful interpretation...)

I wonder if Satan was talking about "kingdoms of things" or "kingdoms of people"? Did he show Jesus palaces and cities or did he show him faces of people from all over the world?

What if this temptation was not so much about earthly power but about the real stakes of Jesus Mission:

You and me.

The Psalmist affirmed "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it" but Satan is described in Ephesians 2 as "the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient."
The earth is not Satan's to give, but people are.
I don't think the wealth of earth would tempt Jesus too much - He created the galaxies! But people created in His image, caught in sin and captives of Satan - that's a different matter entirely!

Could it be that Satan was saying: "Don't go to the cross - if you want these people then just bow down to me..."?

It's a temptation to take a shortcut - avoid the cross - deviate from the Father's plan - and the bait is us - people who Jesus came to seek and save - and all Jesus would have to do is bow His knee to Satan.

The consequences would have been disastrous.

The choice Jesus makes is a costly one - worshipping the Father meant the cross...

CHALLENGE: Take some time to imagine the temptation in this way and consider the clarity of focus and intensity of love that kept Jesus on track. And give thanks....!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-10 [Lent 2016] Understanding Jesus' Temptations (3)

Understanding Jesus' Temptations (3)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "
7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "
Luke puts this temptation last... (An indication, possibly that Luke felt this was the most dangerous one.)

In general terms, this temptation is about being spectacular and impressive - jump off the temple and have the angels catch you - everyone will be amazed! It's also about being presumptuous - expecting God to save you no matter how reckless or foolish your actions are.

For Jesus, specifically, the temptation is two-fold:
The first part of it is to take the role of the powerful political Messiah. To use power and miracles to win over the Israelites. Jumping off the temple and being caught by angels would impress the Pharisees and teachers of the law because it was the temple He leaped from and the angels would impress the masses and the military minded. This was the kind of Messiah the Israelites were desperately hoping for. It must have been so tempting to be the popular Messiah instead of the prophetic and suffering Messiah. (This temptation comes in other forms when Jesus feeds the five thousand and the crowd want to make Jesus king by force and He has to withdraw from them (John 6:15).)

The second aspect of the temptation is that it is another way to rebel against God. Jesus has been given a mission by the Father. If He were to jump from the temple (thereby, in His human state, ending His life) the Father would be forced to rescue Him by commanding His angels. Jesus would be "naming and claiming" a promise of God, but He would be presumptuously manipulating God. It is, once again, an act of rebellious independence that would be destructive to Jesus' relationship with the Father and the Spirit.

For us, this second part of the temptation is the most real around the promise of God's forgiveness. We choose to sin - knowing that God will forgive us... This is manipulative behaviour. I'm not saying we succeed in manipulating God, but our behaviour is manipulative. (Jesus sacrifice is big enough for our brokenness)

Jesus, once again, counters the temptation by standing on the firm foundation of Scripture - the one who is "the Word" quoting from the Word - it's really Jesus asserting His true and full identity and refusing to embrace a lower standard...

CHALLENGE: Are there times that you are driven more by the need for public affirmation than the call to be a servant? Have you indulged in manipulative behaviour in your relationship with God?

Theo Groeneveld
Emmanuel Presby Church Cell: 082-5510752

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-09 [Lent 2016] Understanding Jesus' Temptations (2)

Understanding Jesus' Temptations (2)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "
We've known the stories of Jesus temptation since childhood:
1) Turn stones into bread
2) Jump off the temple and let the angels catch you
3) Get the world for bowing down to Satan

Over the years we've heard the explanations for these temptations.

  • Stones into bread is about fleshly desires
  • Jumping off the temple is about being spectacular
  • Getting the world is all about power.

These explanations are not incorrect, but when one digs deeper, there is more to see...

Let's look at the first temptation:
"If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
While this temptation is about instant gratification and being driven by a base desire like hunger (and we're told that Jesus was hungry), it's also about asserting independence. Jesus' answer - in which he quotes from Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (see below) - indicates that the real issue is dependence on God and learning to wait for Him.

Satan, who was formerly one of the angels, rebelled against the Lord and persuaded a third of the angels to join him. Now He is trying to keep Jesus from the cross. He's urging Jesus to assert His independence: "Don't wait for God, don't trust God to provide, don't finish this period of fasting that the Spirit has led you to. You've got the power haven't you? You're the Son of God aren't you? When are you going to take charge of your destiny? Just tell the stones to become bread!" (Note how Satan understands Jesus' power as the word(logos) and how he wants Jesus to speak independently.)

Satan wants Jesus to put Himself first.
He wants Him to assert His independence.
He wants him to "take charge"!

On the surface of it, independence is a good thing, but when it is the end of the road, it is a disaster - a world full of independent people would be permanent warfare.
Steven Covey correctly points out that we move from dependence to independence to interdependence. Satan himself got caught out in the lie of independence as the "be all and end all". Jesus, being part of the triune God family, understands that interdependence is what true love is and that independence would be an act of rebellion and a step backwards.

He is quite content to hear the Father's voice and rely on Him.

Are there physical desires that you need to bring under control?
Are there "independent actions" that we have taken that are actually more about rebellion than maturity?


Deut 8:1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-08 [Lent 2016] Understanding Jesus' Temptations (1)

Understanding Jesus' Temptations (1)

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.      (Mark1:12-13)
Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. By doing this He identified with our sinful state even though He was sinless. His commitment to be the "sinless scapegoat" would be tested to the maximum.

Immediately after the baptism ("at once") Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to a place of solitude. This place of isolation would become a place of testing. Mark doesn't go into the temptation in detail... His quick handling of this is his way of assuring us that there is no way that Jesus' identification with our brokenness meant that He would give in to temptation.

Traditionally this period of 40 is a time of preparation. The Spirit brought Jesus to the wilderness as preparation for the ministry He had embraced. Now it would be tested...

Remember that God doesn't tempt - Satan did the tempting and sometimes God will allow that to happen to us too. The Father knew that Jesus would resist temptation and with the power of the Spirit working in us, so should we.

When we commit ourselves to serious ministry, we will often be prompted by the Spirit to draw aside for preparation. During that time of preparation, we may be tempted to take shortcuts, grasp for power or try to be "impressive."

It is not the Spirit tempting us - it is our own sinful nature that provides the window of opportunity that the devil tries to wriggle through. The Spirit may take us to a lonely place of preparation and there we may well be tempted. It is through the Spirit's power that we must overcome.

He will send His angels to attend us too...

(For the rest of the week we'll dig into the temptations in more detail...)

CHALLENGE: Mark presents temptation as a wild and primal event. Temptations often catch us in the wildernis - when things are wild and we're off balance. Think back on your life when it has been like this... How will you handle the next time?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

They kill with wars, alcohol and abortions. Save us!!!

They kill with wars, alcohol and abortions. Save us!!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-04 [Lent 2016] Prayer: Getting real

Prayer: Getting real

Search me O God and know my heart Test me and know my anxious thoughts See if there is any offense way in me And lead me in the way everlasting      (Psalms139:23-24)
Hopefully during Lent we have created some space to pray. Prayer is about praise and adoration. It's about asking and about giving thanks, but it is also about opening up.

One of my favourite images is that prayer is like a camera. The lens is focussed and the shutter opens... The light shines in and leaves an image on the film negative. Prayer is very similar to this: We focus in on God, we open the shutters of our hearts and He shines His light in and our hearts (the film) are changed...

Psalm 139 is all about opening up to God. In the first part of the Psalm, the psalmist struggles with the almost relentless knowledge that God has of him. (Even when he tries to escape God he cannot!)
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar...
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Then he begins to realise that God loves Him with the tender love of a creator, and that he, the Psalmist, is a precious creature. His response is to give even more of himself to this tender, merciful, loving God.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

And so, where the Psalm began with the Psalmist running away from a God who knew too much, the psalm ends with the author running toward God all the while offering everything he (the Psalmist) has.

Our prayers should involve some of this: that we open our hearts to God - even the scary and ugly bits - that we stop pretending and that we stop hanging on to a false dignity. We need to turn to Him and call for His help, we need to expose ourselves to Him.

When we ask Him to scrutinise our lives like this, He shines His light and love into the whole area of our lives and we can be changed!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-03 [Lent 2016] Hope in Him

Hope in Him

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.      (Romans5:5)
Right at the outset we said that Isaiah 40 is about rejuvenation. But there is no step-by-step plan in Isaiah 40 - not a 12 step plan or even a 5 or 3 step one.

The chapter offers comfort, describes God, refutes false gods and recognises our struggles and ends with a promise of renewal and rejuvenation. And what do we do to access this rejuvenation?

We hope.

  • Hope is the spark which ignites faith.
  • Hope is the moment we look beyond ourselves.
  • Hope is recognising God's reality as mighty and present in our circumstances.
  • Hope is a relationship

But hope isn't something we have to muster up by ourselves. Paul talks about hope as something that is the by-product of the love that God has poured into our hearts. And He does this through the Holy Spirit.

The concluding part of Isaiah 40 (soaring, running, walking) is a picture of life in the Spirit. And whenever we talk of the Spirit we talk of a "Whom?" not a "what?".

Read Isaiah 40 again.
I've included it below with all the section headings
- read it again and let it ignite hope and prepare you for rejuvenation...

1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.

Voice 1: A call to repentance
3 A voice of one calling:
"In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Voice 2: A call from hubris to humility
6 A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

Voice 3: A call to meet our God
9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
"Here is your God!"
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Perspective # 1: God is really big
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
or instructed him as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?

Perspective #2: The nations are pretty small in comparison
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.

COMPARISON # 1: God is greater than idols.
18 To whom, then, will you compare God?
What image will you compare him to?
19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A man too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple.

DO YOU NOT KNOW # 1?: God brings down the proud.
21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

COMPARISON #2: God is greater than astrology.
25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

DO YOU NOT KNOW #2?: God lifts up the weary.
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

EmmDev 2016-03-01 [Lent 2016] Do you not know? (2)

Do you not know? (2)

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.      (Isaiah40:28-31)
(Don't be fooled by the brevity and telegram-style of today's dev - there is a lot to chew here...)

Previously we looked at Israel's heartache and struggle that are at the heart of this amazing chapter on rejuvenation. Now comes the mighty crescendo!

DO you not know?
Do YOU not know?
Do you NOT know?
Do you not KNOW?

God - yes that's who He is...
- Is everlasting
- Created everything
- Is untiring in power and unlimited in understanding
- He gives strength and power!

To whom?
To all who are weary and weak. Even the youths who thought they didn't need Him but realised that they too got tired and weary and they too could crash and burn.

There is rejuvenation:
- We can soar like eagles
- We can run and not grow weary
- We can walk and not be faint

And what do we have to do?
We hope in Him.

Does that sound too simple?

Have you tried it?


(We'll chat again tomorrow...)