Friday, December 9, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 160

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 160

We begin Chapter 56 today, which is titled in the NIV as "Salvation For Others". Bless the Lord for including this chapter! Where would those of us who are Gentiles be without "salvation for others"? If salvation had come only to Israel, we would still be in the dark, but God always intended to make one big family out of believers from every nation and tribe.

But first we begin with God speaking to the people who already know Him. "This is what the Lord says: 'Maintain justice and do what is right, for My salvation is close at hand and My righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the one who does this---the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil.'" (Isaiah 56:1-2) God's covenant people had abandoned justice and profaned the Sabbath, things they have already been accused of in the book of Isaiah. They accepted bribes in the courts and overlooked the cause of the poor, the widow, and the orphan. They had forsaken the Lord in favor of the false gods of the nations around them, not keeping the Sabbath and having no regard for the Lord's word. So now it's time to get back on the right path, even while they are captive in Babylon. Good works don't save anyone but they do display to the world what's in the heart. If they will only get their hearts right with the Lord, behavior that honors Him will be a natural outcome. 

You may have heard it said that our true character is revealed by what we do when no one is watching. I would like to add that our true character is also revealed by how we behave when things aren't going our way. When Jerusalem is conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and the city and the temple are burned, with the people taken in chains to a land they've never seen before, things will seem as bad as they can possibly be. But God calls them to higher ground during those years. He says, "Step up your faith and do what honors Me. Train up your children to do what is right. Within seventy years your captivity will end and I will lead the survivors and their descendants back to Zion. Help is just around the corner. Don't give up now!"

Several things haven't gone my way this week. Two of the things have upset my apple cart pretty badly. I wish I could say I've faced it all with calmness of spirit but there have been a few moments when what I've really felt like doing was throwing a full-on tantrum. And if the Lord hadn't brought me through so many things before, I might be in the floor right now, arms and legs flailing, screaming and crying. But I've seen Him do the impossible. In the past I've actually had people tell me to give up on certain things, that they were lost causes, that nothing would ever change. I've been encouraged to forget my dreams and settle for less than God's best because He wasn't going to come through. But we have to keep in mind that quite often He steps into a situation and works a miracle at the very last moment, when there can be no doubt the work is His alone and the glory is His alone. Just as it begins to appear nothing can possibly be done about our circumstances, He says, "My salvation is close at hand and My righteousness will soon be revealed. Help is just around the corner. Don't give up now!"

I don't know what you may be going through or what has you stressed and worried right now, but don't let anybody tell you that your God isn't going to help you. Maybe you've prayed about something til you're so weary you're not sure you can pray one more word. Do it anyway. You may not feel like it, but do it anyway. The Apostle Paul, a man who endured much opposition and distress but kept putting one foot in front of the other, says to us, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) God told His captive people to do what was right in the midst of their troubles. They didn't feel like it, but He told them to do it anyway. This is an act of faith, when we keep on praying no matter how long it takes to get the answer. This displays our trust in our mighty God. He will come through at the proper time, on a day when it brings Him the most glory by revealing to us and everyone around us that He alone has performed the work. Our faith is increased the most when we are certain that no human intervention solved our problems but that it was the work of our awesome God.

Help is just around the corner. Don't give up.

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