Tag Archives: Isaiah

Return

26 Jan

Life is so daily, filled with habit and routine. We long for time to rest, realign our priorities, and refresh our souls. I’ve done a bit of that since my last blog post on December 07. At the same time, my life has been extremely busy and full of surprising opportunities for ministry and fellowship. But now I’m ready to return.

I’m returning not just to writing this blog, but returning to God’s rhythm of life. That rhythm envelops all aspects of what it means to be created in His image: care for His temple (our bodies), creativity, strength, wisdom, work, rest, and so much more.

I’m also returning to a part-time tutoring job. What a joy to help kids be successful. George and I are returning to some of the attitudes and actions that first caused us to fall in love. Similarly, in the book of Revelation, Christ tells the church in Ephesus. “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4 ESV). He wanted them to change their mind (repent) and return to doing the works that demonstrated their deep devotion.

The word “return” calls to mind a favorite Bible passage.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10–11 NRSV).

Just as moisture saturates soil, God’s word saturates our lives to produce good fruit. We can trust Scripture to work in us and successfully accomplish the Divine purpose. To that end, I’ve committed to daily Bible reading with some amazing high school girls. We meet weekly to discuss the connection we made with God through His word, to ask tough questions, and to pray for one another. It’s the highlight of my week.

Do you need to return? To what is God calling you? Perhaps you’ve neglected worship or time alone with Him. If so, Scripture has a good word for you. “Those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11 TNIV).

Perhaps you’ve strayed so far, you think return is impossible. God has a good word for you as well. “Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil their way of thinking. Let them come back to God, who is merciful, come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness” (Isaiah 55:7 The Message).

It requires repentance and humility to admit we’ve abandoned Jesus Christ ,our first love. It takes intentionality and determination to trade the chaos of our culture for God’s rhythm. I don’t pretend it’s easy, but it’s exceedingly rewarding. It was difficult to sit down once again at my computer and share my heart. I’d lost the rhythm of writing. I’m hoping that this bit of writing will encourage me to complete a major writing project. Perhaps you’d pray for me to complete it before March 1.I’d count it a privilege to pray for you. Just use the comment box below to share your prayer requests.

Do You Choose Ashes or Beauty?

7 Dec

It’s fireplace weather as the weatherman predicts single digit temperatures. I love rotating in front of the fire like a marshmallow on a coat hanger—equally toasted on all sides. Frequent fires produce abundant ashes.

As I transferred cold ashes from the fireplace to a trashbag, I thought how they no longer resembled the logs originally placed on the grate. No longer sturdy logs, the ash pile was now gray, powdery, and easily scattered by the slightest puff of air. Perhaps, like me, there was a time when your life was in ashes—cold, colorless, without meaning or apparent value, no longer resembling the life you once envisioned.

The Bible uses ashes to symbolize misery, shame, humility, and repentance. Deeply distressed mourners sat on ashes and threw them toward heaven, allowing the ashes to fall as a head covering. That’s why Isaiah’s prophecy was so powerful. He promised “comfort [for] all who mourn, . . .a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3a).

This dramatic transformation would come through faith in God. Jesus Christ later read this passage from the scroll of Isaiah, “‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:18–21 NIV).

No matter what you’ve been through or what you’re facing, Jesus offers understanding and victory. He gave up heavenly glory to be born in a stable. He endured poverty, grief, injustice, rejection and faced every human temptation for our sake. Why then do we continue to cover ourselves in ashes when He offers a crown of beauty? Our freedom comes not through escaping our circumstances, but in accepting the love, power, and joy offered in Jesus Christ.

The fireplace wood we burn is often a mixture of pine and oak. Pine flames quickly; oak burns slowly and provides lasting warmth. God can transform our lives from ashes to oak. As Isaiah says, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b NIV).

My prayer for us is that we display God’s splendor, as we remain strong in His power and love.

Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

13 Jul

IMG_1211Every year I ask the Lord for a verse. In 2012, He gave me Isaiah 55:12. “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (ESV).

The previous couple of years had been challenging to say the least, and I yearned for renewed joy and peace. I claimed Isaiah 55:12 with no idea how God would bring it to pass. He was true to His word and eventually led me into this place of joy and peace. Our vacation in the national forest of Colorado brought all this to mind, as quaking aspen and gurgling streams reminded me of God’s faithfulness.

After three years, we’re once again camped in our 5th wheel trailer. My husband is an excellent fly fisherman and I enjoy photography. We delight in watching humming birds compete for a place at the feeder. There’s time for walking, reading, poking burning logs in the fire pit, and meaningful conversation.

We drove one of the “improved roads” up from our camp. The picturesque 10,000-foot mountain surpassed our expectations of beauty and fun. I couldn’t help but think of Romans 1:20. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (NIV). How can anyone witness the grandeur and beauty of creation and not recognize the Creator?

Isaiah 61 gives those trapped in physical, emotional, and mental affliction reason to clap and sing. Jesus proclaimed Isaiah 61:1-2 spoke of Him.

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He . . . found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 17–19, 21 ESV).

Isaiah 61 continues, “To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).

Did you notice Isaiah called us trees? We are to be God’s beautiful oaks of righteousness, bringing glory to Him. Christ heals our broken hearts, sets us free, and so much more. Therefore, we join nature in singing, clapping, and proclaiming His glory.