Isaiah 42:1-9 & Justice

We readily realize the immaturity of a child when they cry out, “It’s not fair”, yet the arrogance that fuels the statement is revealed when the pain and loss is our own, and we echo the statement that we formally thought ourselves beyond. We seem to only want justice when it benefits us.

The ultimate injustice is that the God worthy of our all gets none, or very little. When justice is ultimately brought forth it will not simply mean that there will be no more wars, or that poverty will be ended. No, above all justice will be had when all worship is given to Jesus as He supremely deserves.

I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols (Isaiah 42:8).

Fortunately for the saints God is also just to justify us based on the merits of Christ, such that the stamping out of idols does not result in our condemnation, but our greatest comfort. The war I hate most – the battle within with indwelling sin against every false contender for His throne will be ended in glorious worship. The poverty that is most devastating – a famine of seeing and savoring Jesus will give way to feast. Oh for justice to have its perfect work in my soul. Jesus purchased me with His blood, I am His. May His sanctifying grace destroy airy substitutes.

A Lesson in Repentance

To go along with our series in Isaiah Tim Challies offers great advice, and you must watch all of the video first.

Isaiah 40:6-31 & Wait

A span is the distance from your thumb to you little finger with you fingers spread out. My span is less than the official figure of 9-10 inches coming in at 8.5, my shoe size. I am curious if there is a correlation between your personal span size and your shoe size.

I measure picture frames, where to put a nail in the wall, and shelf space in spans. God marked off the heavens in a span!

It seems in recent decades that God is enjoying keeping the astronomers on the edge of their seats with new glimpses of his power. In the fall of 1989, newspapers reported the discovery by two Harvard astronomers of a “Great Wall” of galaxies stretching hundreds of millions of light years across the known universe. The wall is supposedly some five hundred million light years long, two hundred million light years wide and fifteen million light years thick. In case your high school astronomy has grown fuzzy, a light year is a little less than six trillion (6,000,000,000,000) miles. This Great Wall consists of more than fifteen thousand galaxies, each with millions of stars, and was described as the “largest single coherent structure seen so far in nature.”

I say “was described” because three months later in February 1990, God opened another little window for tiny man to marvel again, and the newspapers reported that astronomers have discovered more than a dozen evenly distributed clumps of galaxies stretching across vast expanses of the heavens, suggesting a structure to the universe that is so regular and immense that it defies current theories of cosmic origins. The newly found pattern of galactic matter dwarfs the extremely long sheet of galaxies, dubbed the “great wall” (now written without caps!), that was reported in November 1989 to be the largest structure in the universe. They now say the great wall is, in fact, merely one of the closest of these clumps, or regions, that contain very high concentrations of galaxies.  – John Piper in The Pleasures of God

The “great walls” are all contained within a span and are all packed full of stars which God knows by name. If he so easily created them, knows them, names them, sustains them, be comforted, wait, He is able.

If His promises and comforts sound too good to be true, Behold your God, He is mighty to save.

[youtube.com/watch?v=FpGmm244N8M]

(I had to search for a video that seemed to have genuine Hubble images, non-X-Files/Contact music, and with the absence of an alien life form agenda.  Alas a testimony to our depravity that we look to the stars and think of aliens rather than the majesty of God.)

Isaiah 40:1-5 & Sanju Bhagat

Sanju was 36 years old when he finally decided it was time to take his abnormal belly to the doctors. It wasn’t until he started having trouble breathing that he decided something may be wrong.  Gallons of fluid were drained from the belly, the doc reaches in and finds a hand – it is Sanju’s twin! He had carried his twin inside of him for 36 years.

You must realize you are sick before you get better.

Conviction comes first then comfort.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a doctor turned preacher who was a master spiritual diagnostician. Of persons who seek the joy without the proper prerequisites he said:

Indeed the real trouble with the miserable Christian is that he has never been truly made miserable because of conviction of sin. He has by-passed the essential preliminary to joy, he has been assuming something that he has no right to assume.

Too often we want the comfort. We put off the surgery, deluding ourselves that the pain and scars are not there, or at least not that serious. “They can wait, its not that bad yet.” Sin is a toxic cancer that first deadens our perception; the wounds are always deeper than we think. “I’m getting better, progressing, feeling stronger – I will be on top soon,” we say to ourselves. The sickness grows.

Only a miracle of grace can awaken us from the deadly sleep of sin. God offers a covenant of comfort. He speaks tenderly. He pardons. The payment for our surgery has been paid, with an all sufficient currency. The most precious commodity in the universe, the blood of Christ is the ransom and the remedy; it both buys and cleans.

The Great Physician is always on call.

Isaiah 35 & VHS

Bethany and I still have some VHS movies even though we got rid of both of our VHS players. This was an attempt on my part to ensure that I will never have to watch Ann of Green Gables again – I have told her that I will buy the set for her on DVD…? Imagine 30 years ago when VHS came out if someone then said, “I’m not buying any of those, I’m holding out for DVDs.””What are DVD’s ?”

“They are what is to come, and they will be superior. I’m going to save all the money that I would spend on VHS and one day, when DVD first comes out, I will have all the movies that you have in a superior format; I will also watch them on a flat screen!”

People might think you odd. They might think you are missing out on watching and enjoying some great films. At times you are weak. VHS players and tapes get cheaper. Maybe just one or two, after all you have been saving all this time and you can certainly afford it. But you hold out preaching, “DVD will come, repent of your VHS ways, sell them now, and save in the hope of the great DVD.”

The wait is worth it. Do not settle for the worlds cheap imitations. “Be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come…”

The sights and sounds of heaven are better than the world’s entertainment.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.- Jim Elliot

Isaiah 20 & Naked

This is the powerful poem by Karsten Piper that I read a few weeks ago when we journeyed through Isaiah 20.

Luke 18:25 by Karsten Piper

He spread his blanket on the sand,
kneeled and arranged his bowls and tools:
hook, mallet, clamp, chisel, rasp, razor.

His smile glinted in the rongeur’s claws,
and upside down in the curette’s spoon.
Light shone out of the needle’s eye.

“Hoosh,” he said and began plucking hairs,
paring calluses, shearing wool, shaving
to the follicles, cutting to the quick.

He sorted these, trimming skin with skin,
hair with hair, into rows of clay bowls,
and set a large basin to catch each sour drip

as he sliced the hide and used both fists
to yank back the whole stubbled, gray pelt,
as wet and red on its underside as afterbirth.

He piled this heavily away, draping it
in clean linen, and turned to the meat and bone
heaving under sheer, tight membrane.

Sawteeth chewed into femur, rib and shoulder.
Pliers twisted and wrenched away tendons
until everything softened, canted, and collapsed-

yet not one sliver dies. Each ribbon and shard
bawls for the horror and hurt of their missing,
wishing for the old braying wholeness.

Pain bloodies evening and morning,
stabbing day after day from even the first cuts,
like the slow light of far stars.

Eyeballs and heart float alone in the last bowl,
dark and defenseless, quavering when he leans down
and they recognize in his eyes how little is left.

“Easy now, Camel,” he says and lifts me
in his fingertips, one quivering strand at a time,
through the eye of the needle.

HT: Desiring God

Great Questions Concerning Mood Worship

Greg Gilbert has some great questions that go along with the last post.  Powerfully convicting.

– Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?

– Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?

– Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?

– Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?

– Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?

– If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?

– Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?

– Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?

– Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”

– Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?

HT: Between Two Worlds

Isaiah 12 & “Loud Noises!”

Name that movie:

Brian Fantana: [shouting] …they don’t belong in the newsroom!

Champ Kind: [shouting] It is anchor*man*, not anchor*lady*! And that is a scientific fact.

Brick Tamland: [shouting] I don’t know what we’re yelling about!

Brian Fantana: You’re with us, Ron, what do you think?

Ron Burgundy: [shouting] She… She… It’s terrible! She has beautiful eyes, and her hair smells like cinnamon!

Brick Tamland: [shouts] Loud noises!

How often is our worship generated simply by mood?  We aren’t necessarily grasping truth, just simply going with the flow of the service be it somber or exuberant.  I do think worship should be contagious.  I do think mood is important, even essential in a sense, but it is not the place we start.

The song of the redeemed in Isaiah 12 is born out of truths:

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.

Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel

The truth of who God is generates our worship.  Too often we simply want an experience.  We don’t want to think, we just want to feel.  Merely seeking a feeling is self-centered.  However if I must start with God, thinking properly about Him, and responding prperly in emotion and action this becomes God glorifying.  Think then feel, or as Driscoll says:

Theology→Doxology→Biography

“I don’t know why I’m singing…I don’t know why I’m crying…I don’t know why I’m so happy…I don’t know why I’m raising my hands…LOUD NOISES!  Wahoo!  I am clueless…but it sure feels good!”

Isaiah 11:1-11 & “Simon Sweeps?!”

Yes, I watch American Idol. But mostly to see the disasters; alas, the fun part of American Idol has now ceased. Last night a horrible singer throws glitter and flowers out of his pocket to woo ‘the ladies’ leaving a mess to be cleaned up. Simon asks for Ryan to come in and clean it up. He tells the stage hand to wait for Ryan.  Ryan enters, is a bit patronizing, and shrugs off the duty. So Simon takes the broom, and although he has no clue how to use it, attempts to dispose of the sparkly carnage. After being informed that the cameras are now off he quickly gives the broom back to the stage hand.

Ever notice someone higher than you do work that you thought you were above?

Jesus came as a humble shoot from a stump. He came a servant to give his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28).

Frustratingly I cannot remember where I read it much more poetically stated that:

Once Christ has humbled himself, how can man ever be prideful?

Isaiah 9:1-7 & Seeing Clearly

It’s about Jesus, it’s always about Jesus, its only about Jesus, its solely about Jesus, and we are Jesus people living in the wake of Jesus’ death and resurrection and so for us it is about Christ, it is only about Christ, it is always about Christ.  – Mark Driscoll, in a sermon titled Examining Two Enemies of the Gospel

Seeing is a blessing. I have never had to wear glasses; I have always had perfect vision, although I anticipate that this will not always be the case. If I had to give up a sense it would not be sight. Loosing touch or felling would be kind of cool, you could have people beat up your foot like Mr. Deeds. Smell, it could be a blessing in many ways to loose your sense of smell, especially if my allergies would be banished with it. If I lost the sense of taste I am sure I would eat much healthier than I do now. Hearing would be painful to part with, but not as much as sight.

We have seen Jesus. We dwelt in darkness, but we have seen Jesus. Isaiah got a glimpse and looked forward. We look backwards and forwards, but we look at and towards Jesus. What has been alluded to throughout Isaiah is now made clear to us because we stand on this side of the cross.

Take some time to praise God for your spiritual eyesight. So many are blind. So many will never see the glorious light of the gospel of Christ. You have seen the most wonderful sight by the eye of faith and are promised that what is now of faith will one day be made sight. After thanking Him, take some time to read Is. 9:1-7 and behold, meditate, and worship the Christ.

The revelation made of Christ in the blessed Gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, more filled with rays of Divine wisdom and goodness, than the whole creation, and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or apprehend. Without the knowledge hereof, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion. This therefore deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in living where He is, and beholding of His glory; what better preparation can there be for it, than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory, in the revelation that is made in the Gospel unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory.  – John Owen  in The Glory of Christ