Christmas is a season of joy.
But not for everyone. For some it is a time to get through as quick as possible because of their memories. Or maybe the days are the just the same misery as the rest of the year.
How do people move from sadness to gladness? v1
Or how do people move from winter to springtime? V2
Can those who are weak become strong? V3
Can creation be renewed? V7
How do people walk a journey free from the destruction of the enemy? v8-9
Can people learn to sing again? V10
Can sorrow truly leave in place of true joy? V10
When Jesus came he opened blind eyes and unstopped deaf ears, 2 major signs He was the prophesied Messiah.
Whenever Jesus comes Joy is present.
When He comes again His people will have everlasting joy!
Many believe this chapter is fore-telling a great tribulation to come. Of course for so many of the Church world-wide it will feel like they are in it already because of the conditions they are experiencing.
What encourages me here is that Isaiah was so sure that what He was saying was from God.
He understood that his words were the words of God.
His words would not fail.
This is true of the whole Bible.
What you are holding is the words of God that will not fail.
Not all the words are nice and cheery, like today for example, but they are true.
No one wants to think of a God of judgment. Well, not in the western world anyway. But for those today who are living with injustices, violence, persecutions, oppressive regimes and facing death every day because of their faith, God’s coming judgment is a good thing, something to be welcomed.
We can be sure of this, for the Bible will not fail.
Sometimes it is the best thing to lay low.
Though everyone wants you to rise with power, victory and miracles
Sometimes we cannot do what people demand.
We lie low.
Once valiant now a cry.
Once peacemakers with man now disturbed.
But if this is you then wait. God says …
Now. Now because you have last laid low … I will arise!
You will see new revelation of His Kingship.
The blessing of material things will be His defence, His refuge and his provision of bread and water for your life.
But the true blessing will be you will see the glory of the King.
Your heart will meditate on terror and Zechariah helps in 12:10 when he says the glory of the King.
When we have this heavenly revelation we will be captivated by his beauty and that beauty will be the day He was laid low for us all.
Sometimes it is the best thing to be laid low.
The prophecy of this and the next chapter could have been given for and during the reign of Hezekiah. But ultimately it spoke through his reign and that of Josiah who was also a righteous king, to that of the King of Kings, Jesus.
Jesus reigns in righteousness, He is righteous, v1
However those who come after Him, the Christians, the ‘rulers’ that make known His righteousness, v1
It is we who are tasked with:
Being a shelter for those caught in a storm of life or water for the thirsty, shade for the weary, v2
Bringing a spiritual renewal to people where the blind see and the deaf hear, v3
Revealing the truth of the Bible with understanding, v4
Revealing the truth and exposing the deception of actions, v5-6
Revealing wickedness and righteousness and not letting them converge into one, v7-8
Get people ready to receive the King, v9
Renewed focus and energy on prayer, v13
Being the receivers and facilitators of the Spirits coming, v15
Pursue fruit as the evidence of the Spirits presence, v17-20.
Look at that list again and think of who you are going to meet today.
You are called as a ruler to rule, to lead, to set the example.
May God bless you today as you try.
While many cities and villages along the Indian Ocean suffered catastrophic losses from the December 2004 tsunami, the port city of Pondicherry, India, and its 300,000 inhabitants were spared. Just beyond city limits, 600 people were killed by the devastating tidal wave, but Pondicherry withstood the tsunami. Why were they protected ?
The answer began 250 years ago when France colonized the city. The French built a massive stone seawall. Year after year, the French continued to strengthen the wall, piling huge boulders along its 1.25-mile length.
The French stopped building Pondicherry’s seawall in 1957, but their work prepared them for a disaster that would occur five decades into the future.
Are you building your life ready for the future?
Some of you are standing today because of the investment you put in so many years ago. You refused to run to ‘Egypt’ to trust in man. You were not dazzled by their horses, their chariots and horsemen, their money, prestige, wisdom and strength. You gave your life to god and committed your way to Him and as a result He has promised to shield and deliver you, to pass over you like a bird hovering over its young and to rescue you.
The attacks will come to no avail. No value, no advantage. No profit. No effect. No benefit. Because you refused to trust in ‘Egypt’. Amen!
Where do you run to when it all goes wrong? Or when you need something other than what you can contribute who do you look to?
For Judah, it was Egypt. If Egypt became their ally then no one could defeat them, all fear would be gone, life would be great again.
God speaks to them and says the greatest power is not Egypt nor anything else, but that what is inside of you. Simple trust of a God who cares.
In quietness and trust is your strength, v15.
Quietness is not to panic.
Quietness is not burying your head in the sand, but facing the issue with belief that God is more real than the issue.
Quietness does not look charismatically powerful, many prefer to shout.
Quietness feels like it can get worse at any moment.
Quietness is patience.
Quietness is prepared to die knowing you will then live.
There is often no silence within our lives. We need to rebuild stillness. Our brains are always occupied, looking for the next thing, hoping, longing, watching, but God is whispering. Be still. Be still and know.
Deal with the noise pollution and be empowered within today.
Ariel is David’s City, Jerusalem. The name means Lion of God and is found only here used for Jerusalem and used sarcastically.
There are many who think themselves more highly than they should, v1
Many celebrate religiously, v1
They appear spiritual but they are blind and drunk, v9
They appear to still dream but theirs is just sleep, unproductive and vulnerable, v10
Many read the Bible but the content never enters their life, 11-12
There are many whose mouths and hearts don’t match up, v13
They have their rules, their plans, their beliefs, but they do not have God, v13-16
But the promise of God is this:
Even the deceivers (Jacobs name means trickster) can be restored, v22
Even though the past was bad, satisfaction can be had in that the new generation are holy, 23
Even though we sinned we all can come to know the truth, v24
This promise of God is what Jesus came to bring.
It is freely available today.
We need a new world because the old one is a fading flower, drunk, boastful over nothing and therefore judged.
V16: See, behold … Oh that people will see this Advent!
A foundation stone. He is the author, the anchor, the stability of our life. What is built on Him will last.
A tested stone. In every way possible He was tried, tempted, tested and He came out totally obedient.
A precious cornerstone. The building is built according to the cornerstone. He provides the pattern for living. The values of life are on Him.
A sure foundation. He can be trusted. There need be no fear.
In 2007, a professional U.S. baseball player, Matt White, had an aunt who had been struggling financially for years. When her health started to decline, she was forced to sell her fifty acres of property to pay for health care. Matt travelled to Massachusettes and bought the land from his aunt for the appraised value of $50,000. While exploring the land to see about building a house, he discovered outcroppings of stone ledges. Matt contracted a geologist, who surveyed the land and informed him the stone was actually Goshen stone, this type of stone is useful for sidewalks, patios, and landscapes. At the time it sold for $100 a ton … and Matt White had about 24 million tons on the land. The appraised value on the surface was $50,000, but some experts estimated that the land was possibly worth up to $2 billion. During his first year of operation, White’s family-run business made $600,000.
On the surface there may appear to be little value attached to your life.
But it is what your life is sitting on that counts.
See, behold … Jesus!
The fortified city stands desolate, an abandoned settlement, forsaken like the wilderness, v10
This city represents the world system, the city of man. It is the hedonistic, humanistic society where every sphere of life is led by man’s will to be the king. God’s city is that of love, freedom and purpose. The fortified city is that of Godlessness, oppression and bankruptcy politically, economically and within the family.
Why would anyone want to put their hope or their expectation in such a fortified city?
This world system is failing and will continue to do so. It will be made desolate, abandoned, forsaken, there will be no favour shown them from the Lord. There is no confidence here.
Yet there is a dream. We can still hope. For God has promised with a new day sound, to gather up the perishing and the exiled to come to a new place, a new world, v12-13.
In the mess of the world system throughout history God has raised the prophet who cast such vision and belief.
When he won the presidency in 1994, Mandela emphasized reconciliation and nation building in his inaugural address:
“We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success,” he said. “We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.”
Mandela not only changed South Africa in leading it to become an example of one of the world’s best democracies, he changed the world. More people are now free and have human rights and justice because of this imperfect but courageous man.
His dream is not yet fulfilled.
Nor is the message of Isaiah.
Let this season have a new sound to all we come in contact with: there is a new world that Jesus came to create.
May God continue to raise more Jesus followers with the bravery of Mandela to announce to a fallen world that may now look fortified, “the end has come, the kingdom is near”.
Moses doubted his call and leadership.
Gideon doubted he was the mighty warrior.
Jeremiah doubted he had anything prophetic to say.
David referred to himself as a flea on two occasions, a dead dog, a worm and not a man.
Timothy thought himself too shy to lead.
V3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
We need to stop thinking negatively.
We need to live at peace with ourselves and our world.
It is only possible by fixing our minds on God.
At 73 years of age, John Wesley related in his journal (June 28, 1776) that he was far more able to preach than when 23-years-old; he travelled more than 4,000 miles a year (giving him exercise and “change of air”), made a practice of getting up at four in the morning, was able to go to sleep immediately, in his entire life never lost a night’s sleep, experienced four illnesses that were used to invigorate him, and then he wrote about possessing what he called “evenness of temper”: “I feel and grieve; but, by the grace of God, I fret at nothing.”
Where is your mind right now?
Already the shops that have a quiet atmosphere throughout the year have begun to play songs.
The supermarkets have us singing ‘jingle bells’ when we are loading our trolley.
Choirs, carol singers, brass bands are about to hit our towns and cities.
Schools will be putting on concerts. Music will be everywhere.
However, the number one Christmas song of all-time will always be by that multitude of singers:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests”.
A song that declares that God is great and that Peace has come to replace anxiety.
May you find PEACE this Advent time.
May you find HIM.