The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 11/21

Posted on | November 21, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 11/21

Scripture thought: Isaiah 40:1–31

Comfort for Uncomfortable Times

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)

 

The prophet Isaiah lived in a day when the Middle East was in tur- moil. Dictators were vying for power, and nation was at war with nation. Hatred for Israel was passionate, and many longed for her destruction. Kings and aristocrats lived in fabulous wealth and oppressed the poor over whom they ruled. Violence, cruelty, and injustice were prevalent everywhere. To many it felt like the wheels were coming off. The only thing certain in life was that everything was uncertain.

Sound familiar? Because Isaiah’s times are so similar to our own, his words take on greater meaning for us today. In the fortieth chapter of the book that bears his name, Isaiah spoke words of comfort to people who were most uncomfortable. But at first he didn’t know what to say. As a prophet, he knew that he ought to say something in a situation like this. But what? The inner voice kept telling him to “Cry out! Preach!” (v. 6). You’re a prophet, Isaiah. For heaven’s sake, go get in your pulpit and say something! These people need a word from God. But Isaiah was at a loss. “What shall I cry?” he humbly asked. (v. 6). Lord, I want to say something that will help people in turbulent times like this, but I honestly don’t know what to say. What shall I tell them?

God loves it when his people are needy and honest enough to ask him for help. His response to Isaiah was clear and strong. Isaiah, go find a high mountain, and with the loudest and strongest voice you have, this is the message I want you to give them:

,. All flesh is grass (vv. 6–8). What a curious place to begin. God wants to com- fort his people living in chaos and pain by reminding them they are all going to die! In a strange sort of way it is comforting to be reminded that the mortality rate is still 100%. Our lives are brief and transitory then we face eternity. This is true for us as well as our enemies. It is also true for kingdoms and nations. We will all wither and fade away like the grass. For those who are in Christ, it is comforting to remember that though the grass will one day wither and the flower fade, “the word of our God will stand forever!”

,. Behold your God (vv. 9–11). God wants Isaiah to tell the people to stop focusing on their circumstances and start focusing on their God! Behold, the Lord God comes with might . . . his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms. It is only when we see the greatness of our God that we are able to put things in their proper perspective. “The nations are like a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales” (v. 15), and the peoples of the earth are like “grasshoppers” (v. 22). Though the present moment seems to be Satan’s, the future belongs to God. Very soon now “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (v. 5).

,. Wait on the Lord (vv. 28–31). In the Old Testament, to wait on God means to trust in him with confident expectation. He hasn’t forgotten his promises to his people. “Have you not known, have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God . . . he does not faint or grow weary . . . they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

What I once considered mutually exclusive— sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure, death and life—have become parts of a greater whole. My soul has been stretched . . . God is growing my soul, making it bigger, and filling it with himself.  —Gerald L. Sittser

point to ponder The mortality rate is still 100%.

prayer focus If difficult circumstances in your life are causing you discomfort, read Isaiah 40:1–31 again and allow this passage to comfort you.

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