February 3, 2014
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.”
Psalm 125: 1
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“It is God who sits above the circle (the horizon) of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers: it is He who stretches out the heavens like gauze curtains and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. Who brings dignitaries to nothing, who makes the judges and rulers of the earth as chaos (emptiness, falsity, and futility). Yes, these men are scarcely planted, scarcely are they sown, scarcely does their stock take root in the earth, when the Lord blows upon them and they wither, and the whirlwind or tempest takes them away like stubble. To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal to him? says the holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see! Who has created these? He who brings out their host by number and calls them all by name: through the greatness of His might and because He is strong in power, not one is missing or lacks anything.”
Isaiah 40: 22-26, Amplified Bible
“Lift Up Your Eyes On High”
“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.”
Psalm 147: 5
When I wonder what God is doing in my own life, do I ever stop and consider the vastness of His knowledge and the infinite love He has for me?
If right now, there are things happening in my life which are extremely difficult to understand, have I asked God to help me better spiritually comprehend His unlimited power, wisdom and love which are able to come to my aid?
“We must believe God great without quantity, everlasting without time, and containing all things without extent; and when our thoughts are come to their highest, let us stop, wonder and adore.”
“Calling a ravenous bird from the east – the man (Cyrus) who executes My counsel from a far country. Yes, I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, and I will do it.”
Isaiah 46: 11
This week we conclude our studies on delayed or unanswered prayers – a topic which, from your kind responses, has struck a cord with many, who like myself, have struggled when a long awaited answer to a very personal need stretches your faith to the limit. Unanswered prayers can leave us living in such a quandary as to what God is doing. I find this especially difficult when it appears that there are many around us, whose careless attitude toward God, seems to carry with it no apparent negative consequences, while the suffering and trials of God’s children appear, from outward appearance, to be unending.
All I have to do to know that many dear ones are hurting beyond my imaginings is to read the prayer requests which come to the Garden each week. There are times my heart is so broken over the pain that many of you endure, my tears blind my eyes as I read.
Over the past few weeks, as together we have studied the lives of Moses, Hannah, the Apostle Paul, and our precious Saviour, Jesus Christ, we came to recognize the blessings that accompanied their unanswered prayers – an eternal blessing in the case of Jesus’ garden prayer, “Father, if possible, let this cup pass, but Your will not mine be done.” How thankful I am for the Son’s willingness to do His Father’s will, for His decision has meant an eternity of hope and the gift of salvation for you and me.
Last week, we took time to go back to the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, where God lays out His special design for helping us deal with the waiting times or troublous times in our lives, when our prayers aren’t answered in the time or way we desire. As we found, when the children of Israel were literally trapped between the devil – Pharaoh – and the deep Red Sea, God’s plan for how they should handle the terror which seized them was this: “Fear not. Stand still. See the salvation of the Lord. The Lord will fight for you. And hold your peace.” I love the way my Father in heaven already has the tough times in my life all taken care of by the strength of His mighty hand.
And it is this fact that brings us to our studies all this week. The devotional thoughts for this week are found in Isaiah 40, where my favorite passage in the entire Old Testament is contained. In order to put the words for our study text for today into context, I want to go back to the beginning of Isaiah 40.
Isaiah 40: 1 begins with these words: “’Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,’ saith your God.” As we continue to read this chapter, we find prophetic words which bring “glad tidings” about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. This “Messiah,” as we find in Isaiah 40: 11 is likened to a shepherd: “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” What a beautiful portrayal of Christ’s coming ministry.
However, as we continue reading Isaiah 40, we find that the middle portion of this chapter describes God’s relationship from His heavenly throne to the nations of this earth in a most dramatic way. As God prepares to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to earth, the nations of earth and the “workmen” who carry out earthly designs, are busy making graven images of their own cunning, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God’s power and rulership is over all the universe. God reigns supreme – no matter whether we who live on planet earth try and ignore this reality. I’ll share a quote with you which I’ve used before, but which perfectly describes the thought I’m trying to pass along. It was C. S. Lewis who so astutely penned: “A man (or woman) can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” I’d like to add that this thought applies directly to God’s power over the universe, too! I can say as many times as I want that God doesn’t rule all, I can live my own life as if God did not matter one iota, I can even tell others that God doesn’t affect my world – but it doesn’t make it true.
In the text at the beginning of this portion of the devotional, I chose the words found in Isaiah 46: 11, where the prophet, Isaiah, God’s chosen messenger, who in Isaiah 40 wrote that the “workmen” of the earth were busy fashioning their own little gods, not noticing the plans of the Almighty God, writes that it was the God of heaven and earth, who chose the “heathen” King Cyrus to carry out His will on earth. Cyrus was picked by God – for God purposed that Cyrus would be the one to release His children from captivity.
If ever there are words in the Bible that should give hope to your heart at times when your future looks so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face, then I encourage you to read Isaiah 46: 11 over and over until you have memorized it. Here are God’s words: “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” And to add an exclamation point to these words, in the Hebrew translation of this verse, the word “purposed,” “yawtsar,” which is the only time this Hebrew word is used specifically for “purposed” in the Old Testament, we get a broadened picture of what Isaiah said God was going to do. “Purposed” here means, “squeezing into shape. To mold into a form, especially like a potter. To frame a resolution.” In other words, God was and is molding not only history, but like a potter, He is molding you and me, too. As Augustus Strong points out, “What God does, He always purposed to do.” God has a plan, not only down throughout time, but for you and me as well. And at the heart of our Father’s plan, as J. A. Motyer so beautifully notes is that, “The whole world is ordered and arranged to match and meet the needs of the people of God.” How I love this thought for when you and I choose to walk under the shadow of our Father’s wings, we will be carrying out the revelation of his purpose for our lives every step of the way. As B. B. Warfield makes clear, “God’s cause is never in danger; what He has begun in the soul or in the world, He will complete unto the end.”
What confidence you and I can have today. No matter what happens in the world, no matter what the workers of idols do to set up their own little kingdoms, what they do and what they are looks like “grasshoppers,” it is so insignificant in the eyes of the Almighty. We certainly can have faith in the eternal purpose of the “Potter” who has and is molding each of us as He guides our footsteps everyday.
This is exactly why, in Isaiah 40: 26, God’s prophet instructs us to lift up our eyes on high and never forget where and with “Whom” the power resides for when we do this, as happened to Job, we will say to our Father in heaven, “I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted…I had heard of You only by the hearing of the ear, but now my spiritual eyes see You” (Job 42: 1, 5). When we have our spiritual eyes opened to see our Father in heaven, we, too, will say with my favorite old-time pastor, Charles Spurgeon: “There is nothing little in God.”
“God infinitude places Him so far above our knowing that a lifetime spent in cultivating the knowledge of Him leaves as much yet to learn as if we had never begun”
A. W. Tozer
The Search For God
“To those I sought thee round about, O thou my God,
To find thy abode:
I said unto the earth, “Speak, art thou he?”
She answered me,
“I am not,” I inquired of creatures all
Contained therein: they with one voice proclaim
That none amongst them challenged such a name.
I asked the seas, and all the deeps below,
My God to know:
I asked the reptiles, and whatever is
In the abyss:
Even from the shrimp to the leviathan
My inquiry ran:
But in those deserts, which no line can sound,
The God I sought for was not to be found.
I asked the air, if that were he, but know
It told me, “No””
I from the towering eagle to the wren
If any feathered fowl ‘mong them were such”
But they, all much
Offended at my question, I full quire
Answered, to find my God I must look higher…
And now, my God, by thy illumining grace,
Thy glorious face
(So far forth as thou wilt discovered be)
Methinks I see:
And though invisible and infinite;
To human sight
Thou in thy mercy, justice, truth, appearest,
In which to our frail senses thou com’st nearest.
O, make us apt to seek and quick to find,
Thou God most kind:
Give us love, hope, and faith in thee to trust,
Thou God most just:
Remit all our offenses, we entreat,
Most good, most great:
Grant that our willing though unworthy quest
May, through thy grace, admit us ‘mongst the blest.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.