Showing posts from April, 2011

Ever Green

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" —Jeremiah 17:7, 8, NIV

'nuff said!

The Theology of Foot Washing

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” —Isaiah 61:1, NIV.
Years after Isaiah spoke these prophetic words, they were quoted again in Luke 4:18 as God Himself walked among men. The mission of Christ was a redemptive one. His life models for us our mission in life.
In John 13, on the last night before going to the cross, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. For many this has become symbolic of what our service to others should look like. But the lesson goes much deeper than that. Peter’s initial refusal to allow the Lord to wash his feet prompted a conversation about redemption.
Peter was embarrassed that his Master, the Messiah, should be on His knees with a washbasin and a towel as though He were an ordinary servant. When the big fisherman pulled his feet away, Jesus told him that if he refused…

Oh, So Well

Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you; so that he will not hear” —Isaiah 59:2, NIV.
There is no greater joy, no more profound release, than to know that the barrier that separates us from God has been removed. Our sin, all that we have been and done that has offended the holiness of God, hides Him from us. What exquisite relief when the wall is broken down, demolished by power of God, washed away by the blood of Christ shed on our behalf.
As I read this verse the words of one stanza of an old hymn came to mind:
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought, My sin, not the part but the whole. Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul.
It is well, with my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL, Horatio Spafford, 1828-1888
The story behind the hymn is a tragic one, and though the first stanzas reflect the terrible loss suffered by Spafford, there is a point when th…

Let it Snow!

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” —Isaiah 55:10, 11, NIV.
Spring brings with it an uncertainty with the dawn of each new day. Has it snowed overnight? Will it rain? Here in more northern climes, we are never quite sure until June that we won’t wake up to a blanket of white on the ground. Even then there isn’t any guarantee; some people remember snow in July! We grumbled a bit when it snowed heavily this past Easter weekend. At the same time we remember last summer when a Winter almost devoid of snow and a painfully dry Spring meant a summer of dry forests and the constant danger of forest fires even before summer began. In a part of the world where civilization comes surrounded…

It Truly Is A Good Friday

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” —Isaiah 53:5, 6
Sing it again, today and tomorrow and every day after tomorrow. The song of the cross is not seasonal. It is as fresh as Spring, as glorious as Summer, as abundant as Fall and as lingering as Winter.
Thomas Chisholm wrote this beautiful hymn, set to music by Merrill Dunlop, which echoes Isaiah’s words:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He bore our sin in His body on the tree. For our guilt He gave us peace, From our bondage gave release, And with His stripes, and with His stripes, And with His stripes our souls are healed.
He was numbered among transgressors, We did esteem Him forsaken by His God, As our sacrifice He died, That the law be satisfied, And all our sin, and all our sin,

Six Screws and One Piece Left Over

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” —Isaiah 44:24, NIV.
I have an issue with instruction manuals. Call it a mental block or just pure stubbornness, but as soon as I see the writing in the little booklet that comes with most things that need to be assembled these days, I know I’m not going to be able to understand. I need the pictures—those I can follow.
They tell me that men don’t read the instructions OR look at the pictures. They just figure they know how to put stuff together. I wonder what the statistics are related to how many times a job has been started without the aid of the instructions only to have to be redone, or undone, because those instructions weren’t followed.
Moving the discussion to the spiritual realm, I read today’s verse and do an “aha.” God not only wrote the instruction manual, He made the product. So it is logical to …

Burden Bearer

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” —Isaiah 43:25, NIV
Isaiah is perhaps the most “evangelical” of the Old Testament books. In this particular chapter the Lord, through the prophet, reminds Israel of some of the many ways God, their Redeemer, (43:14) has delivered them in spite of their rebellion against Him.
I am intrigued by the phrase “for my own sake” in this verse. Israel’s rebellion against God made God an object of ridicule among the neighbouring nations, particularly when disaster came upon the nation as a result of that sin. What kind of God couldn’t keep His subjects in line? What power had a God whose subjects ignored and abused Him? The restoration of Israel was as much a matter of restoring God’s damaged reputation as it was of restoring Israel to a place of blessing.
But there is another feeling we get as we read Isaiah’s words. If ever the loving heart of God is exposed in the pages of the Old Testament, i…

Even in Fire and Flood

When you pass through waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” —Isaiah 43:2, NIV.
It’s not that any of us would like to test this promise but, truth is, there are times when we do feel overwhelmed as though by flood waters. There are moments when the “heat of the day” seems more than we can bear.
Then God comes along to tell us that though we might be up to our necks in water, we won’t go under; though we may feel the heat and smell burning in the air, we will not be consumed.
I always think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when I read this verse. You’ll remember them from the Book of Daniel in the Bible. These three men refused to bow down and worship a statute erected to honour the King of Babylon. They were God-followers and would not worship anyone other than God Almighty. For their disobedience the king prepared to have …

Let Go

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” —Isaiah 41:10, NIV.
At the end of last week, a dear friend lost a much-loved brother. While her own husband struggles with serious health issues, a sister lies dying in the hospital, a brother-in-law is battling the dreaded “C,” it seems overwhelming that she should now face laying a brother to rest. How much can one person handle?
Then I read Isaiah’s words and realize that my prayer for my friend has already been spoken. The words are old but their familiarity doesn’t breed contempt in God’s ears. He’s listening. He’s ready to bring fresh life to old words and meet my friend in her need.
So much of life is edged with grief. The world presses in and we don’t always know how to respond. Trouble comes. If we only had to handle one trouble at a time we might be able to handle it on our own, but trouble, if it doesn’t actually come i…

Have You Heard the latest?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” —Isaiah 40:28, 29, NIV.
If we read what precedes these verses we get the distinct impression that Isaiah is issuing a mild rebuke. Starting back at verse 12, the writer begins to describe the power of God, the One who makes everything and then holds it all together, the One whose wisdom and knowledge surpasses that of all the wise and educated men combined, the One who makes great nations look like nothing great at all.
He invites his readersto look around them and consider the One who made heaven and earth. God’s people were in for a rough time, and the prophet wants them to understand that just because it may seem as though God has walked away or has plugged His ears to their pleadings, it doesn’t mean that He has. He remains great even w…