Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 22: Isaiah 40: 30-31

Isaiah 40: 30,31: Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for 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.

  • These verses contrast the weaknesses of Man to the Almighty God.  From last week we saw five aspects of God in the two verses, and this week we see how God sustains the weaknesses of men.  This is a very popular promise verse from the bible, and I can see why.  We're promised renewal and strength via God!
    • They who wait for the Lord.  Notice that it doesn't say that everyone will be strengthened, but only those that wait for the Lord.  This, to me, says that we must persevere through our lives, giving it all that we can, and knowing that we'll grow exhausted and fatigued.  We give everything because Jesus gave everything.  Plus, by running ourselves weary for God, we're essentially saying, "I will become weak so that His power will be perfected in my weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)  We're putting our trust in Him to provide for us, because we know that we can't.  And God loves to come through in the clutch and use us when we're feeling useless.
    • If we're living like Jesus, by the Spirit, and for God's glory, then this lifestyle should become normal to us.  Our human bodies will deteriorate and fail, but God will provide us strength to endure and spread the gospel.  He gives Living Water, which quenches our thirst and quickens our spirit, enabling us to finish the race and grow more dependent on Him.
    • Humorously, in high school I would quote this verse when I was getting tired running laps in gym class.  Over and over I would recite this, using it like a mantra, taking it literally that I would run and not be weary.  While this certainly could be a literal application for the verse, I'm pretty sure that's also not what this is talking about.  Still, I think it's funny.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 21: Isaiah 40:28-29

Isaiah 40:28,29: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
  • A familiar passage, these verses begin with a declaration of how awesome God is.  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  Just thinking about God being eternal is mind boggling in itself, and when you add the fact that He is infinitely powerful (i.e., the Creator), it's even more humbling that He loves us.  I see five descriptions of God in these verses.
    • An everlasting God
      • God has no beginning.  He has no end.  He is "I AM," not "I-Used-To-Not-Be-But-Now-I-Am."  He has always been "I AM" and He always will be.  It's just so confusing to us because we are human and we cannot think outside the limitations of time, and yet God Himself ordained and made time, setting everything into motion at the beginning.
    • A Creator God
      • Not only did He create time and establish physical rules for the universe (such as gravity, speed of light, etc.), but He made all the heavenly beauties, from far off stars to our own, tiny planet called Earth.  On top of that, He made trees, grass, mountains, animals, and everything else we have on earth, and they're all witness to His glory.  And then for the apex of His design, he crafted the incredibly complex human body, starting with Adam, and making Him in the image of God.  He designed our veins, our brains, our fingers and toes, our hair, our everything, all made so we could image Him, worship Him, and give Him glory.  As Romans 11:36 says, "from Him and through Him and to Him are all things."  God is the Creator.
    • An never-tiring God
      • God does not faint or grow weary.  He's not a finite God, limited by work and sore muscles.  No, He's an infinite God, ever powerful.  That means that He won't suddenly grow too tired to care for us.  He won't cease acting because He's exhausted.  God is as powerful today as He was when He began, and He'll always be like this.
    • An unfathomable God
      • Personally, I love it that God is unfathomable.  Verses like Isaiah 55:8 and Job Chapters 40 & 41 are supremely satisfying to me.  Our humanity wants to know things, and understand things, but God is so far above us that we cannot possibly hope to truly understand Him.  Thankfully He's given us His Word and the Spirit to help us.  But for me, I'm glad God's understanding is unsearchable, knowing that He's not like Us, prone to wander and fail.  I like the New Living Translation here: "No one can measure the depths of his understanding."  His thoughts are essentially bottomless and so complex that to think we understand them is to cheapen God.  
    • A giving God
      • And all of this sums up to an even greater mystery.  This everlasting, never-tiring, unfathomable, creator God loves us so much that He gave us His Son so we could be reunited with Him in heaven and live eternally worshiping Him.  This is stunning love.  And even more (as if this wasn't enough), God gives us so many other blessings.  Like verse 29 here, He gives power to the faint and strength to the weak, so that when we're weak, we can trust that He'll be our strength.  And just in a practical sense, the fact that I'm typing this on a computer attests to how much God blesses.  It means that I have functioning fingers, eyes, and thoughts; I have electricity and resources to provide the system to work; I have shelter to sit and do this; I have food available, else I wouldn't waste time here but instead find food and water; and there are so many other blessings just from this one thing.  Yes, God loves to give and bless us.  Just look around.
  • I can't help but think of Chris Tomlin's "Everlasting God"* when I read this passage.  There are many songs based on these verses, as well as the following two (which are next week's memory verses), but I really dig the Tomlin song.
*"Everlasting God" was written by Brenton Brown, but it's been covered by many artists, including Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, and others.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 20: Ephesians 4:26

Ephesians 4:26: Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

  1. Be angry and do not sin.  Not all anger is sin, as evidenced by Jesus' righteous fury with those making a mockery of the temple, as well as the times when God's anger was kindled in the Old Testament.  So there is a justified precedent for being angry, but we must make sure that when we are angry that we do not sin.  Because anger is an emotion, it must be tamed and admonished and treated carefully.  Often, anger leads to impatience (and patience is a part of the fruit of the Spirit) and a harsh tongue.  These things must be avoided.
  2. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.  For some, this means reconcile your differences literally before the sun goes down.  While this can be good, it can also create problems.  For me, it's more metaphor.  Problems and enmity between people should be resolved, and in an acceptable time frame, but I'm of the opinion of letting things set for a while to let the anger die down.  This allows one to pray and collect one's thoughts so as not to say or do anything rash.  Whatever your opinion is on this, whether literal or not, Paul makes it clear that you cannot allow anger to stay pent up and unresolved.  This is especially true among church members, as it can fester and tear apart the body.
I find this verse interesting.  No doubt we all get angry, but it's how we react to that anger that's important.