A Refreshing Look at Isaiah 55

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 Isaiah 55 contains a variety of verses that probably are very familiar to you.  These verses are usually discussed and remembered in small, separate sections.  While, the individual verses are beautiful and contain beautiful truths when viewed alone, a reading of them side by side reveals God's love in a way that is overwhelmingly beautiful.
Here is the entirety of Isaiah 55:
The Lord says, "All you who are thirsty,
come and drink.
Those of you who do not have money,
come, buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend your money on something that is not real food?
Why work for something that doesn't really satisfy you?
Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good;
your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.

3 Come to me and listen;
listen to me so you may live.
I will make an agreement with you that will last forever.
I will give you the blessings I promised to David.
4 I made David a witness of my power for all nations,
a ruler and commander of many nations.

5 You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you."

6 So you should look for the Lord before it is too late;
you should call to him while he is near.
7 The wicked should stop doing wrong,
and they should stop their evil thoughts.
They should return to the Lord so he may have mercy on them.
They should come to our God, because he will freely forgive them.

8 The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don't return without watering the ground.
They cause the plants to sprout and grow,
making seeds for the farmer
and bread for the people.
11 The same thing is true of the words I speak.
They will not return to me empty.

They make the things happen that I want to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.

12 "So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
13 Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were.
Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were.
These things will be a reminder of the Lord's promise,
and this reminder will never be destroyed.

This entire passage of Scripture is about Jesus Christ and the amazing beauty and freedom of His love!  That He offers us life, for free, all we have to do is COME!  Throughout this passage, God continually invites us to COME to Him and listen to Him.  The things He is offering to us as a result of coming to Him are good for us, rich and satisfying!

Sandwiched throughout this chapter are additional verses that we as believers today can take as encouragements to what God is doing and wants to do:

You will call for nations that you don't yet know.
And these nations that do not know you will run to you
because of the Lord your God,
because of the Holy One of Israel who honors you.

Beloved, the nations should be running to us!  Let us in confidence, call forth to the nations because God will set them free!

In the middle of this chapter, are the verses: "my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways".  When viewed by themselves, these verses can cause people to be afraid of coming to the Lord in their need, because they think He is saying, "don't question me and you won't understand why such and such has happened."  However, if you view these verses in context, you will see that is a misunderstanding.  God says, "They should come to the Lord, because He will freely forgive them." The point of these verses is that we can come to God and He will freely forgive us.  This incredible idea was, is and always will be GOD's IDEA not our idea.  
So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.

Are joy and peace what is leading you in your walk with God right now?  If not, God says they can lead you.  We can't force it, but what I am learning, is that one of the main reasons why I don't experience what God has to offer is because I often have a misunderstanding about His truth and how He operates.  That misunderstanding causes a barrier in my ability to walk in His truth.  When I sit at His beautiful feet and allow His love to change the lie(s) I've been living under, I then begin to live out the freedom He is offering.

Finally, the beauty of the Truth contained in these verses has the ability to bring powerful changes.  "Large cypress trees will grow where thorn bushes were. Myrtle trees will grow where weeds were." Our God is a God of redemption and change.  When He replaces things in our lives He doesn't just bring an equal change, He brings a change that far exceeds the junk that was there before.  So give Him full access, it is worth it!
The reason Isaiah 55 is so beautiful is because it is the GOOD NEWS in God's own words!  Our all-powerful God is wanting to set the nations free and offer His forgiveness without reserve.  We have a message of freedom, life and redemption!  Let's walk in it.


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at my church on the book of Ruth.  It was a beautiful and humbling time for me.  I was blessed by the attendance of a large group of my friends and family.  Their smiling and tearful faces in the audience were a true blessing to my heart.  I hope that you can take some time to listen to the message that I shared.  Click the link above titled "Ruth" to be taken to the podcast.  It is also available on my webpage www.forhisglory-alone.blogspot.com  in the upper, left-hand corner.

It's also available on iTunes at: http://forhisgloryalone.podomatic.com/rss2.xml

In Christ,

The Intimacy of Grace

Below is a post I wrote awhile ago, but I needed to read it again the other day. so I thought I would share it again.  Enjoy!

This post is dedicated to my former pastor Shane Holden, who plucked his one string guitar, "God loves you, even in your weakness."  Hearing that message over and over again and continuing to carry it in my heart continues to peel off layers of blindness.

I was reading through the story of David and Bathsheba the other day.  This is a well known story, that we've all heard millions of times.  Well, I got to the last verse of this story and a verse, that I never recall hearing before, practically jumped out at me:

2 Samuel 12:25
The Lord loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

As I read this, I literally stopped and looked up and then down again to make sure the verse was still there and that reading it was not my imagination.  This verse is talking about Solomon, whom we know is named - Solomon - not Jedidiah.  But here you have the Lord himself sending a message saying for him to be named- Jedidiah.  You kind of think if God said, "Name him this," you would name him that! Knowing that names are significant in the Bible I couldn't wait to find out what it meant and to discover what was happening in the background.

So curiosity got the best of me, and I was led on a wonderfully, exciting journey of discovery.  At the first opportunity I had, I found out that Jedidiah means, "my beloved."  This meaning totally captured my heart.  I then quickly did a search of commentaries to see if anyone else was blown away by it and if they could shed some light on why Solomon is called Solomon and not Jedidiah.  After reading through 7 commentaries, I got a few hints as to what was going on but I still felt like the magnitude of this verse was overlooked.

First, I found out that in 1 Chronicles 22:9 it says,

But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.

So the name, Solomon was also a name that God had given him, thus he is called Solomon not Jedidiah.  Secondly, I found out that Solomon is a fore-running picture of Christ.  Thus, the name Solomon is a picture of Jesus who is our Prince of Peace.  But another commentary brought to light how the name, Jedidiah, was also a prophetic picture of Christ fulfilled in Luke 9:35:

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

Finally, a commentary mentioned that perhaps this was a name that Nathan or Bathsheba called him.  When I stepped back from all of it and combined everything together, it all began to dawn on me, Jedidiah was a nickname, a name of intimacy, a name of grace.

Considering that, I was even more blown away by it all; I had to rewind with this in mind and look back at the full story that ends with this verse (you can read it all in 2 Samuel 12).  We have David, a man after God's own heart, fall into sin  that makes The Desperate Housewives look not so desperate.  David sleeps with another man's wife, gets her pregnant, tries to have the husband sleep with her but he won't, then has the man killed.  As you read this, you see opportunity, after opportunity for David to admit what is going on, but he plows on and God allows him to plow forward.  After all this is done, then the Lord comes and speaks to David:

I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

You can hear the cry of God in this, as to the why; why did you mistrust My heart and not know that I am generous towards you?  These decisions by David lead to consequences that end up hurting the rest of his kingship and his family line.  In addition, the baby conceived in this mess ends up dying.

Somewhere in this timeline, David ends up writing Psalm 51 which we all know well: "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, take not thy Holy presence from me..."

The story doesn't end with fear or an unknown answer but it ends, with a gift from God, the gift of Solomon.  A man of peace, a picture of Christ and a daily promise and reminder from God to David and Bathsheba of God's intimate, redeeming love.  You see, I do believe Solomon was called Jedidiah - my beloved - but it was not by "the people" but it was by his family.  Whenever they would say, "Jedidiah" they were reminded that God's answer to David's prayer is - "my beloved."

You see He is a redeeming God, a forgiving God, it is not based upon merit, or upon our actions it is all rooted in His LOVE.  The summary of this chapter is, "The mess you are in, this is not what I intended, this is not what I had planned for you... yet even after all of that I will step in, I will redeem and it will be through my Beloved."

This verse did one more thing for me though.  Over the years, I've heard people say, "We are God's beloved."  While I obviously knew that God loved me, I had been unwilling to take the intimacy of that name, "My beloved" and apply it to myself, as an individual.  You see I had heard that like John, who defines himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20) we too could define ourselves that way.  I also heard others say, that the message Jesus heard as He arose from baptism is the same message that God speaks over our lives, but yet somehow, some way that was not enough for me.

However, after reading 2 Samuel 12:25 it dislodged me and I'm full into being His beloved.  The fact that God himself, tapped Nathan on the shoulder and said, "Let them know, he is my BELOVED," astounded me.  After all the mess, after all the hurt the note that God wraps it all in is, "he is my beloved," and He gives a name, a nickname that is meant to be a daily reminder of His love to not only Solomon but to His whole family that they are loved.

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

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