Monday, December 28, 2009

Keep the spotlight on Jesus--and paint the porch!

The Word for today:
Isaiah 30:18-32:20

mark this: Isaiah 28:10
& this: Isaiah 31:1
& this: Isaiah 30:18

New Year's is such a comedown after Christmas.

Christmas in many homes still shines the spotlight on the Savior of the world.

But New Year's Day shines it right back on ourselves. It becomes all about what I'm going to do:
Resolved, for 2010--
1. I'm going to quit smoking.
2. I'm going to lose weight.
3. I'm going to exercise four times a week.
4. I'm going to bed earlier.
5. I'm going to watch less TV.
6. I'm going to paint the porch.

My advice is to save that list. Then you won't have to write it all down again next year. You can just cross out '2010' and write '2011.' Because the list will likely remain the same.

Reading through these last few chapters in Isaiah as we've approached the end of this year, I've made a short list of resolutions that swing the spotlight back on Jesus:

I purpose in my heart (1) that during 2010--
1. I will Stand in the Rain. (Isaiah 28:10)
2. I will look to God first. (Isaiah 31:1)
3. I will wait for God. (Isaiah 30:18)
4. I'm going to paint the porch, pre-Rapture.

1. I will 'Stand in the Rain.'
The greatest sin of Christianity is not hypocrisy or faithlessness. It's ignorance of the Word of God. Most have not read it. Fewer have systematically studied it. 'Stand in the Rain' is designed so that in three short years you will have read your Bible and systematically studied it from front to finish, guided by experienced Bible teachers. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to talk less and listen to God more. Many of us want to take a seminar or some two-week course which will provide the answer to our problems. That course doesn't exist. There is only one way to grow as a Christian. We grow like a plant grows, by letting the "rain"--God's Word--fall down upon us every day. God promises that His Word will achieve growth. This was the intention of Stand in the Rain from the start:
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 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)

Isaiah teaches us that our growth is gradual--
"For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little." (Isaiah 28:10) That's the biblical pace of growth. And it's exactly the pace we've set for "Stand in the Rain."

2. I will look to God first.
Where do you go for help? Do you look to your psychiatrist or the anti-depressant she gave you? Do you try to outwork your problems, or outrun them? Or do you type them into Google, 'cause Google knows all?

Scripture advises us to look to God first. That is not our natural inclination, but as the Spirit gains ascendancy over the old ways we used to rely on, we are to use the eyes of our hearts (2) to look to Him first:
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the LORD.
(Isaiah 31:1)

3. I will wait for God.
Don't be in a hurry. Learn to wait upon the LORD. We are told that those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). You cannot rush God. He is in no hurry. Maybe things aren't working out the way we think they should; perhaps we'd like to re-arrange them. But let God work them out. He orchestrates things so beautifully, bringing each note into the symphony just as it should be played, just when it should be played:

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)

You could make your own list of biblically-inspired revolutions that is as good as this list. Just make sure that the spotlight stays on Jesus.

And for heaven's sake, paint that porch!

(1) Daniel 1:8; (2) Ephesians 1:18

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