Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why Stand in the Rain?

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today:
Isaiah 55
mark this: Isaiah 55:8-11 --
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
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."
Wow. This is it. THE actual "Stand in the Rain" verse. This is big.
God, through the prophet Isaiah, gives us a brilliant picture of the power of His Word.
In verses 10-11, we hear how the rain & snow (Snow! Aren't you glad that we in WNY are not forgotten!) come down on our planet with a purpose: they bring moisture and sustenance to plants and animals and people alike, before they melt and evaporate and begin the whole process again. God has graciously invented and given His creation the water cycle so we all can grow and be cleansed and refreshed and strengthened. Wherever there is good water, there is life and wherever there is not, it is a bleak existence.
In the same way, God has given us spiritual food and drink in His Word. Just by consuming it regularly, by being saturated in its life-giving words, we too grow and are cleansed and refreshed and strengthened. Just like the rain, we didn't create it, we cannot stop it from falling, but we each can chose whether or not to weather the weather. When we cut ourselves out from the rain of the Word for too long, we enter into spiritual drought. That is reason enough to stand in the rain.
But notice the two verses that precede these and we see another reason.
Doubtless you have heard some of verse 8 quoted in some context:
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways..."
I have heard this applied to everything from death, natural disasters and other tragedies, to trying to figure out deep theological truths such as the Trinity or predestination vs. free will.
Whenever we don't understand something, either in life or about God, verses 8 & 9 tend to get thrown in. And, for the most part, that is understandable. God's ways and thoughts are much greater and better than our own--after all, He is God.
But I think we do these verses great injustice if we merely use them as a catch phrase for what we cannot explain or understand. These verses are vitally connected to the "stand in the rain" ones. Why do we stand in the rain? We do so precisely because our thoughts and ways are not naturally right or of God. We stand in the rain so that we might be corrected and straightened out and challenged, not by man-made rules or philosophies, but by the very Word of God.
Instead of leaving us in the lurch, God has provided the Word to show us exactly how He thinks and acts, and what is expected of us. We can't know everything there is to know about God. (After all He, by definition, knows all things and we, by definition, do not.) But we can know His thoughts and ways by what has been revealed to us.
We stand in the rain, so that our wrong thoughts and ways are replace by God's truth. We stand in the rain, so that we live not by whatever the latest fad or expert says, but by the eternal Gospel of Jesus Christ. And because we stand in the rain, we can actually, as 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "have the mind of Christ."

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