Not By Faith Alone

No wonder it evoked a reaction from Luther in the early days of his awakening to justification by faith. Even today, no matter how many times you read it, for the gospel-minded it can come across like the sound of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard.

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

(James 2:24 ESV)

Not by faith alone. You’re not gonna find that cross-stitched into some pillow for the sofa. Not gonna be embossed on some t-shirt with a cool graphic by some trendy Christian apparel company. Nope, just not gonna be a big seller.

But is it true?

Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true . . . think about these things.

(Philippians 4:8 ESV)

Of course it’s true. It’s the word of God. Of course, however, it’s also all about context.

James’ point is that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). That saving faith is works producing faith. That where works are absent there’s reason to wonder if whatever faith is professed is, in fact, a living faith.

James (2:21-23) knows that Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” — that he was saved by faith alone. But he’s also quick to point out that in offering up Isaac on the altar “faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” Thus, argues James, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?”

“Well, yeah, sorta, if you put it that way,” I want to answer.

But is there any “sorta” about it? Or is the fact of the matter that those who really believe will really behave? That those who truly confess will be known by their conduct? That those who actually acknowledge Jesus as Lord will act in accordance with that acknowledgment ? I’m thinkin’ . . .

Not talking about earning merit, but about exhibiting a heart made new. Not talking about perfect obedience, but about a purposeful orientation towards walking the talk. Talking about others being able to pick up on an authentic faith in Jesus because it bears the fruit of actively following Jesus. And that only by His grace and by His enabling.

James gets the gospel dynamic. He knows that God “brought us forth by the word of truth” (1:18). He reinforces that it’s only receiving (aka believing) “with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (1:21). But James also gets that what really goes in, is gonna come out. Thus, the expectation that those saved by faith in the word are going to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22).

I’m not looking for some legalistic faith. But oh, how I want a living faith. A faith justified, or evidenced, by works. A faith that exhibits it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20). A faith not by faith alone.

By His grace alone. For His glory alone.

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Despair Consumed by Delight

Been noticing the Preacher’s heart as I’ve been reading in Ecclesiastes. He’s applied his heart to seek and search out wisdom (1:13). But he’s also applied his heart to know madness and folly (1:16). He has tested his heart with pleasure (2:1). He has even consulted his heart as bartender on how to dispense wine freely so that he could embrace the ways of living foolishly (2:3). At the end of day — at the heart of the matter — with his earth-constrained, mortally-minded perspective, he concludes that whether it’s the way of wisdom or the fancy of folly, it doesn’t really make any difference. And, since it’s all meaningless, why bother then being “so very wise” (2:15)?

So, what’s next?

So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun.

(Ecclesiastes 2:20 ESV)

Whether it’s a heart plied with wisdom or doused in wine, if at the end of the day all there is is what’s under the sun, then eventually it will become a heart defaulted to despair.

Despair. Despondency. Depression. Hard stuff. Rarely addressed with simple solutions and quick fixes. But if I’m picking up what the Preacher’s laying down, unless we deal with the vanity under the sun, not sure how we’re truly going to see the light of day.

Not that we ignore the futilities of life that can confront us, but we look beyond them. With holy determination and divine enabling, we fix our eyes beyond this life to the fullness of life promised to us. And that, in Christ. Through the cross. In the power of the resurrection. According to the abundant grace apportioned to us. In anticipation of a place which is even now being prepared for us. Doing life under the sun in the context of a life beyond the sun. An eye always to the sky waiting for the day when we will forever be with the One who redeemed our heart so that our abiding hope might continually revive our heart.

Every so I often I feel the pull of the riptide of despair. That undertow dragging you to a place you don’t want to go. But much of its power, I think, is sourced in an under the sun view of our toils and labors. It’s enveloping current is diminished when we set our hearts on things above.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

(2Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV)

Focus on the seen things, the transient things, and despair will come knocking at the door of your heart. But turn your eyes to the weight of glory being prepared for us, the eternal things, then hear Jesus knocking at the door. And if we open the door, then we’ll know despair consumed by delight.

By His grace. For His glory.

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A View of Life Beyond the Sun

If it all comes out the same in the wash “under the sun,” then truly, “behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” under the sun (Eccl. 1:14).

Hovering over the first-half of Ecclesiastes 2 this morning. Amazed at how aware, it would seem, the “Preacher” was with his experimentation.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine —  my heart still guiding me with wisdom —  and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.

(Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 ESV)

Solomon knew the word of God and therefore knew what was good for the children of man to do — love the LORD your God with all your heart (Deut. 6:5). Instead, he released his heart, though blessed of heaven itself with wisdom (1Kings 4:29), to pursue how to lay hold of folly.

What a contrast between Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. In Proverbs folly is the enemy of wisdom, wisdom the remedy for folly. But later in life it seems Solomon got bored with things above and focused exclusively on things under the sun, leveraging wisdom to experiment with folly.

Not exactly sure how to articulate it, but sure feels like there’s a lesson to be learned hear, a warning to be heeded. Something to the effect that when we become preoccupied with life “under the sun” there’s no telling what we might play with in order to have “fun in the sun” — even to the point of getting severely “sun burned.” And what’s the “sunscreen?” A view of life beyond the sun.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

(Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

I’m no Solomon, but if Christ is the personification of wisdom (and I think He is), then just like David’s son I have been divinely infused with wisdom because my life is hidden with Christ in God. My heart has been redeemed, regenerated, and retooled to process wisdom in a way it never could have when it was a heart dead in trespass and sin.

So, what am I gonna do with my heart? Evidently, it’s somewhat dependent on where I cast my eyes. If on things above, then my heart will, for the most part, run after wisdom by the power of the Spirit of wisdom in me. But if I am preoccupied with things under the sun, beware, for even a heart of wisdom can be enticed to lay hold of folly.

Solomon’s conclusion after is experimentation?

Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.

(Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 ESV)

The way of wisdom is clearly better then the pursuit of folly, says Solomon, but so what? The same event happens to all of them. Yeah, true statement if you’re fixated only on what is under the sun. But refocus on a coming King, a returning Master, a soon to be reigning Sovereign who will require an accounting for what is done under the sun, and then the way of wisdom pays eternal dividends!

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

(Matthew 25:21 ESV)

Sure, we who have been gifted with wisdom from above can play around and experiment with it below, but why would we when we are seeking things above? Wisdom faithfulness here and now means entering into the joy of the Master there and then. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Possible by God’s grace. Pursued for God’s glory.

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A Steadfast Life

The weight of the pandemic is still being felt. Just a few months ago we thought we were turning a corner only to soon realize it was a blind corner and there was a truck heading our way on our side of the road. More disease, death, debate, and division and, for many of us, closer to us now than it’s ever been. In my own world, people continuing to leave because of masks even as dear friends are in the hospital hooked to a mask trying to get enough oxygen into their system to survive. Heavy sigh! And that just gets layered on to whatever our “normal” stressors and challenges are. Heavy sigh, again!

Probably why I have ears to hear and a heart that wants to believe what James is speaking this morning.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. . . . Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.

(James 1:2-3, 12 ESV)

Where do you go but to the truths of the Truth-Speaker when your day begins with a heaviness because today doesn’t appear to be shaping up a lot unlike yesterday? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint a picture where nothing’s going right. Much to give thanks for and rejoice in on a number of fronts. It’s just that, from time to time, if feels like a sack of rocks is attached to my garment of praise. A weight even as I seek to worship. But I digress. Back to my question. Where do you go when the pressure valve is yet to be released? To the promises of God.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial . . .

Remain steadfast. Endure the trial. Persevere. Stick it out. And you’ll be blessed. Happy even.

Really? Yeah, really.

Blessed in the here and now as you know afresh His divine presence — as Christ lives in you and through you. Experiencing again the reality of His all-enabling power. Encountering again the practical sufficiency of His all-sufficient grace.

Anticipating being blessed in the there and then because there’s a crown of life, a victor’s wreath, waiting at the end of the marathon. Promised of God for those faithfully sojourning the pilgrim’s trail on their way home.

I believe it. ‘Cause I walk by faith, not by sight. And, I’m encouraged by it. Knowing He is faithful and that it really is going to be worth it all.

So, whatever burden I feel like I’m bearing, I’ll count it all joy. Consider it “a sheer gift” (MSG). Confident in the steadfast love of the One who calls me again to a steadfastness life.

By His grace. For His glory.

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My Vote

There are those who, in light of current events, say that if ever there was a time for the church to be knee deep into prophecy, it’s now. In all cases where I’ve heard this expressed it’s a call to open the book of Revelation, usually so that we might identify and respond to the signs of the time. Can I respectfully suggest that perhaps Isaiah would be a better place to hang out?

I wrapped up the first of the major prophets this morning. As has been the case for the past few years, I again complete this 25-day fly over of Isaiah with a deep sense that I need to go back and spend more time in the book. Knowing that, while I have tasted of what the prophet offers for understanding any times when the people of God feel like they’re in the end times, there is still so much more to pick up from what’s being laid down.

But here’s my quick, though less than fully thought out reasoning for thinking Isaiah may be the prophetic word we need in these days.

  • The ancient people of God were in an unprecedented time of trouble. Sure, it had been bad for a long while, but the heat was being turned up and God sent someone to help them make sense of it.
  • The ancient people of God had been playing games with God for a long, long time. Honoring God with their lips but with hearts far from Him, they went through the motions of worshiping God while worshiping so many other things as well — things which should not be worshiped. Time for a word from the LORD. Time to repent.
  • Though a patient God, He was also a God who demanded holiness and justice — a couple of things in rare supply in ancient Israel. Thus, He would use the situation around them to refine their hearts and remove the dross from within them. And for those who responded to the heat being turned up, for those who feared the Lord, those with a contrite and lowly spirit, He promised revival — first individually, then corporately. He assured them He would not contend forever.
  • Though a God of justice and holiness, He repeatedly opens His heart to His people as a God of compassion. A God who, for His own name’s sake, will be true to His promise, and to His people, and to the place where His glory would dwell. Hope exudes throughout Isaiah even as warnings abound and hardship persists.
  • And in the center of it all, “My Servant.” A glorious future secure because the arm of the LORD has been revealed. A confidence of right relationship with God because of the sacrifice of a Lamb. The sin problem dealt with through the finished work of a suffering Savior.
  • And at the end of it all?

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.”

(Isaiah 65:17-19 ESV)

Isaiah’s got everything the people of God need for seasons like this. A reminder of a God who is always at work behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises. A repeated warning by God about the sin which can be at the root of societal suffering. A call to return to God, for His people to repent with hearts bowed low and eyes lifted high. A reassurance from God that He really is working all things for our good according to His purpose. A refocus from God that heaven won’t be found on this earth, but will be realized in the creation of a new heavens and a new earth. All leading to a renewed spirit from God as we trek through this hard season staying focused on making Him known.

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. 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.

(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

That’s my vote for the prophecy we’d benefit from at this time. Just one man’s opinion.

Saved by His grace. Trying to figure out how to walk in this season for His glory.

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The Fast God Chooses

They were committed to their religious rituals. Daily they went through the motions of seeking the LORD. They acted in ways intended to convey a desire to know His ways. They wanted God to intervene with “righteous judgments” so they followed the script for demonstrating their “delight to draw near to God.” And yet, nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

“Why have we fasted, and You see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and You take no knowledge of it?”

(Isaiah 58:3a ESV)

They were doing their part, why wasn’t God doing His? As far as they knew, they were pulling all the right strings, why wasn’t He dancing? They were fasting, why wasn’t God acting?

I’m captured this morning by God’s rebuke of the ancient Israelites in Isaiah 58. He says that true fasting isn’t necessarily marked by outward acts of humility such as heads bowed like weakened reeds or sackcloth and ashes spread about in abundance (58:5a).

“Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?”

(Isaiah 58:5b ESV)

Then, through His prophet, the God of Israel reveals the fast He chooses (58:6a).

He points to what we might refer to today as acts of “social justice” as being the appropriate markers of a people who truly are seeking their God. To loose the bonds of the oppressed. Share bread with the hungry. Bring into their homes the homeless. Cover the naked with clothes. Stop ignoring and isolating themselves from the plight of others also subject to the weakness of the flesh (58:6-7). Then, says the LORD, because of these earthly efforts they would see heavenly results.

“Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ ”

(Isaiah 58:8-9a ESV)

And it’s not just that God demands a “you do” then “I will do” protocol. It’s not that the grace of God is dependent on our efforts to clean up society’s woes. It’s that their lack of caring for the needy was symptomatic of a deeper lack of caring for their God because of a deepening desire to live only for themselves.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth.”

(Isaiah 58:13-14a ESV)

At the heart of their social “injustice” was a heart of going their own ways, seeking their own pleasures, and giving only lip service to any transcendent context. Having put their own needs, wants, and desires above the Creator’s decrees it manifest itself in little regard for the suffering of those bearing the Creator’s image.

Not sure exactly what I’m to do as I chew on Isaiah 58. But can’t get away from what I think I am to know. Authentic love for God will manifest itself in active love for others. A fading compassion for others may indicate a diminishing devotion to God and may be the result of an increasing promotion of self.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

(James 1:27 ESV)

Lord, search my heart.

By Your grace. For You glory.

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Come (A Re-run)

Some thoughts from 10 years ago from this day’s reading in Isaiah. Similar season then, different circumstances (not pandemic related . . . more personal, not global).

It really is a pretty compelling invitation. Spend just a couple of minutes hovering over it, and though you might not strictly be within “the context” of the invite, the Spirit within you testifies that the envelope that carries this request for “the favor of your presence” is addressed with your name on it. Your circumstance isn’t exactly what was originally addressed, but somehow you know that the application to your situation is just as real. And so, there it is . . . one word . . . four letters . . . the Master requests of you, “Come!”

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David.”

(Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV)

In the day, it was an offer to a rebellious people who had known severe discipline for their spiritual adultery. It was an overture to a people who had rejected the living God for goofy graven images made of wood and stone . . . who had learned the hard way that idols don’t deliver. Their judgment had been used as a means to purify them . . . to burn away the confused thinking . . . to point them again to the God of their fathers . . . to set their eyes again upon the One who had called them . . . to ready them for the invitation, “Come!”

What little life-investing currency and resources they had, they had wasted on stuff that didn’t satisfy, but now the offer was before them. Though spiritually bankrupt, they could buy without money . . . they could invest though they had no resource of their own. Available to them was water for the thirsty . . . wine and milk and bread for the famished. The promise was theirs to be appropriated, “Eat what is good . . . delight yourself in the food that satisfies . . . consume without measure that which makes the soul come alive. And be filled by His everlasting covenant . . . a forever feast . . . catered by heaven itself . . . sourced in the steadfast, sure love and compassion of God Himself.”

It doesn’t have to be idolatry . . . there are other things that can distract me . . . other dynamics that cause me to take a detour on “Self Sufficient Highway.” It could be a trial . . . change and uncertainty . . . some hard stuff that’s in the way. Or, it might even be a victory . . . a success . . . a patch of road with no potholes where I think I’m capable of taking the wheel. Either one has the potential to drain my soul’s bank account on attitudes and efforts that leave the Father out of the picture and invest in that which doesn’t satisfy. Precious internal resource wasted on worry . . . or, valuable gifts wasted on self-serving pride . . . neither satisfies . . . both will drain the account. Time to hear the Father’s invitation, “Come!”

For me . . . today . . . it’s the trial. The world’s been rocked a bit . . . thinks aren’t what they were . . . my assumptions about the future have been rattled . . . more questions than answers . . . easier to worry than to pray . . . easier to look out over a cloudy horizon than to look up to my unchanging God. And, by His grace, through these ancient words I hear, “Come. Come and buy of Me.” And I hear too the words of the blessed Son of God, “Come. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 29:11).

Mine is to RSVP . . . to respond in the affirmative . . . to feebly seek to avail myself of the resources of heaven . . . offered freely by the God of grace . . . made available through the blood of His Son . . . infused and made real by the Spirit who indwells.

Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God I come! I come!

Just as I am, tho tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt
Fightings and fears within, without
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

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A Homeland, A Country, A City

Some mornings it’s like eating the biggest steak with all the trimmings and then gorging yourself on the richest of desserts. You sit back and you are full — like really, really full. That’s this morning as I feasted on all of Isaiah 53 AND all of Hebrews 11. Whew! I’m stuffed! Almost too much to digest.

But there is one after flavor above the rest that lingers. The reminder of a homeland, a country, and a city.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.

(Hebrews 11:13-16 ESV)

Abraham, Isa ac, Jacob, and Sarah. All pilgrims because of promise. Going but knowing. Leaving only because of believing. Living in tents because they were looking forward to a city with a sure foundation (11:8-12). Yet, they all died not having received the things promised. Yet, all commended of God because they all died in faith. And faith, as I learned in my KJV days, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). All had their eye on the prize.

Seeking a homeland. By faith knowing their native place wasn’t their now place. Their fatherland was to be realized in a future land. The country of their allegiance was a kingdom to come. Thus, they “accepted the fact that they were transients in this world” (11:13 MSG).

Desiring a better country. Literally, stretching one’s self out in order to touch or grasp a more useful, a more advantageous, a more excellent country. A separate location from where they woke up each morning. An unearthly place in which they were sure they would wake up some morning. A heavenly country. An eternal place of belonging. A place where every tear would be wiped away from their eyes, where death shall be no more, “neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Rev. 21:4).

Seeking a homeland, desiring a better country, sure that God has prepared for them a city. A city designed and built by God Himself (11:10). A city created by the One who created them. A city where everything has been made ready for the many He would purpose to redeem. A city though unknown here and now, would feel like home the moment they entered there and then. A city worth seeking. A final landing place worth desiring. Even, if only realized by faith.

For, with such seekers and such desirers, God is not ashamed to be called their God.

A homeland. A country. A city. Worth dying for. For they comprise our citizenship, our true identity, our substantive hope of realizing all who we were created, and re-created to be. Worth living for — if only by faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

(Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

By His grace. For His glory.

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On the Palms of My Hands

Their situation was drastically different, but the sentiment is relatable.

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”

(Isaiah 49:14 ESV)

Judged for her rebellion? Yes. Overrun because of her spiritual adultery? Yes. Exiled in order to soften her hard heart and to subdue her stiff neck? Yes. But was Zion, the epicenter representing God’s people, forsaken? Was she forgotten? No sir.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

(Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV)

Though a result of their own rebellion and spiritual unfaithfulness, the years leading up to Judah’s exile must have been, nevertheless, unimaginably hard years. Relentless assaults by enemies. Continual erosion of infrastructure. Perpetual impact on day to day living. Same old trials with little light at the end of the tunnel. I’m guessing “wearying” and “exhausting” might describe those days. What else could go wrong? How much harder could it get? How long, O Lord? Are you there, God?

Like I said, while I can’t relate to ancient Israel’s situation, I can relate somewhat to the sentiment. I can connect with a dreary, weary season that never seems to end. God, are You there? Have you forgotten your people?

I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.

Looks like there’s much speculation as to what Isaiah literally was referring to with “engraved palms”, but you get the idea. God’s not going to forget His people. They are not at risk of being some passing thought. Instead, they are indelibly etched into His very being. Not some experiment gone bad to be tossed so that He can start over again, but an expression of His unconditional love, His unwavering faithfulness, and His unmatched power to deliver on the promises He has purposed.

I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.

If not intended as a foreshadow of the palms of Christ, how can it not spark such a connection? The Lamb bearing for eternity the wounds of His once forever act of redemption (Rev. 5:6). The wounds of nail-pierced hands a forever reminder that those He saves, He saves to the uttermost. Those He redeems He redeems for eternity. Those in whom He begins a good work, He completes that good work. Times may get tough, the heavens may seem to go silent for season, but has God forgotten His people?

I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.

Engraved on the palms of His hands. Ever near to the heart of God. Confident that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

All because of His amazing grace. All for His everlasting glory.

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A Like No Other God

Hovering over Isaiah 45 this morning. Particularly the prophet’s words directed to a Persian king. A king called by name by a God he didn’t know. A king unaware he has been equipped by heaven to accomplish the Creator’s purposes on earth. A dime a dozen king, in a sense, displaying the glory of a like no other God.

“For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

(Isaiah 45:4-6 ESV)

Maybe because I am getting ready to lead a class on the nature and character of God, but as I try and process the LORD’s words through Isaiah I’m somewhat overwhelmed this morning. Give your head a shake, Pete! Try to teach on a God like no other god? A God like no other anything? What are you thinking? Lord, help me.

Yet, our invisible God desires to be recognized. He has purposed to be a communicating God. A God who has gone to great lengths to make Himself known, even in His unknown-ness. Communicating through His carefully preserved, God-breathed word, and by His liberally supplied, truth-illuminating Spirit. And so, you hover over words like these and you somehow sense you are actually getting to know Him who is unfathomable. Able to draw near to Him who lives in approachable light.

But, for whatever familiarity is wrought by a Creator who makes Himself known to His creation, at some point you just need to be still and know that He is God. To quiet yourself as you try to comprehend a God beyond comprehension. To calm yourself as you try to contain and ponder that which can’t help but overflow the heart, soul, and mind.

. . . for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

(Ecclesiastes 5:2 ESV)

Even so, Lord.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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