Do you have friends, neighbors and loved ones who do not have faith in God or even know of Jesus? How can that cause me to be thankful? Worried and concerned for their eternal fate is more like it. However, Isaiah 55:6-9 holds facts about God Almighty that will create thankfulness in the midst of these troubling thoughts.
Isaiah was writing a message to the future Israelites who would become captives in Babylon. He was imploring them to remember God and return to the Lord as He alone can satisfy. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;” Isaiah 55 verse 1. He continues with his call to return in verses 6-9 giving them and us profound hope and thankful hearts.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9
Why would these verses cause us to have hope, creating thankfulness in our hearts? 1- verse 7 God promises to freely forgive anyone who turns to Him and forsakes his sinning ways. 2- God promises to have mercy on them by not giving them what they deserve for their sins, but treating them with grace and love. These two things bring us hope for our loved ones and friends that do not know Jesus. We know that God is waiting and promises forgiveness and mercy towards anyone who comes to Him! God will not change His mind and decide their sins were to numerous or egregious. God is unchanging and we can depend upon Him as He is the same “yesterday, today and forever” Hebrews 13:8.
Why include verses 8-9 in this discussion as they are not part of the promise of forgiveness?Verses 8 and 9 explain to us the fact that God does not think or act like us. He is does not harbor hate, grudges, or resentments. We cannot think or act like God as it is not in our nature, but it is in His! This is something to be thankful for too. God is above us and His way of dealing with people and circumstances are not anything like ours. How many times have you seen God answer prayer in amazing, out of the box, ways! I am thankful that He my merciful, omnipotent God and that His ways and thoughts are greater than mine.
Let these promises of mercy and love for the lost fill you with hope as you continue to pray for the salvation of those you know who do not know Jesus as Savior. Let the knowledge of God’s ways being so unlike our own cause you to be thankful for Him and fill you with Hope.
Here are some verses to uplift, encourage and challenge you this 5th Sunday of Lent as our world struggles with the pandemic of Covid-19:
God is Sovereign: Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” 2 Chronicles 20:6 ““O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.” John 10:29 “My Father, who has given (my sheep- believers) to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Acts 17:26 “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” Each of these verses shows God’s Sovereign power. He is Creator God and there is none greater. Once we belong to Him, nothing and no one can take us away from Him. God is the determiner of mankind and those things He allows to come into our lives. Like the plagues of the Old Testament, pray, pray, pray for God’s mercy in these days of Covid-19. Humble yourselves and turn back to Him and seek Him and His forgiveness. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:22-23 God promises restoration and forgiveness if: if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Here are the truths we found in God’s Word from Ephesians 4:17-5:20this last week. They are rich and bring joy and challenge to the believer as we endeavor to walk with Him each day. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead:
I can be a new creation in Jesus! Ephesians 4:17-24
We are made for righteous actions and thoughts towards ourselves and others which bring joy to God. Ephesians 4:25-32
We can be imitators of Jesus and have lives filled with love. Ephesians 5:1-2
I can choose light and life with Him. Ephesians 5:3-8
His light can be seen in me. Ephesians 5:9-14
How I live my life for Him matters. Ephesians 5:15-20
May you have a Sunday filled with His love and be able to spend time praying and mediating on His Sovereignty and His wonderful truths from Ephesians.
Yesterday, Paul reminded us of our state of sinfulness before knowing Christ in Ephesians 2:1-3. In today’s verses, Paul brings us hope that through the mercy of God we were not left in that horrible state, BUT GOD! We can be totally encouraged by our present and future! Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Wow!!! In His mercy, God intervened and sent Jesus to die for our sins and be raised from the dead. Through His act of love, He offered salvation through faith in Jesus. It was totally God. He alone could save us from our sin, and we did or can do nothing to earn His love. We can’t be good enough or work hard enough to make God love or save us- it is solely through His grace- God’s unmerited favor towards us. Paul tells us God’s plans did not stop with salvation, but He desires to have us dwell with Him in eternity in heavenly places so He can show us His amazing grace and kindness up close and personal. Amazing!
I am so thankful that God intervened. Romans 5:8confirms this truth “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sinful man would be a hopelessly lost but for God. Does that fact make you thankful? Do you feel loved by God? Can you feel the grace of Jesus in your life? John 1:14, 16 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
Through the power of Jesus’ indwelling Holy Spirit, we are filled with His grace each day. Live today like you believe you are filled with His grace and love. Look for His gracious hand of protection and favor as you go through this day. When you see it or feel it, raise your voice in praise to Him! You will be amazed by God’s grace and love.
A portion of scripture I always visit in the New Year is Lamentations 3:21-26 as it is filled with hope for life, living and reminds me of the importance of dependence upon God.
But this I call to mind, (I just need to remember to receive HOPE.) and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; (God’s love and mercy are his mercies never come to an end; unending.) 23 they are new every morning; (Each day I can begin anew with God.) great is your faithfulness. (I can depend upon His faithfulness.) 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (My hope is in God alone.)
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (The Lord blesses me as I seek Him.)
These verses inspire, refresh, assure, and lead me to God. He alone is the one I can depend upon because I know He is faithful, merciful, keeps His promises and delights when I seek Him. He loves me with an eternal love that is steadfast and true and therefore I can place my hope in Him.
Join me as we begin this New Year by placing your Hope in God and walk expecting good from God as He is good to those who wait upon Him and place their hope in Him.
Let these words of hope and encouragement guide you today. God is faithful and you can depend upon His love and mercy so you can begin each day with new hope.
Yesterday I was in the look back mode, but today January 1, 2020 I am looking forward. Each year I have a habit of choosing a word to guide my year. Last year God gave me the word Trust and Wow! did I see that word week after week. I learned to lean upon God and trust Him in new, painful, scary and exciting situations. It was amazing how Trust kept coming up again and again, reminding me of who I am and where my Trust needs to be placed.
This year God has given me the word Hope. I have always loved writing and talking about the hope I have in Christ, but I feel His Hope will reach into all corners of my life. So I thought it wise to spend a few weeks looking into HOPE and seeing how hope is described in God’s Word. The verse I found to start with is Psalm 71:14 as it seemed to capture the hope I feel right now as I begin this new year. “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.” Psalm 71 was written by King David in his old age. He reflects upon God, his dependence upon Him and God’s continuing faithfulness. David resolves to continue praising God just as he has done since his youth. “For you, O Lord, are my hope,my trust, O Lord, from my youth.” Psalm 71:5
May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. 14 But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. Psalm 71:13-15
David knows the ‘world’ will come against him, yet he knows God will deal with them. He has his hope placed in God and will praise Him. No matter what as he knows God is sovereign and in control of all things, people, and places. He vows to continue to proclaim what God has done for him.
This is a challenge as we face a New Year. We know for certain that things will come against us-as they always do. What we know, like David, is that God is faithful and will stand with us. We need to trust in His sovereignty and mercy and cling to Him in HOPE. That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020? I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful. He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.