Archive for June, 2009

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Congratulations! If you are reading along with us using the Resting at the River’s Edge schedules, you will have read half way through the entire Bible by July 4th! That’s quite an accomplishment and you are to be commended.Perhaps, though, you haven’t kept up with our reading schedule but continue to progress in them. Maybe you’re a few days, a few weeks or a few months behind the schedule. That’s OK. You are also to be congratuled as you have continued on a task that probably seemed overwhelming at first. Perhaps you’re on the “Read through the Bible in Two Years” plan. And that’s just fine!We’re not in a competition with one another. Rather, we’re all seeking to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and in His grace. I hope in the process of reading through the Bible at whatever pace you’re keeping, that your confidence has risen and you fully expect to be able to read through the whole Bible on your schedule.

More importantly, I hope that you have learned more about the God we love and serve as you’ve read a large portion of the Old Testament and that you have become more convinced than ever about how much He loves you as you’ve read portions of the Old Testament in conjuction with portions of the New Testament. He truly loves you! More than you can imagine!

Finally, I hope and pray that the Scripture you are reading is informing your life for Christ – in other words, that the Word of God that you read on the pages of your Bible are affecting how you live.

So I say again…Congratulations! Way to go & keep it up!

Oh — and enjoy this month’s readings!

To download a PDF of July’s reading schedule, click here.

April Reading

July Recommended Reading

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Today is my husband’s birthday. The day his mom struggled then knew the joy of having her fourth (and last) child. The day he cried his first audible (to humans) cry. More likely than not, the day I was conceived. Since I was born 9 months to the day after Phil was born, we often say that God created me especially for him as a gift to him on his true birth day.

I think it would more accurately be said (from my perspective) that the Lord who knew me even before I was conceived was working, even before I was conceived, to create the perfect husband for me.

 I wrote this tribute in 2008, but was reluctant to publish it in my blog because it seemed so self serving. This year, I am rejecting that notion for several reasons.

  • Phil has been a fantastic example of a godly husband throughout our marriage. If reading this helps any man become a better husband to his wife, that is a worthwhile use of this space.
  • Our culture is awash with women who do not choose to honor their husbands. If this blog encourages a single wife to honor her husband today, it is a worthwhile use of this space.
  • This tribute gives a glimpse of a life lived for Christ and a marriage committed to Christ. There will always be difficult times to work through and doing so together is one of the joys of marriage.

With that being said, here is my tribute to the greatest man on earth!

Phil –

Thank you for loving me. For seeing in me more than I could ever see in myself. For showing me God’s unconditional love. It seems that no matter how much I fall short, you love me. And without heaping negativity on me in any form, you urge me to become better than I am.

Thank you for being my cheerleader, loving me the way God created me and encouraging me to  be me when others have said “no, you can’t.”

Thank you for making up for my weaknesses (like not cooking or cleaning much), covering them with your actions, demonstrating your love for me.

Thank you for putting our future ahead of our past and our present. For always knowing that God had more for us, even when I slid toward doubt.

Thank you for introducing me to God. For your tenacious faith in the midst of my anti-faith. For your patience and perseverance until the Holy Spirit to change my heart.

Thank you for pursuing God in good times and bad. For all you’ve taught me as we study together or prepare to teach others together. What a blessing to be a study partner with you! You enrich my relationship with God.

Thank you for encouraging and guiding my walk with God. For recommending books you think I should read. For asking me how my spiritual life is going. For praying for and with me.

Thank you for your tender heart and willingness to take risks. What a risk I was 32 years ago! (And maybe still am today!) Thanks for seeing the payoff, even before I did.

Thank you for being my business partner for 21 years and my life partner for 31. What a life! God has been so very good to me!

Thank you for holding me together in the hard times, for celebrating with me in the great times and for making the in-between times more fun that they ought to have been! Thank you for being the fun that balances my seriousness.

Thank you for loving me.

I love you…more than you can ever know, more than I can ever say.

Happy birthday, love.

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At any moment in life we have the option to choose an attitude of gratitude, a posture of grace, a commitment to joy.
          Tim Hansel

 Attitudes are capable of making the same experience either pleasant or painful.
         John Powell

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Last week in this “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS). I wrote about how our willing heart leads to having a free heart. Freedom! What a concept worth rejoicing over. This article takes the concept one step further…A worshipping heart is a secure heart. Read on. If you missed any of the articles in this series, you can find them all listed here.

A Secure Heart

We’ve looked at many characteristics of the heart of a worshipper. We began by saying that the heart of a worshipper is a hungry heart – one that wants to know God more intimately. We’ve seen that being vulnerable to God and willing to follow Him leads to a heart that is free from condemnation and fear. I’d like to take that progression one step further: The heart of a worshipper is secure. It stands firm. It is established. As the worshipper comes face to face with the God who loves him beyond anything he can imagine, his heart becomes rooted and established in that love. Recognizing the depth of that love fills us with a certainty, a knowing, that God is on our side. Paul writes this to the Romans in one of the most significant chapters of the Bible:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
          
Romans 8:35, 37-39

Obviously, Paul is fully, completely and utterly convinced of his security in Christ. He knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he cannot be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

In 1 John, the apostle John wrote:

God is love.
         1 John 4:8b

Notice that he didn’t write that God has love, but that God is love. His very essence is love. John continues to describe the heart that is established in and by God’s love.

     …God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
    
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
  
          1 John 4:8b-10, 16-18

David also had this certainty. In Psalm 62 he writes:

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
          Psalm 62:1-2

Never is a very strong word!

Job’s heart was secure. In the midst of his terrible loss and pain, He cries out in one of my favorite passages in scripture:

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
          Job 19:25-27

As a very young Christian, I read this passage, and I was blown away. Job lost everything. His wife told him to curse God and die. His friends told him that his sin must be exceedingly great for God to be treating him so badly. And surely God seemed far away to Job because his situation wasn’t getting any better. Yet, his heart was ultimately secure. He knew He would see God.

A few weeks ago, we looked at the first quality of a worshipping heart – having a heart that is hungry for God. Job’s heart yearned within him to see God. And in the midst of his greatest trial, he was able to say “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” That is an established heart.

It makes me want to stand and shout praises to my God. Hallujah! If God could make a man in Job’s circumstances be such a worshipper and have such faith, there’s hope for me! My heart also yearns to see God with my own eyes.

Lord, establish my heart as you established Job’s that I might be able to say in times of distress and disappointment and confusion, “I know my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth and I will see Him with my own eyes.”

It’s all about being transformed by the One who loves us and desires good things for us; the one who says He has plans for us – plans to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Part of that transformation is becoming so dependent on the One that is supremely dependable that your security is forever in the Omniscient, Omnipotent, Loving One. And when your trust is in the One who knows all things, is all powerful, and is love, where is there any potential for being insecure?

I’m not there yet! I still have fears. I still forget to depend on God and depend on my own efforts. But I’ve learned that when I am consistent in worshipping God, pursuing to know Him intimately, I develop a greater understanding of His surpassing love for me. Then my heart becomes firmly established regardless of the circumstances that surround me. As you get to know Jesus more intimately, you can develop that same sense of security.

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I attend a business networking meeting weekly. This week, the conference room in which we meet was decorated in a fun, tiki-island theme for a children’s program that was to begin shortly after we left. I arrived early to find strings of shells serving as a curtain at the doorway, a tiki-bar just past the shell curtain (used as a registration booth, no doubt), lots of netting, and colorful posters and table cloths. Arriving early also afforded me the opportunity to watch as others arrived. Reactions varied considerably from “How fun!” to “What the…..?” There was the woman who saw the theme and started dancing and the man whose sour expression showed his disapproval. (I wonder – was his disapproval at the foolishness of the decorations, at our use of the room while it was decorated for the children’s program, or something I wouldn’t imagine. Or perhaps his expression was simply revealing his insecurity at walking into the transformed room and I interpreted it as disapproval. Perhaps I should have asked him.)

It was fascinating to watch each person arrive at the meeting, and God used it to reinforce a theme he seems to be hammering into me lately: It’s all about our perspective, and our perspective is affected by and affects our attitude.

Perspective has a lot to do with what lens through which we’re viewing life.

Most of the time I need to use the super-wide angle lens. When looking through this lens, I can see the bigger picture and I often ask the question “in light of eternity, what does it matter?” Most of life’s little annoyances melt into the background when eternity is in the foreground.

When things get really tough, I have to switch to the more focused lens – the one that allows me to see only one thing, and that Thing must be Jesus. If I focus on the issues at hand, my world dissolves into chaos of one sort or another – questions that begin with “how” and “when” and “who” and “why,” and statements that begin with “if” can quickly turn my mind and emotions into a chaotic jungle of twisted vines and branches. That’s when the single lens is needed – the one that looks at the single, true Vine.

If you’re Resting at the River’s Edge with us, you read the following verses this week:

          16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
                    2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What a wonderful passage! “Therefore, we do not lose heart!” It can be easy to lose heart when we focus on the world around us. Paul gives the secret for not losing heart – “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Lord, help me to see the unseen, to capture it in my spirit, and to let it serve always as the lens through which I walk through life. Yes, I maybe wasting away inwardly, whether from the stresses of life or simply from growing older, but let me always be renewed day by day as I focus on You and not on the circumstances of my life.

I want to be one of the people who walks through the door and says “How fun!” I want to be one of the people who sees the unexpected changes in my surroundings and enjoys them! I want to experience my life as part of the great adventure God has for me here on earth. That is the perspective, the lens, through which I want to see and live life. Will you join me?

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A Christian who walks by faith accepts all circumstances from God. He thanks God when everything goes good, when everything goes bad, and for the “blues” somewhere in-between. He thanks God whether he feels like it or not.
          Erwin Lutzer

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In my last blog in the “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS). I wrote that we must have a willing heart, allowing God to use us in whatever way He wants. The very exciting thing about serving God is that when we are willing to let Him lead, the paths He takes us lead us into ever increasing freedom. Read on as I look at three ways that the heart of a worshipper is a free heart.

A Free Heart

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
          2 Corinthians 3:17

Regularly worshipping God means regularly entering into His presence – allowing our spirit to encounter the Spirit of God in a stronger and more intimate way. That experience changes us forever. As we learn more about God and who He is, we learn more about the insignificance of this world. And that’s freedom! It unencumbers your heart and mind. It releases you from the bondage of this world. It sets us free.

In what ways has the Lord set us free? Let’s look at just three of them.

Freedom from Condemnation
You probably know Romans 8 verse 1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But did you realize that verse 1 ends in a comma? The statement is incomplete. Let’s look at the full sentence (verses 1 and 2):

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
          Romans 8:1-2

There is no condemnation because Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. When we recognize Him as Savior and receive Him as Lord, we are freed from eternal judgment and given the Spirit of Life. I am not condemned. Period. And if God can forgive whatever I’ve done and all that I’ve done, it seems a bit prideful to me not to forgive myself. When I don’t forgive myself, I am setting myself up as judge above God – I am overriding (or overturning) His “not guilty” decision. I really try not to trump God. I’ve found that it doesn’t work in the long run! God has declared me “not guilty.” I choose to agree with Him (regardless of how I feel on any given day). Again, I choose to agree with Him.

Freedom from Fear
A little further in Romans 8 we find the following verses:

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
          Romans 8:14-15

These verses tell us that we have been released from a spirit of fear and have been given the opportunity for an intimate relationship with God (“Abba” can be translated “Daddy”) – the Spirit of sonship.

2 Timothy 1:7 is a verse that many people memorize:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity [or fear], but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline [or a sound mind].
          2 Timothy 1:7

Fear does not come from God. Faith comes from God. Assurance comes from God. Love comes from God. I don’t know what your greatest fear is, but I do know that spending time in God’s presence can give you His perspective on things. His perspective includes, among other things, the following facts:

  • That God is good and desires good things for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • That He knows me and understands me better than I know and understand myself (Psalm 139:1-3, 13)
  • That He is the One who controls all that happens to me today (Proverbs 16:9, 24).
  • That He will provide all that I need (Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 9:8)
  • And that He is the One who has said “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Meditating on these statements and verses pushes fear away. And while you’re meditating, here’s something else to think about: If you look up the verses I referenced in the short list above, you’ll find that you are familiar with nearly all of them. If I can come up with a list like this from the most commonly known Scriptures, imagine how much longer the list could be if you or I were to dig further. If you struggle with fear, let me encourage you to focus on the character of God. As you read your Bible today and tomorrow and the next day, ask God to show you His goodness, compassion and love and His awesome ability to hold you near to His heart. Ask Him to allow you to see yourself, those around you and the world through His eyes.

Freedom to Obey and Serve
There is tremendous freedom in knowing God and being willing to obey Him – to do what He calls you to do. Many years and several states ago, I had a good friend who was afraid to give herself fully to God because she was afraid that God would require too much of her. He’d ask her to become a missionary to Zimbabwe or he’d allow her to become paralyzed so she could have a ministry like Joni Erickson Tada. (Perhaps she’s never heard Joni’s full testimony. I’ve heard Joni say that she’d rather spend the rest of her life in her wheelchair with God at her side than to have spent one minute of her life without Him.) Knowing that you are willing, are doing and have done what God wants you to do is tremendously freeing. Withholding from God, or being outright disobedient to God carries a whole lot of emotional baggage. It’s like a constant nagging in your heart and soul. My friend was never free from the knowledge that she wasn’t living God’s best for her because she wasn’t willing to give herself entirely over to Him. It pulled on her spirit and dragged her down. And perhaps appropriately so – she was grieving God’s heart. But doing His will brings a lightness, a freedom to our hearts. Even the difficult tasks bring with them the peace that comes from knowing that God will enable and supply. And that allows us to be free from worrying about the results.

Let me give you just a couple of verses to meditate on:

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.
           James 1:25

This verse describes God’s law as “the perfect law that gives freedom.” This seemed strange to me when it first registered with me because I had never thought of God’s law as bringing freedom, but I now understand that obedience brings freedom. When you’re driving on the freeway within the speed limit, you have no fear of who’s around the corner. When your foot is heavy on the gas pedal, there’s a bit of wariness that leads to stress.

I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
          Psalm 119:44-45

The Psalmist is saying that because He has studied what God wants and has decided to obey, he will walk in freedom. Obedience brings a freedom of spirit that is life-giving. It is a freedom that brings light-heartedness in difficulty.

Freedom Here We Come!
We value freedom very highly in this country. Christ has come to bring a degree of freedom to our lives that is beyond any freedom we can experience at the hands of men. That freedom comes about by getting to know God better. The heart of a worshipper is a heart that is free! Spend some time today in worship!

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19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
          1 Samuel 8:19-20 (NIV)

As I read these verses, it struck me that most of our problems stem from wanting to be “like all the other” ______ – you fill in the blank – like all the other people; like all the other parents; like all the other kids at school; like all the other states; like all the other nations.

If you are reading through Samuel, as we are during our Resting at the River’s Edge reading, you would have seen that the Israelites had asked Samuel to appoint a king. Samuel was grieved and took his concern to the Lord. The Lord very pointedly replied to Samuel:

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
          1 Samuel 8:7a

The Israelites request for a king is really their acting out of their rejection of God as their king. And what reason did they give? They wanted to be “like all the other nations.” Not only were they rejecting God as their king, they were rejecting God’s Kingship in their lives. They no longer wanted to follow His pattern for life, but the pattern of the sinful nations around them.

I wonder how often are we like these Israelites? As adults, it is easy to see it in our children. How strongly they want to shake off parental instruction and “be like all the other” kids! Of course, our children don’t see it that way.

Well, my friend, you and I are just like our children! We chafe and rebel at the instructions God has given us for life and we say “I want to ‘be like all the other’ people.” We want to share in their leisure activities. We want to watch the same television programs (how else will we have anything to talk about with our coworkers?). We want to eat their food and drink their beverages. We want to rule our own lives as they do. Is there anything wrong with their leisure activities, their television programs, their food and drink, their lives? Maybe, maybe not. What is wrong is our attitude.

We have such a deep-seated desire (need, actually) for community that we are willing to remove ourselves from under God’s Lordship and put ourselves under the authority of Satan just so we can “be like” those around us. That need occurs at the very depth of our being – it was put there by God, who lives in community within the Trinity. It was put there by God, who knows our need so well that He sets the lonely in families (Psalms 68:6). It was put there by God who established the Church to serve as our earthly community.

But mostly it was put there by God so that we would seek Him. It is our sinful nature that has perverted what God has put in us so that we seek community among the pagan nations around us instead of with God and His family. Friend, let us desire “to be like” the One who created us and knows us, our wants, desires and needs better than anyone, even better than we know ourselves. Let us desire “to be like” those around us who love God, not those who love the world. And let us use that God-given desire for community as the impetus that causes us to reach out to those who are not yet a part of our community. They need community, too. Let’s help them find it in God.

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Knowing God does not come through a program, a study or a method. Knowing God comes through a relationship with a Person. This is an intimate love relationship with God. Through this relationship, God reveals Himself, His purposes and His ways…

          Henry Blackaby & Claud V. King, Experiencing God, p. 1

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 I hope you’re enjoying this “Heart of a Worshipper” series (HWS). We’re about half way through the series, so this blog begins with a review. You can click on any of the topics to go to the blog on that topic.

A Willing Heart

Time for review. When this series is completed, I’ll have written about seven characteristics of the heart of a worshipper. We’ve covered four so far. How many of them can you remember? Can you name them? Let me help. Reading about them interspersed with “life” can make it difficult to see the natural progression, so let’s review the first four.

  • A hungry heart – one that desires to know God more intimately. There are many scriptures we could look at that express this sentiment, but I like these two:

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
          Isaiah 26:8-9

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
          Psalm 42:1-2

  • A pursuing heart – one that follows hard after Jesus. Proverbs 16:26 says: “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” So it is with God. Our desire for Him drives us to get to know Him better – the hungry heart becomes the pursuing heart
      
    In His book The God Chasers, Tommy Tenney explains his title like this: “A God Chaser is a person whose hunger for God exceeds his grasp…whose passion for God’s presence presses him to chase the impossible, in hopes that the Uncatchable might catch him.”
      
    And the wonderful thing about our God is that He promises to allow us to catch Him! Review these scriptures if you have any doubts: Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13-14, Matthew 7:7-8, and Proverbs 8:17. (There are lots more, but these should give you a good start!)
        
  • A transparent or unveiled heart – one that allows the Light of Life (Jesus) to shine through it so that He can reveal to us what is hidden in it’s deepest, darkest corners. When our heart is transparent, we can say with David “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 38:9) Having a transparent heart allows God to reveal our sin to us.
        
  • A vulnerable heart is the logical extension of the transparent heart – it’s the heart that suppresses our “fight or flight” response as we sit at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to change us. It moves from allowing God to reveal our sin to allowing Him to transform us into the image of Christ. It also means total dependence on God – trusting Him to make the right choices for you. It means giving God the right to make the rules and put the ball in play. And it means giving up our right to say “No, I don’t want to be like that,” or “I don’t like those rules.”

A Willing Heart – The Second Half of the Equation 
A key phrase in the last paragraph is “put the ball in play.” In other words, having a vulnerable heart that allows God to change us is only the first half of the equation…we must also have a willing heart that allows God to use us.

Chapter 6 in Isaiah is a fascinating illustration of the vulnerable and willing heart of Isaiah. Let me do a quick outline of verses 1 through 11 for you

Verses 1 – 4: Isaiah is given a glimpse of the throne room of heaven

…I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty…” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

Verse 5-7: Isaiah experiences conviction for his sin

Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…

Verses 6 and 7: God demonstrates that Isaiah’s sin has been forgiven by having an angel take a coal from the altar and touch his lips with it

With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Verse 8: God makes a request and Isaiah enthusiastically responds

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Verse 9-10: God elaborates on the assignment, revealing that it won’t be a pleasant one

“Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes…”

Verse 11: Isaiah remains committed to carry out his task

Then I said, “For how long, O Lord?” And he answered: “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged…”

There are no words in scripture to give us an idea of what inflection to put into Isaiah’s response, but we do know that the last thing he said was spoken with enthusiasm or passion: “Here I am! Send me!” It seems reasonable, then, that the next line would continue in a similar emotion. So even though the Lord has told him to go do this seemingly miserable task, his response is “For how long, Lord?”

 I don’t think Isaiah was dragging his feet and saying “Oh man, how long do I have to do this?” I think He was saying with eagerness “How long can I do this for you Lord?” or “I’m happy to do it as long as you want me to, Lord. How long?”

Isaiah sees worship in heaven and his first response reveals his transparent heart “Woe is me, I am undone.” His second response reveals his willing heart: “Here I am. Send me.”

Oh, that I might be as enthusiastic when I receive assignments from God. I’m tempted to pray here, “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry with enthusiasm, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me,’ even when Your assignments mean obscurity or unpopularity or drudgery.” And that would be a good thing…but you know, sometimes my heart isn’t really there!

It’s at those times that I am tempted to feel condemnation because I think my heart should be always willing, no matter what the circumstances or assignment. So I try to get my heart to the right place…yeah, right!

One thing I’ve learned is that I can’t manufacture a change in my heart any more than I could manufacture the heart itself! I cannot rely on myself for such things. Charles Spurgeon made this point well in a book called All of Grace.

If we trust to ourselves for our holding on [i.e., continuing in Christ] we shall not hold on. Even though we rest in Jesus for a part of our salvation, we shall fail if we trust to self for anything…Beware of mixing even a little of self with the mortar with which you build, or you will make it untempered mortar, and the stones will not hold together. If you look to Christ for your beginnings, beware of looking to yourself for your endings. He is Alpha. See to it that you make Him Omega also. If you begin in the Spirit you must not hope to be made perfect by the flesh. Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began…

In other words, don’t look to yourself, look to God.  Don’t trust yourself, trust God. 

Returning to our passage in Isaiah, we see that he didn’t work up his own obedience – it was a natural response to having seen the glory of God. So perhaps my prayer shouldn’t be “Lord, make my heart and spirit cry ‘Yes Lord’ with enthusiasm;” perhaps the secret lies in sitting at Jesus’ feet in worship and praying “Lord, give me a glimpse of Your glory as you gave to Isaiah.” And that brings us full circle – it all starts with having that heart which is hungry for God and it leads to the wonderful privilege of being used by Him.

If your response to God isn’t as whole-hearted as you’d like it to be or you’re feeling condemnation from the enemy for lacking enthusiasm for the things of God, let me encourage you to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet in worship. Just for a while, stop doing things for God and simply spend time with God. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. He delights to do so!

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