Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Christmas in Isaiah: The Comfort of Christmas

Isaiah 40:

 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,

The peace of Christmas is an end of war.

Wait a minute... am I in a war? Yes, you are... you have massive enemies fighting you and the wounds and scars from those battles make all of us feel weary- especially this time of the year. Satan and sin rips at us in ways we don't even comprehend. 

From time to time, we even go to war with God...which is insane...but if you are fighting Him- understand that He often wraps us in a big bear hug and squeezes until we run out of all ability to resist Him. But the process is exhausting and full of pain and peril.

All of our relationships are strained..... and the reality is, without the grace of God, it would ALL fall apart in microseconds..... do you believe this? Are you aware of this?

That is why the Scriptures proclaim the magnificence of the power and grace of Jesus:

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.(Colossians 1:17 ESV)

The peace pointed to in Scripture is a 'laying down of arms' - 'a surrender"- Stop fighting the Lord, end the madness of this frantic fraud of a world. 

There are military words and applications in Romans 5....

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1 ESV)

As we begin December together.... evaluate where you are with Christ. Are you the rebel? Shaking your fist and pushing Him back at every turn? Aren't you TIRED and  ready to lay down your arms and surrender?

Are you beaten down and worn out by a world of sinners?

Isaiah 40 is an amazing place in the Bible. 

Isaiah is kind of like a mini-Bible. The Bible has 66 books and Isaiah has 66 chapters. The Old Testament is comprised of 39 books and the New Testament has 27. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah has a tone of the OT... the promise of judgment (just like the OT grace is there..but the dark passages tend to grab us).

Beginning in Chapter 40...Isaiah has a tonal change. (Such a change that some liberal scholars teach that this part of the Bible is a 2nd Isaiah- some say there was even a 3rd Isaiah..but this is plain ole human conjecture...that starts with a presupposition to deny the supernatural revelation of God.)

Isaiah 40 is the beginning of a part of Isaiah that projects what it will be like for God's children AFTER the punishment has come..... no one likes consequences...but there is a 'strange release' we receive when we finally come to terms with sin and after we experience punishment... it is a freedom... a comfort.

Yes, God is a Father who disciplines His children (see Hebrews 12). But after the discipline, we see the root and foundation of WHY He does so...it is LOVE. He loves us too much to sit back and watch sin ravage us. And He proves His love in that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8)

My friend.. please, listen to me... let Christmas always be a time to retreat from the war... stop fighting God, make peace with your family...don't resist Christmas in a jaded spirit of "Bah Humbug"- don't grow old and bitter......

May you find comfort and peace in the Son! We were once enemies, but we are now adopted children. Experience the magic of a child - you are God's child- if you submit to Him!

See the 'magic' of Christmas in Isaiah 40.......

3 A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

This is referenced as John the Baptist. He is a wonderful character in the Christmas story!

6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”

All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

This is one of my favorite verses- more true than ever. This Nativity story is timeless and eternal! I am more convinced that God's Word is a must to make it as we get swept up in a fragmented culture that runs on microwave moments. We need to read it- meditate on it- memorize it- study it. We live in a land that reasons by sight and makes decisions by urges- only God's Word can provide a compass for survival.

9 Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”

Christmas is about good news! That is what 'gospel' means......... remember the angels in the Nativity?   "Do not fear...I bring good news!"

10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Christmas is about the tenderness of a babe and the steady care of a POWERFUL shepherd....

28 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.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 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.

Christmas is about renewal and rest...... 

TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO BEGIN THAT REST AND RENEWAL...the beauty of a babe... the tenderness of a lamb.... we wait all year for it.... may the Lord renew our strength!

Lord I pray that your children will experience the beauty and power of Christmas.... even TODAY!

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