Monday, November 22, 2021

God's Head Fakes


One of our dear brothers likes to talk about “God winks”, those moments when the Lord is looking down on us and saying, “Here’s a special surprise for you, enjoy!” Besides winks, I think He often uses head fakes, meaning that He goes in the opposite direction we would naturally look. For example, if I was designing the ideal Savior of the world, he would be Hollywood handsome, powerful, with a commanding presence.  He would win every conflict and never tolerate disrespect.  Basically, Rambo in a robe.  Let’s look at Isaiah 53 and see how God did it.


Isaiah 53:3

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    He was despised, and we held him in low esteem.


Things to think about:

·       Appearance – we value beauty over almost every other attribute.  Surely God’s Son would be a good-looking guy!

o   Is: 53:2 - He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in His appearance that we should desire him.

o   Why would God do it this way?

·       Powerful – this is God’s Son we’re talking about, His power should radiate from Him

o   Is. 53:2 - He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.

o   Just a really average, even fragile youth, not bursting on the scene from a prominent family but one scraping to get by

·       Popular – we vote celebrities into office on the basis of their fame, even when they have no qualifications.

o   Is: 53:3 - He was despised and rejected by mankind…
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.

o   Not only was He not popular, but He was despised!

·       Look out for #1 – take care of your own needs first

o   Is. 53:4-6 - Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by Him, and afflicted.
 But He was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
    and by His wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him
    the iniquity of us all.

o   Now this is a major head fake!  Jesus didn’t have sin or misdeed He was personally guilty of, but He CHOSE to take your place and mine.

o   God’s playbook says where there is guilt and shame, He will pay the price.

§  Why would He do that?

·       Assert your rights – if you’re being mistreated, don’t just sit there and take it – hit back!

o   Is 53:7 - He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so He did not open His mouth.

·       So clearly God operates with a different playbook than man

o   Is 55:8-9 - “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.”

§  Is 53:10 - Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin, He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

o   God is always playing the long game

§  How can we look past our immediate circumstances (the head fakes) to see God working His plan in and through us?

§  How does knowing Jesus endured everything He did for our sake give you hope and encouragement today?


Monday, November 15, 2021

Light My Fire


Often, the Bible uses light as a metaphor for truth and understanding.  Sometimes as children of God, through disobedience, we can stray and wander off into darkness.  To create a source of light in the darkness of our folly, the believer may for a while try to manufacture their own truth to suit the situation.  Isaiah gives a very stern warning that this path does not end well.


Isaiah 50:10-11

Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys his servant?
That person may walk in the dark
    and have no light.
Then let him trust in the Lord
    and yet depend on his God.
 But instead, some of you want to light your own fires
    and make your own light.
So, go, walk in the light of your fires,
    and trust your own light to guide you.
But this is what you will receive from me:
    You will lie down in a place of pain.


Things to think about:

·       We are all like sheep, prone to wander

o   Clearly, the Lord knows we are not perfect

o   God doesn’t say, “Fine, don’t coming crying to me when you fall!”

o   Instead, He says, “Trust in Me and depend on Me.”

§  The word for this is repent (turnaround and head back to the Light)

o   Which of God’s qualities do you see in this passage?

o   How does this contrast with how God is sometimes depicted as an angry policeman?

·       The crux of this passage is found in the second part:

o   “But instead, some of you want to light your own fires and make your own light”

o   God’s natural light on this planet is the sun.  It burns endlessly and with no extra effort from man. It is a pure gift from above.

§  When we have to make our own light, that requires energy, has to be constantly replenished, and leaves ashes and residue

§  What are ways we light our own fires and make our own light?

·       Worldly philosophies

·       Rationalizations

·       Inaccurate biblical instruction

§  Why are man-made sources of light inevitably going to burn us?

o   God will allow people (even His children) to pursue their folly:

§  “So, go, and walk in the light of your fires and trust your own light to guide you”

§  Just like the father in the story of the prodigal son, God permits us to leave the safety and security of our home with Him to go chase lies and foolishness

o   “But this is what you will receive from Me, you will lie down in a place of pain”

§  Ouch

§  Sin always has consequences

§  Exchanging God’s truth for a lie is especially egregious.

·       Before it’s too late, if you are busy making your own light, turn around and, “trust in the Lord and depend on your God.”

o   If you’re reading this, it’s not too late!

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Bird Feeder


Earlier this year, I put a bird feeder outside the window of my home office.  I keep a bag of birdseed in my office so I can refill it when it starts running low.  It gives me great joy to look out the window at cardinals, sparrows, doves, and whatever other bids I don’t even know the names of.  But a funny thing happens when I approach the window to get a closer look – the birds always fly away!  What’s up with that??? Let’s review the situation here - I installed the birdfeeder, I make sure it stays full of seeds, and I enjoy being in the company of the birds.  But instead of appreciation, as soon as they sense my presence, they perceive a threat and skedaddle.


James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights


Things to think about:

·       We humans can be just like these birds.  Every good gift we have comes from a loving heavenly Father who longs to be in relationship with us

·       Instead of naturally gravitating towards Him, our nature is to flee

·       And yet, He is the source of every good and perfect gift

·       Some of the reasons people flee might include:

o   Ignorance as to His loving nature

o   Misinformation about God, like He’s displeased and wants to smite us

o   Shame and/or conviction

o   What else?

·       What about the birds who won’t approach the birdfeeder at all to taste and see that it is good?

o   Psalm 34:8 - Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

·       Some birds like blue jays chase away the more timid birds so they can gorge themselves

o   I wonder if we are ever like blue jays in our churches or fellowships that keep other folks from the source of nourishment?

·       What about the birds who don’t even know there is a birdfeeder readily available to them with no strings attached?

o   Are we doing what we can to tell other birds where they can find seed?

o   Especially in the wintertime of their lives when comfort and nourishment seem scarce?

·       God is good, He loves you and has made every provision for you

o   Matthew 6:26 - Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?