Our God is a forgiving God. In the book of Isaiah 54 we see His mercies for His people; a people that repeatedly disobeyed Him and went their way, resulting in their captivity, first in Egypt and now in Babylon. However, He now comes with an assurance for them, that although they are in captivity, they are not condemned. He provides motivation for them to arise!
Looking at our own lives, we learn, from this text, about certain things that God wants us to do. Isaiah 54:1 encourages, 'Sing O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song for joy' God is commanding us to have faith and do the unexpected, to make a mockery of our situations of barrenness by rejoicing despite it all! We should start giving thanks in all situations as Philippians 4:4-7 tells us, 'Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your joy be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus'. We may be barren in our emotions, finances or circumstances but the Lord is asking us to start rejoicing! Sing in jubilation! Because we are in captivity and in bondage to the devil's wiles, the Lord, our God will lift us with His unending mercies. But we must be willing to listen to what He tells us to do.
Secondly, we must be ready to receive and we must do our part if God is to do His. Isaiah 54:2 says, 'Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, straighten your stakes.' We must enlarge our dreams and start believing God for greater things. If it is something we have been meaning to start doing, then we must take a step of faith in its direction in 2012 and start doing it because the Lord Himself is asking us to believe Him enough to grow ourselves; for He will ensure extension and possession. It really is time to stretch our faith and think big. In the past, in Exodus 3:8 God had promised the Israelites the land of plenty, 'So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-the home of the Canaanites, Hittite, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites'. In the book of Isaiah God is similarly promising a dispossession of the existing occupants. We are the people of these promises and the Lord will help us dislodge people from the top positions or businesses, and replace them with us. We must make plans for extension because in this new year, the Lord is about to work in and on us.
Thirdly, we must remove the fear and shame of yesteryears. We need to overcome the fear of failure no matter how many times we have fallen before. The Israelites had been through captivity twice and they were afraid to believe again that things would ever be different, but the Lord encourages them in Isaiah 54:4 'Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood'. God is aware of our past, He is also aware of our past failures. He is Jehovah and he is aware of our existing fears for He is the observer of thoughts and motives. But He is asking us to forget what did not work in the past and have faith in Him to take us to new levels.
It may seem as if He forsook us for a while as we sunk lower and lower in our disgrace, even to filing for bankruptcy, divorcing or being ridiculed because we had no spouses. Isaiah 54:7 records, 'For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion, I will bring you back. In a surge of anger, I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you' says the Lord your Redeemer". God is the creator of the universe, the all-knowing, the all-forgiving and He is back to revisit us afresh! Sing and rejoice for He is about to do a great thing in our lives.
Let us have faith and fear not for He is here and He is our protector and provider. He promises never to be angry with us again and assures us that this reminds Him of the rainbow covenant that He had made with Noah. He promises His unfailing love in our afflictions. In Isaiah 54:12 He promises us prosperity for all and serenity for parents whose children will now obey them. He also promises that we will recognize an enemy who will then be unable to attack us. Is He not the Creator of the destroyer who wreaks havoc? Does the enemy not get permission from the Lord before he goes on his missions? Then no weapon formed against us will prevail! In verse 17 He says, 'no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me'.
Let us sing, rejoice, have faith, remove fear from our lives, attempt the seemingly impossible, stretch our tents and spread our wings and fly. But we should not forget those who do not know Christ so that they too may drink from these promises made to us. Therefore, in 2012, let us also arise and spread the Gospel to all and sundry like we have never done before.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.
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