10.20.15 God's promises

There is a storm that envelops all storms 

No matter the crisis we find ourselves in, God has His eyes on us. He has wrath toward us because of our own disobedience and sin. Yet, he is also compassionate and our hope. He will uphold His grace and mercy as He upholds his justice and wrath.

I’ve been studying what it means to “Trust God” through the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah we see that God, through the power of prophecy, “prepares” His people, which is also an act of profound grace. God is not obligated to tell anyone what He is about to do, yet He does often. Though Isaiah, He gives the original audience a clear word of warning to turn from their wicked ways and return to Him. God was preparing the Israelites (ancient Judah) by exposing to them to who He was and how He would fulfill His divine plan for them.

He warned and instructed them, and He does the same for us.

Here is the Storm Warning

In some ways, God is the storm itself in Isaiah…“Woe to me for I am undone!” We are warned, stand at His perimeter and you will be destroyed but enter into the eye of the hurricane that God is and you find grace, peace, and salvation there!

You see, God prepares His people for the “storm” that is himself through prophecy. Prophecy speaks of His eminent judgment to come and the salvation that is to follow. As we enter into intimacy with God, we must face His judgment first. We endure it through repentance—on our face before God. In the same way that we get low to the ground and covering our head when huge storm passes, so we also get low and hide in His grace.

Think of it this way: When a hurricane continues to grow with power, it becomes so strong that any other storm it runs into is absorbed and essentially swallowed up. In the same way, when we see our storms of life in light of the greatness of God, all storms seem to fade.

First because your calamities, confinements or circumstances on this earth are nothing in comparison to what has happened to your relationship with God because of your sin. His wrath against you should make all things pale in their comparison to having God burn against you.

But the good news is that He did not keep His wrath against you, and Isaiah is extremely clear about this. He has made everything right through a Messiah. This hope sets us in the middle of God and gives us safety, forgiveness, protection and love. Every struggle, every heartache, every threat holds no power when found in intimacy with God.

Isaiah not only acts as a spiritual weather man telling of the storms to come, but he also speaks of our shelter in his foretelling of Jesus and His sacrifice. Through Christ we have intimacy with God. Through Christ we enter safely into the eye of the hurricane and are enveloped by His grace.

Like the song says that we sing, “Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” (John Mark Mcmillon)

We are like ancient Judah in a few ways…

They were conquered, exiled, brought back to their land and fought with time and again. They faced trials of many kinds. So we too are people that are always in crisis of some kind. This is life. Though we may not have enemies encroaching all around us, we do have a battle with darkness and we live in a world where thing like the Oregon shootings, car accidents, sickness and sin occur.

On a positive note, I think we are like Judah in that we really do want to be faithful to God, despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. Just like my son, Chandler, wants to please me as His dad, so we too want to please our heavenly Father. Yet Chandler is young, immature and impulsive. He does disappointment me, though that is not always his intention; and guess what, I never stop loving Him. Judah was the same way with God; immature, impulsive and sinful. They, like us, wanted to please God but failed time and again. But God never stopped loving them.

God is not looking for religious people; He is looking for faithful people. Look at some of the passages in Chapter 1:

[11] “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

says the LORD;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of well-fed beasts;

I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

or of lambs, or of goats.

Making the point clear, that, (verse 13):

[13] Bring no more vain offerings;

incense is an abomination to me.

We try to please God as Judah did. We come to church, we repent of our sins, we strive to live in godliness but we make many mistakes. We want so badly for this plague of sin to be away from us, but this side of heaven we are still imperfect. Yet, God is faithful to forgive and grow us into maturity, just like a faithful and loving father.

And that is the third area we are so much like, Judah – just as they needed God to send them a Savior, so do we. Whether in the late 8th century when Isaiah lived, or the 21st century when we live, we all need a Savior.

Look at the promise he gives them after rebuking them for the sin and religiosity:

[18] “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

[19] If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;

[20] but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Look the balance here between judgment and grace. He will stand true to His promise of wrath, but if we are obedient and faithful, He will freely give grace.

Here is a principle we need to remember right up front in this series: God Always Keeps His Promises. May this be our continual comfort as we get to know a God of both wrath and mercy.

God never forgets to do what He said He will do. God never is caught saying, oh, did I say that?  Or that must have been a weak moment… I didn’t mean that when I said…” 

Every promise He has ever spoken is always remember and will always be fulfilled. Many of His promises have been fulfilled, and for those that are yet to come—based on wrath or grace—will still be fulfilled. God never forgets. He never waivers. He is always true to His word.

This reminded me story I head about D.L. Moody, a preacher in the 1800’s and the man my alma mater was started by and named after. He signed his name in His Bible next to the verse Isaiah 50:7, as if to claim it for himself, which reads:

“But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”

The fact that God always keeps his Word means that our faces can be fixed like stone when facing the storms of life. If God is for us, who can be against us!

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