Isaiah 65

Just a quick thought as I was reading today's strikes me that Israel really lives up to its name.  When God wrestled with Jacob and changed his name he went from Jacob which means deceiver to Israel which means wrestles with God and it also means blessed.  I see that name being true in the people of Israel.  They continually struggle with God yet in the midst of it all it takes is for a remmant to call out to Him and He is there to bless them.  That is encouraging to me, that God has adopted us into the blessings of Israel and no matter how much we push back against Him He never gives up on us.  When we come to our senses and call to Him He is there to meet us.

Thank you God for your faithfulness.

Isaiah 64

That You would rip open the heavens and come down and make your presence known.  I know that we Your people have not followed You in the way that You demand, we have all at some point been led astray by the things of the world.  But I want to thank you that You remembered that we are Your children, we are Yours!  I am Yours!  You are our Father and nothing can separate us from Your love.  Thank You that You answered Isaiah's prayer and came near to us,  Jesus, thank you that you provided for us a way out of our sins through your death on the cross.  

Father how can I repay that undeserved love?  The only way I know how is to give my life to You.  I make the same statement but with a little different understanding...I am Yours, my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength, I exist to know You and to serve You.  Thank you for coming near to us and saving us.

Isaiah 63

I think verses 1-6 has a R-rating for violence.  After chapters 60-62 talks about restoration Isaiah returns to the theme of judgment of the ungodly that must precede the redemption of God's people.  Again this chapter has two time frames - the immediate release from captivity for the Israelites and in the time when Jesus will come again to take His people and bring judgment on the earth.

Isaiah uses Edom to symbolize God's enemies and as the Lord brings salvation He sets things right - it is that understand of salvation and righteousness.  Here are some things we know about the "Day of the Lord"
- He rescues His people and set things right
- He comes in anger and wrath against those who have rejected Him
- He judges the nations

In verses 7-19 Isaiah changes gears.  He prays that the promised restoration and salvation would become a reality.  As he prays he looks at God's tenderness and compassion towards Israel and remembers how Israel rejected God.  When they rejected Him God turned them over to their wickedness and they found themselves in the mess that they are now in.  In the middle of the mess they remember God and His blessings and begin to call back out to Him.  Now Isaiah is praying earnestly, and at this juncture I can truly identify, as probably so many of us...Isaiah recognizes that they have turned from God but He calls to God to come back to their aid, his words are haunting...

Whatever happened to your passion,
   your famous mighty acts,
Your heartfelt pity, your compassion?
   Why are you holding back?
You are our Father.
   Abraham and Israel are long dead.
   They wouldn't know us from Adam.
But you're our living Father,
   our Redeemer, famous from eternity!
Why, God, did you make us wander from your ways?
   Why did you make us cold and stubborn
   so that we no longer worshiped you in awe?
Turn back for the sake of your servants.
   You own us! We belong to you!
For a while your holy people had it good,
   but now our enemies have wrecked your holy place.
For a long time now, you've paid no attention to us.
   It's like you never knew us.

Tomorrow we will look at the rest of his prayer, it is moving and passionate and as I said we can all identify with what he is saying.

Isaiah 62

What’s in a name?  In God’s economy a name seems to be a prophetic utterance.  A name is a description of what that person is or will be.  For example Jacob meant deceiver which was what he was until that fateful night when God turned him around.  That night God renamed him Israel which means that he had struggled with man and God and overcome.  That description of Israel is the prophetic utterance of what the descendants of Israel are even today.

So ready to look at the way God sees us as a church?

4 No more will anyone call Desert Streams Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined.  You'll be called Hephzibah (My Delight), and your land Beulah (Married),  because God delights in you...

12 DSC will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed, Sought-Out, City-Not-Forsaken.

Let us live in such a way that we fulfill those names of us.  

God I want us to be a delight to You.  We want to be known as Your Holy People, not people of a desert but people who are streams in a wasteland, sought out and not forsaken by You.  Thank you for redeeming us!

Isaiah 61

Now we get to some of my favorite verses in Isaiah.  These chapters hold special meaning because God had used these passages to speak to me regarding our future here at Desert Streams.  I want to take today's reading and make it personal to us. 

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Desert Streams Church, 

       because the LORD has anointed us 

       to preach good news to the poor. 

       He has sent us to bind up the brokenhearted, 

       to proclaim freedom for the captives 

       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

 3 and provide for those who grieve in Santa Clarita—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.

So what are you hearing God calling us to as people of Desert Streams Church?  
With this knowledge of what He wants of us, how does that change how you look at your role at the church?

Lord let your promise become reality in your people at DSC!

Isaiah 60

During the fast one of my prayers has been that we as a church really catch a glimpse of God's heart for lost people and this chapter gives us a glimpse of what that would look like.

There are three parts to the chapter as we read it from the church's perspective…

The first couple of verses is a declaration to the church to get up and enjoy the light that has risen upon her.  The rest of the earth is in darkness but the light, which is the message of Jesus the Messiah, is in the church and must emanate out.

Then Isaiah says that the world will see the light and turn to Christ and experience the blessings of being His children.  People from all around would flock to the light of God emanating from His people.  The harvest truly is ripe.  In fact people will so want to experience the mercy of God that the doors (gates of the city) of the church would never be closed.  Wow what a picture.

And what a time of blessing for the church this will be as it grows in number, holiness and prosperity.

God, I pray that we at Desert Streams will arise and shine because the light of God is upon us.  I pray that we will become a beacon to a world that is so desperately looking for a God who is real and relevant to their lives.  As the harvest is ready for the harvesting, may we be the ones who are faithful to reap it and as a result watch as you grow us in holiness, numbers and prosperity.

Isaiah 57

The majority of Israel could not be considered righteous. In fact, God declared Israel to be the offspring of adulterers, prostitutes, and sorceresses! (v 3)  She had turned from God, who had entered into a marriage covenant with her, and had actively, even lustfully, sought out foreign gods (vv. 4-9 ). Since God did not act in judgment immediately, Israel assumed she was safe. But God warned that He would expose her “righteousness and works” and that neither would save His wayward people (v. 12 ).

God says, however, that restoration is possible. “The man who makes Me his refuge,” He explains, “will inherit the land and possess My holy mountain” (v. 13 ). God will restore and build up His people when their lifestyle and attitude are acceptable.

I live … with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

God promises peace, healing, guidance, comfort, (v15) and an attitude of praise to those who depend on Him (vv. 18-19 ). While there is no peace for the wicked (vv. 20-21 ), a right relationship with God will bring inner, and even international, peace.

Isaiah 56

Ok, I  cant resist making this observation...I think that God has a sense of humor in what is said in verses 4 and 5.  He is speaking to the eunuchs saying that the blessings of everlasting sons and daughters will not be cut off from them.  Think about it.  God is a funny guy.

This chapter is talking about us - the Gentiles.  God is saying that His salvation and blessings are not reserved just for the Jews but for the Gentiles as well.  To all who will choose to follow Him, the promise of relationship and restoration applies.

When Israel was rescued from Egypt, God made a covenant with her and asked the people to obey Him in all things.  Now that the nation was on the verge of being released from Babylon, the people could once again respond to the Lord wholeheartedly.  Their obedience could be summed up in keeping the Sabbath, because the Sabbath was a sigh of the covenant.  Before the exile the people of God had not kept the Sabbath with much enthusiasm so now God's warning is clear, foreigners and eunuchs who love the Lord and keep his covenant will find greater acceptance than rebellious people of God.  According to the law, foreigners and eunuchs could not participate in the assembly of the Lord, but with the work of the Servant a new day was dawning.

I like the way that the Message translates foreigners and eunuchs (figuratively of course) when he calls them outsiders and physically mutilated or people who think that they are damaged goods. 
"Make sure no physically mutilated person is ever made to think, 'I'm damaged goods. I don't really belong."
What a reminder to all of us that God loves us in spite of our pedigree, history or brokenness.  We belong to God.  He loves us.  He calls me His own.

I think I am going to have a great day and I will not be cut off from His love.

Isaiah 55

1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
       come to the waters;
       and you who have no money,
       come, buy and eat!
       Come, buy wine and milk
       without money and without cost.

 2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
       and your labor on what does not satisfy?
       Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
       and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

The best things in life are free.

When you understand that this is a desert culture you can comprehend the use of come all who are thirsty.  People who crossed the desert often worked up a great thirst and when they came to a town would have to purchase water.  But beyond physical thirst Isaiah is talking about those who are spiritually thirsty, who have been in a desert with no refreshing streams of water at their disposal.  To them there is an invitation from God to come and drink deep, it is on the house.  In fact not only is there water, (the basic of life) but there is more, wine and mile (extra blessings).  Wine and milk were symbols of abundance and enjoyment.  God invites us to join Him in a life that will be filled with blessings but as verse two tells us, we reap those blessings when we listen to Him.

But how many of us would rather live in the manner that verse two speaks of?  We would rather not listen to God and we chase after things and work on things that never satisfy, all it does is rob us of our time and resources with the shallow promises of fulfillment.  We soon find out that the fulfillment is not lasting. 

Life Application
What are things that we are chasing after that is bringing no satisfaction?  What keeps us from accepting God's invitation to His banquet of blessings?  What needs to change in my life to experience the joy of God's spiritual abundance?

Isaiah 54

So as a result of the Servant's death, joy and blessing will come to all people.  Chapters 54-56 give us a summary of what salvation means to us.

In this chapter God refers to Israel as His estranged wife.  He had entered into a covenant relationship with Israel at Mount Sinai, like "marrying" her.  But the exile was a period of separation that made Israel feel like a widow.  The Lord had "abandoned" her because her sin demanded punishment.  When the exile ended God would again show His deep compassion for His people.  The chapter is a description of God's deep commitment to His people and His unfailing love towards them.

Now we see the those who have been rescued by the Servant are found to be without blame and are known as the servants of the Lord.  From this point in Isaiah the servant (singular) is no longer found but now the Servant is represented by the servants of the Lord, His people whom He has rescued.

Verses 1-3 are especially meaningful to me because God spoke these words to my heart as a promise for Desert Streams.  It was about five years ago and I today I am reminded again of that promise to us a God's bride at DSC.  It is time to sing with joy because though we went through a period of barrenness the time of fruitfulness will soon come.  It is time for us to prepare for the increase.  Time to clear lots of ground for our tents, enlarge the tent and think big!  We are going to need lots of elbow room for our growing family.  Let's prepare ourselves.

Ask God today what do you need to do as a part of the DSC family to get ready for the harvest of fruitfulness that will be coming.