How the Lord guides us

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Isaiah 30:20-21 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Direction, wisdom, guidance from God – don’t we believers all CRAVE certainty from Him!

That’s why these verses in Isaiah linger in my thoughts; I keep coming back to them.  Turning them over this way and that way, pressing them to tell me more. How will we see our Teacher? What form will He take? Why does the voice come from behind?  Why does the pilgrim hear the voice either AS he makes a choice of which way to go or right after?  Is God influencing his opting for one over the other?  Or would either have been God’s will?

I don’t have anything specific at the moment for which I am undecided or at a loss about direction.  But the teaching here FEELS weighty and timeless.

Facts:

  1. Hard times come from God. That’s explicit in verse 20.  Makes sense, since God sovereignly creates, sustains and directs every molecule.  I’ve heard RC Sproul quoted multiple times: ‘There are no maverick molecules!’
  2. As Isaiah records, times occur when we FEEL as God is hiding. We experience darkness and confusion.  But those are periods of time that He purposes. They have a start and an end point.  Often we don’t know the reason for the hard time. I’m learning that likely my Father has LOTS of purposes for the shadow times when I don’t understand. BUT the good news is, there is an appointed end.  Whether we are Jonah, Job or Jesus.
  3. Seeing our Teacher, maybe that refers to seeing something in Scripture that pops out at us, seemingly personalized.  But what shapes me more than that idea is the encouragement to LOOK for my Teacher, rather than focusing on the problem OR the confusion. So how do I look for my Teacher who is Spirit?  With eyes of faith.  This morning I bathed in the balm of Psalm 23:6For sure! goodness (towb) and mercy (chesed) are pursuing me today and every day of my days on earth.  That’s how I see God – I think about what He is like, what God has promised in His Word.
  4. Staying with Psalm 23:6, I see a theme that repeats, God behind me….chasing me down, on my heels, just like in Isaiah.  I have to trust that the crossroads are not a problem for God.  Whether I go right or choose the left path, He works with that and brings me to His desired destination.

Finally, does EVERYone of us believers SEE the Teacher or experience the reassurance from Him about the chosen path? I don’t think so.  For just 6 verses prior to 21 is another landmark promise from God:  Isaiah 30:15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling.

O Comforting Holy Spirit of God –  Keep bringing me to repentance. I don’t want to wander away from You, away from Your reassuring voice.  I want YOUR rest and quiet, YOUR strength and salvation. I want to know that You alone make my path straight.  Amen!

 

 

When falling flat on your face leads to life

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But she’s a GOOD person!

Have you ever heard someone push back against suffering that has befallen a friend?  The sentiment seems to be that such trouble should not have befallen a person like HIM or HER!

But what defines good?  How good do you have to be?

That’s easy – the Bible is pretty clear about what God considers ‘good’.

The truth about us is NOT so good…..

Whether it’s the 10 commandments that Moses carried down Mount Sinai….

Moses and 10 C

  • Or Jesus’ long list of requirements He taught listeners on the hill
  • Or His ‘Cliff Note’ version of two, (Love God…Love neighbor) we can’t BE good enough.  We can’t DO the “Law”!

 

 

 

And that is exactly what we are supposed to learn!  Only when we come face to face with the humbling fact that we stink at being ‘good’ as defined by God (Be perfect!), can we find freedom.

In short – we have to hear the ‘bad news’ of our guaranteed failure at being law-abiding citizens before we are ready to welcome the ‘good news’.

F - failing grade

 

 

 

 

 

People often choose just what they want to pursue to define themselves as good.  Many people invest energy, resources and their enthusiasm in a pet project.  They might be motivated by a vision they catch from their interpretation of the prophet Micah’s message:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?   

Micah 6-8

 

 

 

But it’s relatively EASY to pick the category and measure ourselves by how well we stack up.  But God doesn’t let us pick just what WE want in order to please Him and then to brag.

If you take a few minutes and THINK about Micah’s 3 activities, you can gain some insight.  These are the described  AND prescribed acts, thoughts and feelings an individual follower of God is to show – always.  Let’s imagine a checkbox by each so we can see how well we perform, moment by moment:

_____We  are called to DO what is JUST in every encounter with people, not just the ones we choose.  The Hebrew word mishpat refers to the right or correct legal decision in  a dispute.  So if we individually DO justice, then we give people the benefit of the doubt if we are not sure, following the legal standard of ‘innocent’ until a preponderance of evidence shows otherwise.  Often I do what will maximize MY time and convenience, not is what is RIGHT or in someone else’s best interests at a cost to ME.

_____ God commands us to LOVE  chesed, that steadfast mercy, kindness and love associated with God. What we talk about often reveals what we love.  By THAT proof, I love ME, my husband, my kids, new tech stuff, and time to read.

_____Finally, we are enjoined to WALK…..HUMBLY…WITH God.  That means going at HIS pace, in HIS direction that He alone knows, being DEPENDENT on Him.  But isn’t it MY life? And isn’t the pursuit of happiness one of our country’s bedrock principles?  It’s un-American to be dependent…..

perfection

 

 

How have you done, so far, this day?  God requires a perfect score EVERY moment of EVERY day in EVERY domain of our lives.  It’s only when we grasp the enormity of what God requires to let us into His heaven, that we come face to face with the stinking reality of how impossible it is to meet His standard.  And in case one thinks he can earn a perfect score, Jesus throws a wrench into our calculations with this ‘silly’ image from Luke 18:26, Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25  and of how hard it is to get into Heaven:

Eye of the needle

 

 

 

 

The illustration is meant to convey the fact that we can’t measure up adequately to please God.  Only when we really GET this truth are we desperate enough to drink in the good news……… of someone else’s record extended to those disgusted enough, tired enough of their own efforts to meet the standard!

Good News

Next time we’ll talk about how the knowledge of Jesus’ life and death changes everything.

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