Monday, July 18, 2011
Today’s Topic: The Blessings of Obedience
Today’s Text: Isaiah 48:18-19 “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me.”
Those are powerful words. They conjure conviction. They remind of regrets. They soak with shame.
“If only…” We can all finish that sentence, and when we do it becomes a sentence. It locks us in the prison of what could have been.
The Enemy of our souls mocks Almighty God with the lives of the redeemed who are locked in the bondage of regret. As pride combines with the pursuit of self-worth, the past becomes a prison. The remembrance of failure fuels our fear. Our view of our value is no longer vertical. We have lost hope for the future. We live only in the dream of reliving the past. It is exactly where Satan wants us – convinced that we cannot be forgiven. Life lived under the control of “If only…” is obnoxiously opposed to the grace of God.
The Lord only reminds us of the past to magnify His grace that has set us free. The past is a building block upon which our lives stand to gain a higher view of God, rather than a block that forms a wall that limits our view of God. When God reminded the Israelites of what could have been, it was to set them free from the bondage of those memories. God longs with an eternal longing to shower His grace and restore His embrace.
That freedom comes at a price – our obedience. The Lord reminds us of the past so that we might learn to obey Him. Satan reminds us of the past to convince us that we are no longer able to obey. Memories of the consequences of our sin are the fertile soil in which God plants the seeds of righteousness. Confession of our sin fertilizes the seeds with the grace of forgiveness and the seeds grow to produce fruit for the glory of God.
Satan attempts to steal the seeds. In their place he plants seeds of doubt, fear, and worthlessness. They do not grow to bear fruit, but serve only to make the soil hard. The water of the Word of God begins to run off rather than soak in, and we are left dry and weary. But in the words of the Vernon Charlesworth hymn, “Jesus is the Rock in a weary land.”
When the people of Israel were in such a dry and weary land as they escaped from the bondage of Egypt, they did not thirst as water came flowing from the rock. Even thought they thought it was hopeless and they complained, God was there to show grace. Hundreds of years later God reminds them of that fact through Isaiah’s words in verse 21. Read it and be refreshed. God’s grace gushes out.
The prison walls of “If only…” are not able to stand against the gushing of grace. God has declared you are free. He says to us in verse 20 to leave the place of bondage for the Lord has redeemed you. Shout it with joy to the ends of the earth. We are free. Any and all memories of the past are washed in the blood of the Lamb and are now only reminders to obey and experience the fullness of God’s blessing from this day forward.
Look up. You are about to be gushed upon.