February 5, 2014
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Don’t panic. I am with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m Your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Count on it. Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives. When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them —not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic: I’m right here to help you.’’’
Isaiah 41: 10, The Message Bible
Today’s Study Text:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God; the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding.”
Isaiah 40: 28, Amplified Bible
“What’s Your Dad Like?”
“God, still our hearts and minds so that we can learn to gaze, and through gazing glimpse You, our soul’s desiring.”
Gerard W. Hughes, God of Compassion
If someone asked me to describe what my heavenly Father was like, what words would I use to paint the picture I gave to them?
How does knowing what my heavenly Father is like affect my relationship with Him?
“God is unique and one –
Maker, Sustainer, Lord!
Patterns of life were spun
by His creative Word.
of His intention, love and care
we are with growing trust aware.”
“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.”
Walter Chalmers Smith, 1867
As the prophet Isaiah penned the words to the passages we are studying this week in Isaiah 40, his heart must have soared as he wrote, “Lift your eyes on high!” What a majestic thought that our Father in heaven is at the helm of a universe so large and indescribable that it is impossible for the greatest minds on earth to even begin to fathom the vastness of the cosmos.
Having looked on high, Isaiah correctly noted that even at the most desperate moments in our lives, when God’s ways are hidden and the darkness which encompasses us does not seem to be able to be penetrated, our gracious Father still marks our every step. In fact, when we think our way is hidden from our Father, the Psalmist David reminds us in Psalm 139: 2,3, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” I love the way The Message Bible paraphrases these particular verses: “I’m an open book to You; even from a distance, You know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of Your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and You’re there, too – Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful – I can’t take it all in!”
Doesn’t this knowledge give you confidence today? It bolsters my courage in times of distress to know with certainty that my Father isn’t just aware of me, He makes it His total concern to embrace every detail of my life and of yours, too!
However, Isaiah doesn’t just try to allay our fears with a few platitudes that set about smoothing over any anxieties you and I might have when we are thinking that God hasn’t heard our cry for help!
Instead, Isaiah goes on to elaborate more specifically about our heavenly Father. It’s as if you and I had asked Isaiah, “Tell us more, please! Tell us what our Father is really like. Explain to us more about the kind of person we are lifting our eyes up to.”
As so, in beautifully descriptive language, Isaiah begins by saying, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” These two questions are ones which probe, in my own heart, the wonder and joy that is mine when I infuse myself with the presence of my Father in my life. For by an experiential relationship, by taking time to become acquainted with my Father, I will know – I will hear – I will be personally informed about Who my Father is and what He is really like. Our relationship won’t be based on hearsay. Nor will it be founded on what I have read my Father is like. I will know from my own firsthand encounter. This is exactly the kind of friendship our Father longs to have with you and me.
Isaiah, though, continues to enlighten us to the qualities of our Father by sharing the fact that our God is everlasting – a word which in the Hebrew means eternal, perpetual. Ours is not a here today, gone tomorrow Father. And for anyone who in their own life has had a dad they could not depend on to be there for them, this is such fantastic news – wonderful news! Good news filled with great joy! But not only is our “Dad” always there from day one throughout eternity, He is also “the Lord” which in the Jewish language also means eternal. It is as if saying that God is forever, only once, just wasn’t enough. I can certainly agree with this!
Then Isaiah points out that not only is our God eternal, but He is the Creator of all – to the ends of the earth. God, who is our Creator, is a thought expanded on so expansively by Jean Pierre de Caussade, “All created things are living in the Hand of God. The senses see only the action of the creatures; but faith sees in everything the action of God.” Frankly, I have to admit that I often overlook the fact that all God’s action reflects His creative power. Whether it’s the beauty of nature which reflects His creative hand, or it is the renewal of my heart, which is restored by His re-creation of what sin destroyed.
An everlasting God, our Creator and Lord – this Isaiah tells us is what we see when we lift up our eyes. But then, in a most personal way, Isaiah 40: 28, puts the almighty greatness of our Father into words that even a daughter of God, like myself, who is not some learned scholar, can not only grasp, but fold into my heart.
“Our Father,” says Isaiah, “Does not faint or grow weary: there is no searching of His understanding.”
Let’s take the first phrase: “God does not faint or grow weary.” This isn’t good news, it’s great news! I can’t wear out my Father for He never wearies of any of us. He’ll never tell you, “Not now, I’m tired. Don’t bug me, I’m busy.” Nor will He ever say, “I don’t feel well, I can’t listen to your needs now.” As the poet Alexander Pope described God, “To Him no high, no low, no great, no small, He fills, He bounds, connects and equals all!”
Then in words which bring a climax to the description of our Father, the prophet states: “There is no searching of His understanding,” or as the Hebrew states: “There is no deliberation or examination of His understanding (His intelligence, His discretion, His reason, His skillfulness). In Job 11: 7 (Amplified Bible), we find this same incredible thought expressed, “Can you find out the deep things of God, or can you by searching find out the limits of the Almighty, explore His depths, ascent to His heights, extend to His breaths, and comprehend His infinite perfection.”
Now, let’s be clear, God isn’t saying,” I’m so great and you’re so small, you’ll never get it.” However, as Marcus Felix explained, “God is beyond our ken-infinite, immense, and His real greatness is known to Himself alone. Our mind is too limited to understand Him.” And all I can say is that this is exactly the kind of Father I not only want, but that I need. A Father who is so great that nothing confounds or confuses Him. A Father so great that nothing that hits Dorothy’s little world upends His plans for me. As Ladislaus Boros expressed, “God’s richness is such that He can totally give Himself to every man (and woman), can be there only for (her) – and likewise for a second and third, for millions and thousands of millions. That is the mystery of His infinity and inexhaustible richness.”
This is the God you and I call, “Our Father – our Lord – and our Friend!”
In describing the names of God, Pastor Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk said that these names are the “venerable, comfortable, awe-full language of tradition:
“Almighty, Eternal, Everlasting, Creator, Redeemer, Advocate, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
But then she ended with this most personal prayer:
“O God, I call upon You from the depths of my soul!
For You have touched me and I must seek You,
Naming You with the Voice, the Love, and the Need within me.”
This is our Father who invites each of us to come and know Him, to hear Him, and to love Him.
“We celebrate this God who leaps free of our boundaries in love stretching out from horizon to horizon, and in mercy bending deep into fragile human hearts.”
“You are holy, Lord, the only God, You do wonders,
You are strong, You are great, You are the most high,
You are the almighty King.
You, Holy Father, the King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God of gods.
You are good, all good, the highest good,
Lord, God, living and true.
You are love, charity.
You are wisdom; You are humility; You are patience;
You are beauty; You are meekness; You are security;
You are inner peace; You are joy; You are our hope and joy;
You are justice; You are moderation, You are all our riches;
You are enough for us,
You are beauty, You are meekness;
You are the protector,
You are our guardian and defender;
You are strength; You are refreshment.
You are our hope, You are our faith, You are our charity,
You are all our sweetness,
You are our eternal life:
great and wonderful Lord,
God almighty, Merciful Saviour.”
Francis of Assisi,
The Parchment Given to Brother Leo
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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