“The One and Only”
“You are my witnesses,“ declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10-11, ESV)
We live in a society that longs for multiple saviors. While we don’t quite admit it that directly, we do have some phrases that expose our longing. “All roads lead to Heaven” is a common expression that is shared with the best of intentions, but it stands in contrast to the claims of the sole Savior. Today, let’s reflect on some key passages that declare the unique status that our God holds in a culture crowded with false gods.
- Isaiah 43:10-11 (cited above)
- “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” (John 14:6)
- “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
- “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
“A Trembling Heart”
“When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.
And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him,
either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets” (1 Samuel 28:5-6)
It is 1000 BC and in our passage all is not well in Israel. Samuel is dead. The nation is surrounded by a vast Philistine army. Saul is afraid and God is quiet. The reason for God’s silence is altogether tragic. Saul is living with unconfessed disobedience. His fierce self-reliance and intense jealousy of David was devouring his soul like a spiritual cancer. Adding to his sin, King Saul decides to consult a witch from En-dor, rather than turn to the one true God, admit his sin, and seek the LORD’s forgiveness. Within the deepest part of Saul, his most private place reserved for the LORD, his one true control panel was in complete disarray. “Houston, we have a problem.”
How often do we select a way of living that is counter to our Creator’s design and intent? Saul’s trembling heart is the clue to a life lived in opposition to God’s purpose and plan. He has good reason to be afraid. He is outside of God’s will. What does this day hold for you and me? Only God knows for sure. Perhaps our Lord has already fixed a divine appointment on our calendar. He has arranged a conversation between ourselves and someone who doesn’t know Him. Are we ready? Perhaps our Sovereign God has allowed some crisis to meet us at our work place. How will we respond? A trembling heart is not the default button of the apprentice to Jesus. A fearless heart, dependent upon God, is. Amen.
Scripture: “From the heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind.” Psalm 33:13
Devotion: God’s view of humanity and everything related to it is impressive. As Hagar learned, he is the God who sees. Later in the Psalms, David noted all that was within his vision. Check out all that God is able to see according to this song.
- God always knows what I am doing. “You know when I sit and when I rise…” (Psalm 139:2).
- God always knows what I am thinking. “…you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2)
- God always knows what I’m going to say. “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord” (Psalm 139:4).
- God is everywhere I go, no matter where I go. (See Psalm 139:7-10)
- God knew me before I was born. “…you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13).
- God knows all of my days. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16)
- God sees my heart and my anxious thoughts. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).
Really not much to add. God sees you, all of you, inside and out. What is he seeing in you today? Talk to him about it. You can’t run ahead of him. You can’t run around him. You can’t run away from him. You can only acknowledge Him in your life. Go ahead…talk to Him.
Prayer: Lord, still my heart to feel your presence by your Holy Spirit. May I find rest in being seen by you today. Increase my faith as I trust in your way, your timing, and your will. Have mercy on my situation and my life. In the meantime, help me be content with where I am and whose I am. Amen.
Why are you bothering this woman? Matt 26:10
A woman of bad reputation came to Jesus with a jar of very expensive perfume which she poured over Jesus. When the disciples saw this they were indignant. “Why the waste?” they asked. The perfume could have been sold for a high price and given to the poor. The disciples were concerned about the money and the woman’s “indecent” action. Aware of this Jesus asks, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.”
Once again, Jesus draws attention and rewards an act of audacious love centered on worshipping Him.
When many are “first in love” they do uninhibited acts of love without thinking about what others may think. We look at “young people in love” and view their actions as impractical or even in some cases foolish. In these circumstances time and/or cost is thrown out the window to show another person we love them. However, this is the kind of audacious and uninhibited love that Jesus seeks and rewards.
The woman in the story above was so caught up in her love for Jesus she thought nothing of spending close to a year’s wages in an act of worship toward Jesus. Was this practical? Probably not. Was it beautiful? Yes.
The next time you see someone do something crazy for Jesus, do not be indignant. Ask yourself, “When is the last time I was so caught up in the presence of Jesus, I performed an act of uninhibited love?”
Prayer: Father, help me put a greater value on worshipping you then any other act I could do. May I be so caught up in pleasing you that I am unaware of other people’s opinions.
“They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening…” 1st Chronicles 23:30
Have you ever thought about the possibility that you might be the only person to notice something that God has done, and if you don’t thank him for it, perhaps no one else will? That’s a concept that I have meditated on a few times over the past few years. If I see a beautiful sky or a gentle snowfall, or see a blessing or a healing, and don’t take the time to thank God for it, maybe NO ONE else will have either… and God does not get thanked. What a shame! What if the ONE leper would not have come back to Jesus to thank him? Then all ten would have forgotten to thank Jesus – and we’d have to come up with other stories for our Thanksgiving lessons in Sunday School!
How much have I missed that God has done over the years that I could have thanked him for?! That’s a concept not lost on king David. He appointed Levites to specifically spend time each morning and evening, among other occasions, to stand and thank and praise the Lord. May that same pattern mark my life.
“ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, You are my Son, today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:7-8
The 2nd Psalm seems to suggest a Holy Spirit inspired dual purpose. Psalm 2 is often referred to as a “Royal Psalm” because it was written for the anointing and coronation of King David. And yet, it’s one of the most often quoted Psalms in the New Testament. The Apostles often referenced this Psalm as scriptural confirmation of Jesus’ messianic fulfillment and his rule and reign over the entire earth for all time. A quick reading of Psalm 2 reminds us of 3 practical truths evident in David’s lifetime, in Jesus’ lifetime and our lifetime:
Truth One: We all experience turmoil.
The opening 4 verses in Psalm 2 remind us there will always be turmoil this side of eternity. Turmoil is the presence of confusion, chaos and disorder… of man seeking his will opposed to God’s. Whether we find the turmoil under our own roof, at our family reunions or at work… we all face turmoil.
Truth Two: Jesus is utterly supreme
Verses 7-9 remind us that Jesus is supremely in control. God has promised his son that the earth will be his; one day the ends of the earth will bow to Him. His power, his authority and his royal pedigree are simply unmatched by anything… or anyone.
Truth Three: Those who trust in the Lord are blessed
The last words of Psalm 2 remind us that those who seek refuge in the Lord will be delivered. They will be blessed. God is a patient loving Father, eagerly waiting for his children to come home. When we seek refuge… we will find it. Our heavenly Father has never turned away a weary traveler.
Psalm 2 begins with turmoil, points to Jesus and his Lordship, and then ends with the redeemed seeking refuge in Him. It’s the gospel… in one Psalm… and a source of encouragement for us today.
“Trading Tears for 15 Years”
“In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.’ Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life’.” (Isaiah 38:1-5, ESV)
This amazing passage probably evokes more questions than answers. King Hezekiah is about 39 years old when he learns of his impending death. His reflex is to cry out to God for more time … and God responds by promising him an additional 15 years! In the grand scheme of things, we see a passionate prayer that is answered by a compassionate Father. Let me risk sharing some questions that churn in me as I read this account.
How would I respond if I was made aware that death was fast approaching? Is it a greater display of faith to anticipate Heaven or plead to the Giver of Life for more time? Is Hezekiah boasting in his righteousness as a means of Divine favor? Was it more moving to learn of extended years or to know that the Father has witnessed my tears? With the 15 year extension, Hezekiah would have only been 54 years old. Would that be enough?
This passage leaves many lingering questions worth contemplating. I find that the answers are few, but even more significant. God the Father is moved by prayer. He hears our prayers. He sees our tears. My questions do not cause me to stumble as I rest on these answers.