You can tell I'm back to teaching, huh!
Every spare evening moment is spent grading something...English 3 workbooks or English 1 quizzes or prepping for class. I'm so thankful Haylie and Rosa are helping out with my first year workbooks, because with an unprecedented 32 English students in that class, I would not get anything else done.
Lily headed back to school on Wednesday and by today seems 100%. I'm still so incredibly thankful for His healing in her life, and for the way He continues to take care of the five of us. We're all so fragile, aren't we, without Him.
I've been wanting to get back into Isaiah for a while now, and Wednesday I finally skipped weekly prayer meeting to do just that. I recognize that this seems strange...missing prayer meeting for Bible study, but...sometimes you can't take anymore running around until you get your quiet time! Matt took the girls and Gertha watched faithfully over them while they played with their mission friends, and Nora and I stayed home, caught up on some work, ate the last precious frozen chocolate covered cherry Phil gave us from last Christmas (one of us did...I'm not saying who), and then caught up on some precious time in His Word.
And Isaiah one, right out the gate, is a game changer.
You know what one of my biggest issues is?
Believing things that the Word doesn't say, and forgetting things that the Word DOES say. It is so easy to get thinking stuff, get living...and stray from that narrow path of truth.
It is easy to listen to the news, to watch others, to have experiences, to hear "wisdom", to go through struggles and to get so totally and unintentionally far from His truth. Which is RIGHT there in our hands! (if you DON'T have His truth in your hands, please email me today and I will send it to you!)
When we dig into His Word, it is a measure for us. Suddenly, we realize that our "truths" don't line up with His...that our priorities somewhere got off base...that what we KNOW of God could be so much more. IS more.
I'm saying all this because Isaiah 1 is shocking. Totally different than FaceBook Jesus. It has some awfully unpopular truths in there that we would probably claim weren't truths if it weren't right there in black and white on gold.
What Isaiah 1 says about us, we already know.
"Ah, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity...the whole heart is faint, the whole head is sick, from the sole of the foot even to the head."
But then the God we love to talk about as endlessly enduring and loving and gracious with no consequences and just thrilled as long as we are happy.....no. He has had enough. Our God. Had enough.
"I've had enough of sacrifices. Bring your worthless offerings to me no longer. I cannot endure iniquity any longer. Your efforts (while you continue to live for yourself), they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen." (vs 13-15).
"I will turn my hand against you. Transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the Lord will come to an end." (vs 25-28).
He's still a HOLY God. Always has been, always will be. Which means He continues to be unable to tolerate evil and injustice, hatred and rebellion.
He shows Isaiah that He cannot listen to His people's prayers any longer, because their hands are covered with blood and they are hard-hearted. As a result, we find Israel desolate, burned with fire, strangers devouring their fields, and God refusing to listen to their prayers.
And yet, also right off the bat Isaiah sets the theme of the whole book...judgement and HOPE. God tells them how, so clearly, to be redeemed. He still, though He has had enough, God still wants to redeem. He is a REDEEMING God....still. still.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean.
Remove the evil of your deeds,
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
Though your sins are as scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.
I will restore you, and after that you will be called faithful.
Zion will be redeemed with justice
her repentant ones with righteousness.
But transgressors will be crushed together,
and those who forsake the Lord will come to an end.
What amazing images of what He wanted to do then. What He wants to do now. What He is offering. How He will judge.
Nothing nothing has changed for today, family. He will not endure iniquity. He will not tolerate injustice and evil, and He will crush it and allow it to destroy itself. He will not listen to it, nor listen to begs for His blessings out of the midst of it.
But if we will stop...if we will learn to do good, if we will seek Him, if we will ask Him to always be softening our hearts...He will redeem. He will wash, white as snow...the best of the land. He will redeem.
Surely, verse 29 says, surely you will be ashamed of that which you have desired. You will be embarrassed by that which you have chosen.
Today, before I pray, I'm examining my hands and heart, and asking Him to teach me. Today, I'm asking that question: "What am I desiring? What am I choosing?"
I'm so saddened by our stubborn-hard hearts, by the evil dwelling in our midst. And I'm so encouraged, so grounded by His HOPE.
As Christ-followers, We must STOP telling the world that they can do and be and feel whatever the heck they want, as long as they're nice. Because if that's NOT what God is saying, we can't be, either.
But what He IS saying, we have to be! What He is offering, we must be!
He isn't offering to let us be and do what we want. He isn't offering for us to stay the same. He isn't offering to listen to our prayers, no matter what. He isn't offering to protect our precious idols.
But His very dearest and best, GOD OFFERED. On that cross. He is offering to restore. He is offering to see us faithful.
if that is what we desire. He will give us the desires of our hearts, yes.
But will we be ashamed of what we have desired? Our Mighty God, in His power and wisdom, is able to TRANSFORM the desires of our hearts, to mold them into His own.
Create in us a new heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps. 51)
ps...if you're looking for somewhere fresh to go for your daily time in the Word...jump into Isaiah with me! I'm betting this won't be the only time I mention it :)