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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

(ad)Ventures in a "New Thing"

Isaiah 43:6b-9a, 18-21 [AMP]:
“Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth – 7 Even everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, whom I have made. 8 Bring forth the blind people who have eyes and the deaf who have ears. 9Let all the nations be gathered together and let the peoples be assembled…18 Do not remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen,  21 the people I formed for Myself, that they may set forth My praise and they shall do it.” 

“7 And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the Holy One, the True One, He Who has the key of David, Who opens and no one shall shut, Who shuts and no one shall open:  I know your record of works and what you are doing. See! I have set before you a door wide open, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My Word and guarded My message and have not renounced or denied My name. Take note! I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and learn and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Because you have guarded and kept My word of patient endurance [have held fast the lesson of My patience with the expectant endurance that I give you], I also will keep you safe from the hour of trial (testing) which is coming on the whole world to try those who dwell upon the earth. 11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one may rob you and deprive you of your crown. 12 He who overcomes is victorious. I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God; he shall never be put out of it or go out of it, and I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which descends from My God out of heaven, and My own new name. 13He who can hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).” 
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Through the prophet Isaiah, God often reminded people He called them to Himself. In this passage of Isaiah, He did that again but He add a few things. God told them He made them for His glory. The Father told them He would do a "new thing," too.   

As relayed by mouth, the people of God told each generation - from father to child - God created humankind. Maybe at one time that meant much to them; yet, we as readers of Israelite history see they often forgot that one point. We note they started on a journey with Abraham. They stacked stones, we read, as a remembrance of where God met them and what He did. We notice they became impatient waiting for God to “show” Himself to their blind eyes. They danced and lived with people who bowed to other gods. In addition, we witness their repenting and returning to God. They repeated this cycle through the generations. As God’s people, their lives were a journey of faithfulness and unfaithfulness, of peaks and valleys of faith. God gave them food and drink and protected them from their enemies and themselves. As a protective Father, He slew their enemies from other nations. The Father provided a sacrifice for the enemy - death, which came through sin. This sacrifice is Jesus. 

In another episode of Israelite life, God said He created them for a purpose. Imagine the experience of a child when he learns he lives because his parents wanted and loved him before his birth. Now, imagine the Father when He was speaking to the Israelites. He called them His sons and daughters and said He had a purpose for them. The Israelites were not just an after-thought. God’s purpose was for them to be in a familial relationship with Him and to bring Him glory. Would this not make a child more apt to want to make the parents proud, knowing the parents wanted him or her before his or her birth? I imagine this loving relationship brought a response of love. It might have brought a response of regret when the child did not bring glory to the family name, just as a person feels in his or her relationship with the Father when he or she brings dishonor to God. God did not stop loving and providing because of the Israelites’ sin and regret. He could have left the Israelites sensing shame and remorse always, but that was not His plan. God’s plan is for His children to be in a relationship with Him. Yahweh states, “Behold, I am doing a new thing!” (Is 43:19a [AMP]) The Father desired their familial love, and they turned away. He would do a new thing. God provided a better way. It was a promise, a new covenant. 

Those of us who are in a relationship with God understand this “new thing,” the better way. We who have walked away from a close relationship to the Father know of His better way, too. For those who do not know and have not heard, the better way is through admitting Jesus is the Messiah, believing He died for each of our sins, and confessing wrong doings/sins. This is the simplest way to become a part of the family of God. Confession is not the easiest thing to do and we will not always be obedient to give ourselves to God’s ways. We are willful, strong-minded, and want our own ways and desires. This stubbornness on our part creates a wall between the Father and us; yet, He does not hold that against us and break off further relationship with us. The Father loves each of us and calls us His children.

Consider the first six verses of Revelation 3, the Spirit, through John, spoke to the church in Sardis who strayed from the lessons they learned. The Holy Spirit stated they must return to what they learned. Not everyone in Sardis, though, had strayed. To those whose names God wrote in His book, He calls them His children. Further in the chapter, we see the church at Laodicea vacillating between being workers for God and being lazy. The Father wants them to choose which they want to be – followers or not - because being both does not glorify Him nor give them a good reputation. God through the Holy Spirit reminded them they could do nothing for themselves; they would be poor and blind without Him. The church at Philadelphia working for the Lord, contrasts with the churches at Sardis and Laodicea. They did not shut the door the Father opened. The Philadelphians guarded His message, proclaimed it, and not denounced Him. In Revelations 3, John said God would make those who served themselves and Satan bow before the church at Philadelphia. That was the reward for the Philadelphian church’s faithfulness and obedience. He further promised to keep the congregation at Philadelphia safe from the trials and tribulations that will come and test the whole world. God makes His point at the end of Revelation 3. He rebukes, corrects, convicts, and convinces people of their wrong, not to castigate them, but because He loves them. He is the God of love. 

God loves us so much He did a new thing; He sent His Son, Jesus, to die because of the sin of humanity. The judgment for sin is death. The Father showed His power over death by resurrecting Jesus from the dead three days after His mortal death. God showed He has power over everything. That is the “new thing” alluded to in Isaiah and which the churches at Sardis, Laodicea, and Philadelphia learned.  

The Father asks you to be “enthusiastic and earnest and burning with zeal.” (Rev. 3:19b [Amplified Bible]) He does not want us to be sleepers or fence-straddlers as the people of Sardis and Laodicea were. God calls us to be as the church of Philadelphia, to be guards of His message, holding fast with patience and endurance (Rev. 3:8-10). He wants us to venture everything we have in total abandon with Him, with endurance. Remember, He who faced sin and died was powerful enough to defeat sin and death and live again. Jesus gives this power to you and me. His power makes our perseverance happen. This perseverance, because of our relationship with Him, because of our faithfulness in telling the Gospel, is what brings Him glory. Our being in a relationship with God is our purpose and brings the Father glory. “He who is able to hear let him listen to and heed what the Holy Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22 [AMP]).