Planners and Pencils…I am His Child

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I’m a list maker. I love to-do lists and plotting and planning. I still use a paper planner. I tried the iPhone version and it just never took. I like to see things laid out in ink, nice and clear. Well, pencil. I only write in my planner in pencil because guess what…plans change, right?

As much as I’d like my plans to work out the first time, I would say that 75% of the time, I find myself applying eraser to said planner and going for plan B. Sometimes plan C, sometimes plan D, E, F, G, or Z.

Isaiah has something to say about planning also.

Open your Bibles to Isaiah 30:1-11, or read below.

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
    without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
    and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
    and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
For though his officials are at Zoan
    and his envoys reach Hanes,
everyone comes to shame
    through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
    but shame and disgrace.”

An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb.

Through a land of trouble and anguish,
    from where come the lioness and the lion,
    the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
    and their treasures on the humps of camels,
    to a people that cannot profit them.
Egypt’s help is worthless and empty;
    therefore I have called her
    “Rahab who sits still.”

And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
    and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
    as a witness forever.
For they are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the Lord;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
    and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
    prophesy illusions,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path,
    let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

Well, that’s eye opening. How’s that mirror of sin for ya?

I would say that two segments really stick out to me, in light of our study of the word “Child.”

Verse 1 –

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;

Plans, yep. How often do I carry out, or more accurately, attempt to carry out plans of my own, rather than the Lord’s. I’m actually in a situation right now, as I type, that makes me want to go one direction, when I know the Lord is calling me to wait on His direction.

Have you ever been in a situation where you avoid hearing God’s Truth because you have a better idea? No, no, it’s just me? Say it isn’t so!

I don’t think it is. God’s Word in Isaiah simply points out the path of original sin. The Old Adam in us wants to plan and plot and follow our own way. In Christ, and only in Christ, can we tell Old Adam to talk to the hand. In our baptisms, Christ Jesus raises us as believers that can do a new thing. We can turn a new direction.

Verse 9 –

For they are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the Lord;

We are no longer these lying children. We are no longer “children unwilling to hear”.

We are sons.

Look up the following verses and share with me the joy of sonship. (The first is written in to get you started.)

John 1:12-13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Galatians 4:4-5

We are adopted into a better plan.

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How’s that for life changing?

Bring on Your plans, Lord. Erase mine all you want. I give it to you.

 

Exploration:

Are you a planner person? How important is planning to you?

What area of your life could you use more flexibility?

Pray with me.

Oh Lord God, help us to wait on You, to watch for Your plans, to study Your word, to see your direction. Let our ears be ever open to Your instruction, Your voice, Your Truth. In Jesus, always and only, we pray. Amen.

Sons and Daughters

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Today we return to Isaiah 43. It’s fair to say that I am in love with this chapter of Scripture. It helps us see both God’s Law and God’s Gospel, our rebellion and the promise of a Savior, in a way that is clear and ready to share.

Isaiah itself is such a gem. My study Bible* tells me that no other book is quoted more frequently in the New Testament as Isaiah, and some commentators call it “the Fifth Gospel.” In just three weeks of our eight week study, I think you can see why. Isaiah holds so much promise, without ignoring our sinful state. It recognizes our need and His willingness as our Savior.

That said, open to Isaiah 43 again, and see how God speaks to all nations through His prophets. Look at Isaiah 43:1-7. I’ll highlight verses 3-7 below.

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

God communicates His love for all nations here. This promise comes immediately after God declares, “I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life…” (v. 4)

God is nothing if not congruent. When the world would claim that the Bible contradicts itself, verses like this help us to see the fullness of God and understanding comes when He opens our eyes to the page. What exhortation is at the very beginning of verse 5 as a pivot in the passage?

“Fear not, for I am with you…”

We may not understand completely what God is doing at any given time, or ever! But He promises His presence. In these verses He says in effect, (forgive my rough paraphrase)

I know this is hard to understand. I know there is sacrifice. I know that it’s confusing.

But fear not! I am still there. I am still God over all.

I do care. I am Love.

Each and every being on this Earth is my precious child.

And how does God refer to those he is gathering from the ends of the earth?

Son

Daughter

Oh, girls. I can barely take it, it’s so beautiful. You see, I like the idea of being God’s child. I love the picture of resting safe in His strong arms, looking to Him as a faithful and true parent, with concern and grace and wisdom. But ever better…

I want to be His daughter.

My dad died when I was about 18-months-old. Until recently, I hadn’t realized what an impact on my life this was. Every girl needs a dad. Someone to tell her she’s pretty, someone that lights up when she walks into the room, and someone to teach her who holds her value and it isn’t a man.

If you haven’t had this in your life, I’m very sorry. Often times, but not always, God fills in the gaps with other people in our lives. Sometimes we have only Him. I know it’s hard. It is a huge loss. Mourn it, sister. Give it to Him. Perhaps you are the one that can understand, better than any of us, the value and the need for our Faithful Father God. Everything we need is stripped bare, but never doubt that He is the Faithful Father you have been missing.

My step-dad adopted me when I was 5 years old. He never fails to make me feel like the prettiest girl in the room. He gets up at 5am to make me breakfast sandwiches and good coffee when I visit, not wanting to miss even a moment of conversation together. He stands in the driveway when I pull my minivan out to head back to Ohio. When I round the bend, sometimes…he’s still standing there.

God is our double time father. He made and created us (Look back at Isaiah 43:7). Then he adopts us in Christ Jesus. More on this tomorrow. For today, let’s focus on God’s affection for His daughters.

Please turn to Mark 5:21-43 (or you can go rogue with the parallel passages in Luke 8 and Matthew 9, but Mark is the most complete account). I will highlight Mark 5:22-27, 35-36, and 41-42 for want of space below.

Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment.

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Look at the verses again. Highlight or underline anytime the word daughter, child, or little girl is utilized.

When Jesus sees us, he doesn’t just see a mass of people. He is concerned with the communal, the group, the body of believers, the nations, but he is also concerned with each and everyone of us and our inherent uniqueness. It strikes me that Jesus asks the question, “Who touched me?” (v. 31), not for His own benefit, but for hers. The woman was already healed immediately when she touched His robe.

But Jesus reaches out and invites her into relationship with one word – daughter.

Jesus then tenderly speaks to Jarius’s daughter. “Talitha” is an Aramaic word. It is a very unique phrase, a feminine word, specific to young women. Strong’s asserts that it is more correctly translated maiden or even damsel.* Jesus is no fairy tale, but He knows a girl’s heart, for sure.

Daughter, maiden, little girl, child, beloved. Could we want for more endearment?

Jesus fills in all the gaps where life has left us empty. We have a perfect God who declares us Sons and Daughters of the One True King. He is so faithful.

More Than Anything – All Sons and Daughters (Official Lyric Video)

 

Exploration:

How do you think the relationship of Dad is a blessing and can be confusing in our relationship with God?

What terms of endearment mean the most to you, in Scripture, in your marriage, in your family, anywhere? What loving words and names speak grace and love into your life?

 

*The Lutheran Study Bible published by Concordia Publishing House

*biblehub.com

The value of children

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My little Zeke. He’s adorable. When he was about 18 months he went through the developmental stage of find-Mom’s-Bible-and-do-weird-stuff-to-it. You can not fault the kid for thinking that the Word of the Lord is interesting. He ripped up most of Psalm 139 into itty bitty, almost unsalvageable pieces. There is a large hole in verses 22 through the end that I still have been unable to find. He highlighted all of Matthew 19 and some of 20, so he’s not bent on destruction, just discovery. I value my children growing up with Bibles sitting around, so I invested in my first Bible cover, which is faithful to this day.

Children are special, no doubt. In Isaiah, we learn a little more of the value God places on children and why we are called to value then. Even if you translate this passage in the broader sense of children as all of God’s people of any age, you can see why the application to the tiniest child of God is not off.

Please read Isaiah 29:22-24. This is the Gospel at the end of a passage reminding Israel that unfaithfulness hurts.

 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“Jacob shall no more be ashamed,
    no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
    the work of my hands, in his midst,
    they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
    and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
    and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

God tells the people that when they look to the future, look past their present circumstances, He has a long term plan. What turns the tide of shame in this passage? God working through children.

Children give us hope.

Their very presence in this world is a message of endurance from an unchanging God. The next generation reminds us that life will continue, despite the heartache and pain, a fresh new day, a new birth, will dawn.

Let’s bullet point some things we can learn as God’s children looking at actual little children.

  • Children cause us to honor God. We praise God for the next generation, we recognize the miracle of life He has created, and we desire some kind of stability and morality for them. It spurs us on to consider and continue in the Faith.
  • Children make us talk about God. In wanting to bring our children, or the children of the world, to a loving God, we talk about the Faith, we grow ourselves, we open our hearts in ways we may not have otherwise. If we don’t bring it up, they have questions and it never dawned on them to keep their mouths closed, particularly on “politically incorrect” topics. Let us help them to feel comfortable enough to keep asking those questions. Let’s spur on the next generation by talking about Him.
  • Children are a mirror of our rebellion. As much as I struggle with each of my children’s rebellious spirits, I acutely feel the need for them to understand the reality of grace and forgiveness in their lives. When I look at my children, I see my own painful rebellion. I go my own way. I have my own ideas, when My Father in Heaven clearly knows best. Thank goodness for the family of God for me to fall against when I need mercy. Thank goodness that I can be that living mercy to my children, even when we both have to endure the consequences for our painful actions.
  • Children mirror trust and faith. Children get it when we don’t. They can smell inauthenticity a mile away, but they also are willing to be all-in despite our weaknesses and flaws. They lean on God in simple prayers and don’t need all the bells and whistles to bring them to meet with the Savior; a conversation, a small craft to hang in their room, simple relationship is enough to keep them coming back to church and learning about God again and again.

Read Isaiah 29:24 again. Write it out if you can. It holds a promise for when we travel our own ways, when our children travel their own paths, away from God.

“And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding,
    and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

He knows the prodigal. He sees their struggle. He hears the grumbles and the moans, the ranting, and the hiding. He brings us back to Him. The lost are found in Him. (Luke 15)

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Malachi 2:10 reminds us that all God’s children, faithful, unfaithful, believer, unbeliever, infant, adult, male, female, are to be treasured, because of that very title – Child of God.

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?

Abortion, not ok. Pouring judgment out on our unbelieving neighbor, not ok. Placing less value on the high schooler’s opinion in church, than the middle-aged leader, not ok. Leaving the elderly in loneliness, not ok.

Today, look at a child. Let them know that they are seen. Let them know that their very presences sanctifies the name of the Living God. Embrace that childlike-faith part of yourself. Sing a round of Jesus loves me, pray before bedtime, and thank the Lord for being faithful to each and every generation.

 

Exploration:

What do you remember about your faith walk as a child? What or who spoke God’s love over you as you were growing?

Commit to one way of sharing the faith with the next generation today. It need not be something complicated. Just find one way to share God’s Word and Grace with someone under the age of 18. Share your idea with us!