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!

Dr. Mom, mortality, and simply being a Child

 

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When we had our first baby, I was like, “I can handle this little ol’ thing.” Breastfeeding was easy for me (THANK YOU, LORD!). Diaper changes and sleeplessness nights were hard, but seemed manageable with copious amounts of coffee. Granted, at this point there was only one of them and two of us, but you get the idea.

Then it happened. She got sick. And babies don’t get normal sick. They get weird sick. There was all this snot that wouldn’t come out. She couldn’t breath when I fed her. Her little chest found it challenging to rise and fall. I took her to the doctor, found out these symptoms evidently stemmed from an ear infection (WHAT?!!) and filled about 14 prescriptions at the pharmacy.

I hit a breaking point one day, picked up my phone, and called my pastor’s wife, Linda. Crying as soon as she picked up, I lamented, “I don’t think I can do this. I’m not cut out for parenting. I might need to turn her back in.”

She got in her car, came to visit me, hugged all my tears out of me, and gave me comfort in the form of this phrase: “I hate the Dr. Mom part of parenting too. Don’t worry, It’s God’s job to keep them alive. It’s your job to just love them.”

Relief rushed over me. For weeks I had felt just so responsible. A tiny human dependent completely on me for survival was more than daunting, it seemed impossible. Of course it seemed impossible, because it was impossible…for me. That was God’s job.

In Isaiah 38 we find a section of narrative, a break from the poetic style most of Isaiah is in, for a story. A true and real adventure in which King Hezekiah finds out very quickly that life is in God’s hands and not His own. It’s a useful lesson for all of us. Each of our lives, held tightly in the hands of God and God alone.

Open your Bibles to Isaiah 38:1-22. I’ll highlight verses 1-3 and 12-20 below.

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. AndIsaiah 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.

A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:

12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
    like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
    he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13     I calmed myself until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
    from day to night you bring me to an end.

14 Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
    I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
    O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!
15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me,
    and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years
    because of the bitterness of my soul.

16 O Lord, by these things men live,
    and in all these is the life of my spirit.
    Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
    that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
    from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
    behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
    death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope
    for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you,
    as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
    your faithfulness.

20 The Lord will save me,
    and we will play my music on stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
    at the house of the Lord.

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” 

“The father makes known to the children your faithfulness…”

Hezekiah’s prayer to our Father in heaven is so very real. So often we go about our lives in that relative security and then in comes the hard stuff. When we face death as human’s, this is when we can’t help but turn to God. Almost any human being in those last moments, looking death smack dab in the middle of the eye, prays at the very least. Sometimes it’s as simple as

“Why, God?”

“Have mercy.”

“Save me.”

We all have our opinions about God, until mortality shows up on our doorstep, as it did for Isaiah. Suddenly, we need God like we have never needed Him before.

Isaiah’s prayer goes through phases- anguish and uncertainty- to the embrace of mercy and absolute certainty. Isaiah may be one place in the Bible where the stages of grief was laid out for us long before any psychological theory existed.

“I am consigned…”

“…like a weaver I have rolled up my life…”

“…like a lion he breaks all my bones…”

“I moan like a dove…”

“My eyes are weary with looking upward.”

“Be my pledge of safety!”

Can you hear the physical and emotional struggle? Can you hear the doubt? The wrestling? Isaiah says it out loud before the Lord of Hosts. Why?

Because he knew he was invited.

This is part of God’s make up. He is Father to His dear children. He is not just King, although He reigns on the highest throne. He is not just Lord, although He is certainly Master over our lives. He is Father to His much loved children.

You are a child of God.

Just as Hezekiah proclaims his own place before the Lord, so this is your place to claim.

Read Isaiah 38:19 again –

The living, the living, he thanks you,
    as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
    your faithfulness.

In Isaiah’s psalms, God reassures me and whispers hope in my ear. The father does indeed make known to the children God’s faithfulness, to each one of us, as His precious child. We can share the Good News of God’s salvation as Isaiah does in verse 20, because God the Father has left it open in His Word for all of us to see and hear and be a part of.

Hezekiah is desperate to worship the Lord in response to His faithfulness (v.23), but dear one, the worship began long before recovery. The worship began with the eyes of a child raised up to the Father that longs to embrace us and tend to every wound. Before Isaiah was at peace with what God was working in His life, He turned His face to Him in prayer.

Raise your arms up today and let God hold you. In my opinion the best part of the promise for Hezekiah is found early in the chapter. Look again at the first part of Isaiah 38:5 –

“Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears…”

The strong arms of our Father sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to dry our tears with His death and resurrection. One day those tears will be no more in heaven. This promise is for you and for your children, for you and every child of God around you. Each of you a dear child to His Father’s heart.

 

Exploration:

What has been the hardest part of being a mom for you personally or what is your least favorite part of being ill? (Emotional, practical, or gross) 😉

What promise or truth, whether pretty or hard, sticks out to you in Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38?

Peek ahead to Isaiah 40:1. How does this verse remind us of God’s Fatherly affection for us?

Child Scripture Engagement Tool

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