Mama said there’d be days like this – when awake just isn’t working…

Ever had the day when you’d like to just go back upstairs, put on your pajamas, crawl back into bed, and hide from the world around you? Yes? So this was my day last Tuesday. It took everything I had to leave my clothes on and walk around out where the people live.

These are the kind of days that we are reminded of a hard truth – we are sinners, living in a sinful world. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses, but it certainly is worthwhile. As much as I want to slip on my pajamas and hide under my covers, He calls me out for more.

Israel in the Old Testament had plenty of pajama-and-under-the-covers kind of days. Some were their own fault. They chased other gods, let lust have its way, and set aside the opportunities to worship for whatever seemed good at the moment. Sin creeps into our lives in ways we least expect as well.

We think we’re pretty good people, we go to church, we do alright. The Truth: Not one of us is without sin. We have blunt and obvious sin – hurtful words and anger, ignoring our neighbor, the chitter chatter of gossip, and more. We also have the secret sins – hate in our heart, lust, discontentment, thinking highly of ourselves.

Look at Isaiah 26:16-19

O Lord, in distress they sought you;
    they poured out a whispered prayer
    when your discipline was upon them.
17 Like a pregnant woman
    who writhes and cries out in her pangs
    when she is near to giving birth,
so were we because of you, O Lord;
18     we were pregnant, we writhed,
    but we have given birth to wind.
We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth,
    and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
    and the earth will give birth to the dead.

As we read, we hear the Israelites proclaim their allegiance to the Lord and the Lord alone. They recognize their sin and the mess they’ve made, while looking around and seeing the sin and mess of the nations around them. They recognize the goodness and necessity of the Lord’s discipline. Consequences happen, but in this instance, instead of sneaking away, they cling tightly to the promise that only the resurrection can offer – life eternal and an eternal life perspective.

Sometimes God not only gives me grace, He also gives me excessively practical advice for these exact situations in my own life. Isn’t it nice when it works out like that? What can we learn for life from Isaiah 26?

They pray:

…they poured out whispered prayer…

He wants to hear our sin. He knows it, why say it? Why confess it aloud?

Hearing it from our lips and poured out from our hearts, gives Him the opportunity to pour in.

He pours into us forgiveness and life. He pours tenderness and healing. Do you have past sins that sit on your heart like a boulder? Do you ever feel like if people found out your real story, they would never look at you the same way again? God says, No. I heal. I restore. This sin, let me use it for my testimony. I have a plan.

“pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray unceasingly also means pray about all of it, even the ugly. God invites us to pour out every last sin and temptation to Him.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

 

They rise:

(v.19 ) Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
    You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

God invites us to confess, not to make us sit in the dust, but to pick us up out of our shame and pour Himself into us.

“…my cup overflows…” Psalm 23:5

This exchange of pouring is part of the overflowing cup – Him filling and filling and filling some more, releasing us from the burden of our own incapabilities and inadequacies. “Let me take that,” He says, “I already carried that cross.”

When faced with our sin, we can look to Jesus, or we can look away. We can crawl back into our jammies and hide under the covers, or we can let Him give us a New Day.

Pour it out to Him. Let Him pour in.

My cup overflows with mercy and grace. I pray you know the truth of this today. Forgiveness and grace, poured on you for every last sin, every last fail, for pajama days and rockstar days and every day in between.

fontcandy-42Exploration:

When was the last time you wanted to crawl back into your pajamas and hide under the covers? How did God tend to your heart?

Read John 17:1-5 Identify the following:

Who is praying?

Why?

What does he identify as eternal life and how does this perspective change each of our days?

 

This post is a sample reading from He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah, coming Summer 2018. Find more information on this study on the Studies Available page.

*I Love My Shepherd graphics are always sharable 😉

 

 

Written in Iron Ink

What are some of your favorite ways in which God comes to you?

In our church body, we teach three particular ways, or means, in which God comes to us – through His Word (the Bible), in our baptisms, and in the Lord’s Supper.

Your belief system might be a touch different, but I doubt that it strays much from these three connectors. We need God like fish need water, more than that. Our deepest need in this life is for God. We will scramble any which way until our hearts settle in His arms. God, however, does not remain hidden. He has left these three precious things that are both physical and spiritual for one reason – to come to us. God loves worship. He loves praise. He loves His created things. But all of it is intended for connecting us with His Son, His promises, and His Salvation. When we understand that He comes in these three ways, according to His Word, then we are no longer searching and searching and searching. Instead, we know we have been found by Him.

If all of that last paragraph sounded like theological mumbo jumbo to you, just rest in this.

God comes.

God comes to you.

Let’s return to Isaiah 43 once again, and study this concept. Start by reading Isaiah 43:1 below. If you feel so led, write this verse out in a notebook, on scrap paper, on your shoe, wherever, to commit it deep into your heart.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

God calls.

Note: God is the action taker. God is the seeker. He calls, we answer. Before you were born, He called you. Before your parents or your grandparents brought you to church or you, yourself, came to church, He called. Before baptism, before confirmation, before growth…He called you.

God calls you by your name.

Heidi, David, Macee, Jonah, Jyeva, Ezekiel

This is my family. Each with their own name. He didn’t just call each of us, He called us by our names. What is your name? Fill it in the space below.

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God calls you, He brings you into His redemptive plan, by this name. He writes this name in His Book of Life (Rev. 3:5) and on His heart. And guess what…He keeps writing.

The book of Job shares another way that God reveals Himself, by His Word, to those around us. Please read Job 19:23-24.

Oh that my words were written!
    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead
    they were engraved in the rock forever!

So, Job’s life, not so easy. The first part and the last part, pretty good. The middle was all kinds of gunky and hard. Loss, ongoing health problems, cruddy friends, embarrassment, marriage issues, the list goes on for our friend, Job. His physical, earthly problems bubbled up into a spiritual crisis. In the verses above, Job attests to what each of us would want in the same circumstance,

“If I am going to go through all of this, I want it to matter.”

Job cries out to God,

“Make it count! Don’t leave me here. Do something with this!” (Heidi’s personal paraphrase)

What Job wanted is what God indeed gives to each of us – a testimony of His work, written in Iron Ink.

Unerasable. Durable. Able to withstand the arguments and the questioning. Going out for generations to come- in our families, in our churches, in our communities.

Listen to Job’s testimony, written in the Iron Ink of Job 19:25-26:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God…

God comes to others through our testimony of Jesus Christ.

He reaches into this Word so that others can know of our great Redeemer. They will know Him by who we are and where we have been and the Word we share because of it.

Flip back to Isaiah 43. This time scroll down to verses 14 and 15 –

Thus says the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
    and bring them all down as fugitives,
    even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    the Creator of Israel, your King.”

Babylon is not a happy prophecy for Israel. Israel is about to have a Job moment. Right after the proclamation of grace in Isaiah 43:1, “I have called you by name, you are mine,” God brings hard news to His people. It’s about to get messy. Babylon is bondage. They will be sent far away, their nation destroyed, families split up, livelihoods decimated. Messy. But God’s message isn’t just “messy is coming,” It is –

I use the messy.

It is no mistake that God calls Himself Redeemer in this passage. You are mine, He says, when life comes at you, when you walk through the fire, when bondage overtakes you, people will see my redemption story. “For your sake,” (verse 14) “I send.” the Lord says, “So that I can redeem. So that they will know my redemption.”

We are iron ink. Every time we share His Word and His testimony on our lives, He comes.

He comes for you.

He comes for me.

He comes for them.

He comes. Redeemer, Holy One, Creator, King.

Watch Him write, friends. Watch Him write.

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Listen to the Podcast Intro for our segment based off of this post – Written in Iron Ink: Ministry Stories

 

This post is from He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah. Find more information on that study on the Studies Available page.