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a smoldering wick

















holy_spirit_flame2HE MAY BRUISE US TO DO IT









high_and_holy_placeHere is something else:

The Lord is revealing to me new truths and reminding me of old truths as I am memorizing 1st John. In the morning when I wake up,

before I get out of bed i reach for my kindle with the ESV Bible on it. In the dark, still under the warm covers, I memorize. One thing I am being reminded of is that God changes us as we behold His goodness.

It is easy to think that the way to change is to try harder, but simply beholding Him changes us. One day we will be completely changed — how will that happen? I have made bold what I have seen.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared,

but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

i John 3:2

Do you see? Beholding Jesus makes us like Him! So as you behold Him in these Servant songs, you will become more like Him! You will be kinder, gentler, not breaking a bruised reed or putting out a faintly burning wick. I don’t know how it happens, but His Word promises us it does, and I am experiencing that! There are people in my life that are truly bruised reeds, and it is easy to quarrel with them because of the storm in their own souls. But God is giving me grace for them, showing me when to speak and when to be silent so that there might be healing instead of breaking. In the same way, I have my own brokenness, but I can run to Him, and trust Him, for He is a gentle Shepherd, who longs to heal my wounds rather than break me or quench my spirit.

As you see changes happening in your character this Lent, go ahead and share — for you are not bragging about yourself, but about the power of His Spirit, and that encourages us all.


1. Reflect on the above and then share what stands out to you and why.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:

Prepare your heart with this:


2. Read Isaiah 42:1 and see if you can identify each person of the Trinity.

Mike Reeves, whom many of you listened to when we studied the Song of Songs, says that it is extremely important that we notice the continued emphasis that our God is a Triune God. It means that He is love, and unlike, for example, Allah, He has been in fellowship from eternity, and understands love. Allah, in contrast, Reeves explains, has been alone, and thus is “curved in on himself.”

3. Read Isaiah 42:1-3 and explain how you see love on the part of the Father and love on the part of the Son for us.

4. Now read Matthew 12:9-21, where this passage from Isaiah is quoted.

A. Read Matthew 12:9-14 for context, contrasting the attitude of Jesus toward the man with a withered hand and the contrast of the Pharisees.

B. Read Matthew 12:15-16 and describe Jesus response to those who were suffering.

C. Verse 17 now says the preceding was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, and quotes Isaiah. What light does seeing

this passage in Matthew’s gospel give you for understanding this servant song?

D. What will Jesus do according to verse 18, and how will he do it according to verse 19?

Richard Sibbes speaks of the gentleness that Christ has toward new believers: God’s children, especially in their first conversion, there is but a little measure of grace, and that little mixed with much corruption, which, as smoke, is offensive; but Christ will not quench this smoking flax. Then Sibbes gives examples of how the Lord gave grace to His servants: Moses, Abraham, David and made them great hearts.

5. Think back to when you were an immature believer, and of how you were indeed like a smoldering wick with much offensive smoke. How did Christ show grace to you, encourage you, and help your flame to grow?

6. Sibbes quotes the Song, “I slept, but my heart was awake.” I am “dark but lovely.” How do you see both of these conditions in you, and how is He helping you to grow now?

7. Do not be unaware of the enemy’s devices. When you sin, you may want the darkness for cover — so you retreat from the light. Then you may begin to doubt the Light is even true. Have you seen this in your life or in the life of a younger believer who is like “smouldering flax?” If so, how might You speak to your soul? How might you pray for a younger believer?

8. Read Isaiah 42:5-9 and find examples of the kindness and gentleness of the Lord. Find at least five.


9. In the message by Keller, if you listen, he does talk about the way of Christ being nonviolent and how that inspired Martin Luther King.  Does this have any application to your life, since we are told to walk in the same way He walked? In America, for example, we have a divided and angry country. How are you approaching this in a way that would be peace-loving?

10. What hope does this picture of Christ, as not breaking a bruised reed or putting out a smoldering wick give you in your life right now?


Thursday-Friday: Keller Sermon or Readings from Sibbes

I am suggesting you buy the Servant Songs Series from Keller — you could skip the one by his associate. You don’t get a break by buying them together, and we may not listen to every one but we will listen to most, and all are so good. This week’s sermon is http://www.gospelinlife.com/a-bruised-reed-he-will-not-break-6050 

An alternative option this week would be to read some from Sibbes book, A Bruised Reed. Lizzy found it free on the internet. Here is that link: http://www.onthewing.org/user/Sibbes%20-%20Bruised%20Reed%20-%20Updated.pdf

11. Share your notes or comments from either the sermon or the book by Sibbes.


12. What is your take-a-way this week and why?

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  1. 5. Think back to when you were an immature believer, and of how you were indeed like a smoldering wick with much offensive smoke. How did Christ show grace to you, encourage you, and help your flame to grow?
    I grew up in the Catholic faith, my family attended mass every weekend and observed all of the holy days. I thought for a long time (mid-30’s) that Catholicism was the one “true” Christian faith.  I recall a colleague once telling me that Catholics didn’t really “get it,” meaning that there is so much more than attending church weekly, going to confession, saying prayers by rout, and following the “rules.”  I recall being offended that she would think I, as a Catholic, didn’t really “get it.”  Years later after participating with my daughters in their Lutheran confirmation classes, involving myself in bible studies, reading the bible, etc., I see that there is SO much more…there is delight in spending time with the Lord, reading His word, conversing with Him in a thoughtful manner, my eyes opened to the gospel and the love of Jesus for me, but at the time I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  I know today that that is still the case in some senses as I will always be learning and growing this side of heaven.

  2. Once again I am posting in two pieces, because otherwise I cannot post anything as lengthy as these notes on the sermon. 
    Sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller
    Based on Isaiah 42: 1-9
    A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
    For centuries the church has focused on the mission of Jesus Christ.   What did He come to do?   Isaiah prophesies about a mysterious figure called the Servant of the Lord, and in the New Testament over and over again, the writers identify the Servant of the Lord with Jesus Christ. We are going to look at the Servant Songs.   This is the first of the Servant Songs – Isaiah 42:1-9.
    Vss 1 – 2.   “Here is my servant whom I uphold–my chosen one in whom I delight.  He will bring justice to the nations, but He will not shout or cry out or raise His voice in the streets.  Justice means putting everything right – to order everything the way it ought to be.  This is a job for a king – who has power – and yet this person is a servant.   The word cry out in particular means to drown out another voice.   This servant’s methods are such that He does not seek to control putlic discourse, which a king has to do.  He gets the results of a king but does not use a king’s methods.  
    The Servant of the Lord suffers.  He is tortured.  He is spit upon.   He is despised.  He is rejected, and He is executed.  The Hebrew people were looking at all of the prophesies about a coming king – a messianic king who was going to put everything right.   Students of the Scripture say this person cannot be that – he won’t cry aloud, and he gets executed.   Still today many people interpret this as a symbolic, poetic personification of a believing community.   The Servant who is suffering is just a believing community who is suffering.   This is not exegetically possible. The servant ends up turning the believing community back to God, so the Servant cannot be the believing community.  
    It must have been literally lightning from the sky:   When Jesus Christ shows up at the river where John the Baptist is baptizing people, and he goes down into the water and is baptized.  Then as he comes out, heaven is opened, and the Spirit descends on Him, and a voice says “This is my beloved Son in whom I delight, in whom I am well-pleased.    The first half of this statement is a quote from the Greek version of Psalm 2.   The second half “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased, in whom my soul delights”  – that is a quote from Isaiah 42:1.  God’s voice is saying that this great strong messianic king and the suffering servant are the same person, and they are Jesus. 
    There is a juxtaposition of these almost contradictory things:   This weakness, meekness, softness – and then this hardness, power, and majesty – all together.  Jonathon Edwards, the 18th century minister and philospher preached and published the sermon called “The Excellency of Jesus Christ.”    He starts by saying, “Have you ever seen a great man or woman – maybe powerful, maybe intellectually brilliant, maybe talented, having money stop and take the advice of their driver?   Or go over to a sick neighbor and make a meal.  Or sit with sympathy and listen to the problem of somebody who in the human scheme of things is not important”.   He asks “How do you feel when you see that?”  You feel this great person is ever greater for not acting great.   He says there is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ that would seem to us uterally incompatible in the same subject.   Infinite highness and infinite humility.   He is infinitely above any of us, so that we cannot be of any profit to Him.   And yet, He is one of infinite humility None are so low or inferior but Christ is willing not only to take notice of them but to enter into friendship with them.    He takes our nature upon Himself to become one with us.  He is great enough to become low for us.   To expose Himself to shame and spitting and death.  He is altogether beautiful.  It just fills you with worship and wonder.   
    If you know Christ, if you have His Spirit, if you think you are following Him, then do you not realize that this same supernatural, humanly impossible juxtaposition of seemingly contradictory virtues must be to some degree reproduced in you.     Jesus makes the bold tender, and the tender bold and direct because they know that they are saved by grace.   
    The first aspect of His mission is in verse 3:   A bruised reed He will not beak and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out until in faithfulness He brings for justice.   To you and I the word bruise is not a very strong one.  We say “just a bruise.”  The Hebrew word that here is translated “bruised” is also translated “crushed.”   It is a deep contusion, not a break in the skin, that has either injured or destroyed a vital internal organ, and therefore often this word means a death blow.   The bruised reed is broken at an angle – it is not broken into two pieces.  However, its life is over.  It is never going to produce grain.  The servant would heal it so it can produce grain again.   Jesus is attracted to hopeless cases.  He loves the fragile.  He loves people who are beaten and who are battered and bruised, and maybe don’t show it on the outside, but inside they are dying. 
    In I Kings 18 and 19, Elijah is a mighty prophet of God, but in chapter 19 he is cracking.   Cracking under the pressure of his ministry – he is despondent and suicidal.  So God sends an angel to him.  What does the angel do?   The angel cooks.  Elijah is asleep and wants to die.  Twice he wakes up and the angel cooked him something – Twice!   The angel says “You need more strength for the journey.”  Eventually through the angel God challenges him.   Physicians who encounter a despondent person would prescribe a pill.  Ministers and theologians would tell the person “Repent!”   Psychologists and counselors say “Let’s talk.”    If you ever give the wrong therapy or medicine for the particular condition, you break the bruised reed, you put out the candle.   But Jesus never does – so infinitely caring, tender, and wise is He.   The Servant has come down to deal with the weakest people in the human race – the people at the very end of their rope.   
    Richard Sibbes, the great 17th century British puritan minister wrote a classic work entitled “A bruised reed and the smoking flax.”   In it he says, “See Christ’s mercy to bruised reeds.  If you want to see it consider His borrowed names from the mildest creatures.   He is called the Lamb or a Mother Hen.  Consider that Jesus will heal the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61) At His baptism the Holy Spirit sat on Him in the shape of a dove to show that He should be a dove-like, gentle mediator.  “Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden.  (Matt. 11:28). Say this to yourself: If Christ be so merciful as not to break me, I will not break myself by despair.   How do  you like that for medicine?  

  3. Continuation of notes on Keller’s sermon.
    But the passage also says “until He brings forth justice.”   When you and I hear the word justice, we think of what the philosophers call “rectifying justice or retributive justice.”   This means punishing evildoers.  Justice does mean to put things right.   Mishpat refers to the kind of society in which rectifying justice is not necessary, because everything is in a right relationship with everything else.   “A synonym of that is shalom.  Shalom is primary justice.  Consider our health.  Health is when every part of your body is working well with every other part.  What is death?  When your body parts are no longer interacting.   You lose your physical shalom.  It is the same thing with community or society.   When individual are fighting with each other, wronging each other.   When classes are wronging each other, and races and nations.   You have lost your social shalom.
    Why do we need the Servant? How did we lose shalom?  You have to go back to Genesis 3.  The minute Adam and Ever sinned and lost their right relationship and unity with God. 
    1) They got out of relationship with God.   Then all other relationships fell apart. 
    2) Their psychological unity and right relationship with themselves was broken .   So they start to experience fear, guilt, and emptiness. 
    3) Their social unity and right relationship with each other was broken.  That’s why genders and races, nations and individuals don’t get along.  That is why we have poverty, war, and all the things we call social breakdown.  
    4) Physically their bodies start to break down.   
    All of the things that are wrong with us are the results of sin.   Jesus came back to heal absolutely everything that is wrong with the world.   That’s what it means to the fullest sense to “do justice.”  
    Barry Webb, an Australian Old Testament professor in one of his commentaries on this passage says “In short, the Servant will undo all the horrendous and degrading effects sin has had on the human race.”     
    What does it mean for you and I and for the church to follow the Servant?   We should be a church which on the one hand is unbelievably loving and kind to the most bruised, the most beaten.   We should not be an elitist church.  It also means we should do evangelism.  We need to say “This is the Good News of who Jesus is – this is what heals the heart.  We also need to think about justice – talking to everyone about what it means to do justice – to put relationships right out there in the world.   
    Keller recently read 3 or 4 books on Martin Luther King, Jr.    He could see that King followed the Servant when he settled on a strategy of civil disobedience.  Sit-ins were held to protest unjust laws.  However, wanting to follow Christ’s pattern – how Jesus didn’t come to take power to to give it up and to love, and to die, and to suffer.   So King promoted “Non-violence.”   To the conservatives, the civil disobedience was terrible, but to the liberals the idea of non-violence is crazy.   “This balance at least ast this time was exactly what this society needed to deal with segregation in the South.   
    In verse 4 “He will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on the earth.”   The word falter is the same word as “snuff out.”   “Discouraged” is the same word as “bruised.”  The point is that the Servant will experience being bruised, crushed, snuffed out, but it won’t stop Him from bringing about justice.   
    Going back to the Genesis account, God preaches the gospel to Satan in Genesis 3:15.   He says “I’m going to give Eve a descendant and He will crush your head, but you will bruise His heel.” 
    Romans 8:15-16 & Galatians 4 says when the spirit comes into your heart.  It is God saying “you are my beloved child in whom I am well-pleased.”
    Jesus will provide what we need to be healed.  Keller concludes:    “Through the Bible, through prayer, through accountability, through fellowship, through friends who believe, through baptism, through the Lord’s Supper, through the means of grace, I urge you to put yourself in His care.  He will not fail you.”

    1. Oh Deanna!  Once again….amazing notes.  I have taken the liberty to print them and am REALLY looking forward to listening. 
      First; from your recommendation and now from the wonderful ‘follow along’ guide that you have painstakingly provided.  
      This is VERY labor intensive and you bless us so often with your selfless gift of these comprehensive notes.  
      THANK YOU!

    2. Deanna–just “amen”-ing along with Wanda’s praise & thanks. You truly give bless us with your servant’s heart. Thank you!

    3. Most excellent notes, Deanna. So helpful in listening to Keller here!
      This is Keller at his finest! Please, everyone, take the time to listen. God mightily uses his servant, Keller, in opening the meaning of the first Servant Song in Isaiah here. Did you all know that Keller has just resigned as senior pastor of Redeemer? He has not fully retired but is taking a different role now. I for one will seriously miss his preaching, but we have probably thousands of his sermons online. Hopefully they will remain online for us to plumb their depths! I am thankful for the Internet for this reason. Here is a link of a tribute to Keller on his retirement from pastoral ministry: https://scottsauls.com/2017/03/06/keller/?platform=hootsuite

  4. Thank you, Lizzy and Wanda, for the kind words.   As I read through now,  I spot several typos.  Please forgive me for those.    I was pushing it pretty hard to get the post made — and my husband was wanting to go out for dinner.  😀      I should have proofread more carefully.   

    1. Deanna, thank you so much for your notes….it truly is a labor of love and since I did not purchase the sermon it’s helping me to still learn from it!

    2. I would also like to thank you Deana, I desired to do the same, but lacked the time. Your notes were so helpful!

  5. 9. In the message by Keller, if you listen, he does talk about the way of Christ being nonviolent and how that inspired Martin Luther King.  Does this have any application to your life, since we are told to walk in the same way He walked? In America, for example, we have a divided and angry country. How are you approaching this in a way that would be peace-loving?
    The best I can do here is to stay away from those who are so angry that they can’t seem to have logical conversations or accept that others feel differently than them. When I have tried to have rational conversations, they argue and complain and are SO LOUD and obnoxious that I have decided to just let them “go off” and have their way. It reminds me of a spoiled child really, who hasn’t gotten what they want so they whine. I have decided that is not productive to talk, but more to accept them for who they are and hope they can eventually calm down enough to see others’ points of view. I do believe much of what’s going on in America is fueled by parties who are unseen but very wealthy. It is sad. I live in small town America and I do not see people in distress and who are divided. We are just fine in our little neck of the woods, even if we disagree. If there was EVER a time to respect each others’ political and social opinions it is now. The media blows everything out of proportion! It is ridiculous. So, I have turned off the news and am choosing to not get sucked into the circus. I have not always voted for the winning candidate and had to put up with the election results myself; that’s the way it goes. Did I go looting things and causing a ruckus?? NO. I did what my mom taught me to do….I wrote letters to senators,  congressmen and women, and had everyone’s phone number on speed dial (including the White House) and called REGULARLY (sometimes daily – I would set an alarm) to annoy them about topics. I didn’t harm anyone else. I’m afraid that our citizens don’t understand the impact their actions are having on our children. Kids watch. They are coming to school and calling people like me racists just, because. They don’t even know what that really means anymore. It’s what they see in the news and then they think they can use it to their advantage. “Someone” needs to step up and be the adult. My answer is to try to love people more and speak less.

    1. “My answer is to try to love people more and speak less.”I like your answer very much Laura!

  6. What is your take-a-way this week and why?

    I want Jesus to be my greatest dream. I want to love Him more and to grow closer to Him, so I can become more like Him. I want to be kinder and gentler with others because I don’t want to break a bruised reed or put out a faintly burning wick. I tend to be brash if not with my words, then with my thoughts. I want God to give me grace for others. I want Him to show me when to speak and when to be silent. I want to be worthy of God saying of me, “You are my beloved child, and I am well-pleased with you.”

    1. Laurie–this is so good. And I too want to have that grace for others–both in word and thought

  7. 10. What hope does this picture of Christ, as not breaking a bruised reed or putting out a smoldering wick give you in your life right now?
    I have the the hope that He will never give up on me. “You are good, you are good when there’s nothing good in me…”

    10. What hope does this picture of Christ, as not breaking a bruised reed or putting out a smoldering wick give you in your life right now?
    This week has given me great hope for a suffering friend who has been bruised and in response has made mistakes. The response of those in authority over her has, at times, bruised her more. My faith that Jesus sees her, that he is sovereign is renewed. I feel quiet hope that wells up worship in me.

    1. Chris–just read this and thought what a mercy He gave your friend to give her you–one whose indescribable loss has led to such a compassionate heart. Sorry for her bruising, but thankful she has a friend like you

  9. Yes, my name is Evie and I love to talk to everyone who is spiritual minded. We all follow Christ model and we preach and teach the truth about his kingdom for that is the theme of the bible as Matthew 6:9, 10 brings out. Only that kingdom or government will solve all mankind’s problems. Just wanted to say that I enjoy all your comments. I was searching for the truth for as long as I have knowledge of and I had founded. All I knew was opened to me using the bible and what I found truly opened my spiritual heart, and eyes to the truth. There is only one truth and many lies. For example the truth about the true Almighty God and the truth of his Son Jesus Christ as well as the holy spirit which is God’s active force or power. Not a trinity but each one accordingly. Genesis 1:1 talks about the creation and how the Almighty used his power or active force to bring forth everything that was necessary to become. I will like to share the web site with you which its all based in the bible as the authority for all my beliefs.


    I love you all.

  10. Beautiful….especially the images.