Sometimes I do not know if trouble is in my life because I live in a fallen world, because I have sinned, or because I am experiencing spiritual warfare. But two weeks ago, when I was giving a retreat, it became clear, Satan did not want me giving the message I had planned for Saturday night. It was on overcoming the lies of Satan during suffering. Friday night and Saturday morning, everything went smoothly. But Saturday afternoon I wrenched my back somehow and could hardly stand up, but I was going to set my face like flint and power through. Then, just before I was to speak, my complicated audio-visuals refused to work. Even the mike failed. The women at the retreat were mature and I told them I thought it was spiritual warfare since the message was on overcoming Satan. I asked them to pray while I worked on the audio-visuals. For ten minutes they prayed fervently and the room was filled with their voices. I too was crying out to God. But despite all that, the audio-visuals would not work. My mike, however, began working. So I told them, “We will do this without audio-visuals and God will be with us.” I returned to the stage.
Just a few times in my life have I experienced the kind of anointing of His Spirit that I experienced for the next forty-five minutes. I felt it, the women felt it, and we knew Satan had only been given enough rope to hang himself. I didn’t even notice my back (and it felt completely better by the next morning.) When I sat down I marveled at what God has done, for I am always so afraid that the audio-visuals will not work. It is my biggest fear at each speaking event. I felt the Lord was reminding me of something I should know, but had forgotten:
not by your health,
not by your audio-visuals,
but by my Spirit.
We all sat in silence for a few moments, for God had met us. I was also told that so many women in their congregation were in the midst of intense suffering. One beautiful woman who was seated in the front row had a particularly tragic story. Two years ago she had been hiking with her husband and her daughter when a sniper shot all three from a bridge. Only she survived. I thought, Satan is so evil. He did not want her to be comforted. He preys on the wounded, seeing them as easy targets, just like the lion goes after the wounded wildbeest trailing the herd.
We live in a world under the spell of Satan. He is the prince of this world for now, and he is taking many captive to do his will. But though he may win some battles, He will never win the war. That has already been won. Satan bruised Christ’s heel, but Christ CRUSHED Satan’s head. The True light overcame the darkness of Satan at the cross.
Indeed, this is the picture in the song of Isaiah 57. The Israelites themselves have fallen under the spell of Satan. God is taking the righteous to Himself so that they could be spared from that evil time. That is how bad it was!
The Israelites have turned to pagan gods, sacrificing their children to Molech, committing sexual immorality to please these “gods” in hopes those “gods” will in turn make their land fertile. God is angry, and hides his face. Yet for those who are of a contrite spirit, He will come. Even though God sees their evil ways, He plans to heal them. That is how good He is. He laid down HIs life for us when we were yet sinners.
Of course it isn’t just the Israelites that ran to other gods, we do too. We battle every day against the enemy, against the darkness of our own hearts. But He promises that though He “dwells in the high and holy place, he also is with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15) We must continually search our own hearts and then turn to God in repentance.
1. What stands out to you and why?
2. God put the singers at the front of His army. If you have a song that goes with this week, share it!
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
Prepare your heart and fight the enemy with this powerful song:
3. Read Isaiah 57 in one sitting to get the big scope of the power of evil and the power of our overcoming God. Summarize what you see and share anything that particularly quickens you.
4. Read Isaiah 57:1-2 and explain why God was taking the righteous to Himself.
5. What question is asked in Isaiah 57:3-4?
6. God often compares idolatry to adultery. How do you see this in Isaiah 57:5-10?
I think it is so easy to point our fingers at the Israelites. A young woman who did Idol Lies shared the following:
7. Can you share a struggle from your own life concerning running to idols and how God is helping you?
8. How does God try to open our eyes to the futility of our idols in Isaiah 57:13?
9. What promises do you find in Isaiah 57:14-19? (Go slowly and keep these in your heart.)
10. What is the final warning of this song in Isaiah 57:20-21?
You can choose one or both by two wonderful preachers: Tim Keller or John Piper. The sermons are both on this Song of Isaiah 57, but they are very different. Keller’s is not free, but some of you have already purchased it. Piper’s is free.
Here is the link to get Keller’s message: http://www.gospelinlife.com/to-revive-the-spirit-of-the-lowly-6057
Here is Piper’s Message:
11. Share your notes or comments.
12. What is your take-a-way and why?