What can transform our anxious hearts? Beholding our God, and Isaiah helps us to do this so well. What can help us release our idols? Beholding our God. That is because we can’t just say no, our hearts must be melted by His love and power, so that we can trust Him and wait upon Him. How many times have we given into temptation because we did not wait upon Him?
This week, this last week before Holy Week, let us consider some of the beautiful word pictures in Isaiah, along with comments from Albert Motyer, to help us behold our God and melt our hearts of stone.
I am often anxious, and worry is the idol I’m endeavoring to replace with trust in God. I often get very anxious about tech at a retreat, for it seems to often go wrong until the last minute. It did last weekend and now I hear there are tech troubles where I am headed this weekend in Seattle. Last weekend I did get anxious, for it really did look like I’d have to go on without all the video helps I’d prepared in the last two weeks. But I talked to my soul about the sufficiency of God, and that my power comes not from pictures or videos but from His Spirit. I also reminded my soul of how anointed I felt when everything except the mike failed at one retreat. And then, at the last minute, a musician with a powerful hotspot came in and remedied our weak hotel internet problem.
I also worried, this month, about preparing four new talks for a conference this last weekend in Seattle. One of them was on ten chapters in Exodus on the Tabernacle, assigned to me by the church. What? How am I going to do this? I am certainly not an expert on the Tabernacle.
My worrying sounded a lot like the way Isaiah describes the “whining” of Israel:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
Isaiah then gives this beautiful word picture to give them counsel and peace:
Albert Motyer comments on the above by telling us to “Look away from yourself, look at Him.” I did not feel qualified to speak on the Tabernacle, but I do know to ask for wisdom. Then, while immersing myself in those chapters, I needed to wait with expectation, as Motyer says. And in the night, an idea came to me. I could compare each element in the Tabernacle to the Great I AM. The candlesticks to I AM the light of the world. The table for the bread to I AM the bread of life. And so on. I felt His strength and wisdom flooding my soul, giving me what I surely did not have in myself. (I am preaching on this twice this morning and would love your prayers!) I’ll give you the link to it when I can!)
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. What have you been anxious about lately?
Monday: Meditating on Isaiah 40:27-31
Prepare your heart with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5EE6g_a9gs
3. Read Isaiah 40:27-31
A. How does Isaiah describe Israel’s grumblings in verse 27?
B. Of what does Isaiah remind them in verse 28?
C. How could you use this to speak to your soul in overcoming trial or temptation?
D. What contrast does he give in verses 30 and 31?
E. When have you given into temptation because you did not wait upon the Lord?
F. What would it look like for you to wait upon the Lord:
1) Before you plan your day
2) When you face a problem or decision
3) When anxious thoughts multiply
Tuesday: Message on the Above Passage
4. Listen to the above and share your notes.
Wednesday: The Suffering Servant
Last year we looked at some of these pictures, so this is a review for some, and leads up to Holy Week when we will look at the ultimate picture in Isaiah 53.
A. What will this coming Messiah be like according to these verses?
B. Do you feel like a bruised reed or smoldering wick? What strength can you find in this?
6. Read Isaiah 42:6-7
A. What promise is there in verse 6?
B. Compare this to Isaiah 45:1. Whose hand did he grasp here and why?
C. Share a time when the power of God through you was used to open the eyes that were blind or
brought someone who was in prison (literally or in the chains of sin) out.
Thursday: Message from Keller
7. Listen and comment:
Friday: Can a Mother Forget?
I was melted when our own Laura-Dancer posted pictures of her daughter Sarah as a little girl — this child who is now bringing her so much pain. Yet Laura cannot forget her or stop loving her.
8. Read Isaiah 49:14-16 and describe God’s heart for you. How does this help you right now?
9. What is your take-a-way this week and why?