The Lord’s Ways Are Best

Bible:

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:32-36 ESV

Reflection:

A few hundred years ago, when grain was ripe in the field and ready to harvest, there was only one way to do it. Farmers had to find and hire a threshing crew if men were available and they could afford to pay the workers, and then the workers would go out into the field and cut down the grain by hand. If a farmer couldn’t hire a threshing crew, then the farmer and his family and maybe some friends had to do as much of the work as they could by themselves. But in the 1830s a man named Cyrus McCormick invented a mechanical reaper. This was a machine that did the work of a threshing crew, and cut down the grain much more quickly. The mechanical reaper changed farming forever. It made it possible to cut down a lot more grain during the short harvest season, which meant that more food could be produced. It also meant that farms could become much larger.

Cyrus McCormick changed the way farmers reaped their grain. His way was much better than the old way. The prophet Isaiah talked about how God’s ways are higher and better than our ways, and also how his thoughts are not the same as our thoughts. The Lord spoke through Isaiah to urge wicked people to leave behind their own way of doing things, and to go God’s way instead. The Lord’s ways are good and holy, while the ways of people are wrong and sinful. But there is good news. The Lord didn’t just call to people to do things his way instead of their own way. He also promised that he would show them compassion and forgive them their sins. People often hold grudges and refuse to forgive, but God’s way is the way of compassion and forgiveness.

When Jesus came to be our Savior, he knew that he would suffer terribly for our sins. He would die a painful death on the cross and feel the weight of all the sins of the world. The cross was God’s way, and it wasn’t an easy way. Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father and asked that the terrible things that were about to happen to him might be taken away. But then Jesus said that he would do things the way his Heavenly Father wanted him to. He would do things God’s way, and not his own way. Because Jesus followed the will of his Heavenly Father, we have forgiveness for all our sins every day. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to follow the way of the Lord instead of our own.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for following the way of your Heavenly Father and making us your people now and forever. Amen.

Source:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/theymadeamerica/whomade/mccormick_hi.html

Come, Buy and Eat!

Bible:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David. Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4:10-15 ESV

Reflection:

If you read stories about fairy people, you know that they like to play tricks on human beings. One trick they play is to bring people into their underground homes and show them glorious banquets spread out that have the most delicious food to eat and wine to drink. The people are excited to taste this fairy food and drink, and help themselves to the banquet. But later they will wake up alone, above ground and out of the fairy world, and find that they’ve been chewing on sticks and leaves and drinking muddy water. Fairy food is only a trick, and it can’t satisfy real hunger or thirst.

The prophet Isaiah talked about food and drink that God freely gives to people who are hungry and thirsty. This food is the finest  and richest of food, and the drink is like pure, sparkling springs of water and the finest wine and creamiest milk. What God has to offer isn’t a trick. His love and grace and forgiveness are very costly, but he gives them to us freely. The kind of food and drink we can work for and provide for ourselves can never really satisfy us. We will only get hungry and thirsty again. But what God gives us will satisfy us completely and forever.

Jesus came to pay for the love God gives us. He gave his life for us on the cross so that we could be God’s people and have eternal life with him in heaven. We could never hope to earn God’s love and forgiveness, and without God we can never find satisfaction or the life in his heavenly kingdom that lasts forever. But God gives it to us freely because of Jesus. Our life with Jesus will satisfy us, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the food and drink that satisfies us and lasts forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

The Glorious End

Bible:

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:10-12 ESV

All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it. Psalm 22:29-31 ESV

Reflection:

Odysseus was a king, but he had to leave his kingdom to go off and fight in a war. After the war was over, Odysseus had to go through many troubles before he could return to his kingdom and his family. He had to fight with enemies, such as a Cyclops named Polyphemus, who was a giant who trapped Odysseus and his men in a cave and was eating these men every morning and evening until Odysseus tricked him and put out his eye. He also had to sail past the giant sea monster Scylla, who tried to sink his ship when he sailed past. But after many adventures and hardships Odysseus returned home to his kingdom, where there were many men who wanted to marry his wife and become the king. But Odysseus disguised himself, and he won an archery contest and then revealed who he was to everyone. After many hardships, he was back home as king.

The prophet Isaiah talked about the servant of the Lord who would suffer many things. He would be crushed for the sins of his people, and would be made an offering to God for the guilt of others. But after all the suffering and grief he would go through, there would be a happy ending for him. He would live to see all the good that his sacrifice would accomplish, and would have many children. He would have all the rewards that were coming to him because of the great work he would do.

Jesus was the servant of the Lord. He suffered many things for the sake of his people. He was beaten and whipped and insulted and slapped, and finally he was put on a cross to die. He went through all this grief because that was God’s plan. It was God’s way to bring us back to him by letting his only Son take on all the sin and guilt of the world. Jesus’ death was the perfect guilt offering, and because of what Jesus did all our sins are forgiven. The best news of all is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. He defeated sin and death by dying and rising again from the dead. Jesus is alive forever to love us and to help us, and we are his children now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for suffering and dying for us, and for rising again to defeat sin and death. Amen.

He Gave No Answer

Bible:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth. Isaiah 53:7-9 ESV

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Matthew 27:11-14, 57-60 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever tried to put a collar on a cat? Cats don’t usually like to have things like that done to them. They’ll kick and scratch and struggle. When a sheep is sheared, young sheep sometimes struggle and fight, too. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them, and it’s scary. But older sheep who have been through shearing before know how much better they’ll feel when all their heavy, hot wool is cut off them. Older sheep sometimes seem as if they are volunteering to be sheared. They’ll come right to the door of the shearing pen and let the shearers take them and cut off their wool without fighting.

Isaiah continued to talk about the person God would send. This person wouldn’t fight or argue or even give an answer when things were going badly for him. He would stay as calm and silent as an older sheep being sheared, or as a little lamb about to be killed who doesn’t realize what is about to happen. This servant of the Lord would be cut off from his people, and they wouldn’t realize that he was going through everything for their sakes. Even though he would be good and innocent, he would die the death of a wicked person. But then Isaiah gave an important clue. The prophet said that after he died he would be buried in a rich man’s grave.

Jesus is the servant of the Lord that Isaiah saw long before. Jesus went calmly to trial, and many people accused him of all kinds of terrible things, but he never tried to answer them or defend himself. He just stood quietly and calmly, and even when the governor Pontius Pilate urged him to say something to fight for himself, he didn’t say a word. He knew what was going to happen to him, and he was ready for it. Jesus knew he was about to die on the cross for the sins of all the people in the world, and he didn’t do anything to try to stop it or to save himself. He did this because he loves us and wants us to be his people forever. Then, after he had died, a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea put Jesus into his own grave. But Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He came out again, alive, the first Easter morning, and now he’s alive forever to love us and help us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being willing to go to the cross for us and not trying to defend yourself. Thank you for coming back to life for us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.peeperhollowfarm.com/thoughts-of-shearing/

He Did It for Us

Bible:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 ESV

Reflection:

Amyas Crale was a famous artist, and he and his wife Carolyn often fought with each other. One day Amyas died after he drank some beer with poison in it. Who had put poison in his beer and murdered him? Everyone was sure that his wife Carolyn had done it, but she was innocent. Carolyn thought her young sister Angela was the guilty one, but she loved her sister very much and wanted to protect her. So Carolyn let the police take her to prison, and when her case came to trial she didn’t fight at all. She let the court convict her of murder, and was put to death for the crime. She did it all for her sister. She wanted to die so that her sister could go free and not suffer the punishment for what Carolyn thought she had done.

The prophet Isaiah talked about a man who was wounded and bruised, beaten and crushed, and everyone thought that God had done it to him because he was guilty of great sins. But the truth is that this man suffered for us. We were the ones who deserved everything that happened to this man, because we were all like sheep who had wandered away from God, our Good Shepherd. But the Lord took the sins of all the people in the world and laid them on this man. He carried our sins for us because he loves us and wants us to go free and not suffer God’s punishment.

Jesus is the man Isaiah pointed ahead to. Jesus was mocked and beaten and wounded and bruised, and finally put to death on the cross. Many people looked at him and thought he must have been a terrible sinner to suffer and die in this way, but the truth was that he was dying for all the people in the world. He died for us because he loves us and wants us to be forgiven and live as God’s children forever. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who brings his wandering sheep home and keeps them in his care forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for all that you suffered for us. Please keep us yours now and always. Amen.

Source:

Christie, Agatha Five Little Pigs New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company: 1942.

 

Despised and Rejected

Bible:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:1-3 ESV

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a very old movie about a poor shoemaker named Silas who worked hard and struggled at his trade to be able to send his son to college and give him a better life and a higher standing in society. His son Arthur went to college and became a football star, and then he fell in love with a woman named Marian, who was a rich society woman. When Arthur and Marian decided to get married, Arthur sent word to his father, but asked him not to come to the wedding reception. He didn’t want his parents to be at his wedding because he was ashamed of them and of their poor background. He rejected them because he didn’t feel he could be proud of them.

The prophet Isaiah talked about a man that many people would look down on and be ashamed of. Even though he would be the one God sent, he wouldn’t have the majesty of a great king. Instead, many people would reject him and hide their faces from him. He would not have a life of happiness and success, but instead a life of sorrow and trouble. God would hide what he was doing through his servant by making him ordinary and humble instead of mighty and glorious. Many people wouldn’t believe that the Lord would act in this way, and they would miss out on the blessings God would give through his servant.

Jesus was the one God promised to send, but many of God’s people were expecting a powerful ruler they could be proud of. They didn’t expect a humble and gentle teacher. Even Jesus’ closest followers were upset when he told them that he would be handed over to the authorities and put on a cross. Being executed on a cross was a shameful way to die, and it didn’t fit in at all with the idea of a great kingdom that most people were hoping for. But God worked through Jesus’ perfect life and shameful death to bring us back to himself. Jesus’ death paid for the forgiveness of our sins, and it showed how much he loves us and wants us to be his forever. We can always trust in Jesus to save us and be proud of our loving, suffering Savior.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us. Please help us never to be ashamed of you or turn away from you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0011933/.

 

Mountain Runners

Bible:

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God. Isaiah 52:7-10 ESV

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:13-17 ESV

Reflection:

In Washington State there is a tall mountain called Mt. Baker, a snowy peak that is over 10,000 feet tall. Back in 1911 some people of the nearby town of Bellingham decided to have a mountain marathon. It would be a race that started in the town and would go to the top of the mountain and back. There were two possible routes, and some of the of the racers would take a Model T car to a ranch where one glacier trail started, and some other contestants would take a train to the beginning of another glacier trail. One route to the top from the beginning of the trail was 14 miles long, and the other route was 16 miles long, but less steep. When the racers reached the glacier by car or train, they climbed through dangerous, icy conditions to the top of the mountain and back, then hurried back to town by car or buggy to see who would cross the finish line first. The event was a great success, and another one was held each summer for the next two years. The second year, telephone lines were strung along the path the racers would take so that people in town could keep in touch with how the race was going. Everyone was very excited to see the runners off and watch for them to return.

The prophet Isaiah talked about beautiful feet on the mountains, but these feet didn’t belong to people who were running a race. The people Isaiah talked about were running over the mountains to bring good news to Jerusalem. The watchmen standing guard on the city walls saw the messengers coming to them and were very happy, because they knew there was good news on the way. The good news was that the Lord himself was coming to his people to save them and help them. All the people of Jerusalem who were in trouble were singing for joy. God would come to save his people, and all the people of the world would see what the Lord would do.

God came to his people in Jesus to save them, and Jesus died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have peace and happiness with God. This good news is for all the people of the world, and the Lord continues to send messengers to the ends of the earth to tell the good news of what Jesus has done. People who carry the good news to others have beautiful feet, because they take with them the word of God that brings others to know and love Jesus. Everyone who loves the Lord can help by sending these beautiful feet on their way, supporting their needs and praying for them. We want the whole world to know what Jesus has done!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the good news of Jesus. Please bless the people who carry this good news to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.adventuresnw.com/mountain-runners-remembering-the-mount-baker-marathon/

I Will Not Forget You

Bible:

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in. Psalm 27:7-10 ESV

Reflection:

A mother bird was sitting on her egg when it began to jump. The mother realized that her baby would soon hatch, and she flew away to get some food for her hungry new baby. When the baby bird came out of his egg, he found that he was alone in his nest. He wanted his mother, so he began to look for her everywhere. He asked a kitten and a hen, a dog and a cow, a boat and a plane and a steam shovel if they were his mother. He thought that his mother had forgotten him, but the steam shovel lifted him up and put him back into his nest, and then his mother came with some food for him to eat. She hadn’t forgotten him, after all!

Most mothers would never, ever forget their children, because they love them very much. The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah to say that even if a mother could ever forget her child, he would never forget his children. He said that they were engraved on the palms of his hands, and that he would always remember and help the children he loves.

Sometimes we are like that baby bird. We think that God has forgotten about us, and we worry and try to find him. But God never forgets us, and he is never far away from us. He loves us and hears our prayers and helps us every day. God sent Jesus, our Savior, to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. Because of what Jesus did, we are God’s children always, and nothing will ever separate us from our heavenly Father’s love for us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and making us your children through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Eastman, P. D. Are You My Mother?  New York: Random House, 1960.

Light for the Nations

Bible:

And now the Lord says,
he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him;
and that Israel might be gathered to him—
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:5-6 ESV

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32 ESV

Reflection:

The Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in New York harbor, where it has been since 1886. It was a gift to the United States from the people of France, where it was made and then transported in pieces by ships to the United States. The statue from the ground to the top of its torch is a little over 305 feet high, which is about as tall as a 22-story building. The statue is of a woman holding a torch high in the air, and for many people over the years it has been a symbol of welcome to those who were coming to the United States from other countries. In a way, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is a beacon light to people from nations around the world, welcoming them home.

The prophet Isaiah talked about another light for the nations. He talked about the servant of the Lord, someone who would help and lift up the people of Israel who were weak and fallen under captivity and trouble. But the servant of the Lord would do even more than that. He would also be a light for the nations. This servant would bring God’s saving power, not only to the people of Israel, but to people all over the world, even to the ends of the earth.

When Jesus was forty days old Mary and Joseph brought him to the temple in Jerusalem, and  man named Simeon came up to talk to them. He had been waiting for many years to see the promised Savior, and God had promised him he would see the one God had promised to send before he died. When he saw the baby Jesus, he knew that God had kept his promise. He took Jesus into his arms and said that this baby would be a light that showed God to the Gentiles–the people who weren’t part of God’s chosen people–and also the glory of Israel. Jesus is the servant of the Lord who brings God’s salvation to people from nations in every part of the world. He died on the cross to win God’s forgiveness, and sends his word and his messengers all over the world to bring this good news to everyone.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be a light to us and to all people everywhere. Please send your messengers to tell this good news to people close to us and people far away. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.nyctrip.com/pages/index.aspx?pageID=1143

The Servant of the Lord

Bible:

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and give attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword;
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow;
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.” Isaiah 49:1-4 ESV

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him. Psalm 22:22-24 ESV

Reflection:

Karen had one goal in life, and she had had it since she was a little girl. She wanted to be a teacher, and she wanted to teach children who lived in a poor neighborhood. These children might not have money for extra classes and activities, and sometimes they might not have nice clothes to wear or even enough good food to eat. But Karen knew that if she could help them get a good education, they would be able to have better lives when they finished school. So she worked very hard to teach them, but it wasn’t easy. Some of the kids had a hard time learning, and some were hungry or tired when they came to school and couldn’t concentrate. They also were quite often disrespectful or disobedient, and Karen had to work hard to teach them how to behave in school. She got very discouraged sometimes because she didn’t know if she was making much of a difference in their lives. It was only years later, when a few of her students came back to her and thanked her and told her how much she had helped them that she knew that her hard work had made a difference.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a servant of the Lord, who would work hard to do what God had called him to do, but yet not always see if his work had made any difference. Isaiah spoke of God’s people Israel as the servant of the Lord, people that God had chosen long ago to do his work, and had prepared for their special place in the world. Isaiah compared them to a polished arrow and a sharp sword who might do great things in God’s hands. But God’s people felt discouraged, because they had become very weak and powerless. They didn’t know if they had accomplished what the Lord had meant them to accomplish, and all that they could do is leave things in God’s hands and let him work out his own purposes through them.

God used his people Israel to bring the promised Savior into the world. Jesus is God’s promised Savior, and he is the true servant of the Lord. Jesus came to bring us back to our Heavenly Father, but when he was put to death on the cross, it might have seemed as if everything he had come to do had been in vain. But Jesus knew that when he was dying on the cross, he was paying for the sins of the whole world, and he could leave everything in the hands of his heavenly Father. Jesus came out of the grave on the first glad Easter, and through him God accomplished his purpose to defeat sin and death forever and bring us into his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working out your purposes for us through Jesus and his death and resurrection. In HIs Name,  Amen.