June 8, 2016

Isaiah 44-45
But for now, dear servant Jacob, listen—yes, you, Israel, my personal choice. God who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don’t be afraid, dear servant Jacob, Jeshurun, the one I chose. For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth. I will pour my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children. They shall sprout like grass on the prairie, like willows alongside creeks. This one will say, ‘I am God’s,‘ and another will go by the name Jacob; That one will write on his hand ‘God’s property‘—and be proud to be called Israel.”

God, King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: “I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between. I’m the only God there is....Don’t be afraid, and don’t worry:  Haven’t I always kept you informed, told you what was going on? You’re my eyewitnesses: Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me?...There’s no Rock like me that I know of.”...

“Remember these things, O Jacob. Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant. I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant. O Israel, I’ll never forget you. I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings. There’s nothing left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I’ve redeemed you.” High heavens, sing! God has done it. Deep earth, shout! And you mountains, sing!  A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars! God has redeemed Jacob. God’s glory is on display in Israel.  God, your Redeemer, who shaped your life in your mother’s womb, says: “I am God. I made all that is. With no help from you I spread out the skies and laid out the earth.”...

God’s Message to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand to give the task of taming the nations, of terrifying their kings—...That I’ve singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work.  And you don’t even know me.  I am God, the only God there is. Besides me there are no real gods. I’m the one who armed you for this work,  though you don’t even know me.  So that everyone, from east to west, will know that I have no god-rivals. I am God, the only God there is. I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, God, do all these things...

Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes, God of Israel, Savior God. Humiliated, all those others will be ashamed to show their faces in public. Out of work and at loose ends, the makers of no-god idols won’t know what to do with themselves. The people of Israel, though, are saved by you, God, saved with an eternal salvation. They won’t be ashamed, they won’t be at loose ends, ever....

This God says: “I am God, the one and only. I don’t just talk to myself or mumble under my breath. I never told Jacob,  ‘Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.’ I am God. I work out in the open, saying what’s right, setting things right. So gather around, come on in, all you refugees and castoffs...So turn to me and be helped—saved!—everyone, whoever and wherever you are. I am God, the only God there is, the one and only.  I promise in my own name: Every word out of my mouth does what it says. I never take back what I say.  Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me. Everyone is going to end up saying of me, ‘Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!’”

All who have raged against him will be brought before him, disgraced by their unbelief. And all who are connected with Israel will have a robust, praising, good life in God!

Luke 15 - 
By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently.  The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not pleased at all.  They growled, “he’ takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”  

Their grumbling, triggered the story of the lost sheep and a shepherd leaving the ninety-nine in order to go after the one lost sheep.  “Count on it--there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need to rescue.”  

This story was followed by the story of the lost coin and the lost son.  In his story of the lost son, he explains how the older brother stalks off in an angry sulk and refused to join in.  His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen....His father said, Son, you don’t understand.  You’re with me all the time and everything that is mine is yours--but this is a wonderful time and we had to celebrate.  This brother of yours was dead and he’s alive!  He was lost and he’s found!”