Tag Archives: Isaiah

Tools

Will the axe boast against him who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it? As if a rod could sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wood! Isaiah 10:15

The main difference with tools and servants is this — one can say no, one can’t. The tools sitting at the garage just wait to be picked up for work and use. The servants in the pew has the power to say to the Master, “I’m a sinner, I’m not good.” “Not now.” or “Not me.” The toolbox occupants are always prepared and ready for the action. Servants have always the option, to go or not. There is a choice to be made by the servant if he or she will allow the Creator to create through him or her. If the servant say’s no, the Master may select another servant to do the work.

The main similarity with tools and servants is this — both can’t claim the glory of the work done. Two of my old uncles were carpenters, but they were not the same creators. With this, they may pick up and utilize the same tools but they may not have the same creation. One does an excellent job, one doesn’t.  Thus, the tools can’t grab the limelight of the work. Yes, they are part of the accomplishment, yet, without the expert guiding hands of the Master, the tools will still be siting in that cold box. Their purpose not fulfilled. Their edges not used. Their skills not displayed.

The lesson you may learn from this is this — be a servant who will trample trunks of challenges and at the same time who will not boast against him who hews you. Be a servant who cuts hearts and minds and who doesn’t exalt himself or herself above the hands who wields it. Be a ready and a willing servant for God’s glory.

 

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God’s Big Time

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

You had plans.

Since your college days, you had this plan. To serve God through building and sustaining a community of disciples in your locality. The blueprint is stable, you said. It can be done. Why not? You have the support of brothers and sisters. You have the skills through years of training and experience. You have the assistance of a bigger community who pledged their pastoral and administrative help for your plan. Your family is with you on this. Your profession even gives you the time to do your ministry. For the past years, you have been building this. You started with college kids. You jumped into the single professionals’ ministry. So, what’s next in line? The bigger community of disciples, which you pictured in your mind and in your heart.

And God? He has other plans.

God thought, it is too small for you to stick to your plan. God thought, it is too little for his grace for you to implement your scheme. He brought you to another nation, full expenses paid. He gave you a good profession. He gave you a ministry. He blessed you with people who support you. He showered you with this amateur writing skill to reach the broader space out there. He gave you a community and a venue where you can talk about him at the city that never sleeps.

That’s why you can relate with what Isaiah heard from the Planner, “It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

Always be ready when God’s plans unfold. Be prepared to swap your personal plans with his. Have faith in him and have courage through him, to follow his plans.

When your plans are too little for him, God gives you his big time.

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Recompense

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. Isaiah 49:4

“At last! The difficulty has ended!”

This was a co-servant’s exclamation after we finished each retreat or a recollection for college students. I understood him. Serving forty young people whose attention is not quite long on you when you are in front trying to contest their hearts. When you talk in front about God’s love, they talk to one another about themselves. When you prepare their food for their upcoming meal, something in you thinks if it is all worth it. You are spending your young life in wanting to bring them closer to Jesus yet your expected results seem to be impossible for now. You give them your all, they don’t give you anything except their idle time. You prepare well for this event, they don’t prepare their hearts. And it’s difficult to continue serving. Words are falling on deaf ears. Words are bouncing back from hard hearts.

No wonder, Isaiah confirms,” Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength…” You think your time spent bringing God’s words to his people is useless when they don’t respond. You think your actions of service are for nothing when the outcome is not like multiplication of the bread. You think your efforts in planning and operating the event is in vain when the end signifies your work is not finish.

But Isaiah did not stop at that point, he continues, “…Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God.” The results, at the end of the event, are not you reward. The response of the participants is not your recompense. Your reward, your recompense is with your God. The gift of partaking is his work of evangelization or any ministry is an enough prize for us, who are lowly and unworthy servants serving the King of kings. Being with the presence of God…before, during and after the time of service is a complete benefit for us, who are called to join in his harvest.

The results, their response are not your rewards. Your recompense is with your God.

 

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Never Forgets

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. Isaiah 49:15

I am keeping my old cellphone.

It is not activated now. It does not receive call or text. It can takes pictures but blurred ones. It has my contacts and some important notes. If I need to call somebody, I grab it for my reference. I use it for morning alarms so I can wake up our daughters to rise up and get ready for school. More than these, I am keeping my non-working cellphone because of some text messages.

They come from a brother in Christ who never forgets to greet on each of our family member’s birthday. Each year, the cellphone has received his greetings on the dot. March, May, August and December with all the specific days, the man sends his good wishes for the birthday celebrants. He never forgets.

I believe Isaiah. He said, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15). God’s promise of remembrance of his children is important.

Knowing you have a God who never forgets gets you going in life. A God who does not only remember your birthdays but who takes note of all your days. He knows your jobless days. He tabs your unhealthy moments. He records your days of mourning on death. He knows your low lonely days to which he made his presence felt. He gives you strength during your trying rough days. He bountifully bless you with grace to overcome times of temptations. A Father who brings you joy in your days of sorrows and who gives you uncommon resolute in your days of common difficulty. A God who bookmarks your seconds, minutes and hours. He highlights your days through the years.

He knows you. He knows your days. He never forgets. Keep this.

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God Holds Your Hand

For I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

He could have said, “I will send angels to hold you and help you.” But did not. He could have said, “My prophets will take your hand and give you aid.” But did not. He could have said, “My disciples will reach out to you, and you will be fine.” But did not.

But here, God is telling us, he will grasp our hand and tell us face to face, “Fear not, I will help you.” Here is a God who promises us, “I will feel your pain, and I will ease it or erase it.” Here is a God who says, “Feel my grip on you, I will never let go of you.” Here is a God who declares, “I am here for you and will guide you.”

There is more than holding or grasping hands.

There is intimacy. For lovers who are in their honeymoon or in their 5oth year of marriage.

There is security. For a daughter tightly locked into her father’s arms amidst the darkness of a movie theater.

There is goodness. For a stranger who volunteers to hold the aging man and help him reach the other side of the street.

There is empathy. For a calamity victim as he is encouraged by the missionary worker.

There is hope. For a hospital bedridden patient as she feels the clasp of her doctor’s hands.

There is endurance. For a friend who reaches out a friend for him to hurdle the next step towards the mountain top.

There is gladness. For a father swinging his hands coupled with his daughter’s around the playground.

And God assures us, he is a personal God who grasp our hand. A God who becomes one of us come December 25, to feel our sorrows and celebrate our joys. To reach out to us. To become intimate with us, to understand what we are undergoing. To be one with us. For us to be secured and hopeful. For us to endure and enjoy. Friends, we have a God who holds your hand.

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Swing God

Then will the LORD create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night. Isaiah 4:5

The swing bus. In my profession, it is a generation source that adjusts its output for the system to keep its balance. The balance is between the output of generation sources and consumption of load sinks. When power is more than the demand, the swing bus adjust its supply to keep the system balance. When there is an imbalance due to the fact that load consumption is greater than the generation, the swing bus boosts its provision to bring the system into equilibrium.

The logic is simple yet significant. The swing bus adjusts itself to create balance. Give more when there is less, give less when there is more.

Is God a swing God? He knows when to give more when there is less. He knows when to give less when there is more.

The verse above proves this – Then will the LORD create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, a smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night.

When there is more sunlight, he gives a shade. When there is darkness around us, he gives light.

No. He is not a God whose like an automatic dispenser.

He is a God who knows what is our need – a smoking cloud or a flaming fire. He is a God who knows when is our need – day or night. He is a God who knows how much we need – over the whole site, over the assembly.

When there is too much sun burning our hearts with pride, he gives us humility. When there is too much light in us stealing his glory, he sends shadows. When we take control of the day and not him, he provides smoking clouds so we know he drives our lives.

When there is weakness, he provides strength to overcome. In our dimmed hospital rooms, he sends fire of healing. To the gloomy alleys of the homeless and forgotten, he gives refuge and stronghold. To the shady place of the alone and lonely, he makes his presence felt. Look into your night, wait for the light of flaming fire he holds.

All from God for us to keep us in balance.

God knows our needs. What it is, when we need it, how much we need it. And he dances swing.

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Savior

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. Isaiah 12:2

“We have no money.”

That’s what my boss told me as I was discussing with him my visa and immigration options. Though I have a renewed working visa, good for one year, I was looking at possible ways to extend our stay by converting my present visa to another working visa. The immigration lawyer hired by the company recommended this scheme. Yet, since the company is feeling the heat of recession, the company is going all out to use funds wisely.

After we’ve talked, I returned to my cubicle heaving a heavy heart. Questions climb my mind. What about my family’s stability? We are slowly adjusting to the life and culture where we are in. What about our long term goals? Our daughters’ education and the family’s charismatic community life. What about our financial obligations? Our house mortgage and sort of loans.

I can’t save the company from recession. I can’t save our family from instability. I can’t save the world from recession.

Only God can. I can’t. God can. I am free from carrying the burden. I am free from fear of instability. I am free from starting all over again. God is indeed my savior.

With God as our savior, we are confident and unafraid. Fear is not a factor. I am confident God has a plan for us. To deepen our roots or to sow us somewhere.

My strength does not lie on the company’s financial health. My courage does not depend on my attractive resume. God is my strength and and my courage.

He has been my savior. Countless times, God has shown He is in control. Incalculable moments in our life, God has reach our His mighty hands. Will He not show up and save us now?

Bring it on Mr. Recession.

I have God as my savior.

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