Isaiah 40:1-11 – Comfort for the Weary

The Shepherd by Indian artist P. Solomon Raj (1921-2019)

Comfort, comfort my people,
    says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
    that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out.”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

You who bring good news to Zion,
    go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
    lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
    say to the towns of Judah,
    “Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
    and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young. (NIV)

As we journey through the Christian Year, we have spent the past twenty-five weeks in the longest season on the Church Calendar: ordinary or proper time. It is only appropriate that the dog days of summer and the bulk of autumn should be within this time.

Most of the Christian’s life is lived in the mundane yet necessary work of mission. Small and seemingly obscure acts of kindness, careful yet often discreet acts of love, and graciously chosen words of encouragement which may not be noticed by many are what mostly characterize the daily pilgrimage of faith.

I am sure the ancient Jewish people felt that, for an awfully long time, they were plodding along as faithfully as they could with often little to show for it. Yet, they knew it would not always be this way. God’s people anticipated that a time was coming when their pedantic service would see the light of day.

I am sure we, too, have times when it feels as if our prayers are only bouncing off the ceiling. In such times, words of comfort and assurance come as a breath of fresh air. When we least expect it, God speaks to us tenderly and with compassion. The Lord steps into our weariness and exhausting work and says, “Enough!”

Whereas our walk with God may often feel like trudging up and down hills, sloshing through muddy valleys, and traversing hard terrain, the proclamation of comfort assures us that it will not always be this way. The way to God will be made level so that we can connect with the Lord post haste.

No matter how much our worldly circumstances break us down, even shattering our expectations and dreams, we carry with us an unflagging vision of wholeness, integrity, and hope. God is our true home, our polestar, our ultimate destiny. Feeling displaced, out of sorts, or like we just do not belong are signs that we long for our place with God.

And when we find our home with God, all might be going to hell around us, yet we are buttressed and sustained by living divine words. For those with eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts attuned to grace, there is John the Baptist, smoothing the highway to our Lord – preparing the way to Jesus. (Mark 1:1-4)

God, as both the warrior who powerfully fights our battles, and the shepherd who lovingly tends to our needs, firmly takes the initiative to bring us home, going out of the way to gently pick us up and carry us back to the place we belong.

The good news is that the world is changed by God. The world around us is no longer the way we thought it was or was supposed to be. Despair gives way to confident expectation, and discouragement is slowly replaced by consolation. The long exile is coming to an end. Jesus is coming soon. All will be made right; justice and peace will have the day.

Let your hearts be true and humble, as befits God’s holy reign. For the glory of the Lord is on the earth and will be from everlasting to everlasting.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to people of goodwill. We praise you; we bless you; we adore you; we give thanks to you for your great glory. Amen.

Psalm 99 – The Holy Helper

Welcome, friends! Just as we need a strong physical spine for good health, equally necessary is a healthy spiritual spine with good strong theology holding us up. Click the video below and let’s worship the Lord…

And, here is Psalm 99 put to song and performed by the Sons of Korah…

Psalm 99 by the Sons of Korah

May you be strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Amen.

Ezekiel 1:1-2:1

            If anyone ever tells you they are certain about everything in the book of Ezekiel, don’t believe them.  This chapter and initial vision of God seen by Ezekiel is an incredible view.  It almost defies description.  In fact, it does.  It is as if Ezekiel was trying to somehow communicate with the limitation of words exactly what he saw. 
            But even though we might not understand or comprehend everything in this vision does not mean we can lose sight of the big picture of what was happening.  Ezekiel got a glimpse of God in his glory, which would explain why it is such a mysterious vision.  Reading over the vision slowly, one can gain the sense of immensity, hugeness, grandeur, and awesome glory.  The Hebrew word “glory” literally means “heavy.”  In other words, God is so large, bright, and holy that he carries a great deal of weight.  As we used to say back in the ‘70’s: “Heavy, man, heavy!”
            This was much more than just a neat experience for Ezekiel.  It completely had him undone.  Ezekiel fell on his face because that is about all one can do when encountering such an incredible appearance.  Sneaking a peek of God in his glorious splendor is an awesome sight.  So, when God speaks from the place of his glory, there is nothing to do but listen and obey.
            Meeting God, this same God whom Ezekiel encountered, is no small thing.  When we truly catch a glimpse of this holy God, it will forever change us – and this is a good thing.  If we want to hear the call of God upon our lives we need to see God’s glory, otherwise we can too quickly forget him and neglect doing what he says.  May the Lord be gracious in allowing you a glance into his throne room – and may you never be the same again because of it.


            Glorious God, you carry such great weight that all creation bows to your every word and each move.  I bow before you, and I will stand up so that I might hear what you have to say to me.  Speak, Lord, for I am listening to you.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

             God is holy.  His character and basic nature is sinless, pure, beautiful, and completely separated from all that is evil.  However, there is a problem; but it is not with God.  Ever since humanity fell into sin, people cannot be near or approach a perfect Being.  Just as we would go blind by looking directly at the sun – or be totally disintegrated by getting too close to it – so humans cannot be with such a holy God.
             In the Old Testament, God graciously devised a system whereby people could approach him.  A temple was built.  It had very detailed and strict prescriptions about how it was to be built.  There needed to be curtains, walls, and borders everywhere in order to protect and shield the people from being destroyed by the sheer holiness of God.
             Entering the New Testament, Jesus is the exact representation of God’s holy being and presence.  In Christ, God became intimately close to his people.  Through Jesus we are delivered from the problem of being far away from God.  If that were not enough, God sent his Holy Spirit to be the continuing presence of Jesus on this earth.  The Apostle Paul tells us that, as the church, we are a holy temple which is graciously, patiently, and with great care being built into a spiritual house that can be the place where God meets with humanity.
             Wow!  Please do not miss the sheer grace of all this work on God’s part.  He has gone out of his way to be with us.  He has bended and pointed history for his purposes in order to make it possible to be with us.  Like a lover separated from his beloved, God has pulled out all the stops to make us holy so that we can abide with him in his holiness.  Praise to the God of heaven!
             Loving God, you have gone to the greatest lengths possible in order to be with humanity.  You have not destroyed us, but graciously sent your Son so that we can be with you forever.  Forgive me of all the times I have jilted you.  Instead, continue your work of making me holy so that I can be like you in all your wonderful holiness through the power of the Spirit.  Amen.