Tag Archives: God’s power

Isaiah 31

Scripture: from verse 4

their voices do not upset him…

Observation: Israel has been turning to Egypt for help (again) and God is highlighting how much more powerful He is than Egypt, by comparing Himself to a lion that the shepherds are yelling at.  Occasionally, of course, there was a shepherd (like David) who was able to drive off a lion, but most of the time the lions could safely ignore the shepherds they encountered.  The shepherd didn’t even factor into its plans.

That’s how God feels.  Our strength and plans and resources don’t even figure in His calculations unless He feels like including them.  We are not nearly as big as we thing we are.

And really, that’s just as well.  Even when we’re doing okay, we almost never really have everything figured out.  There’s always an unexpected factor or event or person to throw our plans out of whack.  The 2005 movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has one character murmur, “Best-laid plans of mice,” and when he is corrected, he adds, “I don’t think men had much to do with it.”  And while I’m pretty sure the mice aren’t running the show, I agree with him that we aren’t either.

Application:  In all your ways, acknowledge Him (Psalm 3).  He’s bigger than you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you for being bigger than me.  I praise you because you understand my world considerably better than I do.  I praise you because the things that threaten me do not bother you.  Thank you for protecting me.  Help me to remember that you have already set my plans.  Amen.

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Isaiah 30:14-33

Scripture: from verse 26

…and the light of the sun will be seven times stronger,
like the light of seven days [in one]…

Observation: The passage begins by pointing out that if the people of Israel want to be strong and safe, all they have to do is turn to God and rest in Him.  The problem is not that God has been demanding anything especially difficult from them, but that they are unwilling to surrender agency enough to trust Him.

God says that someday they will come back and let Him heal them.  Among other blessings that happen at that time, the sun will be seven times brighter than it is now.

I can’t imagine this is literal.  If our sun (a dwarf star) were suddenly replaced by a subgiant star, I’m fairly certain the ecosystem would be devastated and life as we know it would come to an end fairly quickly.  Of course, God does promise a new heaven and new earth someday, but this doesn’t seem to be about that.

However, the number seven generally means completion and perfection and wholeness.  So what we have here is the promise of a new kind of light.  Not just a new color or intensity, but something that is intrinsically and fundamentally different and more complete.  Something completely outside our experience.

I don’t know what that will be like.  But I like thinking about it.  I suspect it will be even wilder and more mysterious than the light we have now, which is saying something.  It might be able to do more than just reveal surface appearance – maybe it will be able to reveal truth or fight oppression.  I’m mostly glad to know that God hasn’t run out of surprises.

Application:  I cannot possibly be expected to be practical with such a cool new subject for speculation.

Prayer: Father of Light, I praise you for being infinite, for always having a new idea or a new facet or a new form to reveal.  Help me to walk in your light.  Amen.

Isaiah 13:1-10

Scripture: verse 3

I have ordered My holy ones,
summoned My heroes, eager and bold,
to execute My anger.

Observation:  This prophecy is of the doom of Babylon, which is to be punished for…actually we haven’t gotten that far yet, but presumably pride and godlessness and the other things that nations usually got punished for.

I mostly like the imagery of this – the glory and power and might of God’s army, called to war.  It needs sweeping music and rioting colors and lots of drums and trumpets and preferably an unusual time signature.  (Hero is the one who points out time signatures to me, and we’ve noticed they are common in particularly rousing movie scores.)

We think of war and punishment and God’s anger as bad things.  And certainly it is a bad thing that people are hurt and die.  But God is good and glorious and loving and beautiful, and that means His anger has to be good and glorious and loving and beautiful.  He is always Himself.

Application:  Don’t really have one.  Look for God’s beauty, I guess?

Prayer:  Father, I praise you, for you are yourself.  You are powerful and awesome and beautiful and stirring, and there is no part of you that is not those things.  Help me to recognize you and respond to you.  Amen.

Isaiah 2:12-22

Scripture: verse 17

The pride of man will be bowed down,
the arrogance of men will be humiliated,
and when that day comes,
Adonai alone will be exalted.

Observation:  Matthew 24 says that heaven and earth will pass away, but the word of the Lord will stand.

Humans are astonishingly bad at long-term thinking.  We think the fluctuations we see today are global trends that will lead to catastrophe or prosperity for all time.  (Some of them are, of course, but we’re very bad at spotting which ones.)  And the things we think aren’t changing and aren’t changeable usually are changeable and are changing.  We just can’t see it.

All of our guesses and predictions and ideas for new world orders will end someday.  God will be revealed and very little of what we have done will stand up to His light.  But some of it will: if we choose to seek His help now, we can do things that last.

Sooner or later, God will stand glorified.  Sooner or later, we will acknowledge our own weaknesses.  But when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Cor 12:10).

Application: Don’t stand on false pride.  It won’t last long anyway.

Prayer: Father, I praise you for being the Rock that is higher than I.  I can rely on you when I cannot rely on myself.  Help me to see my own weakness and turn to your strength.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:16-20

Scripture: verse 16

Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.

Observation: The shield of trust (also translated the shield of faith) is one of the tools we are given for spiritual warfare.

What are we supposed to trust in?  That God is who He says He is.  That He’s made us perfect, as He says He has.  That He will guide us and protect us and give us peace.

The only reason to use flaming arrows is that you are aiming them at something flammable.  Satan doesn’t just lie to us – he uses lies that will connect with the doubts and fears we already have, hoping to provoke further destruction.

If we trust God, then Satan’s arrows will be stopped in their tracks.  They can’t hurt us if they hit against our faith in God instead of our doubts in ourselves.  So we need to practice making our faith bigger than our doubts.

Application:  Trust God.  Read about what He has done and is doing, and choose to believe Him.  Acknowledge that He can see farther and clearer than you can, so if what He says contradicts the evidence of your own eyes – He’s probably right.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for making me your daughter.  Thank you for declaring that I am beautiful and righteous and perfect, even if I don’t see it that way.  Help me to trust your evaluation of the facts over my own.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:11-15

Scripture: from verse 14 and 15

I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its character.

Observation:  That word translated “character” is another tricky one.  It’s derived from the Greek for “name.”  At the time this was written, people believed that names had power.  Your name was the sum of yourself – your thoughts, authority, personality, everything – and to know someone’s name gave you understanding of them and control over them.  There are several times when demons, meeting Yeshua, screamed that they knew His name, probably in an attempt to assert power over Him.  And this idea is still powerful today – it’s a common part of magic in fantasy, and even without a magical component we attach a great deal of meaning and and thought to our names.

And here we learn that every family in heaven and on earth receives their Name – their identity, their character, their role and authority – from God.  From the context I’m sure that this was meant to be about Jews and Gentiles, but it’s also about my family, and my husband’s family, and the family that we’re building together.  It’s about your family.  It’s about the Jews and the Irish and the Chinese and the Arabs and the people across the street.  All of them, individually granted a unique identity by God.

Application: To love my name.  To love my family.  To love my married name, which has always been a bit of a struggle for me.  To know that God has a calling for all of us.

Prayer: Father, thank you for my name.  Thank you for my family name, for your calling on us.  Thank you that we are not all the same, that we are not like others and they are not like us.  Help us to work together to glorify you.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:20-23

Scripture: from verses 22 and 23:

The Messianic Community…is His body, the full expression of Him who fills all creation.

Observation:  I’m fairly certain the Greek here is quite complicated, but I don’t feel like poking around in it (especially since the meaning relies on specific prepositions, which I’m not able to follow) so I’ll take it as written.

Believers are His body (which I knew).  As His body, we are a portrayal of Him.  According to this verse, we are the full expression – such an accurate portrayal that He doesn’t need another.  Obviously this is one of those facts vs truth things – we are still sinful, but God has declared us sinless, so in Him we are sinless.  (He has made perfect forever we who are still being made holy, according to Hebrews.)

Which is kind of insane, even aside from the sin issue, because God is huge.  Fills all creation, like it says.  Something as small as a human cannot be the full expression of God. But it says we are.

The universe is a fractal: it looks the same at every level.  The same themes and changes and principles that operate over the entire universe also operate in my life, and operate again at a cellular level.  At the same time, God made us special – we have free will and creativity and intelligence that no other being (as far as we know) has.  The Screwtape Letters describes us as amphibians – half animal and half spirit – and this, I think, is part of what he meant.  We reflect not just the universe, but the God who fills the universe.

God can be bounded in a nutshell and count Himself a king of infinite space – and the evil of this world is no more than a bad dream.  He can make us like Himself and use us to dance the dance of the universe.

Application: This is about perspective to me.  There’s nothing new under the sun, nothing He hasn’t accounted for, nothing that catches Him off-guard.  Which means that He knows me.  He knew me before the creation of the world.  I can’t screw things up for Him, and neither can anyone else.  Which means it’s going to be okay.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for making it okay.  Thank you for having a plan, for knowing the resolution of the dance and the end of the story.  Thank you for holding me close and carrying me through it.  Amen.

Ephesians 1:11-15

Scripture: from verse 11

…according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of His will.

Observation:  No, that’s not a typo – this is the verb “effect,” which means to bring about or make happen.  He makes stuff happen.  Not just the abstract “stuff” that we all make happen, but the actual, literal stuff that our universe consists of.  Matter.  Energy.  Love.

The laws of physics state that matter and energy cannot be created and cannot be destroyed.  (They can be turned into each other, but that’s a different story.)  The laws of human nature seem to imply that disinterested love is impossible.  Life should be more or less impossible, for that matter.  All the things that should be limited and impossible, He does.  Because He decided to.

Application:  …um.  I did tell you I was bad at applications, didn’t I?

Prayer:  Lord, I praise you for being before the before.  Thank you for making me.  Thank you for making the impossible happen.  Thank you for giving me the power to do the impossible also.  Amen.