Tag Archives: Source of sources

Isaiah 48:1-11

Scripture: from verse 6

From this time forth I announce to you new things,
    hidden things that you have not known.

Observation:  Ecclesiastes 1 says that there is nothing new under the sun, but here God is announcing new things.  That isn’t entirely surprising, because God is the only one who can make new things.

The relationship between us and our world rather reminds me of fanfiction sometimes.  Fanfiction is stories written by the fans of a given work – the fans use the characters and world created by the author to make up new stories.  And each new canon installment (each new book, movie, episode, etc) may contain new details, and the trends in fanfic stories change accordingly.  (The Harry Potter fandom in particular is fascinating to watch, as each new book and movie brought new background and character development.  In the stories written between stages, certain characters move from beloved to reviled, from benevolent to manipulative, from romantic to villainous, and back again.)

Fanfic traditionally begins with a “disclaimer,” a statement that acknowledges that the author does not own the world or characters.  My favorite disclaimer says, “It’s [author’s] world, we just play in it.”  (This references the common phrase, “It’s [X’s] world, we just live in it,” which apparently dates back to Frank Sinatra, of all people.  Who knew?)

The point here is that it’s God’s world and we just play in it.  He is the only one who can come up with new canon characters, new canon ideas, new canon spells.  And when He does, it’s a New Thing.

Application: …yeah, coming up blank here.  Trusting Him sounds like a good plan, so let’s go with that.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you are the cause of new things.  You are able to do what no one else can do.  You are able to bring new life and new wholeness to what is broken.  Help me to trust that you have a plan for new things for me.  Amen.

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Isaiah 45:1-13

Scripture: from verse 4

I name you, though you do not know me.

Observation:  God is speaking to Cyrus (probably the king of Persia) here, saying that God has chosen to bless and enrich Cyrus because by doing so He will bless Israel.

I’ve noticed lately (or rather, God pointed out) that I lack faith in certain areas.  So I’ve been praying for more faith, but without really believing that I’ll receive what I ask for, because that’s part of the faith I’m lacking.  Logic and scripture both indicate that my prayer will be answered, mind you.  I just don’t believe it yet.  (In other news, brains are not nearly as rational as we might wish.)

So I’m asking God to move unilaterally, because I can’t move to meet Him.  And part of me worries that it doesn’t work like that: that nothing will happen unless I do something to increase my own faith.  That God has better things to do with His time.

But the truth is that God has nothing better to do with His time.  The truth is that He delights to bless me.  The truth is that He named me before I knew Him, and He will continue to pull me close.  And if I don’t believe those things, that’s my problem.  My worries don’t change who God is.

Application:  Ignore your worries and let Him work.

Prayer:  God, thank you for naming me before I knew you.  I praise you because you are not limited by your nature, but can move and work to do your will.  Please bless me and teach me about yourself.  Amen.

Isaiah 40:21-31

Scripture: from verse 21

Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

Observation:  The passage is about the order of the universe – God on top, controlling everything, and all of us playing in His world.  This is foundational knowledge.  It comes instinctively, rising from the soles of our feet.  Knowing it is not so much about learning something new, but about unlearning all the illusions that are in place to mask it.

My family sometimes jokes about “breathing through the holes in the soles of your feet,” a phrase we got from a relaxation tape recommended by my brother’s doctor.  Despite its silliness, it can be an effective way of relaxing: imagining pulling calmness through your body, aware of every inch of yourself.

This feels similar to me.  The idea of knowledge of God being in not just your mind but in your body, something that all of me knows and all of me responds to.  God knows every inch of my body, and every inch of my body knows Him.

Application:  Allow yourself to know who God is.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you laid the foundations of the earth.  The core of the Earth and every layer of the mantle knows you, just as the rocks and trees know you and praise you.  Help me to allow myself to know you and be rooted in you.  Amen.

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 28

Scripture: verses 5 and 6

On that day, AdonaiTzva’ot [Lord of Hosts]
will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem
for the remnant of his people.
He will also be a spirit of justice
for whoever sits as a judge,
and a source of strength for those
repelling enemy attacks at the gate.

Observation:  God is beauty and glory and wealth for the people who have turned to Him after lots of war and hardship and desolation.  They have no dignity left, so He is their dignity for them.  At the same time, He is also Justice and Wisdom for those who are making hard decisions, and Strength for those who are fighting a hard fight.

In other words, when we turn to Him, He is exactly what we need.

He is rest when we are tired and wisdom when we are confused and direction when we are lost and beauty and interest when we are bored.  We tend to assume that God is good at fixing a certain set of problems, but that for some things we’re on our own.  But just because God is propping up the entire universe doesn’t mean He can’t also take the time to help me figure out how to teach my daughters to share their toys.  (Not that I’ve succeeded in that one, but I think we’re getting better.  At least a bit.)

Praying about everything isn’t a cop-out.  It isn’t a way of dodging the real issue or hiding my head in the sand.  (Well, I suppose it might be, if I’m also avoiding doing what I know I’m supposed to do.)  It’s the best and most reliable course of action.  For everything.

Application:  What haven’t you asked Him about yet?

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are everything to everyone.  Your identity is not limited to one set of attributes or problems.  Thank you for providing for all of my needs.  Help me to see where I haven’t asked for help yet, and to turn to you.  Amen.

Isaiah 25:1-5

Scripture: verse 4

For You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in distress,
shelter from the storm,
shade from the heat —
for the blast from the ruthless
was like a storm that could destroy a wall.

Observation:  Finally a happy chapter!!  Most of this chapter is a song of praise to the Lord.  Makes a nice break from all the doom.

Something I read yesterday was talking about the aftermath of big tropical storms – houses are gone, streets are gone, maps don’t work, the infrastructure is broken, etc.  Isaiah says that the actions of the wicked and powerful are like a tropical storm, and their victims wake up to find their entire lives just gone.

But God is our shelter.  God is the one who provides a home to those who have none, who knows exactly where we are and where we are going even when our maps don’t work, who can navigate the ever-changing order of authority because He is Order and He is Authority.  God fills in for everything we lack, because He was always our Source to begin with.

Application:  Trust God to provide for you.  He already does.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you are the Source of everything around me – order and shelter and family and life.  Thank you for giving me everything I need.  Help me to remember to turn to you for help and shelter when I need it, instead of trying to struggle through on my own.  Amen.

Isaiah 24

Scripture: from verse 3

The land will be…completely empty and plundered,
for Adonai has spoken this word.

Observation:  So that’s cheerful.  I’m not sure which land this refers to, but it hardly matters.

In Genesis 1, we learn that God made the heavens and the earth, and the earth was empty.  With a word, God created energy and matter and form and structure and life.  And now, with a word, He has chosen to undo some of that making.

C S Lewis pointed out that we assume that our time and energy and bodies are our own, and that this is an awfully silly thing to assume.  We did not make our bodies; we were put into them and given life and time by God, without (as far as we know) having any input into the timing or manner of that creation.  We will be taken out of these bodies at a time and place and manner of God’s choosing, and we have no way of predicting or controlling that.

All of these things that we think we control, when all of reality is God’s words.  We work within the framework of what He speaks.

Application:  Remember that He made you.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because you are the word made flesh.  Thank you for making me and making a framework in which I can live and grow and work.  Help me to recognize the sovereignty of your word.  Amen.

Isaiah 23

Scripture: from verse 18

[Tyre’s] merchandise and profits will be dedicated to Adonai; they will not be stored up or hoarded…

Observation:  This chapter was a prediction of destruction for Tyre, a major crossroads and port, for the usual pride and rebellion.  God promises at the end that Tyre will be restored as a prosperous port city, but it will be dedicated to the Lord instead of only thinking about itself.

There’s always an inclination to hoard what we have, whether it’s time or energy or money or art supplies.  Seeing the pile of surplus makes us feel safer.  But we aren’t safer: none of these things are likely to stick around if we just try to hang onto them, and God was the one keeping us safe in the first place.

I mention art supplies because I do this all the time.  I never want to use the last bit of a paint or pretty paper, because what if I never get it again?  What if I waste it?  What if I ruin it?  It’s just paint, but you wouldn’t know it from the tizzy my brain gets into.  When I did art swapping and people would include cool little cards and papers and buttons as “extras” to use in future artworks, I had to throw them out right away or I would be miserable.  Because there was only one of each thing, so I could never use any of them.  Never.  I might make something ugly, after all, and then they’d be wasted.  I think I still have a drawer of stuff I collected and couldn’t use before I realized it was a problem and started pitching them or passing them on in the next swap.

This isn’t a healthy mindset, but I know I’m not alone in it.  We keep things.  In fact, studies show that losing something makes us 2.5 times sadder than getting it made us happy in the first place.  It’s called loss aversion.  It’s crazy, but humans are crazy.

And here God shows us the way out: dedicate what we have to God.  If it’s His stuff, we don’t have to worry about wasting it.  He’ll help us manage it wisely.  And if it’s His stuff, we don’t need to worry about running out.  He’s got plenty more.  Living without fear means not hoarding what we have.

Application: Dedicate what you have to God.  Let Him take care of you.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you for being the Source of Sources, abundantly able to provide whatever I need.  Thank you for giving me everything I need and plenty of things that I want.  Help me to treat the things I have as yours, so that I can share them and invest them freely.  Amen.

Isaiah 20

Scripture: from verse 6

Look what happened to the people
to whom we fled for help…
How will we escape now?

Observation:  In this chapter, God had Isaiah walk around naked and barefoot for three years.  Never let it be said that God is especially worried about dignity 🙂  He did this as a warning: the people of Israel were relying on Egypt for help and protection, but Egypt would be stripped of their power and glory and led away naked.  Israel would be dismayed because the source of help they were relying on had been destroyed.

Israel’s mistake, of course, was relying on Egypt to save them in the first place, when God was bigger and closer and considerably more willing and able to deal with the problem.

We can’t stand on our own.  The world is too big and too unpredictable for any person to be truly self-sufficient.  The only question is where we will turn for help.

When we turn to humans we generally feel that we are retaining some dignity.  They are our equals, after all, and we each have something to bring to the table.  Asking God for help requires considerably more humility: the knowledge that He is above and beyond anything that we can offer.  We don’t get to pretend that we are capable of forging our own way and protecting ourselves when we turn to Him.  It’s hard to do.

But in the end, all humans will fail.  We have no dignity and no strength except for what God has given us.  So we might as well get the hard part out of the way and rely on the Source of Sources.

Application:  Ask God for help rather than humans.  He’s more reliable.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for giving me help when I need it.  Help me to know when I am relying on human power when I should be turning to you.  Amen.

Colossians 3:16-20

Scripture: from verse 16

let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you

Observation:  …which is kinda funny, since Messiah is the Word made flesh (John 1) and it gets all paradoxical.  But when you’re talking about the Ultimate Source of Everything, a lot of words and titles start to get interchangeable.  It’s all Him.

Anyway, Paul clarifies in the next verse that this means (at least in part) that everything we do or say should be done in Messiah’s name, acknowledging that God is our ultimate authority.

But that’s a lot of richness.  The Word of Messiah is what created the universe out of nothing, after all.  It is the Source of Sources and the Energy that fueled the first photons and the Knowledge of all the ages.  I don’t think it’ll fit, to be honest.  I’m not that big.

But the verse doesn’t say I have to try to cram all of that inside me.  It says I have to let it live in me.  I just have to make it welcome.  I just have to make room, and acknowledge that my energy and my knowledge are flawed and incomplete.  He’s the one who will come in and pour His riches over my poverty.

I don’t know how the Relevant Entity can possibly live in me.  But apparently He wants to.

Application: Acknowledge that you don’t have it figured out.  Allow Him to fill in the blanks.

Prayer:  Yeshua, your richness is welcome in me.  Thank you for helping me grow and teaching me to think more clearly and live more peacefully.  Amen.