Devotional Thoughts on Isaiah 42:1-9
December 8 – 14, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isaiah 42:1a).
It was a warm, sunny spring day. Baseball was in the air, at least for Austin’s PE class. The teacher gathered the class together and picked two team captains. Austin fidgeted along with the others as he waited in anticipation to be selected. He didn’t make the first draft pick—the second—or the third, but on the fourth go-round Austin heard his name called. Emotions flooded over him (at least as much as they can in a twelve year-old boy). He was relieved not to be picked last, glad to be on the team for which he was chosen and excited to play baseball with his team members.
God chose us! It might have been when water was poured over our head during our baptism. We might have sensed God’s choice when we decided to stop running from God and to be open to God’s forgiveness, love and grace. Whenever, whatever, however God chose us.
How exciting it is to know that God will use all of us together (no bench warmers) to be one of the ways God is present in the world. We rejoice during this season of Advent that we have the call and the privilege to serve together in order to prepare the world for the coming of the Lord.
Loving Lord, thank you for making us members of your team. Anoint our efforts as we strive together to honor you and share your love and grace with others.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
“I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1b).
Tram read this verse and tears welled up in his eyes. His pastor had told him that another word for “spirit” is “breath,” and Tram knew what it felt like to have breath come upon him. Five years ago he and his family were enjoying a day at the beach. While going out to catch the football thrown by his son, he suddenly realized that he was caught in a riptide. He tried to swim back to shore but he made no progress. In fact he saw that he was being swept farther out to sea. Tram remembered his arms getting so tired and how difficult it was to keep his head above water. His world then went black.
The next thing Tram remembered was a breath of air being forced into his lungs. Tram’s eyes flew open. He coughed and spewed a fountain of water from his lungs. He saw a smile creep across the face of the lifeguard.
Yes, Tram understood what it meant to have the breath come upon you. He realized that God’s breath brings new life much like the lifeguard’s breath revived life within him. God’s breath also gives him power. He can breathe deeply and allow the air to give his body the energy to accomplish the tasks before him. He doesn’t need to gasp for air; the breath is abundant. Tram received the breath of life so that he might live.
Breathe on us breath of God, fill us with life anew. That we may love all that you love and do what thou would do. (Lutheran Book of Worship #488)
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
“He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth” (Isaiah 42:4).
The apostle Paul reflects the truth of these words when he writes to the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Paul didn’t have an easy time of it. He writes about ship wrecks, beatings, imprisonment among other hardships. There was a strength within him—God’s Spirit—that empowered Paul to keep going.
We can’t expect our mission to be an easy one. The servant in Isaiah and Paul certainly demonstrate that. We get frustrated and angry at ourselves when we realize how often we have made compromises in our walk of faith because we are not quite courageous enough to take God at his word. When those with whom we share God’s love and grace are unresponsive, we become exasperated. There are times when we experience the ridicule of others because of our beliefs.
Still, we continue to do what we have been called to do. We can do this because the Spirit of God is upon us and there are many people who are in need.
Dear Lord, give us the persistence and tenacity to keep at our tasks until justice is established on earth or you return. Amen.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
“I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).
Cockroaches and cat burglars may love the dark and flee from the light, but most humans run toward the light. We are people of the light. We work better in the light. Light allows us not to stumble so much because we know where we are and we see where we are going. There are times when it has been cloudy for a long period of time that stepping out into the sun and soaking up its rays is almost like recharging your batteries.
We servants of God are a light to the nations, but what is the light that we have? Do we have the light of absolute truth so that we are right and everyone else is wrong? Is our light a correct set of does and don’ts that allow people to live a good life? Truthfully, those aren’t very attractive lights to people who are not walking in God’s kingdom. The lights that we have that pierce the darkness and draw people into the light are God’s love and grace. When we share God’s love and grace by our words and actions with those around us, our lights shine brightly.
God of light, Forgive us when our lights grow dim. Flow through us so that our words and actions be lights that attract people to a relationship with you. Amen.
Friday, December 12, 2014
“To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon” (Isaiah 42:8).
Prisons come in all shapes and sizes. Maria’s fear of failure and rejection drove her to lock herself in the prison of a workaholic. Connor’s lack of forgiveness imprisoned him in bitterness and hate. Lavon’s pessimism confined her to a jail of fear and anxiety. Frank’s immense ego enclosed him behind the walls of self-centeredness and selfishness and Ted was imprisoned by his alcoholism. All of us, at one time or another, have spent time in prison.
Jesus the servant has made us free. He said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus didn’t make us free by giving us lessons on how to reach our full potential, nor did he simply say, “Don’t worry.” Jesus set us free by his life, death and resurrection. The new relationship that we have with God and our experience of God’s steadfast love, unconditional forgiveness and overwhelming grace set us free.
Those of us who have “escaped” by God’s grace now have the responsibility and the opportunity to help others be freed from whatever confines them. Freedom is a gift that is meant to be experienced and enjoyed every day.
Precious Lord, thank you for setting us free. Give us the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others so that they may be set free, also. Amen.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
“I am the Lord that is my name” (Isaiah 42:8).
Parents choose their children’s’ names for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the name is simply popular at the time. Cameron is a popular name this year. A few years ago Joshua was the most popular. Names are also given to honor a family member or significant person in the family’s life. In the not too distant pas,t parents waited several days before naming their child and the name usually described the child. If the child had red hair, he might be called Rufus. If the girl was pretty, she might be called Linda or Bonita.
The Lord proclaims his name to be “I Am,” or “I will be what I will be.” It is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “I Am” is a powerful name. It can emphasize God’s timelessness—God was, is and will be. The name can be understood to mean that God will be whatever God wants to be. God can be Almighty God, as well as Comforter. God can be the Forgiver or the God who is Gracious and Merciful. The emphasis is that God IS!
God is present in our lives. God has revealed his love and grace to us. We can live life boldly, obediently, sacrificially because of who God is and how God has moved in our lives. What do you believe God needs to be in your life today? In what way do you need to respond to God?
O Great I Am, thank you for being who you are and moving powerfully in our lives. Empower us that we may respond to you by being the people you created us to be. Amen.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
“The new things I now disclose” (Isaiah 42:9).
God promises new things through the servant. We love new things. Usually we look forward to the new day as we rise from our beds and get ready to meet it. We look forward to the adventure of going someplace new and doing something new. Wearing new clothes make us feel just a little more special than pulling on an old pair of slacks and a shirt. Of course, Christmas is coming and we look forward to all the new gifts we will receive.
In this Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on the new that we are anticipating when Jesus comes again. What new will he bring? Isaiah was probably referring to an age when Israel would no longer be ruled by foreign nations. In another chapter, Isaiah refers to a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17), a time when former things will not be remembered. It will be a time when we can forget those unpleasant memories that we have. Things will be different in a good way.
Until Jesus comes again, we can still anticipate and experience the new. Each day we can begin with a clean slate—no shame or guilt—because of God’s unconditional forgiveness. We can expect new, fresh experiences of God’s love and grace. In this broken world that has so much need, we can look forward to new opportunities to use our talents and abilities to serve God. It’s a new day and God is moving.
Living Lord, as we look back, we thank you for walking with us through life—for your provision and protection. As we look forward with hope for new ways of honoring you in our lives. Amen.