Devotions on Isaiah 5:1-7, 11:2-5
November 16 – 22. 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
“My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile field” (Isaiah 5:1).
The beloved’s vineyard was situated on prime real estate. It was on a hill so that the vines would all get plenty of sunshine. The fertile soil assured that the vines would be healthy and well nourished. The grapes the vineyard produced would be bursting with flavor and make excellent wine.
Like all good parents, God wants the very best for us. Parents attempt to provide the very best food, clothes and shelter for their children. They encourage their children to excel in life and to be all that they can be. God provides us with our daily bread. God provides for us and protects us. In addition God blesses us with God’s forgiveness, love and grace. We lack for nothing.
There are times when no matter how hard the parents try one of their children rebels and misuses the gifts that they have been given. The young person makes poor decisions and they get into trouble. The parents grieve over their child, they hurt along with their child but they never stop loving that child. God does the same. God suffers the pain that we suffer and grieves over the bruised relationship, but God never stops loving us. God welcomes us back with open arms when we decide to respond to God’s overwhelming grace with love and service.
Generous Lord, you give us the very best. Enable us to use what you give us to express our love for you and to meet the needs of the people around us. Amen.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
“He dug it and cleared it of choice stones and planted it with choice vines” (Isaiah 5:2).
Tilly loved her garden. She spent part of every day during the spring, summer and fall tending it. The soil needed to be loosened, weeds needed to be pulled, the plants watered and at the proper time the vegetables and flowers harvested. While working in her garden, Tilly envisioned her ideal garden. That garden was vibrant in its color, abundant in its fruitfulness and so beautiful that it was a joy to simply sit and look at it. Tilly worked hard so that her garden was as close to that ideal as possible.
There is a Christian cliché that goes, “God accepts you where you are, but God isn’t content to leave you there.” Part of the Holy Spirit’s mission in our lives is to mold us into the image of God. The Spirit doesn’t work to build an appealing façade. Rather, the Spirit’s work is at the core of our being; the Spirit transforms us from the inside out. It is hard work. It takes a lifetime and sometimes it is uncomfortable or even painful. While the Spirit is changing us the Spirit is also empowers us for service. Bit by bit our lives reflect the image of God more clearly, and the fruit of the Spirit becomes more abundant (Galatians 5:22). The Spirit then uses our words and actions to touch the lives of others with God’s love, grace and forgiveness. Like Tilly’s garden, we are never perfect, but the Spirit doesn’t stop moving us in that direction.
O Divine Craftsman, you are the potter and we are the clay. Mold us and shape us into your image and use us as you will. Amen.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
“He expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes” (Isaiah 5:2).
The Lord ended up with a vineyard of wild grapes. The Israelites may have mouthed the words, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” but it didn’t play out in their lives. Their religious rituals were a sham because they refused to strive for justice and peace and care for those in need. The Lord never waved in God’s love for them. God continued to provide for them and protect them. Still the people refused to offer God thanks and praise. God sent prophet after prophet to them to call the people to return to the Lord. The more the prophets called the people to return to the Lord the more they worshiped other gods. The people of Israel were a stiff-necked, hard-hearted people.
The Lord didn’t break the necks of the people. Heart transplants were out of the question without permission from the people. God didn’t force people to change in the days of Isaiah, and God doesn’t force us to change today. As disciples of Jesus Christ, the Spirit moves in our lives and the Spirit can accomplish great things if we desire to be changed. Wild grapes aren’t good for anything. Good grapes, though, can be used to accomplish the will of the owner of the vineyard.
Patient Lord, we confess that we are at times rebellious. There are parts of our lives that we do not want changed. Forgive us and help us both to desire transformation and to yield to the hand of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Thursday, November 19, 2015
“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1).
The large tree had been felled. Only the stump remained about one inch above the ground. This would have spelled the end of most trees, but not this one. After a season, a shoot started to emerge from the stump. Within a month the shoot had become a good-sized bush.
Most people would have said that David’s family dynasty was dead. It had been hundreds of years since the kingdom had been united. The Northern Kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians had done the same to the Judah. There was no one left from David’s family to ascend to the throne. God had promised, though, that David’s family would reign forever. One thousand years after King David ruled God kept his promise and a shoot for Jesse’s stump began to emerge in the person of Jesus the Christ.
So often the situations that we face appear hopeless. They probably are if we are left only to our own devices. When God is present the situation changes. The God who raised Jesus from the dead brings hope to situations that appear hopeless. After death comes new life.
Living God, nothing is impossible for you. Enable us to keep our eyes on you rather than the hopeless situations that we face. Move in these circumstances and bring life after death. Amen.
Friday, November 20, 2015
“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him” (Isaiah 11:2).
The servant whose arrival Isaiah announces will be a sprout from the stump of Jesse. Except for this the servant is no one special, that is until the Spirit of the Lord rests upon him. It is then that the servant is equipped and empowered. The servant’s ability to rule wisely and bring peace and justice into the world is because of the Spirit’s presence in the servant’s life.
We received the Spirit at the time of our baptism. The Spirit not only gives us the power to become, but also the ability to do. Lives are changed because of our words and deeds. Needs are met because of selflessness and generosity. The teachings of Jesus Christ are not simply taught they are also demonstrated. The Spirit has come upon us and great things are possible because of the presence of the Spirit.
“Spirit of God descend upon our hearts. Wean them from earth through all their pulses move. Stoop to our weakness mighty as Thou are and make us love Thee as we ought to love” (LBW 486). Amen.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
“His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3).
Kota took delight in skateboarding. He loved the speed, the sense of freedom and flying through the air from the jumps he took. Carlota loved cooking, it was her delight. Frank had been a salesman his entire career. His delight was in closing a sale; it made his day.
We all have different delights. Delights are places where our passions and talents come together. As disciples of Jesus Christ, the greatest delight that we may have is the same as Isaiah’s servant. His delight was in the Lord—living in a relationship with God and using his gifts and talents in the service of the Lord. That’s our joy, too. What a thrill it is to be used by the Holy Spirit to share God’s love and grace with another human being.
Gracious Lord, thank you that we receive joy from so much of life. Thank you that you delight in us and enable us to experience our greatest delight in serving you. Amen.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
“He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear” (Isaiah 11:3b).
First impressions were important to our ancient ancestors. They needed to make split second decisions on whether a stranger was a friend or an enemy and if the situation looked safe or dangerous. Those first impressions triggered the flight or fight response. Now first impressions can occasionally come in handy, but more often than not they get in the way. First impressions determine how we will react to a stranger. Frequently our first impressions are wrong because we notice differences and make our decisions based on their appearance, nationality, gender, race or other externals.
The servant doesn’t judge by what he or she sees or hears. The servant looks past outside differences and sees what’s inside a person. When the servant does this the servant sees more similarities than differences. The servant sees a person who is loved by God and needs to be assured of that love. The servant sees a person who wants to have a meaningful role in life and make a difference. The fact that we all crave to be accepted and received as members of a group does not escape the servant’s attention. Seeing these similarities allows the servant to respond to the person in a caring, loving manner.
As disciples of Jesus Christ it is important that we seek to look beyond the externals and see inside the individual to that which binds us together.
Powerful Lord, you made the blind to see and the deaf to hear. Open our eyes that we may see as you see and open our ears that we may hear what you hears. Amen.