Devotions on Isaiah 9:1-7–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
November 13-19, 2017
Monday, November 13, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish” (Isaiah 9:1).
Low clouds and rain had been hanging around the small Oregon town for two weeks. The weather was starting to affect even those with the hardiest psyches. Attitudes were tempered, outlooks were more reserved, tempers were frayed and the sounds of laughter were few and far between. It was only when the sun broke through the clouds and dispersed the gloom that the community anguish lifted.
There are times when life’s events have the same effect upon our outlooks as the weather. Their gloom looms over us, robbing us of joy and laughter. It is only when we perceive God’s presence and hear God’s whispered assurance of love and care that our anguish is eased and our hope is renewed.
Like sunny days, God’s love and presence are gifts that change our lives and bring us new life.
“Shine Jesus shine, fill this land with the father’s glory.” Amen.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
Humans are not nocturnal animals. We don’t see well. We lose our way, stumble and fall. We’re more vulnerable in the darkness. It is easier for predators to prey upon us. Night time, when we have neither a source of light nor something that we can use for protection, is a scary time for us.
St. John of the Cross, a sixteenth century mystic, wrote about an experience he called, “The dark night of the soul.” It is a time when we feel separated from God and experience loneliness, hopelessness and despair. It is not necessarily caused by a lack of faith. It is a time, though, when our faith is tested. We cannot bring an end to such an experience by a sheer determination. The night ends only when we perceive even the faintest glimmer of light. Eventually the glimmer grows and becomes a great light.
Of course, God is not separated from us during a dark night of the soul any more than the sun is separated from earth when it is night. We always have the assurance that the sun will once again rise in the East and that God’s light will once again shine in our lives.
Lord, even though we cannot sense your presence, help us through the dark times of our lives. Amen.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“They rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest” (Isaiah 9:3).
It was a gamble when they planted the seed several months before. They worried when there was no rain for several weeks and gave thanks when the rains finally came. They cast wary eyes toward destructive storms and uttered sighs of relief when they passed without harming the crops. The day finally came when they could begin to harvest the crops. When the harvest was over, it was time to celebrate God’s abundant provision, grace and love.
Like the ancient Israelites, we too can celebrate God’s abundant provision. We enjoy the gifts of food, clothing, shelter, life, health and a host of other blessings. God’s abundant provision is not based on our goodness, but rather on God’s love.
Thank you, Lord, for you abundant provisions and for your steadfast love. Amen.
Thursday, November 16, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“The rod of their oppressor you have broken as on the day of Median” (Isaiah 9:4).
Slavery was common in Israel. Many slaves had harsh taskmasters. They worked hard, but their efforts were rewarded with beatings and curses. Life was hard for most slaves and they held little hope that their situation in life would change.
Carla loved the Lord. She worked hard to please God, but Carla never felt that she met God’s expectations. The congregation where Carla worshiped taught that God expected perfection for God’s people. “Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) was quoted often. Carla wanted to go to heaven when she died so she kept on trying.
The rod of Carla’s religion drove her to emotional and physical exhaustion. She collapsed. It was during her recovery that a friend shared with her the good news of God’s steadfast and unconditional love. Once her rod of oppression was broken, Carla lived in a loving relationship with God.
There are times that we burden ourselves with the “rod of shoulds” and are not motivated by God’s love but rather by the need to do more. It is experiencing the good news of God’s steadfast and unconditional love that, like Carla, sets us free.
Lord, teach us how to live as your children and not as your slaves. Amen.
Friday, November 17, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6b).
Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God were titles given to the king when he ascended to the throne. They were qualities the king’s subjects hoped he would possess and characteristics that they began to hope for in the promised Messiah.
In her walk of faith, Denise often sensed the guiding counsel of the Holy Spirit. She frequently journaled and used it as a written prayer time to record and reflect on the events of her life. Her journaling combined with meditation, devotional reading of the Scripture, participation in a small group Bible study and occasionally a conversation with her pastor provided Denise with the wisdom she needed to live with insight and purpose. Denise was thankful for both the inward and outward counseling that the Holy Spirit gave her. It is a gift that is available to all of us as followers of Jesus.
Lord, speak to us and counsel us so that we may live with both wisdom and love. Amen.
Saturday, November 18, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6c).
Evan’s father was the peacemaker. That was one of his official roles in the family. When Evan and his brother fought, their father would step in and establish the peace. There were times that Even would have fights with his neighborhood friends—altercations over imagined rights, priorities or boundaries. Often Evan’s father would help the two warring parties reach an acceptable compromise and resolve their conflict. By his father’s example, Evan learned the art of living in peace with the people around him. He discovered that it involved a lot of love and respect.
Peace is not simply the absence of conflict. It is living with others and treating them with love and respect. Jesus certainly was an example of this when, as Prince of Peace, he touched lepers, talked with women, healed the sick and freed people from the possession of demons. Jesus included people rather than excluded people and showed us that we can live in peace with others because all people are children of God.
Let there be peace on earth, Lord, and let it begin with us. Amen.
Sunday, November 19, 2017–Wonderful Counselor Mighty God
“He will establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7).
In 1918 a peace treaty was signed to end the war to end all wars. War broke out again in 1940 and peace treaties were signed in 1945. The Korean Conflict erupted in 1950 with a cease fire being signed a few years later. In the 1960’s the United States was engaged in the Viet Nam War. That was followed by the Desert Storm. In 2001 the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and war continues to this day. Peace is so fleeting and it seems that justice and righteousness are also.
Justice and righteousness were established once and for all through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. They are founded on God’s love for all people and expressed in God’s overwhelming grace. In one sense, we daily experience the reality of justice and righteousness in our relationship with God. Yet, we also admit that it is imperative for us to stand against injustice and unrighteousness in our communities, nation and world. We do this as we share God’s love and grace with everyone we meet and all who are in need.
Lord, you have established justice and righteousness through your cross. Use us now to enable others to experience justice and righteousness in their daily lives. Amen.