For My Own Sake
When I really need to hear the voice of God in my life, I find myself escaping into the words of Isaiah. I’m intrigued by God’s words, His active speaking through dialogue, which always strikes me.
One morning, as I read my Bible before class, I stumbled across what is now my favorite verse, Isaiah 43:25 (NIV),
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
I stared at this verse as my heart dove out of my chest and into these words, deeper and deeper, and swaddled itself in the insane amount of intentional love I found there.
I tend to fall into that category of folks who know they’re forgiven and receive it but still can’t shake the “wretch like me” attitude. As I stared at this verse, God took that attitude, turned it on its head, and shook it until understanding wove itself through every thread of my heart.
I pictured God saying these words to me. Like He was suddenly sitting in my tiny room with me, leaning over my Bible and saying, “For my sake. Forgiving you is about Me, not you. It’s that I want you near me. I want to be with you.”
This verse comes right after God is telling the Israelites how they haven’t brought Him offerings and didn’t call on Him. Rather they have “burdened” Him with sins and “wearied” Him. (Isaiah 43:25)
How many times had I done the same? How many times had I told God with my mouth that I loved him, but done something contrary to what a love for God looked like? I’d stopped counting, and I was left wanting to prove the love I thought had been overshadowed by my sins. I wanted to draw close to the God I loved.
It was never about me. It’s about God’s love for me. It’s the great story of … everything. It was never about us.
I took my Bible with me everywhere in the days following. I couldn’t part from the love that kept echoing in my heart, “For my own sake.”
We see this same principle echoed throughout everything — God forgiving our sins for His sake because He made us and desires us. Nearly a chapter later, in Isaiah 44:23 (NIV), Isaiah writes,
“Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.”
Cast off that “wretch like me” attitude, because God has forgotten your sins, redeemed you, and loves you! He frees us to sing for joy and shout it out — we’re commanded to embrace this attitude of joy because we have such a strong foundation for it. If you’ve asked for forgiveness, He’s given it to you. So why not take hold of it?
Our redemption is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Love the gift He’s given you!
Someone is Listening
OCTOBER 11, 2019
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.” John 1:35-37 (NIV)
Pushing discouragement away, I again prayed the same prayer. I had begun to wonder if the truth I was sharing was making any difference at all. I know, both from God’s Word and from experience, that the troubles we experience in this life have their answers in One: Jesus. But was this truth I was sharing getting through to anyone?
In John 1, we read of the work of John the Baptist. In verses 19-28, John bravely tells the religious people that there is one who stands among them, “the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie” (v. 27).
The next day, in verses 29-34, John’s proclamation grows stronger as he sees Jesus coming toward him, and John declares, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29)
Day 3, John again plainly speaks the truth, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (v. 36) Two men hear the words John has boldly, consistently declared, and as a result, they follow Jesus.
Day after day, John the Baptist sowed seeds of truth into the people around him. Whether to those deliberately questioning him or to those merely within earshot, John boldly spoke the truth of Jesus’ identity. He consistently shared who Jesus was and why He came.
You may feel that while you’re stepping beyond your own fears and audaciously sharing who Jesus is, nobody’s listening. Day after day, you keep speaking of who He is and what He has done in your life. You may wonder if any of it matters.
I would guess John the Baptist may have experienced the same thing. Who doesn’t, when they share of the One most precious to them? Yet, John was consistently bold. We don’t know how many listened and had their lives changed, but we do know of these two men mentioned in today’s key verses: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37).
These two heard John’s words and followed Jesus.
They heard and followed.
Let’s choose to be on the list of those moved by John’s testimony. Like John, let’s not give up sharing Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us.
Especially don’t give up because of what you don’t see. We won’t always see or know who we are impacting when we share Jesus. Your children, friends and loved ones might roll their eyes, walk away or even say they don’t believe what you believe. The woman at work may seem as hard as stone, but the one around the corner of the cubicle is desperately listening.
Keep speaking up, because someone is listening. You may not know it. You may never know this side of heaven, but God has given us this promise: “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:11, NLT).
When we share the Truth of God’s Word, He is sending out His Word through us. He promises us that His Word will always produce fruit. It will always accomplish what He wants it to and “achieve the purpose for which [He] sent it” (Isaiah 55:11b, NIV).
So today, be bold. Keep speaking. Keep sharing. Keep trusting that while you may not see what is happening, God is at work and “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
Heavenly Father, thank You that my work is simply to share Your Word, and Your work is to bring the fruit of change. Help me to stay brave and consistent for the one who is listening. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Streams In The Desert
By: L. B. Cowman
The angel of the Lord came upon him (Peter) and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off (Acts 12:7).
–F. B. Meyer
–S. D. Gordon