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"Hope Beyond Measure" 5/29/24

Updated: Jul 7

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Life is full of questions; sometimes there are answers, some things we never come to understand. David wrote, in Psalm 131, "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore." 


He recognized there was much that was beyond his understanding. Yet he had learned to contentment, he learned to trust in the LORD. The truth is that (more than answers to our questions)  we need to see and trust in God, the Lord who is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present & all-good.


In the book of Isaiah, YHWH the God of Israel issues a challenge to all the false gods of the nations. 

Set forth your case, says the LORD; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified (Isaiah 41:21-23). The gods have no answer, for they "are nothing" (Isaiah 41:24). These verses are part of what has come to be known as the trial of the false gods. 


Throughout this entire section, Isaiah 40-48, the LORD is demonstrating his supremacy as the one and only God, the one and only Savior. Intermingled throughout, God speaks to His people, he reveals himself to them for their benefit. He doesn't give answers to all their struggles, but He does show them Himself so that by seeing His glory they might have hope. Consider the following excerpts from Isaiah 40-48. 1) Take note of the distinction(s) between the one true God and all other pretenders to the throne. 2) Take note of the words of encouragement God gives his people. Consider where your hope is, do you see the LORD in your troubles? What hope does He bring you?  [If you have a few spare minutes, read through all of Isaiah 40-48, I promise you it will be far more worthwhile than any time spent watching the news, or scrolling through social media].


Isaiah 40:9-31

9 Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” 10  Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11  He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 12  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? 13  Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? 14  Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? 15  Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. 16  Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17  All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. 18  To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? 19  An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. 20  He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move. 21  Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22  It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; 23  who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. 24  Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25  To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. 26  Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. 27  Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31  but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. 


Isaiah 41:8-20

8  But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 9  you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; 10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11  Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 12  You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. 13  For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 14  Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15  Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; 16  you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory. 17  When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. 18  I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. 19  I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, 20  that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. 


Isaiah 43:10-13

10  “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. 11  I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior. 12  I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God. 13  Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?” 


Isaiah 44:1-8

1  “But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! 2  Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 3  For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4  They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. 5  This one will say, ‘I am the LORD's,’ another will call on the name of Jacob, and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD's,’ and name himself by the name of Israel.” 6  Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. 8  Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” 


Isaiah 44:21-28

21  Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. 22  I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. 23  Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel. 24  Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, 25  who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, 26  who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins’; 27  who says to the deep, ‘Be dry; I will dry up your rivers’; 28  who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” 


Isaiah 45:4-13 (These verses are part of a prophecy about King Cyrus of Persia recorded several generations before he was born)

4  For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5  I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6  that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7  I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things. 8  “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. 9  “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? 10  Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’” 11  Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? 12  I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. 13 I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,” says the LORD of hosts. 


Grace & Peace,

Matt 

P.S. There will be no devotional next week, as Shanay & I will be gone to Village Missions Annual Conference. You can expect an updated prayer list the following week (the second week in June). If you would like anything to be added to the prayer list before then, please let me know.

--


Matthew Deneault 

Pastor at Christ Community Fellowship 

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