isaiahBecause the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Isaiah 50:7


Can you hear the voice of Christ? Isaiah did. He clearly heard Christ speaking and shared the experience with others. And thus some of Isaiah’s most mysterious prophesies were recorded.


Some Bible commentaries depict the full text of Isaiah 50:4-10 as Christ speaking through Isaiah about Christ’s future earthly ministry. The Suffering Servant is both a teacher (v.4) and a learner (vs. 4-5). His ear is open both to those He teaches and to His Father, the Sovereign Lord. He has suffered first-hand (v. 6) which allows Him to be compassionate towards others who are suffering (v.10). Christ keeps Himself “in perfect peace” (Isaiah 26:3) because He is wholly focused on God and His holy will. Faithfulness and complete trust are displayed in the Servant’s words, spoken through a human voice.


I marvel at how Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets could be so entirely focused on God—could come into God’s presence—in such a profound way as to “hear” these words that speak across centuries, when this human prophet would be long gone from this earth. And yet, Isaiah displays courage beyond imagination to speak the Truth with power and conviction. If I could be a tiny per cent as focused as Isaiah in my prayers, think what I could learn! This God I worship gave me my speech and my hearing and my brain. Think what He could accomplish in my tiny mind if I gave Him complete access to what is already His.


And what could we learn from this passage about suffering? That suffering is inevitable in this life is a theme we hear from Christ in numerous places in the Bible. In Matthew 24:9 Jesus warns His followers, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” None of us wishes to suffer just so we can be eligible for sainthood. But with the suffering comes the clear and empowering knowledge that God will have the victory. Period. We as believers will not be shamed or defeated with God on our side.


O Christ, instill in us Your spoken and written Word, which is You, alive in our world today. Cause us to listen with new ears as You teach us how to love You. Amen


you-are-hereThen Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home….” Luke 15:1-6


Recently, I attended a very diverse women’s luncheon in which it was announced that two members of the group would be undergoing medical procedures in a few days. One procedure was quite serious, and the other was relatively minor. Discussion ensued about how the group might support the two women during  these ordeals. A couple of us Christians said we would surely hold them up in prayer. Then, others began to talk about “throwing ‘it’ out to the universe” to see what cosmic forces might render some assistance.


Now, I try to survive quietly in this “all-inclusive” society we live in, and I don’t like to challenge other’s beliefs that are different from mine. But I am certain that God doesn’t really want us to throw anything out. In fact, God is in the business of finding things—and people—rather than leaving much to chance. The Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 is the story of God “finding” us, wherever we are, no matter how far away we may be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. And God brings us back and rejoices over us, sharing His joy with those around Him. “I tell you,” Jesus says, “…there will be more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous person who do not need to repent.”


It’s been said that Luck is God’s nickname, but that gives God a bad rap. “Faith,” we are told in Hebrews 11:1, “is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It’s not a matter of luck, or flinging things blindly into space. Faith is standing on God’s promises which have been handed down through the ages, proven time and again by people of all walks of life.


God doesn’t throw things out. He finds things. He found me when I was lost and I will never completely understand the love and grace He has showered on me since that time.


Healing Lord, You are greater than the universe and You are closer than our breath. Thank you. Amen


croneOut in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. Proverbs 1:20-21


How did I get here? Just yesterday, I was young and vibrant, an eager student of life sometimes not earning the best of grades. Suddenly, I am a “wise woman of a certain age.” My hard-earned lessons I now share with those younger than I, who seek me out because somehow they think I possess…wisdom! I’m nobody special. And yet when I look back on my life, I realize God has led me through some amazingly difficult times and He has brought me to a place now of pleasant boundaries. I no longer rage at life. I am content with my station most of the time. Do I actually have something to share with others?


It sometimes seems that my full-time job now is my health. I go to doctors more often than I go to lunch with friends. My medication cupboard looks like a small pharmacy. Why would anyone look to me for the meaning of life, unless it is because they fear this stage I’m in and wonder why I don’t. The phrase “old crone” conjures up images of a crotchety wrinkle bag who lures children into her cottage to stuff them in her oven. But Lady Wisdom described in Proverbs 1 is just such a crone (pronounced without an “e” on the end): a deeply spiritual and learned woman whose advice is life-giving and not to be ignored. I could be her, with God’s help.


I thank God that I am still alive and kicking and causing a bit of a stir. And in the wise words of Solomon, I am thankful “for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, (and for) doing what is right and just and fair” (Proverbs 1:2-3). This “wisdom” is a pretty good reward for the years I spent seeking God’s face and doing my best to walk humbly in His ways.


All Knowing God, thank You for the years You have given me so far, and for those yet to come. Help me use whatever time I have left to serve You in whatever ways You direct. Amen


Jerry and Patti WetterlingMay Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 33:22


They left their porch light on continuously for twenty-seven years. Each morning, he made his way down the lane to the place where his son was abducted and said a prayer for his return. She became a fierce and effective advocate for missing children everywhere, working tirelessly to improve the odds of them returning home alive. And today, it was announced that the remains of their precious son, Jacob Wetterling, were found in a farm field less than thirty miles from their family home. The man who is believed to have abducted him led police to the spot.


The Patti and Jerry Wetterling family were just ordinary people until their son’s abduction in 1989 threw them into the national spotlight. Instead of allowing their grief to overcome them and destroy their lives, they rose to help others by being champions for missing children everywhere. They called their actions “Jacob’s Hope,” and out of that hope grew a legacy of faith in action for all the world to see. Through the family’s efforts, federal legislation was passed to require convicted sex offender registration nationwide. Patti worked many years in sexual violence prevention at the Minnesota Department of Health, and she has served on a global nonprofit organization that combats child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child abduction.


Today, we may find ourselves in a comfortable lifestyle. Tomorrow, any of us may be thrust into an unspeakable situation where we need to choose between despair and hope. Moses said to the Israelites, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Moses knew life would not be easy, but he spoke with the authority of his God when he challenged the people to move forward in hope. “For the Lord is your life,” he continued. These words can remind us of the ordinary people who become extraordinary in the face of trials. Those who love the Lord and walk close to Him call on His strength to turn tragedy into triumph and pain into action.


Abiding Father, hold us close to You when life’s storms surround us. Give us strength to take the next step toward hope when all seems lost. Amen