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Thursday, September 4, 2008

GOD-LOOK AND BEHOLD!

ISAIAH 63:13-16


He led them through the deep, as a horse in the wilderness, that they should not stumble. As a beast goes down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest, so did You lead Your people; to make Yourself a glorious name.



Look down from heaven, and behold from Thy habitation of Thy holiness and of Thy glory; where is Thy zeal and Thy strength, the sounding of Thy bowels and Thy mercies toward me? Are they restrained?



Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: Thou O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer, Thy name is from everlasting.



A few days ago I was led to this verse and suddenly I was not so ashamed of my feelings. There are times in our walk with Him when we may feel that He Himself has forsaken us. We feel dry, dusty, and forlorn in our spirit. We know this should not be; but like the Psalmist, we can cry out to God and tell Him just how we feel about our situation. This has a cleansing effect. Cries like the prayer in Isaiah are not a new thing God has never heard from His people! Scripture is full of people just like us who have had these seasons. Even Christ cried out that He felt forsaken, if just but for a moment. Doubtless, this is a sign of growing and maturity in our walk with Him.



We can unashamedly ask Him where are His mercies toward us. We can ask if He has grown ignorant of us; are we forgotten in our situation. At times, He seems to restrain deliverance when we think we need it most. As a elder minister friend of mine recently said, " God does not trust to many of His children to severe trials and tribulations because He knows that most cannot stand up under the pressure..." The trials of Job and King David are unique and not many of us experience these things in any great measure. The stronger the trial, the stronger the maturity.



In a secular sense, what I am trying to say is that unless one has been through such things, and come out on the other side still dependant and leaning upon our Father, they do not have much to say, other than quoting a few passages of Scripture and then talking about the latest NFL Football game as if that were more important. Henry Ford in years gone by that he did not want an executive in his company unless they went through bankruptcy of their own business and tried and tried again until they succeeded.



Are the eternal lessons we are in the process of learning any less important? One thing I know, without Him life is useless. His creation is beautiful, the soft summer breezes in the cool of the day, the beautiful sun rises an sunsets are a beauty to behold and admire.



But without Him, life is fruitless. How does fruit come to maturity and grow into what it should be? It goes through varying seasons of dryness, times of rain, sunshine and moonless nights. Strong winds blow away everything that will not produce a good harvest. Our lives are similar.



I have a grapevine I planted three years ago and I pruned it back strongly this year. What was 10 feet tall was only 1 foot tall this winter. Like my grapevine, I have seasons like this when the Father gets out His pruning hooks and clips away; in a violent manner, it seems to me, when the pruning season arrives. But, as I walked past the grape arbor this evening the grapevine is half again the size it was last year! Beautiful, deep green leaves. Outside wildlife seek shelter under its branches to find shelter when it storms and shade in the heat of the day. Right after pruning, it looked dead; my wife was horrified when she saw it. But look at it now!! I feel the same way in my spirit during and just after my pruning seasons!




In the most recent pruning season of my soul, I cried with the Psalmist in Chapter 80:14-19 -



"Return, I beseech Thee, O God of Hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine: And the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted, and the branch which Thou madest strong for Thyself. "



" It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance. Let Thy hand be upon the man of Thy right hand, upon the son of man who Thou hast made strong for Thyself. So will we not go back from Thee: quicken us, and we will call upon Thy name. Turn us again, O LORD, God of Hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."



The key to our experiences in the season of pruning, trials, temptations and uncertainty is first to cry out to Him in total honest. What a cleansing affect this has in our spiritual being! He knows what we are thinking anyway so we might as well go ahead and get it over with. Remind Him, most importantly that we are HIS! We are His handiwork, we are His children, we are His workmanship.



God describes Himself as a quickening Spirit. I cry QUICKEN ME, O LORD. Cause Thy face to shine. And I shall be saved.




Deuteronomy 32: 9 says "the LORD'S people is His people: Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." We are His, He is ours. As an added benefit, we have a Heavenly Father who is the most excellent, caring, watchful teacher and gardener in the universe.



I am reminded of a song I heard as a child that was sung in church. It is called IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL:




Oft times the day seems long,
our trials hard to bear;
We're tempted to complain,
To murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear,
To catch His bride away,
All tears forever over,
In God's eternal day.
~CHORUS ~
It will be worth it all,
when we see Jesus;
Life's trails will seem so small,
when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face,
all sorrow will erase,
so bravely run the race
till we see Christ.
Sometime the sky looks dark,
with not a ray of light;
We're tossed and driven on,
No human help in sight;
But there is one in heaven,
Who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem,
Just go to Him in prayer.
Life's day will soon be o're,
all storms forever past,
We'll cross the great divide
To glory safe at last;
We'll share the joys of heaven,
A harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished,
We'll lay our burden down.
Truly, it will be worth it all; when we see Jesus! Have a great Sabbath thinking upon Him.

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