Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bandaging My Toes - Isaiah 26 Part 3

"LORD, You will establish peace for us,
Since You have also performed for us
all our works. O LORD, our God,
other masters besides You have ruled over us;
but now through You alone
we confess Your name." (vs 12-13)

I think the first thing that struck me this morning in this section of chapter 26 was that any good works we accomplish are actually accomplished through us by our God. He is the first cause of anything that is good and we are simply a channel of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10 mirrors this thought. After talking about how we are saved by grace through faith in Christ it informs us that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10) "Whatever good work is done by us, it is owing to a good work wrought by the grace of God in us" (Matthew Henry). In Ephesians 2:8 it is declared that even my faith is a gift of God to me. Surely I have nothing to boast in but my God and His grace to me!

The work of God that is the root of all the good works of Lori caught my attention first thing this morning, but where I found myself camping out and pitching my tent for the day was in what followed. You might want to prepare for a toe stomping - mine are currently being bandaged!

Are you ready? Here it comes: "O LORD our God, other masters besides You have ruled us." Let me repeat it one more time in case you missed it. "O LORD our God, other masters besides You have ruled us." Do you hear the loud and painful "ouch" coming from me!

I will let Matthew Henry smite us all:
"When the Israelites had been careless in the service of God, God had suffered their enemies to have dominion over them, that they might know the difference between His service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.

The same may be our own penitent reflection. Other masters besides God have ruled over us. Every lust has been our Lord and we have thus wronged both God and ourselves."

"Every lust has been our Lord." Every time I am tempted to sin it is my lusts that are behind that temptation. Every time I give into that temptation I am bowing to my lusts as Lord! "Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (Ja 1:14-16)

Every time I sin in thought, word, or deed I am practically having another God before Him. I am serving other masters. I am being ruled by other gods.

I am guilty and need the mercy of Christ. With Calvin, I recognize that my heart is an idol factory. It is "from within, out of the heart of men, [that] proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness" (Mk 7:21-22). My heart regularly needs the transplanting, reforming mercy of Christ.

This morning I simply pause to confess my sin in this area and to seek His forgiveness and mercy knowing that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 Jn 1:9) O God, make me to have no other God's before You!

"Kind and merciful God,
we have sinned in your sight,
We have all wandered far from Your way;
We have followed desire, we have failed to aspire
to the virtue we ought to display.

Kind and merciful God,
we've neglected Your Word
and the truth that would guide us aright;
we have lived in the shade of the dark we have made,
when You willed us to walk in the light.

Kind and merciful God,
we have broken Your laws
and in conduct have veered from the norm;
we have dreamed of the good, but the good that we could
we have frequently failed to perform.

Kind and merciful God,
In Christ's death on the cross
You provided a cleansing from sin;
speak the words that forgive that henceforth we may live
by the might of Your Spirit within.

Kind and merciful God,
bid us lift up our heads
and command us to rise from our knees;
may our hearts now be changed and no longer estranged,
through the pow'r of Your pardon and peace.

(Bryan Jeffery Leach, 1973)

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