Father God, let my life be lived in praise to You as I take hold of the opportunities You give me.
Read Isaiah 48:12-22
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Take from our souls the strain and stress, / And let our ordered lives confess / The beauty of thy peace” (J. G. Whittier, 1807-1892). Be quiet before God and ask him to dispel any anxieties, past, present, or future.
Can you remember a time when you made a decision you later regretted? Some “if onlys” are inconsequential in the big scheme of affairs; others are life-changing (and maybe irrevocable). Israel’s inattention to God’s wisdom was in the latter category. Its people had forfeited peace and well-being because they had not seriously listened to their sovereign Lord. It wasn’t as though they were ignorant of God’s saving actions. They knew that Israel’s God was the Creator and Commander of the universe (13) and the Redeemer of their nation at the Exodus (21). He was the Holy One who had taught them clearly about his ways for them (17). Because they had ignored God’s messages, they suffered exile and lost the blessings of their favored-nation status. “If only….”
But God hadn’t finished with them. He would redeem again, using his unexpected ally to give the captives a chance to escape to a new era of freedom and joy. We have already been introduced to Cyrus, king of Persia (41:2; 44:28; 45:1). Historically, his role is straightforward: he issued a decree permitting Israel and other captive peoples in Babylon to return to their homelands (Ezra 1:1-4). Theologically, his role is more cryptic: why should God choose a pagan ruler to be his tool in reversing the fortunes, not just of the wicked nation of Babylon, but also of his wayward people? This might sound too simple an answer, but God’s ways are often beyond our understanding (40:13,14; 55:8,9; Rom. 11:33,34). The important thing for us when we face the “if onlys” of life is to listen for God’s voice and cooperate with him as he reveals his steps that will put us back on track with him. It may even be that the earth will hear the joyful shout: “The Lord has redeemed his servant.”
Paul compares the water from the rock (21) to the life of the Spirit that flows from Christ (1 Cor. 10:3). In your life, is the water of the Spirit gushing, trickling, dripping, or turned off? Why? What would increase the flow?
Sovereign Lord, You are all-knowing and all-powerful. Forgive me that I have not always followed Your ways. Release me from the “if onlys” in my life.
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