The Only Labels That Matter

“Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham, My friend.” (Isaiah 41:8)

The world is full of titles and labels.  We can be labeled as ‘red’ or ‘blue’ based upon our politics or we can be known as a ‘mask’ or ‘non-mask’ person.  Are you a ‘Black Lives Matter’ or an ‘All Lives Matter’ person?  Perhaps you are known as ‘white collar’ or ‘blue collar’.  Are you a part of the 99% or the 1%?  We love our labels in life and we love putting people in boxes.

I’ll tell you the only labels I want are the ones God gives out.  Let me be know as ‘His servant’ like Jacob!  May I be honored enough to be called ‘God’s friend’ like Abraham.  I’ll wear those labels gladly.

Those titles take the guts to not get sucked into this world’s controversies though.  Time to swim upstream, Christians.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

He is Strong when we are Weak

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Feeling tired and isolated?  Worn out by all the goings on in the world?  Perhaps fatigued by worries and cares that this life brings? Don’t understand why it is all happening or how it will all work out?

Your God never grows weary and always understands.  Our lack is there to create a void for Him to fill.  When you are tired and asking, “Why?”… He is working and has the answer.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Look on High

“Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name.” (Isaiah 40:26)

Where did they all come from? The night sky’s endlessly twinkling tapestry begs the question.  The more we learn of the stars, the more fantastical the tale becomes.  Not only are there trillions of them, but each of them holds the power of nuclear fusion as well… monstrous burning lights that cover the cosmos with their light.  What could create such power?

Such organized beauty and power could only come from an organized and powerful source.

Lift up your eyes on high and you will see Him.

The same organized and powerful God that made those, made you, and made a plan to save you.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Work Visa Citizens

“He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.” (Isaiah 40:23)

And this is why Christians don’t need to worry about politics overly much.  Governments wrangle and rage, politicians splinter and debate – but His kingdom reigns forever.

We are citizens of heaven.  We’re just here on a work visa.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

A Flock of Individuals

“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” (Isaiah 40:11)

What does good shepherding look like?  Individual attention to the specific needs of each member of the flock.  The lambs are carried by hand as the shepherd leads them through rough terrain because the babies cannot yet handle the steeper paths, and the mother lambs that must slow down due to their added burdens and fragile state are waited for gently and with patience as they take longer to do what the young rams find easy.

Jesus is the perfect Shepherd.  He recognizes where you are and what you need.  Good shepherding isn’t one-size-fits-all.  He’ll be patient through the difficult seasons of your life and he will only expect of you what you are capable of giving.

We should do likewise with the brethren.  Each of us has our own specific challenges that we face and each of us is learning and growing at a different rate.  If you feel strong right now, use your strength to carry those who are struggling, not condescend to their heartache and struggle.  If you are overwhelmed at the moment, realize that now can be a time of growth and maturing in your faith and recognize some things are going to be harder than others.  It’s a process, but just put one foot in front of the other and don’t quit.

The Shepherd won’t leave you behind or forsake you.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Some Things Never Change

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

This too shall pass… but Scripture is unchanging.

In a world of transient morals and inconsistent outrage, isn’t it nice to know we don’t have to partake of the clamor?

God’s moral foundation let’s our souls be free from such strife (if we’ll let it!).

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

We Made a Vow

“Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them, let all who are around Him bring gifts to Him who is to be feared.” (Psalm 76:11)

A vow is a promise that you will follow through with what you said you would.

Vows are important in relationships.  Marriages have vows and we take them seriously enough to have a ceremony for them.  We make promises to our children that we will be there for their sporting event or fix their bike or help them with their homework.  We make promises to our bosses to meet deadlines and to our friends to help them with projects.

You can’t have a real relationship without making vows and promises because that is your commitment to invest in the person.  Why should our relationship with God be any different?

When we became Christians, we made a vow to follow Jesus.  We were agreeing to submit our lives to Him and work on the things that He says are important.  We vowed to work on our character, work on unity with His other children, work on standing up for what is right, work on learning what is right… all of these things were inherent in our baptism agreement to a new life.

How are you doing on holding up your vows?

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Healthy Consequences

“You, even You, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?” (Psalm 76:7)

If we don’t think there are consequences, we tend to make choices that are selfish.  After all, if all things are equal, why not do what I want?

But there are consequences for our choices and that is where fear comes in.  Fear is a healthy reaction to impending bad consequences.  Afraid to stare over the cliff? There’s a healthy reason for your trepidation.

A lack of fear of bad consequences is an unhealthy thing.  A child may not have a healthy fear of knives or hot ovens and get themselves badly injured because of it.

So what about God?  Are we afraid of making Him angry?  We should be.  He holds our fate and our future in His hands.  Isn’t it appropriate to be fearful of Someone that controls our eternal destiny and has the power to create all the universe in six days?

We should cultivate a healthy fear of God in our lives.  Would my current choices make Him angry or would they make Him proud?  Is the life I’m living one that I would be willing to watch on replay in His presence?  The consequences of not asking those questions are worth considering.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Make it Count

“I said, ‘In the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I am to be deprived of the rest of my years.’ ” (Isaiah 38:10)

Hezekiah was 39 years old when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness – right in the prime productive years of life.  These are the years where your efforts begin to pay off and your reputation can speak for itself.  When you are far enough from childhood to have some wisdom, but old age is distant enough that you are full of vitality.

In short, Hezekiah was expecting a long of good things in the days ahead and then sickness put the brakes on his plans.  Sound familiar?  There are no guarantees in this life.  It is a broken world and we will all be deprived of things at different junctures that may shock us.  Our health, our financial security, our job, or a loved one that we were sure would always be there.

It can happen suddenly, and it WILL rock you when it does.  Live your best life now and lean on the Lord today.  We will all face trauma, and when we do, where will we turn?

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

Peeling Off the Sins

“It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” (Isaiah 38:17)

If I am sitting outside and I peel an orange, I take the peel as it comes off it parts and throw it on the ground behind me.  The peel isn’t important, it is just keeping me from getting to the part of the orange I care about!

That is what God does with our sins because of Jesus.  He casts our sins behind Him like useless peels that have just been covering up the child He cares about.  That is grace.  God sees who we are trying to be, not all the sins we’ve committed in the process of becoming that person.

If it weren’t for that kind of grace from Him, we’d never have a chance.

Matthew 4:4 #Biblebites

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