Hello there, my friends!
How are y'all doing? Are you finding yourself back in a steady rhythm of living life post-holiday season or are you still struggling to remember routine and ritual? I know... I have plenty of grace because, well-- I keep teetering back and forth myself! Between this week and last week, All The Things have started up again... plus all the new things started, too! And here's the thing: In the midst of a shiny new year and all the potential it holds, I do NOT want to find myself going through the motions or, you know, exhausted by January 16th!
I share that to tell you that as I was preparing to give a message last Saturday at a women's event, I was selfishly grabbing up all the promises for myself, too! God's fine with that... He sort of meant His promises to be for us all anyway, right? When I was invited to speak, I was given the theme of 'something to do with “new”...' and immediately Isaiah 43:19 came to mind. (Because, of course!)
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”
As one does, I backed up and started at the beginning. (Well, the beginning of the chapter, anyway!) And you guys, I can't get over these few verses...
I want us to walk through just a portion of this chapter together.
My prayer is that, by the end, we'll be ready to see the New Thing God has for us in this New Year… ready to hope and expect and anticipate… ready to let go of the past, and with wide open hands – we will be ready to grab hold of what’s next... ready to find the rhythm of grace and calling intermingling with our hopes and dreams... and just maybe there will be a little dancing, too!
Let’s start with ISAIAH 43:1 and 2...
“...Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”
Did you know that “Fear Not” is in the Bible 365 times! Three hundred sixty five times. That is one verse, for every single day of the year! I think maybe God really means this, friends! I think maybe He really, really wants us to get this!
If we are going to start a new thing, we must first start here... agreeing and choosing and reminding ourselves and each other to Fear Not!
I believe as impossible as that simple statement may seem at times, He has told us exactly how can do just that! He tells us in this verse, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you!"
Ah... and there it is.
He goes on: “...I have called you by name—“
Have you ever heard Him call your name? There is something so Swoon-worthy in hearing Him call your name! I always think of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and how when the Lord spoke his name and bid him to come down from that tree, it must have sounded like music to Zacchaeus! No one had ever spoken his name with so much Love before!
Zacchaeus' name means 'pure' or 'clean' and chances are, as a tax collector and, you know -a human, he felt anything but that! But Jesus sees him... He sees you too, sweet reader. He saw Zacchaeus, and He sees us all, through the eyes of our Redeemer and He sees us how He intended for us to be!
We have been redeemed! He names us on purpose, with purpose! He calls us by name! At the end of verse 1, He says, “You are MINE!” He proudly claims us as his own!
In verse 2, He says: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
Don't you just wish He would have said IF instead of When?
If He would have said 'IF you pass through waters or walk through fire, it'll be fine -I promise!' that would feel better, right? But that is not what He says... He says when! When hard times come... when trials and tribulations and situations look dire... when they come - trust Me!
He is really saying, 'When scary things happen, don’t be scared!'
He's saying, "I’ve got you! Fear Not! YOU may not have seen that flood rising, or those flames licking higher, but I saw them... and I have got you! Fear Not! You are Mine!"
In the message that I gave last weekend, we dug in to verses 1-21. But for the sake of time, let's just highlight a couple of verses that made me catch my breath, shall we?
“Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you..."
Come on! That's us, y'all! WE are precious in HIS sight... WE have been honored and He loves US!?
Can you even get over that?
If you have ever wondered why you are here or why you were created, well --you're welcome! It was for His glory!
Isaiah 43 goes on to record God reminding the Israelites of all the times He has come through for them in the past. He lists specific things and then tells them, in vs 18: “DO NOT REMEMBER the former things nor consider the things of old.”
I love how it reads in The Voice translation:
“Don’t revel only in the past, or spend all your time recounting the victories of days gone by.”
Other versions say basically, “Forget the past. All of that is nothing compared to what I am GOING to do!”
How many of us hold on to what WAS, instead of grabbing hold of what IS TO COME?
You see where this is going, right? It's all tied in to my OneWord this year, Change!
You see, I've spent the majority of my life trying to avoid change. I thought somehow that if I just lived small and simple, I would be safe and secure. The problem with that is that none of those words are Kingdom words... and that is not the life we are called to live!
I won't take the time to go verse by verse but let me assure you, Isaiah 43 is worth your time! Dig in and enjoy and let His promises wash over you and empower you to let go of the way things have always been... to let go of boxing Him in in how He's showed up for you in the past and of the old ways of doing things... and live your life with hands wide open... ready to grab hold of the New Things that He has planned for you!
In The Message Bible, verse 21 wraps up with God saying that we were made especially for Him... that we were custom-made to praise Him! Don't you just love that?
I don't know about you, but for me I have found that it’s easier to live a life with hands wide open when I remember that I was created for His Glory and custom-made to give Him praise!
I closed my talk on Saturday with a little Listening Prayer and I invite you to join me here in that practice as well!
Listening Prayer is a simple practice where we ask the Lord a question in prayer, and then wait and listen for His response! He is usually quick to answer because He so loves to chat with us! Don't discount the first thing you hear or think... chances are good it is Him!
Here is what we asked Him:
I'd love to hear what He shared with you in the comments below!
Let's close in prayer...
Lord, we thank You for redeeming us... for reminding us again and again not to be afraid. We thank You for creating us for Your Glory and for custom-making us to give You praise! Father God we purpose to live with our hands and hearts open, we choose to fear not… we choose to let go of an old mindsets, attitudes, or hurts that are holding us back, and we are ready to embrace the new that You have for us in this season! Amen!
P.S. I'm linking up with these lovely writers: