Day Five: Turn up the Volume

Isaiah 40:9-11 (NIV)

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain…
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

“Isaiah calls all who cherish this hope… in verse 9, “Get way up on a conspicuous location, turn up the volume, don’t let your fears keep you silent, and draw attention to God. Say to everyone around, ‘Look!  It’s your God!’”

“He comes. He brings his presence. And his presence is our joy. This is a simple message to spread around. He is a conquering king. He is a wealthy benefactor. He is a tender shepherd. This is Jesus. What more could you hope for?”

“Spreading this glad expectation to others is the best way to amplify our own joy in it…. God’s purpose is not only that you and I enjoy the comfort of the gospel, but that we increase our enjoyment of it by spreading that joy to others, all to the glory of God.” [Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. p. 238-239]

Let’s pray: Lord, thank you that you are our king and our shepherd. Fill, lead, and shepherd your church today to spread the comfort and joy of the gospel to others.

– BR


Day Four: Don’t be worried about a thing

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 (TPT)

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4 echoes with God’s fulfilled promises of comfort-salvation: The Lord is present! He creates in us a faith-filled, joyous, gentle, and unworried life where there once was not. Our response to the anxiety and fears of human beings that surround us is to pray to the Lord, who is with us and at work to bring about things that we cannot.

Let’s pray: Thank you, Lord, for your nearness and comfort, your salvation! I bring my needs and requests to you, and ask that you care for every detail of my life. Guard me and lead me in your peace.

As we place our trust in the Lord, let’s sing, “Christ is Enough.

– BR


Day Three: Who are you? Whose are you?

Isaiah 51:12-13a, 15-16 (NIV)

I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the Lord your Maker…

For I am the Lord your God…
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

[God] “hears the cry of our hearts, and he is all the answer we need: “I am he who comforts you.” He is able to breathe life into despairing people like us. He admonishes us for being fearfully over-impressed with the human factor in the way reality unfolds… Timidity is the default setting of our minds, but the fear of man is a denial of God.

“True courage comes not from our bravado but from the promises of God. If we have to fend for ourselves, however strong we may be, we are doomed. But if God is watching over us, we can face anything… Isaiah is putting steel into our backbones by arguing that our hope is as secure as the existence of God. This is what God most wants us to grasp:

“I am the Lord your God…
         saying to Zion, ‘you are my people.’”

[Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners.  p. 344-345]

Let’s sing, “The Lord Our God, putting our trust in he who so wonderfully says that he is the Lord our God.

Let’s pray: Lord, forgive me for fearing mere mortals when you are the Lord our God. Help me to remember you, the Lord my Maker, in each step I take today.

– BR


Day Two: Not an Anomaly

Isaiah 51:1-3 (NIV/NASB)

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
look to Abraham…
and to Sarah…
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places.

He will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

“God is a life-giver. If he touched old Abraham and barren Sarah with new life and out of the unpromising beginning created a mighty nation to bless the world, why can’t God do something new with you and me? If we have the faith of Abraham – not the adequacy, but the need, matched with the openness, of Abraham – then even in our weakness our lives become a part of that larger Abrahamic saga. What God did with Abraham was not an anomaly; for every believer, it is a pattern… God makes our waste places like Eden, like the garden of the Lord; he spreads joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” [Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. p. 339]

Let’s pray: God, fill me with your Spirit to live in the same faith you gave to Abraham. Please also fill your people who may feel particularly broken and barren today – comfort them in every waste place and make their deserts like Eden.

As you sing, “Waymaker, remember who our God is and what he has done, placing your trust afresh in him to do more for his people.

– BR


Day One: “Comfort my people, says your God”

Isaiah 40:1-2a (NIV)

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for.

“God’s deepest intention toward us is comfort.  How could it be otherwise? If the focus of Christianity were our sins, our future would be shut down. But in fact, Christianity is all about the saving grace of God. He overrules our stupidity with his own absolute pardon through the finished work of the cross.

“Do we sin? Yes. Do we suffer for it? Yes. Is that where God leaves us? No…  Even when we don’t act like the people of God, he still identifies with us:  “… my people… your God.

“Do you have glad expectations of God? You may, even as a sinner. Do you see God as coming down to you as you are, with your mission still unfulfilled, but with his renewing mercies? You may and you must see God that way.” [Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. p. 235]

Let’s pray: Father, thank you that your heart toward us is comfort. Help me to hear you speak tenderly to me today. Fill me, together with your church, with your Holy Spirit to also speak and live the words of comfort for others.

– BR