Thursday, December 31, 2020

Isaiah 51:1-2 Discipleship

 Isaiah 51:1-2
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
    you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
    and to the quarry from which you were dug.
2 Look to Abraham your father
    and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
    that I might bless him and multiply him.

As we are considering the topic of discipleship and what this means for each one of us, whether we are 4 years old, 54 years old, or even pushing toward centenarian, we are going to dive into this passage from Isaiah 51. The concept of discipleship is engaging and empowering; this passage about Abraham opens up some of the beauty and wonder of the term.

Who was Abraham? He was a one-man show. Abraham was called at a time and in a place where much was good and profitable: Ur of the Chaldeas. But Abraham lacked children. Abraham and Sarah missed out on one of the greatest cultural desires of their time: children. Either Abraham or Sarah was infertile; maybe both of them were infertile. 

I want you to focus on that idea of infertility. This means that they lacked the physical ability to have children. They would never have little ones running around the house or around the tent, tugging on apron strings. Their life was relatively silent with the everpresent nudge in their hearts - the desire to have a son or a daughter. They wanted to hear their children squeal with laughter. They wanted the privilege of cleaning up their children’s spilled milk. They wanted children of their own - but they couldn’t produce.

He was barren, Sarah was barren. But God chooses to work through those who are not so that the world can see God at work. Here is where we get to focus on Isaiah 51 and its meaning for us. We may not be able to do many things, but the fact that we are unable actually is fertile ground for God to get the glory.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
    you who seek the Lord:
look to the rock from which you were hewn,
    and to the quarry from which you were dug. // Isaiah 51:1

God singles out Abraham and Sarah as unable. He zeroes in on them as an object lesson for our own inefficiencies.  Why? Because each of us possesses an area or two or ten in life where we have seasonally failed to make the best of time and resources. Something has been deficient in us; weekly Bible readings and Sunday sermons try to help us uncover these shortfalls. But then we are left . . . well . . . short. How can I overcome and become what God wants in my life as one of Jesus’ disciples? How can all my trying and climbing add up to more than it has in the past?

Isaiah urges us to peer into Abraham’s dried up life. He couldn’t; God does. Abraham is not just given to us as an example but is given to us so that we can witness God’s power at work in the lives of the deficient.

for he was but one when I called him,
    that I might bless him and multiply him. // Isaiah 51:2

God’s desire is to bless us and multiply us, just as it was in Abraham’s life. The blessing may be children. The blessing may be numerous people around us who take on the level of commitment and trust that mirrors children. The blessing may be an ability to minister to someone else’s needs. The blessing may be sudden health where there was enduring weakness. Whatever the blessing is, it will be for the purpose of bringing attention to the one who is deeply connected to us by grace. Jesus becomes God’s way of confirming His love and commitment to us.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? // Romans 8:32

My encouragement for you this week would be to write a list (long list or short - does not matter) of those areas where you are deficient. Tell God about how you are locked down because of Covid and can’t seem to connect with people the way you used to. Tell about the limitations of your bank account and your desire to make a difference. List out your physical incapacities and your emotional struggles. He is not bound to your shortfalls but purposely highlights them in order to impress us with the truth, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

I’m not promising you everything your heart desires; I’m promising you that God wants to work through you and show the world his greatness. Discipleship then becomes turning our focus away from what we don’t have and letting God create Wonder as we see what He has planned to do through our words and through our actions.

God bless you as his disciple.

Pastor Al

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