Monthly Archives: August 2017

Isaiah 57:15

I Love This Verse

For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
— Isaiah 57:15 (NIV)

Over and over again my mind is drawn to this verse. One reason is that I fail so much. But when is that? I will describe some of it for you so that you might see yourself the clearer, and think to come to this verse also.

It is common to human thinking to “think that I am right”. We think that of ourselves as a self-preservation line of thinking which is intended… NOT TO CORRECT OURSELVES, NOR TO BE CORRECTED. But that is exactly where the problem lies. If the work of Christ in you has not brought you to a realization that YOU ARE NOT MR./MRS. “PERFECTION ON TWO FEET,” then the grace of God has not finished its work with you. You will notice from the verse above that God loves the humble spirit and the contrite ones. In reverse, God does not love our pride, or our opinions of how we think things ought to be, or our self-motivations, or our selfishness, nor anything that is within us that does not yield to that which He reveals in His Word. That means, our actions, our content, our attitude, our ways of doing things, our ways of thinking, etc. We are not the “be all” of how or what to do. We are to be servants of His, available to Him for direction, agreeable with Him in how, or when, or what is to be done, and that it is to be done by His power and approval. This definition applies to everything in our lives and surroundings as much as we can influence things, events, and people.

That is a very high standard, but it is the standard that God desires in us, and never-the-less, we are obliged to conform to Him. However, we fail so many, many times, but notice this, that the verse implies that He is still there, willing to receive us, on the basis that we humble ourselves, that we come to Him in contrition, and that by such a process we get back into agreement with Him. What that means is that we stop the aggressive thinking and action. We stop controlling things. We turn to Him with admiration, and worship, and dependence, and seek His forgiveness for sin, seek His help to walk with Him, seek His direction and empowerment in our lives so that we can get back into agreement with Him.

The “failing” process will happen in YOUR life so repeatedly that you will be discouraged with yourself. I know what that means. But that is a good sign. It means that you are sensitive to the process of what God wants….and that you WANT to be pleasing to God, but that you are recognizing the battle that rages within you, so when you fail, you have to be drawn back to this verse, with a sense of walking softly, and humbly before thy God.

Notice who He is. He is the “high and lofty One Who inhabiteth eternity”.

Words fail us to define what that means. It strikes awe within our minds and hearts. It should. It is so far beyond us, that even to have knowledge of such words is a glory in itself. We shall no doubt spend eternity with Him, discovering what it means. But He is the One with Whom we have to do. He saved us, watches over us, empowers us, and is our constant Companion. His interest in us includes, that He wants us to consciously walk with Him. In case you lose sight of who He is, get some pictures from a magazine that sells telescopes and look at the universe that He has created by the Word of His mouth. It is so enormous, so complex, that you have to ponder who God is and do it with awe. And to think that He is aware of you and me, and that above all, He is holy.

But even more, to think that He is willing to dwell with me, not because I am perfect, but only on the basis that I believe Him, and honor Him in my life, by being humble enough to come to Him and confess my sins, and that on the basis of what His Son the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me and you on the cross. That kind of faith is enough for Him to dwell with us and to continue to forgive restore us, and cleanse us from all sin and unrighteousness. He “keeps us afloat” as it were in the seas of this life, and its multiple experiences, many of which are bad.

Oh! The grace and glory of it all! Read the verse again, and then over and over.

For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Turn to it frequently and be reminded that He forgives, and restores, not on the basis of perfection, but on the basis of humility supported by active faith. And then be motivated by it, especially the words “l dwell…with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit… to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

He revives us, and when He does, you know that you have received the ministry of God, and that ministry of God blesses you with assurance and encourages your soul, that in spite of your failures, God is only interested in you being humble to admit them and to turn to Him for the cleansing and empowerment you need to keep going. Can there be anything better than this?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him. 
John 3:16-17 (NIV)

Joseph Stringer


Holy Desires (Part Six)

2 Timothy 2:22

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (NIV).

At an event, I once had dinner with Bobby Knight, the well-known former Indiana Basketball coach. He was the speaker that night and shared numerous stories about coaching. His theme went something like, “To win, you must eliminate what causes you to lose.” It was the typical motivational speech that coaches and athletes love to bring at events.

I mention this because, sadly, this is the impression many Christian teachers give when speaking about the believer’s way of life. It seems they’re saying, “To be sanctified, you must keep the moral law,” meaning in their view, the Ten Commandments. As we said in the last article on Holy Desires, this promotes a wrong view of sin. It also gives the idea that “holiness” is basically about not doing things.

However, a godly way of life is much more than forsaking prohibited behaviors. It requires faith, hope, and love for God and people, as well as the practice of positive Christ-like living. So then, we see in this verse that the Lord wants us to replace youthful desires with holy desires.

In Colossians three, we can learn the larger view of the New Testament pattern for the Christian way of life into which 2 Timothy 2:22 fits.

  • Since we are new in Christ, have Christ-focused, heavenly attitudes and aspirations (Colossians 3:1-4). Everything begins with our union with Jesus Christ and seeing our identity in him.
  • Since we are new in Christ, put off the ways of your former sinful way of life. Occasionally this is stated forcefully: “put to death” (Colossians 3:5-11). Yes, it is necessary to get rid of ruinous behavior.
  • Since we are new in Christ, put on ways of life that are consistent with our new life in Jesus Christ: “clothe yourselves with…” (Colossians 3:12-17). This is what is too often neglected. We must replace destructive attitudes, words, and actions with godly ones.

To say this graphically, God expects his people to wear “new clothes”. Don’t walk around spiritually naked! Dress like the children of God ought to dress. A suggestion is to memorize (or try to memorize) this “dress for success passage” (Colossians 3:12-17).

The four godly qualities set forth in our text counteract and are intended to replace youthful desires in God’s people.

  • Righteousness – conform to God’s instruction with a desire to see righteous behavior established (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:11)
  • Faith – trust in God or faithfulness to God – in either case we will reject human self-sufficiency and continually confess our need of the Lord. Faith is necessary for every step in the Christian walk.
  • Love – replaces selfishness with the desire to seek the honor of God and the good of other people. This turn from oneself to God and others must occur. We are nothing without love.
  • Peace – the striving for harmonious relationships among people, which God intends as one of our chief activities (Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:3; James 3:17-18)

So then, the Holy Spirit presents the overview of a truly Christian way of life, and specific matters to change, eliminating the old and developing the new. In our text, Paul directed his friend Timothy to replace the evil desires of youth with four specific ways of godliness. Which one ought to be a priority in your life?

Grace and peace, David