October 10 – October 16, 2017

WORD

1O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.  2For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.  3Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.  4For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.  When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, 5the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.

6On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.  7And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever.  8Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

9It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.  This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Isaiah 25:1-9

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.

Life is definitely not always a day at the beach, but sometimes life can feel like a day at the beach without any shade: there you are, out on the hot sand, exposed to the elements as you bake in the strong, noonday sun, surrounded by only non-potable seawater.  As I write this, I feel the radiating ache of a sunburn that I earned by spending almost twelve hours at the fair yesterday with my head uncovered.  Whether it is through a parasol on the beach or a hat at the fair, finding cover in the heat is important.

We can seem to get “burned” by too much exposure to the negative societal elements so fiercely at work in our world.  Finding spiritual cover is the work of the Holy Spirit.  God provides the shade of grace and mercy when we feel exposed in such ways.  For the Israelites in the days of Isaiah, that harmful exposure was to foreign armies trying to destroy them and their homeland.  That is why this Scripture is framed in language concerning “ruthless” ones and “aliens.”

We understand through the writings of Paul that our true enemies are not “flesh and blood” enemies, but spiritual forces at work against us in this world (see Ephesians 6).  These spiritual forces of sin and evil can work against our minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits in many ways.  We might not even be aware of all the places in our lives in which evil manifests itself, for sin can be subtle.

The good news, though, is that God is our “refuge,” our “shelter,” and our “shade.”  What wonderful words to call God!  When temptation, oppression, confusion, harm, and despair beat down on us like the blazing sun, God covers us and takes the heat for us!  This is the message of the cross, is it not?  Jesus took our iniquities, our infirmities, our injustices, and our injuries upon himself to both protect us and free us from that which would destroy us.

Whatever you are facing right now, God is there for you.  God is taking your suffering upon Godself, claiming it for God’s own, and providing a shadow of grace under which you can find peace.  And as God does this for you, God will also take away those unholy “shrouds” that have obscured God in the eyes of your heart and mind.  Within God’s sheltering love you will discover anew that God is your home.  And within that home you will never be destroyed.

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

There are so many ways in which people suffer in our world.  Every day millions of tears are cried as they are released from broken hearts and broken spirits.  Pray this week for the hurting, those who are burdened with deep sorrow and despair.  Ask God to spread hope around the world like a great rushing wind.  Trust God to heal your own wounds and to dry your own tears.  Our God is the great Healer and Comforter of the world.  God’s arms are stretched out, waiting to embrace people flooded with sadness.

Meditation Focus: On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. 

As you meditate this week, imagine yourself at the banqueting table of God.  A rich feast is set before you within the presence of God and the angels and the people of the kingdom.  You are finally free within the eternal shalom peace of God.  As you envision this scene notice what God does to welcome you.  Where does God ask you to sit?  What food and drink are set in front of you?  What is the conversation about at the table?  What does God say to you?  What do your brothers and sisters say to you at the feast?  How do you feel during this great celebration?  Allow God to speak to you and reveal Godself to you through this image of the heavenly feast.  Remain there in the good silence of your mind until you feel the truth of this future event permeating your present moment.

Journaling Focus: It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.  This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Waiting is one of the most difficult realities of life.  Whether it is in a long line at the store or waiting for a diagnosis to arrive via a phone call from the doctor, waiting is hard!  This week, write about a time in which you were waiting for something – an answer to a prayer, a solution to a problem, or understanding in a difficult season – from God.  How did you feel as you waited?  What do you think God was doing during the time you were waiting on God?  Why is waiting/patience important?  What have learned about God and about yourself during these waiting seasons?

Holy Action: 

Find a time this week to enjoy a celebratory feast.  Whether it is a fancy dinner with friends or loved ones or a simple breakfast at the table with your kids, foreshadow the heavenly banquet of God with those people whom God has given you to cherish in this life.  It is not the setting or the food that make it celebratory and a feast, but the people with whom you share it!

Breath Prayer: Father, you are our healing.

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