The Way of Holiness – Isaiah 35

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God speaks to us through His Word.  I continue to ponder this highway that I am on.  I feel His nearness, His love for me, His joy as I learn from Him.  I walk the road with God.

Isaiah 35:1-10:

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you.  John 15:16

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. …. So there was much joy in that city.  Acts 8:5, 8

I desire to abide in You, my LORD, being obedient and submissive to You.  I want to be a fruit bearer, honoring You with joy and song.

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  Luke 22:32

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.  1 Thessalonians 5:14

May I serve You, my LORD, with boldness and strength, acceptably, with reverence and awe.

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.  For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

“…to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.’  Acts 26:18

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.  Psalm 46:4

Oh, LORD, You are my All in all.  You are the One Who turns me from darkness to light, from blind to seeing, from deaf to hearing.  You set me apart for Yourself.  I am so very grateful.  May the springs flow through me as I walk in this world…that I would be Your witness, Your light, Your salt.

8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it.  It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. ….”  Jeremiah 6:16a

This highway stands before me.  I ask for the ancient paths and walk upon them for this is the good way.  I know I shall find rest there.  Thank You, LORD.

10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17

I praise You, LORD.  I sing and rejoice for I know You.  You are my Guide.  You are the Way of Holiness.  Hallelujah!  and Amen!

 
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Photo 1:  Patricio Hurtado from Chile:  https://pixabay.com/en/hills-flowering-desert-flowers-960126/  CCO Public Domain (from Pixabay)

Photo 2:  Stas Kulesh, a Russian travel photographer living in Auckland, New Zealand.  https://hd.unsplash.com/photo-1451817045432-8c40f15299f9; https://unsplash.com/@kulesh; licensed under Creative Commons Zero

A Highway

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And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.  Isaiah 35:8

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Isaiah 40:3

Father God, I want to walk in Your ways, the highway of holiness.  You are Holiness that I seek and desire.  You are Love and Righteousness.  You are Holiness.  You make me whole.  When I walk on this highway, I walk toward You.  I so want to be wholly Yours, and walk the remainder of this life on earth in holiness. 

But my people have forgotten Me;
they make offerings to false gods;
they made them stumble in their ways,
in the ancient roads,
and to walk into side roads,
not the highway,  making their land a horror,
a thing to be hissed at forever.
Everyone who passes by it is horrified
and shakes his head.  Jeremiah 18:15-16

I do not want to wander from this highway yet I am human.  I have; I do; I will.  I have made and will make mistakes and I do error.  Yet, LORD, I do not want to.  You have forgiven me of my many past wrong steps.  I seek Your face, asking forgiveness for these paths I walk down when they are not Yours.  Thank You for loving me back into Your arms, my Precious Father. 

“Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.”  Jeremiah 31:21

I read Your Word, Father, as It is truly filled with the road markers that You have set before me.  I may wander off the highway, yet I want to be able to find You and Your way no matter what happens, no matter which way I turn.  I seek You and am learning to be quiet so that I may hear Your still and small voice, for I want to know You in the beauty of Who You are.  You are my God.  In the dark of night when the highway is black and there is no moonlight, I want to know that I am on Your path for me, for my life.   

But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  2 Peter 3:13-14

With anticipation, with joy, and with expectancy, I continue taking step after step.  Today, I desire to stay in this very moment with You, my LORD.  Tomorrow, I want to walk beside You on Your road for me. 

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  Romans 6:17-18

God, You have transformed my heart, beginning with my conversion to be Your daughter in Christ Jesus.  I walk as closely to You as I can.  I hope to stay near You from this moment on.  When I stray, LORD, please draw me near.  I sense Your strength as I am drawn under the shadow of Your wing, into the cleft of the rock.  I want to grow in love and righteousness, live according to Your Word, and be pleasing to You now and for always.  In the Powerful Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  Jeremiah 7:23

Amen and Amen. 

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Photo 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7895628@N03/2807135427; “Endless Road” via http://photopin.com;  licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Photo 2:  Stas Kulesh, a Russian travel photographer living in Auckland, New Zealand.  https://hd.unsplash.com/photo-1451817045432-8c40f15299f9; https://unsplash.com/@kulesh; licensed under Creative Commons Zero

Sheep Grazing

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Sheep follow one another.  They will wander into areas that may lead to danger, or cause them to hunger or thirst.  Sheep, left on their own, will graze the same area over and over until there is nothing left to eat, gnawing the grass right down to the dirt.  As they graze and re-graze one area, they will make ruts in the dirt.

A shepherd’s reputation is based on the appearance of his pastures as well as the condition of the sheep.  If the pastures are run down, not very green, filled with deep ruts, then it is safe to assume that he is not a good shepherd.  The same could be said of the shepherd if the sheep are not well cared for.  They need to be constantly tended to, groomed, fed, and protected.  The shepherd’s reputation is on the line.

When sheep are led by a good shepherd, he/she will drive them into fresh pastures regularly.  He will have a pattern whereby he leads his sheep from one area of new grasses to another so that they are continually fed, and minimally damaging the land.  The shepherd will know his land well in order to drive or lead them each day into an area that would be a benefit to his sheep.  He will know right where the watering holes are as well.      

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:3

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He leads us.  However, we don’t always trust Him (or anyone else) to lead us where we think best.  Instead, like sheep, we will often stay in one pasture, working ourselves along the same paths turning them into ruts.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.  
Isaiah 53:6

We can be stubborn, prideful, stiff-necked, filled with self.  We often blindly follow another or are determined to go our own way.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Looking around at others near to us or gazing into a mirror back at ourselves, we might see abuse of drugs or alcohol, sexual promiscuity, dead-end careers or jobs, wrong or falling-apart relationships, family members gone astray, following others into New Age religions, or so much more.

Can we ask: Where have I strayed away from the LORD?

The LORD calls us into fresh pastures…each day…for nourishment and refreshment.

It is important to note that it is for the LORD’s Name sake that He leads us. Our well-being, our peacefulness and joy reflect upon His character, His ownership, His management, His protection of us.  If we claim be to Christ’s, His image would be tarnished by our behavior or thought patterns when we go astray.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Am I willing to be led?  Am I willing to follow Him to fresh pasture for nourishment?

Am I willing to love Christ and others more than myself?

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1 John 3:16

Am I willing to be set apart for Him?

Am I willing to release what I might call my “rights”?

Jesus did not say this would be easy.

And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  Mark 4:17

BUT…Jesus said,

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Am I willing to rest in being His and not mine?  

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Am I willing to be gracious and thankful for all situations, no matter what comes my way?

Am I willing to have no self-will, but have His will for my life?

Am I willing to follow Christ to obey all He asks of me?

“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  Acts 5:32

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13

LORD, I pray that I will be like a lamb that jumps and plays, that brings a smile due to joy-filled leaps into the Shepherd’s arms.  I want to be filled with that joy because You loved me first.  

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LORD, I thank You for caring for me always.  Thank You for loving me.  Even while I strayed, going my own way time and time again, You waited patiently for me.  Once I became Yours, I wanted to be Your sheep.  I have to admit that it has not been easy, but I love You so and want to please You more than anything.  May I walk in the steps You have prepared for me and stay close.  May I feed within the pastures where You lead me and drink from the water You know is thirst-quenching and safe.  LORD, You are my Shepherd.  Praises to the Shepherd of Israel.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.  

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Sheep grazing near to Pentraeth by Nigel Williams  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Imgarcade: Baby Lamb Jumping

Consider Your Ways

 Make me to know Your ways, O LORD;
teach me Your paths.

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God of my salvation;
for You I wait all the day long. 

Psalm 25:4-5

I ask God for His wisdom, His Truth, His ways.  I want to walk rightly in Him, growing to be more Christlike with each day.  I ask.  I receive when I am listening, when my heart is right with my God.  The peace of God covers me.  I am able to handle so much that goes on around me and in me.

BUT THEN … I let too much of the world in and so much of God seeps out through the cracks and crevices of me.  The peace escapes and I no longer feel the close connection with God.  Busy-ness of the days, violence of the world, struggles in extended family, chaos, weariness, pain, media’s negative news, it’s short blips on the screen giving us the shallow news of the day…all of these burden me and I allow them to pull me down.  Instead of giving them to Jesus, as He asks me to do, I hang on and think I can handle them alone, be strong, lift the weight alone.  But I am wrong.

Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.

You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.

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Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD.

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 

Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. Haggai 1:5-10

God calls upon me to consider my ways.  What am I doing that keeps me from knowing His peace and His love every single day, every single moment?  I am ignoring His ways and busying about my own.  I allow the world to infiltrate the beauty that is God that dwells within me.

The Israelites put off building God’s temple.  They procrastinated.  They ignored the message that this was the time to rebuild the temple.

The Hebrew figure of speech for this phrase is literally “put your heart on your roads.”  Haggai asks God’s people to consider what direction their life is headed, and if they really want it to continue that way:  living with a small payoff for their work in the fields, never enough to eat or drink, clothing that does not keep them warm, or earnings that just don’t pay for it all.  Does any of this sound familiar?  Working two jobs, or barely making enough to pay the bills or working hard yet without a finished product of fulfillment?  Is my heart on God’s road for my life or mine?  Is my heart headed toward the righteousness that God calls me to?  He calls me to be holy for He is holy.  Am I headed that way?  Is my heart wide open to the call of God and am I able to hear Him with the ears of my heart?

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”

Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet,

“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?   Haggai 1:1-4

Due to self-centeredness, me-first, God pulled away the dew, the moisture for the crops to grow.  The drought stifled all that was to grow in the ground.  He wanted the attention of His children.  He does that today with me.  The air seems dry because I am not listening.  I am filling my life with worldliness.  He stands aside while I “handle” things my way.

Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.

And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”   Haggai 1:10-11

When ‘my world’ seems like it is caving in or bulging out, I realize that I must come back, crawl back, to God.  He waits for me.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

Sometimes, I have set my priorities all wrong.  I am seeking me first rather than my Creator.  I have given God a backseat in my life rather than the driver’s seat.  I treat Him with less dignity and reverence than He deserves.  I am seeking to fulfill all that I need rather than let God clothe and feed and shelter me.   My doubtful faith draws me into the ways of this world.  I cannot provide for myself without Him.  I can never do it all by myself.  His Word in Matthew 6 tells me not to be anxious but seek Him first, to depend upon Him for all my physical and spiritual needs.  I listen and am reminded to consider my ways, seeking God first.  FIRST.

“Consideration is only as valid as the change it produces.” Ransom Maggard

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.

Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, “I am with you, declares the LORD.”

And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.  Haggai 1:12-15

I want to learn Your ways, Father God, and pray that You teach me, but I am and will consider my own ways for I want to be in Your will with each step.  Oh, God, I love You and pray that I learn and listen and breathe in Your love and life and wisdom and ways.  You are my God and there is no other.  I pray I am learning from Haggai and will keep learning.  Teach me, Father, for You are with me.  I am obedient to Your voice.  Amen.

 

quote: Ransom Maggard @ The World is Not Enough

Preparing the Way

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God’s plans are perfect.  He gave an old man and an old woman a child, to be named John, not Zechariah after his father.  God had prepared the path for this “John”.  On the day of circumcision, this child would be named by a father who had lost his ability to speak during the pregnancy as he had not believed the words of Gabriel, the angel of the LORD.

And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.

And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.

And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,

and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,…

Luke 1:63-67

Part of this prophesy was:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.  

Luke 1:76-80

John, the Apostle, writes in John 1:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 

John 1:6-9

God prophesied through others about John and Jesus:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:1

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah 4:30


“And you, child….”

“What then will this child be?”  ~

prophet of the Most High

a messenger

a preparer of the way

a guide for our feet into the way of peace

a giver of knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins

a giver of light

The tender mercy of God prepared John for this calling.  John’s obedience and abiding with God would allow him to go before Jesus.  Jesus said this about John: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Matthew 11:11

Father God, You are the Holy One.  I am at peace this day as I wait in this Advent season, seeing the ministry of John who came before Your Son.  John had so much to be and do but You were always with Him for You gave him Your Holy Spirit from the womb.  He was obedient to You.  He abided in You always.  Thank You for these lessons to my spirit.  When I stand upon Your holy ground, I am called to follow You in all ways.  May my sight be towards You and my hearing to You as well that I would know Your will for my life, the path which I am to walk.  Father, I meander and get lost, but You never lose me.  I am so grateful for Your strong hand upon me always.  Keep me on the straight and narrow highway that is Your Way.  My heart is Yours.  I pray, in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.   

Being Woven ~ linda

Preparing the Way

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.  And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:13-17

Zechariah prays.  God hears his prayer.  He sends an angel and brings great and unbelievable news to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God’s Truth comes to pass for He said it.

John will “…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am mindful of being drawn closer to Christ Jesus, my LORD, with each day, each passing minute, or even a second.  God gave John a calling to draw people to the LORD Jesus even before He became known.  He was to prepare a people for His coming.  In our own day, we, too, can prepare for His coming as He enters our hearts with newness each year, each Christmas, but also each and every day, each and every moment.  Christ brings cleansing and wholeness to us with each breath.  May we then be prepared and turn to prepare others.

Father God, I seek You and call upon You to prepare my heart in this Advent season.  I wait.  I wait, Father, for Your Son comes anew although He has been, has gone, rose again, and yet lives in me today through Your Holy Spirit for I am one who had to be prepared once for His coming.  I believed.  But I believe today, not in the past tense, for “believing” is ongoing and for always.  Father, breathe in me afresh daily that I would be able to prepare others for His coming.  I praise You, Father, for You gave us the Only Gift we would ever need.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing…for until I knew You, nothing meant anything.  I thought ‘things’ meant something to me, but they really did not.  Knowing You, Your Son, Your Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is All that makes a difference in my life.  I know that Your Son is the Redeemer for He redeemed me, even me.  Praise You, LORD.  You are the Holy One of Israel.  I pray in Your Name.  Amen.

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Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  
Isaiah 41:14

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