Gareth Flanary

Gareth Flanary

EMBRACE LOVE

Introduction

  • Jeremiah’s crazy commission to buy land on the eve of Judah’s collapse was followed by a promise of HOPE:  “I will certainly bring my people back… I will raise up a righteous King and his name will be called ‘The Lord is my Righteousness…”
  • Isaiah 40 – 55 offers a “balm to the spirit” of the Lord God’s covenant people who has experienced the unrelenting wrath of God for nearly 70 years. 

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.”

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness
    for the Lord!  Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.

The Lord has spoken!”

A voice said, “Shout!”  I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field.

The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

 O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.
    Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”
Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.

He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.

He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

  1. PROMISE OF LOVE:  Lord God is on his way!
  1. The people of God had chosen to do life their way instead of God’s way and it had brought destruction on them. 
    1. The Prophets had warned them… but no one would listen.
    1. But, God is much bigger than the destruction that had entered their lives. 
    1. So, the prophet Isaiah comes to the people with words of hope.
      1. He pronounces words of double comfort on them.
      1. His hesed love for his people always outweighs his disappointment. 
      1. God is on the way.
    1. God comforts… so that his people
      1. Can be “covenant people” once again…
      1. Can be “agents of God” once again…
      1. Can be “empowered by love”…  
  1. GETTING READY FOR GOD IN THE WILDERNESS!
  1. Make straight the way for the Lord in this spiritual wilderness…  to make straight the way for the Lord in this spiritual wilderness that they’re livingto take down the mountains…to lift up the plainsto smooth out the rough spots…to make it easy for God’s arrival Note:  “Friends,I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped awayThen times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.  (Peter, Acts 3)
    1. God is bringing the good news of his Kingdom.
      1. His Kingdom will set everything straight
      1. His Kingdom will make all things new again
      1. His kingdom will restore that which has been lost
      1. His kingdom will restore their souls
      1. Note:  Jesus would be God in the flesh, living among us, saturating us with God’s rule and reign that takes shape as Jesus’s love… Jesus is bigger than sins… he defeated them… and made a way…
  1. HOW DO WE WELCOME GOD INTO OUR LIVES?
    1. We still live in the wilderness – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual
      1. When we’ve lost our conviction about Yahweh…
    1. We pave the way through a repentant heart (leveling the mountains, etc.)
      1. When we’ve had enough… we cry out for God
        1. cries in the wilderness will become shouts of joy
      1. When we’ve beaten ourselves up for our unwillingness again and again to be the children of God… we cry out “just as I am… without one plea!”
    1. We reestablish Yahweh for who he really is…

Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth
    or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right
    or show him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world
    are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.
16 All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.
17 The nations of the world are worth nothing to him. In his eyes they count for less than nothing—mere emptiness and froth.

18 To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble him? Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains? Or if people are too poor for that,
    they might at least choose wood that won’t decay and a skilled craftsman
    to carve an image that won’t fall down!

21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God—the words he gave before the world began?
    Are you so ignorant? God sits above the circle of the earth.
    The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.
23 He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.
24 They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

26 Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
    not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

MAKE UP YOUR MINDS

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