Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fear not: God's made a promise Isaiah 43:1-7

What good is a promise?
I've been thinking some about promises this week. We make all kinds of promises. We make little promises, you know the ones that you can fulfill in a day or in a week. And then we make big ones that can only be kept over a whole lifetime.

One time in church a mother turned to her fidgeting son in the middle of a long sermon and told him, “I promise you that if you keep on making so much noise you'll distract the pastor and he'll have to start this whole thing over from the beginning.” It worked, the boy was very still and very quiet for the rest of the time in worship.

Our society, from top to bottom, functions on layers of promises. Not every promise that we make is completely kept; but in general promises and the trust in those promises are part of what keep us and our culture working. People often missed part of the story when talking about promises. Sometimes we act like we people are the only one's in the universe who make promises. When you and I start thinking and talking that way we are missing something big. We aren't talking just about promises we have made for ourselves or on behalf of others.

Are God's Promises any good?
Sometimes when you and I think about promises we are thinking, sadly about the promises that were made to us and for us, that have been broken. But when we listen to the prophet Isaiah its clear that human beings aren't the only ones to make promises and that God has a plan to keep every promise that has been made to his people. Isaiah declared these words on Gods behalf,

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

Isaiah's announcing something big about us. God has made a promise that we belong to him for all time. We always have and we always will be God's.
He is the one who created you and who formed you.
We don't need to be afraid because God is the one who has redeemed us. God the father sent his only begotten son into the world to save us. God the Father sent the one he was pleased with into the world to redeem us.

He knows you by name. He knows your faults and your successes. God's well acquainted with all the things that you would rather are hidden from sight. There's no dark alley he won't follow you through. There's no disease and no suffering so great that he can't meet you in the middle of it all. He calls to you and me through the prophets of old, through his Word revealed in scripture, through his church, and through his people. He is calling out to you today, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.”

God says don't be afraid. You're mine. Don't be afraid. God says it over and over to the people he claims to be his own. We don't need to worry or fear at all. God, the maker of heaven and earth is in control

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2 NRSV

As good as this promise sounds, you are God's, there's a part of you and me that bristles at these very same words of comfort. “God's in charge.” There's comfort when you are sick or in danger and you know that God's the one to set the direction and to make the plans.

But when you want to call all the shots its hard to accept that the maker of all things seen is in charge, not you. There's a part of us that bristles against God's sure and strong hands. We want to be in charge. We human beings demand to be in control, we fight hard against God because we believe that we have better plans than the maker of heaven and earth has for us. We resist because we want the control. We want to be in charge. We sin. And into our world and our sin God sends a savior to remake heaven and earth and all things including us.

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