walk in the word
Category: Your Walk With God
“The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
I will never forget the first time I saw the Rockies. I was maybe 8 years old, riding in the back of our family station wagon in western Canada. The snowy peaks towered over us like we were little ants.
I could not have described it then, but I remember what I felt. It was the feeling of God—the sense of One who could call the mountains forth with the breath of His mouth. Habakkuk 3:6 says that this God “looked . . . then the eternal mountains were scattered, the everlasting hills sank low.” I’ve since been to the Alps, the Appalachians, and the Himalayas. The impact is always the same. God is so great and I am so small—and that’s the ways it’s supposed to be. Yes, it’s in the mountains where we feel the grip of God’s greatness.
Such has been our view of God from the highest peaks of Isaiah in our broadcast study, “Gripped by the Greatness of God.” The air is really thin up there–dizzying, even. Lofty, holy God. Sovereign King of the universe. Awesome, almighty God, working wonders, worthy to be worshipped. We are gripped by His greatness until our whole world is turned upside down, forever protecting life from religion and meaningless ritual.
Then–BAM! Reality hits and the kids are calling or you have to get to the office. Your spiritual retreat is over. It’s time to get back to the flatlands. Can I find God there, too? Down in a world of hurt? Down to a place where all I see rejects God’s reality?
Even as we’ve scaled the heights of God’s greatness, maybe there’s been a painful thorn stuck in your heart. It could be a secret hurt from your past or maybe a difficult circumstance that can’t be resolved. What you really need to know is, “does God ever come off the mountain?” As thrilling as it is to be gripped by His greatness, you want to know if this God of the universe makes house calls. And the answer is yes!
Isaiah 61 takes us close to God’s heart. In these very personal verses, we discover how the God of the universe comes off the mountain to tenderly care for His people. How does He do this? To get the full impact, you’ll have listen to the whole message on the broadcast, but for now, I want you to know that no matter how deeply you’ve been hurt, the Lord can heal you. Read Isaiah 61:1:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.”
The first thing we see about God’s heart is that it is near to the hurting. Notice the three groups of people the Lord is especially attuned to: the afflicted, the brokenhearted, and the prisoners. Those people are us!
The afflicted are the first specific people Isaiah says need help. Isaiah says that God will bring good news to those who have humble spirits. This humility thing isn’t a surprise. Did you know that the verse, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” is quoted three times in the Bible—Proverbs 3:34, James 5:6, and 2 Peter 5:5! God wants us to grasp this concept!
Next, Isaiah said the Lord came to help and to heal the brokenhearted. Has your heart ever been broken? Have You endured an ordeal that has left you emotionally scarred? Isaiah 61:1 says that God will bind up the brokenhearted like a doctor attending a broken limb. When we bring the pain of our past to this God who comes off the mountain, when we sincerely and consistently ask for the grace to forgive and move on, He answers in abundance. Just try Him—you won’t be disappointed.
Maybe your greatest need is not freedom from the fruit of others’ actions but instead freedom from your own sin. Isaiah said that the Lord came to set the captives free. Do you sometimes feel trapped in a cycle of sin, then confess, try again; sin-confess, sin-confess, try again, ever-promising change but seldom really experiencing it? Then you know what it’s like to be held captive. There have been times in my life where I’ve felt those same chains. Where are you today? Are you tired of that old sin? When will that ever be gone from my life? God wants to break that cycle and bring release from your bondage.
I tell you in Jesus’ name that is God’s best deal—bringing freedom to those held captive to sin.
One word summarizes what all three of these people-groups need: healing. To those who need healing, God promises a really cool swap. Isaiah 61:3 says He will come: “To comfort all who mourn . . . giving them a garland instead of ashes . . .the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness.”
If you give God your ashes—your sorrow, God promises to swap it out for a garland. He promises to cover you in a mantle, or a robe of praise.
Now let me just ask you this: Have you been gripped by the kind of power that brings this kind of healing? The sad fact is many people only have a head-knowledge of this phenomenal promise. They get really frustrated because they keep hearing about it, yet never experience it for themselves.
How about you? Has God healed you from past hurts? Have you seen Him melt away the pain that once consumed you? Or does it still hang like some dark cloud over your life, always threatening a momentary downpour of sadness? If the answer to that last question is yes, admit it to Him right now.
Lastly, ready for this?—when we exchange our sorrow for His joy, we will be called, “oaks of righteousness”—strong, steady, faithful, and deeply rooted in the soil of God’s Word. God wants that to be true of your life but it has nothing to do with your righteousness and everything to do with His. You don’t have to stand up straighter or try to act more godly, as if we could measure up anyway. We’re talking about His righteousness alone here. That’s the power of Christ at work in your life.
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