Isaiah


The Best Wedding Dress Of All

The Bible is written, like all good literature, with lots of similes and metaphors. Visual images to help us remember spiritual principles. As you think about The Royal Wedding of Kate and William, think about this:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations (Isaiah 61:10-11).

Galatians has taught us that the gospel dispels all our notions of being good enough to be accepted by God. Paul’s argument is that noone can keep the law perfectly enough. Princess Catherine and Prince William can never have a perfect enough life together to earn salvation in the end. Even royalty must relay on faith in Christ Jesus. No one’s deeds will ever cut it. The history recorded in the Old Testament vividly shows this. Salvation is by “hearing with faith–just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:5-6).

It is important to your spiritual health to realize this righteousness is “counted” to you. You have been dressed up in pure deeds, thought, desires just as Kate and William were attired in such beautiful clothes for their wedding. Paul explains this as “imputed righteousness.” It is “alien” to us; foreign to our human nature. It is something we must put on. The clothes are all laid out before you. They are the perfect life, motive, desires of Jesus. In Romans 4, Paul even quotes a Psalm to explain this “covering:”

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blesssed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Psalm 32:1-2 quoted in Romans 4:5-8).

So remind yourself of this principle when your conscience condemns you, sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly. When you’ve lied about your mother-in-law; snapped your husband’s head off; blew up at the kids again; failed to train your children. Turn from your sin and rejoice in the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The rejoicing is important. What you rejoice about is crucial. It is not all about you. It is not your being perfect that saves you. Isaiah wrote that God takes delight in his people who are so dressed up (see chapter 62).

Of course, these clothes do not give you a license to sin, to do whatever you wish, to be self-absorpted. Instead, thinking about the righteousness and sacrifice of Jesus is to lead to praise and thankfulness–to a song in your heart. What are you singing today?

Or are you seeking to dress yourself in doing better than some do, not lying TOO much, staying sexually pure except for those little thoughts every now and then, etc etc. Paul tried all that, you know. Working himself into heaven by keeping laws. He was tripped up by his covetous thoughts, and then realized he really did need a Savior and these clothes.

As you remember this principle, the focus becomes more on God than on you. It is Jesus who has bought these beautiful clothes for you. God will even cause you to praise Him….to be thankful He delights in you. Your responsibility is to rejoice in Him. Here is where knowing the doctrine and thinking about it affects how we feel, as well as what we do. Jesus’ purity and perfect fulfilling of the law is the best wedding dress of all. Even more exquisite than Kate’s.

Comfort the Right Way

I know this interrupts our reading of Galatians but I thought it might help us to remember to “ask the right questions” and to refocus our thinking during everyday stresses. This is from a lesson I taught to a ladies home Bible class several years ago. We’ll go back to Galatians in the next blog. Hope this helps us all.

Psalm 94:11 “The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile.”

Spiritual drought is like a fading flower in contrast to soaring like an eagle. Which state are you in at the moment?

How we think and understand doctrine is vital to our spiritual experiences.

“We need to realize that the New Testament does not provide a precise and exact answer to every problem we happen to be confronting. Christians seem to think that it should supply an immediate answer but the New Testament doesn’t claim to do that; it provides general principles that will cover any problem that can ever be settled…..How prone we are to confuse the ornate and outward things with the spiritual. You never find the writers of the Epistles merely administering comfort. The New Testament pays us a great compliment by giving us its comfort in terms of doctrine…It all seem very strange to our modern ears, to those who desire immediate and direct comfort. But this is the very glory of the New Testament; it gives us doctrine, it regards us as intelligent human beings. It says, ‘Stand on your feet for a moment. Here is doctrine. Work it out for yourself.’ …It is not a direct comfort, but an indirect comfort.” ML-J p. 36-37, The Miracle of Grace, Baker House, 1986.

This implies you need the skill of finding principles and working out their applications to your specific circumstances. It is a thinking matter.

Isaiah 55:8-9: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts.”
Tell God your worries about “what if” and “if only.”

Don’t let your weaknesses drag you down; they just show off God’s grace.

Catch yourself thinking wrongly. Identify that wrong thought such as “I’m in this fix with no one to help me.” “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me!” “Will He really deliver me from this wicked husband, or my besetting sin, or this addiction?” Acknowledge thoughts like this as sin.
Focus thinking on remembering doctrines like providence, sovereignty, election, compassion, redemption…

Remember promises like “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “I have called you mine. I have set my love upon you.” “I will strengthen you.” “I will redeem you.” Think about His character: He is all-powerful but everlastingly compassionate. He is faithful, never turning from His covenant. Focus on these instead of how you feel right now during troubled times.

Call to mind examples from Bible lives and history: Esther was strengthened to risk her life for God’s people. Abigail was rescued from a wicked husband. If God can forgive David and promise His sure mercies to him, he will forgive me and be merciful to me. God chastened Judah for their idolatry, but He never withdrew His love or His promise to be their friend. Jesus loved you enough to have his body torn apart for you.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to stir you to believe and to produce joy, peace, comfort, repentance, endurance…Wait patiently for your heart to be “strangely warmed.”

Some reminders from Isaiah:
Is. 52:6, 10, 15: God will triumph in the end.
Is. 53: He will provide a Redeemer in Jesus Christ.
Is. 54:8-10: He will be kind forever.
Is. 55:2-4: He has personal concern and interest in individuals, calling them to faith.
Is. 56:6-7: You won’t be left out; he is inclusive with his offer of salvation.
Is. 57:15: God is majestic in sovereignty, holiness, and compassion.

In the midst of my anxious thoughts…..
Psalm 94:19: “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”