Here’s a thought I had in response to Isaiah 57 and an experience I had this week with someone regarding humility (or the lack of it).
Where does God live? This might be a question one of our children asks as they are trying to wrap their minds around their theology of God. It’s a good question, and the answer is not just “Heaven.” While God is everywhere, and that includes Heaven, Isaiah 57:15 reveals something about where God resides: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” What a contrast. God lives in a high and holy place but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit.
To be contrite is to show sorrow for sin while a lowly spirit reflects humility. In our day where sin is accepted as normal, it is easy to treat sin carelessly and flippantly. One problem we have is that we often times choose the wrong standard for comparison. If my standard is people around me, I can always find one more flawed and therefore my behavior moves into the “acceptable” category even if it is not acceptable before God. Another problem is that many people also accept our behavior and sometimes even applaud us in our arrogance or sin. We might even write books or become speakers at special events and the world marvels at our impressiveness, but the truth is we may be proud and blind to the reality of sin in our lives. The standard for righteousness must always be Jesus. When Jesus is our standard, then brokenness and contrition are commonplace in our lives.
A lowly spirit does not mean low self-esteem, but rather it means realizing that the good in me is all God. Anything I can do that is impressive or brings accolades from others is all God. If I accomplish something noteworthy, it has nothing to do with me or my abilities, but rather it has everything to do with God and His gifts. Humility is in rare supply, but when it is seen, it is refreshing to us, and it honors the Lord.
My Old Testament Bible reading today made me think about a lot of things. I will not take the time to comment on my reading from Leviticus (the detail of the Israelites’ sacrifices is amazing), but I will comment on a thought from Isaiah. If you are reading through the Old Testament this summer, you may be at a different place than me, but today one of my chapters was Isaiah 49. I was captured by a verse that so encouraged me – verse 16. There are times we feel abandoned in life. It may come from a crisis or a failure, but nevertheless, we may wonder if God has forgotten us. While we really know He hasn’t, we still can’t get past the feeling of being alone. While I don’t really feel abandoned, I have been carrying a weight of questions that cannot be answered in dealing with my parent’s illness. My mother has Alzheimer’s and my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer last week. My parents are godly people who have given their lives to serving the Lord. I really can’t think of anything worse than Alzheimer’s. Thankfully the disease is moving forward very slowly, and hopefully we will have a lot of time still, but nevertheless the initial consequences of the disease are obvious now. The scripture I read this morning was such an encouragement to me. God was referring to the feelings of abandonment that Israel may have been feeling. He asked the question “Can a mother forget her baby?” Surely a mother wouldn’t forget her nursing baby, but God said, “Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” God will never forget us because He loves us. We are forever on His mind and in His plans. It was the next phrase in the verse that pressed its way into my head and heart: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” What a great thought! The idea crossed my mind that our hands are the most visible part of our bodies to our own eyes. God said that He has engraved us in the palms of his hands and is therefore constantly thinking of us. God loves us! We are ever on His mind. He will never abandon us, even if it feels that way. He will never forsake us, even if our problems have overwhelmed us. Your name, or even your face, has been tattooed into the palm of the Most High God. You are the apple of His eye and the picture on His hand.
I have to admit I favor the New Testament, however, when I spend time in the Old Testament, I am challenged and encouraged by the obvious plan of God he established from the beginning of time. If you are planning to read the Old Testament this summer (We have a 90 day plan you can follow. We will get it posted on our website – www.sonrisebaptist.org – but in the mean time, today’s reading is Genesis 1-5 and Job 1-6)., today’s reading will present the first presentation of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15. Though the comments to Satan are a little veiled, God is indicating his plan for Jesus to die but also to rise again (crush his heal). This plan would totally foil Satan’s plan and destroy him (crush his head). It is amazing to me to think that at the beginning of time, God not only knew I would be a sinner in need of a Savior, but he also planned for Jesus to be the Savior reaching out to this sinner. When God made the world, He loved the world and developed a plan to save the world. The creation not only declares the glory of God, but it also reveals the grace of God. I hope you will join me in reading the Old Testament this summer. Share your thoughts along the journey.