Monday, July 30, 2012
Welcome to Day 211 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
10 “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you.”
Isaiah 61 is the passage Jesus quoted in Luke 4…
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me… Read on…
4 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
Beauty instead of ashes… The oil of joy instead of mourning… A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Isaiah 62:11, “The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 12 They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord.”
John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Once again, Isaiah delivers mind-blowing scripture! (No wonder Isaiah is quoted in the New Testament 66 times!)
Nearly ten years ago I travelled to Rwanda to attend a conference. If I recall accurately, 23 nations were represented at this gathering. There we only a handful of Americans in attendance. My brother-in-law, Dave was with me, and a couple of other guys from the east coast.
As I was preparing for my part in the conference (I was asked to speak to the youth on purity, and to do a seminar session on “How to Reach Your Culture for Christ.” That still strikes me as funny… a middle-age, white guy from Ohio, speaking in Africa on that topic. Must be God…) the Lord gave me this passage from Isaiah 61. Not a deeply prophetic word, as Rwanda certainly needed “to rebuild the ancient ruins” as their cities had been devastated from the Genocide in 1994, and “the oil of gladness instead of the Spirit of despair.” (I could go on as to all the applications from this chapter as it relates to Rwanda.) Even the conference title was “Arise, Shine, Africa!” from Isaiah 6o:1.
But one can never lose sight that these passages are first and foremost directly related to Israel, first as they relate to their return from exile in Babylon, and ultimately God’s everlasting covenant with Israel.
Any time I am a part of doing what the Bible says, I am honored. Even if it’s as straightforward as “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” Matthew 25:35.
But this was a little different. This was much bigger… To be invited to help with the recovery from the genocide was a huge honor, not that I felt I really had anything huge to contribute.
But as we recently read in Isaiah 6, “Here am I, send me.” (When God asked, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”)
I’m convinced that a willing heart goes a long way. It opens doors and makes us available. God is always asking that same question, “Who will go for us?” There are always opportunities, no shortage of mission trips or conferences to attend around the globe.
The challenge is knowing which one or when?
One day as I was walking down the road near where the compound where I was staying, I was asked why I was there. (I was handing our bottles of Coca Cola to see how that would be received in another part of the world. Bottom line? People love a free Coke wherever you go!) I simply replied from Isaiah 61, “God wants to pour out the oil of joy in your lives and in your country.” (Note: I was the only “mazoongoo” or “white man” within sight…) My presence there created quite a stir… I drew a crowd and had the opportunity to pray for dozens of people, right there on the street! (This, after being watched closely by a group of locals who were hanging out at an abandoned gas station!)
But it’s not just in Rwanda that God wants to “rebuild the ancient ruins.” What about in your life? What about in our city? Who doesn’t want (or need) the oil of gladness?
This is what God does… He rebuilds, restores. He is into divine exchange: Beauty instead of ashes… The oil of joy instead of mourning… A garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
He wants to “restore the places long devastated!”
I praise you Lord for your loving kindness, and your desire to rebuild and restore.
I am compelled to pray for our city, Dayton, OH. That innovation would be restored to our city. That you would rebuild its walls and lift the Spirit of despair.