Monday, January 2, 2017

Isaiah 42:1-9 Called to be Righteous

KEY TEXT: Isaiah 42:6-7 "I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

KEY THOT: While the “servant” in this Isaiah text is often related to Christ, yet in itself, it could refer to any believer, for all believers are “in Christ” and therefore share the same destiny as Him. With this in mind, God’s word to his servant is relevant for us. God calls his servant as one “whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights”, whom He will “put my Spirit upon him” (v.1). It is a privilege to be God’s servant. But like all servants, we serve the Lord who calls us “in righteousness” (v.6). We are not to live as we deem fit, but according to the righteousness of God as defined by God’s 10 moral laws. Faith does not cancel the law but upholds it, as Paul explains in Romans 3:31, "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." Whoever teaches otherwise is preaching heresy.

"For this reason," Peter writes, "make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:5-8). So, our effectiveness and fruitfulness very much depends on us putting in effort to develop these godly qualities. This refers to more than just personal competencies but to our witness to the world as God's covenant people. We are called to be "a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness" (Isaiah 42:6-7). 

There is only one way we can be effective and fruitful: that is by putting in "every effort" to acquire these qualities. Joshua 1:8 gives us the basic discipline required: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." There can be no God-anointed prosperity and success apart from meditating on God's law day and night. Latest brain science research has demonstrated conclusively that feeding our minds with godly and positive thoughts daily will rewire our brain to release chemicals that will form new mental habits to transform our attitudes and actions.

One practical way to develop this daily discipline of reading/listening to God's word is using the YouVersion Bible. This app has an audio playback for ESV, NIV and NLT versions. Set the reading rate to 2.0x to increase focus in listening/reading God's word. At this rate, you can listen/read 10 chapters a day in less than 30 minutes. You will finish the entire bible in 6 months if you do this just five days a week. As your unconscious brain (which forms 90% of your brain activity) absorbs God's word via sound and sight, it will start re-wiring your brain neural network for positive transformation and peak performance. 

May the Lord "take you by the hand and keep you" in this coming new year as you embark on this journey of transformation for effective and fruitful living. 

Father, please give us the motivation and discipline to meditate on Your word day and night, that we might become a light to the nations to set captives free who are in darkness. Amen.

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