He must increase, but I must decrease.
Today, in our 21st Century culture, it is so easy to lose sight of who/what really matters, and praise people and things that don’t deserve to be praised. In our own culture we praise athletes, entertainers, artists, reality stars, cars, houses, shoes, and you fill in the blank_____. We give so much praise to these people and things, that we begin to adopt their ways and philosophies, and desire to acquire more of those things.
I believe we have it all wrong!!
We have it wrong because I’ve never met anyone who is enthroned in the Heavens, who can dole out eternal mercy when we mess up, who made Heaven and Earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who created the concept of justice, made the properties of food, sets prisoners holistically free, opens up the physical and spiritual eyes of the blind, put the green grass, wet in water, blue in sky, and created humankind in his own image!!
This bespeaks of a deity with authority, creativity, power, authenticity, genius, thoughtfulness, love, awesomeness, and care. This type of presence deserves to be praised. The Lord “did this and done that!” God deserves the praise! We have to “Give Props, to Whom Props is Due!” I Praise God! I thank God! I Love God! God is Great!
Will you Praise God with me??
Today’s reading is a continuation of what took place in chapter 11 of Isaiah (do homework if necessary). In chapter 11, the people are excited because God is no longer displeased with Israel or Judah. God has now moved from being displeased, to doling out the needed resources and empowerment, that Israel and Judah needed to return from exile and deeds their enemies. The tribes of Israel and Judah, were both looking forward to the day when the hand of oppression, would be forcefully defeated and removed off their respective nations. This would be a day of great praise and celebration!
As we consider what we have to face in our own lives, there are times when we find ourselves under attack, overwhelmed, and oppressed by someone or something. For some of us, the enemy of our affliction may be bills, health issues, weight gain, addictions, laziness, procrastination, bullies, terrible bosses, abusive spouses, -isms, phobias, or any other instrument of our discomfort.
However, The Good News of this text is, the repeated assurance and hope of, “A Day is coming when we will sing…” (NRSV)
What will the people sing about on That Day?
1. The People will praise God for his past track record.
2. They will praise God for his active presence in their lives.
3. They will praise God for what they hope is on the way in the future.
I believe with careful reflection, each and every day, is a great day to Praise The Lord!
Growing up, I engaged in my fair share of misbehavior and mischief, some of it I got away with and some I didn’t. As I was reflecting on my teenage years, a time that really sticks out to me is, 1999-2000. This was during my sophomore year of high school at DeMatha Catholic. That year I was taking chemistry class and lets just say, chemistry wasn’t my best subject. In fact, none of the sciences and I really agree! Praise God, my wife is a Chemical Engineer. Nevertheless, as was customary, it was time to test our chemistry knowledge, and your boy was not prepared at all! I was just lost! So I had an idea, if I made some extra accommodations to help me get through the test, everything would be alright! Okay, I cheated! I just wasn’t a good cheater, somehow and someway, I got caught cheating. Teacher took the test. Teacher gave me a F+. Teacher wrote the referral and the referral got me Saturday detention and a letter sent home to my parents on why my behavior merited detention. It just so happened that my parents never saw the letter, because like Deion Sanders, I got to the mailbox first and intercepted it! Whew, that was close! Smooth sailing and worried about nothing!
Tsk Tsk Tsk, Not too long after, my FATHER has this grand idea of going to the next PTA meeting, and he wants me to come with him. He met with the Chemistry teacher, why? The teacher goes over my grades and says to my dad,
Teacher: “I’m sure you know why he’s failing!”
I’m thinking: “Naw bruh, he don’t know! Chill!”
My dad: “NO”
Teacher: “Well, I caught him cheating on a test, we sent a note home, didn’t you get it!
Dad: “What ta what?
Well, as soon as we left the PTA meeting, my dad took me straight to the Afro Samurai, and this is what I look like after…. I had the Shane Battier head! Not cool! My father was so displeased with my actions!
When we look at this text, we see that God was also displeased with his children! Too often, some of us think, because God loves us, he’ll always have grace on us! Sadly, that’s not the case. There are times when we have to the suffer the consequences of our actions and this is a biblical example of God giving out punishment. God is using Isaiah to proclaim his judgment upon Israel because of their pride and arrogance, disregard for God’s warnings, and unrepentant hearts. Just like our earthly parents, God expects a standard of living from his children that represent him and when we fail to do so, there are times when God allows us to learn the hard lessons of our actions!
So, here is what we can learn from this text:
1. God requires us to live with Humility. This helps us to always keep proper perspective, which is, we all live and have our being because of God. Nothing we have or enjoy would be possible without God. Every good and perfect gift comes from God! We’re still alive because of God! Be HUMBLE.
2. Listen to God’s Warning. I do believe that there are times when God tries to get our attention, to warn us of possible consequences, to our actions. God uses his word, preachers, music, signs, etc. to get our attention. The question is, are we paying attention to the signs?
3. REPENT. When we repent, we ask God to forgive us for those known and unknown sins that we commit. We all sin, we all make mistakes, but we all have the ability to ask God for forgiveness, and then turn away from our sins! Repentance should be an act that we practice daily with others and with God.