Posts Tagged ‘Yes Lord’

One of God’s to do lists

January 5, 2015

Isaiah-1--16-17

The Verse of the Day for January 5, 2015 is found in Isaiah 1:16-17

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Here we find a series of imperatives from the Lord God expressed by Isaiah, the Prophet, given to Judah and Jerusalem. God indicates His displeasure with their offerings and their sacrifices which are no longer acceptable. Recognizing that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction,” here we find a series of corrective measures that should be implemented. We can arrange the series of commands into nine directives as to what should be done. According to E.W. Bullinger, the number nine represents judgment which certainly comes into play in this series.

  • Wash you

Three of the purification rituals practiced in Judaism include ablutions or washings: Washing of the hands, (2) washing of the hands and feet, and (3) immersion of the whole body in water. God’s desire is for “clean hands and a pure heart” among his people.

  • Make you clean;

God’s intention is that His people “clean up their acts” and “come clean.”While not found in Scripture, the reminder that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is certainly applicable with this directive from God.

  • Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes;

Followers of God are also commanded to “put away your evil ways.” As the New Living Translation puts it, “Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.” Even more colloquially, it is as if God is saying, “Get out of my face with your lowdown evil ways.”

  • Cease to do evil;

This command brings to mind a comment from writer John Bunyan, who recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys also comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.” In the case of the passage from Isaiah, we should “do no evil” as well.

  • Learn to do well;

Instead of doing evil, those to whom Isaiah speaks should learn to do well, that it may be well with them. The Psalmist declares, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted that I might learn your precepts.” Those who desire to learn God will teach.

  • Seek judgment,

In addition, Isaiah instructs readers to “seek judgment” which is also translated “seek justice” in some instances. In discussing the occurrences of the word “justice” (Hebrew, mishpat, with the related verb shaphat, “do justice”) in the Old Testament, James Limburg notes that most of the contexts where the Hebrew noun or verb is used involve some of the same groups of people: the widow, the orphan, and the poor.

  • Relieve the oppressed,

This exhortation is to “cease the oppression and provide relief for the oppressed.” God’s desire is to “let the oppressed go free.” Psalm 103:6 states: The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” Similarly the people of God are not to impose further oppression upon the oppressed, but they are to seek to “relieve the oppressed.”

  • Judge the fatherless,

God, who is described as “father to the fatherless,” encourages followers to “defend the rights of the fatherless” or “hear the fatherless in right judgment”; this directive is also expressed in this way: “defend orphans in court, take up the cause of the orphan!”

  • Plead for the widow.

Another descriptor of God speaks of His being “husband to the widow,” whereby He makes known His concern for the woman who has neither husband nor support. The exhortation is to “plead the widow’s cause, plead the widow’s case or plead for the widow.” This idea is also expressed this way: “Defend the rights of the widow! Plead the case of widows and protect the widow.”

According to Jim Limburg, in this final section of the passage Isaiah calls his hearers to be an advocate for those without power or the powerless: meaning the widow (who has no husband), the orphan (who has no parents) and the poor (who have no money).

While this passage is not specifically addressed to believers today, we can certainly learn about God’s expectations for His people. We are reminded:

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).

In response to the directives set forth in the passage from Isaiah 1, our heart’s desire is to please God at all times, as Jonathan Nelson sings, we also say, “Yes, Lord.”

40 Years ago, I said “Yes!”

April 4, 2011

Without question, the Word of God is energetic and life-giving, as revealed in Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Each word in the Word of Life is an expression of power. Luke 1:37 in the King James Version says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” The American Standard Version offers this translation: “For no word from God shall be void of power.” Indeed, there is life-changing power in a single word from the Word, as the Poet notes:

. . . the power

of the printed word,

the power of a single light,

like a cloven tongue of fire,

to shatter the darkest night.

One of the most powerful words in the English language, in my estimation, is “yes.” With regard to Jesus Christ, Paul makes known this profound truth:

2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (New King James Version) 

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

The word “Yes” is used to express affirmation or assent, often used as an affirmative reply. Certainly we are aware of the word as a strong expression of joy, pleasure, or approval. When a player scores the winning shot in an overtime game, often excited fans respond with a vigorous “Yes! Way to go!”

Recently I was reflecting upon an experience where I said “yes” forty years ago when I enlarged my commitment to serve God and volunteered to join a ministry leadership training program. Prior to making that decision, I stood around a campfire that summer and acknowledged that I would seek to serve God and do His will in response to His love for me. That event was a prelude to a culminating event that would occur three years later when I would be ordained to the Christian ministry. I comment on the significance of my ordination in this excerpt from an Examiner.com article:

Ordination is the public recognition of a response of an individual to the call of God to serve. The recognition of this inner prompting to be of greater service may have transpired a considerable amount of time prior to my experience around the campfire in 1971. I recall as a child being aware of the presence of God, and as I grew older and was introduced to the Bible, I remember reading the passage in Isaiah 6 where the glory of God overwhelms the Prophet, who responds to the question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us.” Isaiah answers saying, “Here am I, send me.” This simple response resonated within me for years, and I simply acknowledged the call to ministry and said “Yes.”

In reflecting upon my experience around the campfire, I was inspired to write this poem:

Forty Years ago 

The number 40 is the product of 5 and 8,                                                                                                                                                           and points to the action of grace (5),                                                                                                                                                         leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).                                                                                                                                     This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation.

E.W. Bullinger                                                                                                                                                                                                              Number in Scripture

 

Forty years ago in a kairos moment in time,

I was forever changed, beyond all reason and rhyme.

Around a campfire I offered my life and said “Yes.”

The exact path my life would take I could only guess

The valleys I must descend, the mountains I must climb.

I would need great courage, symbolized in fragrant thyme

That graced my neck, as I was striving to reach my prime

Forty years ago.

To stumble and fall along the way is no crime,

For my earnest desire was to minister full-time;

Despite the challenges, to serve God nevertheless,

To go where I am sent, to please the Lord and to bless.

With a simple “Yes,” I began my quest toward heights sublime

Forty years ago.

I have compiled a number of musical selections whose theme is the word “yes.” One of my favorite selections is “Say Yes” by Shekinah Glory Ministries. The song brings to mind my experience of serving in the US Army for two years, during which time I really came to know Jesus Christ, as my personal Lord and Savior, when I was introduced to the study of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of an enlistment period, a soldier is asked if he or she would like to extend the commitment and “re-up” or leave the military and pursue other options. This song asks a similar kind of question:

“Now will your heart and soul say “Yes”?”

Now will your spirit still say “Yes”?

If I told you what I really need,

Will your heart and soul say “Yes”?

More than twenty years ago I was working on a special assignment in New Jersey, and I recall making a trek by commuter bus and subway to the celebrated Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. I have enjoyed the music of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir for many years. My wife gave me a CD of their most recent collection entitled “I’ll Say Yes.” The title selection has become one of my favorites in light of my experience around the campfire where I said “Yes.”

Another choir whose music I also appreciate is the Mississippi Mass Choir who also recorded a selection called “Yes.”

From an early age I recall the power of the word “Yes” when I heard it chanted spontaneously, as the word reverberated throughout the church during periods of devotion leading to prayer or times of personal testimony. The song “Yes, Lord” became the anthem of the Church of God in Christ, founded by Bishop Charles. H. Mason. Here is a selection “My Soul Says Yes” by the C.H. Mason Choir.

Here is another contemporary composition with the lyrics “Yes, Lord!”  from Sandra Crouch, twin sister of Andre Crouch.

From the bottom of my heart, to the depths of my soul,

“Yes, Lord,” completely “Yes!”

My soul says “Yes!”