Isaiah 48:17 This is what the LORD says–
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
It amazes me how much trouble we have getting this fundamental truth through our heads and into our hearts. In a sense, this is really all we need to know about God. That is, that He is our Redeemer, saving us from our sins, that He is holy, that He indeed teaches us what is for our benefit and leads us in the way that is best for us. When we genuinely understand that, then adoration and obedience are the only logical choice. However, we are far from logical! Even in countries where the Bible is widely taught, only a fraction of the people are genuinely committed to God in real terms. They might be church members, but in their daily lives they effectively ignore Him. Frankly, that’s stupid! We repeatedly get ourselves into one mess after another by stubbornly refusing to look to God and be obedient to Him. In many cases the Church has failed to teach that it is indeed possible to be true disciples, when growing and training disciples is supposed to be the first priority! Discipleship isn’t a burden, it’s a privilege, but in our childish rebellion we refuse to believe that.
In some respects I have been Exhibit A in this, even while I thought I was a good Christian, and even as a pastor I haven’t stressed discipleship as I should have. However, as this verse says, God is our Redeemer, so I am not to be bound by the past, but rather submit it to Him and press on into what He has ahead of me. I am to be a disciple maker, which is to say, both a disciple and one who leads others to become disciples. That means I must be very clear in my heart and mind that Jesus is Lord, because He is indeed my Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, and worthy of all praise, adoration, and obedience. That includes being sensitive and responsive to His direction all the time, not just in special moments of worship. He is wise and I am not, and He has a plan for my life that is productive and fulfilling and overflowing with all the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) When I understand and act on that on every level, I will indeed be transformed into the image of Christ, and lead many more to do the same.
Father, thank You for getting us going in this direction since last month. Thank You for the message for tomorrow, and for the one You are already building in me for the next week. Keep me from just speaking Your truth; help me walk it out. Keep me from coming across as talking down to my hearers. Help me lift them up, opening their eyes to understand the incredible riches of glory that You have prepared for us. Help me communicate that discipleship is more than worth the effort, so that we may indeed become a body of self-replicating disciples, multiplying until we fill this city and this nation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!