Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Heaven & New Earth (I heart you): Part 1

If you haven't read my last I <3 U you can do so here! For this "episode" of I <3 U I want to talk about something that excites me a lot! But before I can get to the exciting part, there is something that might be a little tough to hear or process. But, as with most things, you have to get through the nitty gritty before you can get to the reward. So if you would please read Isaiah 65 before continuing, that would be greatly appreciated. But, this time we're going to do it in two segments. Right now just read Isaiah 65:1-16!

Alright, assuming you have read Isaiah 65:1-16, I'm going to continue. You may have picked up on this, but verses 1-5 talk about how even though people aren't seeking out God, he will show himself to them. People won't listen, though. You may have experienced this recently, people are looking for an explanation for this world, or they can't take the burdens of life on themselves any more, but some of these people, even when you tell them about Jesus' love and forgiveness, won't accept it. People don't want to admit they're wrong. I don't want to admit I'm wrong. But, it's something I have to work through. The human race is so prideful that we can't say that we're wrong and someone else is right, so we miss out on a lot of what life, and primarily God, has to offer. God tries to show himself to people, but the people won't listen. "I said 'Here am I, here am I.'... [to] a people who continually provoke me to my very face" (Isaiah 65:1b, 3a).

Verse 6 is very interesting to me. "See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps..." God doesn't say that He's going to punish everyone in full, he doesn't say that He's going to get revenge. He says he'll pay us back in full. Our God is a just God. He's going to give us what we deserve. This payment could be good, it could be a reward, or if we don't choose God's path, it could be punishment.  But, thankfully, he also gives us a second chance through His Son, Jesus Christ. That second chance allows us to wipe away our past sins as far as the East is to the West. But, if we don't take that opportunity, that's on us. I know that it sounds harsh, but God tells us that He will show himself to everyone. We'll all have an opportunity to choose God and forgiveness or to choose our own selfish desires. I could stay on this topic forever, but we have to move on.

Let's jump down to verse 11. These next two verses, in my opinion, are very harsh. But, although they are harsh, they are full of truth and understanding; they offer us guidance on how to live life for Christ. "But, as for you who forsake the Lord and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny...". Let's break this down further: forsake isn't a word we use very often nowadays, is it? Nope. The dictionary.com definition of forsake is this: 1. to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert 2. to give up or renounce (a way of life, habit, etc.).  So this verse says, in Jessica terms, Everyone who has abandoned, quit, or given up my way of life and who has entertained fortunes and destiny... And yes, fortunes and destiny include horoscopes and anything else of the like. We're told to stay away from those things, to put our future in God's hands and not in the stars.

 "I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called you but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me." This scares me, to be honest. Although our God is a loving God, he's just. Thankfully, though, through Jesus Christ, we can be sure that we are saved. But, it doesn't stop there. After we accept Jesus' forgiveness, we need to pursue a relationship with him, one that is real and personal. Jesus didn't come to Earth to give us everything we need; Jesus came to Earth to guide us into a relationship with him and through that give us everything we need. See the difference? It's not a free pass to do anything and everything we want. It's going to change our view of what we want to do with our life.

The next 3-4 verses shows a parallel of Heaven and Hell. We can look at these verses and think, 'oh my goodness, this is horrible and there is no hope'. Or we can say 'wow, look at all that God is going to give me, I need to go tell my friends about this guy!'. That's what this part of the chapter is for, not to scare us into depression, but to show us that these are the consequences and we need to do everything, not in our power, in God's power through us, to save our friends from this. I pray that you will read this and take that away, if nothing else. Our friends need us, they need to know about Jesus and they need to know about his grace.

Since this post is getting long, I'm going to have to end it here. I know that this doesn't sound like an I <3 U kind of post, but it's the preface to the I <3 U that is to come. Look for Part 2, the exciting part, tomorrow in addition to our Friday's Favorite Five!!
~ Jessica

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