Isaiah 61-64, Psalm 120
When I reflect back on my earlier life and when I first came into a relationship with Christ I don't know if I should laugh at myself or cry at my ignorance. Like most who have come to Christ, I had a different life before entering into a relationship with Him. Many have an amazing testimony of being "bad", physically aggressive, or addicted to something, etc. For years I was hesitant to discuss mine, because I was "good". I was always acknowledged for my earthly accomplishments. When I was younger I played the violin and even played with the New York City Orchestra in Carnegie Hall (oddly this was over 40 years ago and I can no longer even read music). I played baseball well, and swam in college. I started college at the age of 16, was valedictorian of my Pharmacy School in 1983, graduated Medical School in 1988 with a number of awards and in every board exam I scored in the top 1-3% of the nation. I mention this only because when I first started to explore the things of God and His Word, like many, I arrogantly approached it from the standpoint if I thought what He said was true. When I stumbled upon Scripture that didn't make sense, rather than realizing it was my own ignorance I would question or doubt because it didn't make sense to my pea-sized brain which is why it is now so laughable. Once I went through the Bible and entered into a relationship, like Pastor Lloyd has often mentioned I thought to myself how God would really be able to use me, because of what I brought to the table. Again, this is all so laughable, He doesn't need anything from me, only a desire to empty myself and be filled with the only true source of strength, power, intelligence, etc. The reality is, on reflection, those who are "good" often need to lose a lot more then those who are "bad", since pride blinds us more than anything else.
We read in Isaiah 64:4-6, "For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways, You are indeed angry, for we have sinned- In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." Consider the writer of these words, Isaiah. He was born of royal lineage. He was a prophet for decades, and especially under the good kings Uzziah and Hezekiah was respected and honored as such, His mastery of the Hebrew language according to experts reveal that this book outside of the Bible would be considered a masterpiece of literature. Yet when he reflects on his righteous acts he compares it to filthy rags, which those who interpreted softened the full meaning of these words in Hebrew which were filthy menstrual garments. Isaiah comes to the conclusion of this line of thinking in 64:8, "But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." The sooner we all come to this realization the sooner we can actually be used by Him. Paul after writing the "Christian Constitution" which is the book of Romans, he writes in 11:33-36, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?" "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?" For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever, Amen."
We often minimize or forget the disparity between Him and us. We all have a tendency to elevate our own deeds, our thoughts, our contributions, etc., while bringing God down to our level and humanizing Him. We try to analyze His ways, His Words, and understand Him as though we are even close to being on the same level. That is why I started out saying how sad and laughable this is. I'm surrounded by my medical colleagues who exalt their own intelligence. The reality is none of us are that intelligent. So many like to quote the most recent journals, etc. The laughable thing about this is much of what is quoted is biased and faulty. To show this the "expert" advice changes every few years, often reverting to a previous line of logic. The Bible really opened up to me when I realized just how laughable my level of intelligence is, especially compared to Him and His Word. Pride blinds. This was the sin of Satan, and the sin of Eve when tempted in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. If we are to be used by Him, may we all stop elevating what we were, and empty ourselves so that we can be filled with Someone much better and so much more powerful. The only thing which holds us back from being truly used by Him is ourselves and our unwillingness to get out of the way.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: