“Forward to The New”, the timeless wisdom of Isaiah 43 from David Guzik (Walking in The Spirit, Trusting God)

The prompting to renew at this time of year is a heart-full calling. Isaiah wrote with wisdom and insight about how to move ahead without the mire of the past burdening the present. He implores an unencumbered heart and mind to join The Spirit’s step to glorious freedom, the one chosen by God. 

This is a pearl of wisdom for us each every day, every year.

Study Guide for Isaiah 43:18-21 by David Guzik

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field will honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.” Isaiah 43:18-21

a. Do not remember the former things: As Isaiah writes prophetically to Israel, they were mired in the desperate circumstances of captivity and exile. God wants to put their eyes on the new work He will do, so it begins with a reminder to not remember the former things. If they are stuck in the failure and sin and discouragement of the past, they will never go forward to the new thing God has for them.

i. –It is a fascinating – and instructive – switch between Isaiah 43:16-17 and Isaiah 43:18. In Isaiah 43:16-17, Israel is told to look to the past by remembering the great things God did for them at the Red Sea. But in Isaiah 43:18, they are told, Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.

This shows us that there is a sense in which we must remember the past, in terms of God’s great work on our behalf. There is also a sense in which we must forsake and forget the past, with all its discouragement and defeat, and move on to what God has for us in the future.

b. Behold, I will do a new thing: Staying stuck in the past can keep us from the new thing God wants to do. If Israel stayed stuck in the discouragement and seduction of Babylon, they would never look for the new thing of release from exile.

i. —We can make an idol out of the “new.” We can error as the people of Athens did who spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing (Acts 17:21). We can be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. But we can also error on the other side of the balance, and work against the new thing God wants to do.

ii.– Shall you not know it? God asks the same question today. “Will you stay in step with My Spirit? When He leads into something new, shall you not know it?”

c. I will even make a road in the wilderness: Between the captivity in Babylon and the return to Israel lay hundreds of miles of wilderness. God’s people didn’t need to be afraid, because God would make a road in the wilderness, provide rivers in the desert, and even protect His people from animals, because the beast of the field will honor Me, the LORD says.

i. –Often, when God makes a promise, we worry about the details or the obstacles for the fulfillment of the promise. God replies to us, “Don’t worry about it at all. I will even make a road in the wilderness. I have resources and plans you don’t know about. Leave those problems to Me.”

d. They shall declare My praise: This is part of fulfilling the purpose God created us for, as mentioned in Isaiah 43:7 (Whom I created for My glory). When we declare our praise for God, we are giving Him glory, and fulfilling one of the purposes we were created for.

David Guzik

David Guzik ~ Blue Letter Bible, Isaiah 43

“What is Honor in the Bible?”, from L.Willows with Prayer to Honor God

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Honor is something that we value in one another and in every culture. It describes the very core of one’s character. In a way, it also describes the ‘respect’ that we give to one another. It is a method of attributing value. For each of us that can take on great meaning in our personal journeys. In the Bible, it is a word with a deep and significant life. Please enjoy the Prayer at the end. Prayer honors God. When we pray in our daily lives, it turns our hearts towards Him with love. The power of “honoring” and ‘what you honor’ is mighty!

Honor

Social term describing how people within a society evaluate one another. Most occurrences of honor in the Old Testament are translations of some form of kabod [d/b’K], while in the New Testament they are derivatives of timao [timavw]. These terms are generally used with reference to the honor granted fellow human beings, though in some cases they are used to describe the honor a person grants God.

The root of kabod [d/b’K] literally means heavy or weighty. The figurative meaning, however, is far more common: “to give weight to someone.” To honor someone, then, is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and even authority in one’s life. A person grants honor most frequently on the basis of position, status, or wealth, but it can and should also be granted on the basis of character.

While honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience. Honor without such action is incomplete; it is lip service ( Isa 29:13 ). God the Father, for example, is honored when people do the things that please him ( 1 Cor 6:20 ). Parents are honored through the obedience of their children.

The source of all honor is God on the basis of his position as sovereign Creator and of his character as a loving Father. God the Father has bestowed honor on his Son, Jesus Christ ( John 5:23 ). He bestowed honor on humanity by creating man a little lower than the angels ( Psalm 8:5-6 ). He has also created spheres of authority within human government, the church, and the home. The positions of authority in those spheres are to receive honor implicitly.

The granting of honor to others is an essential experience in the believer’s life. Christians are to bestow honor on those for whom honor is due. The believer is to honor God, for he is the sovereign head of the universe and his character is unsurpassed. The believer is to honor those in positions of earthly authority, such as governing authorities ( Rom 13:1-7 ), masters ( 1 Tim 6:1 ), and parents ( Exod 20:12 ). As a participant in the church, the believer is also called to honor Jesus Christ, the head of the church ( John 5:23 ), fellow believers ( Rom 12:10 ), and widows ( 1 Tim 5:3 ).

While the reception of honor is a positive experience, it is not to be sought ( Luke 14:7-8 ). When honor comes from others by reason of position or status, it is not to be taken for granted. The recipients should seek to merit honor through godly character. Honor can be lost through disobedience or disrepute, though in exceptional cases, dishonor is a mark of discipleship ( 2 Cor 6:8).
Sam Hamstra, Jr.

Source: Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell

Prayer to Honor God

Lord,
My King,

My heart opens before you, loving.
My words, praising.
My voice, halting with humility
for you are the All that I would want of life,
of this world, of anything, of Ever.
You are the beginning and the end of me and of all of us.
How can my loving speak in words? How can my heart say enough?

Oh, King Jesus.
Wrap my heart in You.
Take me into your Kingdom of love,
I Honor you.

Father, Holy Spirit, All ~
Can such be the bliss that comes to us, even us.
In the midst,
We Honor You.

In Jesus Name,
Amen.

© 2019 Linda Willows

“Honoring God”, by David W. Hall, speaks from TableTalk of Ligonier Ministries

Romans116Beloved

Honoring God

by David W. Hall

Honor, that lost virtue that only true spirituality can engender, is vital. It affects our treatment of both God and man. Whether one honors God is a litmus test that, amazingly, also predicts how one treats his neighbor.

Few individuals esteem anyone higher than themselves. Fewer institutions today inculcate honor. A courtroom may hear the black-robed judge addressed as “Your Honor,” but no egalitarian truly thinks another human holds a rank of higher honor. Indeed, it is rare—in word, more so in deed—for someone even to honor the One who is infinitely deserving of esteem. Moreover, occasions of honoring others are uncommon—likely because virtue wanes as unbelief waxes—but most refreshing when observed.

It is also rare to meet believers who seem relentlessly compelled to pursue the honor of God. That very wording may sound hopelessly feudal. And if, perchance, such believers are found, rarer still are believers who practice honoring one another (Rom. 12:10), for it seems more fashionable to trash, clap back against, and burn even our friends, often from the comfort of bunkered social media. We should not be surprised that dishonoring God and dishonoring other people go hand in hand.

Fundamentally, when we honor someone, three things occur:

  1. The one receiving the honor receives external recognition—honor does not remain invisible.
  2. Those who do the honoring view themselves as less worthy than the honoree.
  3. The honoring evidences motives that are selfless and informed by humility or admiration of one esteemed to be better.

Does that not fit with honoring God, too? Surely, we should connect those dots. When we honor someone, we treat that person as better than ourselves—something Philippians 2 enjoins. Might this review convict us that seldom do we treat God as better than ourselves?

Indeed, that Pauline passage bases our honoring of others on Jesus’ sacrifice, calling us to think of others before ourselves. Expressing one’s unworthiness sincerely is giving honor. As such, it is a recognition that humans should be recognized and respected for their status or accomplishments. In one sense, all are not equal. Take note: if all are equal in every area, honor makes no sense—either Godward or manward.

The gospel is the power of God that changes us from self-absorbed egotists into those who want instead to exalt and honor our Sovereign.

Honor is so vital that many Scriptures accentuate it. We are to honor God with our income (Prov. 3:9), with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20), and with humility (Prov. 15:33). Learning to honor our parents is so unnatural that the first command with a promise is reiterated often (Eph. 6:1–3).

Romans 1:21 vividly depicts what happens when honor disappears. This clear verse is a mirror that shows what honor is and what it is not and how honoring God is tied to our essential moral fabric. Yes, morality begins with theology. Though the dishonorable retain some spiritual sense, Paul, in fleshing out the doctrine of total depravity, lists some of the consequences of dishonoring God, including not giving thanks, becoming “futile in their thinking,” and having “their foolish hearts . . . darkened.”

Note that verse’s three degenerative components.

  1. First, not honoring God is compared to not giving thanks. Thanks is the expressed gratitude for another. Honor, thus, is a more comprehensive concept than gratitude. Nonetheless, they are united here. Failing to give God thanks often, sincerely, and regularly reveals that one does not, practically speaking, view God as one’s superior.

2. A second consequence is that when one fails the “Honor-God-by-Thanking Test,” things neither remain neutral nor improve. Indeed, failing to honor God negatively affects one’s cognition; one’s very thinking becomes futile or dysfunctional. Disobeying God by dishonoring Him leads to systemic deterioration.

3. Third, not only one’s mind but one’s heart and emotions become blurred, confused, and darkened. Once again, something as basic as honor, if absent, harms our rationality and emotions.

The only cure is found in Romans 1:16.

The gospel is the power of God that changes us from self-absorbed egotists into those who want instead to exalt and honor our Sovereign.

Should there be a recovery of honor, we might find increasing order, flowering humility, and revived civility. Maybe, rather than exalting ourselves to be like the Most High (Isa. 14), we can excel in giving honor to those whom we are called to honor—and, above all, to God.