God’s people will be restored and will again worship the Lord. The first five verses of Isaiah 44 stand in contrast to the last six verses of Isaiah 43. In 43:22-28 Israel is put on trial and is condemned for their sin and lack of worship. They have not been able to offer sacrifices in captivity (43:23), nor have they tithed (43:24). However, they have gone on sinning even though that is why they originally ended up in captivity. In spite of this, God will forgive and redeem them. He will blot out their transgression for His own sake and will not remember their sins. (43:25)
God delights in calling into existence things that are not, and restoring hope to the hopeless. There was a man who was a well-known minister, charismatic and charming, who lived long ago in a land far away. Call him José. José was in demand for all the conferences, lecture series, and church retreats. He was an excellent speaker and well-liked.
But José had a secret drug problem.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Timothy 1:1-2).
The sun broke bright and clear over Washington, D.C. on the morning of January 20, 1961. The ground was covered with eight inches of snow that had fallen the night before. It was bitterly cold, but the day was bathed in a bright aura. The sunlight reflected off the snow and the marble buildings of the nation’s capital. At noon John F. Kennedy took the oath of office and became the 35th president of the United States.
Many questioned Kennedy’s ability to lead the country at such a critical time. The Cold War was heating to a boiling point with the massive buildup of nuclear arsenals. The fact that Kennedy was the youngest president ever elected and the first Catholic to hold the office also contributed to the questions. Knowing that he had been elected by the slimmest of margins in the popular vote meant that his presidency was beginning with the country divided.
When I was in grad school, I preached Sundays at a little church in Truby, Texas. One of my predecessors was one of my professors (i.e., my present teacher John Willis used to preach there) whom a member from those days quoted: “To work, to have, to give.”
In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul addresses a problem about working—members were acting irresponsibly, failing to work. In his prior letter, Paul had urged the young Christians “to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).