August 18, 2022

 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart and shall wail for breaking of spirit.” Isaiah 65:13-14 ESV

 In case you were asleep through 2021, I’ve strung together a few random headlines to bring you up to speed. Try reading them out loud straight through:

“Mob Storms Capitol / President Impeached / Chip Crunch at Auto Makers due to Supply-Chain Troubles / GDP Declines / Inflation Soars / Businesses Struggle to Find Workers / Pandemic Surges as US Records More Deaths than in 2020 / Health Care System Breaking Under the Strain / Southern Border Sets Records for Illegal Entries / Drug Deaths Soar / Cities Battle Surge in Homicides, Homelessness, Theft / China and Russia Agree to Military Cooperation / US Strands Hundreds in Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal / Cyber Attacks Spike, Compromising Businesses, National Security / Floods, Hurricanes, Cyclones, Wildfires: Weather Was Awful, World-wide … etc.”

 Are you depressed yet? How about scared? Well, cheer up. It could be worse. We could be living as “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12 NKJV) The good news is that we are not strangers, we are not without God, and we can decide to live in hope. Notice in the quote from Isaiah above, the Lord’s servants were promised food and drink and gladness of heart, even while the world around them was being hammered. God still does that.

 From Eden to the Ark, to refuge in Egypt, and finally to the Land of Promise, God has been faithful. Isaiah was prophesying to a people who were about to experience the judgment of God. They incurred that judgment by rejecting Him and worshipping other gods, even after repeated warnings. "But you are those who forsake the LORD, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni.”  (Isaiah 65:11 NKJV) But in the midst of general calamity, those who remained faithful, were protected and blessed. My favorite example of this idea is the Land of Goshen.

 At the end of Genesis, Jacob’s family was running from a famine. They were amazed to discover that God had already made provision for them through their brother, Joseph. Though they thought him to be dead by their hand, he was very much alive. He had set aside a place for them and called it “Goshen”. Hitchcock’s Bible Names says it means “drawing near”.  In Genesis 47:11, we find out that this was “the best of the land”. That’s what God wants for His children, that we would live close to Him and eat the best of the land. The question we must explore is, “How do I stay close to Him in a world filled with distractions, threats, and chaos?” We’re going to find out because there’s more trouble to come.

 Scripture Reading:You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children's children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine." (Genesis 45:10-11 NKJV)

 Somebody Said: “We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” -Francis Chan

 Here’s the Point:  The world is a mess and will continue to be so. We can live in God’s protected place, in our own “Land of Goshen”, but for most of us it will take making some adjustments. The first of these is to recognize and reject the ways (gods) of the world and to use our time, our passions, and our resources to get closer to God. It’s a time for drawing near. Israel was caught up in the worship of “Gad” and “Meni” (Isaiah 65:11), most frequently translated as Luck and Fate. It’s time to quit trusting in chance or believing in the inevitability of life. You have a part to play in your “luck” and you can certainly influence your “fate”. You have a destiny not a fate and you can fulfill it.

 Thank God we have a brother who has gone before us, been raised from the dead, and has prepared a spot for us. He is Lord and worthy of our worship and trust. So, let’s examine who we’re worshipping and where we’ve placed our trust. We can use the “diagnostic tools” of our bank records, our daily schedule, and the words that spew from our mouths when we’re not in church. My spending reveals where my heart is (Luke 12:34), my use of time tells me what Kingdom I serve (Matthew 6:33), and the outpouring of my mouth reveals what I have allowed into my heart (Luke 6:45). How’s your Goshen quotient?

Written by Virgil Stokes

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