Tag Archives: the book of Isaiah

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  (Isaiah 26:3, Amplified Bible)

The Amplified translation is the version of the scriptures that never uses one word when three words will do; but its value is when we need to “turn up the volume” on scripture so that we may it’s voice more clearly.

As Rudyard Kipling wrote in his magnificent poem, “If. . .”: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. . . Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. . .” *

The source of such peace is total and enduring trust in God.

Beware: There are many imitations of this peace but no substitutes; and many shortcuts to the end-state that Kipling describes. Don’t be fooled.  – Luther

* NOTE: If you are interested in reading the full text of Kipling’s poem, “If. . .”, I have provided it below: 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

– Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

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““All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. . .  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  (Isaiah 40:6b, 8, NIV)

In the spring of each year, we are reminded of the splendor of nature as lawns and fields green-up; and flowers add color to every scene.  It is wonderful to behold, but we know it lasts only for a season — even if it is repeated next spring.

Isaiah reminds us that we, too, are like the grass and the flowers: Magnificent in many ways, but also fleeting.  In the context of more than 6,000 years of recorded history, our singular 70 or 80 years of life is less than a dim flash.

Isaiah also reminds us that though we are less than a vapor, God’s word endures for all of time and eternity.  If we desire any permanence in what we do or say, it must be enveloped in and consistent with God’s word.  Such consistency comes only through the reading and the heeding of scripture.  – Luther

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“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”  (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV) 

We often think of fasting as something from which we refrain or abstain — and that is a true definition.  However, according to our reading from Isaiah, God’s chosen fast can be as much a time of engagement as it is a time of denial or retreat.

In the observance of Lent, disciples will often give-up something.  This is a good thing if only as a reminder that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  (Matthew 4:4)

Yet, we also need to remember that God is as interested in what we have chosen to take-up as He is in what we’ve chosen to give-up.  There is as much for us in the “taking up our cross” as in the “denying one’s self.” (Please see Matthew 16:24.)

Let us strive to maintain balance in our discipleship!  – Luther

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