Day 351: December 17, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Isaiah 11:1-9
1 Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight will be in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, He will not execute justice by what He hears with His ears, 4 but He will judge the poor righteously and execute justice for the oppressed of the land. He will strike the land with discipline from His mouth, and He will kill the wicked with a command from His lips. 5 Righteousness will be a belt around His loins; faithfulness will be a belt around His waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. 7 The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 An infant will play beside the cobra’s pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake’s den. 9 None will harm or destroy another on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse,and a branchfrom his roots will bear fruit.The Spirit of theLordwill rest on Him—a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,a Spirit of counsel and strength,a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—Isaiah 11:1-2

Our Hope in Hard Times
by Reid Patton, Interim Adult Discipleship Minister, The Church At West Franklin

“What is going on?”

“Why is this happening?”

These are questions we all ask ourselves on occasion. We look out at the world around us and we see wars, natural disasters, poverty, government corruption, and we want to know why.

I know I am often tempted to think thoughts like: “If only ________ were different, then everything would be okay.”

Life throws us curve balls and in those moments we aren’t sure if anything will be right again. As we wrestle with these difficulties in life, we might even be tempted to ask where God is in all of this.

During the ministry of Isaiah, the people of Israel found themselves in a similar situation. After many years of wicked kings, the Assyrians invaded and many of the Israelites were left asking where God was and why did He allow it to happen.

Israel was in ruins and their hope was in shambles. Despite the trying times, God allowed Isaiah to see beyond Israel’s present trouble to a time where a new messianic king would come and deliver His people.

God promised to be an axe to the strength of Assyria (verses 10:33-34) and that a new king would come out of that disaster (verse 1). A branch would grow from the stump of Jesse, and He would be a king like Israel had never seen before.

This branch Isaiah spoke about was Jesus Christ.

However, the king God delivered thwarted all expectations. The people of Israel expected a mighty and strong ruler fit for battle to deliver them from their captors.

This isn’t how Isaiah describes what Jesus would be like. Rather, he used words that were more fitting for a wise teacher: “He will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord; He will be a wise, understanding, and knowledgeable counselor (verse 2).”

Israel wouldn’t get the mighty military leader they were expecting, but rather a righteous and faithful ruler who set the world at peace (verses 5-9). Jesus is a king who reflects God’s own character, not people’s desires.

We may often find ourselves in situations where we’re tempted to question or doubt the goodness of God, but God promised Israel and us that He’ll never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). God listens to every petition and cry of His people and He often delivers in unexpected ways.

Ultimately God delivers His people through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Isaiah later described Jesus as a “man of sorrows” who was “acquainted with grief” (53:3). When you struggle and wonder why, you can know that Jesus is familiar with trouble in this life. He lived and died as a man who understands your trials.

Jesus wasn’t the Messiah Israel expected, but He’s the perfect answer provided by God. Know that whatever you go through, God listens and answers prayers. Many times our prayers are answered in unexpected ways, but they’re always answered correctly when they come from God.

Where do you look when things around you don’t seem to be going your way? In what or in whom do you place your hope? What does this reflect about your belief?

Reflection Questions

  1. Where do you turn to when it seems like everything around you is falling apart? Do you turn to God or from God?
  2. God has provided grace and salvation for His people in their darkest times through Jesus Christ. How can you express hope and confidence in Jesus in the midst of a difficult time? Do you know someone who is struggling that you can point to Jesus Christ?
  3. Jesus was a different kind of king than Israel expected. Does Isaiah’s description of Jesus challenge your own perception of what Jesus is like? How so?
  4. How has God worked in an unexpected way in your own life? Who can you share that story with?

About the Author

Reid Patton
» Blog/Website

Reid Patton is a Discipleship Intern at The Church at Station Hill, where he has attended since September of this year. Previously he served as a writer with the discipleship team at the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Reid is married to Kristen and lives in Spring Hill with their dog Piper. He loves to read, study, listen to music, and watch hockey and college football. He infrequently records his thoughts on life and the Scriptures at feastorfallow.