Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Tag: bible

Fixed

Psalms 112:7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.

Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher of two millennium ago, authored and taught the highly quoted adage, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”. In view of the scripture text above, perhaps the Stoics extracted their “maxim” from the Holy Scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit many centuries prior.

In any case, the anointed writer of the 111th and 112th psalm wrote boldly of a people flourishing under the care of extraordinary promises, ever-present protection, and unlimited provision. Intentionally profuse and verse upon verse, the love and wisdom of God is seen shepherding His chosen nation’s return to their favored land through hearty repentance and an incalculable restoration.

Thus, the only way that God’s people are freed from myriad inadequacies, idolatrous indifference, self-loathing and spineless insecurities is because of God infinite grace. And we are privileged to bless and worship God as He rescues us from sin, self-dug dungeons of doubt, pride-produced pains, and all-too-often poor decisions.

But what of a redemptive grace that addresses, not only our known deficiencies, but the nagging native weights of fear, worry, anxiety and stress? You know, those imaginative thoughts, the ones we eventually rebuke Satan for when we think them. Yes, the ones we oft store in our untidy, subliminal warehouse – that darkened basement where unanswered questions and things not yet understood are unloaded for later inquiry.

It’s a grand and glorious place to be confident, to be completely assured that we’re unconditionally loved and never alone. That’s good news! And without such knowledge we never succeed. And it’s nice to know our material needs of food, shelter and clothing are already ours by faith. Yes, seriously, those things promised and provided in advance changes the way we think, and do, daily life. We get it. And we’re always thankful.

But life isn’t always cut and dried, and it’s not always neat and in straight rows. Life can be messy and come at us in spectacular and unexpected ways! And quick answers to the “whys” and “what’s next” of our unanticipated predicaments can be at best elusive, or worse, unavailable. And we don’t function well as humans when our hearts are troubled and our minds confused.

But it’s comforting to know that God addresses life’s unexpected things, the things uncertain, and especially when they pop up on our mental screen as evil tidings or bad news!

From experience, that snarky tongue and mindset of “what if”, is the indicator of many fears and anxieties. That reactive catch-all phrase, when open to discussion, creates more questions and friction than gray duct tape on a groin pull. Invariably, when told of some new way of alleviating some issue or providing some helpful solution, we throw out our quippy default line – “what if”? And from there the dialogue dies, the remedy is untapped, and the dilemma remains.

To what length, then, will God go to remove the strength of a bad report from a trusted pediatrician or from some unmerited accusation? What brand of Divinity transcends the universal facts of war, violence, division and disloyalty – the very fabric constituting our sin-caused culture? Who can assuage the depressing angst fueled by toxic 24 hour “news” cycles permeating strife in most every facet of life? What “greater power” can remove the sting of foreboding financial crisis, looming shutdowns, dangerous weather forecasts, premonitions, intuitions, omens, prophecies, prognosticators, and “expert” opinion?

The above text, without apology or sense of shame, points us singularly to the simplicity of a God-approving faith. A heart that trusts the faithfulness of God, whether his outer circumstances are found to be favorable or not, his fixation on the Author and Finisher of all he believes to be true, overcomes any temptation to fear and dread!

So, to those dreading the possible news of the plant’s shutdown, the teacher’s phone call regarding the child’s evaluation, the mechanic’s report on that “clanging sound under the hood”, even the prophesied persecution of those loving Jesus – regardless the tenor of the reports, news, or “vibes”, we have an anchor that connects us to the One who changes not!

Going forward, let’s be confident in our responses to life’s quandaries by fixing our gaze on the God who unconditionally cares for us! So that whether our path is clear and comprehensible, or clearly muddled and as incomprehensible as a maze, fears and anxieties will no longer torment our hearts and avert our purpose!

If God be for us (and He is!), nothing else really matters

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Shine Brightly

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus says, we “ARE the light of the world.” That’s His proclamation over us right now. It is not a promise we are waiting to receive. We aren’t eagerly anticipating a day, in the future, when it will become true. Our identity, as light bearers, is an unearned gift graciously given to us by God upon belief in His Son. This truth is unchanging. We do, however, get to choose whether we believe and walk in agreement with what He has spoken.

In John 14:16, we receive assurance about who dwells within us. “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you- forever- the Spirit of truth.” His precious Holy Spirit is light and because He was sent and now dwells within us we, too, possess that marvelous light.

This is not a plea to muster up more light. We are not issued a challenge to work harder to shine brightly. Instead we are invited to believe in who He says we already are. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” We are new creations carefully crafted in His image. As bearers of His image we are, now, beautiful, bright reflections of His light, love, and glory. Could we dare to believe it?

This world is desperately seeking the light of hope during dark, discouraging times. In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” As Christ followers we possess what the world is looking for. Our lives of faith are a blazing arrow that points straight back to the heart of God.

Therefore let’s refuse to hide or dim our light. It’s not time for the children of God to lurk in the shadows trying to conceal our light in an attempt to blend in with the culture. It’s time to put our faith on full display so that His name is lifted high! Let’s get loud about His lavish love and wild goodness. Let’s share our testimonies and make a big deal about what God has done for us! Let’s throw the doors of our homes wide open in uncommon hospitality. When we encounter a dark situation let us be quick to apply the truth of the word of God and illuminate the dark with the light of faith. We will not water down who we are because we are afraid for our light to be seen!

We are strategically placed, by God, within specific realms of influence. Could we then spend significant time, this week, turned towards God in worship? As we do we will become more like Him. The light that is in us will get brighter as we face the source of all light, Jesus Christ.

The Dream Finisher

Psalms 105:18(NLT) until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.

As a student of scripture and closet observer of the many expositors and expounders of them, perhaps no scriptural clause creates a veritable buffet of doctrine, theology, purpose, and understanding like this solitary, psalmic verse. Here, intertwined like the cords of a plaited rope – Creator, creation, and chaos run together – unraveling through life the strength, essence and purpose of each component and part.

Sandwiched strategically and voluminously between Abraham’s faith and Moses’ deliverance, stands a man who lived out extraordinary hope and inspiring perseverance. His place in the establishing of faith has implications and ripple effect throughout bible history, even to the salvific, eternal redemption of God’s chosen. And though few will ever be tested to the degree of severity in which Joseph’s faith was tested, be certain that all will be tested regarding the sincerity of their faith.

Like a porch light to the bugs at night, Joseph’s dream magnetized the envious naysayers of his day. When his ascending pedigree and posterity were openly declared among his brothers, invariably, relational chasms and beastly violence reached commonplace throughout his maturing years.

Though the path of Joseph’s dream and destination was interspersed with adversity and cruelty, the Author of his dream proved to be a far greater Finisher than all the desperate conspiracies and circumstances that sought to abort it.

For the dream, or prophetic words, that inspired Joseph’s life – words that propelled him, humbled him, protected him, and promoted him through numerous setbacks – outlived even him, as they contained words of foreknowledge regarding the inevitable formation of national Israel.

What some silently chafe at when trouble strikes is that there’s more at stake in trials than the mere wellbeing of the one tried. So that events that were ordained for Joseph to endure, in both Canaan and Egypt, were essential for Israel to be center stage in Messianic prophecy. For the coming of Christ and the creation of His redeemed Church were facilitated primarily on the shoulders of a bare few; a few that lived, not for themselves, but for the will of God.

Consider then the wisdom orchestrating the tumultuous years of Joseph’s rise to prominence. No one persists and pushes through difficulties as dark as those entertained by Joseph without possessing a faith that grasps something greater than themselves.

Surfacing quietly from the horrific rejections, accusations, injustices, neglect, wounding, dishonor, loneliness, imprisonment and separations Joseph experienced, four prominent truths arose:

  1. none of Joseph’s troubles were purposeless
  2. none resulted from his own improprieties
  3. none came without the allowances of God’s providence
  4. all things (even tribulations), worked together for his good!

To profit from life’s torrid trials, understand first that what’s valued greater than gold is the deeper faith and spiritual fruit that invariably flourishes, even when storms we experience are ratcheted to inexplicable levels.

While tempests of discouragement and turmoil of disappointment time and again ripped the external foliage from Joseph’s extraordinary dream, the character of a soon-to-be prince was being formed and deeply etched. As to integrity, the trustworthiness required in stewardship was groomed and proven dramatically in Potiphar’s house. And the leadership qualifications needed for the massive role he’d soon fill in Egypt were well satisfied through various other setbacks and testings.

How do we then engage the temptations and fiery trials that crop up in the path of every child of God? And what further purpose or benefit can the consuming fires of God provide us, even when we’re committed to Christ and obediently surrendering to His will?

Check out these three advisements when dreams are not fulfilled, and life doesn’t look anything like we thought it would:

— BE SURE—

  • Determine who and what’s unmovable, decide to be faithful, discern your true foe.
  • Focus on what transcends time; and the temporal things, even the troubles, find their effects lessened, either immediately or eventually.

— BE STILL—

  • Overcomers learn to rest more, not work more. More victories are won in prayer than on platforms and pulpits. Stay low and inside.
  • Only in patience do we review our priorities, and it’s then that we usually adjust and reduce them. And that’s ok. Be transformed.
  • The Holy Spirit is a better comforter than dancer. So receive comfort before we desire deliverance.

— BE SWEET—

  • To God. To oneself. To others. To antagonists.
  • It’s likely someone questioned your authenticity – so prove you, not them.
  • A rose doesn’t know that the suit to which it is pinned is actually worn by the grifter everyone despises. So be you. Do you. Be beautiful.
  • Rejoice in everything. I know, I don’t get it either, it sounds foolish. But He told us, so I’m on it. And if I’m going to grow in Him, I’ve got to believe Him in things I don’t like or understand.

And humorously, if a three-legged bar stool supports day after day the awkwardness of an overweight patron, surely these three practices can support a heavy heart overwhelmed by adversity and life’s unexpectedness.

Contentment

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever thecircumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:11-13

Stomach bugs. Temper tantrums. All nighters. Hospital admissions. Potty training. Resident referee.

Motherhood isn’t always glamorous.

In fact there are days it’s just plain hard. And all the truthful, transparent mommas said, “Amen!” Paul says, however, in Philippians that he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Does this mean it is actually possible to be content in every season of our lives? Even the difficult ones? Is it possible to experience contentment even if our external circumstance is chaotic? Can we believe that motherhood is full of glory even when it isn’t glamorous? Could we dare to trust that God is at work in every detail of every day and that He wastes absolutely nothing?

My dear friends, contentment is ours for the taking. We can learn to access it daily. If Paul learned to be content from a prison cell then surely we can learn it while we are living in these glory-filled days of answered prayers. Many of us prayed for the days of marriage, motherhood, and ministry that we are living in right now. Therefore, let us refuse for the enemy to steal one inch of our beautiful, blessed ground. May the Lord not find us complaining and discontented. Let Him find us, instead, exceedingly thankful. He’s been so good to us.

That’s the key. He is good. Wildly, consistently, eternally GOOD.

Contentment has everything to do with what we know to be true about God and absolutely nothing to do with what is going on around us. Contentment, for a believer, begins inward and is independent of any external circumstance. We imagine that contentment is achievable only when our kids are obeying, the house is tidy, and our to-do list is checked off. But that’s a lieand I’m calling us up to clearer, higher, Kingdom-thinking. The Word tells us that contentment is all about Him and that He is our source of strength and joy. He is the ultimate, lasting refreshment we crave. This means we can be content on the ground our feet are planted on right this second. We don’t have to wait until another day to be content. We’re invited to experience it now.

This week, I pray, that we will be deeply satisfied with what we have and where we are. James1:17 says, “Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights.” Look around. Take inventory. He has lavished us with generous gifts and we have much to be thankful for. Let’s choose, therefore, to celebrate what we have and stop focusing on what we don’t. He is with us and He is working all things together for our good and His glory. What He starts He’ll finish and His goodness will be weaved through every line on every page of our story, amen!?

Spiritual Formation 101

You’re probably familiar with the Pareto Principle. In general, the principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. The takeaway is that it is most efficient to focus primarily on the few causes that make the greatest difference.

When it comes to discipleship, it turns out that a few behaviors make a disproportionate difference in our personal growth. In his book No Silver Bullets, Daniel Im summarizes the results of studies that analyze the effect of certain behaviors on spiritual maturity. Three practices consistently predict a higher score when it comes to measuring spiritual maturity.

Shockingly those three behaviors are amazingly elementary:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Attend regular worship services
  3. Get connected with small classes or groups

In other words, if you want to grow, it’s important to read the Bible and to get involved in worship and community at a local church. Few things matter more than these in our personal spiritual maturity.

These findings even shape us as church leaders and pastors as we attempt to cut through the superfluous and the trendy to rightly encourage the congregation in their walk with Christ. If we want to help people grow, we must primarily encourage them to focus on reading Scripture and participating in the worship and community life of the Body of Christ.

Sometimes we look for new insights and approaches that will help people grow. I’m struck by how ordinary these key practices are. I’m also struck by how easy it is to underestimate them.

At Impact Church, we offer many opportunities to grow and increase in our relationship with Christ. However, our foundational strategy for the individual maturity of the members in our stewardship is to insist upon the faithful reading of God’s Word, regular attendance in corporate worship, and consistent involvement in biblical community.

Never underestimate or neglect the basics. Our spiritual growth is dependent on them!

How Much More

Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

A freshly-baptized disciple, flush with shameless joy and first-day-on-the-job zeal, popped the question bible teachers relish most – “Hey guys, now that I’m saved… what’s next? Where do we go from here?”

And from that childlike inquiry we sat around a bare table that night immersed, fascinated, and turned on: searching scripture, probing, testifying, teaching, encouraging… and praying!

We noticed it was prayer that intrigued the disciples to ask Jesus – “teach us to pray as John taught his disciples”. And it was from that Luke 11 exchange that Jesus spoke of prayer as ultimate access: a privileged connection to power drawn from the grace-provided relationship of earthly children and their Heavenly Father.

Rhetorically perhaps, but quite pointed nonetheless, Jesus challenged His disciples with logic:

  • Do dads give their children a bowl of rocks after they’ve asked for bread?
  • Or is there a relationship between dad and child so evil, that when requesting fish for lunch the child is given a serpent?
  • Or is there a dad so abusive that the eggs the child asks for breakfast is substituted for a dangerous scorpion?

No, of course not! There’s a natural, loving, caring concern for those we bring into the world! And there’s a committed, compassionate regard for those who depend on us for their survival! Parents have an inherent, preferential association with children that has no rival or equal; and that protective oversight flows freely from the perfect bond of love, a far greater caretaker than the oppressive bondage of mere duty.

Thus, in affirming parental affinity as something commonly expected and nothing beyond what any parent would do, Jesus advanced the natural concept and made the case spiritually for those who would believe on His Name.

If our earthly fathers (dads that have shortcomings, disposition shifts, forgetfulness, errors in judgment, etc), freely and gladly satisfy the basic needs of a child because of a father’s natural love – can we not unquestionably trust our Heavenly Father to give us any, and everything, we need? Is not our Heavenly Father love, itself; a Father birthing us after His own will and Word; a Father beyond error, and a Father who supplies needs from the limitlessness of His own creativity and power? Is not the answer to such questions an absolute, unashamed, did-you-hear-me-clearly, YES! YES! And YES!

Consequently, it’s upon this single, simple, time-honored precept of prayer that a believer’s days on earth are providentially safeguarded.

There is nothing lacking, to those who ask.
There is nothing lost, to those who seek.
There is nothing locked, to those who knock.
Whatever things we desire, when we pray, believe that we receive them, and we will have them!

So to the young man still dripping from his Jordan River experience, to the mature disciple serving faithfully in anticipation of the Lord’s return – faith filled prayers lifted to the Father determines the quality of the believer’s earthy, mortal existence.

Do not earthly fathers address their toddler’s late night fears when he hears strange sounds… especially when they’re under his bed? Yes! How much more then does our Heavenly Father assuage fears eliciting from our troubled, violent, and discordant world!

Do not earthly fathers encourage children to rise and redo, especially after that first bike ride results in an inglorious face plant? Yes! How much more then does our Heavenly Father comfort and instill fresh confidence after our “didn’t go as planned” endeavors!

Think then, of the many scenarios where earthly dads would be welcomed and needed, and from there you can count even more so of our Heavenly Father’s presence!

So, through prayer, let us include the Father’s presence and power in every facet of life, whether in the mundane or in the spectacular.

Petition Him for assurance.

Request of Him wisdom.

Call on Him in trouble.

Persist with Him when He seems unhearing.

Bug Him when you’re uncertain and doubtful.

Cry out to Him when you’re sinking.

Talk to Him when you’re lonely.

Thank Him when He listens. And He does.

Worship Him when you don’t understand.

Praise Him when you do.

Above all, pray.

All the time.

In every way.

At every intersection.

And on the open highway.

Just pray.

Just do it.

And, HOW MUCH MORE will He be everything we need… or desire!

Seen

 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:12

My three-year-old son attended his first soccer practice this week. As he stood center field, sporting his lime green soccer cleats, I noticed him watching me. Every few moments he made eye contact with his momma, ensuring I hadn’t moved from my designated spot on the sideline. He maintained this rhythm for the entire hour of practice. He was striving to keep my attention, but, oblivious to the fact he already had it. I hadn’t taken my eyes off him.

Dear ones, we can live assured, God hasn’t taken His eyes off us. We are never overlooked, alone, or insignificant even in the seasons we feel like we are. Feelings can be poor indicators of truth. Following the fall of Adam and Eve God said, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Before we knew we needed saving the Lord had already scripted our rescue plan. He looked more than 2,000 years into the future, saw us, and knew we were in desperate need of a Savior. The truth is this – we were completely seen, lavishly loved, and meticulously “prepared-for” long before our arrival.

Believers across the world gathered, yesterday, in joyful celebration of the single greatest event in all of human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death, burial, and resurrection will forever be the culmination of all that our hope hinges on. Romans 5:25 says, “He was handed over to be crucified for the forgiveness of our sins and was raised back to life to prove that he had made us right with God!” We gaze at the cross and empty tomb and are filled with awestruck wonder.

He saw us so He came.

He saw us so He died.

He saw us so He rose.

Every move was a part of His beautiful plan to redeem, reconcile, and restore. We no longer have to wonder if we matter to God. One glance at the cross and empty tomb tells us we do. We have always had His attention. In fact, there is never a moment when God is not paying attention to us. God, completely, meets our need to be noticed. He sees us when we are washing dishes, folding laundry, and tucking in babies. He sees us when we rise early, punch a time card, and work to provide for our family. In both the ordinary and extraordinary moments of life we can be confident that the eyes of the Lord are on us. Hear Him tenderly whisper today, “Yes, beloved, you are seen.”

Growth Requires Change

The church is alive. It moves and breathes. It can even be sick or well.  It can be wise or foolish. The church changes and grows just as believers in Christ change and grow. This is a sign of the church’s life and vitality.

The life of the church described in Acts 6 was exciting. It was in the very early days of the church, and the number of new Christians was growing daily. On one hand, growth was good and on the other it was overwhelming. Because of this rapid growth, it came to the attention of the Apostles, through the “grumbling” of the people, that certain needs within the church ministries were not being met.

The Apostles responded by appointing men to meet the need. It was not enough that the men appointed be hard workers; they needed to be “seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” These seven were chosen by the body, and “laid hands upon” by the Apostles.

The early church was wise and humble enough to change how things were being done so the church could continue to grow. With this change, Acts 6:7 says, “the word of God increased, the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” In addition to this, “signs and wonders” were performed by one of the seven amongst the people.

A living church will grow and change, just as the people who make it up. When a church can adapt like the church in Acts, there is no stopping God’s movement among them.

Wielding Words

“And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power!” James 3:5

The power of words is a prominent thread weaved throughout all of Scripture. In Genesis 1 that power is on full display as the Creator God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. The Lord goes on to fashion the entire world using only His words. Then in Genesis 1:26, “God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Afterwards God speaks blessing and abundance over Adam and Eve.

These passages alone should be enough to convince us of how “weighty” words truly are. God spoke into nothing and created the entire universe. Furthermore, we were created in His image. Made to resemble our Father in everything we do and say. We are commissioned to rule in the same manner He does. We are hardwired to speak life, proclaim blessing, and affirm the abundance that is in Christ Jesus. Proverbs 18:21 declares, “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life.” We often place significant emphasis on the first portion of that verse. I know as a parent I, too, am guilty of highlighting the same. I have frequently instructed my children about things they shouldn’t say. This week, however, the Holy Spirit has prompted me to change my perspective. Instead of focusing so much on what we shouldn’t do why don’t we celebrate what we GET to do? As ambassadors of Christ we get to speak words that give life!

The people in our lives are precious souls that God has intentionally entrusted to us. We are, therefore, given the responsibility of lavishly loving and speaking life into them. Words properly wielded by a heart submitted to God can be a healing balm. So let’s get loud about speaking life, favor, blessings, and abundance. Let’s proclaim how good God is. Let’s share the truth about His extravagant love and generous grace. Let’s make sure everyone knows that there’s a cure for every ailment of the heart, mind, and body and His name is Jesus!

Jesus says in John 10:10, “A thief has only one thing in mind – he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow!” One practical way to speak life is to see and speak about the abundant life we have in Christ.

Jesus came; past tense. Read the rest of this entry »

Snow From Heaven

Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11) So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Perhaps the human soul is never more tranquil than when the senses are engaged with the soothing sound of raindrops, or the silent stillness of a falling snow. It seems falling precipitation possesses a transcendence, an undefinable presence, that overwhelms the disquietude of earth’s care. At any rate, it’s likely the simple, therapeutic value of summer rains and winter snows have yet to be properly quantified, nor truly appreciated.

For example, how subtly the cluttered mind is cleared when a well-bundled body treks in solitude through solitary fields and forests under the pristine silence of falling snow? An hour of contemplation in such an environment releases immeasurable antidotal qualities; and a soul alerted to creation, cause, and Creator, through nature’s cloud-draining refreshment, can avert the missteps common in busyness.

Likewise, when nature itself is overlain with snow, our commonplace landscapes, easily unspectacular through daily routines, are magically transformed from winter’s exposed brown earth, fallen leaves, and drab fields to a seemingly unimaginable, creative display of speechless charm. Though winter cold envelops the slumbering countryside and snow conceals much of nature’s intricacy- yet innumerable, unexpected portraits of creation come into existence.

How embellished, then, are the conifer forests of green, when laden with snow’s complimentary, colorful contrast? And what brisk, gurgling brook is not picturesquely advantaged by fresh snowfall adorning its harsh rocks and sharp edges? And what tufted cardinal, though plumed majestically with the deepest of red, is not gladly photoshopped if juxtaposed on the snow-clad branch of the pine?

So it is with snow that Isaiah metaphorically elaborates on the effects of God’s immaculately delivered Word! Descending in human form to a lifeless and corrupt earth (and it spiraling uncontrollably toward terminal death), the Word became flesh and lived among the deplorable and destitute, engaging personally, impartially, and affectionately with both great and small.

Such was the hopeless ground into which this promised Snow fell. Into a world of fallen humanity, a creation separated from its Creator through disobedience, sin and death- this Life-giving substance was given the assignment of resurrecting the spirits of unworthy masses.

And, oh, what an awakening and reviving this most improbable Snow brought! What the prophet had declared centuries before is now humanity’s reality: the barren earth is now watered, the hardened seeds are now softened, and green buds are emerging all over a parched planet! Now the sowers of seeds have seeds to sow, and eaters of bread have bread to eat! And a land accustomed to poverty and shame is experiencing unmerited favor and blessings unmatched in the history of mankind! Oh, the infinite increase rising from heaven’s most enriching snow!

And there’s more! Yesterday’s foreboding mountains and problematic hills are now singing the praises of the watering One! The trees of the wood and grasses of the field are waving their hands in worship of the Blessed One! The scourging thorns and thistles unrestrained in uncultivated and barren lands are now gone, and in their place the silviculture of firs and myrtles!

And not only is the land materially blessed (sorry, sounding like one of those sleazy infomercials!), so is the crown jewel of His outpouring- The Redeemed- those chosen to inhabit the most envied of all nations, His eternal Kingdom! From that sovereign place of divine blessing- peace, joy, and glorious destinies are the promised, eternal norm! And to see all of this is contingent on descending rain and snow personified in the Son of God!

And as an additional assurance, the Word sent as rain and snow on humanity’s famished heart could never return as an unwise investment! This divine Precipitation must not return void! This Snow, sent in a season appointed by the Father, must accomplish precisely the purpose of its descent! Dust-made humanity, those creatures made in His image, must receive the life giving substance of His incomprehensible grace! And religious systems propping up mankind’s lifeless form must cease and desist under the cleansing and purging powers of an incomparable grace!

And of that Grace have many been healed! And of that Life have millions received forgiveness of sins! And of that Gift have innumerable sinners been born again! All made new for a time such as this- to demonstrate through word and deed this magnanimous life! To the hungry, bread to eat; to the filled, seeds to sow; to the worker, fields to harvest!

Now, according to prophecy and the prayer of Jesus, the glory of heaven has descended to earth; and that single, divine, gracious outpouring has the Church worshiping, angels singing, and heaven rejoicing!