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Like Moses, we must all assess the various ministry tools at our disposal. Are you a wordsmith, who uses the tools of communication? Perhaps you are an athlete, actor, writer, lawyer, doctor, politician, engineer, or artist. No matter what the tools, when you function in these roles as a way to glorify God, you are a marketplace minister.
So what has been forgotten and lost? What can we learn from an older, biblical vision of human work? In today’s text, Paul picks up the original creation story imagery of human work as gardening. While Paul didn’t work in an actual garden, he saw his gospel work imaginatively within that framework.
When we see God being mocked today, when we hear people deride the Lord and ridicule Jesus Christ, our hearts are stirred with indignation. Like the psalmist, we pray, “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long.” Yet God holds back for a time so that his purposes might be fulfilled. He seeks not to destroy those who malign him, but to save them.
I can still hear echoes of my Sunday School teacher quoting Isaiah 26:3 in the classic language of the King James Version: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” What an amazing, alluring promise! “Perfect peace” accurately renders the Hebrew original, which reads literally, shalom shalom. Don’t you want to be kept in perfect peace?
In Isaiah 25 we catch a glimpse of the ultimate international banquet, the most lavish feast of all. It’s a meal prepared by the Lord himself for peoples from all nations. The food will be exquisite, plentiful, and delicious. The celebration will be unsullied by gloom and tears, not to mention national or ethnic conflicts. All peoples will gather to share together in the Lord’s banquet.
When we look at the state of our world today, we see evidence of human sin everywhere. It might be in a park filled with litter, or a bay filled with sewage, or a sky filled with deadly haze. We see the reality of Isaiah 24:5, which, in the NIV, reads, “The earth is defiled by its people.” The Hebrew verb translated here as “defiled” is often rendered as “polluted” (chanef).
Last week we saw how God judged Shebna, the temple administrator, for his pride and for trying to use his authority for his own glory. Today, the Lord, through Isaiah, condemns human pride once again. But, whereas in Isaiah 22 the pride of a single leader was indicted, this time it’s the pride of a nation.
In yesterday’s devotion we were challenged by an assertion in Dave Evans’ and Bill Burnett’s book, Designing Your Life to not waste time on the wrong problems but rather to focus on the right ones. They follow this advice by warning us to especially avoid what they call “gravity problems”.
Sometimes the problems we focus lots of resources on don’t deserve this time and effort. Wrong problems often disguise themselves as important or urgent when they are rarely both – and often neither. Those we lead deserve our focus to be on the right problems to be addressed instead of the wrong problems that others want us to fix.
When my children were young, I loved to go hiking with them in the High Sierra of California. They were energetic hikers for their age and could easily cover a dozen miles in a day. Usually, we hiked along carefully cleared trails. But, once in a while, we’d venture off into the wilderness.
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