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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 44:24–45:7
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
     who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who made all things,
     who alone stretched out the heavens,
     who by myself spread out the earth;
who frustrates the omens of liars,
     and makes fools of diviners;
who turns back the wise,
     and makes their knowledge foolish;
who confirms the word of his servant,
     and fulfills the prediction of his messengers;
who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,”
     and of the cities of Judah, “They shall be rebuilt,
     and I will raise up their ruins”;
who says to the deep, “Be dry—
     I will dry up your rivers”;
who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd,
     and he shall carry out all my purpose”;
and who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be rebuilt,”
     and of the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
     whose right hand I have grasped
to subdue nations before him
     and strip kings of their robes,
to open doors before him—
     and the gates shall not be closed:
I will go before you
     and level the mountains,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
     and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
     and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
     the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
     and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
     I surname you, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
     besides me there is no god.
     I arm you, though you do not know me,
so that they may know, from the rising of the sun
     and from the west, that there is no one besides me;
     I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
     I make weal and create woe;
     I the Lord do all these things. (NRSV)

In today’s reading, God’s supreme role and the vast power and depth of creation are clearly defined. We are forewarned about placing our allegiance with liars, diviners, and fools. Lastly, we are told of the open pathways for us in following God’s will.

Do we take time to reflect on the awesome power and reach that God has on the world? It’s difficult to comprehend an area so huge and realize that the hands of God created all of it: from small villages in third world countries to the church’s location on the retail mecca of Michigan Avenue to the enormous Asian seas.

As we follow God’s direction for us in this world, we are cautioned about being led astray by false prophets.  Sometimes we become attracted to the lure of idols in today’s society. Examples such as money, possessions, or lifestyle vie to provide us substitute value and power. It may be difficult to say no to these pressures. Over the years, when confronted with these possibilities, I have learned to use a personal barometer. I ask, “Is this what God would want me to do?” This questioning helps me keep on my path with God. 

In this message, we are reminded that God will force open the doors and be steps ahead of us in following his will. Cyrus showed no doubt in moving in this direction even though it took many years to carry out the prophecy.

God, help me to clearly focus on trusting in your purpose for my life and to have the faith, patience, and perseverance to carry it out. Amen.

Written by Pam Block, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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