Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah in the Southern kingdom of Judah heard the announcement that King Uzziah was dead. The king was the 11th in succession and the most popular since David. He was a godly man and the end of an era was a reality. The king reigned for 52 years and made a tremendous impact in Isaiah's life.
In his sorrows the prophet visited the temple hoping to alleviate some of the pain associated with death and grief. Perhaps he simply desired to spend sometime alone with God. In the temple the prophet was transformed and cleansed from his unrighteousness. He was ready to proclaim the love of God for His people.
As a soldier in the army of God he was willing to go and serve where the King of Kings sent him. The power of God had permeated his heart and soul and prepared him to serve until he like Uzziah would complete this most important assignment.
Isaiah accepted his commission and responsibility to share a message which will not be received by the masses. The message will fall on deaf ears; and the hearts of the citizens will grow dull. Eyes will not want to see the inevitable sign of repentance; their hearts will be closed to understanding. The prophet cries out in desperation as the Psalmist did before him, "Lord, how long?" The Lord answers with a vivid picture of chaos and destruction. "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant and the houses or without a man..."
Through it all the prophet hears a divine voice of hope in the midst of despair and desolation. The judgment of the people is balanced by the Holy One of Israel in the form of a tree stump. A remnant by the grace of God will come forth from the stump and reestablish a better relationship with the God of Israel.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.