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Transcript

How God Speaks

Overcoming Contextual Blindness in Isaiah 45:18-19

The embedded audio-visual is a Bible message for your Sunday Chapel. A transcript is below.

And, now, a word, if I may.

A Personal Note to our Subscribers

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41b) pretty much sums up why the Sunday Chapel is so irregular. I should call it “an occasional service.” Indeed, that is what it is. At this stage in the progression of a disease that came from an African virus, I have come to expect the unexpected. What used to be every now and then has morphed into something else. Thus (speaking strictly of my physical state), there are good days, not-so-good days, and then just downright difficult days. The challenge is that each phase can hit me in a few hours. I am pretty unpredictable. In the military, that is good for keeping the enemy off balance. It’s not so good for would-be readers of a regular column! I apologize for my truancy and ask for your patience. Of course, we are blessed with so much good content out there. So, I know you have your pick of the litter. And I am almost past the vanity that can afflict preachers. So, always look to Christ and not sinners saved by grace who are still struggling from the poison of the fall and are still being excised from our system. But here is why I still try to share the Gospel and a Biblical view of life (even when there are so many better preachers and teachers of God’s Word and shepherds of souls out there):

The thing is, I know the call of God to minister as much (or more) today as I did when I first sensed His presence. The thorn that has come has worked its way deeper into my flesh but not my soul (not due to any native strength, but only by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit). Thus, by His grace, I continue to minister in some way as long as possible. I hope that when my mind or voice succumbs to the shadows of this fallen world, I can still point toward heaven, for I have no other desire but to use all that I have to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Thank you for your prayers and your patience and understanding.

And now, may the Lord strengthen you in every way. Thank you so much for sharing these little messages and thoughts (that do appear from time to time) with anyone who might be in need. If only one person receives the Lord or is encouraged (or even challenged) through these humble attempts at sharing the Gospel, it is all worth it.

But you all know that. So, thank you.

Yours Faithfully,

Mike

Your Gift to Faith for Living

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Scripture Reading

18

For thus says the LORD,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.


19

I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek me in vain.’

I the LORD speak the truth;
I declare what is right.

Transcript

Familiarity breeds contempt. I suspect you've heard that saying before. But I've got another one. Familiarity breeds contextual blindness. It's not nearly as catchy, but let me share what I mean. Living as we do in Western North Carolina, I sometimes overlook the extraordinary beauty all around us. In fact, not too long ago, I looked out of our back window and saw a mountain. I exclaimed, “Look at that beautiful mountain,” and my wife said, "It's always been there." Well, of course, she was right. But in my contextual blind- ness bred by familiarity, seeing it every day, I lost sight of its presence. We all know that feeling. Such flawed familiarity can also lead to broken relationships, taking each other for granted. It can also lead to a broken relationship with our Creator. In the Bible, there is an emphasis on correcting this sinful and fallen condition. In Isaiah forty-five, verses eighteen and nineteen, God reminds us through Isaiah's message to Israel that He is here. Israel needed to hear that in their day, and we need to hear that today. God says if you seek Him, you will find Him. The Bible tells us that God is omnipresent. He is every- where. And that means He's close to you. God speaks to us so that we can know He is there. And so that we can believe both intellectually and volitionally, that is, by our will. I believe, I follow. So, God speaks, but how does He speak? We learn from this passage He speaks in at least two ways.

The first way is this:

I. God speaks through His world.

Look at verse eighteen. In this great passage from Isaiah,

“For thus says the Lord. Who created the heavens. He is God. Who formed the earth and made it. He established it. He did not create it empty. He formed it to be inhabit- ed. I am the Lord and there is no other.

God speaks through His world. The Bible says that the heavens declare the glory of God. Indeed, we see all around us evidence of God's handiwork and evidence of de- sign, and yet even the most brilliant scientists have fallen into contextual blandness. Fa- miliarity has bred contempt for God. How do we explain the magnificence all around us, except for God?

Not too long ago, my wife and I were traveling on a highway between our home and an- other town, and we were going along this beautiful river on one side and a mountain on the other. And I looked into the mountainside. My wife was driving (so don't worry, I was not looking at the mountain while driving on a curvy mountain road). As I was looking at it, I saw that there were perfectly proportioned layers that obviously, at one time, were laid down one upon the other and then hardened. I mentioned to my wife that accord- ing to (even secular) geologists, each of these layers, if we were to break them into pieces, would contain fossilized evidence of marine creatures, with land creatures. How can that be? Well, let me see: Oh yeah! The flood. And yet the Bible tells us, in fact, it’s Peter who tells us that in the last days, they’ll come scoffers, And they’ll claim that Oh things have always been as they are now, Denying the flood, denying the resurrection and therefore denying the judgment. But the Bible says there was a flood. And the Bible says there is judgment for sin All of the world stands as a testimony to the fact that God is here. He is involved with His creation. He created the world to be inhabited. People are not alien to Earth. The Earth was made for the glory of God and for His people. It's important for us to remember that. It's important for us to take notice because when we do, when we don't give in to contextual blindness, we come to see that God is there My beloved friend, God is here. And if you are listening to this now, feeling lonely, feeling isolated, I want you to look at the heavens. Look at the beauty of the trees. Look at the beauty of the rivers. Look at the world around you. Breathe in the oxygen that sustains you. It didn’t just come together randomly across billions of years; It came together ac- cording to the Bible and according to all the evidence that we see because God desired it. Because God is the Lord, and there is no other. And so God speaks to us if we listen and observe through the world that He created.

But there’s a second way that God speaks, and that is:

II. God speaks to us through His word.

And it is very important that we see this. He says in verse nineteen,

"I did not speak in secret. In a land of darkness, I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, seek Me in vain. I, the Lord, speak the truth. I declare what is right. "

Did you hear that?

“I did not say to the offspring of Jacob that it was Israel and all of those who would trust in the God of Israel through the ages. I did not say to all of these people, to you who are listening now, seek Me in vain. No, if you seek God, you will find Him.”

He invites you. He knocks upon the door and asks that you open it, that He might come in and “sup” with you as the King James Version says, that is, to have a relationship with you, to know His love and His presence. God speaks to us through His word. We can look at the heavens, and we can look at the layers making up mountains and recognize there is a God. But the question remains: How do we know this God? And that's where His word comes in. He gave us His word that according to John, we might believe, and In believing, we might come to know Him to know life, to know what is right, to know what is wrong, and to know about the glorious truth of God's grace:

That He sent His only begotten Son to live the life we could not live and die the death that should have been ours, and He offers eternal life as a gift. Repent of your sins. Repent of your contextual blindness, and look, see, and listen. And open the door and invite Him in.

God speaks to us through His word. God speaks to us through His world. It's very impor- tant that now, before another moment passes, you recognize and confess that the Lord God is the only God, and He came to us in Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, who was crucified for our sins on the cross, and who rose again from the dead. To confess Je- sus as the resurrected Lord of all is to turn from your contextual blindness. The Lord Je- sus Christ, who is the word made flesh. Then, the world, which may have become so fa- miliar that it was invisible, will become alive. It's as if it goes from an old Zenith black and white television into a brand new flat-screen color television with high definition! Life has color, meaning, and movement. There is hope, and there is life. Receive Him by faith today.

He's given His world. He's given His word. He's shown us His will. His will is for you to seek Him, and God says you will not seek Him in vain.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Faith for Living with Dr. Michael A. Milton
Sunday Chapel with Mike Milton
We bring Holy Scripture, a Bible message, and pastoral prayer for those who cannot attend church on the Lord's Day.