The motive is unknown, but as one person in France pointed out, you don’t got to Toulouse to a certain school a kill a teacher and three students, unless you were targeting Jews. Authorities are saying they think the same gunman struck last week as well.
The President of France says racism is the behind the shooting deaths yesterday in Toulouse of a Jewish rabbi and three students. Two of the students were children belonging to the Jewish teacher at Ozar Hatorah school. President Sarkozy says the same gunman was behind last week’s killing of three soldiers as he went on the air to condemn the attacks and raise the terrorism alert for the country in the worst shooting spree at a school in French history. Killing the innocent is nothing new, but it doesn’t make it right.
I’m Charles Morris and this is HAVEN Today, telling the Great Story that’s all about Jesus on a program called The Word for Your Journey – God’s Unchanging Love. Mountains may move and hills may be leveled but God is unchangeable – His love never endsTime and again, from generation to generation, there is God’s unfailing love. Grace unending comes from above. Jamie Jamgochian opens HAVEN Today from her Above the Noise album.
SONG – God Unchanging
Christian hope rises up from the ashes --- ashes of fields where hopes and dreams crash and burn.
Normal hope is different. It’s the hope that rises up when things take a turn for the better. It comes out of good things – a birth, a wedding, or an economic upturn. Those things give us hope – and there’s nothing wrong with that kind of hope. We need it.
But Christian hope is something much more powerful. And much more enduring. It rises up when everything looks bad, when all the hope is gone. When planes crash, when we lose our homes, when the world seems bent on destruction. Out of those ashes we can look to our God and have great hope – the hope that only believers in Jesus can have. It’s a hope spoken into our hearts by our God. The One whose love for us never fails.
In the face of all of life’s crashed dreams, God says to his people --- sing, rejoice, shout for joy -- because I your God love you with an everlasting love and I have secured your future for you and it will be glorious.
Let me just read Isaiah 54 so we can take it into our hearts. As you listen I hope you hear the compassion in God’s voice – because this is the Lord speaking and he’s speaking to you. I hope you hear his passion to pour out goodness on you, and especially, I hope you hear him telling you of his love that will never change:
Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.
“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.
“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.
All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.
In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
“See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc;
no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.”
God spoke these great words when everything was at it’s very worst for his people – they were going into exile. They were like a barren woman, unloved, rejected, homeless, oppressed, accused. And he tells her that her situation is going to be totally reversed – she won’t be barren anymore because her God will be her husband and he will make her fruitful. He’s going to gather her up with great compassion because of his great love for her – a love that will never fail. He’s going to make a covenant of peace with her so he will never be angry with her again. He’s going to build her a beautiful home where all her children will be taught by the Lord. He’s going to remove her far away from all oppression and if any one accuses her, they will have to answer to him because he will vindicate her.
That’s our hope! Those words of God have been fulfilled and they’re for us – for believers in Jesus. We’re God’s people and all of what Isaiah 54 promises belongs to us. God made it a reality when he sent his Son to die. All of that hope was born out of the ashes of his suffering – it came pouring out of his grave. It’s resurrection hope.
You see Isaiah 54 comes right after Isaiah 53. And Isaiah 53 is where God describes Jesus – his suffering servant. The promises of Isaiah 54 will be true after the servant of Isaiah 53 accomplishes his great suffering on behalf of God’s people. They are promises for a future time and that future time is now. Those promises are meant for us – for all who put their faith in God’s suffering servant – for everyone who believes in Jesus. We’re the heirs of the great promises of Isaiah 54. We have the resurrection hope!
And it’s all because of Jesus.
In chapter 53, Isaiah describes a future servant of this Lord who will “grow up out of parched ground”. Where you wouldn’t expect anything to grow, he will rise up – this Messiah. But he’s not going to be the Messiah you might expect. He’s not going to have any beauty or majesty. In fact he’s going to endure terrible humiliation and shame and sorrow and pain. But the reason for this is very clear in Isaiah 53. He’s going to take all our sin and grief and mess onto himself and endure it for us.
Jesus is that suffering servant of God described in Isaiah 53. I have a Jewish friend who was told by his rabbi not to let the Christians tell him Isaiah 53 was talking about Jesus. That made him curious and so he read it for the first time and he said, “Who else could it be? It has to be Jesus”
We have the privilege of living on this side of what Jesus did. He’s fulfilled Isaiah 53. It’s done. It’s finished. Jesus said it from the cross – It is finished. He was laid in a tomb. It was as hopeless a situation as anyone could imagine. And then three days later, he burst forth from the tomb -- the beginning of a new creation. The source of all our hope.
The only way we can get hold of this hope we have as believers is to see where it comes from. All our hope comes from two sources –
1. from the death of Jesus on the cross and
2. from the love God has for us.
1. All our hope comes from the death of Jesus on the cross.
We need to make sure we never separate God’s promises from what Jesus did. All our beautiful prospects come directly from his suffering – from his death as our substitute. That’s why our future is so fused with glory. That’s why we have a hope that rises from the ashes – it rises from the ashes of his suffering. It’s not because of what we’ve done – it’s because of what Jesus did. The punishment that was due us fell on him.
We need to know that that punishment, that judgment, has passed – that we live on the other side of it.
Isaiah 54:9 says:
“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.”
The suffering of God’s servant – the suffering of Jesus – it was like the flood of Noah. The judgment of God against us came on him. God’s anger at our sin was poured out on him. And now it’s over and God has sworn never to be angry with us again.
If we would just let that sworn oath from God sink into our hearts, it would change our lives. It would liberate us to serve God with fearless joy. There’s no anger in God’s heart towards us anymore – it has all been absorbed by Jesus. There’s none left for us – he drank the cup to the dregs.
God is swearing this to us. We need to believe him, especially when we’re painfully aware of our failures and when we feel cut off from God. We’re not. He’s not going to hold us at arms length until he gets over being mad. There’s no more anger in God toward us. No more rebuke. Only love – unfailing love – great kindness, and deep compassion. He is for us, not against us, and there is nothing ahead but the hope of glory.
2. All our hope comes from the love of God
None of the realities of our salvation mean anything without the love of God. Our forgiveness, our justification, our adoption, our future in glory – they would all be meaningless without the love of God.
His love is his greatest gift – and all of his other blessings flow out of his love. His words in Isaiah 54 are infused love. He weaves beautiful words of love through the whole chapter. All our hope has its source in this one overwhelming fact – God loves us.
He’s taken us to himself like a husband takes a wife. “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
Who can call the God of all the earth “my husband”? We can! He gives us his name, he shares all his possessions with us. He promises to always love us –just like a husband promises to always love his wife in a marriage ceremony:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
God’s love is never-ending – it’s like the passionate love of a man for his bride. Sometimes a husband’s love fades away as the years go by. Sometimes he even asks her for a divorce. But the Lord’s love will never change; it will never be removed from us, he will always love us with the same joyous delight he had on our wedding day. That’s what the Lord wants us to know. He wants us to be secure in his love.
(good place for the second song).
God’s love is never ending.
It’s the cherishing love a Father has for his son --- a real father -- that father we all long for. Our Father wants us to know deeply in our hearts how much he loves us and he’s promised to teach us. : “All your sons will be taught by the LORD and their well-being will be great.”
The Lord promises to personally teach each one of his sons. He’s not going to hire a tutor. He’s not going to leave the job to someone else. He’s going to personally teach us by his Spirit and the first lesson he wants us to know is that he loves us.
Galatians 4:6 “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit comes into our hearts and teaches us that we are really God’s children and that he wants us to call him “Abba”. “Abba” is a deeply intimate and personal word that only a dearly loved and cherished child could use.
Who can call the God of all the earth “Abba”? We can!
As we stand in the fields of ashes, when hope seems gone, that one word rises up in our heart: “Abba”. My Father. He is my Father and my well-being is great. He gave his Son for me, his love engulfs me, his compassion surrounds me, he will see to all my needs. He is my zealous defender, my protector, and he has arranged a glorious future for me.
“O afflicted one, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”
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