Renewal | Family Devotional | Constant Source Weekly
This year we are publishing the main section of a current issue of Constant Source Weekly to our blog each month. Each blog entry will include the main commentary for that week’s issue, questions to help you reflect and internalize the lesson, and connection points to help you engage with your family in conversations about the things you are learning about God. It is our hope that this would be a year where more families around the world prioritize seeking Christ together and would exhibit His life and love to those around them. If you want to take a look at last month’s issue, check out our post about Ash Wednesday & Lent.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21
(Every Constant Source Weekly is inspired by four pieces of Scripture from all different parts of the Bible. One of those texts becomes the main foundation for the lesson and is interwoven throughout. Start by reading the text linked above.)
(Every Scripture reading is paired with a commentary section that explains the core themes of the passage, discusses the way the reading informs our faith, and helps interconnect all parts of the Bible. Read that next below.)
My dad has been a building contractor for my entire life, and as I grew, so did his building company. I grew up on the job site carrying tools, picking up material scrap, and watching as piles of wood became beautiful structures in which people would live. Over the years, he has done just about every kind of building project imaginable, but I have a favorite. When I was a teenager, a family friend bought an old run-down craftsman house in the historic district of our town. It wasn’t much to look at, but the location was amazing, the foundation was solid, and you could tell that it was built with love. This house needed some significant attention, so we went to work. When we were done, something special had happened. The house had been completely transformed into one of the most beautiful homes that I have ever seen. It wasn’t beautiful because of its shiny new appliances, modernized design enhancement, or its fresh coat of paint. It was beautiful because it had kept all of its quirky and unique characteristics, but was now better able to serve its purpose, better suited to do that which its creator intended. It was beautiful because it was renewed.
As we survey our Bible texts this week, we are reminded that God is in the business of restoration and renewal. This Lenten season, we have focused on personal reflection, repentance, and relationship with God. The outcome of these practices is transformation. Our reading from Isaiah centers around a really important question. Let’s take a look.
Isaiah starts out in verses 16 & 17 with a reminder of the powerful work that God has done for the Israelites. These two verses are an echo of the Israelites deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The exodus from Egypt was a watershed moment in Israelite history and is often recalled to illustrate the ways that God has powerfully provided and cared for God’s people. So, when Isaiah shifts gears in verse 18, a contemporary listener can be caught off guard.
In verse 18, Isaiah reports that God wants the listener to no longer dwell on God’s past works or Israel’s history. Not because they weren’t important, but because God wants to redirect attention to something different and even more important. While verse 18 is short, it is actually really important to this chapter’s overall message as it applies to our lives. Sometimes we can get caught up in the old things, either in ourselves or in others, and God is asking us to pay attention to that which is to come instead of that which has been. The takeaway here is that we need to refocus because when we are distracted by the past, we are at risk of missing that which God is doing next.
As we see in verse 19, God is doing something new. Period. The truth is that God is always at work transforming and renewing our lives. The all-important question though is: are you watching? Where is your attention focused? If you are too focused on the old, you might miss the opportunity to see God at work, or, even worse, you might completely fail to see it at all.
As we’ve been discussing throughout the Lenten season, as Christians it is our job to see. To see the distance between that which God intends for the world and its current state. To see the ways that God is at work in our own lives and the lives of others, so that we can partner with God along the journey. To see the new thing that God is doing and to point it out. This last piece is what our passage is getting at in verse 21. Isaiah reminds us that God desires a particular response from us in light of the great works being done in our lives, which is simply to talk about it. When we recognize and share that which God is renewing in ourselves or in others, we are testifying to God’s goodness. These testimonies are acts of praise, moments of worshiping God.
As Christians, we are called to be people who point out God’s goodness and renewal in a spiritually dry and relationally arid world. We are called to be beacons of hope who share that which God is doing in our own lives, so that the hopeless around us can find strength. And when we are the people who feel down, isolated, anxious, or fearful, we are called to seek the body of Christ, the Church, which sees when we cannot and praises God on our behalf for the things that are happening in and through our lives. We are all in need of renewal. The question is whether or not you will see the new things that God is doing. Are you watching?
(The reflection section provides prompts to help you think through what God is teaching you and how it applies to the world around you. Take 3-5 minutes to ponder and respond to each question below. We recommend keeping a journal to write in, so that you can revisit it later.)
When catching up with an old friend or family member, have you ever caught yourself interacting with them or assuming that they’d be like their old self, failing to see the ways that God has been at work in their life?
Where are you on the spectrum presented in the last paragraph? Are you excited and hopeful, ready to share God’s goodness with the world? Or are you on empty and in need of a community that can be hopeful on your behalf? Both sides are legitimate. Take time to think about where you are and how to watch for renewal in this season.
No matter the season in which you find yourself, how can you be on the lookout for renewal in others and embodying a posture of praise?
(This section provides tools and starting points to discuss what you’ve learned and processed through above with your family.)
Pray: “Lord God, we pray that you would do a new thing in us today. We thank you for being a God who is so invested in helping us flourish and become the people that you created us to be. Help us to see the ways that you are at work in the world and fill our hearts with gratitude and praise. Thank you for loving us. We love you, Lord. Amen.”
Share: Explain to your family that you have been learning this week about the importance of looking out for the ways that God is at work in others’ lives. Spend a couple of minutes identifying ways that you see God at work in the lives of each of your family members and then share that observation with them .
Wonder: Challenge your kids to be on the lookout for God sightings throughout their day. Tell them that you will ask them after school if they saw God anywhere during the day and that you will be on the lookout too.
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