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Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 51:16’

Yesterday, while filing away some talks I gave this past weekend, I decided it was high time I threw out copies of others I gave around fifteen years ago! Why keep these bulging folders any longer? I have changed so much since then. And even if I were to speak on those same topics, my content would be quite different.

As I sorted through these, I noted how much preparation had gone into them—and no doubt much prayer as well. Then I stopped for a moment and reflected on all that has happened since then. Over these past fifteen years, I have spoken in and outside of churches many times, as I still do. In a flash, I saw how invaluable that earlier experience and hours of preparation had been for what I find myself still doing today. But beyond that, I sensed again God’s overwhelming grace in my life. In all those years, God has never forgotten me for a moment. And, just as I experienced this past weekend, as I gave three sessions at a women’s retreat, God is continuing to provide me with opportunities to use the gifts of speaking and encouraging I believe I have been given and continuing to guide and strengthen me.

In Isaiah 49:15, the Lord says to the people of Zion:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands …

Centuries later, I believe God is still not in the business of neglecting us. When we belong to God’s family, God takes responsibility for us—and I saw that clearly yet again this past weekend. Even before I left home, after glancing through my input once more, I decided to sit down quietly and read a few words of Scripture. Recently, I had begun reading through Psalms again and ‘happened’ to be up to Psalm 19. In the last verse there, I found the following:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

This was exactly the prayer I sensed I needed to pray before heading up the coast to speak. I did not know the group well who had invited me and was a little nervous about how I would be received. But, above all, I wanted to please the Lord with what I had prepared. So being given this little prayer brought such reassurance as I set out into the unknown.

And once again, God did not let me down. In fact, I am sure at times God rescued me and gave me words I would not have thought of saying, just as is promised in Isaiah 51:16:

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

This week, as you seek to love and serve the Lord, may you too receive a fresh glimpse of God’s amazing grace and enjoy that covering of God’s own, powerful hand over you in all you do.

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I wonder if you have ever had the unnerving experience of waiting to speak in public somewhere and, at the last moment, wondering whether you have anything at all worthwhile to say. You may have prepared well and sensed you have just the right input for the occasion. But then those horrible doubts begin to surface …

I have spoken many times in public now. I always try to prepare well and to say what I believe God wants me to say. Sometimes I even deliver my talk out loud to the four walls of my study because I want to ensure I stick to my time limit. I know it won’t come out the same way on the day, but I always see something that needs changing and gain confidence in the process.

But on two occasions recently, that confidence has been tested. At one meeting, I sat there listening as the MC introduced me. I felt excited about what I was to deliver. I believed God had guided me as I thought and prayed and organised my notes. But then I heard the MC give an overview of the content of my upcoming talk—and, to my horror, it sounded quite different from what I was about to share! What had happened? Had I misunderstood the topic I’d been given? I could feel my legs beginning to shake. I even debated about changing my talk then and there and speaking more along the lines this lady had indicated. After a brief whispered conversation with her, however, I was assured what I planned to say was fine—which I should have known, since I felt God had guided me throughout my preparation. Later, she apologised for making assumptions about my input rather than checking with me. And both of us acknowledged that the enemy had clearly had a hand in it all.

Then recently, as we drove interstate for me to speak, with each kilometre we covered, I became less and less certain about the two talks I had prepared for a special women’s event. As I reflected on them and rehearsed them in my head, that old, niggling, self-doubt began to surface. What if we drove all this way and my input wasn’t even worth listening to? What if it was far too basic for the women who had given up a whole Saturday morning to be present?

At last I came to my senses and recognised the enemy’s handiwork yet again in all those niggling, negative thoughts. Then I remembered some beautiful words from Scripture I had read just prior to leaving home:

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand—I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’ Isaiah 51:16

While God is speaking here to Zion, I am sure this verse was meant for me too. With such grace, even before I began my trip, God, the mighty Creator of our universe, was filling my heart and mind and mouth with his very words and guarding me with his own hand.

Do you and I therefore have something of worth to say? Of course we do!

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