Currently I am working through the book of Isaiah in my “quiet times,” of prayer, prayerful reading, listening for the Spirit and journaling. And while I’m careful about taking Scripture out of the context and purpose for which it was originally written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I do find as folk have throughout history, that God often takes a Scripture and invites us to make personal application to our lives and ministries independent of the context. This always needs to be done carefully and prayerfully.
At the start of a new year, as I’ve been reading the tough but grace filled words of God through Isaiah, I was struck by these words in Isaiah 27:6, “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” (NIV11)
It’s a tremendous promise of God to prosper the people and nation of Israel. This is not so much a promise of financial and commercial blessing as much as it is the promise that God will use Israel to be the source of hope and salvation for a world in need. Reading this passage reminds me of a few words penned earlier by Isaiah, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit,” (11:1). This is a prophetic reference to the coming of Jesus to bear the fruit of making us and ultimately this world right. Israel is clearly called to be a blessing to the world by being the people through whom Jesus the Messiah would come.
Isaiah 27:6 is a powerful promise to a small group of primarily agricultural people on a trivial slice of land surrounded by nations full of cultural wonders with economic and military strength, all vying for dominance on the world scene, that they would fill the entire world with fruit. God so often works through small groups of seemingly insignificant people to do amazing things.
As I read these words of Isaiah, I sensed God inviting me to take this promise to Israel and make it a prayer for Redwood for this next year. My sense is that as we go through 2011 this is what God wants to do in and through us as we prayerfully seek him: “In days to come Redwood will take root, Redwood will bud and blossom and fill all of Thunder Bay and beyond with fruit.”
I believe this is a prayer that God would invite all of us at Redwood to faithfully and passionately pray in 2011:
• That as we drink deeply of this living water we would then bud and blossom and be beautiful and attractive to our city and beyond. That we would make the beauty of our invisible God clearly visible to our city and beyond.
• That we would then abundantly fill our city and beyond with life giving fruit from the Father that heals, restores and makes right. Fruit that makes each of us fully alive.
• That we the church family called Redwood, would be a source of hope and life for our city and beyond.
So I believe God is inviting all of us to pray throughout 2011, that this will be a year when Redwood sinks its roots deeply into the life our God has for us, and as a result will produce buds and blossoms and fruit that will bless our entire city and beyond, including our Barrie satellite site, our work in Indonesia and so on.
It should be an amazing year for us at Redwood!! Hey we’re already a few weeks into the New Year and we need to add seats to the 11:15 service!! Will you join me in praying that this will indeed by year where we grow deep roots and produce abundant fruit!