Series: The Lion and the Lamb
Message: God's Weird Work
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Becky De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Adrian Peterson
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Isaiah 63:1-6 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The Words to Remember this week have God giving us a reminder: “I have the power to save you.” This comes from the International Children’s Bible and, as is often the case, I like its straightforward sentiment. The English Standard Version reads, “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save,” which is nicely lyrical, but doesn’t communicate the idea of power—and conversely, lack of power—quite as well.
This is the thing we’re missing: power. It’s the reason those revenge stories are so satisfying. What most of us wouldn’t give to have the power to fix so many of the things that are wrong. We do not have the power to cure incurable illnesses, to stop accidents from happening, to keep the people we love (or perhaps even ourselves) from falling into addiction or making other disastrous choices. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, polar vortexes devastate our communities, and there is little we can do to stop them. We often feel paralyzed by our lack of power and try to exercise what little we may have by seeking status through purchases, accomplishments, and domination of others.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, God indicates in this passage that He would have appreciated some help in bringing redemption. This seems to indicate that we are not perhaps as powerless as we think we are—and earlier in the week, we were invited to consider how we might exercise our responsibility toward justice—but what about the simple power we have to accept God’s power on our behalf? God repeatedly and throughout the Bible promises salvation to those who accept Him. Here are just a few examples:
Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Acts 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
John 5:24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
I often feel and express skepticism about God’s willingness or ability to save me, in part, I think, because I tend to be resistant toward the kinds of simplistic answers put forward by, well, simpletons. But given that my power over most things in this world, including my own life from one day to the next, is extremely limited, perhaps a simple acceptance of the gift of salvation, of God’s “power to save” might bring the kind of peace that also leads to meaningful action. When all else fails, I remember the final words of The Count of Monte Cristo: “Wait and hope.”
Recalibrate: In what ways do you seek power in your life and how might you begin to relinquish your need for control to God?
Respond: Pray that God will demonstrate His power in your life.
Research: Look into the various ways people try to exercise control over their lives.
Remember: “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1, ICB).
Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, editor, and graphic designer. She is working on a PhD in research methods at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Blow up a balloon or use the one from yesterday’s activity. With a marker, draw a big smiley face on one side. And write the Words to Remember on the other. “I have the power to save you” (Isaiah 63:1, ICB). Play with your little one by tapping the balloon all around the house. Do all that you can to keep the balloon from popping. Sometimes life can feel all over the place and we may feel that we are being tapped from one thing to the next. Know that no matter where you are or how you got there, God has the power to save you and He wants to save you. All you have to do is say, “Catch me, please, in Jesus’ name.”
Take time to be sure you really memorized the Words to Remember for this week. (“I have power to save you,” Isaiah 63:1.) Spend time today sharing with someone you love what it means to you that God has the power to save you. Be sure to talk about what is powerful in the world around you, and how God is powerful in your life. Thank God that He loves us so much that He uses His power to save us!
As we finish up this week, look at Isaiah 63. I really want to encourage you to think about people around you who could do with a helping hand. Perhaps you can spend time as a family talking about instances where you have helped someone and it how it felt. If you are brave, share a story of a time you could have helped someone but you didn’t. What caused you to hold back?
A small activity you can do as a family is to make a short list of people that you can help. This can be individually as people, as a family unit, or even as a church family. You don’t have to start big—start small and see how you go. Who knows?—you might just change the world!
This week’s text was challenging. It may have given you a bitter taste in your mouth. We don’t like to talk about the places in the Bible where Jesus is described as wrathful, vengeful, or angry. Yet I hope this week has challenged you to look at the whole of Scripture. Don’t just read little bits here and there—breathe it all in. The Bible may not always say what we think it should say, but it always leaves us with a bigger and more complete image of who God is. At the end of the day, God is our Protector and Savior. He will go to any length to save us. How has the text this week challenged your view of God? Did this text teach you anything new about Jesus?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Adrian Peterson is the associate pastor at Burwood Adventist Community Church in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Kyle Smith is the associate pastor of youth and family ministries at New Haven Adventist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.