Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

When God looks at you…

Tremble at God's Word
One of the remarkable things about the Lord’s Prayer is the disclosure that ‘when you pray, go into your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret –  and… your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’ (Mt 6:6-7)

 It doesn’t tell you how to pray, what to say, or even how to say it, but it does assure you that you will be seen and heard. It’s a great incentive to pray, especially since at times, you do not ask, so you don’t receive. Knowing God hears encourages us to ask.

God sees in secret and rewards openly

  In His role as our Heavenly Father, we, as children, are keen to get God’s attention, and mercifully, that attention comes not through frantic gesturing, smoke machines, or laser shows (the modern way!). Another way to look at Matthew 6:6-7 is to say, “Hide yourself away and pray to your Father who, by appearance, doesn’t seem to be there, and then your Father, who doesn’t seem to be there, will reward you.” That’s a tonic to the weary soul! He is with you even though you are not always aware of it – not much of a surprise given that He did tell us He would never leave us nor forsake us. Our prayer life teaches us that not only is God always with us and for us, sometimes He is beyond visual range – but always close enough to see and scrutinize every thought and intent of our hearts with a view to comforting, encouraging, or blessing our obedience and faith.

Challenges and Choices

Our lives are crammed full of challenges, some more welcome than others, but along with those challenges come choices, and accompanying them are lifestyle choices we face that impact how we grow and develop in our lives as followers of Christ. Isaiah, one of the greatest prophets in Israel’s history, knew something about what makes God tick; what, as it were, stirs the heart of God.

Isaiah lets us know exactly who it is that gets God’s attention – and why

Isaiah’s words are significantly encouraging and something we can hold onto. Towards the end of Isaiah’s staggering prophetic utterances in Isaiah 66:2, he throws down the gauntlet, drawing us near, and telling us that God says, “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” It’s a verse that is loaded with meaning and, along with Micah’s, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8), provides fantastic insight into how we should present ourselves to God in our day and age.

It’s worthwhile to prepare a slide and place it under the microscope. We have biblical heroes like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who also speak volumes to us if we care or dare to listen. Their stories are captivating ones of faith and obedience, coming in the face of threats of violence and death, yet, regardless of the outcome, they chose to obey God rather than man.

How about you? Is God looking at you? Sometimes, you may wish He wasn’t. Imagine if you could stop time, take some form of action, and then, using your superpower, rewind time and continue as if nothing had happened; what would you have done? Regardless of your answer, God would know. We’re always being watched.

Isaiah’s Wisdom

Knowing that, Isaiah offers us some wisdom: be humble and contrite in spirit, and tremble at His word. But what does that mean, and why is it important?

Isaiah brings a passionate plea for us not to be casual in the matters of God.

In context, Isaiah’s prophecy is significant, particularly when you consider that six verses later is the famous prophecy that many consider to be about Israel in 1948; ‘Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children.’

Just a few breaths before this announcement is our verse. The chapter addresses God’s judgement and redemption, contrasting the attitudes and actions that displease God with those He favours. The earlier parts of the chapter, including verse 3, speak of the inadequacy of mere ritual observance without true devotion to God. It’s a passionate plea for us not to be casual in the matters of God. So the phrase ‘But this is the one to whom I will look’ signifies a shift from the previous verses. It highlights God’s favour, not based on external rites or status but on the internal disposition of the individual.

In effect, God is saying there is something to which He will absolutely give attention, favour, and consideration. The implication is that God’s focus and approval are not on outward displays of religion but on the state of the heart. The God of the Old Testament is no different to the one of the New – grace is at the heart of all that God does, and our response to that grace is what is important. What has to be noted here is that God looks at us with intent – an intent to bless, encourage, and help.

We are often tempted to look at God as infinitely holy, righteous, blameless – which He is, but we look at Him in comparison to us. But He is not man – He is God, and the comparisons stop there. So when scripture says that God is love, it is more than Him just being ‘loving’. Why is this important? Because we must understand that God, infinite in all of His characteristics, means what He says, whenever He says it. They are not platitudes. When He says, ‘this is the one to whom I will look, or this is the one who gets my attention,’ He means it.

Qualities that Attract Divine Attention

So, looking deeper at this, what qualities or characteristics about you and me attract Divine attention? The qualities God esteems are described as “humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word.” Each of these attributes holds deep significance.

With me, nothing is possible, but with God, well, the story changes.

The Hebrew concept of humility is a colossal bear hug on the idea of meekness and a modest view of one’s importance in contrast to God’s greatness. It implies a recognition of one’s own limitations and a dependence on God, something demonstrated powerfully as Luke narrates in the Book of Acts. With me, nothing is possible, but with God, well, the story changes.

This is about recognising that all we have comes down from the Father of lights; we have only what has come from Heaven. Consider even when we die and meet the Lord, what does He say? “Well done, good and faithful servant (deacon!).” Who enabled you to remain a good and faithful one? The Holy Spirit! God will commend you for what He was doing in your life! Grace upon grace, and in humility, we recognise His hand at work in our lives.

Humility doesn’t stand alone, though. We mess up in life, frequently, too frequently. The twin of humility is a contrite spirit. This is something that Jesus knows nothing of – but we do. Contrition involves a profound sense of remorse for sin and genuine repentance. As we mature in God, our life of sin and repentance can feel like a pirouette, but as time progresses, things change. It’s not mere sorrow that God notices but a transformation of the heart that acknowledges wrongdoing and seeks to align with God’s will. Grace brings a metamorphosis to the heart; no longer do we do things because we have to, but because we want to. We want to live sin-free lives. Grace leads us by the hand, not drives us with threat and fear.

The Impact of God’s Word

The outcome of humility and a contrite heart leads to genuine openness to the high authority of God’s word. Isaiah says that there is something else that, if you like, “woos” God, it’s the same person who comes before God in life with humility, clean hands, and a pure heart of contrition and that trembles at His Word. There’s a deep, deep reverence for God’s Word, recognising its authority, power, and the serious implications of obedience or disobedience to it. Such a life is represented by a heart that is sensitive to and impacted by God’s Word.

The challenge is to have an attitude of heart that says, “this is what I want to be like – humble and contrite in spirit and trembling at God’s Word.”

God will look at you.

When God looks at you…
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