Chosen and Redeemed, part 1

1st Sunday after the Epiphany
Scripture: Isaiah 43:1-7

As we enter the scriptures, the prophet Isaiah is speaking to the chosen people, telling them that God is offering them another chance to fulfill their duties as the chosen ones.

He says that meanwhile the whole world is to give God praise and share in His holy glory. God is like a woman in childbirth, crying out for His chosen ones as He seeks to bring them back into His loving grace.

The world at that time in history was in great turmoil (much like our world today). After nearly 500 years of the Israelites in slavery worshipping idols, God is offering forgiveness as He seeks to bring them back into His divine fellowship. The New Testament speaks of a loving God who is patient and slow to anger. While we are God’s greatest creation, we need to be aware of His actions. We are created in His image and formed in His likeness and redeemed by His gracious love for us. Even when we fall short and fail to live according to His wishes. Created, we are the works of the Master Craftsman. He created us with free will. Our adhering to His will is our choice. We can either accept His invitation to be His children or reject it. God never forces His love upon us. It is by our acceptance of His invitation we become His children, His sons and daughters. That free will within us is a constant enemy within us, for we want it our way. We want to be the rulers over our lives.

We believe we know what’s best for us. We all have sinned because of the enemy in our lives, free will. When God formed us in His own image, He gave us the freedom to be like Him. God can change any situation that enters into our lives. We have the ability to change things in our lives because of our free will. We can change a bad habit into something that brings excellent results in our midst.

If one is overweight, they know what it does to their health. By changing our lifestyle we can reduce our weight and greatly improve our health. That is within our lives because God gives us that ability and power.

Take an apple seed as an example. Hidden within that seed is the ability to produce not only good fruit, but abundance of fruit, even bushels. Unfortunately some apple seeds don’t adhere to the God-given ability (just like you and I don’t).

Change is exciting and dangerous at the same time. Will that change be productive, or will it cause us more problems? As we are formed in God’s image, great results can transform us and our lives. We can see this in the lives of many.

I know an example of an ex-con who was converted while in prison. God was giving him a second chance in his lifestyle. He got involved in the life of a church when he got out. He felt he needed to go forward in his faith journey. He became a very active layperson. Yet he felt that something was still missing in his life.

He became a lay speaker and then a lay pastor, serving a local church. He stepped out in faith, allowing God to use him as God sees fit, not wasting his talents that God had given him as a gift.

Are we like an apple? One that withered and rotted on the tree? Or are we like the living tree that God redeemed to bring more of His lost children out of the wilderness and into the promised land?

Think about that. God calls all of us to be the living word, not the dead, lifeless apple rotting on the tree.

Let us pray!