By Jeannine Fogwell
Jeannine shares an important teaching on Healing of the Heart that prepares us to receive healing in every area of our lives based on who God is and His deep love for each of us.
Isaiah 40: God’s Healing Truth for Our Lives
Based on Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, lesson two.
“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
“Speak Kindly to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.”
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight and the Rough places Smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Comfort – Hope for Our Lives Despite Our Circumstances
“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
Because I have had cancer, I can now bring comfort to those having to walk a similar path. Because God brought me immense joy – joy deeper and bigger than any I had ever known – in the midst of my cancer and its treatment, I KNOW that He wants to bring similar joy and peace to others who are faced with pain or suffering. I KNOW that He offers a security in Himself that nothing evil can take away from us.
But I believe my experience would have been vastly different had I not experienced a deep healing in my heart many years before. I was able to see God’s goodness and His presence in my life everywhere in the circumstance of cancer because God had brought healing to my heart: in fact, He brought a certainty of His acceptance of me just as I am. Because God met me in my emotional pain and brought healing to my wounded heart, I KNOW that He has this gift of freedom for every one of His children who has been wounded and has been unable to escape the consequences of that wounding.
Our Need for Comfort
God calls His people, particularly leaders, to bring comfort to His people. In all generations there is a tremendous need today for comfort. The word used here means “to breathe deeply,” as if giving a deep sigh of relief because God has met us in our need. The word is repeated to emphasize the thought that God cares!
The Christian life is not free from pain and suffering. It is not free from troubles. Evil and pain will touch our lives just as it touches every other life on Earth. However, in Jesus we are able to have a hope and even a joy in the midst of hard circumstances.
At the time this scripture was written, Isaiah was told by God to comfort the Israelites. Part of the nation, which had by then been split in two, had already been taken captive by Assyria, and the other part would soon be taken captive by Babylon. In the midst of a dark time, God called Isaiah to bring hope to His people, to remind them that God had not abandoned them.
In this chapter, we see God showing Isaiah how His people can continue to have hope in Him regardless of their circumstances. After the remainder of Israel was taken into captivity, this chapter could again be read to God’s people to bring both the hope of future release and the hope of His continuing presence.
In the same way, we can learn from this chapter not only how we might find comfort from God during our hard times, but also how we might bring comfort to others. We believers offer the best comfort to others after we ourselves have received comfort.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…
comforts us in all our affliction
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
I Cor. 1: 3-4
God intends for us to comfort each other. God is making clear that we are called to comfort others because they will need comfort. The world cannot offer real comfort; it can only give things to distract from pain or distress – alcohol, drugs, food. also makes this truth very clear:
When we bring comfort to another believer, we are to “speak kindly.” The words “speak kindly” mean to speak to the heart. The emphasis here is on heart knowledge.
Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call to her
that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed,
that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
And the first thing we are to speak is that her warfare is ended; her iniquity is removed. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we KNOW that God is no longer angry with us. He will never again be angry at us.
“I will give thanks to You, O Lord, for although You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation….”
Isaiah 12: 1-2
Notice first, when we yield ourselves to God through trust in Jesus, our sin – past, present, and future – is totally dealt with. The penalty of our sin has been paid. Although God is angry at sin, because He knows it is rebellion and it robs us of whom we are meant to be, bringing us pain and suffering, He is NOT angry with us! Our rebellion against Him has been totally dealt with on the cross, so that God seeks only our good.
In His compassion, He deals gently with us in order to bring us into deeper relationship with Himself…in order to show us more clearly Who He is.
“Say to those with anxious heart,
‘Take courage, fear not…He will save you.’ ”
Isaiah 35: 4
He has saved us from our sins certainly. But every minute of our lives, He also saves us by changing us into the persons we most want to be! He saves us from the continuing power of sin and death. In doing so, He makes us like Jesus.
1. Why does everyone need comfort?
2. Share a time when you received comfort in a difficult time or situation, or a time when you comforted another.
3. Re-read Isaiah 12:1-2 allowing these verses to speak kindly to your heart and present circumstances. Describe the comfort you receive here:
4. It is easy to forget that God is angry at sin and not at us. What is helpful to you in understanding the difference?
5. God Speaks kindly to us; We are to speak kindly to others. Why do you think kindness is so important?
Here Is Your God – Who He Is and Is Not
Remember Who He Is
In Isaiah 40:9 it states that to bring comfort to others, we need to declare: HERE IS YOUR GOD! Isaiah 40: 6-8 and 15-16 show us that we are finite; we live but for a moment and we are limited by nature. But God is none of those things. As you read through chapter 40 of Isaiah, you discover comfort in who He is. For instance:
Verses 12 – 14 He had infinite wisdom and knowledge
Verses 15 – 17 Whole nations are tiny to Him
Verses. 21 – 22 God is in control of the whole earth.
Verses 23 – 24 God controls history
Verses 25 – 26 It is God who sustains and keeps creation
Verses 28 – 31 He not only never wearies, but He is able to strengthen those who wait on Him
Our comfort is found in looking at God Himself. I tend to forget how BIG He IS as I get caught up in daily life! But His Word keeps reminding us.
Condemning Words Are Not From Him
God wants us to know that condemning words we may hear within ourselves or from others are not from Him:
If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me;
whoever assails you will fall…. No weapon formed against you will prosper;
and every tongue that accuses you in judgment will be condemned.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”
Isaiah 54: 15 and 17
Our Sins are Forgiven and Our Debts Paid
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself,
not counting their trespasses against them….”
II Cor. 5:19
Note the phrase in Isaiah 40 verse 2 “she (meaning the nation of Israel) has received double for all her sins.” In Bible times in the East, if a man owed a debt that he couldn’t pay, his creditor wrote the amount down and nailed it to the man’s door. But if someone paid that debt for him, the creditor folded the paper over to show the debt was paid. (Stedman) This word picture shows us that our sins are totally forgiven. [And in the other meaning for double, He can easily give us double blessings instead of the amount of sin we had.]
Fear is Taken Away
So God’s Holiness should bring great fear to those not accepting His gift of Jesus. But to those of us who trust Jesus, there need not be any fear. His holiness is the very characteristic of God that seeks to ALWAYS bless us. His holiness causes God to always seek our good, and He shows that He wants the best for us by promising to make us like Jesus and then actually doing it. He does whatever is necessary to accomplish His purpose.
Fear is a tool that Satan would use to defeat us, but God declares there need be no fear. The Bible says that perfect love – that would be God – casts out fear. When we see how God loves us, when we see Him as He really is and not as we fear Him to be, then fear cannot keep a grip on us.
Now, we also need to know that if we should start to fear, God will not be angry. No! He understands that fear comes when we are unable to see His goodness and grace clearly in our hearts. That is why He calls us to prayer and worship and the Word. These very things enable us to more clearly see Him. And when our hearts see Him more clearly, then our hearts trust Him much more easily.
1. In addition to the verses in Isaiah 40 that describe who God is, what other scriptures speak of his infinite love and care for us?
2. Have you ever felt condemned? Describe the difference between condemnation and conviction of sin.
3. Read Romans 8:28-29. What do these verses say about God’s purpose for your life?
4. How does this verse help you understand how God casts out fear?
Prepare the Way for God
A voice (whose voice isn’t important; the message is) is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain be made low;
and let the rough ground become a plain,
and the rugged terrain a broad valley;
then the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all flesh will see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
In ancient times in the Middle East, if a city wanted to have the honor of a visit from her king, the city had to prepare. The king would come only if a way had been prepared for him. There were no roads back then, so all travel was difficult if the terrain was difficult.
Each city had to take the responsibility of making a broad and easy way for the king. So, if there were a wilderness, the city would clear out trees and plants and vines to create a path for the king to pass through easily. If there were a low place, the city would build up the land so the incline wasn’t so steep for the king or so waters of a river wouldn’t keep him from coming. If there were high hills, the city would create a way to pass through instead of making the king go over. And if the land were rocky and rugged, the city would clear out the rocks and make the path smooth and easy.
This making a pathway for the king could take years! But one day He would arrive in all his kingly glory.
This is a picture of what God wants to do in our lives! He wants to build a pathway for Himself in our hearts. Like the king and city of old, there is to be a king who arrives at a destination by a pathway. UNLIKE the city and king, GOD plans to do all those things in our lives. Our job to prepare the way is to let Him deep into our hearts to work.
Four ways to prepare the way.
(1.) Just as the ancient city lifted every valley, so God wants to encourage and comfort us when we are discouraged, crushed, and defeated. At those times, we tend to think Him indifferent and uncaring as we focus on our problems. But if we focus on Him, then He is able to pour His strength into us. See Hebrews 12:1-3
(2.) Just as the mountains were leveled, so He desires to make us humble so that our egos and pride will no longer grasp for power that is His. We may need to repent of trying to take back the control of our lives, of trying to use manipulation,
(3.) Just as the crooked places are made straight, so he wants to take out any devious part of our heart – any lies of Satan or those of our own sin nature that make us believe that He is not good…that He does not always desire good for us.
(4.)And just as rough places are made smooth, so His plan is to live so strongly in our hearts that there might be peace in place of turmoil and confusion.
We cannot do any of these things for ourselves, but God can! Accepting this truth, that we are totally unable but He is well able, prepares the way for His deep work in us. And His Word says in verse 5, that if we let Him work in our lives, “the glory of the Lord will be revealed.”
1. What specifically helps you to focus on God and prepare the way?
2. Most if not all of us feel the need to take control when it would be better to trust God. Has this been a one-time battle or an on going struggle for you?
3. How have you dealt with the mountains in your life?
God’s Glory Revealed
When God has worked deep healing in our hearts, we will know that there is no help for us in any human – not in ourselves and not in others. For in verses 6 – 8, Isaiah reminds us that all flesh is like grass and eventually withers.
We can admit the worst about ourselves without beating ourselves up, but instead rely on His power to change us. He shows us what we are really like, and how He has blessed us anyway. We will stop trying to make ourselves into what we think He wants us to be; instead we will begin to trust Him alone to make us like Jesus.
When He works deep healing in us, we will know in our hearts that He alone can do what others cannot. Over the years, He has changed me from an angry, controlling person to one who is peaceful and far better able to rest in His control of my life.
Note in verses 9 – 11, God reveals Himself to us as both King and Shepherd so that we can rest in confidence in His power as our King and rest in His loving care as our Shepherd. God wants our hearts to know that He has control of our lives and that He accepts us as we are.
Without God’s deep healing in our hearts, we continue to question God’s love for us when hard things come our way. This is because lies keep us from seeing Him as He is. Perhaps our sin nature first brings up the question, “Is God really good?” Or perhaps it’s Satan asking us the question, just as He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden – planting the question in our minds when we are hurt at a young age. But somehow that question is planted in our hearts very early in life. Israel questioned, too. Look at verses 27 – 28 from The Message.
“Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or whine, O Israel, saying,
‘God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me’?
Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go.
God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath.
He knows everything.”
And He uses that knowledge to heal us, to set us free from the lies. What a change comes within when He frees us!
The God of all power, the Creator of the Universe, loves YOU. He created YOU to glorify Him. How do you and I do that? By letting Him into our lives, both to save us once and then to change us all our lives long. We can tell of His goodness and power with our mouths, and He tells us to do so. But perhaps even stronger, we can let Him continue to heal our hearts so that His Life shines stronger and stronger through us. Then, even without words, others will see how He has changed us. When we can rest in Him no matter what happens to us, the world will see His glory. When we slowly change to become more loving, more peaceful, more trusting that He is good, the world will see His glory. And when we comfort others in the power of His love, then the world will see His glory. Decide now to ask God by the power of His Spirit to reveal the lies that Satan has planted in your heart – lies about your God and lies about yourself. You already bring Him glory because you have trusted Him for your salvation. Now let Him begin to heal the deep wounds in your heart so that you might see Him more clearly, which means you will trust Him more easily, that He might be glorified more and more.
Based on Beth Moore’s Breaking Free workbook, week two
1. My truth = incomplete.
My truth develops from my environment and my life experiences.
It is composed of my feelings and understandings, especially those of my childhood. No one has a perfect life or perfect parents.
2. My truth + Satan’s lies = captivity.
Any bondage that we are in is built from lies of the enemy. Satan’s lies say the following: “There is no real and complete forgiveness. You will always be stuck here. You will continue in this pain or in this sin. You will never be free.”
When Satan’s lies are brought into God’s light, their power in us is completely broken.
3. God’s Truth’s power to heal > my truth’s power to destroy.
Heb. 4: 12 –16 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (God wants to show us the lies that are within us. He has the power to do so.)
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Because Jesus was human, He understands us. He knows that we “are but dust.”)
Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace in time of need. (Because our sin debt is totally paid and He understands us, let’s RUN to Him for healing and to enjoy His full acceptance of us.)
4. God’s truth + my truth = freedom and usefulness
Nothing is impossible for GOD. (Matt. 19:26)
GOD WILL complete us. (Phil. 1:6)
GOD works EVERYTHING for our good. (Rom. 8:28)
As Satan’s lies in us are broken, we find a freedom within that we did not know was possible. Great joy becomes a part of our lives because we now know in our hearts, and not only our heads, that God accepts us just as we are. Because we are free, God can now use us in a deeper way in others’ lives. He will use us in ways that would not be possible were we still trapped by Satan’s lies. “Our weakness makes room for His power.”