"Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it." "Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one. All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless." "Remember these things... Return to me, for I have redeemed you." (Isa 44:7a, 8b-9a, 21a, 22b)

Idolatry: It's so easy to make something related to God (even church success, passion for ministry) as more heartfelt than God himself. This turns a good thing into an ultimate thing, a god thing. Thus, anything and all good things can be an idol. [Previously: Stupid Idols and the Predicting God (Isa 42:22-23).]

Quotes on the love of God (Isa 43:4):

"The love of God for man is so great that it cannot constrain [us]... Divine will always will submit itself ... even to revolts of human will [in order] to bring it to a free consent. . . . God is a beggar of love waiting at the soul’s door without ever daring to force it." Vladimir Lossky.

"Grace ... by its very nature, confers independence on the object of its love. It gives, compelling no return ... it liberates rather than enslaves, strengthens rather than weakens free volition ... 'the service of God is perfect freedom.'" Martin Thornton.

"...because I love you..." (Isa 43:4, NIV) "...I have redeemed you..." (Isa 43:1) "...you are my witnesses..." (Isa 43:10, 12) "...I am doing a new thing..." (Isa 43:19) "...I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more..." (Isa 43:25) "...I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants..." (Isa 44:3).

Theme: The loved and happy experience a "new thing" from God (Isa 43:19). The unhappy experience the "same old, same old" stuff.

"Grace to Augustine is that love which lies at the heart of his spirituality; it is that which, by its very nature, confers independence on the object of its love. It gives, compelling no return. It is the one force that cannot bargain, it is the opposite of irresistible passion, for it liberates rather than enslaves, creates not destroys, strengthens rather than weakens free volition: in more familiar language, 'the service of God is perfect freedom.'" Martin Thornton, Anglican priest and spiritual director, UK (1915-1986).

(Isaiah 42) "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice" (Isa 42:2-3).

Theme: The primary failure and weakness of Christian leaders is the failure to truly be a servant, to be unassuming, gentle and humble, especially when angry and upset or when someone ruffles their feathers or messes with their hair. No one can do what God expects, yet no one is excused from not doing so. One who imposes his way on others is not displaying the way of Christ (Mt 12:17-21; Phil 2:7-8), the ultimate Servant who does not lord over others.

Meek and mighty. The Servant is gentle yet powerful. But usually when people are gentle they are not powerful; when they are powerful they are not gentle. One of the easiest things for a leader to do is to intimidate, coerce, scare, guilt-trip, pull rank and lord over others. However, Amy Carmichael said...

“For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.”