First Presbyterian Church of Olney

An evangelical church in urban Philadelphia

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First Presbyterian Church of Olney Philadelphia PA

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Holy Week Devotions 2016
Saturday, March 26, 2016 - Randy Barge

16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
Isaiah 43:16-21


A friend of mine from high school days posted some old newspaper clippings and pictures of himself when he was a young, talented, high school and college basketball player.  In one picture, he is shown hitting the winning basket during a game between two local college rivals.  He noted that after thirty five years, people still come up to him to say “Hey, I remember you.  You’re the guy who made the winning basket against Drury College.”
It can be fun to travel down Memory Lane to remember the glories and joys of our youth.  The problem comes when we live so much in the past that we fail to be fully alive in the present or fail to see the possibilities that exist for the future.  That was the problem with the ancient Israelites over 2500 years ago.
The prophet Isaiah was writing during a very dark time in the life of God’s people.  The year was around 587 BC.  The place was deep in the bowels of Babylon.  God’s people had been carried away in captivity there by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar.  They were a long way from home, a long way from Jerusalem, a long way from the land that the Lord had given them.  Not only had they become exiled from their home, but their home was utterly destroyed, including the glorious Temple that was built by the great King Solomon himself.
All that was left were memories of a glorious past when God had liberated them from Egypt, sustained them in the wilderness, and brought them into the promised land with great deeds of awe and power.  But now their glory days were over.  As a people, they were as good as dead.  It was in the midst of this bleak situation that the poet/prophet came forward with a word from the Lord.  Not a word of judgment and doom, but a word of comfort and hope:  “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
For a people in exile these were wonderful words of healing, comfort and hope.  But they are not just words for the ancient people of Israel.  They are also words for us.  The God we serve is a God of newness and hope.  Just when we think that the story is over and that our best days are behind us, God comes forward with a fresh word, a fresh promise, a fresh hope.  God is going to do a new thing.  Do you not perceive it?

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5435 N. Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19120