Life once vibrant and hopeful can become destroyed

By THE REV. BOB MAZEROSKI

I recently viewed a television documentary concerning Yellowstone National Park.

One of the segments focused on the frequent forest fires the park encounters and the devastation of tens of thousands of acres such fires bring. Once tall and majestic, thousands of beautiful pine trees are left branchless and blackened. Many are burned to the ground, leaving only small remnants of what used to stand so pretty and proud. A beautiful, fruitful and full forest all of a sudden becomes a charred and smoldering picture of desolation.

People’s lives get that way sometimes. A family, once stable and secure, becomes broken and divided. A career, once sure and promising, becomes downsized and eliminated. A life, once healthy and vigorous, becomes diseased and hopeless. Like a forest fire can do to Yellowstone National Park, lives once vibrant and hopeful can become destroyed and barren by the fires of life.

In the prophet Isaiah’s day, God promised to deal with Assyria — the enemy of Israel — and its pride and arrogance. He said, “Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body … and the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few …” (Isa. 10:16-19). God said, “…the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled. And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron …” (Isa. 10:33-34). However, in the midst of all the destruction, desolation and despair, God promised, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isa. 11:1).

In other words, God was saying that when he was done dealing with the pride, arrogance and hypocrisy of the people, and when all seemed hopeless and desolate, he was going to bring hope and life to his people. He was saying, “When everything around you looks destroyed, desolate and hopeless, I am going to do something new and lasting!”

Yes, when God dealt with Assyria, it was as if a fire swept through and destroyed everything. The word “stem” in our Bible verse today literally means “stump” or “sawed off trunk.” That’s all that remained. God said he would bring a “rod” – a new “shoot” or “vine” — out of the “stump” of Jesse — who represents humility. Our Savior came from the lineage of David who was a son of Jesse. There was no royalty in Jesse or his family when David was chosen and anointed to be king of Israel by the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16. However, God had great plans from a humble beginning. From a “stump” of humility would come the Branch, Jesus Christ, who would become the lion of the tribe of Judah. In the Branch, Isaiah prophesied, “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him …” (Isa. 11:2). The fullness of God — all his attributes, all his strength, all his provision, all his character, all his everything — would be upon him, to whom was given the Spirit of God without measure (Jn. 3:34).

All that remained after God dealt with pride, arrogance and hypocrisy were “stumps.” See, a stump is a picture of 3 things: 1.) A reminder of yesterday — what once was; what used to be; 2.) A symbol of reality — the lack of fruitfulness, growth, newness, and life; 3.) A launching pad to destiny — the birthplace of newness, change, abundance, provision and fruitfulness. I believe God wants you to know that no matter how destroyed things in your life may appear to be, and no matter how limited or hopeless you may feel, he has hope for you through the Branch. He can take the “stumps” of your life and bring forth a new “shoot” of life, change, hope, provision and more. He is more than able and desires to do so. The fullness of the Spirit of God rests without measure upon him. With him all things are possible and he can do anything.

May the branch bring forth newness for you.

A blessing for you today: In the name of Jesus, I bless you to know our Lord as the Branch. I speak over you that a new “shoot” is coming in your life. May you use the stumps of today as launching pads to destiny.

Your declaration for today: In Jesus’ name, I declare that new life is springing forth for me. Dead situations, relationships and dreams are being replaced with new ones. I declare that fresh abundance, provision and fruitfulness is coming to me even now. I have hope and I am filled with optimism because I am connected to the Branch. My stumps have his life. Therefore, fruit is coming. Amen.

Isaiah 11:1-2 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”

(Mazeroski is pastor at New Life Church.)

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