There Is No Other …  So Stop Looking!

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I was listening to Isaiah 45 this morning and one phrase seemed to punctuate every paragraph.

I am the Lord and there is no other
— Isaiah 45:5 NIV

By my count, it is repeated 4 times in this one chapter.  It doesn’t take genius in biblical interpretation to come to the conclusion that God is trying to get a message delivered. So what is the message?

Stop searching for other gods – they aren’t there!

Few of us are carving idols in our garages or putting statues of the god Molech in our living rooms. But we are just as guilty as the Israelites in creating our resources to meet the needs that only the true and Living God can meet.

So what do you and I really need? What is essential to our happiness? If there is anything we can name other than the Lord then that has become a god to us. It really is that simple.

Turn to me and be saved,
    all you ends of the earth;
    for I am God, and there is no other.
 By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear.
They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone
    are deliverance and strength.’
— Isaiah 45:22-24 NIV

Sometimes we need to be reminded – to refresh ourselves with the thought that all that we are striving for, all that we are hungering for is only found in him. This is his story and we are blessed beyond measure to be a part of it. To the extent that we fulfill our destiny and bring glory to God it is to that extent we experience our soul's satisfaction. Likewise to the extent we look to other gods for our fulfillment to that extent our souls wither and die.

We need to be constantly reminded of this for there are so many distractions – so many other gods that are vying for our worship. This is why many of us “believers” are empty, tired, depressed and anxious. We have lingered too long at the world’s stagnant pools.

So …

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’
— John 7:37,38 NIV

This is a time for deep soul-searching. Now is the time to ask the hard questions about what we are seeking and why we come up empty time and time again. It is a call to repent and be refreshed with the true and living God. To be restored and renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s return to what our hearts are craving.  

And when we are in the presence of someone who is experiencing the profound emptiness of seeking other gods let’s not comfort them with empty words and temporary solutions. Let’s lead them to the one true God who says …

I am the Lord and there is no other

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Meaning – The First Condition to Finding our Identity

I attended a workshop that was designed to help the participants become more self-motived with limitless possibilities. One of the mantras of this workshop was:

We are meaning making machines

The goal seemed to be that we were to create our own meaning that best suited us and assisted in achieving our goals. But first they wanted to strip us from any “meaning” that may be encumbering our ability to truly live life. So they taught:

Life is meaningless and it is meaningless to state life is meaningless

So what does that mean? Ugh! Guess I’m not supposed to ask that question since it is a meaningless question.

Somehow the question of meaning arises from every part of our existence. From the smallest child who hounds his parents with the around-the-clock question; Why?  To the astrophysicist who looks out into the universe and utters a silent plea; Why? We can’t escape it. We can suffer any trail or go through any adversity if only we know the answer to this fundamental question.

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.
— Viktor E. Frankl

Meaning is the first and last question that brackets our existence. We search for the reason we were born and we are obsessed with it at the time of our deaths. What was our legacy, what did we truly accomplish?

At the time of this writing the President has given his farewell address after being in office for eight years. He enumerated his accomplishments and gave examples of what he believed to be his true legacy - the meaning of his presidency. But many if not all of these accomplishments can be overturned by future administrations and his legacy will have no more staying power than a bouquet of flowers or summer grass.

All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.
— I Peter 1:24,25 NIV

As followers of Jesus Christ we are obliged to listen to his words on this subject and not follow the whims and dictates of our culture, family or any other source. Our meaning is ultimately derived from our Creator who formed us for a specific purpose. Until this is our mindset we will not find our true purpose and live irrelevant and futile lives no matter how “successful” we are in the eyes of the world. We will also find no true peace in our spirits because deep and abiding peace comes when we have a right relationship with our Creator with whom we will ultimately be accountable for the life he has given us.

But how is this practical for living our daily lives? That’s just the point – there is no “just daily lives”, there is only living in a right relationship with truth or living outside of truth. We are not here for a brief amount of time and then gone to some other existence to live eternally. We are here and our present lives affect are a part of that eternity. Ever thought about the part of the famous John 3: 16 verse that says, “…should not die but have eternal life” What is that about not dying, don’t we all die? And when does that eternal life start? Tomorrow … the next day? No, eternal life has no beginning and no end because it is – eternal. And there is no real death for those who “believe in him”. So whatever meaning our lives have in a billion years from now is the same meaning we have in this moment.

As spiritual leaders we need to help our people ask the question; why? It is the right answer to that question which will bring purpose to every other part of our lives. It will give us a reason to get up in the morning and empower us in all we do every day. And if we ever become stuck for an answer here’s a verse to ponder.

As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
— John 20:21 NIV

If we want to find our true meaning and purpose we need to look deeply into the life of Jesus Christ because that’s where we will find it. If we lose our way the only path back is to road that Christ lays out before us through his own obedient path to the Cross.

Next week we will look at the next significant element of our identity – Significance.