TV Transcripts

“Comfort For God’s People” Part One
Broadcast #1398
July 21, 2019

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1398 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Turn, if you will, to Isaiah chapter 40, a very familiar scripture, as are so many. But I don’t know, I just sense the Lord wanting to enlarge our vision, enlarge our sense of who He is and our place in His purpose. I certainly need it in myself.

You know, we are people of habit. We tend to build nests. We tend to order our lives in such a way that they are comfortable and predictable. And we don’t really like things that get us out of that mode, but yet, here we are.

We know from the scriptures, we know just from our own experience that life is not like that. It’s not meant to be like that, and we’re here on a journey. God has a larger purpose that has to do with a whole lot more than this world, that what He does in this world is simply a part of something that’s larger. And so, while we’re trying to be comfortable, the Lord’s trying to get us to move.

And I want to be in that mode where I can hear His voice. And the very songs that have been sung…Lord, mold me, change me…basically, we’re saying, change me.

( congregational response ).

I mean, any of these songs where we’re wanting to hear God’s voice, we’re wanting to be used, we’re asking to be changed. God’s not gonna just take us like we are and do great things. He’s going to mold us and make us into images of people that He can use, because, as we come into this world, we’re not at all in harmony with His will or mind or anything about Him. He’s got to do some amazing changes.

And I know the further I go with the Lord, the more I realize how much work He’s got to do yet, let alone all that’s happened over the years that I wasn’t even aware of going into it. So, we’ve got an awesome God, folks!

( congregational amens ).

You know, this…I was thinking…my mind went to the end of it where it’s so familiar, the concepts at the end of it, where we’re told to wait on the Lord and all of that, but my mind kept drifting back to the earlier parts of the passage. And I believe they’re relevant to setting up all that He wants to say.

And I thought about a little of the historical context of this, because Isaiah prophesied throughout the reigns of several kings. And Israel was not doing so great. I mean, they had…Hezekiah was one of them, so they had a little bit of a reprieve there, but things were basically heading downhill.

The northern kingdom of Israel that had split…after Solomon. The northern kingdom, as far as I remember at this point, they were gone. They had been literally dispersed among the nations. They didn’t exist anymore. And so, you had the southern kingdom that had a few good kings here and there, but the main guy that was the king during Isaiah’s reign was Manasseh.

And how many remember what kind of a king he was? Man, he was the wickedest king that they ever had. He was more wicked, the Lord indicated, than the kings and the peoples they had dispossessed in coming into the land!

Now you think about that. God had withheld judgment for centuries upon wicked people in the land of Canaan and He meted out that judgment when the Israelites came. He said, “…the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” (KJV). But there came a day when judgment came. And now, here’s a king of Israel, supposedly God’s people, and he is more wicked than they were!

You know, judgment was coming. There was no question about that. Even though Josiah followed and there was a wonderful reprieve, there was a wonderful revival, it still didn’t stop the downward trajectory. It only postponed it.

I think our world is like that. I pray God will postpone it in the sense that I want Him to reach everybody that can be reached. I want Him to do everything in us that He wants to do. I want to be part of the purpose that He has in the end of the age and I believe that’s what God wants.

You know, I had this thought as I was riding over here this morning and I just found myself praying, Lord, help us! Get us out of tradition! We’ve been here long enough that we know how to do church.

And somebody expressed this in the men’s meeting this morning, the same thought that I had. How easy it is for us to just get in a rut and do stuff and go through the motions and, I think it was Ben, and the…all of a sudden, the life’s gone out of it, and we don’t even realize it sometimes! We need Him to shake us up! We need Him to cause us to move, to lead us in paths we have not traveled.

( congregational amens ).

There needs to always be that sense of newness. We didn’t come to this point just to, okay, now we’ve got our religion, we can settle back and just practice it and then everything’s gonna be good. We are on, as I said, a journey and we have somebody who has planned out something from all eternity. Thank God that He has!

And you know, I’ll just drop this in because it’s a matter of considerable theological debate. I don’t want to get into it, but some people emphasize the free will of man as though God’s just kind of dumped us down here and we can make our own choices. We can accept God’s plan or reject it, and it’s really an overemphasis, I believe, on the free will of man. Folks, we’re not free! As we come into this world, we are slaves of sin, blinded by the god of this world and we have no hope unless God intervenes!

( congregational amens ).

And unless God reaches out His hand, there’s no power that we have to do anything. But, it’s when He reaches, when He calls, that we can answer. When He reaches, we can take His hand. So, the overemphasis, if you will, on the will of man is just that. It’s error.

But the problem is people jump in the other ditch. And that’s where everything has all been decided ahead of time by God. And if you take it to its logical conclusion, the human race is divided up into people for whom salvation is inevitable and for whom it’s impossible.

Well, there’s a middle ground, folks. We have a God who’s great enough to have this great, eternal purpose to have a family. Isn’t that what His purpose is?

( congregational response ).

You know, didn’t He say, for whom he has foreknown? See, He knew about you and He knew about me long before…back in eternity. He knew your name. He knew everything about you and He has a plan. But, whom he has foreknown, he’s also did predestinated to be, what? Conformed to the image of His dear Son. Who’s that? That’s Jesus. That he, Jesus, “…might be the firstborn among…” (NIV).

( congregational response ).

“…Many brothers.” That’s what it is. And brother, again, is a non-gender term in this usage, where we are all going to be the children of God, everyone that has come to faith in Jesus Christ. God has an eternal purpose and what He’s doing right now is preparing us for that.

And so…but I see, between these theological wars that go on among some, man, there is an incredible middle ground where God is able to take our…to give us a certain amount of freedom. He’s not trying to raise an army of robots here. This isn’t a cult where one man does…or one being does all the thinking and we just…we march around like zombies.

This is a…not a cult, this is a kingdom where God is raising up sons who have…who share His heart! He doesn’t have to try to compel us to do things against our will. He wants to mold our will so that it’s the same as His and we take joy in joining Him in His purposes.

And I’ll tell you, we have a God who cares about individuals, who’s made you different from every other being that has ever existed! No one has ever been exactly like you and He knows you and He made you for a reason!

What a God we have, who can take the tangled threads of history and weave them together to bring you and me to this occasion today! And yet, He’s not just way off there somewhere, but He’s right here, intimately interested in every single life! What an amazing God, who can do such things! And I guess some of that is what drew my mind to this passage.

And I was thinking about the greatness of how He describes His power and the immensity of His power and understanding. But you know, you’ve got to go back to the beginning of this and realize…realizing the historical context. God was trying to encourage the remnant of His people.

You remember how at the beginning of Isaiah, the prophet said, “Except the LORD…had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been…” like Sodom and Gomorrah. (KJV). What does he mean? We’d have been destroyed! There’d been nothing left! But there was a people that God preserved all the way down through Israel’s sad, sordid history, and God had promises and a plan that involved them but that same plan has involved…has expanded to involve us.

You remember how he described the fact that there was a…that He was a Shepherd and He’d come for His sheep? And He’d come for the “...lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But He also said, “…other sheep I have, which are not of this fold…” What does He say about them? “…Them also I must bring…and there shall be….” If you listen to some theology today there will be two folds and one shepherd. No! One fold! One shepherd!

( congregational amens ).

One kingdom! Praise God! One Lord over all who’s working out something that is from eternity to eternity. I want to be part of that, don’t you?

( congregational response ).

That’s what God wants for every one of us, to enter into the freedom of what He has planned from eternity.

And oh, listen to the character of this God, though. The first two words of chapter 40, “Comfort, comfort my people…” (NIV). You suppose they needed a little bit of comfort? You suppose they looked at the situation that existed in Israel and they had neighbors who were worshipping idols, they had babies who were literally being sacrificed to the heathen god, Molech, outside Jerusalem! God’s chosen people, right?

And there they are, sacrificing babies, burning them to death to sacrifice to a heathen god, and they’re sitting here wondering, where is God in all of this? Why doesn’t He stop it? That’s the question of a lot of unbelievers. Why does God allow all this terrible stuff?

Well, I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who does allow men to make choices, but He is absolutely in control, working out a plan that involves those who are willing to humble themselves and give themselves into His hands.

It’s not that we rise up through some goodness of ourselves, we say, yes, Lord, I’ll agree with your plan. This is, oh, God, I abandon all hope in my plan. Lord, I give my heart to You, I give myself to You! I have nothing to offer You but brokenness, but You take it and make it what You will! Praise God!

And so, His first words, as I say, are, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Your God. Isn’t that awesome. Not just some vague God somewhere. Your God! He’s your God this morning.

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem….” Wow! Again, think of the context and He’s saying, speak tenderly! There’s a people, in the midst of all of this mess, and it’s true today, despite the world and the condition, the direction we see it headed, pell-mell towards utter darkness, utter delusion, yet we see that there is a people that God wants to reach out to and His voice is to them.

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Now, you think about the things that we find as we go along in our journey that are wrong with us. Have you discovered one or two needs in your heart and your life as we go along…maybe just one or two?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! And yet here’s a God, who knowing all of that, still speaks tenderly! There is a sense of, I know where you’re at, I also know my plans and they’re, “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” as He says in Jeremiah. Praise God!

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord.”

You see what’s going on here? God’s saying, something’s coming. Things will not always be like they are. I want you to have hope. And the thing is the people to whom this prophecy was given, they had to wait, didn’t they? This was hundreds of years before any of this was fulfilled and yet, God was saying, look, don’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world. I’ve got plans that are bigger than that. I care about you. I have not forgotten you. I’m with you and I want you to live with understanding.

What was the line of the song? I was just amazed at some of the songs we sang. Lord, help me to see through Your eyes. How many of you need more of that? Yeah! Oh God, help me to see my own life through Your eyes.

Now, a lot of folks, who are of a legalistic bent, and we all are to some degree, don’t want that exactly because, oh, God, I already know enough. I don’t want to see all the bad stuff. But there’s something beyond just seeing need. God does not just sit there and say, there’s the bad thing, there’s the bad thing. I’m mad at you about this. God, help us to get beyond that kind of thinking about God and realize the incredible love that He has!

( congregational amens ).

How many of you’ve gone through times in your life when God blessed you and maybe even used you, and then later on, all of a sudden, you run up against some major issue in your life that God shines the light on and says, okay, now it’s time, let’s deal with this? Yeah! I saw one tentative hand, couple of them there. But I believe many of you could raise your hands if you’ve known the Lord any amount of time.

And I want you to stop and think about that. Did God just suddenly discover that? So, here He is back here, you’re in a state of immaturity and ignorance, and yet God, in His grace and His love and His mercy was using and blessing you in that immature state. Now, I thank God He doesn’t leave us there! But does that not reveal something about His heart toward us?

( congregational amens ).

That He’s not simply measuring us by a standard and saying, when you meet my standard, then I will love you? My God!

Oh, we have this mentality as human beings that love has to be deserved! Boy, this afflicts children! But it afflicts us all in various ways. Because, if we don’t experience what we think…oh, it must be my fault, I must not be lovable! Folks, as far as God is concerned, we are not lovable, but He is love and He loves us as we are, and has the power to change us into the image of His dear Son so that we can fellowship with Him for all eternity!

My God, the love…I mean, it’s something…we can say it, but I think only on that day will we begin to really fathom the incredible depth of God’s love that can look past…my God, how quick we are to judge one another! To have negative thoughts, and negative feelings, and how merciful God is! Oh, I don’t like the way they do that! And here God loves them and has received them. My God! Do you see just a little glimpse of what God is wanting to…enlarge our vision and make us more like Him?

So anyway, “A voice of one calling…” This is looking forward to the time of John the Baptist, right before Jesus came on the scene. “…In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain…” that is, flat. “…And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Ooh! Do we sense the power and the greatness of a God who can speak like this? You think the Devil just might have wanted to stop this? Yeah, he tried, didn’t he? He sent Herod to try to kill all the children in Bethlehem ‘cause he heard there’d been a king born there. And the Lord warned them, got them out of there. I’ll tell you, the Devil cannot stop what God has purposed!

( congregational amens ).

We would lose a lot of our fear and our anxiety and our struggle and our striving if we’d just get a glimpse of the greatness of the God into whose hands we have committed our lives! Praise God! I want to find a greater rest, don’t you? A greater faith and a confidence in Him!

But oh, I’ll tell you, some folks are mountains, aren’t they? Oh, they think more highly of themselves than they ought to. But it’s other people that are just so beat down by life, by society, by the way things happen in their lives. Oh, my God, He longs to lift them up! He longs to bring them up and to make them realize, you matter to Me! You may not matter to anybody else on this planet, but you matter to Me! Does that mean anything? That means everything! That gives value to every human being.

Folks, we need to understand the greatness of our God. But I’ll tell you, He’s got a purpose where He’s gonna bring us all to the right place, because pride will lift some up and other things will drag others down. Let’s get this thing where we’re all supposed to be. Praise God!

“A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’” And you hear the prophets, sitting there and he hears this voice, cry out! And he’s sitting there, what shall I cry? Well, what’s the message? “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Oh, do we need to have a sense of perspective about this life and how brief and short and meaningless, in one sense, that it is! I don’t care what men are allowed to do! If you’re sitting there looking at the world and saying, where is God, why does He allow all these terrible things to happen?

Oh, I’ll tell you what, we’re gonna see, we’re gonna understand one day, that God has given man just enough rope to hang himself. We are making choices every single day. I want to make the right choices, don’t you? I want my eyes to be lifted up to the point where I can start agreeing with God, because…did I say this earlier or did I just think it?

But God said through David that He didn’t want us to be like the horse or the mule. See, that just tells you right there: God’s not looking for clones and zombies. He’s looking for grown-up sons and daughters who are like Him and cooperate with Him freely.

You can use a mule to plant your…to plow your field. You’re probably gonna have to use some kind of primitive method of communicating and sometimes it’s gonna be a little bit rough. You can’t take the mule aside and say, listen, we’ve got a field to plow here, we’ve got a farm to run. I want to take you in and show you on my computer how our finances are doing and…you can’t explain to them what’s going on. You’ve simply got to use them.

God doesn’t want people that He’s got to whop upside the head to get them to do anything! He wants us to have listening ears. He wants us to have listening hearts so that we can hear His voice and willingly say, yes! You know, you can hear His voice and back off and say, no! That’s where our choices come in, and I guarantee every one of us here has made choices, at times, to not quite listen and humble ourselves to when God speaks. Has consequences, doesn’t it?

( congregational response ).

Yeah! And yet, God is so incredibly powerful and wonderful that He knows how to weave those consequences to accomplish what His ultimate goal is. But folks, I want to make better choices, to begin with. I want to be somebody who gets this, who understands, who’s not like a horse or mule.

And I’m afraid, like everybody else, I’m that way. God has to do things and has to let me fall on my face, before I suddenly…oh, yeah! I know what I did. Stupid! Again! When am I gonna get it? And yet, God’s mercy is right there to pick up His children and to love them.

Oh, I’ll tell you what! Listen to what He says, going forward here. “You who bring good tidings…” good news, that is, “…to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout….” God wants His message to be heard in the earth, because there are people who have ears to hear it.

I believe there’s a good number of people here who have ears, but I pray that if you don’t, that God will open your ears. If you turn your heart in the slightest, if you feel the slightest inclination to find out about God and to learn about Him, you open your heart and you cry out to Him and say, oh God, I want to hear Your voice. I want to understand. I want to know You. He will hear your cry!


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