Proclaim — Is 61:1-2 Part 3 of 5
So, here we are at the mid-point of this advent devotional series. We began with a premise that to “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, … all these things shall be added to you.” If, as the bible promises, that seeking God first and not focusing on all our worldly needs, wants and desires will result in us finding and being satisfied by what we truly hope for, then what holds us back? In the first of this five-part series, we discussed how our true heart’s desires are magnified in the most difficult of life’s moments—the moments that reveal what we really seek. In the second part, we talked about the journey towards Godly intimacy beginning with thanksgiving, through praise, to a sustained, deeper sacrifice of oneself in worship. This movement into intimacy is the gracious and miraculous mercy of God’s revelation. He shows Himself and the true condition of our heart. He begins to impart a holy dissatisfaction in our spirits that what we’ve been chasing doesn’t really satisfy. He then strengthens our belief in hope and restoration.
This journey to worship clearly requires intentionality. Comforts and pleasures are much easier and bring a certain short-term satisfaction. It takes effort to move our gaze from our self-centered nature and self-seeking ways to see truth and to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice… our true act of worship”. The Lord also gives us motivation to persevere. We will look at the amazing reward of finding His supernatural glory in the next devotion. But, before we get to this, there is one more step in this process of seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness that we need to understand and pursue—proclamation.
You may be asking your self why is proclamation important in seeking God? We will get there but let’s start by looking at what is meant by proclamation. Here is a great proclamation from the Christmas Story in Luke.
“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Now this is a proclamation, a whole multitude of the heavenly host singing out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” What a fanfare, what a display! Who wouldn’t be awestruck by this experience! I love the words “and behold” suddenly, all the shepherds could see was something they had never seen before “the glory of the Lord shone round about them”. Here they were in the middle of nowhere and they were suddenly terrified, all their senses fully beholding an awesome, breath-taking scene. They were fully engaged like never before.
Oh, that our proclamations about the One whom we seek, whom we love, had such power and authority to arrest people’s attention.
I love this definition of what proclaim means in the bible: “to give an outward official declaration in speech or writing, publicly, insistently, and proudly”. Another fantastic proclamation in the bible is found in Isaiah 61. Oh, that we would have the courage to boldly, confidently proclaim these realities.
“the LORD has anointed me to proclaim”: good tidings to the poor, liberty to the captives, the opening of the prison to those who are bound; the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, comfort for all who mourn—a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. What a proclamation of the Kingdom of God!
So now, let’s look at why am I claiming that proclamation is not only a good “Christian” thing to do but an essential step in the process of seeking God.
To answer this question, lets begin with what Jesus says in Matthew 10:32, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven.” Jesus is saying that we must publicly acknowledge Him as Lord, confessing our dependence on Him for salvation and professing our dedication to Him verbally and through every act of our lives. He goes on to say that if we do this, He will confess us to God. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible describes Jesus’ confession to the Father this way, “He will introduce them into his Father’s presence, and recommend them to him, to be honoured, blessed, and glorified by him.” Is this not the ultimate end of our “seeking”? That the glory of the Lord will shine round about us. Is this not our true heart’s longing: to be introduced to the Father’s presence?
This same truth that Jesus states in Matthew, Paul amplifies in Romans 10:8-10, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart’, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”
Paul is saying that the word of faith or the confession of Jesus “is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”. If you will declare it and believe it, you will find salvation. Some may think, this was a one time and done affair. But this is not the implication in these verses. Jesus wants us to continually confess what He is doing in our lives. Does it not follow that proclaiming our faith, so that we can be saved and that Jesus will confess, us to His Father is an active ongoing part of seeking Him?
I’m not sure that we give sufficient forum and encouragement to allow each other to proclaim the amazing transformation, wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit is imparting to us every day. We often are nervous or intimidated to proclaim, out loud, in prayer times, in discussions with each other, or especially with our non-Christian friends, what God is doing in our lives. So, I wonder whether there is a way to give space for us to build each other up in this, to encourage and nurture in each other the amazing authority of proclaiming what the Lord is saying to us as we grow in faith?
Maybe this Christmas season, you can seek God through proclaiming your faith in Him. If you think you are not ready or someone might scoff at you, remember His promise, “to confess you to His Father”.
Here is a little extra from Psalm 145 to use as a tool for letting your heart proclaim the glory of the Lord in your house, your life and hopefully, prayerfully, to those around you in and outside the church. I’m using the Good News Translation for emphasis.
My God and King I will PROCLAIM Your Greatness [Here are some proclamations you can shout out]:
The LORD is great and is to be highly praised; his greatness is beyond understanding.
What you have done will be praised from one generation to the next; they will proclaim your mighty acts. They will speak of your glory and majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
They will tell about all your goodness and sing about your kindness. The LORD is loving and merciful, slow to become angry and full of constant love. He is good to everyone and has compassion on all he made.
They will speak of the glory of your royal power and tell of your might, so that everyone will know your mighty deeds and the glorious majesty of your kingdom. Your rule is eternal, and you are king forever.
The LORD is faithful to his promises; he is merciful in all his acts. He helps those who are in trouble; he lifts those who have fallen.
All living things look hopefully to you, and you give them food when they need it. You give them enough and satisfy the needs of all.
The LORD is righteous in all he does, merciful in all his acts. He is near to those who call to him, who call to him with sincerity. He supplies the needs of those who honor him; he hears their cries and saves them. He protects everyone who loves him, but he will destroy the wicked.
I will always praise the LORD; let all his creatures praise his holy name forever. I will thank you forever and ever; I will praise you forever.
In the next part of this devotional, we will look at the greatest benefit of all this seeking, thanksgiving, praising, worshiping and proclaiming: communion with God.