It is commonly called the “Book of Comfort.” In Isaiah 40-66, the prophet turns from a message of judgment against God’s people (as well as other ungodly nations) and offers a promise of hope. Indeed, that specific section of Isaiah’s prophecy begins, “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God” (40:1 NKJV). The Lord Himself declared His intent to bring strength and peace after a time of intense challenge. Of course, the fulfillment of this prophecy was ultimately realized in the advent of the “Consolation of Israel,” Jesus Christ. Jesus came to bring help, encouragement, and salvation to His people and to the peoples of the world. God described His work: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV). A new thing? Streams in the desert? What a wonderful hope for those who were oppressed and barren! What comfort to those who were afflicted! And to know that the new work of the kingdom was accomplished in His Messiah!
As we have entered a new year, let’s not forget that the Lord has truly done a new thing. He has granted us forgiveness; He has given us life. Consequently, we have refreshment in the midst of the difficult, dry terrain around us. We have encouragement and strength to press on.
I’m grateful that I can do life and ministry with you in 2021. These first few days of the year have proven tough for us, and yet, I sense His renewing spirit moving among us. And I know He has a plan and vision for us! This Sunday, I’ll begin a new sermon series entitled, “Lord, Give Us Vision,” from 1 Thessalonians. As I said, God already has a vision for us, and He has plainly revealed it to us in His Word. We simply need to look at it through the eyes of the Lord and embrace it in our daily practice. Hope you can join us on campus or online as we begin this journey together!
Also, I’m thankful that the Lord continues to raise up leadership within the body of Christ. On Sunday, January 10, I invite all ordained men to join me in an ordination council as we examine and encourage Richard Hood, Brad Waller, and Brandon Williams in the Deacon Ministry. We will meet at 2 p.m. in the Chapel. The actual ordination service will take place on Wednesday, January 13, at 6 p.m. in the Sanctuary. What a great way to start off the new year as we celebrate with these men and their families! Praying you can be there as well!
Finally, we need to be in prayer for our National Guardsmen as many will soon be deploying overseas for the remainder of the year. Our college minister, Casey Casady, will be numbered in that group. Many of you may know that Casey has served as a chaplain in the National Guard over the past three years. We will have a specific time to intercede and bless them before they depart, but I am asking you to begin lifting up each service member and his/her family to the Father in the meantime. In Casey’s absence, we have hired an Interim Associate Minister to College Students, Chad McClurg, to lead our ministry and speak each week. Chad is the BCM Director at ULM. (Please no ULM jokes! At least not yet!) Alongside Chad, Emma Shelton, who currently serves as a ministry assistant in the area, will assume more responsibilities and duties. Emma will lead in the logistics, programming, and more day-to-day operations. We will miss Casey! And we will pray for his and his family until he returns back to us! The Lord can use Casey mightily during this season, and I believe He can bless us here as well through Chad and Emma.
“Behold, I will do a new thing,” the Lord proclaimed. And wow, didn’t He do just that by sending Jesus for us! That “new thing” still resonates in 2021 and empowers us to make a difference! Let’s do just that! Let’s make our lives count for His glory! See you Sunday!