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Strength of a Willow

August 19, 2022

Strength of a Willow

Strength of a Willow

By Sally Lombardo

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams. This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s,’ another will call on the name of Jacob…Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts; ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god’” Isaiah 44:3-6

Enhance today’s devotional by reading Isaiah 44:2-8

Verses from Isaiah are quoted over sixty-five times in the New Testament. Old Testament writers borrowed from his evocative imagery and captivating promises. This passage speaks of God pouring water on dry, parched ground, causing the grass to spring up anew. God is pouring his Spirit on all mankind. Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel writes about restoration after the bitterness of Babylonian exile. “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your fruitful land… I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh” (36:24, 26-27). Joel also uses the metaphors of abundance in his promise of spiritual renewal: “The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil…And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions” (2:24, 28). The indwelling Spirit of renewal is the bedrock of our faith and what distinguishes Christianity from other traditions.

In the New Testament stories of Jesus, the presence of the Spirit bears fruit in dry land—in the form of healings, new alliances, reconciliation, and abundant life of all kinds. The Spirit empowered the twelve apostles as they were sent out to preach and heal. The Spirit of God bestowed at Pentecost brought insight, fire, and tenacity to those who accepted with joy. In this passage, Isaiah tells his people they will “spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.” Willow trees in ancient Israel could thrive in harsh conditions. Their hard wood is durable, so the limbs are flexible, hung low, and the feathery leaves provided shade. A willow is found by streams of water, and Psalm 1:3 says it “yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”

Our lives are a type of thirsty land that needs the strength of a willow near free-flowing streams. Maybe the key to cultivating durable bark is finding the source of true water, planting ourselves, and bowing low to take a drink.

Reflection:

Where can you find God’s stream of living water and drink deeply from all he has for you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Related Resource:

The Spirit-Filled Life

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!




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