Archive for October, 2006

Enemies will be defeated – Isaiah 16

broken chainIn today’s chapter we read the continuation of chapter 15 regarding the punishment of Moab, Israel’s longtime enemy. They oppressed and invaded Israel (see 1 Samuel 14, Judges 3 and 2 Samuel 8 ) and would now be punished. It’s interesting to see Isaiah reveal the time associated with this punishment in verse 14:

14 But now the LORD says, “Within three years, without fail, the glory of Moab will be ended, and few of its people will be left alive.”

I guess the thing that I get from today’s chapter is how God is faithful and will reward those who obey Him and punish those who come against His people.

Have you ever experienced this in your life? Have you had someone come against you, perhaps with lies or rumors, and then when all was said and done, they had come to ruin but you had prospered all the more?

I’m reminded of that comforting scripture found at Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Be encouraged, chosen ones! He will repay your enemies for what they’ve done to you. He will restore your honor and set you back on the high places!

peace,
e

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R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P – Isaiah 12

relationship.jpgRight in the middle of this prophecy of judgement upon the Jewish nation, Isaiah provides this encouraging chapter to God’s chosen people:

1 In that day you will sing: “Praise the LORD! He was angry with me, but now he comforts me. 2 See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD GOD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!

4 In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the LORD! Praise his name! Tell the world what he has done. Oh, how mighty he is! 5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. 6 Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”

Isn’t it good to know that no matter where we might think we are, God’s heart is for us to be restored? All He wants is RELATIONSHIP with us. Although He is holy and cannot tollerate sin, He has made a way for us to return to relationship with Him.

If you find yourself far from God today, just pray to Him. That goes against everything in us, but when we don’t feel like praying – either because we feel unworthy or because satan is feeding us lies about ourselves – that’s the time we need to pray the most. I have found that when I feel that way, as soon as I utter, “Dear Lord” that the enemy is defeated and God comes rushing back.

Pray! He wants to hear from you.

peace,
e

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Persecuted but not forsaken – Isaiah 9

As I read today’s chapter, I’m reminded of God’s desire to have an intimate relationship with His people. Even in the midst of this pronouncement of judgement upon the nation of Israel, there is hope. As bad as everything sounds, somehow it could be worse:

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow. 3 Israel will again be great, and its people will rejoice as people rejoice at harvesttime. They will shout with joy like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them, just as he did when he destroyed the army of Midian with Gideon’s little band. 5 In that day of peace, battle gear will no longer be issued. Never again will uniforms be bloodstained by war. All such equipment will be burned.

In spite of the continued turning away from God, in spite of the bold-face rebellion of His people, God tells of a message of hope through His prophet Isaiah. How is God going to bring about rejoicing, joy and peace? Look at verse 2 above for a clue. What is this “great light?” Continue reading in the chapter and you’ll find out:

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!

Keep in mind that the book of Isaiah was written somewhere in the 700BC to 681BC range. Christ was not to be born for another several hundred years. The impending destruction that Isaiah is speaking of is only a few years off, but God had a plan to redeem His people. The best choice was for the people to turn from their wicked ways and follow Him. But, God realized that the only way for us to have any hope of a relationship with Him called for a sacrifice.

Can you see God’s compassion? Can you see how much He loves His people? Can you see how much He loves You? He is a holy God and cannot tollerate sin. Our choices to disobey cause consequences even today. Yet, because of God’s plan and Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be clean before Him and we can have an intimate relationship with Him. It still calls for us to choose to obey. We will sin, but we must repent and turn back.

If you find yourself far from God today because of something you did, or even because of something that happened that you didn’t cause, know this: God love you and wants you to love Him. He has made the way. Start small – just talk to Him. Ask Him to reveal His love to you. Take that first step towards Him and He will do the rest.

Lord, draw men unto You today!

peace,
e

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Do Not Be Afraid – Isaiah 8

Do Not Be AfraidIn today’s chapter, we’re given more insight into the life of a prophet. Isaiah continues with his words from God concerning the nations of Israel and Judah. God even gives Isaiah the name of his child before it is conceived. Isaiah showed Uriah and Zechariah the name, which he had written down: Maher-shalal-hash-baz (meaning swift to plunder and quick to spoil.

Can I just stop here and apologize to this child for the actions of his parents? Who would do that to a kid? It’s hard enough growing up with a normal name. <grin> Just kidding, of course. This is the name God chose because it is prophecied that before this child is old enough to speak, that Assyria will invade Damascas and Samaria and carry off its riches.

On one hand if God chose to give me such a prophecy that involved the naming of my children, how would I feel. On the other, I long for such a relationship with my God. Like it says in I Corinthians 14:1, I long for the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.

The other thing I notice in this chapter is found in verses 11-13:

11 The LORD has said to me in the strongest terms: “Do not think like everyone else does. 12 Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. 13 Do not fear anything except the LORD Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else.

What an encouragement. Do not be afraid. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else.

Be encouraged today, warriors. God alone is Holy and able to defend us from those who plan against us. Keep your eyes on Him alone and you will be rescued and lifted up.

peace,
e

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Here I Am, Send Me! – Isaiah 6

Do you ever think about how you would respond if God sent prophets to deliver these kind of messages today? Have you ever heard someone say, “God told me to tell you…”? With all the craziness, it’s easy to quickly dismiss them along with the other “right-wing extremists” or “insane religious fanatics.”

Do you think that God still talks to people? Do you wonder if God still gives “gifts of prophecy” to His people today? I wonder if we’ve become so caught up in our lives that we no longer hear when He is trying to give us “messages” or communicate with us. Perhaps it’s time He send some of His prophets to get our attention.

When I thought about the first four verses of this chapter, I had to pause:

1 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. 3 In a great chorus they sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4 The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.

Isaiah saw the Lord. Wow…and what a description. Can you imagine? This vision brought Isaiah to the breaking point. He realized the reality of his shortcomings and felt completely unworthy – yet he was allowed to see the Lord.

God sent an angel to touch him with a hot coal from off of the altar of God. He was forgiven and his guilt removed! Which led Isaiah to say one of his most famous lines:

8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?”And I said, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”

What is keeping you from hearing God? What is keeping you from telling others what God tells you? What if God wants you to deliver a message to His people – would you be able to hear it? Would you be brave enough to deliver it?

Guess what?! There are prophets alive today. He still uses people like you and me – all guilt ridden and sinful like Isaiah – if we will just allow Him to cleanse us and remove the guilt. But we must be willing to pause – to listen – and to follow Him.

I challenge you to find some time today to listen for God. Just get somewhere you won’t be disturbed, or turn off the radio in your car during your commute. Then, ask God to speak to you. Tell Him, “Your servant is listening, Lord. Speak to me.” Then, listen. Don’t pray, don’t hum a tune. Don’t start thinking about what you’re going to do this weekend. Listen for Him. Make some time every day to do this and see if you, like the Old Testament prophets, might be chosen to deliver His message.

peace,
e

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Destruction is Certain – Isaiah 5

destruction.jpg

The prophet, Isaiah, continues his message from God to the people of Israel and Judah. I found verses 18 – 25 jumped off the page for me this morning. It’s a 4-part message that a good Baptist preacher might get ahold of because all 3 points start with “Destruction is Certain…”:

18 Destruction is certain for those who drag their sins behind them, tied with cords of falsehood. 19 They even mock the Holy One of Israel and say, “Hurry up and do something! Quick, show us what you can do. We want to see what you have planned.”

I found this to be very interesting. “…those who drag their sins behind them, tied with cords of falsehood.” I’ve heard sin described as a weight, but I often think of the yoke of an ox, a heavy weight on our shoulders. I’ve not considered that we drag them behind us with cords of falsehood. This makes me think of those sins we have difficulty shaking, those reocurring sins that we run back to whenever things get tough. What are the cords of falsehood? How do we finally sever those cords and move on, unencumbered by our sins?

20 Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

Do you know people like this? They twist the truth to fit their own agenda. I can think of several issues that seem to be twisted in our culture today: abortion, homosexuality, radical Islam, pornography…and the list goes on. It’s easier to call these things “acceptable” and demand “tolerance” than it is to deal with them head on. So, those prone to them thrive because no one is confronting them with the truth.

21 Destruction is certain for those who think they are wise and consider themselves to be clever.

Ew. I’m sure you know someone like this. I do. All I can say is, “Destruction is certain…”

22 Destruction is certain for those who are heroes when it comes to drinking, who boast about all the liquor they can hold. 23 They take bribes to pervert justice. They let the wicked go free while punishing the innocent. 24 Therefore, they will all disappear like burning straw. Their roots will rot and their flowers wither, for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty. They have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Drinking heroes. And, from the description, I get the sense we’re talking about government officials or judges because verse 23 references justice and judgement (flawed judgement). The destruction is certain and swift – like burning straw.

While all this is heavy and difficult to read, we must remember that God is a holy God. He simply cannot tollerate sin. That’s where Jesus Christ comes in. What He did on the cross allows us to restore our relationship with God and shed the weight of our sin. The message of the Good News is, repent and follow Him.

With Christ, your Redemption is Certain

peace,
e

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Seven Wives? – Isaiah 4

planstoprosper.jpgWhen the book of Isaiah was written, it was not written in chapters as we have it now in our Bibles. It seems a bit odd to me how chapters 3 and 4 were divided. The first part of this chapter actually continues the thought of the previous chapter:

3:25 The men of the city will die in battle. 26 The gates of Jerusalem will weep and mourn. The city will be like a ravaged woman, huddled on the ground.

We continue in today’s chapter with the effects of chapter 3, verse 25, where so may men of the city have died from battle that there are seven women to every man:

4:1 In that day few men will be left alive. Seven women will fight over each of them and say, “Let us all marry you! We will provide our own food and clothing. Only let us be called by your name so we won’t be mocked as old maids.”

Typically, the men would have one wife and would be responsible to provide food and clothing for their wife. Due to the number of men, these women were willing to share as wives to men and provide their own food and clothes, simply to avoid being mocked as old maids.

This is not the life God intended for them. But as a result of the constant warring and the wrath of God upon this people, things are different than what God had intended.

What in our lives is different than God intended? What situations have we experienced simply due to disobedience? What would our lives look like if we had chosen to follow God instead of our own selfish desires?

The good news is that God just wants us to repent and follow Him in obedience. Even those things that we have brought upon ourselves, what God has allowed to happen as a result of our sin, can be used for good.

As I was reminded last night in a message from Tony Evans:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Your Love, O Lord, is beyond my understanding, but I am so thankful. -amen

peace,
e

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Rewards and Punishment – Isaiah 3

God has given the prophet, Isaiah, a very difficult message for the nations of Jerusalem and Judah. Because of their choices to turn away from God and pursue their own carnal desires, God is declaring a warning of the consequences through Isaiah.

I can’t imagine this made Isaiah a very popular individual. But, the message must be delivered. God is a holy God. He cannot tollerate such things.

There must have been some who chose to follow our King:

10 But all will be well for those who are godly. Tell them, “You will receive a wonderful reward!” 11 But say to the wicked, “Your destruction is sure. You, too, will get what you deserve. Your well-earned punishment is on the way.”

But, to those who chose to ignore God’s loving call, they will receive their “well-earned punishment.”

We can continue living our lives for ourselves – climbing corporate laddars, accumulating possessions, doing things that satisfy our flesh – but what is it that God is calling us to do? What is it that continues to rule our bodies and distract us from the real race God has for us to run?

For those who seek after Him, the reward will be great!

Lord, help us to know those things that continue to keep us distracted from Your intended paths. Send the Holy Spirit to help us discern our very steps and our every word. Increase our trust in You, Lord, and guide us, O King! -amen

peace,
e

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All wars will stop – Isaiah 2

bang.jpgIn chapter 2, Isaiah was given a gift to see the future.

2 In the last days, the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem will become the most important place on earth. People from all over the world will go there to worship. 3 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the Temple of the God of Israel. There he will teach us his ways, so that we may obey him.” For in those days the LORD’s teaching and his word will go out from Jerusalem.4 The LORD will settle international disputes. All the nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. All wars will stop, and military training will come to an end.

It is our sin and disobedience that leads to war. Some day God will remove our sin and weapons will be converted into tools of peaceful means.

Until then, if we do not choose to follow Christ and obey Him, just like he warned the Jewish nation in the remainder of this chapter, the wrath of the Lord is what we have to look forward to.

The last verse of this chapter also caught my attention:

22 Stop putting your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. How can they be of help to anyone?

Lord, I declare my allegience to You. Help me to act according to Your will and not my own. Help me always put the needs of others above my own. Help me to trust in You, not in those around me. You are mighty and Your love is extravagant.

peace,
e

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Clean as freshly fallen snow – Isaiah 1

Ah, the life of a prophet. Prophets were God’s special messengers, speaking for God, dealing in confrontation with leadership and laymen, pointing out the error in their ways. Prophets were not the most popular sort because people tyipcally do not like to be told these kind of things.

Isaiah was regarded as one of the greatest prophets (if not the greatest) and his writings are the first on the OT. His message was to the nations of Judah and Israel, and to the surrounding pagan nations and the content of his message: judgement.

That’s never an easy message to deliver. However look at God’s message in chapter 1:

4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are! They are loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil and corrupt children who have turned away from the LORD. They have despised the Holy One of Israel, cutting themselves off from his help. 5 Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. 6 You are sick from head to foot – covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds – without any ointments or bandages. 7 Your country lies in ruins, and your cities are burned. As you watch, foreigners plunder your fields and destroy everything they see. 8 Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman’s shelter in a vineyard or field after the harvest is over. It is as helpless as a city under siege. 9 If the LORD Almighty had not spared a few of us, we would have been wiped out as completely as Sodom and Gomorrah.

Even though the message is difficult, you can still see God’s compassion. You can see that He doesn’t want His people to suffer, to receive punishment, to be covered with bruises and wounds. He wants them to be free and receive all the blessings He planned to lavish upon them as a nation.

But, God is holy and cannot tollerate faithless immorality and idolatry. I find it interesting that even the things these people were told to do – the rituals, the sacrifices, the prescribed feasts and fasting – God finds repulsive. He just wants them to obey.

11“I am sick of your sacrifices,” says the LORD. “Don’t bring me any more burnt offerings! I don’t want the fat from your rams or other animals. I don’t want to see the blood from your offerings of bulls and rams and goats. 12 Why do you keep parading through my courts with your worthless sacrifices? 13 The incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils! Your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath day, and your special days for fasting – even your most pious meetings – are all sinful and false. I want nothing more to do with them. 14 I hate all your festivals and sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them!

What would He have them (us) do? Look at verses 16 – 17:

16 Wash yourselves and be clean! Let me no longer see your evil deeds. Give up your wicked ways. 17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.

  • Wash yourselves
  • Give up your wicked ways
  • Learn to do good
  • Seek justice
  • Help the oppressed
  • Defend the orphan
  • Fight for the rights of widows

Can you hear the compassion in these verses? I love the next two verses:

18 “Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool. 19 If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat.

God can make us as clean as freshly fallen snow. What a word picture. That is how God wants us – and He can do it – but it requires something on our parts: obedience. This chapter keeps reminding me of the words in I Samuel 15:22:

22 But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the fat of rams.

Lord, thank You for Your Word. Help us to listen to You and just plain obey, rather than getting so caught up in ritual and sacrifice, only to continue in our selfish, sinful ways. Clean us out, Lord, and make us clean as freshly fallen snow. -amen
peace,
e

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