Monthly Archives: July 2013

July 21

Isaiah 56-60

If you’ve ever been involved in the running of a church you know how complicated it can be. Sometimes a pastor displays unyielding power or an elder refuses to back down. Sometimes gossip causes ill will or opposition over worship causes division.

Hopefully, a worship service doesn’t end in a fist fight like Isaiah’s day of fasting in 58:3&4. But any time people try to work together there usually is a difference in opinion somewhere.

The other day I talked to a dear one whose father recently gave his heart to the Lord. The man wants to be a Christian but he doesn’t want to go to church because of the hypocrites there.

The thing is, Christians aren’t perfect even though we might want others to believe we are. If we’re honest we’d have to admit we sometimes stumble in our walk with the Lord.

What does God want to say to us through Isaiah today? God doesn’t want us just going through the motions. He wants us to humble ourselves, then get out there and make a difference. Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Be that light in a dark world.

As you worship today in that fellowship of believers, I pray you will lay aside the conflict and turn your eyes on Jesus. That’s where our focus should be anyway. Then get out there and live like you mean it so no one can point a finger and call you a hypocrite.

July 20

Isaiah 51-55

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah paints a picture of Jesus. Read it. Meditate on it. This is the One who loves you more than you can imagine. This is the One who lived and died to give you eternal life. It was God’s will to make Jesus the blood sacrifice for your sin – for mine.

What is our response to all that Jesus did on the cross? We can reject it, ignore it, or we can allow it to change our lives. 

You can accept Jesus and allow his blood to wash away your sin so that you can stand before our holy God clothed in righteousness not your own. You can be clean.

God wants us to come to him. He wants us to experience forgiveness and enjoy a relationship with him. Trust him.

Isaiah tells us God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts and his ways aren’t like our ways. God provides nourishment for hungry souls. And there is joy in following Him.

Dear Jesus, thank you for your willingness to go to the cross for me. You did what I could not. You paid for my sin. May I live today remembering what it cost you. May all that  do and say bring glory to you. Use me today. I trust you.

July 19

Isaiah 47-50

When you read these chapters today did you hear God tell you how much he loves you? His words to the flesh and blood Old Testament nation of Israel are also said to God’s spiritual kingdom here in 2013. That’s you if you know Jesus as your Savior.

So when Isaiah pens, “I am The Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go,” God is talking to each of us. And when he promises to never forget us because he has “engraved you on the palms of my hands”, he is speaking directly to you. To me. It’s my name tattooed to his palm. It’s your name there.

Isaiah spoke of Jesus’ suffering in those days before the cross in chapter 50. It’s amazingly accurate considering that it was written hundreds of years before. Including the fact that Jesus set his face like flint. He was determined to pay the penalty for my sin. And he knew he had to die.

God wants us to love him, to accept him and live for him. We are his priority. He wants to be our priority, too. He wants us to be a light to a world in darkness “that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

That’s why we are here. May God find us faithful.

July 18

Isaiah 43-46

“I am The Lord and there is no other.”

These words are repeated over and over in the passage we read today. In fact, in 45:19 God tells us he has not spoken in secret or told his people to try and find him. Here I am, God says. Mystery solved.

Here are some things he says of himself in these chapters:

He created the heavens.
He is God.
He fashioned and made the earth.
He will save his people with an everlasting salvation.
Before him every knee will bow.

When people say they are searching for God I wonder if they think God is playing a game of Hide and Seek with them. Do they think God dangles clues to his existence and only the wisest of us can figure it out?

If you are searching for God, for Truth, stop. Hear what God says to you today.

I am The Lord and there is no other.

The God we read about in the Bible is the only true God. He’s explained himself, drawn pictures, demonstrated his power in such a way that there can be no question.

If you don’t believe, that’s on you. God has laid it all out. It’s up to you to realize the Truth you seek is found right here. It’s up to you to accept it.

I pray for seekers today. May you realize that what you are looking for is right in front of you. It’s written in the pages of God’s Word, in God’s creation, and in the lives of those of us who know him.

He is God and there is no other. Period.

July 17

Isaiah 40-42

Years ago my niece Kelly, who was about six or seven at the time, was spending a weekend with me. We got a phone call from her mom telling us our childhood pastor had had a heart attack and asked us to pray for him. I remember praying with Kelly that God would protect Rev. Allen and heal him, that God would give him strength.

When we were done praying, my niece asked me about Isaiah 40:31. Didn’t Rev. Allen hope in The Lord and didn’t God promise that those who do wouldn’t get weary or faint? She didn’t understand how our pastor could be sick.

I remember telling her that God doesn’t lie so that verse must not be talking about physical health, because believers get sick and die just like non-believers. We talked about spiritual strength, the strength to get us through the physical hard times. We talked about never giving up on what – on Who – we know is true.

I told her Paul talked about running a race. Not a physical race but a race doing God’s will. I said Isaiah promises that God will give us the ability to do it, to run that race and not grow weary.

Once again I want to encourage us to not waste time trying to figure out which verses are to be interpreted materially and which are spiritual. God is painting a picture of his plan for your heart, for your life here in 2013. And the picture is pretty incredible with him right in the middle.

Father, I thank you for your Word. I thank you for your promises. I thank you for your promise to give us what we need for the tasks you ask us to do. May we put our hope in you and not grow weary while we share you with those who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

July 16

2 Kings 18:3-7a, 20:20,21; 2 Chronicles 29:2, 32:32-33; Isaiah 24:1-27:13

So much of Isaiah’s prophecy is about rejoicing and praise. It’s not all gloom and doom. In fact, it’s very much a picture of what happens when a soul comes to Christ. Listen to these words of encouragement:

25:8 The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all their faces; he will remove the disgrace to his people from all the earth.

25:9 Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is The Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

26:4 Trust in The Lord forever, for The Lord, The Lord, is the Rock eternal.

26:12 Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

I guess I believe we miss out on something if we try to fit Old Testament prophecy into a material futuristic box. I am reminded that our God is a personal, never-changing God who speaks in words, through nature and history, through the lives of people since the beginning of time.

The Bible is relative for today. Let’s be sensitive to what it has for us here in 2013. Let’s not miss out on the blessings that were meant for us today!

July 15

Isaiah 37:14-38:22, 39:1-8; 2 Kings 20:1-19; 2 Chronicles 32:27-31

Sometimes it’s hard for me to read things in the Bible like Hezekiah’s miracle. When Hezekiah prayed while on his deathbed, God gave him fifteen more years to live. He even gave Hezekiah a miraculous sign (as if healing wasn’t sign enough) and time went backward.

But as I read on it seems Hezekiah wasn’t all that grateful. When God revealed to him that his children would suffer for Hezekiah’s sin, Hezekiah thought, Oh good. At least there will be peace in my lifetime. Nice.

It’s hard for me to read this because I find myself asking why did Hezekiah get fifteen more years and our Geoff didn’t? Why did my mom die in 1996 when we prayed for a miracle believing God would heal her?

Maybe you’ve been disappointed as well, when a loved one died too soon. Maybe you’ve prayed believing for a healing for yourself or a loved one and the miracle never happened.

I want to encourage all of us today that God is love. As his children his goal is for us to join him in heaven. For the Christian, death is not a punishment but a reward. Their absence hurts those of us who miss them on this earth. But their deaths are not about us. It’s about them in the presence of Jesus. It’s about them free from pain and the worries of this life.

May God encourage each of us who mourn today. May we trust him even when we don’t see the why’s of what happens. And may we be able to rejoice with those who get their miracles when we don’t.

Father, forgive me when I question you. I know that you are trustworthy, that you love me and those I love more than I can imagine. But I hurt sometimes, Lord. I miss those who have joined you before me. Would you give me a sense of your Presence, your Peace, your Comfort. Give me Jesus, Father, as I mourn. I pray the same for all of us who didn’t get our miracle.

July 14

Isaiah 33:1-37:13

There is a lot going on in these chapters of Isaiah. The story of Hezekiah is retold. The prophet stresses again that disobeying God leads to disaster.

But I want to share just two verses today. Simply put, this is my prayer for all of us today:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high:
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
The fear of The Lord is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:5&6

AMEN.

May Jesus be your sure foundation today.

July 13

Isaiah 29-32

My sister had dinner with some old friends from high school last night. It had been years since she had seen some of them and it provided a time to reminisce and catch up on each other’s lives.

One of the women told my sister she has no use for organized religion. She said she goes to God on her terms. That makes me sad.

The problem with organized religion, according to Isaiah, is the rules. “The Lord says; These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (29:13)

Churches can get caught up in rules. Women must never wear slacks. Their heads must always be covered. You have to be baptized as an infant. You have to be baptized as an adult. You must be sprinkled. You must be dunked. You must take Communion every Sunday. You must not eat meat on Fridays. You must repeat a prayer ten times. You must not use electricity or drive a car. You must worship on Saturday. You must worship on Sunday. You must not go to movies. You must not drink alcohol. You must not dance.

I could go on. I’m not saying rules are unnecessary. However, God is much more interested in our hearts in his spiritual kingdom.

I think organized religion is a good thing. It is intended to provide a community of believers with teaching and encouragement. It should offer a place where believers go to prepare to share Jesus with their neighbors and friends. It should be a place where God is exalted and worshiped, where Jesus is proclaimed as God in the flesh, and where the Holy Spirit is free to work in the hearts of those who attend. It should not be a place where godless people feel comfortable.

I love attending my church where our denominational identity is in its name. You can know where we stand before you enter our doors. So I think organized religion is a good thing. But let’s not allow the rules to overshadow the real reason we gather. Let’s not make our churches a place where following rules is more important than our hearts’ condition.

Because our hearts’ condition is what God is most interested in. When we meet Jesus face to face he isn’t going to ask us how often we had Communion. He’s going to ask us if we know him as our Savior and Lord. 

I’m praying for my sister’s friend. The Bible is clear that you can’t go to God on any terms but his. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. And that is Jesus. 

I’m praying for you, too. I pray that each of us will attach ourselves to a Bible-believing body of Christians who worship God in spirit and truth. I pray that our churches will provide the teaching and encouragement we need to share our faith with lost souls. May we enjoy the best of what organized religion has to offer and use it to further God’s kingdom.

July 12

Isaiah 10:5-12:6, 28:1-29

Remember that the people to whom Isaiah was writing these word pictures were not looking forward to Christ’s second coming. They were looking forward to the physical birth of Jesus, the babe in Bethlehem. It’s true that the material birth and the spiritual second coming have parallels. But we are wrong if we think Isaiah skipped over Jesus’ coming in the flesh and jumped right into 2013 America.

From the beginning of time God has used hardship and trials to draw people to himself. When the nation of Israel was blessed for their obedience, the surrounding nations noticed. The surrounding nations also noticed when Israel was punished for disobedience.

God wants us to know he has a reason for everything that happens. And his reason is the salvation of souls. Whether it’s war in ancient Israel, or the battle in our own souls, God wants to reach the lost and he will do whatever it takes.

Isaiah 28:23ff uses the word picture of a farmer. He needs to work the soil, break up the clumps, level the surface. But there wouldn’t be a crop if he just continued to plow. The farmer stops plowing and sows seed. But he doesn’t just keep throwing seeds on the ground. Eventually he stops sowing and allows the plants to grow.

Then comes the reaping. When the reaping is complete, comes the threshing, the grinding, the beating to prepare the crop to be used to it’s fullest. It’s only after all of this that the crop can be kneaded into loaves and baked for bread or boiled to make tasty stew.

God is telling us that he will plow, he’ll sow seed, he’ll reap and thresh, he’ll put us over a fire until we are that finished work. It’s not always comfortable to be a crop. But our Farmer will do what it takes to produce people he can use to feed people who hunger for him.

Are you experiencing some reaping? Some threshing? Are you in hot water? Remember that God is shaping you into something beautiful. Trust him with the process.