Monthly Archives: July 2016

July 29 – The One And Only God

Isaiah 44-48

I don’t know how many more ways God could identify Himself as the One and Only God. “I am God,” He repeatedly says through Isaiah, “and there is no other.” Then He goes on to give examples of His ultimate, exclusive power.

You can try to defend your imaginary gods, you can be “spiritual,” “tolerant,” “non-judgmental.” But you would be wrong.

Like it or not, believe it or not, the God of the Bible is the One and Only God. He says He is, and He backs it up.

I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth form My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. (45:23)

I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. (48:12)

And I will tell you that the One and Only God loves you, yearns for you, sent His Son to die for you in order to forgive you. The One and Only God wants you with Him forever.

Oh, what an amazing One and Only God.

July 28 – The Bible Tells Me So

Isaiah 40-43

My heart is blessed this morning after reading these chapters in Isaiah. There is so much promise, so much hope and love pouring out to me through those words. Yes, I know they were written to the physical nation of Israel long ago. But I miss out on what God would say to me today if I don’t realize that what He said to them applies to me, too, as His child through the blood of Jesus.

He is my strength, my Living Water in the dessert, the One who levels those mountains I have to climb. He is my protector, the One who gives me the Bread of Life to sustain me. He is my Savior, My God.

And I am His.

There is no one on earth who loves more, is more invested in, or longs for anyone more than me. I am truly blessed.

The same can be true for you, if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior.

It’s true.

The Bible tells me so.

July 27 – Effective Prayer

Isaiah 37-39, Psalm 76

Hezekiah is a pretty good example of effectual, fervent prayer. When he’d gotten a threatening letter from the king of Assyria, he spread those papers out in front of him, and presented them to the Lord. He gave it all, every detail to God.

Then, when he became ill he prayed again. And it wasn’t just a “God heal me” kind of prayer. It was a prayer of faith, of remembering, of trust, thankfulness, and petition. He even wrote it down.

So what can I learn from Hezekiah? God honors the prayers of His people. He wants us to be detailed in our requests. He wants us to lay it all out there and trust Him with the outcome.

Why? Is it so God knows what we want and need? Is it so we can tell God how we want our prayers answered? Do you honestly think you can tell God something He doesn’t know, or manipulate Him into doing what you want? So, if God already knows, and if He can’t be manipulated, why pray?

I believe we pray so that we can recognize God’s hands in the answers to those prayers. Somehow, putting into words exactly what is on our hearts defines things for us. Then, as we see how our prayers are answered, we can recognize how God is working, and give glory to Him.

God answered Hezekiah’s prayers. And I believe, because Hezekiah prayed specifically, there was no doubt in his mind that the answers came straight from God. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous person accomplishes great things. (James 5:16) Beginning with hearts that are singing God’s praises.

I want to pray effectively.

 

July 26 – A Time To Refrain From Speaking

Isaiah 35-36

The king of Assyria had sent someone to Jerusalem with a message for the Jews:

Come over to our side. Don’t listen to your king who tells you to trust God. Who is God compared to the great king of Assyria? What could the gods of Hamath and Arpad do to protect their people from Assyria? Nothing! Don’t think your God is any different. If you make a deal with us, you’ll be safe, and you’ll have plenty of food, wine, and fresh water. If you don’t – we’ll conquer you just like we did the nations around you.

I love the response of the Jews gathered at the rally that day. They just stood there and didn’t say a thing. I imagine the Assyrian representative expected cheers and excitement, maybe even an argument or two. What he got was silence. Maybe we could learn something from this example.

I’m sure our politicians could learn something. I digress.

Sometimes voicing an opinion, or arguing, or even quoting Scripture, just makes matters worse. Have you ever, in hind sight asked yourself – why did I say that? I sure have. And most of the time I can recognize that I’d ignored a nudge from God to just keep my mouth shut.

Look at Jesus’ example. I can’t think of a time when He entered into a debate. I don’t see Him arguing. I see Him answering questions, often pointing out sin so He could forgive the sinner, preaching to people who came to hear Him preach. But I see Jesus always carefully choosing His words.

And sometimes, Jesus refused to have a conversation. When He sent His disciples out, He told them that if the people weren’t receptive, they should shake the dust of the city off their feet and keep moving. Jesus stood before His accusers and didn’t say a thing. Yes, there is a lesson here we would be wise to learn.

Here’s another thing that spoke to me through these chapters today. And it’s a caution to we who are God’s children. We shouldn’t go along with every idea out there. We shouldn’t agree with every change, every whim, every philosophy that vies for our attention. The Jews that day didn’t rush to follow the Assyrians, even though I’m sure to some the offer was enticing. They held their tongues. And in doing so, they didn’t surrender to the enemy.

This is not to say we should never talk about the Savior or share the Gospel with unbelievers. Quite the contrary. Scripture not only tells us there is a time to refrain from speaking, it also says there is a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3) But what I hear God saying through this Scripture is, let Him take the lead. Don’t barge ahead and blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Learn to be sensitive to God’s nudges, His timing.

Because sometimes He can speak loudly through our silence.

July 25 – The Plumb Line of Emptiness

Isaiah 31-34

God, through Isaiah, is describing the devastation the result of His wrath will bring. Mountains drenched with blood, the sky rolled up like a scroll, streams turned to pitch, a fire that can’t be quenched, complete desolation where the land is inhabited only by pelican, hedgehog, owl, and raven.

I picture a ghost town in a B movie western complete with rambling tumble weeds.

Then God says He will “stretch over it the line of desolation and the plumb line of emptiness.” (34:11)

Has that ever described you? Have you ever felt that life has abandoned you, that you have a longing that burns and can’t be quenched, you feel alone, and lost, and empty?

Dear one, that is not where God wants you to live. Jesus died so that, when you repent of your sin, He can fill you to overflowing with Himself! His love. His grace and mercy. His goodness and joy. When you allow God to fill you, you will have hope for the future, and strength for the day.

The plumb line of emptiness, true emptiness, is the life without God. That void in your life was placed there by God to be filled by God alone. Oh, you can try to fill it yourself. Drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, other gods, self, career, family, busy-ness. But all are substitutes for the real thing – the plumb line of fullness which is God Himself.

That is the point from which your life is blessed by God. You don’t have to live in that black and white movie ghost town with rotting floorboards and banging saloon doors, in a place inhabited by rodents and scavengers.

Let God fill your emptiness like only He can. He’ll turn your mourning into joy, and your tears into gladness. He’ll turn your loneliness into fellowship, and your despair into hope.

July 24 – Going My Way?

Isaiah 28-30

Life is a challenge. It can be confusing and hard. It can be lonely and scary. Sometimes we live on a mountaintop with everything we need. And sometimes we live in a valley, destitute.

Where is God in all of this? Isaiah says in 30:18:

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you. And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for him.

Did you catch that? God’s longing is to be gracious to you. Full of grace. It is that grace that offers you forgiveness from sin through the blood of Jesus. It’s that grace that firmly plants the Holy Spirit in your heart, that has Jesus walking with you to guide you, that allows God to be your father, wrapping His arms around you.

God wants to rejoice with you on the mountain top, and be your strength in the valley. Isaiah goes on to tell us:

Whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (30:21)

Our gracious God wants to lead us, to direct our path, to be a light to our way. If we listen for His voice by reading His Word and praying, we’ll hear Him ask us, “Going my way?”

My answer is yes!

July 23 – God Feels Pain

Hosea 8-14

When I read Hosea’s words this morning I was struck by God’s emotions toward His children. Often I’ve read about God’s anger. Today I see Him a bit differently.

My youngest nephew is going off to college. Even though I’m not his mom, I’m pretty close to this crazy teenager. And it’s not easy letting him go. So many memories rush back as I think about him getting in that car and driving away toward adulthood. The first time I held him in my arms, his first wobbly steps, the funny way he rolled his r’s when he was learning to talk, his first soccer game, playing catch in the backyard, watching Space Jam and laughing over The Great Race (MMMMAAAAAAAAAXXX!!!), Indians games, Disney, Chuckie Cheese. If only I could just hold him in those innocent years forever.

I have tears in my eyes just thinking about my nephew leaving the nest. It’s a natural progression of life, but I am still sad that he’ll be going away.

And that’s how I saw God this morning as I read Hosea 11. He’s like a daddy watching His baby walk away. He loved His children. He nurtured them, held them, taught them, protected them. But God’s children aren’t just going off to college. They have turned their backs on God and rejected him.

I am God’s child, too. He’s like the daddy who loves me completely. He’s held me, and taught me to walk, He’s protected me and guided me. It’s those times when I disobey, when I ignore Him, when I make choices that dishonor Him, that He yearns for the days when I totally belonged to Him. I can almost see Him reaching out to me as I take a step away.

I don’t want God to see my back. Ever. I want to be always moving toward Him, arms open wide, eager to receive everything He is. I don’t ever want to be a source of sorrow for my Lord. I don’t want my choices to cause Him pain.

If I feel sadness because of the new chapter in my nephew’s life, and mine, then God’s sadness must be so much greater when He watches His children turn and walk away. May I never be the source of His pain.

July 22 – God Won’t Stay Where He’s Not Wanted

Hosea 1-7

Here is an example of how serious God is that we obey Him, that we worship Him as He demands:

For I will be like a lion… I will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (5:14-15)

Did you catch how many times God said He would go away? I don’t know about you, but that thought really, really scares me.

Later, in chapter 6, God tells Hosea He delights in loyalty more than people going through the motions of offering sacrifices. He honors people who seek Him, rather than mere burnt offerings.

In other words, calling ourselves Christians, going to church, tithing, even teaching Sunday School, are meaningless if we aren’t seeking God with our whole hearts. I think Scripture clearly teaches God hates lip service. Didn’t Jesus call the pharisees, those men who prided themselves on knowing Scripture and following the Law, hypocrites?

So what should our response be to God, who isn’t fooled by our outward appearance, and who will leave us to our own devises and the consequences that come because of our disobedience?

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will  heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. (6:1-3)

I love the line: let us PRESS ON to know the Lord. To me that indicates a purposeful, determined action on my part to really know God by reading His Word, by spending time in prayer, by talking to others about Him, by including Him in every minute of my day. It’s not a one time prayer of “Father, forgive me.” It’s a minute by minute choice.

Don’t think God isn’t serious about going away. He’ll try to get our attention, He’ll forgive us when we ask, He’ll walk with us when we seek Him. But He won’t force Himself on us. If we want Him out of our lives and our country, He’ll go.

Holy God, I bow before you a sinner saved by grace. I confess that there are times when I don’t follow You with my whole heart. Forgive me when I get busy, when I get caught up in things of this world, and neglect my relationship with You. I want to worship You as You demand. I want to serve You as You deserve. Don’t go, Father. I need You. We need You.

 

 

July 21 – Blast Off!

2 Kings 18:1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

Hezekiah was a busy man. He was 25 when he became king of Judah and it seems like he hit the ground running. He did some repairs on the temple, removed the evidence of idol worship (including the bronze serpant Moses had made to help the Israelites on their journey out of Egypt years earlier). Hezekiah directed the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves, and he organized a Passover feast like the Jews hadn’t seen in a very long time.

What I noticed today was that his enthusiasm for doing God’s work was contagious. In fact, after inviting Jews from near and far to the Passover celebration, the turnout was much more than the number of consecrated priests could handle. And the shear enthusiasm of the masses was an embarrassment to the priests and Levites who’d been caught unprepared. So they cleaned up their act and got onboard.

I’m thinking God might be saying we who sit in pews every Sunday need not wait for our pastors to start a revival. Maybe we shouldn’t be waiting for some preachers out there to start preaching the Truth of Scripture. Maybe it’s us everyday people who need to get right with God, and take the bull by the horns.

Let the preachers follow our lead for a change, when we our lead by God.

Is your commitment to God contagious? Is mine? How exciting would it be for us to see that fire ignite. It could be as powerful as watching a launch from Cape Canaveral.

Ignition! Blast Off! Souls won. Lives changed. Eternity won!

July 20 – My Rock

Isaiah 23-27

Selling two homes, buying one, moving 600 miles away from family, packing boxes, moving vans, closings, finances, utilities. To say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed is an understatement. In the past two weeks I have contracts on my two condos, have gone through about twenty homes with my realtor, and put an offer on one. My head is spinning.

It’s times like this when I am reminded that, no matter how busy my life, no matter how many directions I am pulled, I need to protect my time in God’s Word. These intentional moments I spend with my Savior are really the most important part of every day.

Isaiah reminded me this morning to “Trust in the Lord forever, for on God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” (26:4)

My footing right now feels unsteady. There are so many questions yet to be answered about this move. I may be stressed. But I have a Rock. I need but trust Him with today and eternity.

So with Isaiah I will pray “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders…”

He has. And He will.