Monthly Archives: July 2016

July 19 – A Heart Condition

Isaiah 18-22

What do you do when God pricks your conscience concerning sin in your life? You know the feeling. That small voice inside your head that says – don’t do it. Or that nagging thought that postpones sleep at night. A quickened heartbeat or that sudden feeling that something is wrong with the AC.

If we ignore those nudges from God, the next nudge might be more like a slap in the face. And ignoring that slap could result in devastation.

The Bible is rich with examples of how God tries to get the attention of His people in order to turn them from sin. And sometimes the consequences like we read about in Isaiah, are pretty severe.

Thinking about these chapters today I’m tempted to focus my attention on the sin of a nation, because evidence of God’s attempts to get our attention is everywhere. But I am reminded that a nation is made up of individuals. It’s you and me.

So the question is – what do you (do I) do when God pricks our consciences concerning sin in our own lives? It’s not about the USA as much as it is about the people who call themselves Christians in this great nation. It’s not about the White House, but what happens in our own houses.

It’s about your heart – and mine.

When God tries to get our attention, let’s pay attention. Let’s be quick to repent. Let’s recognize sin and run from temptation. Let’s be the people God can use to turn things around in our homes, our churches, our towns, our country, starting with our hearts.

July 18 – Worthless, Delightful Plants

Isaiah 13-17

I was reading about God’s prophecy concerning Damascus. That great city was set for destruction.

For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. (17:10a)

But it’s what follows that verse that got my attention this morning:

Therefore you plant delightful plants and set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day you plant it you carefully fence it in, and in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; but the harvest will be a heap in a day of sickliness and incurable pain. (17:10b-11)

I think about what is being preached from far too many pulpits. God is love. Love wins. God wants you to be healthy and rich. Don’t judge. Come to God on your terms. Everyone goes to heaven. Sin is relative.

Delightful plants! Feel good sermons. Love! Love! Love!

Delightful – and deadly. May God help us examine that which we plant by our words, our choices, our very lives. I can’t imagine anyone purposefully planting a garden of weeds. Let’s not do that in our lives, either.

July 17 – Lessons Still Unlearned

2 Chronicles 28, 2 Kings 16-17

I’ve never counted how many times the nation of Israel, blessed by God, sinned and endured punishment, only to repent and be blessed once again, then sin and face judgement. That cycle seems to be a major theme in the Old Testament.

I find myself frustrated with the Jews because of their weakness. Why couldn’t they just learn to obey? Why couldn’t they hold on to the One True God who dramatically proved His superiority over and over?

Then, just when I find myself getting angry with the ancient Jews for “walking in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out” (2 Kings 17:8), the pages of God’s Word become a mirror, and I am face to face with my own weaknesses.

It’s easy to read these chapters as a history lesson and miss the living Truth right in front of me. I find I can’t condemn Israel with condemning myself.

God, I want to be steadfast and sure. I want to hold strong to the Truth of Scripture, to the God of Creation, to my Savior, my Lord. Forgive me if I look at the world and want what they have. What they have leads to judgment. I want to be faithful to You only. Be my strength. In Jesus’ name.

July 16 – Terror And Trust

Micah

Are the prophetic books like Micah meant to be interpreted as futuristic occurrences only? Are the “latter days” a stick we need to continually throw ahead? Or are there truths for today, no matter when the day comes that Jesus returns?

Terror is covering our globe like a heavy blanket. It’s not just us in America who go to bed wondering where and when the next attack will be. The overwhelming drive to consider evil good and good evil should concern all believers. Our world, as we know it, seems to be spinning out of control.

How much worse can it get? Maybe that’s not an answer we’re ready to hear.

Things were bad in Micahs’ day, too. And they were going to get worse. But I want to leave you with Micah’s words from chapter 7:7-9. They are words that spoke to me this morning, and give me hope. I trust they’ll do the same for you.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is light for me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.

 

July 15 – Spoiler Alert

2 Chronicles 27, Isaiah 9-12

Are you the person who reads the last chapter of a book first? I’m not. I like to unveil the story one page at a time.

Do you, when watching a movie with someone who’s seen it before, continue to ask what will happen next? Are they going to be ok? Do they find the treasure? Did the butler do it? Do they fall in love?

I am reminded that as I read God’s Word, especially words of prophecy, God’s already seen the movie. He can tell us what’s coming because he has already seen the end. He’s read the last chapter.

Even though we view them as things that will happen, God sees them in the past tense. That blows my mind.

What a comfort to know that, after all the craziness of life on earth, God is still standing. And He wants me standing with Him!

So here’s the spoiler alert: Jesus, sitting on the throne forever. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace… from then on and forevermore!

That’s how the story unfolds. And, for those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we’re going to be ok!

July 14 – Grieved

Amos 6-9

As I read these chapters today I am reminded that there is danger in getting comfortable, in feeling secure, in reclining on beds of ivory, sprawling on couches, eating and drinking, without caring that people are dying and going to hell.

May we never have the attitude that “At least I’m ok. My salvation is eternally secure. Let the rest of the world get what they deserve.” God calls it “the arrogance of Jacob” (6:8) which is the same as saying, the arrogance of God’s people. That’s me. That’s you if you know Him.

God is grieved over sin, over people dying without the Savior, over disobedience and hate.

Grieved.

Am I too comfortable to care?

July 13 – Seek God And Live

Amos 1-5

“For three transgressions…and for four  I will not revoke its punishment.” God spoke these words to Amos eight times, referring to eight groups of people who sinned against God. In chapters 3&4 God declares that all the tribes of Israel are guilty, none worship God as He deserves and demands. And because of it, God is going to punish them.

But in chapter 5 another phrase is repeated several times. “Seek me that you may live.” Seek the Lord, seek good and not evil that you may live.

I believe God would have us apply these same principles to our individual lives. God will not revoke punishment for sin. Period. Not ever. Every sin comes with a death sentence that must be paid. That will be paid. There is no getting around it. Not for the murder of five policemen in Dallas, and not for that snide remark made about a coworker. Not for adultery, or for that little white lie. Every sin will be punished. God will not revoke its punishment.

But God tells us to seek Him – and live. Now that doesn’t mean He overlooks sin in those who seek Him. That means when we seek God, ask for His forgiveness, our sin debt is marked, “Paid In Full.” The thing is, your sin debt (death) is already paid. Jesus died once and for all.

So it’s sad when people continue to try to pay the debt of their sin on their own, refusing what is already theirs. It’s like thinking you can take care of the national debt by giving them the change in your pocket. Are you kidding me?

Someone is going to die for your sins. You can accept the fact that Jesus has been there, done that on your behalf. Or you can face God without His Son and offer Him the change in your pocket. Dear one, your payment won’t come close to covering your debt. You will be handed the death sentence. And God will not revoke that punishment just because you were a nice person.

God is inviting you to get to know Him. Read His Word. Pray. Accept Jesus as your Savior, your only hope of life. Recognize the many ways in which God is trying to get your attention. Consider His creation and bow before a Holy God who loves you, who gave Himself for you, who died so you wouldn’t have to.

I mean, He’s already paid the bill. Just accept it.

 

July 12 – Warning Woes

Isaiah 5-8

Things are out of control on this small island where I live. This beautiful island, with sprawling live oak trees hundreds of years old, lush ferns, and palms, is being overtaken by bulldozers, hammers, and nails. Evidently the building codes have been lax for years, so contractors are coming in droves to quickly clear the land for new houses and condo complexes which are taxing the island’s infrastructure. The result is the overpopulating of this once quiet community.

The builders show no regard for the island as they cram new buildings into every inch, hoping to line their pockets at the expense of residents. So when I read Isaiah 5:8-9, I thought about what is happening here. It seems even God is saying, “Enough!” He tells Isaiah that buildings lie empty for lack of occupants. That really is my fear for this lovely island.

But I know God wasn’t talking about builders in 2016. His warnings go much deeper. There are more “woes” in this chapter. He is not only warning greedy people. He is warning drunkards, liars, those who call good evil and evil good, those who are wise in their own sight, those who justify wickedness, and take away the rights of those who stand for the truth.

And God is not talking to non-believers here in Isaiah. These woes are directed toward His people. (vs 25)

I am reminded that, although God has given us the responsibility to care for His creation, He is more concerned with our hearts’ condition than the number of driveways on an island. I am reminded that the world’s condition isn’t corrupt because evil people are in charge.

As long as there are drunkards, greedy people, liars, those who proclaim good as evil and evil as good, and call themselves Christians, our world will continue its downward spiral. It is the Church, God’s people, who have the responsibility to listen to and obey God. Woe to us who play church, yet deny God in our day to day lives.

July 11 – Many Problems. One Answer.

Isaiah 1-4

As I read these chapters in Isaiah my thoughts naturally went to the state of the world in 2016. What is the answer for the corruption, the hate, the unrest? Is it in President Trump or Clinton? Is it in Wall Street or the Pentagon?

Isaiah, when speaking about a day of reckoning, reminds me to “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed.” (2:22)

Our hope is not in anyone sporting a body of flesh and bones. Oh, God will use people to refine His children, and reveal Himself to the world. But it’s not people who are in charge of this world.

I don’t want to get so caught up in world news that I neglect to examine my heart’s condition before God, or before I listen to and obey His voice. I want the focus of my life to be on Jesus, not on anyone or anything else.

When I read Isaiah I see that the world is lost without God. Then I have to ask, what am I doing about that?

July 10 – Pride Isn’t Just About Feeling Proud

2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26

Uzziah was feeling pretty good about himself. As king of Judah, he did a lot of good. He won wars, built towers, and dug wells. He became famous and strong. He did right in the sight of the Lord and God blessed him, and the nation of Judah.

Then, just when things were going well, Uzziah let pride get the best of him. He marched right into the temple and began to do the work of a priest. Scripture says he acted corruptibly and was unfaithful to God. When the priests called him on his sin, he was furious with the priests. How dare they tell him what he can and cannot do. He’s the great King Uzziah after all.

During his fit of anger, Uzziah broke out with leprosy. He lived the rest of his life shut up in a room by himself while his son ruled Judah in his place.

Pride. That weapon of Satan’s that’s pretty hard to fight against. And I don’t mean just the boastful, attention seeking attitude of some. Uzziah’s pride led him to believe he could re-write God’s law. It made him believe he could go to God on his own terms and not face consequences.

Pride can tell us our sin is too unique, too big for God to forgive. Pride can make us believe God sent Jesus to die for everyone but me (aren’t I special?) Pride can tell us we can face God on our own, or can handle hell, or because we choose to believe there is not God, that it’s true.

Pride can make us believe we are God’s equals. Pride says, “God and I have an agreement,” like you are telling God what is acceptable.

King Uzziah’s story reminds me that God hates pride. God prunes pride out of His children. And pride, left unchecked, has devastating consequences.