Monthly Archives: July 2019

July 16; Stop Trying So Hard

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

When I read Isaiah’s words I see Jesus, the Rock eternal, the upright One whose life, death, and resurrection makes the path of righteousness level, and who makes salvation a wall and a rampart that protects His children.

So many religions require their followers to do certain things, to suffer in certain ways, to make sacrifices in order to attain favor, or god-likeness, or whatever the goal of that religion is.

On the other hand, Jesus says: “Here, let me do that for you.”

In other religions people can be at different levels, different stages in their pursuit of heaven or actualization or enlightenment.

Jesus says, “Believe in me.”

Salvation Jesus’ way is a gift, not something you strive for or earn. In Jesus’ economy we are all equal. No one is save more than someone else by virtue of a series of completed tasks.

Ask.

Receive.

That’s it. No matter who you are. And if you’ve done that you know there is such peace and rest given to us. When we finally stop trying so hard to earn that unattainable goal, and allow Jesus only be our goal, we can rest in His grace.

Isaiah has so much to say about this. I hope you’ll read it and see Jesus, see how He cares for His children, how He shows grace to the wicked in order to bring them to Himself. Let Him speak to you about your relationship with Him in 2019.

Then rejoice with me in the truth of 26:3,

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

July 15: Pass or Fail

Isaiah 37:14-38:22, 39:1-8; 2 Kings 20:1-18; 2 Chronicles 32:24-31

When I was in college I had the opportunity to “audit” a class or two. I was permitted to attend a class that wasn’t required for my major.  I could attend the lectures, do the work and take the tests, but my grade would be either pass or fail instead of the usual letter grade or percentage like in my other classes. It gave me the opportunity to learn a topic of interest without the pressure of making a grade for my GPA.

I think we are living life on a pass/fail basis. Not that we are simply auditing life. In fact, the result of our lives has much more significant outcomes than a GPA. Because in the end, we will either go to heaven or hell. Pass or fail.

During the course of our lives, we face times of testing. Sometimes we go through difficulties in life, and come out on the other side stronger in our faith, our relationship with the Lord more real than ever. We pass that difficult test, so to speak, and realize we really do have faith in God. Like Job, in all these things we do not sin. Actually, the tests involving hard times, illness, grief can be the easiest tests to pass because we can recognize the enemy, and face it head-on with God by our side.

But we’ve got to understand that hard times are not Satan’s only weapon against us. It’s not the only test he throws our way. Often that snake will revert back to his Garden of Eden tactics: pride, flattery, friendship.

Read what went down between Hezekiah and Merodach-Baladan the son of Babylonian king Baladan. This enemy sent men to Hezekiah with presents and good wishes. Isaiah says Hezekiah gladly received the enemy, gave them the grand tour of the palace and storehouses and sent them on their way. The enemy had tapped into Hezekiah’s pride, and the king couldn’t wait to show off.

Hezekiah had passed the war and illness tests. But he miserably failed the test of pride. Let’s remember that it’s Satan’s sole mission to trip you up. He’s throwing darts and trick questions your way, hoping you will fail to be true to God. And often, his methodology is flattery, success, and pride.

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy says:

Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

I think Paul and Isaiah would both tell us to arm ourselves with the Word, ground ourselves in the Truth of Scripture, put on the whole armor of God so that when, not if, Satan throws a pop-quiz at us, we will be ready.

Then look what else Paul tells Timothy: watch out for the flattery, the pride. Those things will lead to ungodliness, which is a fail.

You will be tested today. Will you pass, or fail?

 

July 14; Gladness and Joy

Isaiah 33:1-37:13

I read what Matthew Henry had to say about these chapters today, and he reminded me that God inspired the prophet to write words that applied to his time, to the time of Jesus, and to time after Jesus’ life on earth. All in one.

I love reading about the streams in the desert, parched land glad, a wilderness blooming, feeble hands strengthened, fearful hearts made strong, blind eyes seeing, deaf ears hearing, the lame leaping, the mute shouting for joy. I love it because that’s exactly what happens in a glorious spiritual sense when a lost soul finds Jesus.

Isaiah says there is a highway, the Way of Holiness. Sinners can’t journey on it, only those who walk in the Way. And it’s a highway that leads to a joyful eternity.

It’s the same road Jesus described in Matthew 7:13-14;

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I hope you’ve found that narrow road, that bridge that spans between us and God – the Person of Jesus Christ! Read what Isaiah has to say about this Savior of ours. Then, “gladness and joy will overtake (you), and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This amazing book of Isaiah is God’s message to you today. Read it. See if you can see yourself and your Savior in there. I believe you’ll find reason to rejoice, if you know Him.

July 13; Blind and Numb

Isaiah 29-32

Who would intentionally blind themselves? Who chooses to live life in a stupor? Yet God says in 29:9:

Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine; stagger, but not from beer.”

Now, before you suggest we all take needles to our eyes and have a lobotomy, let me remind us God is warning His people about the consequences that are coming their way because of sin. Then He says, “Go ahead. Put your head in the sand if you want. Numb yourselves against the Truth if that’s how you want to handle it.”

In verse 11 He goes on to say they are taking His warnings like nothing more than words on a scroll. They give the scroll to someone, but the recipient can’t open the scroll. They hand the scroll to someone else, but that person can’t even read.

“Well,” the people of God say, “We tried to warn them.”

These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (29:13)

First of all, are you aware of the Truth of Scripture, or have you blinded yourself and numbed yourself to the warnings? If that’s the case, stop right here and get out your Bible. You have the Truth at your fingertips. Ingest it.

Secondly, if you know the Truth, how are you sharing it? Or are you? Do you think everybody should just “know” what God says simply by watching your lifestyle? Do you expect people to understand God when they are ignorant of who He even is? I hope you aren’t just throwing a verse or two their way and expecting them to get it. People without the Truth have blinded themselves. They are numb toward anything from God. How are you reaching them?

And lastly, where is your heart in relationship to God’s? That may be the most important question of all.

As you read these chapters today, let me encourage you to allow God to speak to you as though you were one of those ancient Jews. Be Ariel. Be Jacob. Be those obstinate children and hear God’s warnings – and His promises!

He wants to talk to you today about your heart’s condition, about your knowledge of His Truth, and about your witness as one entrusted with this precious gift. Hear Him.

Or are you going to blind yourself and numb yourself toward His Words?

July 12; Until I Get It

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

Once again God, through Isaiah, is telling us we need to fear Him, that His judgments are just and His hand is heavy, consequences swift and devastating. As I was reading His warnings today, I found myself thinking, “Really? Again? You’ve already made Yourself pretty clear about this a dozen times already. How many times do we have to hear how fearsome You are?”

“Until you get it,” He seemed to answer.

I recently read a great article about the OMG world we live in. I wish I had saved it so I could share it with you. I looked for it this morning, but I can’t find it. The author points out many ways our view of God has become so casual, our respect of Him and His Name has become almost unrecognizable. Do we get it that God’s Name is so holy that the ancient Jews, and some Jews even today, won’t even say His Name? I wonder if we think God’s holiness has waned over time.

I’ve heard some Christians use that Name as a punctuation mark. I’ve even heard some people use the precious name of Jesus behind the vulgar F word. Oh, someone has decided to disguise the Name using the letters OMG, and some people will tell you it doesn’t really stand for “Oh My God.”

Smoke screen.

Who do we think God is?

So I will continue to read God’s warnings. I’ll continue to let Him reveal Himself as a Holy, Righteous, Awesome, God to be feared…

until I get it.

July 11: Right Where I Want To Be

Psalms 87, 125; Isaiah 1:1-4:6

Reading what God has to say to His people through Isaiah, I can get a bit fearful. God is no one to mess with. It’s His way, or the highway. He refuses to even listen to the prayers of we who are sinful.

But then God throws in verses like Isaiah 1:18-19:

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land…”

Yes, God is to be feared. His judgments are harsh and devastating. Those who do not know Him will suffer greatly, and eternally. But He’s not just warning those who blatantly disobey.

God warns against religion, against simply going through the motions of obedience. Of that He says:

Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong! (Isaiah 1:16)

He calls lip-service, or hypocrisy evil deeds. That means church attendance, or volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever kindness and good works you do without first repenting of sin in your life. Evil deeds.

But as fearsome and Holy as God is, He delights in forgiving a repentant heart. He longs to turn sinful lives white as snow. And he does, whenever anyone accepts what Jesus did on the cross when He paid the harsh judgment for my sin and yours.

The psalmist says this in Psalm 125:2:

As the mountain surrounds Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”

I do not need to fear God’s judgment. That mountain around Jerusalem protected His people from the enemy. They were hemmed in on all sides.

And that’s right where I want to be. Right there in the middle of God’s protection, under His wings, safe, secure, loved both now and forevermore. So I repent of sin. I ask God to forgive me for impure thoughts and actions, for harboring anger and jealousy, for gossip and hypocrisy. I lay it all out there and ask Him to forgive me.

And He does.

Then, and only then, am I His child, surrounded by His love and protection. Yes, my friend. That’s right where I want to be.

July 10; Who Failed Who?

Psalms 75, 76, 77, 80

Have you ever felt like God isn’t keeping His promises? The psalmists did. They, like many of us, find ourselves in situations where God is noticeably silent or worse, absent. Didn’t God promise to never leave or forsake us, to be our strength and shield, to give us everything we need? So why does it seem there are times He reneges on His promises?

When the psalmists felt disappointed in God, they often started to remember the many ways God had been faithful in the past. God had proved His faithfulness over and over, fulfilled one promise after another. Then inevitably, they realized it was they, not God who had reneged on their promises to Him.

As I read the Bible I am reminded that God loves to bless His people. God longs to shower His children with love and joy and peace, and to enable us to enjoy His creation designed for our pleasure. But it is we who stand in His way.

The psalmists say, “Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them…,” “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago…,” “Restore us O God Almighty; make your face sine upon us, that we may be saved.”

Someone once said that if you feel like God is no longer with you remember, He’s not the one who moved. We move away from Him one sin at a time. One sin, then another, and another, and soon we find ourselves so far from Him it feels like He’s abandoned us. We forget He cannot and will not tolerate sin in any of us. And He won’t stay where sin is present.

The next time you feel like God isn’t paying attention to you, that He has failed to keep His promise to you, consider your heart’s condition before a Holy God and ask yourself this:

Who failed who?