Monthly Archives: July 2019

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

July 23; Not Too Far Gone

Isaiah 66; 2 Kings 21:1-26, 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 33:1-25, 34:1-3

I’m always thankful that the life of King Manasseh is recorded in God’s Word. He was an evil man. In fact, the Bible tells us he was the worst king ever in the history of kings. He not only worshiped pretend gods, he put those idols in God’s house. Awful things happened in the temple at Manasseh’s direction, a blatant, in-your-face denial of God.

But one day, Manasseh repented. He humbled himself before God, and God forgave him. Manasseh spent the rest of his life serving God with the same energy he’d disobeyed God before.

Manasseh reminds me no one is too far gone, no one is beyond God’s grace. And it encourages me to keep praying, keep sharing Jesus, keep loving the person we might be tempted to give up on.

I have a dear friend who prayed for her husband for decades, until one day he came to her and told her he’d prayed to receive Jesus, and asked if she’d go with him to buy a Bible. Her prayers weren’t answered over night. But they were answered.

So keep praying, dear one. “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Praise the Lord!”

July 22; Your Calling

Isaiah 61-65

Why doesn’t God just beam us up into heaven the moment we repent of sin and accept forgiveness through the blood of Jesus? Why do we have to continue living in this dark world, battling Satan, experiencing sickness and loss?

The answer is staring at you right in the face. Look around at those dear ones in your home, the people in your neighborhoods, co-workers, hurting families and grieving hearts, people who are lost without Jesus. They are why we are still here.

We have the answer to all of their problems, a balm for all their wounds, and hope where there is no hope. We have Jesus. And Jesus is exactly who they need.

Listen to Isaiah’s calling from God. It’s your calling, too.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

July 21; Subtle Sin and Satan. It’s Serious.

Isaiah 56-60

I wish the devil really did wear a red suit, had horns and a tail, and carried a pitch fork. It would be so much easier to recognize him and resist the temptations he throws my way. It would be so much easier to recognize Satan’s lies ands distortion of God’s Truth if a bull horn blared or thunder crashed when people spoke anything other than Truth.

But the truth of the matter is, that serpent is not so easily spotted. That’s why we need to be actively engaged in the study of Scripture. We have got to know what God has said, so we know what He does not say.

Isaiah tells us God is absolutely 100% able to save. (chapter 59). He is able and ready to accomplish His will, which is to redeem lost people. But we, who are His arms, legs, and voice, prevent Him from reaching the lost when we don’t address the sin in our own lives. Our iniquities separate us from Him, our sin hides His face from us, so that even our prayers fall on deaf ears.

Our hands, our fingers, our lips, and our tongues are useless to God when sin exists in us. (verses 1-3). And not just the blatant, “I’m having an affair” kind of sin. It’s pride, and jealousy, and laziness, and compromise, and tolerance, and whatever else Satan dresses up like truth, or however he helps us rationalize our evil. God can’t use blood-stained hands.

When we speak lies, when we live a lie, we conceive trouble and give birth to evil. A lie, whether spoken or lived, or just believed, takes on a life of its own. It becomes a poison that kills, a spider web that traps. Whoever is caught in those lies will die. (verses 4-5)

People caught in the web of lies, may wear that web like clothing. But Isaiah says the truth is, they wear the covering of evil, of violence, ruin and destruction. There is no peace in the life of the one who has put on a lie and tried to pass it on as truth. (verses 6-8)

They live in darkness. They try to feel their way around, they stumble and fall because they have no light in them. They are blind to the Truth, and they live without hope. (verses 9-11)

It’s a pretty bleak picture that Isaiah paints here in this chapter. And it’s serious business. It’s nothing to blow off, or minimize. All of us are subject to Satan’s lies. All of us have sinned. It’s easy to read the “they” of this post and of what God inspired Isaiah to write, and think, “Well, that’s not me.” But I wonder.

In fact, Isaiah tells us that God looked for one righteous man who would be able to intervene, someone without sin who could stand up to the lies. And there was no-one. Not even one of us. Your sins, and mine, have driven a wedge between us and God. That’s a fact.

So God, knowing that there will never be one of us able to set things right, did it Himself. He gave His own life. God, in human form, paid the price I deserve for following Satan’s clever lies. Jesus died for my sins.

The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins. (verse 20)

I started this post by saying I wished Satan was easier to spot. When the truth is, if I am in God’s Word, if my heart is pure, my sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus, Satan’s not as clever as he thinks. Greater is God in me, than that snake who is in the world.

I pray that each of us will deal with sin in our lives, even the sins we’ve labeled, “no big deal.” I pray that we all will want to be God’s hands, fingers, lips, and tongue to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are souls God died to save out there that are yet walking in the darkness of sin.

God went to the cross alone, died so that we can be forgiven. He did that Himself. But He is depending on us to carry the light of His Truth to a world of people living in the darkness of sin. Let’s get out there and shine that light.

 

July 20; Wake up! I Mean It!

Isaiah 51-55

I will confess I am not usually a morning person. I’m better now than I was as an adolescent, but I still stay in bed until the very last minute every chance I get. My parents had the challenge of getting five girls up and ready to catch the bus every morning during the school year. I’m pretty sure they’d tell you that was not fun.

Our dad finally had had enough. “Time to get up, girls.” “Get up, girls.” “You’ll be late for school, girls.” “Get out of that bed RIGHT NOW.” And we would turn over and go right back to sleep.

So one day we heard, “Either get out of that bed right now, or I am going to pour water on your head.” And I turned a deaf ear, rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m pretty sure I was in a deep sleep the first time I got drenched with cold water. Let’s just say I got out of bed.

And, after that when Dad told us it was time to get up, all he had to do was turn the faucet on in the kitchen, and our feet hit the floor! “I’m up!” We learned that when he said, “Wake up,” he meant it.

I remembered that today as I read God saying, “Awake! Awake!” in Isaiah 51:9, then again in verse 17, and a third time in 52:1. It sounded rather urgent, so I decided to look at what else God was demanding of His children (just in case He had a glass full of water at the ready).

The first thing was, “Listen to me,” (51:1 and 4). Like a mom who takes her child’s face in her hands and is face to face with that little one. “Listen to me,” God says. “What I have to say is important.”

Then He says in 51:7, “Hear me.” And both here and in the verses above God is telling us His righteousness is unchanging, His salvation is forever. Just listening to the words is not enough. God wants us to take it in, to understand it, to pay attention.

When He tells us to “Awake,” He also tells us to get dressed. Clothe ourselves with strength. And in verse 2 of chapter 52 He tells us to free ourselves from the chains on our necks. Wake up… and get moving.

52:7 says we are to “Depart, depart, go out from there!” There is an urgency here for us to leave sin behind, to come out from among it and be pure.

In 54:1 He says, “Sing.” Burst into song, shout for joy. And in verse 4 He tells us, “Do not be afraid.” God is true to His Word. That is reason to rejoice, and put aside any fear.

I love that, in 55:1 God bids us to “Come.” Think about it. The Creator God wants you and me with Him so that He can bless us.

And lastly, He invites us to “Seek the Lord” (verse 6). Call on Him. Turn to Him and He will have mercy on us.

Friend, that is the Gospel in a nutshell. God has given us His Word. He has repeated the Truth over and over, given example after example, and tells us to pay attention. Listen! Hear!

Wake up! It’s time. It’s time to repent, to depart from Satan, to come out from the presence of sin and be separate. Because when we do, He gives us reason to sing. Our sins are forgiven, our hearts are clean.

And we need not fear. God is greater, more powerful, more loving than we can imagine. And He WANTS us to come to Him. He gives food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. We have reason for joy.

Then, as a sinner saved by grace, we can continually seek Him, read His word, pray, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and be blessed.

In the middle of these chapters is the beautiful description of Jesus. (chapter 53) Jesus, the center of God’s plan to adopt each of us into His family. Jesus is the Gospel, the good news!

Listen. Hear. Awake. Depart. Sing. Fear not. Come. Seek.

I pray you are awake. God means it.

 

July 19; Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned

Isaiah 47-50

God, through the prophet Isaiah, is talking to his enemies, then to His people, and the message seems to be the same. “Go right ahead and keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t say you weren’t warned.”

Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you.  (47:15b)

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (48:18)

There is no peace for the wicked. (48:22)

I can’t read the warnings to the ancient Jews recorded here in these chapters in Isaiah without making it personal. There have been times in my life when I’ve done my own thing, gone to church, served on committees, yet held on to a sin and told myself God was okay with it. There are times even today when I can rationalize sin, or tell myself God’s will will be done no matter what I do, and still think I’m a stand-up Christian.

God seems to be telling me today, “Go ahead, Connie. Try to be a Christian on your terms. But don’t say you weren’t warned.”

God has lovingly spelled out His demands, His plan, the Truth so that there can be no excuses. He is God and there is no other. He is the Way and there is no back door. He is the Truth and that Truth is not subjective. And God is very honest to say I either listen to Him and obey, or else. I can come up with my own idea of holiness, obey when I want, worship so I’m satisfied, but that won’t cut it in the end.

But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (50:11)

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

July 18; Who Is God?

Isaiah 43-46

Some days you just have to let God speak for Himself.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” (43:10-11)

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (43:25)

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (44:6b)

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: “I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…” (44:24)

For this is what the Lord says – he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (45:18)

“Even to your old age, and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (46:4)

“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” (46:8-9)

I bear witness: God is who He says He is. The Bible tells me that. And He has shown Himself to be true in my life. There is no other god. None.

These are only a few verses I read today that declare the identity of God. I hope you’ll read all that He has to say about Himself, and His relationship to you. Listen to His heart.

I love God, who tells me not to fear, that He is with me, that He saves me. And He never fails.

How can such a great, awesome, powerful God be so personal? Because HE IS!