Monthly Archives: August 2021

Isaiah 14-16; Matthew 28

Life is heavy right now.  For everyone.  For our family. Sickness and death, conflict and confrontation, fear and uncertainty. The past few weeks have been heavy.   

I’m sure Isaiah could relate.  He was prophesying to a divided Israel.  In spite of all God’s goodness to them, His chosen people had abandoned Him and aligned themselves with wicked, sinful nations who had no interest in serving the one, true God.  Sadly, all too often, I respond to all my “heaviness” just like Israel responded to God.  I forget His goodness and look for hope in other people, or self-help books, or Instagram, none of which can truly satisfy.

Isaiah, directed by God, pronounces judgment after judgment upon Israel and the surrounding nations.  It must have felt heavy and hopeless.  Yet, God wasn’t surprised, and it certainly wasn’t hopeless to Him.

For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel…Isa 14:1

When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil…..
Isa 14:3

The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be,
and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. Isa. 14:24

For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?  Isa 14:27

A throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David. One who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness. Isa16:5

And, although God was speaking to Israel through Isaiah, His words apply to me today as well.

He loves me.
He chose me.
He offers me rest.
He has a perfect plan.
His plan cannot be thwarted.
He is still on the throne.
He is faithful.
He is a righteous judge.

And, just as he promised his disciples in Matthew 28:20, He has not left me alone. 

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matt. 28:20

Always, which literally means “all the days”.  Not occasionally but continually.  Not just when I’m obedient.  Not just when things are happy and easy.  Before any sickness or conflict or fear, God was already there. When He spoke judgment in Isaiah, His perfect plan already included deliverance through His perfect Son—both for Israel and for me.  When Jesus spoke this promise in Matthew 28, He knew everything that lie ahead—for His disciples and for me, my family, and this world.  His sovereign presence is my only true hope.

I shake, but my Rock moves not.
CH Spurgeon

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Isaiah 11-13; Psalm 118; Matthew 27

As I read through the Isaiah chapters for today’s readings, they were filled with prophesy of Jesus’ coming.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3) NIV

Psalm 118 also has words proclaiming Jesus–

22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. (Psalm 118:22-24) NIV

The Israelites waited hundreds of years for this prophesy to come true. And yet, so many of them missed Him because of their expectations of what it would be like when He arrived. I wondered that about myself. How often do I miss Him because my idea of what being a follower of Jesus looks like is different than God’s?

Every day we are surrounded by the majesty of God in nature and creation. There are people in our lives who love us, walk through trials with us, cry with us, laugh with us, and are there through thick and thin. They are Jesus in the flesh to us. Of course, there are people who annoy us, criticize us, and commit heinous acts against us or our loved ones. Those are the times we have to gird up everything within us to be Jesus in the flesh for others. Those are the times I have to remember what Jesus went through for my sins to be forgiven.  That is what reminds me of what it is to be a true follower of Jesus.

Jesus came to this earth to show us who God the Father really is. He told us so many times that he only spoke what the Father wanted Him to say and do what the Father told Him to do. He taught us how to connect with our Creator and his act tore the veil that separated us.  It is finished.  Prophesy fulfilled.

I can’t imagine the concentration, focus, and fortitude it took to endure the cross and the mockery. Only total obedience to God the Father and the knowledge of knowing the purpose behind this crucifixion could have allowed the “Son of Man” to endure what was always the plan (Gen 3:15).

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. (Matt 27:38-44) NIV

Lord Jesus, may I never take for granted what you endured for me. One day I will see You face to face because of the cross. The Holy Spirit lives in me because of the cross. Nothing this life has thrown at me is worse than the agony you experienced. You were betrayed, denied, and mocked. You were tortured, beaten, and left to die in public humiliation. All for the Greatest Love anyone has ever shown humanity. All praises, honor, and glory to You forever and ever! Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

From the archives. Originally published August 21, 2018.

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Isaiah 7-10; Psalm 22; Matthew 26

Isaiah 7:2 (MEV): It was said to the house of David,” Aram is allied with Ephraim.” Then his heart trembled and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood tremble with the wind.

I have heard it said that the people are only as good as their leaders. I have also heard that you cannot teach anyone lessons if you have not already learned the lesson yourself.  Ahaz was afraid and so was his people.  What would have happened, if instead of fear being their first thought, prayer would have taken its stead. I guess we will never know.  But just as God told me in the hospital:  Fear is from the evil one; so God is telling Ahaz “Take heed, and be quiet.  Do not fear nor be fainthearted. (Isa 9:4)

Isaiah 7:10-12 (MEV): Moreover, the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD your God. Make it either as deep as Sheol or as high as the heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, nor will I tempt the LORD. Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David.  It is a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?

Like I said, you cannot teach what you do not know. How sad that the King of Israel did not know that God was for him.  God just told him:  you can have anything in the whole wide world, what do you want? He could have said: Lord, please protect us from King Aram and Ephraim, or he could have asked for wisdom like Solomon.  But instead, he says “I don’t want to weary God”. God is never wearied by any of his people.  In chapter 9 it describes various scenarios that the people went through, and ways they turned their back on God, and over and over it says:

For all this His anger is not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still. (Isa. 9: 12,17, and 21)

He is still stretching out his hand to you and me.  It doesn’t matter what mistakes I have made; all He wants is for me to run into His outstretched arms.  He is for us, every one of us.  That is why He says:

Isaiah 7:14-15 (MEV): Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Curds and honey he shall eat at the time that he knows enough to refuse the evil and choose the good.

I am sure that the City of David did not understand these words.  Being on the other side of the cross, we can see the blessing they bestowed on all who believe that Immanuel (God with us) wants us to constantly seek Him with all our hearts as He did in the days of King Ahaz.  Does that sound like a God who is wearied by His chosen people?  He loved them so much, and yet they did not see it.

Psalm 22: 4-5 (MEV): Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You did deliver them. They cried to You and were delivered; they trusted in You and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22:11 (MEV): Be not far from me for trouble is near, for there is none to help.

Psalm 22:23 (MEV): You who fear the LORD, praise Him.

As you can see in Psalm, there are ways to God’s heart.  The desire to be in His presence, trust, prayer and praise.  It is really that simple.  God helps those who earnestly seek Him with all their heart.

In Matthew 26, we see the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah.  Jesus (Immanuel) came, He was anointed by the alabaster jar of expensive perfume, He partook in the Last Supper, He prayed that the cup be taken, He was betrayed by someone close to Him, He was arrested, and again another even CLOSER to Him denied knowing Him.  God’s heart gets stomped on over and over, yet STILL!  How much more can God do to prove His love?  How much more should He do?

O Father, thank you for your son!  He is Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. I cannot wait until the government rests upon Your shoulders permanently.  I cannot wait for the elimination of sin and wrong choices.  It will be a government of justice, peace and righteousness from now until forever. You are, and have always been, just what the world needed! Please open our eyes to see the love of the Father! In Jesus’ name AMEN.

Carol (carolvorwe)

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Micah 5-7; Matthew 25

Listen to what the Lord is saying … my daughter wanted a book on how to read people, and in my search, I came across a book called Becoming Bulletproof by Evy Poumpouras. I started to read it, and this word repeats often: listen.

Micah 6 opens with these lines, “Listen to what the Lord is saying …”

“O my people, what have I done to you?
    What have I done to make you tired of me?
    Answer me!” Micah 6:3, NLT, emphasis added

Tired of the Lord?

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (Matthew 25:1-4, NLT, emphasis mine)

This parable of the bridesmaids has been on my mind the past year, and now entering hurricane season, I think about being prepared–how do you prepare for a literal destructive storm? Toilet paper? Non-perishables? Batteries? How do you prepare spiritually?

This oil, fuel for light, and the bridesmaids–all of them were bridesmaids–I search online: what does the oil represent? Biblestudy.org suggests that the oil represents the Holy Spirit and the bridesmaids are believers. I read on in the explanation: “The meaning of the parable of the ten virgins teaches us that, shortly before Christ’s return, there will be Christians who are so slack in their spiritual duties that they will not have enough of God’s Spirit (character) in order to endure to the end (Matthew 24:13). All true Christians should make sure they have the faith and are diligent enough in their spiritual lives not to be caught unprepared (Matthew 24:45 – 51). We must all strive to be wise, and not foolish, virgins.”

The next parable in Matthew 25 is the Parable of the Three Servants.

14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.” Matthew 25:14-15, NLT, emphasis mine.

Upon the man’s return, each servant shows how he used the money entrusted to him, and of the three, all but one doubles the investment. Each one was left a portion according to his ability, so the playing field is fair. The last man has nothing to show but the original investment, which he thinks is good enough. The master calls this servant wicked and lazy, and banishes him.

In the first parable, the bridesmaids caught unprepared were locked out from the feast. This is what Jesus says,

11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. (Matthew 25:11-13, NLT)

The wicked and lazy servant who does nothing with his allotment receives a crushing fate:

28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:28-30, NLT)

And at the end of the chapter, Jesus talks about the final judgment. The nations are gathered in his presence. And there is judgment based on action.

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:45, NLT, emphasis added)

Impressions on this reading speak of preparation, prudence, purpose–but really all of it is action. An alert faith. A Kingdom focus. I think long about my walk–am I walking with the Lord? Or am I walking apart from him?

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NLT)

Lord, in these parables, the bridesmaids, the servants, those gathered in your presence, all know who you are. And each responds in his own way. These stories were spoken and recorded for the benefit of your followers. You spoke this because you want us to know. You have told us. You have given to us according to ability. May we live without excuse.

Courtney (66books365)

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Micah 1-4; Psalm 10; Matthew 24

What a terrible place for me to be in that would cause God to show up and judge me for the evil I have done.

Look, the Lord is leaving His place
and coming down to trample
the heights[b] of the earth.
The mountains will melt beneath Him,
and the valleys will split apart,
like wax near a fire,
like water cascading down a mountainside.
All this will happen because of Jacob’s rebellion
and the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the rebellion of Jacob?
Isn’t it Samaria?
And what is the high place of Judah?
Isn’t it Jerusalem? – Micah 1:3-5 HCSB

What is this evil I have done? I think it is as simple as loving my self and this world more than Him. I find myself contrary to His love and my stepping away from Him, I am contrary to the truth of faith.

I cannot lose sight of this fact – that justice is a fundamental part of God’s character.

But You Yourself have seen trouble and grief,
observing it in order to take the matter into Your hands.
The helpless entrusts himself to You;
You are a helper of the fatherless. – Psalm 10:14 HCSB

He steps in and promises protection and help for those who cannot protect themselves and He redeems injustice through His unfailing love – He invites me to participate with Him in making that happen.

What will happen if I choose not to and decide to remain in my selfish love?

Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:10-12 HCSB

Jesus foretold that love and truth could one day lose their true meaning and force in this world. I pray that I am not one who be among those who have.

Father, how I trust the Holy Spirit to not leave me in a place that would be contrary to the character of God. I want to be like Jesus in every facet of my life. I do not want to see my love for You grow cold, or even lukewarm for that matter. I know I need to step out of myself and give myself to You in my community. I know You are inviting me to participate. Forgive my cowardly fear, I pray that Your love will cast that fear out of my life. Thank You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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