Tag Archives: Message

Isaiah 20-22; 1 Corinthians 2

One of my kids is caring for animals at a nearby farm this week. She loves animals and has always had a dreamer’s impression of what farm life would be like–harmonious, lovely, routine. But this week with hot and humid summer temperatures, buzzing flies, and work that leaves her sweaty, tired and achy has shown her a different perspective. She comes to my car dirty, disheveled, smelly, exhausted. The next day, she awakens with aches as her body remembers. Anne of Green Gables meets The Hunger Games, and the arena doesn’t seem anything like you imagined when you’re finally in it.

When I read through Isaiah 20-22, instead of consuming words while I drink my coffee, I step into the horror. In my NLT, each section begins with a subtitle “A message about …” and a city is listed. In A message about Egypt and Ethiopia:

Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia. For the king of Assyria will take away the Egyptians and Ethiopians as prisoners. He will make them walk naked and barefoot, both young and old, their buttocks bared, to the shame of Egypt. Then the Philistines will be thrown into panic, for they counted on the power of Ethiopia and boasted of their allies in Egypt! They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.’” (Isaiah 20:3-6, NLT)

Or in A message about Babylon:

My stomach aches and burns with pain. Sharp pangs of anguish are upon me, like those of a woman in labor. I grow faint when I hear what God is planning; I am too afraid to look. My mind reels and my heart races. I longed for evening to come, but now I am terrified of the dark.

Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking.
But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked! (Isaiah 21:3-5, NLT)

In A Message about Jerusalem:

You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.
    You store up water in the lower pool.
10 You survey the houses and tear some down
    for stone to strengthen the walls.
11 Between the city walls, you build a reservoir
    for water from the old pool.
But you never ask for help from the One who did all this.
    You never considered the One who planned this long ago
.

12 At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
    called you to weep and mourn.
He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins
    and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse.
13 But instead, you dance and play;
    you slaughter cattle and kill sheep.
    You feast on meat and drink wine.
You say, “Let’s feast and drink,
    for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:9-13, NLT, emphasis added)

In the New Testament, Paul’s words begin with the subheading Paul’s Message of Wisdom. These readings, all messages to the reader.

Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. (1 Corinthians 2:6-8, NLT, emphasis added)

I reflect on these readings and the underscoring of God’s sovereignty and plan. And like farm life, it’s more comfortable to read about war, choices, nations from the ease of my couch than it is to personalize a message. What if I stood before God’s judgment? What if I didn’t ask for help from the One who planned all this long ago? What if I didn’t understand?

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. 14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 15 Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. 16 For,

“Who can know the Lord’s thoughts?
    Who knows enough to teach him?”

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16, NLT)

Lord, I don’t want to do life apart from you. I’m thankful for reminders that you are sovereign and you desire true relationship with me. Your word puts it out there for me–warning, wisdom, guidance, truth. You make known what you want. Help me to understand.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 25; Revelation 12; Zechariah 8; John 11

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly. Decisions and actions that followed revealed the leaning of his heart. He wouldn’t heed warnings.

So the prophet stopped with this warning: “I know that God has determined to destroy you because you have done this and have refused to accept my counsel.” (2 Chronicles 25:16b, NLT)

I think about the messages and messengers. A prophet warning a king. In Revelation, a revealing of a mystery. In John 11, Jesus receives the message that Lazarus is sick. Zechariah 8 opens with a message, and I listen.

Then another message came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says …” (Zechariah 8:1-2a, NLT)

And He says a lot. I keep reading. He speaks of restoration and perseverance and the impossible and rescue.

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. … “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! (Zechariah 8:6, 9a, NLT)

He plants seeds of peace and prosperity, grapevines heavy with ripe fruit.

13 Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!

14 “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I was determined to punish you when your ancestors angered me, and I did not change my mind, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 15 But now I am determined to bless Jerusalem and the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid. 16 But this is what you must do: Tell the truth to each other. Render verdicts in your courts that are just and that lead to peace. 17 Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the Lord.”

18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in early summer, midsummer, autumn, and winter are now ended. They will become festivals of joy and celebration for the people of Judah. So love truth and peace. (Zechariah 8:14-19, NLT)

Lord Jesus, you are my foundation I build upon and anything else IS sinking sand. I have watched you tear down and demolish strongholds, and I know that nothing is impossible for you. The praise is yours. The glory is yours.

23 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In those days ten men from different nations and languages of the world will clutch at the sleeve of one Jew. And they will say, ‘Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:23, NLT)

And

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25-26, NLT)

Grateful.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Kings 1, 2; Luke 22:54-71

Adonijah made assumptions and acted on them–throwing himself a party and declaring himself a king. He was seeking his own interest, the throne (and later, a bride). He seems impatient, his father David is not even dead yet. This activity, without his father’s knowledge or consent, seems disrespectful.

David, however, names Solomon as his successor.

Before his death, David speaks to Solomon. The New Living Translation titles this segment “David’s Final Instructions to Solomon” in 1 Kings 2. This is an intimate moment between father and son, one king to another, last words spoken.

As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

“I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ 1 Kings 2:1-4, NLT.

Sam wrote about being ready, last days. And I recently heard a talk about telling (someone) what they mean to you before the funeral, before it’s too late. David has a message for his son. His words are empowering and pointing to purpose.

When my mom was dying from cancer, she grieved over lost health, lost opportunity, and her message to me was to never take health for granted. My dad just turned 78, and his actions and examples also send powerful messages of what’s important to him.

I think of what I want to convey to an older generation. To my mom, it was whispered in her ear that last day when she had lost her voice–that intimate moment, last words to her. To my dad, I want to speak life. But David’s example is an important reminder too: the opportunity to effect a next generation. What do my words and actions convey to those in my influence?

Lord, your word tells us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Establish the work of our hands for us.

Courtney (66b00ks365)

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Ruth 1; Acts 26; Jer. 36, 45; Ps. 9

Jeremiah was in prison, but had a message to get out. He dictated the message to Baruch, who then took it and read it aloud to others.

16 When they heard all the messages, they looked at one another in alarm. “We must tell the king what we have heard,” they said to Baruch. Jeremiah 36:16 NLT.

(Not everyone appreciated this message. King Jehoiakim burned the scroll.)

Paul stood before King Agrippa with the opportunity to speak his defense. He told his message to a full room.

19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:19-23 NLT.

While hearts may not have been convicted in that moment, Paul left an impression.

32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.” Acts 26:32 NLT.

Naomi and Ruth were both widowed. Naomi told her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and start over. But Ruth stayed, pledging loyalty and companionship to Naomi.

15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more. Ruth 1:15-18 NLT.

Testimony can affect a community, a full room, an individual.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1 NLT

Our dog ran away yesterday, and my kids were crushed. I searched through neighboring back yards. We got in the car and drove around. No dog. So I prayed out loud in the car while we searched. Prayed that God would watch over our dog and return her to us unharmed. It was a risky prayer–there are many acres of forest around us, and high-speed roads. So many what-ifs … (Thankfully, a few hours later a nearby farm owner spotted our dog swimming in their pond and called us.)

I praised the Lord the drive home, with stinky pond dog in the back seat.

I know, too, sometimes answered prayers don’t look the way I thought they would. Years of struggle and effort and striving were fruitless. I sat at night at the Lord’s feet and cried to him. In that season, the sadness and disappointment and confusion brought me closer to the Lord. In those circumstances and through his word, I began to know him better. Trust was strengthened. When others abandoned, the Lord did not.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Psalm 9:10 NLT.

God uses the happy endings, and the not-so-happy endings. In any case, I will testify of something, and that testimony will speak to others.

Father, thank you for examples like Paul, Ruth and Jeremiah–people who had a message to share, whose lives and messages still influence today. Help me to be mindful that my words and actions send a message too.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 53,54,55; Romans 10

Isaiah 53

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted.

Isaiah 55

Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Romans 10

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

I love reading these chapters in Isaiah.  Isaiah lived approximately 700 years before the birth of Jesus and yet clearly describes the method and means of his death in chapter 53.  It amazes me how anyone can read these verses in Isaiah and not be brought to their knees, while comparing these statements to the accounts of Jesus’ death recorded in the gospels.  Issiah’s account impresses on me the Sovereignty of God.  God has a plan, He knows exactly what He is doing, and He is doing it.  Our ways are not His ways, Isaiah wrote.  We won’t always understand God’s plan, but it is very important to understand that He has a definite purpose and His plan will come to fruition.

Jesus claimed that His purpose was to do the work of the one who sent Him.  He also gave us the task of going out and making disciples of all of the nations.  Paul reminds us of this again in his witty statements found in verses 14 and 15 of Romans.  No one can be saved unless someone shares with them the message of Jesus and the salvation found in His death and resurrection.  This message of death and resurrection resulting in salvation for all people, recorded by Isaiah some 700 years before Jesus was even born!    We serve a mighty God!

Father God, I love to see Your power displayed for Your glory.  I thank You for Your written word and its power to show us the many aspects of You.  I thank You for showing me that You have a plan and that I have an important role to play in bringing that plan to completion.  Help me have “beautiful feet” by empowering me to bring good news to the people who are waiting to hear it.  May Your Kingdom come quickly!

Ed Sorrell

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