Monday, January 20, 2020

But For The Grace of God, Go I

O. T. #1610 "But For The Grace of God, Go I"
Jan. 20, 2020
Isaiah 31

LET IT GLOW

But for the grace of God, go I. How many times have we said or thought that when seeing? If God had not opened our eyes to our sin, we would be neck deep in it. Perhaps, if He had not delivered us, we would be in a live style of immorality. Or maybe we wonder where we would be if God had not intervened or saved us. What if...

This chapter is the fifth and last woe God sends out, this time to the compromisers. Judah's misguided attempt was to seek an alliance with Egypt against Assyria. It was a bad idea since Egypt was weak and had nothing to offer Judah in terms of any real military support. Actually, it was a deliberate attempt to avoid obeying God and trusting in His deliverance.

They do not seek the LORD. (verse 1)

Isn't it pitiful that Judah relied upon men, and not God. We know that it was only by the grace of God that He did not allow the Assyrians to wipe Judah off the map. But, Egypt was so weak that when Judah leaned on them for help, the would both all together. (verse 3)

Let's not be too quick to judge Judah. We could be in the same boat, because everyone, in some time in their life, has made a decision based on the flesh and not seeking God's will. Then we reap the consequences of our sin.
We can thank God when He has rescued us from our selves.

LET IT GROW

Jerusalem's only hope in this desperate situation, for Assyria was close to the wall, was to repent and return to the Lord. If they had any hope of a future, it was in turning again to Jehovah. We know King Hezekiah did such that, for the Assyrian army was wiped out one night by the angel of the Lord, not the armies of Judah. (Here is that word that I love, discomfited, which means cause to faint, in verse 8.
Isn't He a good, good Heavenly Father!

God remained faithful to His covenant. (verse 5)  To David, God promised he would always have an heir on the throne of Israel if the remained faithful to God. When the Lord declares it, it's as good as done.

Are we faithful to God?

LET IT GO

Repent and trust God.
Live by faith, not by sight.

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Song of Joy

O. T. #1609  "A Song of Joy"
Jan. 17, 2020
Isaiah 30-Part 3
Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept: and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the  Mighty One of Israel. (verse 29)

LET IT GLOW

When the burdens are lifted, there is a light heart. When troubles turn to triumph, there is joy in the heart. When prayers are answered, there is a song in the heart. Are you in need of these, dear one? Read on to find out how to have them.

O Judah and Jerusalem, God warned you that you would be destroyed if you did not repent of your idolatry and only worship Him. If only you would have not trusted in Egypt for help instead of God,  but you would not. Anyway, Assyria was conquered by Babylon. They were told by Moses in Deut. 17:16 to not return to Egypt. So, their rebellion required the bread of adversity and the water of affliction from God. Well, since Judah did not heed the warnings, they went into captivity in Babylon and Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 586 B.C.

Keep in mind, there is a remnant of believers that God preserved.
Matthew Henry says, "When thou art doubting, conscience shall direct thee to the way of duty; when thou art dull and trifling, conscience shall quicken thee in that way. As God has not left Himself without witness, so He has not left us without guides to show us our way."

Eventually (after 70 years of captivity), Judah will experience good in these ways, with hope, as well as you and me:
  • Waiting for God's help results in His blessings of grace and mercy, love and compassion. (verse 18)
  • He will hear our cries and will respond. (verse 19)
  • Although God gave us adversity for food and suffering for drink, He will teach us. (verse 20)
  • God's Spirit will direct us in the right way to go, telling us whether to turn right or lift; our ears will hear Him. (verse 21)
  • Destroy silver idols and precious gold images, throwing them out as rags; we will have a willing heart of obedience. (verse 22)
  • The rain of God's blessing (literally and figuratively) will pour down; He will provide for your needs (grain, pastureland, harvest). (verse 23)
  • Healing will come to God's people. (verse 26b)
Because God lives, we can face today and tomorrow. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He never changes, but is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He continues to love us and forgive us. We can trust in our God, for He is trustworthy.

LET IT GROW

After we repent and surrender to the Lord in obedience, what will we experience, like Judah did?
  • We will sing a song of joy, like those songs (at the Jewish holy festivals) in our worship services. (verse 29)
  • In spite of the judgments of God, we will sing with a heart of gladness (joyful, merry, exceedingly, rejoice). (verse 29b)
  • You will be filled with joy, as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem, the mountain of the LORD-to the Rock of Israel. (verse 29c) Remember, Jerusalem is on a mountain.
Paul said in Ephesian 3:20-21, Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

Paul concludes this prayer by pointing to the God who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think. He rescued 3 from a fiery furnace, Daniel from the mouths of lions, gave sight to the blind, save us completely, and is able to keep us from stumbling. God can work exceedingly abundantly beyond our wildest dreams. But it is according to the power that works in us. God's power works in accordance with a believer's spiritual strength, intimacy, and capacity-everything for which Paul pray an increase. (Resource: The Tony Evans Bible Commentary)

LET IT GO
Jesus, may I wait for Your direction and guide my steps on Your path.
Fill me with faith in You, trusting Your timing.
I know You will do above and beyond all that I ask or think.
Glory to the Mighty One of Israel.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Learning Through Adversity and Affliction

O. T. #1608  "Learning Through Adversity and Affliction"
Jan. 16, 2020
Isaiah 30-Part 2
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers. (verse 20)

LET IT GLOW

How are we doing as we wait on the Lord? Is it with faith and patience? Is our strength in quietness (be still) and confidence? Israel did not repent of their sin of idolatry. This northern kingdom turned to Egypt for help and they ended up being taken into captivity by the empire of Assyria.
Judah is being warned in this chapter of the same things. Isaiah said that God was waiting on them to wait for Him to move. but they were unwilling to listen to the message of the prophets, so they had to learn through adversity and affliction.

The bread of adversity meant trouble and tribulation, distress; the water of affliction meant to distress, crush, force.

God was going to teach Judah through their awful circumstances of life-captivity by Babylon.
Are we in the same predicament? If we aren't willing to listen to what God is trying to say to us through His Word, then He may use other methods to get out attention, such as adversity or affliction.
Another thing, if we have heard what we are to do, whether it be wait or doing, are we submitting to His will. Ouch!

LET IT GROW

Verse 21 says, And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Here is a picture of the voice of the teachers who follow their students to admonish them from going astray, or the voice of a shepherd who follows his flocks in order to give them safe direction. The immediate context seems to best fit the idea that it is the voice of their teachers whom they have left behind and who continue to call them to walk in the way, the way of God. (Falwell)

Here are some ideas from Joni Eareckson Tada in her devotion book, Diamonds in the Dust:
God wants to:
  • refine you, so your trial is refining (see Isaiah 48:10);
  • sift you, so your trial is a sifting; each sieve is finer, (see Hebrews 12:11);
  • prune you, so your trial is a pruning (see John 15:2);
  • polish you, so your trial is a polishing (see Psalm 144:12).
God gives us the bread of adversity and the water of affliction for good reasons. With God's Word as your teacher, your own eyes can see the purpose of the Lord.

In Psalm 119:71, an anonymous writer said, Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word and in verse 71, he admitted, It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Can we look back over a huge problem we endured and agree that was a good thing in our life so we could learn a lesson from God? Time to ponder, friend.


LET IT GO
Stop going your way, Linda, and listen and obey what God is telling you.
Learn from afflictions and adversities which have occurred in my life.
Listen to God's voice telling me which way to turn.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Waiting

O. T. #1607  " Waiting"
Jan. 15, 2020
Isaiah 30
And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him. (verse 18)

LET IT GLOW

What am I supposed to do? Which way do I go? Am I supposed to nothing?

Here is the fourth woe. It is a warning given to Judah. Israel fell captive to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.
Don't you know it must have made Judah nervous? We can look back into their history. King Hezekiah reigned for 29 years (716-687 B.C.) and was a good king.

King Hezekiah's advisers urged him to turn to the Egyptians, not to God, for help against the invading Assyrians. Isaiah denounced this reliance. (MacArthur)

We can read the details in 2 Kings 19-20. In a nut shell, this is what happened: The king of Assyria demanded Judah to pay them money. Hezekiah took gold from the Temple to meet those demands.
Then Judah's ambassadors took a caravan of riches and treasures down to Egypt in order to attempt to bribe them to help Judah against Assyria. Meanwhile, King Hezekiah prayed to God to save His people, and He did. There were 185,000 Assyrians killed by the angel of God. They didn't need Egypt's help.

So, that brings us up to the prophesy of Isaiah in this chapter. Instead of hearing God's truth, the people wanted to hear smooth thing and deceits (verse 10). They wanted their ears tickled, not God's judgment was coming if Judah did not repent and listen to Him.

In verse 15, Judah had assurance that by turning to God in true conversion they would rest in the grace of God through salvation. It was God's plan for Judah to find salvation in quietness and in confidence (submission and faith). Did they do it? No, they would not turn to Him. How patient God was toward His children of Judah. In spite of their rebellion, God continued to be faithful and loving to Judah.

Matthew Henry's Commentary suggests:
  • In returning to our God, confessing our sins, we can have a changed heart and life.
  • When we seek His strength in quietness and in confidence, we can remain calm.
  • In continual dependence upon God, we receive His power and goodness.
  • As we do so, we can have holy quietness, suppress all turbulence and tumultuous passions, and keep our minds in peace.
  • We must rely on God with a holy confidence that He can do what He will and will do what is best for His people.
  • This will be our strength and will carry us with ease and courage through all the difficulties we may meet with.
Are we in need of strength, confidence, peace? Return to God and He will supply whatever we need.


LET IT GROW

Waiting on God to answer my prayers is probably the hardest thing for me to do. How about you? Our flesh wants something taken care of, a situation fixed, and fixed now.

Now here is another gold nugget for our soul. Read our key verse again.
What do we learn about God? Matthew Henry explains:
  • He will wait (adhere to; long; tarry) to be gracious (to favor; to have mercy upon; have pity upon; to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior.
  • He will wait for us to return to Him and seek His face, so He may do what is the best and fittest time to be gracious.
  • Then God will receive the most glory and be exalted (to be high; to raise).
  • It will come to us with the most pleasing surprise.
  • He will continually follow you with His favors, and not let slip any opportunity of being gracious to us.
  • He will stir himself to deliver you, will be exalted, will be raised up out of His holy habitation (Zech. 2:13).
  • This is so He may appear for you in more than ordinary instances of power and goodness.
  • In being gracious, He will hear and answer our prayer, which makes His kindness doubly kind.
  • The Lord is a God of judgment, both wise and just in all the disposals of His providence, true to His Word, and tender of His people.
  • All are blessed who wait for Him with their prayers and hopes, as well as anticipate their deliverance.
I know this was lengthy, but I could not omit such encouragement.

God is waiting for us to wait for Him. (Kay Arthur)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him! (New International Version)

Judah would not wait for God? Will we wait for God? Or will we rush in and handle the situation on our own and in our own way?


LET IT GO

Daily return to God.
Wait for Him to answer my prayers.
Exalt Him on high, sharing His goodness.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Is Our Religion Real or Routine?

O. T. #1606  "Is Our Religion Real or Routine"
Jan. 14, 2020
Isaiah 29
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. (verse 13)

LET IT GLOW

Again, Isaiah is pronouncing 6 woes (doom) upon Israel, Jerusalem, Judah, compromisers, and invaders.
The first woe, found in chapter 28, was spoken to Ephraim (Israel). God's judgment would come upon them using Assyria to take them captive.

Today, in chapter 29, we read of two woes, doom upon Jerusalem, called Ariel.
Ariel (ar-ee-ale')means lion of God or strong lion.
How is the lion compared to Jerusalem?
  • The lion is king among the beasts; Jerusalem was the king among the cities, Judah's capital. The lion of the tribe of Judah was the ensign of a lion. 
  • The lion is bold in attacking other animals of prey. David attacked other nations and dominated them as their king, and Jerusalem was his head quarters.
  • Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah.
  • In Jacob called Judah a young lion who crouches down like a lion to pounce on its prey. The scepter will not depart from Judah or the staff from between his feet until Jesus comes and the obedience of the peoples belongs to Him. Jesus will reign as king over the world when He comes again to reign for 1,000 years.
God chose Judah to be the ancestor of Israel's line of kings. Judah's line would produce the promised Messiah, Jesus. (Life Application Study Bible)
We know King David was an ancestor of Jesus, according to Matthew.

LET IT GROW

We have an advantage of being to read in the Bible, that Jerusalem was conquered. First it was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. and then in 70 A.D. by Herod of Rome. Those events happened because Judah would not submit to God in obedience.

Read our key verses. God was telling Jews their problem-they honored the Lord with their mouth and lips, but not with their heart (leb) which referred to their mind, emotions, and will. Their reverence for God was only outward and intellectual. Worship and religion became a routine, not real.
Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, for they added hundreds of rules onto the laws of God (Matthew 15 and Mark 7).

We must guard our heart from the hypocrisy of routine patterns of worship and neglect to give our love and devotion to our God. We must be obedient and worship Him honestly and sincerely if we want to be called God's people.

How are we living today? Do we love God and His Word? Are we loving our neighbors? Or do we act one way on Sunday and another on Monday? Is our religion real or routine?

LET IT GO

Jesus, help me forgive people in the same way You forgive me.
Help me love others in the way You love me.
As I praise You with my lips, may my life honor You, too.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Good Foundation and Corner Stone

O. T. #1605  "A Good Foundation and Corner Stone"
Jan. 13, 2019
Isaiah 28-Part 2
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste.  (verse 16)

LET IT GLOW

Touring Israel last spring, we visited the old wall around Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall which is the only part of the original Temple, which is the western wall of the old Temple. We were amazed at the size of those stones, built upon another. So I checked out the dimensions of those huge stones. The smallest weight 2-5 tons, while the largest weighs about 570 tons, and is 45 feet long and 13 feet wide.
On the south side of the old wall around Jerusalem, we saw the cornerstone. It was where the eastern wall and southern wall met. Our guide told us that place is thought to have been where the devil tempted Jesus to fall down so the angels would catch Him.
Folks, those stones had no concrete between them and they were made of limestone. What an amazing sight.

Who is the foundation and stone our key verse of which our key verse is speaking? It is the person Jesus Christ Himself. Who laid this foundation stone? God did.
Here are some words and their Hebrew meaning. In Jerusalem, Zion, and for Christians, Jesus is:
  • a foundation, which means beginning;
  • a stone, which means to build;
  • a tried stone, tested, trial, prove;
  • a precious corner stone, precious means valuable, excellent, costly; corner-stone is pinnacle, chief, stay, tower;
  • a sure foundation, sure is to set, settle;
What is God telling us? Jesus is our foundation (beginning) of our Christian faith. We can build our life on Him, following His ways. Jesus was tested by Satan (Matthew 4), and overcame the temptation to turn away from God and His will. Jesus is so precious (valuable) to us, since He gave His life to purchase our salvation. He is our sure foundation for our faith because He settled it for us long ago before we were born, paying our ransom so we would not have to pay for our sins. Although salvation is a free gift to us, it was very costly to Him-Jesus' life. Such love He showed.

How precious Jesus is to us, His followers!
Jesus is the cornerstone; came for sinners to atone; though rejected by His own, Jesus is the cornerstone.

Peter said in his first letter (2:6) that whoever believes on Him will not be confounded, put to shame.
Paul said in Romans 9:33 we would not be ashamed.

If you want to see some pictures, google the weight and dimension of the stones of Jerusalem.

LET IT GROW

In verse 17a, God tells Ephraim, I will test you with the measuring live of justice and the plumb line of righteousness.

These verses contain the two most essential elements in Isaiah's preaching, for throughout his ministry he exhorted the people both to trust God and to practice justice and righteousness. As a good builder always tests his work with the line and the plummet, so God measures the lives of His people with the line of justice and with the plummet of righteousness.  (The Broadman Bible Commentary)

The church, being founded on Christ, shall be formed and reformed by the scripture, the standing rule of judgment and righteousness. (Matthew Henry)

Are we practicing justice and righteousness? Are we formed and reformed by the scriptures? Is Christ the foundation of our life and our faith?

LET IT GO

Friday, January 10, 2020

Precepts vs. Pride

O. T. #1604  "Precepts vs. Pride"
Jan. 10, 2020
Isaiah 28
But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.  (verse 13)

LET IT GLOW

When God repeats something in His Word, it is time to sit up and take notice. How blessed we are to have God's Word preserved for us. However, many in our society do not want to hear it or read it. They remove the Ten Commandments from our courts and schools. Israel was in the same condition.

Isn't our key verse familiar? I didn't know where it was located, I had heard it before, verse 10 is similar to verses 13. It was to be taken negatively, not positively for Israel. The repetition was like a  imitating a young child's babbling, and as a ridicule of Isaiah's prophecy.

The word for  introduces the statement quoted by the prophet from the people who are weary of listening to his prophecies. The are complaining that his repetitious message is petty and annoying.

In Hebrew, a precept is a commandment; a charge; line upon line refers to a plumbline.

The idea is that the people are complaining that all they ever hear from this prophet is one rule and one standard after another, and they are weary of it because they have never learned to obey the One who is the Source of all law. (Falwell)

Here a little, and there a little refers to the fact that the people did not understand the prophet's message in its fullness, but merely regarded it as "incoherent, disparate bits of instruction cast here and there." (Young)

But God is speaking to Israel, Ephraim and Samaria its capital, with stammering lips (unintelligible mutterings) and another tongue (Assyrian language, not Hebrew). Well, since they would not listen to God's message anyway, and considered it a bunch of repeated annoying rules and regulations, He would speak to them through the Assyrian captivity. One way or another, God was going to God.

Were they ever slow to learn, rebellious, and full of sin? Rejecting the Truth does not change it nor does it do away with it. We learned in 14:24 that what God thinks will come to pass. And it did when Shalmaneser conquered in 722 B.C. this area.
Are we learning to apply God's Word in our life? It is written for our good and His glory. Are we only picking up a little here and a little there? Thank you friends for your faithfulness to study this very difficult book with me.


LET IT GROW

We are beginning a section in Isaiah that begins with Woe, written to Ephraim, the land of the northern kingdom of Israel.
How was Ephraim described?
  • the crown of pride, for it was situated on a hill resembling a crown;
  • a fading flower of beauty;
  • drunkards overcome with wine; 
  • it sits at the head of a fertile valley, so it is wealthy;
  • their priests and prophets stagger with alcohol, too;
  • their tables are covered with vomit;
  • filth is everywhere;
  • they question who the LORD thinks they are;
  • they ask why He speaks to them like this.
I say they are a mess. Prideful drunkards. When Israel split into two kingdoms, their kings were evil. They set up idols to keep the people from going to worship at the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12). Isaiah warned them that destruction was coming if they did not repent.

What is our precept for life today? Worship only the One True God, not things, not Allah, not money, not jobs. Spend time in His Word, which is for us to learn what pleases Him.

Isn't God wonderful!

LET IT GO
Little by little, let me learn Your Word and apply it in my life.
Keep me humbling serving You, Jesus.