September 30 “To the formerly dead, foolish and deceived”

Teenage girl, clueless, foolish

Sin has not only affected us spiritually and physically, it has also affected us mentally. In short, we don’t think straight apart from having our minds renewed by the Word of the Living God. “Professing to be wise, they became fools …” (Rom. 1.22), fools who mistake bondage for freedom, death for life, and foolishness for wisdom. It’s called the noetic effect of sin.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 51 & 52
Psalm 112.5-10
Proverbs 26.16
Ephesians 2.1-22

 

Isaiah 51 & 52:

What would they think …?

Chapter 51.12-13:

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;

Matthew 10 says:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

puzzled, thinkingHow much time we waste “fearing man”! Not just fearing what they might do to us physically, but what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.

“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Do we really want to trust in that which cannot save us? It’s really no different from those Old Testament people who trusted in idols they had carved from a tree trunk or formed with their own hands—gods who are not gods.

Our concerns need to be: Continue reading

September 29 “The superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness” & LINKUP

walk away, back viewSadly, many who buy into the superficial doctrine of prosperity and happiness, will walk away from God at some point when it doesn’t deliver. Sadder still, the reality of God’s love and care for His children and the work of grace through salvation are so much greater and more wonderful than they can imagine!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 49 & 50
Psalm 112.1-4
Proverbs 26.13-15
Ephesians 1.1-23

 

Isaiah 49 & 50:

The coming Messiah

These two chapters continue to talk about the (then) coming Messiah. He would be a man—a human being—born of a woman (49.1) and a light not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles, as well (49.6). Though there would be a time of separation from the nation of Israel, He would not divorce her (50.1). He would suffer torment at the time of His first advent (50.6-7).

There is an invitation to all who are in darkness to come and trust in the name of the Lord (50.10), as well as, a warning that manmade religion will not work (50.11). We can do nothing to save ourselves; all our attempts at being good enough or finding our own way to God (“you who kindle a fire”) are futile.

Men and women have been trying to find their own way to God since the tower of Babel and, probably, even before then. But there is only one Way. Continue reading

September 28 “Could it happen to you?”

assuming, shocked man with hands on faceI can’t imagine anything worse than believing you’re alright with God and when you stand before Him, hear these words, “I never knew you.” Could it happen to you?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 47 & 48
Psalm 111.7-10
Proverbs 26.11-12
Galatians 6.1-18

 

 

Isaiah 47 & 48:

Trusting in self, false gods or sorceries

In chapter 47, the Babylonians thought they were strong and secure and untouchable. They trusted in themselves, their false gods and their sorceries. They had set themselves against God and would soon be judged.

Like the Babylonians many today are busy enjoying their ease and success and power. Many of them have set themselves against God. They belittle His people as weak and God as merely a crutch. They want to make their own rules. Their first commandment is “Thou shalt not be intolerant of anything I want to do!” Even when they claim to believe in Him, they pervert the Word of God, twisting it to make it say the opposite of what it does.

They wrongly interpret God’s patience and tolerance.

“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine’” (Jer. 5.12 NLT).

Instead of seeing God’s patience and mercy as an opportunity to repent, they decide there will never be a day of accounting. Continue reading

September 27 “Is your life characterized by something God hates?”

Is your life characterized by something God hates? God puts contention, jealousy and envy in the same list as adultery, fornication and idolatry!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 45 & 46
Psalm 111.1-6
Proverbs 26.10
Galatians 5.1-26

 

Isaiah 45 & 46:

He will bring it to pass

Over and over in these two chapters God says, “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” One of the ways He has confirmed that fact to us is through the fulfillment of prophecy.

God through the prophet Isaiah declared that Cyrus would end the 70 years of captivity and allow the people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. About 150 years later that’s exactly what happened.

There are many prophecies which have already been fulfilled and others which are yet to be fulfilled. But, eventually, every single one will come to pass:

“… Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (46.11).

Continue reading

September 26 “Parental legalism”

parenting, mother scolding her son with pointed fingerParental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for a personal relationship with God.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 43 & 44
Psalm 110.1-7
Proverbs 26.5-9
Galatians 4.1-31

 

Isaiah 43 & 44:

Foolishness of idolatry

In chapter 44.10-17 Isaiah points out the foolishness of idolatry:

10 Who would form a god or mold an image
That profits him nothing? …

12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals,
Fashions it with hammers,
And works it with the strength of his arms …
13 The craftsman stretches out his rule,
He marks one out with chalk;
He fashions it with a plane,
He marks it out with the compass,
And makes it like the figure of a man,
According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
And takes the cypress and the oak;
He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.

15 Then it shall be for a man to burn,
For he will take some of it and warm himself;
Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
16 He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!”

It’s hard to imagine anyone believing a carved or molded image could help or save them. And yet, that is the deceitfulness of all sin and idolatry! To think that alcohol or drugs or food or spending or something else, while it may bring some temporary pleasure, can actually change anything is just as ridiculous!

To think that wealth or power or position or popularity is going to make us happy in the long run is foolishness. It leaves many asking “Is this all there is?” because, once attained, those things are empty of any ability to fill the real longings of our hearts.

Worse yet, making those things the focus of their lives, seeking to attain them, or trying to hang on to all they can, will ultimately lead many to eternal damnation. Continue reading

September 25 “It’s all grace!”

Christ's second return
Photo courtesy Jody Davis, Creative Commons

No amount of good works can make us right with God. And just as we are saved by grace through faith, we are kept by that same grace. It’s all about grace!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 41 & 42
Psalm 109.26-31
Proverbs 26.3-4
Galatians 3.1-29

 

Isaiah 41 & 42:

His care for the faithful

Chapter 41 was written to warn those in Israel, who persisted in idolatry, but also to encourage and comfort those who remained faithful to the One True God. Chapter 42 contains many prophesies about the Messiah. Jesus quoted from this chapter in Matthew 12 speaking about Himself (Matt. 12.17-21).

These passages are to encourage us to stay faithful to God, too. We may very well be approaching a time when God’s judgment becomes more and more apparent, but He will always care for His faithful remnant.

That isn’t to say things won’t get more difficult. But God’s grace will be there to get us through it, even when we don’t entirely escape from it. Remember that even though Daniel was faithful, he still was taken into captivity. But God used him, blessed him and protected him throughout. Continue reading

September 24 “Are you ready and watching?”

watching, looking, happy little girl three years old signing the sky

Mark 13.33, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” While we don’t know when the Lord will return, many signs point to the fact that it could be soon. Are you ready and watching? Are you praying?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 39 & 40
Psalm 109.21-25
Proverbs 26.2
Galatians 2.1-21

 

Isaiah 39 & 40:

At least it’ll be good for me

Hezekiah made me think of some of our politicians. He has just been told that his actions are going to cost his children and grandchildren dearly. Look at his response. Isaiah 39:

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts. 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

Continue reading

September 23 “Legalists at heart”

images[4] (2)

We’re all basically legalists at heart and if we don’t have an understanding of the gospel firmly fixed in our minds, we can easily fall into it.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

Isaiah 37 & 38:

That all the kingdoms of the earth may know

In yesterday’s reading, an emissary from the King of Assyria had set up camp outside the city trying to intimidate the Israelites into surrendering without a battle. When threatened, Hezekiah turned to God, not on the basis of what he deserved, but on the basis of who God is:

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see …” (vv. 37.16-17).

prayer, worshipThen he asked that God would move on their behalf but for His own glory:

“Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (v. 37.20).

This needs to be, not just the prayer of our lips, but the underlying desire of our hearts, as well, that God would receive glory through His work in our lives.

And sometimes that means walking through a trial instead of escaping from it. While it’s fine to pray and ask God to deliver us from tests and trials and difficulties, we must hold those requests in an open hand. Just as Jesus did, “… nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done, O Lord.”

But in this case, as He often does in our lives, God worked in an incredible, supernatural way, destroying the invaders without a battle! Continue reading

September 22 “Don’t be disqualified” & LINKUP

images[1] (3)

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13.5).

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 35 & 36
Psalm 109.6-13
Proverbs 25.27-28
2 Corinthians 13.1-14

 

Mans headIsaiah 35 & 36:

The schemes of the enemy

Chapter 36 repeats a story from the life of Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). The King of Assyria had sent the Rabshakeh as his representative to convince the Israelites to surrender. First, he stood outside the city wall and tried to intimidate them into surrendering. He even attacked their faith in God:

“Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” (v. 18).

When scare tactics didn’t, immediately, work, he tried sweetening the deal by saying, in effect, “Look, if you just surrender I’ll let you stay here in your own homes and your own land until later when I come back for you and take you to a really nice place, almost like this.”

In other words, see what I can do for you! Don’t trust your God, trust me! Continue reading

September 21 “When life hurts”

failureIn this life we’ll be hurt and mistreated, at times, sometimes even by those closest to us. The temptation is to give in and become bitter or vengeful. But our example is Christ who prayed even for His betrayers.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 33 & 34
Psalm 109.1-5
Proverbs 25.25-26
2 Corinthians 12.1-21

 

Isaiah 33 & 34:

God’s provision for the faithful

Chapter 33.15-16 says:

15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment, He makes provision for those who remain faithful.

But I couldn’t help noticing the two phrases in verse 15, “who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed” and “and shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” I don’t believe that means we shut our eyes and ears to the reality of evil and the need to know what is going on in our country and our world. But it seems to me it would apply to seeing and hearing those things for entertainment or enjoyment. I think each of us must think about what that means in respect to our movie, TV, and video game industries and even our own habits. Continue reading