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Showing posts from July, 2018

“Relationships”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 59-63 DISCUSSION Could you imagine what it was like to be Adam and Eve?You are living in paradise and you have God meeting with you and talking with you on a minute by minute basis.It is the closest thing to heaven that this world has ever and will ever be.Yet in Genesis 3, all that changed.The world that Adam and Eve were living in would forever be altered.The sins that they committed got them kicked out of paradise. They now had to work for their food with hard labor.Eve would now have to suffer greatly with the pain of childbirth.However, none of these consequences of their sins were as painful as the wedge that had been placed between God and man.It is only thousands of years later as Isaiah describeshow the sins of the nations of Israel and Judah have affected their relationship with God; do we get a clear picture of that wedge.“…Your iniquities has made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you…” (Isaiah 59.2).As we co…

“My Love Will Not Depart”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 54-58 DISCUSSION We have all been there haven’t we; alone, depressed, feeling that the whole world is against us.We are even tempted with the feeling that even God has abandoned us.We have prayed and received no reply, we have searched and found no answers and we have cried and gotten no comfort.It is these types of feelings that remind me of why passages like this were written. "This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:9-10) Even though we may feel as though God is distant, He isn’t.Even though we may feel unloved and unappreciated, we aren’t.Even though the world may be against us, He remains steadfast for us.Just a…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Isaiah 49-53

“There is Power in the Pause”

BIBLE READING: 2 Kings 18. 9-37, 19.1-37; Psalms 46, 80, 135 DISCUSSION As you read through the book of Psalms, you will inevitably come to a word with which you are not familiar.The word “Selah” is found seventy-one times within the book of Psalms.As for its definition, no one can be completely sure; although it does seem to be a musical term.Many people believe this to be a musical term that signifies a place in the psalm that requires a brief pause.Within our reading for the day that does seem to fit the message of Psalm 46.The word “Selah” is used three times in this short song. However, if we take it to mean that we should take a pause to reflect on the words that we have just read or sung about, then maybe there should be a fourth.In Psalm 46.10, the writer writes, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The writer seems to want us to take an extra moment to pause in reflect in the fact that God, is God.There is much power in pausing to reflecting on God; it helps us to find a true pe…

“The Folly of Idolatry”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 44-48 DISCUSSION Over the next few chapters it seems God is trying to get His people to understand just how ridiculous their idolatry has become.The items that they have been worshipping have all been made by human hands.How can a deity claim any power over humanity if it was fashioned by the hands of a human?The answer is clear; it shouldn’t have any power over man at all.Yet it did, but only because they allowed it to.It seems like a foreign concept to us today to understand how people of God could fall away and begin to worship something that was man made.Rather, it should seem like a foreign concept to us, but it doesn’t.In fact, it has become more of a norm for us.We may not bow down and pay homage to statue or idol, but we do allow man made things to influence how we live our lives. Whether it be cars, clothes, homes, toys or just cold hard cash, we have allowed these man-made things to rule over us.The situation today isn’t that different from Isaiah’s day, …

“Defining God”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 40-43 DISCUSSION How do you define God? There are several terms that we could use such as Great, Awesome, Love, Light, Perfect, yet none of them fully give a description of the God that we serve.Although it is comprehensive, Isaiah gives a great description of God.“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:28-29).Everlasting… Creator… Unsearchable…, all of these words are difficult for us to fully comprehend, yet God is all of them and more.I want to encourage you to meditate on these words for a few moments and then bow your head and rejoice in the fact that this God is your God.In fact, He is more than your God; He is your Father! Prayer Requests:______________________________________________________________________

“THE POWER OF THANK YOU”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 37-39; Psalms 76 DISCUSSION                 In Isaiah 38, King Hezekiah had grown sick and was at the point of death.  God has already told him to get his house in order because he was not going to recover from this sickness.  It is then that we see a prayer that the King utters, literally on his death bed.  This prayer is recorded in Isaiah 38.3 … "Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (Isaiah 38:3).  That is all that we have recorded of this prayer, yet there is something else we do not have; the personal thoughts of a dying man.  I am sure that there was a whole lot more communication going on between Hezekiah and God, along with this short prayer he verbalized.  The reason I believe that is found later in a letter he wrote after he recovered.  Within this letter, there is a very powerful phrase Hezekiah mentions that allowed …

“THE ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 35-36 DISCUSSION Isaiah’s words continue to be those of gloom and doom, due to the wickedness of the nation and the impending punishment to come at the hands of the Babylonians.God does offer a ray of hope to those that will be able to return afterward.“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." (Isaiah 35:3-4). In the moment of suffering, it is very easy to want to give up and concede all hope, yet that is when we need to be motivated to continue and endure.Paul offers us a bit of insight on two separate occasions: First to the church at Rome, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).Then again to the church at Corinth, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an ete…

“THE EFFECT OF THE RIGHTEOUS”

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 31-34 DISCUSSION And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” -Isaiah 32:17-18 Did you know that there is an effect of your righteousness?Isaiah notes that effect will “peace…quietness and trust forever”, but what exactly is righteousness?W.E. Vines’ Greek dictionary of righteousness is… "the character or quality of being right or just"; it was formerly spelled "rightwiseness," which clearly expresses the meaning. It was a characteristic of God, as well as a gift to those who placed their trust in Christ.Paul said, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5.21).Most believe that “righteousness” is simply living a good holy life, but in reality, all of our righteous deeds are equivalent to “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64.6).T…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Isaiah 28-30

Saturday

BIBLE READING: Hosea 8-14 DISCUSSION                The book of Hosea has to be studied while understanding the religion of the Canaanites.  Israel was coming back to Palestine being inhabited for over a thousand years.  They learned farming from the people that they did not drive out of the land.  However, Canaanite farming was integrally woven with their spiritual beliefs.  El, Baal, and Dagon were very popular deities in the Canaanite religion along with the female counterparts of Asherah, Astarte, and Anath.  Temples for these gods were open air shrines located in high places with a wooden object to represent the female and a stone to represent the male.  They would often have sacrifices and festivals that would focus on fertility for man, animal, and field.  Ritual fornication and beastiality were quite common.                The Israelites had deeply engrained the idolatry of the Canaanites (Hosea 8:13).  Look at some of the names of their cities: Ishbaal, Baaljada, Meribbaal, etc.…

Friday

BIBLE READING: Hosea 1-7 DISCUSSION                So often in life, we are looking for our purpose.  We ask questions like, “Why am I here?” or “What does God want from me?”  Imagine if you’re Hosea.  You’re God’s prophet.  You’ve seen and heard stories of so many prophets before you and the great things they’ve done.  You wonder what God’s great purpose will be for you.  Then, God tells you, “Go, and take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry.  For the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2)  If you’re Hosea, what’s your reaction?  “Huh?  You want me to do what!”  So, Hosea goes and gets a wife, Gomer, and has three children whose names are “vengeance” (Jezreel), “no compassion” (Lo-Ruhammah), and “not my people” (Lo-Ammi).  Hosea finds out his purpose in life, in being a prophet for God, is to be an analogy for God’s relationship with His people, and he does it well and serves God in the best way he knows how.                In his bo…

"Time to Clean House"

BIBLE READING: 2 Kings 18. 1-8; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalms 48 King Hezekiah is one of the bright spots in a list of evil people who served as king.As he begins his rule, one of the first things he commands to be done is to carry the filth out of the Holy Place of God.The filth he was referring to was the pagan cult objects that had been placed by his predecessors in the sanctuary of the Temple.This was such an abomination to Hezekiah that he ordered at once people to go in and clean house.Not only that, the King reminds them that they were “ministers” of God and could not afford to be found negligent and allow this filth to return.The lesson for us today is pretty clear. How many of us need to clean our house?I am not talking about all of the dusting and vacuuming we might need, I mean removing all of those things from our homes and our lives that might pervert our worship to God.Too many of us have bitterness, anger, jealousy, and lust within our hearts.All of these things are similar…

"Victory Over Death"

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 23-27 The greatest gift that we have today is the complete will of God revealed to us on the printed pages of our Bibles.The Bible contains the greatest love story that has and will ever be told.It tells of the love that God has with His creation; our humanity.Yet just as all good love stories, this one has a tragedy as well.The tragedy happened during the fall of man in Genesis 3.Not only did man sin and separate himself from God, he also began to experience what it means to be human in death. It was from that moment that God began to tell of the coming of the greatest source of love… Jesus Christ. The message of the cross of Jesus is woven into the fibers of every page of Scripture.It doesn’t take long for us to see Jesus within the reading for the day.Isaiah continues his prophesy of the impending doom that is coming to the various nations of the world, but He also offers a message of hope and promise. “And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that …

"God Bless America"

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 18-22 It wasn’t that long ago that you were celebrating our countries independence with hot dogs, stews and fireworks.As we gather every year with family, we too share in some of those same traditions.We celebrate because we feel that the United States is the greatest country in the world and that God has blessed our country since its infancy.God certainly has blessed the United States of America, but He has also blessed China, Great Britain and even North Korea.In fact, every nation of the world can share the same slogan that we feel we may have trademarked.As we continue our readings from Isaiah we learn a good bit about the Sovereignty of God.Sovereignty is not a word that we typically use in our daily vocabulary, yet that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important word.It means “dominion and rule” and as it applies to God, He has complete dominion and rule over every nation that exists, that has existed, and even those that could exist in the future.Does God care what…

"The Goodness & Severity of God"

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 13-17 In recent years there seems to have been a rise of televangelists, ministers and teachers that teach the goodness and love of God.It is hard to argue with them about God’s goodness and love.Yes, God has been very good to us.Yes, God loves us so much He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us.However, these teachers omit a very important part of their theology of God.Notice Paul’s words to the church at Rome, “…note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (Romans 11.22). It is very easy to speak of the goodness and love of God, but very difficult to speak of his severity and judgment.Everyone loves a God that is full of blessings and goodness, yet it is harder to desire a God that is also full of vengeance and punishment.As Paul puts it to the Romans, you can’t have one without the other; both make up God.In…

Sunday

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17

"What does the Lord Require?"

BIBLE READING: Micah 1-7
The divided nation of Israel has fallen into idolatry. To pull them back, He sends them messengers to relay His will to the people. One of those messengers was Micah. He was from the town of Moresheth, a town from the kingdom of Judah.Micah will accuse the nation of Israel and bring His judgment on all the cities that have done wickedness, specifically stealing and having corrupt prophets.However, Micah’s message is not one of all gloom and doom.In fact, the second part of his message is one of hope and the promise of a new kingdom on the other side. The people of Micah’s day, as well as the people of today, want to know the answer to one specific question; “What does God want from me?”.Essentially, we have all asked the question in our mind, what is it that God wants me to do?Here is the Lord’s reply through the prophet Micah “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”Maybe we need to ponder on that thought for just a moment. When…

"A New Hope"

BIBLE READING: Micah 1-7 As a product of the seventies and eighties, the phase “A New Hope” would spark images of Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker into my imagination.The evil Empire, lead by Darth Vader, had been winning the war against the Rebel forces to the point of extinction, that is until the New Hope arrived.Luke Skywalker and his new-found Jedi powers offered a hope to the Rebel forces that they could and would overcome the forces of evil.Well…if you remove the concept of the Jedi, the light sabers and the hairy Wookie, you have a similar situation in the days of Isaiah.The children of Israel had succumbed the forces of evil and were on the brink of being overrun by their enemies.After a period of suffering and dismay, God would send them a New Hope.Isaiah refers to this hope as “…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6). That New Hope is Jesus.Do you feel overrun, at the end of your rope or feel that you just can’t seem to g…

"How is your Plumb Line"

BIBLE READING: Amos 6-9                Do you know what a plumb line is?  It’s a weighted string that hangs.  The weight on the end of the string allows the pull of gravity to stretch a string straight down.  It is considered to be a perfect vertical standard.  If you’re setting up a wall of a house or fence posts for a fence, a plumb line can be crucial to make sure the wall, or the fence, stands completely and perfectly vertical and won’t fall over.  In Amos 7:7-9, one of Amos’s five visions about Israel is about a plumb line that the Lord held next to a wall.  The Lord told Amos that he was setting it in the midst of Israel, in a sense, to see if they measured up to His standards.  If they came up crooked, He would discard them.  God expects every (spiritual) wall that we build to be built by His plumb line.  All of us are building a “wall of character”… bit by bit… day by day… decision by decision.  We may choose to build it by the rule of pleasure, or by the rule of popular opinio…

"Country Boy"

BIBLE READING: Amos 1-5
               Amos was an interesting “fella” (and yes, I use that term on purpose).  You see, he was a country boy in every aspect; he was a “herdsman of Tekoa” (Amos 1:1) and describes himself as being “no prophet”, no “son of a prophet”, but a “sheep breeder and a tender of sycamore fruit.” (Amos 7:14)  Here was this country boy sent to the BIG CITY of Bethel in Israel.  He would be perceived as an outsider, and that would work well for him because he would be unsympathetic to the pampered lifestyle the people of Bethel were leading at the time.  In fact, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, was in direct opposition to him (Amos 7:10-13) and basically told him to “GET OUT!”  The difficulty that Amos found was that the Israelites were so prosperous at the time that the rich got richer, and the poor got poorer.  Amos 5:11 says that they “tread down the poor”.  Amos 6:4-7 describes them as people who “lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from …

"The Eagerness of Horshack"

BIBLE READING:  Isaiah 5-8 “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me." -Isaiah 6:8                 As a kid growing up in the seventies, I used to beg to stay up past my curfew to watch the sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”.  The show was based on a high school teacher who teaches a group of misfit kids who are growing up in the projects.  One of the lead characters was a student name Arnold Horshack.   Although I can’t recall much of the television show, I can vividly remember Horshack’s eagerness to answer Mr. Kotters questions.  He would raise his hand and wave it back and forth just as fast as he can, all the while screaming “EWWW, EWWWW, EWWWW, pick me Mr. Kotter”.  Although it became annoying due to the unusual tone of his voice, I always appreciated his eagerness to step up to the plate and answer the question.  In our reading for the day, The LORD asks a very important question as He i…

"Going Through the Motions"

BIBLE READING: Isaiah 1-4 It must have been very frustrating to God, to watch His people turn their back on Him following idols.  It must have just burned Him, to see the typical Israelite come and offer up his sacrifices to the Lord.  Although the sacrifice was full of hypocrisy and sin, it still gave them a sense of accomplishment that they had done something good.  If we know anything from our readings of the Bible, we know that the Lord doesn’t delight in the sacrifices; He delights in obedience.  The children of Israel were doing what many of us are guilty of today; they were just going through the motions.  Yes they made their sacrifices, but their heart was not in them.  As God says, through Isaiah the prophet, even the ox knows it owner and the donkey his home, yet Israel does not know God.   They knew Him, but they did not know Him, as in, understand, appreciate, respect, revere or love Him.  They had been too caught up in their own lives, too busy to have a healthy relationsh…

"The Value of a Godly Example"

BIBLE READING:  2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25
A common theme from the readings of the last few weeks, seem to have been something along the lines of this… “he did evil in the sight of the LORD and followed in the footsteps of his father”.  These kings were only following the examples of those that went before them.  The example we set for others is something that we must be constantly concerned about.  It is important that we live lives that point others in the direction of Jesus.  When I was a child, I remember an old Gospel preacher telling us that we must be careful how we walk, because there is always someone watching us.  Of course, God was watching us, but he was reminding us that there were others watching us as well.  Each one of us is writing our own story of how Christ has impacted our life and each day many people read that story.  We must be careful of how we live and present a story that reflects the life of Jesus.  People are following your footsteps; are they leading other…

"A Little Leaven..."

BIBLE READING: 2 Kings 12-13; 2 Chronicles 24 In the book of Galatians, Paul is surprised that the Christians in Galatia had already turned aside to a different doctrine.It seems that part of their problem had been they had allowed some false teacher to creep in and confuse them by saying that they had to adhere to specific aspects of the Mosaic Law; namely circumcision.As he finishes up his letter, he makes this statement in Galatians 5.9 “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”.What he meant was, it doesn’t take much of something to corrupt the whole thing.The same could be said of King Jehoash in 2 Kings 12.Revival seems to be on the horizon as Jehoash begins to do the kinds of things that will lead God’s people on the straight and narrow.In fact, 2 Kings 12.2 says that “Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days…”.However, there was one little thing that Jehoash failed to do “Nevertheless, the high places were not taken down” (2 Kings 12.3).These high places we…

"Jehu's Vision Problem"

BIBLE READING: 2 Kings 9-11 What a great victory Jehu must have thought he had accomplished in destroying all the prophets of Baal along with their temple in 2 Kings 10.18-27.Not only did they destroy it, but the Bible said that they made it a “latrine” or “sewer”.I am sure this was an event that was spoken of for months and years after the fact and considered a great accomplishment.As it was a great accomplishment, it may have also served as an accomplishment of Jehu.Could it be that Jehu felt good about his accomplishment; so good maybe that he thought he did not have to do anything else? Sadly, in 2 Kings 10.29, we read that “Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.How could a man do so much good, while at the same time do so much evil?Maybe Jehu had a vision problem?Maybe Jehu could see very clearly to notice the sins of others but failed to see his own shortcomings.It was very easy for him to see the sins of the prophets of B…