August 12, 2017

August 12, 2017

JEREMIAH 1-3

Focus Verse: Then I said, “Alas, Lord God!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:6-8

 

If God has called you (and He has called all of us), then He will equip and empower you to complete the work that He has given you to do. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy. We can’t sit back and do nothing and expect God to bless us (unless that is what He has specifically called you to do). We can do our work from a position of rest though.

 

Are you resting in God’s calling today? What has He called you to do that feels impossible? Step out in obedience and work from a position of rest. Rest in what He has already done. Rest in the fact that the Holy Spirit is empowering you to accomplish what God so desires. Rest in the fact that you aren’t strong enough to screw up the will of God; that He will move through your weakness to show off His strength.

 

You may feel inadequate, but that’s a great place to be. It means that you have to rely on what Jesus did and what He will do through the Holy Spirit in you.

 

What an amazing God we serve!

August 11, 2017

August 11, 2017

ISAIAH 64-66

Focus Verse: But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2

 

This is what the Lord looks for in a servant of His. Therefore, this is what we need to become.

 

We need to be humble. This is repeated over and over again in scripture. Pride has no room in God’s Kingdom. It’s His way or the highway. Along with this, we need to have a contrite spirit and be able to recognize when we are wrong. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” in Matthew 5:3. When we are emptied of our spirit we can be filled with His Spirit.

 

And finally, we need to tremble at His Word. God’s Word, whether through His Holy Scripture or spoken through and to us by the Holy Spirit, must have ultimate authority in our lives. We need to eat, sleep, and breathe God’s Word. His Word must have the authority to rebuke and correct us AND WE MUST OBEY IT! It must have the authority to encourage us and assure us of the Father’s love for us. It needs to be the source that we turn to in everything.

 

This is the man and woman that God is looking for and this is the example that Jesus Christ lived out for us to follow. You can’t do it on your own, but Jesus did and will empower you to do it through His Holy Spirit IN you.

August 10, 2017

August 10, 2017

ISAIAH 59-63

Focus Verse: Yes, truth is lacking;
And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.
Now the Lord saw,
And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.
And He saw that there was no man,
And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;
Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,
And His righteousness upheld Him.
Isaiah 59:15-16

 

God knew that we could never work out our own salvation. Have you ever noticed that God’s first covenant in the Garden of Eden isn’t with Adam or Eve? It’s with Himself. The first person He addresses is the serpent and He tells him, “He will bruise your head and you will bruise His heel.” This is prophetic of Eve’s offspring (ultimately Jesus), but God never asks Eve (or Adam) if they are ok with that covenant. Why? Because it’s not their end of the bargain to up hold. So who is on that other end of the covenant? The eternal Jesus Christ. The Son who has been with the Father from the beginning entered into a covenant with the Father that day; God making a deal with Himself to uphold both ends of the covenant.

 

God knows that we can’t. That’s why He sent Jesus. That’s why Jesus was the plan all along. We can’t, but Jesus did. His arm brought us salvation and brought us to God. His righteousness upheld Him and now can also uphold us through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

 

You can’t, but Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in us.

August 9, 2017

August 9, 2017

ISAIAH 54-58

Focus Verse: “Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.
Isaiah 54:1

 

We miss how huge this passage is in our culture today. Now any woman who has struggled with or is struggling with not being able to have children has a much better understanding of this text, but most of us still miss the big picture culturally. In the time period that this was written and in the culture in which this was written, family was everything. Your worth was directly tied to your family. So for a woman who was unable to bear children, you had little to no worth. People didn’t marry for love. They married for status and family.

 

If you are struggling with not being able to have children, please know that I prayed for you while writing this. I don’t know who you are, but God does, and I firmly believe He answers prayers without expiration. My prayers don’t have an expiration date. He could be answering this prayer twenty years from now for someone who stumbles across this pile or thoughts and words from some random guy in Ohio.

 

And let me encourage you in something else: your worth is not tied to your ability to have children. And here’s where this passage applies to all of us. Culture does not define your worth. Young woman, you don’t need to be married to a “good Christian man” to find worth in your life. Young man, you don’t need to find “a good Christian woman” to find worth in your life. You don’t need that promotion at work, you don’t need to make more money, you don’t need more popularity, more friends, more knowledge. Those things don’t define your worth.

 

Your worth is tied to your Creator. A few verses later, in Isaiah 54:5, Isaiah tells the ‘barren woman’ that “your Maker is your Husband – the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, He is called the God of all the earth.” Come on now! With a husband like that, who needs anything or anyone else!

 

And that is exactly what Jesus Christ does for us. When He reveals to us a deeper understanding of who He is, we realize that we don’t have any other need. Our value is completely tied to the love of an Immortal Savior. Our worth is written on the palms of His hands.

August 8, 2017

August 8, 2017

ISAIAH 49-53

Focus Verse: But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
Isaiah 49:4

 

I have a question for you to think on, and you have to be painfully honest with yourself. To what extent is Jesus Christ enough for you? Give it a percentage. One hundred percent means that you need nothing else in this life, 0% means He has absolutely no value to you.

 

Now this is one of those easy questions to answer quickly. That’s why I said you need to be painfully honest with yourself. We know that we should be a 100% (those of us who are practicing Christians anyway). We may even say that we’re there. We sing the words to “Christ is Enough for Me” on Sunday and we’re good to go. But what does your life say? What does your reaction say when people spurn you? When you get stabbed in the back? When you get snubbed?

 

When you labor in vain and spend all of your strength for nothing at all, do you complain that it was all for nothing, or do you rest in the work Jesus Christ has already done? If we truly recognize that Jesus Christ is enough, if we see that He has our life securely in the palm of His hand and He is our reward, then we will never fret when other people let us down.

 

I know this is cheating, combining another Bible passage from today’s scripture reading, but read Isaiah 52:13-53. Seriously, take a minute, stop what you’re doing, and go read it. Pretend you’re doing some research so your boss won’t get mad. This passage was written over 500 years before Jesus was born. Do you see what this means? Jesus Christ was born for this. He was born for a life of suffering, injustice, rejection, brutality. This was God’s purpose for Him. He is the one speaking these words in Isaiah 49:4, “Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

 

Because of Christ’s trust in His Father; because His Father was the only reward He needed, He could life this life marked by suffering. The bitter pill of His death, injustice, rejection from those He loved most, could be swallowed because He knew that His reward rested with God. Not with man. Not on this earth. But with God.

 

How satisfied are you with Christ? Is His sacrifice enough for you? He gave 100% for you, will you give 100% for Him?

August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017

ISAIAH 45-48

Focus Verse: Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob,
you who are called by the name of Israel
and come from the line of Judah,
you who take oaths in the name of the Lord
and invoke the God of Israel—
but not in truth or righteousness—
you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city
and claim to rely on the God of Israel—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
Isaiah 48:1-2

 

We cannot live in the kingdom of God man’s way. Yet so many of us try. You are called by the name of the Lord, yet you don’t walk in truth or righteousness? How can that be? Because we are trying to live in God’s Kingdom man’s way.

 

But what if we stopped? What if we starting living in God’s Kingdom God’s way? What if we stopped thinking of ourselves at all and only thought of God?

 

Some might say this is absurd. My guess is that those people probably think pretty highly of themselves (that’s a dirty trick, I know). The idea of not thinking of oneself never crosses the mind of someone who thinks of him or herself all the time. Of course, this should be how we are about a lot of the things of God.

 

But let’s look at what Jesus did. Did Jesus think of Himself or of God? Did He try to live in God’s Kingdom His way or God’s way? Even the only begotten Son of God didn’t try to do things his way. Instead, He only did what He saw His Father doing and spoke what He heard His Father speaking.

 

What if we did the same?

 

You’re probably tired of hearing this by now (which is good, because it means you’re starting to get it down into your spirit…next step is to start living it!): you can’t, but Jesus did and will through the Holy Spirit in you.

August 6, 2017

August 6, 2017

ISAIAH 42-44

Focus Verse: The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
Isaiah 44:13

 

You have two choices when it comes to how you think about God. You either admit that He is Lord, and therefore has the right to correct you, rebuke you, change you, so that you can ultimately be made into His image, or you can refuse to change. You can look at the Bible as outdated, non-adaptive, and regressive. God’s Law was good for people back then, but we’ve grown so much, He just doesn’t understand. In the second situation we are telling God (though very few of us would use these exact words), “God, you need to get on my level here. I’m right, my culture is right, you are wrong, you need to be made more like me.”

 

Here in Isaiah 44, God is telling the Israelites how completely foolish idol worship is. The people are carving an idol to worship as their god out of the same wood that they burn to stay warm. What kind of god is that? “Well, those people were a little silly back then,” Some might concede, “but we have science now. We don’t worship silly stone and wood statues anymore.” And you’re right. Our worship is so much better. We worship money, social power, the idea of a perfect spouse or family. Those things are much more stable than wood, stone and metal.

 

We are all guilty of idol worship. We take created things and make them ultimate things. We take things that were meant to point us to God and shape them into our image to give us the glory that is due His name. And in the worst of situations, we take God Himself, drop the capital G, and make Him come down to our level. We justify sins, we refuse to serve others, we become the moral authority, because we don’t like what God is telling us we need to change.

 

But God already came down to our level. When Jesus Christ was born, He brought the fullness of God down into human form. BUT WHEN HE DID THAT, HE DID IT TO RAISE US UP, NOT BRING GOD DOWN. He humbled Himself so that we would have access to be made into God’s image. He gave Himself up so that we could have the power to let God change us.

 

You can’t, but Jesus did, and will through the Holy Spirit in you.