Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do not be afraid


In the midst of great turmoil there is great blessing.


God is speaking.
Words of comfort in a dark time...

Isaiah 44
1 “But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant,
Israel my chosen one.
2 The Lord who made you and helps you says:
Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
O dear Israel,[a] my chosen one.
3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
4 They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.
5 Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’
Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’
Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands
and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The grass withers and the flowers fade


“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

I'm 60 years old today

Things are very similar to when I was 30.
My plans had fallen apart.
My world had fallen apart.
The career I had dedicated myself to had blown up in our faces.
Our girls were little, and we wanted Patti to be a stay at home Mom.
We were in financial uncertainty as we left what we knew and launched something new and untested.
The economy was terrible, and the new career I had chosen - real estate sales - was in severe decline.

When I was 40, I was feeling no pain.
We had just bought a huge new house, and felt like we were on top of the world.
We had just become millionaires, owning 12 houses in Seattle.
Our girls were going into high school and middle school, and we were Oh-So-Proud of them.
Patti had managed to be a stay at home Mom, and we were reaping the rewards.
I threw a party with 125 guests.
I even hired a band to celebrate the auspicious occasion.
The next day I remember thinking, “I have a thousand acquaintences, but very few close friends.”

When I was 50, I owned a prosperous business.
For months, the members of the business put together a wonderful book, with a letter or note from each person.
It was heartwarming, and I have read it over many times since.
Both of our girls had graduated from college, and had married wonderful guys.
I was a multimillionaire, with confidence and great hope.
We had sponsered a Bible Study at our house for 5 years, and those 5 couples were our best friends.

Today I am 60.
The economy is in shambles.
The great Obama recession gets worse with every new trillion of deficit spending he throws away. Its all just printed money, so who cares, right?
We were to have retired two years ago.
Instead we are broke.
And deeply in debt.
I am doing real estate again. Trying to learn how it works in the age of the internet and social media.

My wife has stuck with me.
Our kids have wonderful marriages.
We have 4 beautiful grandchildren.

Our church has had some major transitions. Every one we used to be friends with have left. The average age has dropped by 20 years, even as we have gotten older.
I think my birthday party will just be my wife and I.
And I am thinking, “I have a few dozen acquaintences, and perhaps no close friends.”

And we are trying to rebuild.

I wonder what 70 will be like?
(Do I really want to know?)

Comfort

This passage has four separate meanings:

Isaiah 40
Comfort for God’s People

1 “Comfort, comfort my people,”
says your God.
2 “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone
and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over
for all her sins.”

3 Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!
4 Fill in the valleys,
and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
and smooth out the rough places.
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The Lord has spoken!”[a]

6 A voice said, “Shout!”
I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

9 O Zion, messenger of good news,
shout from the mountaintops!
Shout it louder, O Jerusalem.[b]
Shout, and do not be afraid.
Tell the towns of Judah,
“Your God is coming!”
10 Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
He will rule with a powerful arm.
See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd.
He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart.
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."

1. This is much needed comfort and encouragement for a people who have had lots of prophecy of impending punishment.
2. It is the passage that John the Baptist quoted, explaining his mission in life - to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
3. It is prophecy of what is still to come
4. It is a wonderful devotional passage for us right now...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Song of Deliverance



Psalm 76
For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph. A song to be accompanied by stringed instruments.


1 God is honored in Judah;
his name is great in Israel.
2 Jerusalem[a] is where he lives;
Mount Zion is his home.
3 There he has broken the fiery arrows of the enemy,
the shields and swords and weapons of war.Interlude

4 You are glorious and more majestic
than the everlasting mountains.[b]
5 Our boldest enemies have been plundered.
They lie before us in the sleep of death.
No warrior could lift a hand against us.
6 At the blast of your breath, O God of Jacob,
their horses and chariots lay still.

7 No wonder you are greatly feared!
Who can stand before you when your anger explodes?
8 From heaven you sentenced your enemies;
the earth trembled and stood silent before you.
9 You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God,
and to rescue the oppressed of the earth.Interlude
10 Human defiance only enhances your glory,
for you use it as a weapon.[c]

11 Make vows to the Lord your God, and keep them.
Let everyone bring tribute to the Awesome One.
12 For he breaks the pride of princes,
and the kings of the earth fear him.

Don't share your password, dob, ss# with strangers...

Hezzie has dodged two bullets.

The Assyrians were at his gates, threatening to flatten the city and make them all slaves.
He called out to God with a desperation we can only imagine!
God sent a miraculous, unbelievable rescue, and Hezzie and his subjects were safe.

Hezzie got sick.
Sick to death, the prophet said.
Hezzie got down on his knees, and pled for his life.
He was restored to health.

He was feeling grand.
Rather invulnerable, in fact.

Then he got the email.
"Your bank is doing an audit.
Go here to comply." (And of course, you need your password, dob, ss# so we know it is really you)
He quickly and eagerly supplied it all.
And then his bank account got cleaned out.

Although that happens a lot today, you might be surprised to learn it happened 3000 years ago...

Isaiah 39
Envoys from Babylon

1 "Soon after this, Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift. He had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick and that he had recovered. 2 Hezekiah was delighted with the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”

Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”

4 “What did they see in your palace?” asked Isaiah.

“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: 6 ‘The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.’”

8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”

OK.
Let me just say it.

Hezzie was an IDIOT!!!

Lament of a dying man!

After this amazing
astonishing
incredible
victory over the greatest empire in the world...

Hezekiah's own life crumbles away before his eyes.

Isaiah 38
Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

1 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’”

2 When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.

4 Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord: 5 “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life, 6 and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. Yes, I will defend this city.

7 “‘And this is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised: 8 I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial[h] of Ahaz!’” So the shadow on the sundial moved backward ten steps.

Hezekiah’s Poem of Praise

9 When King Hezekiah was well again, he wrote this poem:

10 I said, “In the prime of my life,
must I now enter the place of the dead?[i]
Am I to be robbed of the rest of my years?”
11 I said, “Never again will I see the Lord God
while still in the land of the living.
Never again will I see my friends
or be with those who live in this world.
12 My life has been blown away
like a shepherd’s tent in a storm.
It has been cut short,
as when a weaver cuts cloth from a loom.
Suddenly, my life was over.
13 I waited patiently all night,
but I was torn apart as though by lions.
Suddenly, my life was over.
14 Delirious, I chattered like a swallow or a crane,
and then I moaned like a mourning dove.
My eyes grew tired of looking to heaven for help.
I am in trouble, Lord. Help me!”

15 But what could I say?
For he himself sent this sickness.
Now I will walk humbly throughout my years
because of this anguish I have felt.
16 Lord, your discipline is good,
for it leads to life and health.
You restore my health
and allow me to live!
17 Yes, this anguish was good for me,
for you have rescued me from death
and forgiven all my sins.
18 For the dead[j] cannot praise you;
they cannot raise their voices in praise.
Those who go down to the grave
can no longer hope in your faithfulness.
19 Only the living can praise you as I do today.
Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
20 Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me!
I will sing his praises with instruments
every day of my life
in the Temple of the Lord.

21 Isaiah had said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil, and Hezekiah will recover.”

22 And Hezekiah had asked, “What sign will prove that I will go to the Temple of the Lord?”

Hezekiah's lament of the dying turned into the praise of a grateful heart.

19 Only the living can praise you as I do today.
Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next.
20 Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me!
I will sing his praises with instruments
every day of my life
in the Temple of the Lord.

Lord - may my life be a praise to you today!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

GOD ALMIGHTY

God Almighty.

GOD ALMIGHTY...

Humans have laughed, ridiculed, demeaned.
In human arrogance professors have defied and belittled.
Coworkers patronize and put down.

But in the end, it is GOD ALMIGHTY...

Isaiah Predicts Judah’s Deliverance

21 "Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22 the Lord has spoken this word against him:

“The virgin daughter of Zion
despises you and laughs at you.
The daughter of Jerusalem
shakes her head in derision as you flee.

23 “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing?
Against whom did you raise your voice?
At whom did you look with such haughty eyes?
It was the Holy One of Israel!
24 By your messengers you have defied the Lord.
You have said, ‘With my many chariots
I have conquered the highest mountains—
yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars
and its finest cypress trees.
I have reached its farthest heights
and explored its deepest forests.
25 I have dug wells in many foreign lands[e]
and refreshed myself with their water.
With the sole of my foot,
I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’

26 “But have you not heard?
I decided this long ago.
Long ago I planned it,
and now I am making it happen.
I planned for you to crush fortified cities
into heaps of rubble.
27 That is why their people have so little power
and are so frightened and confused.
They are as weak as grass,
as easily trampled as tender green shoots.
They are like grass sprouting on a housetop,
scorched[f] before it can grow lush and tall.

28 “But I know you well—
where you stay
and when you come and go.
I know the way you have raged against me.
29 And because of your raging against me
and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth.
I will make you return
by the same road on which you came.”

30 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true:

“This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,
and next year you will eat what springs up from that.
But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;
you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit.
31 And you who are left in Judah,
who have escaped the ravages of the siege,
will put roots down in your own soil
and grow up and flourish.
32 For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem,
a group of survivors from Mount Zion.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

33 “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

“‘His armies will not enter Jerusalem.
They will not even shoot an arrow at it.
They will not march outside its gates with their shields
nor build banks of earth against its walls.
34 The king will return to his own country
by the same road on which he came.
He will not enter this city,’
says the Lord.
35 ‘For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David,
I will defend this city and protect it.’”

36 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians[g] woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 37 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

38 One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria."

The king who seemed unstoppable was destroyed.
The little kingdom who seemed doomed was rescued.

Why?

Because GOD ALMIGHTY stepped in.

The ONLY defense!

The people of Judah were stuck.

The world empire of the time was at their door.
The diplomatic envoy had threatened them, warned them and intimidated them. They were humiliated and distraught.

They couldn't fight. In fact, as part of the war of intimidation, the Assyrian secretary of state had said that upon surrender his king would donate 2000 horses - IF THE KING OF JUDAH COULD FIND ENOUGH PEOPLE TO RIDE THEM!

Talk about an insult!

He was very specific and clear about religion. DO NOT think your little god can save you! All the nations we have crushed cried out to their gods. NONE of their gods saved them. How do you think your situation is any different?

Isaiah 37
Hezekiah Seeks the Lord’s Help

1 "When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. 2 And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby."

The only "out", the only defense King Hezekiah could hope for, was that the blasphemy and insults of God Almighty had been heard in heaven, and God would defend Judah to defend His great name!

4 "But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff,[a] sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”

Isaiah comes back strong. Like a true prophet!!

5 "After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, 6 the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. 7 Listen! I myself will move against him,[b] and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”

8 Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah.

9 Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[c] was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message:

10 “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11 You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12 Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! 13 What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

OK, Hezzie. I am leaving your area for now.

But do not think for a moment that your god delivered you. I WILL BE BACK!!

14 "After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: 16 “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 17 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

18 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 19 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 20 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.[d]”

Oh Lord, he prayed.

We are terrified!

Our only defense...

Our ONLY defense, is if you step in with your might and power.

Please Lord?

P-L-E-A-S-E-???

Diplomacy, Negotiation and Sacrilege!



Everything Isaiah warned about is now coming true.

The mightiest army on earth is at the gates.
They would prefer to defeat, enslave, scatter and tax the people without bloodshed.
However, they are perfectly able and willing to crush the little kingdom of Judah and take whatever they want.
It is the mighty empire of Iraq (Assyria) vs the tiny little country of Judah.
So here is some of the most one sided negotiation you will ever hear! It is laced with threats, bullying and lots of sacrilege...

Isaiah 36
Assyria Invades Judah

1 "In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,[b] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. 2 Then the king of Assyria sent his chief of staff[c] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.[d]

3 These are the officials who went out to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

4 Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:

“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 5 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? 6 On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!
7 “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
8 “I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! 9 With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? 10 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew,[e] for the people on the wall will hear.”

12 But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”

13 Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you. 15 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

16 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 17 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

18 “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 19 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 20 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

21 But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”

22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said."

This was a no win situation for the king and the people of Judah...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Crowned with everlasting joy...

Much of Isaiah is gloom and doom.
Here is a chapter full of promises.
What will happen to the people - and the land.
When the people are fully devoted to God, and God's blessing extends to every part of life.

Isaiah 35
Hope for Restoration

1 Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.
3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”

5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.

8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.
9 Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem[a] singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness."

They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy...
Like Christians have said throughout the ages -

"Even so, come Lord Jesus!!!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gracious

This part of Isaiah has chapter after chapter of woe and gloom. In the middle of it is this little passage:

18 "So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
Blessed are those who wait for his help.

19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
21 Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
whether to the right or to the left.
22 Then you will destroy all your silver idols
and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags,
saying to them, “Good riddance!”

23 Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. 24 The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. 25 In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. 26 The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them."

Punishment for wickedness, restoration and hope for righteousness.
God is gracious...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Everyone in the land will sing this song


After a series of messages of the judgement of God, Isaiah pauses with a song.
It is a song of deliverance.
A song of peace.
A song of joy.

Isaiah 26
A Song of Praise to the Lord

1 In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:

Our city is strong!
We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
2 Open the gates to all who are righteous;
allow the faithful to enter.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4 Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
5 He humbles the proud
and brings down the arrogant city.
He brings it down to the dust.
6 The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
and the needy walk all over it.

7 But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
8 Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
9 All night long I search for you;
in the morning I earnestly seek for God.
For only when you come to judge the earth
will people learn what is right.
10 Your kindness to the wicked
does not make them do good.
Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong
and take no notice of the Lord’s majesty.
11 O Lord, they pay no attention to your upraised fist.
Show them your eagerness to defend your people.
Then they will be ashamed.
Let your fire consume your enemies.

12 Lord, you will grant us peace;
all we have accomplished is really from you.
13 O Lord our God, others have ruled us,
but you alone are the one we worship.
14 Those we served before are dead and gone.
Their departed spirits will never return!
You attacked them and destroyed them,
and they are long forgotten.
15 O Lord, you have made our nation great;
yes, you have made us great.
You have extended our borders,
and we give you the glory!

16 Lord, in distress we searched for you.
We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline.
17 Just as a pregnant woman
writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth,
so were we in your presence, Lord.
18 We, too, writhe in agony,
but nothing comes of our suffering.
We have not given salvation to the earth,
nor brought life into the world.
19 But those who die in the Lord will live;
their bodies will rise again!
Those who sleep in the earth
will rise up and sing for joy!
For your life-giving light will fall like dew
on your people in the place of the dead!

Restoration for Israel

20 Go home, my people,
and lock your doors!
Hide yourselves for a little while
until the Lord’s anger has passed.
21 Look! The Lord is coming from heaven
to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed.
They will be brought out for all to see.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A refuge from the storm


Patti and I watched the movie 2012 when it first came out. Amazing special effects. A lot of family values underlying the story.

The plot revolves around a refuge built for a few, so they could survive.

In Isaiah 25 we see the refuge of those who DO follow God, Do obey Him, Do praise and worship Him...

Isaiah 25
Praise for Judgment and Salvation


1 O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them.
2 You turn mighty cities into heaps of ruins.
Cities with strong walls are turned to rubble.
Beautiful palaces in distant lands disappear
and will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore, strong nations will declare your glory;
ruthless nations will fear you.

4 But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord,
a tower of refuge to the needy in distress.
You are a refuge from the storm
and a shelter from the heat.
For the oppressive acts of ruthless people
are like a storm beating against a wall,
5 or like the relentless heat of the desert.
But you silence the roar of foreign nations.
As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat,
so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.

6 In Jerusalem,[f] the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will spread a wonderful feast
for all the people of the world.
It will be a delicious banquet
with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.
7 There he will remove the cloud of gloom,
the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
8 He will swallow up death forever![g]
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
against his land and people.
The Lord has spoken!

9 In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”

Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth

Isaiah 24
Destruction of the Earth


1 "Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth
and make it a vast wasteland.
He devastates the surface of the earth
and scatters the people.
2 Priests and laypeople,
servants and masters,
maids and mistresses,
buyers and sellers,
lenders and borrowers,
bankers and debtors—none will be spared.
3 The earth will be completely emptied and looted.
The Lord has spoken!

4 The earth mourns and dries up,
and the crops waste away and wither.
Even the greatest people on earth waste away.
5 The earth suffers for the sins of its people,
for they have twisted God’s instructions,
violated his laws,
and broken his everlasting covenant.
6 Therefore, a curse consumes the earth.
Its people must pay the price for their sin.
They are destroyed by fire,
and only a few are left alive.
7 The grapevines waste away,
and there is no new wine.
All the merrymakers sigh and mourn.
8 The cheerful sound of tambourines is stilled;
the happy cries of celebration are heard no more.
The melodious chords of the harp are silent.
9 Gone are the joys of wine and song;
alcoholic drink turns bitter in the mouth.
10 The city writhes in chaos;
every home is locked to keep out intruders.
11 Mobs gather in the streets, crying out for wine.
Joy has turned to gloom.
Gladness has been banished from the land.
12 The city is left in ruins,
its gates battered down.
13 Throughout the earth the story is the same—
only a remnant is left,
like the stray olives left on the tree
or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest.

14 But all who are left shout and sing for joy.
Those in the west praise the Lord’s majesty.
15 In eastern lands, give glory to the Lord.
In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
16 We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth,
songs that give glory to the Righteous One!

But my heart is heavy with grief.
Weep for me, for I wither away.
Deceit still prevails,
and treachery is everywhere.
17 Terror and traps and snares will be your lot,
you people of the earth.
18 Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap,
and those who escape the trap will be caught in a snare.

Destruction falls like rain from the heavens;
the foundations of the earth shake.
19 The earth has broken up.
It has utterly collapsed;
it is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunk.
It trembles like a tent in a storm.
It falls and will not rise again,
for the guilt of its rebellion is very heavy.

21 In that day the Lord will punish the gods in the heavens
and the proud rulers of the nations on earth.
22 They will be rounded up and put in prison.
They will be shut up in prison
and will finally be punished.
23 Then the glory of the moon will wane,
and the brightness of the sun will fade,
for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will rule on Mount Zion.
He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem,
in the sight of all the leaders of his people."

Wow! How would you like to preach this sermon!

I have often wondered why God did not defend Himself more. Why He did not take out those who are against Him.

He does!
He will!!
All in His good time!!!

God tires of Tyre

Isaiah 23
A Message about Tyre


1 This message came to me concerning Tyre:

Weep, O ships of Tarshish,
for the harbor and houses of Tyre are gone!
The rumors you heard in Cyprus[a]
are all true.
2 Mourn in silence, you people of the coast
and you merchants of Sidon.
Your traders crossed the sea,
3 sailing over deep waters.
They brought you grain from Egypt[b]
and harvests from along the Nile.
You were the marketplace of the world.

4 But now you are put to shame, city of Sidon,
for Tyre, the fortress of the sea, says,
“Now I am childless;
I have no sons or daughters.”

8 Who has brought this disaster on Tyre,
that great creator of kingdoms?
Her traders were all princes,
her merchants were nobles.
9 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has done it
to destroy your pride
and bring low all earth’s nobility.

15 For seventy years, the length of a king’s life, Tyre will be forgotten. But then the city will come back to life as in the song about the prostitute:

16 Take a harp and walk the streets,
you forgotten harlot.
Make sweet melody and sing your songs
so you will be remembered again.

17 Yes, after seventy years the Lord will revive Tyre. But she will be no different than she was before. She will again be a prostitute to all kingdoms around the world. 18 But in the end her profits will be given to the Lord. Her wealth will not be hoarded but will provide good food and fine clothing for the Lord’s priests."

God is patient.
God is loving.
God is a God of grace...

But He does expect repentance from sin, and a people who follow Him -

Or else!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Empires come and empires go...

Today's reading in Isaiah mentions the demise of some of the mighty empires of Isaiah's day. Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia. All will lose their status as empires and come crashing down.

Think of some of the recent empires of our day: Spain, England, Germany, Russia. All have come crashing down.

There is one major empire standing: USA. It will come crashing down. Today? Tomorrow? Who knows? But it will not be forever.

The next empires? Probably India and China. At some point there will be a world empire. But I am jumping ahead in the book...

Back to Isaiah.

Isaiah 18
A Message about Ethiopia

1 Listen, Ethiopia[a]—land of fluttering sails[b]
that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
2 that sends ambassadors
in swift boats down the river.

Go, swift messengers!
Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people,
who are feared far and wide
for their conquests and destruction,
and whose land is divided by rivers.

5 Even before you begin your attack,
while your plans are ripening like grapes,
the Lord will cut off your new growth with pruning shears.
He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
6 Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields
for the mountain vultures and wild animals."

Isaiah 19
A Message about Egypt

1 This message came to me concerning Egypt:

Look! The Lord is advancing against Egypt,
riding on a swift cloud.
The idols of Egypt tremble.
The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

16 In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 17 Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them."

Isaiah 21
A Message about Babylon

1 This message came to me concerning Babylon—the desert by the sea[i]:

Disaster is roaring down on you from the desert,
like a whirlwind sweeping in from the Negev.
2 I see a terrifying vision:
I see the betrayer betraying,
the destroyer destroying.
Go ahead, you Elamites and Medes,
attack and lay siege.
I will make an end
to all the groaning Babylon caused.

9 Now at last—look!
Here comes a man in a chariot
with a pair of horses!”
Then the watchman said,
“Babylon is fallen, fallen!
All the idols of Babylon
lie broken on the ground!”

A Message about Edom

11 This message came to me concerning Edom[k]:

Someone from Edom[l] keeps calling to me,
“Watchman, how much longer until morning?
When will the night be over?”
12 The watchman replies,
“Morning is coming, but night will soon return.
If you wish to ask again, then come back and ask.”

A Message about Arabia

13 This message came to me concerning Arabia:

O caravans from Dedan,
hide in the deserts of Arabia.
14 O people of Tema,
bring water to these thirsty people,
food to these weary refugees.
15 They have fled from the sword,
from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
and the terrors of battle.

16 The Lord said to me, “Within a year, counting each day,[m] all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 Only a few of its courageous archers will survive. I, the Lord, the God of Israel, have spoken!”

Empires come and go, but God is in control. Always has been. Always will be.

He is in control of world events right now...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Judgement - and mercy!


A lot of the book of Isaiah speaks of judgement - coming or come.
Here is a snippet of judgement - AND mercy!

Isaiah 17

4 “In that day Israel’s[n] glory will grow dim;
its robust body will waste away.
5 The whole land will look like a grainfield
after the harvesters have gathered the grain.
It will be desolate,
like the fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.
6 Only a few of its people will be left,
like stray olives left on a tree after the harvest.
Only two or three remain in the highest branches,
four or five scattered here and there on the limbs,”
declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

7 Then at last the people will look to their Creator
and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
8 They will no longer look to their idols for help
or worship what their own hands have made.
They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles
or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.
9 Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest,
like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned[o]
when the Israelites came here so long ago.
It will be utterly desolate.
10 Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you.
You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you.
So you may plant the finest grapevines
and import the most expensive seedlings.
11 They may sprout on the day you set them out;
yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them,
but you will never pick any grapes from them.
Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.

12 Listen! The armies of many nations
roar like the roaring of the sea.
Hear the thunder of the mighty forces
as they rush forward like thundering waves.
13 But though they thunder like breakers on a beach,
God will silence them, and they will run away.
They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind,
like a tumbleweed whirling before a storm.
14 In the evening Israel waits in terror,
but by dawn its enemies are dead.
This is the just reward of those who plunder us,
a fitting end for those who destroy us."

God is just.
He does judge.
But to those who repent and turn to Him, there is mercy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What happens if you don't pay your taxes?



Here is how things have worked throughout history...
Muster an army.
Defeat your neighbors.
Take anything and everything of theirs that you want.
Tax the survivors to within an inch of their lives.
(It's not called stealing. It's called government!)

So what if you don't want to pay taxes?

Think - IRS.
Think - horror stories...

2 Kings 17
Hoshea Rules in Israel


"Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.

3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. 4 But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypt[h] to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison.

Samaria Falls to Assyria


5 Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. 6 Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

7 This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. 8 They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols,[i] despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings.

13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire.[j] They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.

18 Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. 19 But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the Lord their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced. 20 The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel. He punished them by handing them over to their attackers until he had banished Israel from his presence."

So what happens when you don't pay your (awful, onerous, unfair, stupid, ridiculous, outrageous) taxes?

Oh, I don't know.... Attack? Prison? Devastation? Desolation?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fierce!

When did you last hear a sermon like this?
Isaiah is faithful to his calling, to "tell it like it is" and not try to play nice, or be funny, or go viral, or garner a big audience.
This is hard. No nonsense.

In one word:

FIERCE!

Isaiah 13
A Prophecy Against Babylon
1 An oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:

2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
shout to them;
beckon to them
to enter the gates of the nobles.

3 I have commanded my holy ones;
I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath—
those who rejoice in my triumph.

4 Listen, a noise on the mountains,
like that of a great multitude!
Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms,
like nations massing together!
The LORD Almighty is mustering
an army for war.

5 They come from faraway lands,
from the ends of the heavens—
the LORD and the weapons of his wrath—
to destroy the whole country.

6 Wail, for the day of the LORD is near;
it will come like destruction from the Almighty. [a]

7 Because of this, all hands will go limp,
every man's heart will melt.

8 Terror will seize them,
pain and anguish will grip them;
they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other,
their faces aflame.

9 See, the day of the LORD is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.

10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.

11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.

12 I will make man scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.

13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the LORD Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

14 Like a hunted gazelle,
like sheep without a shepherd,
each will return to his own people,
each will flee to his native land.

15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through;
all who are caught will fall by the sword.

16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.

17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes,
who do not care for silver
and have no delight in gold.

18 Their bows will strike down the young men;
they will have no mercy on infants
nor will they look with compassion on children.

19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the glory of the Babylonians' [b] pride,
will be overthrown by God
like Sodom and Gomorrah.

20 She will never be inhabited
or lived in through all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there,
no shepherd will rest his flocks there.

21 But desert creatures will lie there,
jackals will fill her houses;
there the owls will dwell,
and there the wild goats will leap about.

22 Hyenas will howl in her strongholds,
jackals in her luxurious palaces.
Her time is at hand,
and her days will not be prolonged.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Here am I - send me!

It started with a vision.
The vision shook Isaiah to his core.

Isaiah 6
Isaiah's Commission
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

In the middle of the vision, God ministers to Isaiah.

6 "Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Even as Isaiah was processing this amazing touch from God, he recieved a challenge from God.

8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Isaiah accepted the challenge. So then he was commissioned with a message and a task.

9 "He said, "Go and tell this people:
" 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. [g]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed."

11 Then I said, "For how long, O Lord?"
And he answered:
"Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,

12 until the LORD has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.

13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land."

The message was severe.
Judgement was certain.
The people would not listen or like it.

This was a life sentence for Isaiah, yet he never backed down, never wavered, never abandoned this calling that he had been given by God.

What have I been called to?
You?
How are we doing with the calling of God on our lives???

Woe to those who call evil good


Isaiah has a message. He is not at all bashful about delivering it.

15 "So man will be brought low
and mankind humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

16 But the LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.

17 Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture;
lambs will feed [f] among the ruins of the rich.

18 Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,
and wickedness as with cart ropes,

19 to those who say, "Let God hurry,
let him hasten his work
so we may see it.
Let it approach,
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come,
so we may know it."

20 Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine
and champions at mixing drinks,

23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
but deny justice to the innocent.

24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty
and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

25 Therefore the LORD's anger burns against his people;
his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
The mountains shake,
and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.

26 He lifts up a banner for the distant nations,
he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
swiftly and speedily!

27 Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
not a sandal thong is broken.

28 Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses' hoofs seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.

29 Their roar is like that of the lion,
they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
and carry it off with no one to rescue."

The nation had lost its fear of God. They called good evil, and evil good. Judgement was on the way! It was not going to be deferred!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Isaiah - My least favorite book!

I opened the Bible reading this morning and it was Isaiah 1-4.
Ugggg!

Isaiah is 66 chapters long.
The dude likes to write and write and write.

I don't question that it is the inspired Word of God.
I'm just saying that most of it is not Inspir-ING (to me)

Oh well, let's go...

He starts out tenderly.
Gently...

Isaiah 1
1 These are the visions that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He saw these visions during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah.[a]

A Message for Rebellious Judah

2 Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth!
This is what the Lord says:
“The children I raised and cared for
have rebelled against me.
3 Even an ox knows its owner,
and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—
but Israel doesn’t know its master.
My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
4 Oh, what a sinful nation they are—
loaded down with a burden of guilt.
They are evil people,
corrupt children who have rejected the Lord.
They have despised the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

5 Why do you continue to invite punishment?
Must you rebel forever?
Your head is injured,
and your heart is sick.
6 You are battered from head to foot—
covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—
without any soothing ointments or bandages.
7 Your country lies in ruins,
and your towns are burned.
Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes
and destroy everything they see.
8 Beautiful Jerusalem[b] stands abandoned
like a watchman’s shelter in a vineyard,
like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest,
like a helpless city under siege.
9 If the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
had not spared a few of us,[c]
we would have been wiped out like Sodom,
destroyed like Gomorrah.

10 Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.”
Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”
11 “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”
says the Lord.
“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fattened cattle.
I get no pleasure from the blood
of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to worship me,
who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?
13 Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;
the incense of your offerings disgusts me!
As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath
and your special days for fasting—
they are all sinful and false.
I want no more of your pious meetings.
14 I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.
They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!
15 When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.
Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,
for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.
16 Wash yourselves and be clean!
Get your sins out of my sight.
Give up your evil ways.
17 Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Isaiah. Hard headed. Giving a hard message to a hard people. Hard to read, just like it was hard to listen to back then...

I verse I memorized as a child is right at the end of this diatribe of woe.

18 “Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool."

God is merciful as well as righteous!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The God of Second Chances...


Because I am reading through the Bible in a year, the entire book of Jonah is allotted for today. We could spend a week in the book of Jonah, but we only have today.

What jumped out at me?

The very beginning of the book. God spoke to Jonah. No ambivalence as to whether it was really God speaking, and no lack of clarity about the message.

Jonah 1
1 "The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”

3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish."

We know the story. Jonah flees from God. The storm, the fish, the near death experience.

Now time has passed. Jonah is back home. It is as though nothing had happened, except he is older.

Jonah 3
1 "Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”

3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.[d] 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”

God gives Jonah a second chance. A second calling. It was the same calling. Just done again - a second time.

Were there no other prophets in Israel?

Did God NEED Jonah to fulfill God's purposes in Nineveh? - No, I don't think so. I think God just gave Jonah a second chance.

Did you ever mess up? Disobey? Not fulfill God's calling on your life?

Thank God for second chances...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Imprecation

im·pre·ca·tion 
/ˌɪmprɪˈkeɪʃən/ Show Spelled[im-pri-key-shuhn]
Show IPA –noun
1. the act of imprecating; cursing.
2. a curse; malediction.

Asaph was an artist and a musician.
But he could also speak without mincing words!

Psalm 83
A song. A psalm of Asaph.



1 O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf.
Do not be quiet, O God.
2 Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?
Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up?
3 They devise crafty schemes against your people;
they conspire against your precious ones.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us wipe out Israel as a nation.
We will destroy the very memory of its existence.”
5 Yes, this was their unanimous decision.
They signed a treaty as allies against you—
6 these Edomites and Ishmaelites;
Moabites and Hagrites;
7 Gebalites, Ammonites, and Amalekites;
and people from Philistia and Tyre.
8 Assyria has joined them, too,
and is allied with the descendants of Lot.Interlude

9 Do to them as you did to the Midianites
and as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River.
10 They were destroyed at Endor,
and their decaying corpses fertilized the soil.
11 Let their mighty nobles die as Oreb and Zeeb did.
Let all their princes die like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 for they said, “Let us seize for our own use
these pasturelands of God!”
13 O my God, scatter them like tumbleweed,
like chaff before the wind!
14 As a fire burns a forest
and as a flame sets mountains ablaze,
15 chase them with your fierce storm;
terrify them with your tempest.
16 Utterly disgrace them
until they submit to your name, O Lord.
17 Let them be ashamed and terrified forever.
Let them die in disgrace.
18 Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord,
that you alone are the Most High,
supreme over all the earth."

Some times it feels like those who are enemies of God have the upper hand.
Maybe now - but not forever!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Feel the Love!


The Bible is full of love stories.

Feel the love today...

2 Chronicles 21
Jehoram Rules in Judah
1 "When Jehoshaphat died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Jehoram became the next king.

2 Jehoram’s brothers—the other sons of Jehoshaphat—were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah.[j] 3 Their father had given each of them valuable gifts of silver, gold, and costly items, and also some of Judah’s fortified towns. However, he designated Jehoram as the next king because he was the oldest."

Here we have the set up.
Happy family.
All priviledged sons of the king.
Daddy give rich gifts to all of his children.

The crown goes to the eldest son, who loves his brothers dearly...

4 "But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah.
"
Oops!
Kills all his siblings.
(Feel the love...)

5 "Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 6 But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 7 But the Lord did not want to destroy David’s dynasty, for he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.

8 During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. 9 So Jehoram went out with his full army and all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them[k] under cover of darkness. 10 Even so, Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time. All this happened because Jehoram had abandoned the Lord, the God of his ancestors. 11 He had built pagan shrines in the hill country of Judah and had led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to give themselves to pagan gods and to go astray."

Feel the love toward God?
Oops, not much there.
(Feel the love...)

12 Then Elijah the prophet wrote Jehoram this letter:

“This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: You have not followed the good example of your father, Jehoshaphat, or your grandfather King Asa of Judah. 13 Instead, you have been as evil as the kings of Israel. You have led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship idols, just as King Ahab did in Israel. And you have even killed your own brothers, men who were better than you. 14 So now the Lord is about to strike you, your people, your children, your wives, and all that is yours with a heavy blow. 15 You yourself will suffer with a severe intestinal disease that will get worse each day until your bowels come out.”

Feel the warm love of God toward the king?
Oops. Not much there!
(Feel the love...)

16 "Then the Lord stirred up the Philistines and the Arabs, who lived near the Ethiopians,[l] to attack Jehoram. 17 They marched against Judah, broke down its defenses, and carried away everything of value in the royal palace, including the king’s sons and his wives. Only his youngest son, Ahaziah,[m] was spared."

Feel the warmth and kindness of the neighbors?
Oops. Not much there.
(Feel the love...)

18 "After all this, the Lord struck Jehoram with the severe intestinal disease. 19 The disease grew worse and worse, and at the end of two years it caused his bowels to come out, and he died in agony."

Feel the warm love of God toward the king?

Oops. Not much there!
Didn't we do this one already??
(Feel the love...)


 "His people did not build a great funeral fire to honor him as they had done for his ancestors.

20 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery."

Feel the warm love of the people toward their king?

Oops. Not much there!
(Feel the love...)

Yup.
This was a love story from start to finish!!!

Half Hearted



The craziest news piece I saw this year was a group of illegal aliens marching to defend their rights to stay in America, the land of opportunity.

How did they want to convince the public to see things their way? By waving a bunch of Mexican flags, in their march in the USA, while they were here illegally, trying to be accepted as Americans!

Say what?

I call that half hearted. (As well as very stupid!)

Half hearted was the description of the people of Israel following God during much of the last half of the Old Testament. Here is the summary of a "good" kings life.

Summary of Jehoshaphat’s Reign

31 "So Jehoshaphat ruled over the land of Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi.

32 Jehoshaphat was a good king, following the ways of his father, Asa. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. 33 During his reign, however, he failed to remove all the pagan shrines, and the people never fully committed themselves to follow the God of their ancestors.

34 The rest of the events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Jehu Son of Hanani, which is included in The Book of the Kings of Israel.

35 Some time later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked.[g] 36 Together they built a fleet of trading ships[h] at the port of Ezion-geber. 37 Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “Because you have allied yourself with King Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy your work.” So the ships met with disaster and never put out to sea."

He followed God, but didn't follow all the way.

Did God bless him?

Yes - half heartedly!

I'm a Christian but...


One of the most disturbing things about the luke warm Christianity in North America is the disconnect between faith and right living.

I'm a Christian but... I live and have sex with my girlfriend.
I'm a Christian but... I party and take drugs.
I'm a Christian but... I get drunk pretty regularly.
I'm a Christian but... I never go to church.
I'm a Christian but... I love to gossip.
I'm a Christian but... I have no regard whatsoever for the lost souls around me.
I'm a Christian but... I am the least inpiring person you know.
I'm a Christian but... I swear a blue streak at ball games.
I'm a Christian but...

The list goes on and on.

When I travel around the world and see the fervent, vibrant Christianity in other countries, then compare it to the luke warm Christianity in North America, it is discouraging.

That half hearted approach to following God never happened before, did it? Never happened any where else, did it?

2 Chronicles 19

1 "When King Jehoshaphat of Judah arrived safely home in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. “Why should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” he asked the king. “Because of what you have done, the Lord is very angry with you. 3 Even so, there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles throughout the land, and you have committed yourself to seeking God.”

In the Old Testament there is this L-O-N-G section of a good king followed by a bad king. Of people who sort of want God's blessings, but are also worshipping other gods. Who clean up their act, then fall back into whole sale sin.

4 "Jehoshaphat lived in Jerusalem, but he went out among the people, traveling from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, encouraging the people to return to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 5 He appointed judges throughout the nation in all the fortified towns, 6 and he said to them, “Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the Lord. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. 7 Fear the Lord and judge with integrity, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.”

8 In Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests and clan leaders in Israel to serve as judges for cases involving the Lord’s regulations and for civil disputes. 9 These were his instructions to them: “You must always act in the fear of the Lord, with faithfulness and an undivided heart. 10 Whenever a case comes to you from fellow citizens in an outlying town, whether a murder case or some other violation of God’s laws, commands, decrees, or regulations, you must warn them not to sin against the Lord, so that he will not be angry with you and them. Do this and you will not be guilty.

11 “Amariah the high priest will have final say in all cases involving the Lord. Zebadiah son of Ishmael, a leader from the tribe of Judah, will have final say in all civil cases. The Levites will assist you in making sure that justice is served. Take courage as you fulfill your duties, and may the Lord be with those who do what is right.”

This was a GOOD king.

After a long time, God brings punishment to His people.

Sounds a lot like where we are today...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Happy Fourth
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Another digital scrapbooking design by Smilebox

The truth wins out...

The truth wins out...
Funny thing that -

The lie seems S-O-O-O much easier at the start...


But in the end?

The truth always wins out...


The Death of Ahab
29 "So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.

31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his thirty-two chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel. Don’t bother with anyone else!” 32 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But when Jehoshaphat called out, 33 the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, and they stopped chasing him.

34 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses[b] and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!”

35 The battle raged all that day, and the king remained propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran down to the floor of his chariot, and as evening arrived he died. 36 Just as the sun was setting, the cry ran through his troops: “We’re done for! Run for your lives!”

37 So the king died, and his body was taken to Samaria and buried there. 38 Then his chariot was washed beside the pool of Samaria, and dogs came and licked his blood at the place where the prostitutes bathed,[c] just as the Lord had promised.

39 The rest of the events in Ahab’s reign and everything he did, including the story of the ivory palace and the towns he built, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel. 40 So Ahab died, and his son Ahaziah became the next king."

A random arrow...

Between the joints of his armor...

A wicked king dies.

Just like the Lord said!

I HATE him!!

This story could be called, "Be careful who you listen to"
Or, "I hate him."
Or, "When you don't like the truth, you will listen to lies..."

1 Kings 22
Jehoshaphat and Ahab


1 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. 2 Then during the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel. 3 During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, “Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!”

4 Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.” 5 Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

6 So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”

They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.”

7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

8 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Micaiah Prophesies against Ahab


10 King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. 11 One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”

12 All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

13 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

14 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

15 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”

Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

16 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”

17 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed.[a] Send them home in peace.’”

18 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

19 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’

“There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’

22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.

“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’

“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.

25 And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”

26 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. 27 Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”

28 But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Over communicating


Have you ever been with someone who talked too much?
Especially if you are a cut and dried, "just the facts, Ma'am" type of person?

I can be one of those...
My wife is a non talker.
I am a talker.
We have been married a long time, so I know when she is totally not interested and tuning me out.
I have learned to say, "Do you want the short version, or the long version?"

Today we run into a vital piece of communication. It is the "passing of the mantle" of prophetic leadership in Israel from Elijah to Elisha.

As you can see, they did not believe in over communicating.

The Call of Elisha


19 "So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”

Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant."


W-H-A-T ???

He just goes up, throws his cloak over his shoulders and walks away?

No speech?

No, "The Lord has chosen you??"

Wow!

We will see later, that Elisha doesn't talk a lot either.