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...