Thursday, September 21, 2017

September 21: Isaiah 37 – 38; Psalm 65; Proverbs 23:24; Galatians 6



Overview

            Isaiah: When Hezekiah heard what the Rabshakeh had said, he went to the house of the Lord and sent his officials to Isaiah. They asked Isaiah to pray so that the Lord would save the remnant left in Judah because the Rabshakeh had mocked God. Speaking for God, Isaiah told them not be afraid because the Lord would put a spirit in the Assyrian king so he would go back to his own land and die by the sword.
            The Rabshakeh went back to the king of Assyria at Libnah. The king left Lachish because he heard the king of Cush was coming to fight. The king sent a message back to Hezekiah also mocking the Lord because he had conquered other lands and gods.
            Hezekiah took the letter to the temple and placed it before the Lord and prayed. He acknowledged God as king over all and asked him to hear and see the word of Sennacherib. He admitted that Sennacherib had done all he said but the gods were nothing but wood and stone idols. He asked the Lord to save them so all kingdoms on earth would know there is only one God.
            Isaiah responded by the word of God because of Hezekiah’s prayer with a prophecy about Sennacherib: Zion despises the Assyrian king because he reviled the Lord of Israel and because of his boasting. The Lord asks Sennacherib if he hadn’t heard that God determined long ago that his would happen, that Sennacherib would defeat lands. The Lord knows all his moves and his raging against the Lord. Therefore, the Lord will control him and send him home.
            Hezekiah was given a sign: they would eat what grows by itself, the second year what springs from that, and the third year they will sow and reap for a remnant will come out of Jerusalem.
            The Lord said that the king of Assyria will not enter Jerusalem because the Lord will defend it. That night, the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians and Sennacherib went home where his sons killed him.
            Hezekiah became ill and close to death. Isaiah went to tell him he would die and Hezekiah wept. He prayed to be spared because he had been faithful. So, the Lord turned Isaiah around to tell Hezekiah the Lord had given him 15 more years. He was given a sign, the sun turned back its shadow ten steps of the sun dial.
            Hezekiah wrote a poem about the experience. In it, he bemoaned that he was going to die at midlife. He would not see the Lord in the land of the living. He told of how he was feeling in his illness and bitterness at leaving life. But he acknowledged that God had spoken. He asked to be restored to health for it was for his good that he suffered. But in love the Lord delivered him from death and forgave his sins. The grave doesn’t praise or thank God, only the living do, that as he now does, and he will tell his children. He will play music all the days of his life in the house of the Lord.
            Isaiah had told them to put a fig poultice on the boil to heal him.
            Psalm: David says praises are due to God for he hears our prayer and he atones for our sins. He chooses whom he saves. God answers us with righteousness and is our hope. He is the one who rules over all nature. Everyone in the world sees this. He provides for the earth with rain and bountiful harvests. The wilderness provides grass and the meadows are filled with flocks. All shout for Joy.
            Proverbs: A person with a righteous and wise child will have joy.
            Galatians: We need to be careful how we work with someone caught in sin. We need to do it from a position of being spiritual and gentle. Working with them can tempt us to sin. We need to first deal with our own sins and fulfill Christ’s law. If we think we are good at this when we aren’t, then we deceive ourselves. We need to examine how we do this and not compare ourselves to others. When we are instructed, we should be willing to share with our instructor the good things we have.
            Be aware that God can’t be mocked. If we feed our sinful nature, we will be destroyed by it. But, when we do what the Spirit wants, we’ll receive eternal life from him. So, let’s not get tired and give up doing good because we will be rewarded in the end. We need to do good to both believers and everyone else.
            Paul penned at least one line in his own hand writing and in big letters. He summarizes that those who force circumcision are doing it for show and to persecute the cross of Christ. They don’t even keep the whole Law but want them to be circumcised to boast of converting the Galatians. Paul will only boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, which has put the world to death to him and him to the world. Circumcision or not is of no matter, but becoming a new creation is important. Keep this in mind and do it and you will have peace and mercy along with the Israel of God.
            From now on, stop giving Paul trouble because he has suffered physically for Jesus.
            Paul blesses the Galatians with grace from the Lord Jesus Christ.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isa 38:17).         
            Psalm: “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” (Ps 65:4).
            Proverbs: “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him” (Prov 23:24).
            Galatians: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal 6:1).

Insight

            Isaiah: In reading this account of Hezekiah’s illness in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, it doesn’t mention Hezekiah’s poem after his recovery. In relating what happened to him, he passes on a very profound statement about the situation. He says that his bitterness came for his welfare. People are usually bitter about what the Lord is doing in their lives because there is some root of sin. They could be prideful and rebellious. They could be focusing their attention too much on worldly things and not on the Lord. From 2 Chronicles 32:24-30, it is clear that Hezekiah had a pride issue even after his healing and he also had great riches.
            Hezekiah also acknowledged that his healing came only because of the Lord’s love for him. In the other accounts, it would appear that he was healed only because he prayed. We should remember that when the Lord answers our prayers, it isn’t because of something we’ve done or any merit we have in ourselves. It is because of his love for us. He knows what is best and because of his love he will work out a good solution to our prayers, not necessarily the one we think is best.
            Hezekiah also was aware that in delivering him, the Lord had also forgiven his sins. Sometimes in the middle of our bitterness, we wake up and realize that it is sinful. When we confess those sins, that bitterness and others, God is faithful to forgive us.
            Psalm: What is one sign of a person who is maturing in his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? David expressed it in Psalm 65:4. After admitting that sin often prevails and defeats us he announces that God atones for them. The result of that atonement is becoming satisfied with God in his temple. Back then, it was all about being in or near the temple of God. Now, we have the Holy Spirit living in us and we are the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16). As we mature in Christ and as we become more and more successful in preventing sin from prevailing over us, we become more and more satisfied with the Lord. It is only because of the Holy Spirit living in us that this happens and that is one of the reasons we are satisfied in the Lord instead of all the things this world offers.
            If we are not satisfied in the Lord, we will look for other things to be satisfied. The truth is that nothing outside of the Lord can satisfy us. Therefore, we put other things in place of the Lord and guess what? Sin prevails over us. Paul said he had learned the secret of being content or satisfied (Phil 4:11-12). He expressed it as being able to do all things through Jesus (Phil 4:13). That sounds like being satisfied in the Lord. We need to work on being satisfied in the Lord if we want to be mature and content.
            Proverbs: We can’t guarantee that our kids will grow up to be righteous and wise, but we can be diligent to teach God’s word to them and live it out in our lives (Deut 6:5-9). When we do that, it will make a difference. One thing that living out our lives by God’s word means is that we don’t exasperate our kids when we instruct them (Eph 6:4). This is probably the number one reason that kids rebel. Our teaching doesn’t match up with our walk and our discipline chaffs them instead of smooths them. Having our kids grow up to be godly has a lot to do with us, but ultimately, it is between them and the Lord. We can rejoice when we see them walking with the Lord as adults.
            Galatians: Not everyone should become a Christian biblical counselor. While we are called upon to help others in their spiritual crisis and even ongoing sin, we have to be careful how involved we become. First of all, not everyone is competent to counsel even though Paul said the Romans were (Rom 15:14). They were competent because they were filled with goodness and knowledge to do so. An important part of this is be filled with goodness. When we are really struggling with sin in our lives we make lousy biblical counselors. Everyone sins so I’m not talking about that and neither was Paul. If he was, then no one should ever counsel another. Paul mentions that we need to fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2) and that law tells us to love one another but it also says we need to get rid of the major sins in our lives before we start picking at the little ones in other people’s lives (Matt 7:3-5). We need to work on our goodness.
            The other thing we need to do is work on our knowledge. If we don’t have a good grasp on the word of God, then we will be lousy counselors because we will not be biblical. Human phycology is a poor substitute for biblical knowledge. It is based on human reason and human reason is flawed because of the fall. So, we need to stick to what has proven right and that is the Bible.
            When a person is ill-prepared to bear another’s burdens, a strange thing happens. The very sin that the you are trying to help a person with becomes a temptation to you. That is Paul’s warning for even experience counselor (Gal 6:1).

Application

            I want to find all my satisfaction in the Lord. If things don’t go the way I want or think they should go, I do not want to be bitter. If I can to this, then I pray I will be able to offer good counsel to help others carry their burden.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20: Isaiah 33:13 – 36; Psalm 64; Proverbs 23:23; Galatians 5:13-26



Overview

            Isaiah: Who can dwell with God, who is a consuming fire. Not the sinners of Zion, but those who abhor sin and take no part in it. They will be saved. They will see God in his beauty. They won’t see the sinners. They will see the eternal Jerusalem. The Lord will be there in majesty. For the Lord is Judge and King. He will save them. They will be forgiven of their sins.
            God is angry with all the nations and their armies. He has devoted them to destruction. There will be dead all over the place. The Lord is doing it. It will begin in Bozrah of Edom. It will be the day of the Lord’s vengeance to recompense Zion. Edom will be a burning torch forever. Only animals will live there among the brambles. All the animals listed will be there according to the Book of the Lord.
            The desert will bloom like Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon. It will see the glory of the Lord. The weak will be strengthened and the fearful will be strong. Blind will see, deaf will hear, and the lame healed. There will be streams and pools in the desert.
            The highway of holiness will be there and only the righteous will walk on it. Even a fool will be able to walk it without going astray (ESV). Fools will not be able to travel it (NAS). No harmful animals will go on it and the ransomed of the Lord will use it to return to Zion with singing and joy.
            Sennacherib invaded Judah in the 14th year of Hezekiah. His Rabshakeh came to Jerusalem with a great army and spoke to Hezekiah’s officials. He said that trusting in Egypt or the Lord was futile because they couldn’t defeat the least in his army. He also claimed the Lord told him to destroy Judah.
            Jerusalem’s officials asked him not speak in Hebrew. He refused and called out in the hearing of the men on the wall saying that Hezekiah was deceiving them by saying that the Lord would save them. He promised them plenty and security if they surrendered. He said that the gods of other lands had not saved them and the Lord could not save Jerusalem. The men on the wall were silent in obedience to Hezekiah.
            Psalm: David starts this Psalm with complete honesty and transparency. He is complaining to the Lord. He lists the things that are bothering him. Most of his problems are what his enemies are saying against him as well as what they say they are planning. They are looking for ways to do injustice. But God takes them down quickly and all their evil talk comes against them. When people see this, they know it is from God and tell others. The righteous are glad and take refuge in the Lord.
            Proverbs: Getting truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding cost something but you shouldn’t charge others for it.
            Galatians: Since we have freedom, we are not to use that freedom to indulge in sinful behavior but to serve others. The Law is summed up in loving others as you love yourself. If you don’t you will be destroying each other.
            We are to live by the Spirit so we don’t satisfy our sinful desires, that is our flesh. Our flesh and the Spirit are opposed to each other and that’s why we don’t do what we want. Being led by the Spirit is not being under the Law. The flesh wants all sort of evils listed and anyone who keeps on doing these will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the evidence of the Spirit working is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). If you belong to Jesus then you have crucified all the fleshly passions and desires. If we are living by the Spirit, don’t be conceited about it and thereby provoke other or envy them.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?’” (Isa 33:14).        
            Psalm: “Preserve my life from dread of the enemy” (Ps 64:1).
            Proverbs: “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Prov 23:23).
            Galatians: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21).

Insight

            Isaiah: If a person expresses the fear that was in the sinners of Jerusalem (Isa 33:14), they are in a better position to be saved than others. They understood that they couldn’t dwell in the presences of the Lord because of their sins. This is the first thing a person needs to do when they come to the Lord. They need to admit their sin. Anyone who thinks they are not so terrible to need a Savior will never be saved.
            The next thing they need to do is repent and that means they have to forsake their sins and change their behavior (Isa 33:15). This could be mistaken for a works religion but the truth of the matter is that this change can only take place when the Holy Spirit works in a person. The changed behavior is a sign of repentance rather than something done to gain God’s approval.
            Then salvation comes when that sinner places his trust in the Lord Jesus. He is the rock of defense (Isa 33:16). Without trust in Jesus, admitting sin and what appears to be repentance is not going to save a person. I say appears to be repentance because many people can turn over a new leaf and live a better life without trusting Jesus for salvation. They must know that Jesus has paid the penalty for their sins and that is the only reason they can be saved.
            They will then have the assurance of their salvation. They will see the Lord in their lives and will eventually be welcomed into the New Jerusalem to see the Lord up close and personal (Isa 33:17).
            Psalm: Worries and dreads of all sorts of things surround us every day if we focus on them. I could dread going to work because it seems overwhelming or boring. I could worry about my financial situation because I’m not getting a raise but taxes, utilities, food, and gasoline are all costing more along with needing that iPhone that costs $1,000. We’ve had two major hurricanes in the U.S. and more on the way. Caribbean islands have been hit even worse. Mexico has had it’s second major earthquake in a week or so. North Korea is threatening peace for the U.S., South Korea, and Japan. Trump is promising to destroy North Korea if they try. If you aren’t having dread, then the Lord is answering this prayer to preserve you from dread of the enemy.
             When our focus is on the Lord, we can have peace even in the midst of all these “enemies.” When we know that our future is not on this earth but with the Lord, we can accept those things we can’t control. We can pray and not be anxious but have God’s peace in our heart, which transcends all understanding (Phil 4:6-7). His peace transcends understanding because it is supernatural and not rational. It is a gift of his grace when we trust in him and do as David did. Pray!
Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God.
Thomas a Kempis
            Proverbs: What does it cost to get truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding? It cost Jesus his position in heaven to come to the earth and then die on the cross so we could have all of it. It costs us our personal sovereignty. We have to give ourselves to Jesus and let him become our Sovereign. We then give it away by telling others about salvation through Jesus Christ. They don’t pay us for it, but they also have to give up their struggle against Jesus to have it.
            Galatians: It may seem contradictory to some in the way Paul is writing to the Galatians. In one sentence, he says we are free and not under the Law and in another he says we have the passions and they fight the Spirit. If we follow these passions we aren’t going to get to heaven. Then the list includes at least some of the things that we do occasionally if not daily, though some of them we wouldn’t even think of doing. How do we really “walk by the Spirit?”
            One thing we have to understand is that anyone who is not working on the list of evils and desiring to have the fruit of the Spirit is the one that will not get to heaven. If there is no evidence of the Holy Spirit working in their lives, then they can be quite sure they aren’t saved. For those who recognize their sin and want to get rid of it, they know that they can confess those occasional sins and Jesus will cleanse them from their unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
            Another thing to understand is that we can’t really be led by the Spirit if we don’t even know what he wants. That is where knowing the Bible comes in. He has told us what he wants. He has told us through Paul that he doesn’t want a bunch of things and he does want some other things (Gal 5:19-23). There are other lists as well. We need to submit to him and let him clean us up. We can’t be doing the things we want and ignoring him working in our conscience, which is tuned by the Word of God.  

Application

             I’m going to focus on the Lord for peace of mind and to be led by the Holy Spirit. I’m going to go over the basics of what it is to be saved and confess my sins knowing Jesus will cleans me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19: Isaiah 30:12 – 33:12; Psalm 63; Proverbs 23:22; Galatians 5:1-12



Overview

            Isaiah: The Lord said that their destruction will be sudden like a wall falling down because they trust in oppression and despise God’s word. If they return and rest, they will be saved but they were not willing. They will flee and try to save themselves even though he waits to be gracious to them. Blessed are those who wait for him.
            In the future, there will not be any more weeping over past afflictions. They will have a Teacher who will guide them and be visibly with them. They will throw away their idols. God will give prosperity. The light of the moon will be like the sun and the sun seven times brighter.
            But now, the Lord is coming in anger to sift the nations. He will strike the Assyrians while Jerusalem has a song in the night and a holy feast. He has prepared a burning place for the Assyrians and especially for their king.
            Again, there is woe for those who try to escape to Egypt instead of trusting the Lord. They think they are wise. But the Egyptians are not God and can’t help. They will perish. The Lord will protect Jerusalem like a lion over its prey. He tells the children of Israel to throw away their idols. The Assyrians will be killed by God and not men. They will all flee away.
            A king will reign in righteousness and princes in justice. It will be like a refreshing wind. Eyes will be opened and fools and scoundrels will be recognized for what they are. The fool has a sinful heart and speaks against the Lord. The scoundrel plans wickedness and oppression.
            In a year the grape harvest will fail and women who are at ease will shudder. Mourn for the good fields for they will be filled with thorns. The city will be deserted. This will be until the Spirit is poured out and the environment restored with justice and righteousness. Righteousness will bring peace, quietness, and trust forever. God’s people will be secure. But now the city will be laid low.
            The destroyer has not yet been destroyed. He will be when his job of destroying is finished. So, Isaiah asks for God to be gracious while they wait for the Lord. People are fleeing and he asks for their salvation, for God to rouse up.
            The Lord is exalted and he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will bring stability, salvation, wisdom, and fear of the Lord. In the meantime, there is no peace and covenants are broken. The land is in ruins. This is when the Lord say he will arise and be exalted. The people will be burned up like chaff.
            Psalm: David compares his desire for God with the thirst of a person in a desert. He has seen God’s glory and power in the tabernacle and he knows that God’s love is steadfast. So, he will praise the Lord. When he does, his soul is satisfied the same as someone who has feasted on the best foods. He also meditates in the night and has joy. His soul clings to the Lord.
            His enemies will die but he will rejoice in the Lord along with everyone who swears by the Lord. Liars will be silenced.
            Proverbs: Pay attention to your father, you wouldn’t be around without him. Honor your mother when she is old.
            Galatians: Christ set us free from slavery to the Law. Once we put anything in the Law, circumcision, or anything else in place of or in addition to faith in Jesus, Christ is not going to save you. That is because you don’t really have faith in Jesus but it is in the Law and you don’t have saving grace. By faith by the Spirit we have righteousness. Being circumcised or not has no value. Only faith that is demonstrated in love counts.
            At first, it seemed the Galatians were having this kind of faith but who stopped them from obeying this truth? That kind of error didn’t come from God who called them. Paul has confidence that they will listen to him and the ones who are distracting them will be punished. If Paul still preached circumcision he would not be persecuted because the offence of the cross wouldn’t be there. He wishes that that those who are messing with the Galatians would cut off their private parts.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isa 30:18).         
            Psalm: “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Ps 63:4 NIV).
            Proverbs: “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old” (Prov 23:22).
            Galatians: “I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you” (Gal 5:2).

Insight

            Isaiah: In today’s reading, there are two “waitings.” The Lord is waiting and the people who are looking to the Lord for salvation are waiting. At that time, he was waiting for the people to either turn back to honor him as the Lord or for their evil and injustice to get to the point where he would destroy them. Most of the people were not waiting for him they were trusting Egypt, idols, or their own devices to save them. He says that those who were waiting for Him would be blessed (Isa 30:18). Indeed, he gave examples of how it would be when all the waiting for him would be finishe. There would be peace, justice, and righteousness in Zion and even the whole world.
            We are still waiting for the Lord now. Some are predicting that this Saturday, September 23, 2017 will be the end of the world/rapture. That would be great! But it probably won’t happen because their predictions are more speculations than good biblical research. Namely, that Jesus told us that no one know the day and hour (Matt 24:36). Good research would have stopped at that verse and not looked at the weather, earthquakes, and cosmic alignment to add to the Bible. Now all those things tell us that Jesus’ return may be very near, but predicting a date is not what he wants us to do. He wants us to trust him and be alert doing what he wants us to do when he comes. Just look at all the times in Isaiah that God puts down oppressors, fools, and those who love injustice. Just like he wanted his people to turn from those things, he wants us to live godly lives now. That is the way to wait for him and be blessed.
            Psalm: Why do you praise God? David said he did because of God’s love is better than life (Ps 63:3). Not only did he say he praised God but he would praise him all the days of his life. Do we want to do the same? If asked point blank like that, I’m sure most of us would say we do. Then we should look at our lives and see how much we really do praise him and why we praise him. I would venture to say that many praise him because God has been a “good genie.” He has provided good things, health, healing, position, wealth, and many other things. It isn’t wrong to praise him for all that, but it is if we have that “good genie” attitude toward him. We should first praise him for his love in saving us (Rom 5:8). We should also praise him for the good and bad times. The bad times help us to grow and be molded into the image of Jesus. That is a tremendous reason to praise him. And, yes, we should praise him for all the good things in our lives. They are more abundant that we can imagine.
            Proverbs: Not all fathers give good advice but we should still listen to them, what their life here has taught them. We can learn from them even if they were not the best fathers. When it comes to mothers, they should be honored to the day of their death. Likewise, she may have not been the best mother, but she is still your mother. Be kind to her even if she isn’t kind to you.
            Galatians: Paul’s writing in today’s reading is solid in establishing that you can’t add anything to faith in Jesus in order to be saved. Any attempt to do that proves you don’t have saving faith in Jesus. He says that adding circumcision to faith in Christ will make that faith worthless (Gal 5:2). Why is that? Why can’t we have faith in Jesus and also have some other things that add to it for salvation? That’s what cults do. They say you just need to trust in Jesus and … They add some other person or activity to the requirement for salvation. Adding people is ridiculous because there is no other name under heaven by which me must be saved (Acts 4:12). Adding anything else (circumcision, baptism, communion, sacraments) as a requirement is simply trying to add works to our salvation and that is also wrong because we are save only by faith and that is a gift (Eph 2:8-9). Adding any of the works means that we can boast in doing what we had to do, saying we are were good enough. Adding a person or works means that Jesus isn’t sufficient and he doesn’t get the glory. Adding anything means we really don’t have saving faith in Jesus and have made something else or someone else an idol.

Application

             I want to be obedient. It isn’t to be saved but to show I am saved. That means waiting patiently for him and trusting him. It means praising him all my life.