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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18: Isaiah 28:14 – 30:11; Psalm 62; Proverbs 23:19-21; Galatians 3:23 – 4



Overview

            Isaiah: Because scoffers think they can escape death by some kind of agreement with death and taken refuge in their lies, God will lay a foundation in Zion. It will be a sure stone, which will save those who believe in it. It will set the standard for justice and righteousness. It will wipe away the lies and cancel their covenant with death. It will bring terror on them. God will raise himself up on Mount Perazim and do strange things. Stop scoffing because God has decreed it.
            Farmers prepare the soil for planting and stop at the right time. They thresh different grains differently and stop at the right time. This is by the Lord’s wisdom to them.
            The city of Ariel where David camped will come to a time when God will besiege it and bring it low. It will only be a short time and the enemies will be blown away like dust when the Lord comes. All the pains of the enemy will be like a dream. Be astonished because the Lord is going to give you a spiritual sleep without prophets or seers. This vision will be like a sealed book that no one can read because it is sealed or they are illiterate.
            This will happen because the people pay lip service to the Lord. He will bring wonders on them and their wise men will die and no one will have discernment. They think they can hid their deeds from the Lord. They think God didn’t make them and he doesn’t understand them.
            Yet in the future, Lebanon will become fruitful, the deaf will hear, the blind will see, the meek will have joy, and the poor will exult in the Lord. The evil, scoffers, and oppressors will be no more.
            Therefore, Abraham’s redeemer, the Lord, says that Jacob will no longer be ashamed of his children for they will sanctify God’s name and stand in awe of him. The ones who go astray will get understanding and instruction.
            The Lord says his children are stubborn because they look to Egypt for protection without asking him. So, Pharaoh will shame them and be no help at all.
            God’s word to the Negeb: they will carry their goods through the Negeb to Egypt to buy help but it will be worthless. Write this on a tablet so that when it happens it will be a witness forever. The people are rebellious and liars and won’t listen and reject the prophets. They only want to hear what they want and not what the Lord says.
            Psalm: David asserts that God is his only salvation and he will not be shaken by evil people who physically or verbally abuse. All his hope is in God. He advises us to trust in the Lord at all times. We can pour out our hearts to him because he is our refuge. Neither high nor low people in society are worthy of trust because they are mortal and disappear. Don’t trust in ill-gotten gain or riches of any kind. Power belongs to God and he takes care of us according to our work.
            Proverbs: Be wise and steer your heart in the right way, not in drunkenness and gluttony. They will become poor along with lazy people.
            Galatians: Paul explains that the Law held us captive until faith was revealed. It was a guardian until Jesus came and we could be justified by faith. Now that we have faith, we don’t need the guardian because we are sons of God. We have put on Christ being baptized in him. It is the same for every one of every race, sex, and socioeconomic position. In Christ, we are heirs of Abraham.
            It is like a child who has inherited an estate. He owns everything but is like a slave because he is under guardians until he reaches a certain age. We were enslaved by basic religious instructions. At the fullness of time, God sent Jesus who was born under the Law to redeem us from the Law and be adopted as sons. Because we are sons, we have Jesus’ Holy Spirit crying, “Abba Father.” Since we are sons we are heirs.
            Those that didn’t even know God were enslaved by demons. But now that you know God how can you turn back to demons or basic religious instructions that are weak and can’t save? Observing all these special days only enslaves. Paul is afraid his work with the Galatians was in vain.
            He asks them to be like he is. They never insulted him even though he had illnesses that actually helped him preach the gospel to them. They received him just like he was Jesus. They would have given them their eyes if they could. So, what has happened? He told them the truth and now they are upset with him? The ones that have been teaching a false gospel only want to discredit Paul so everyone will pay attention to them. Paul doesn’t understand why they changed their attitude toward him.
            If they want to be under the Law again, then they should look at Abraham who had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. The slave’s son was by the flesh but the free son was by the promise. Allegorically, they represent two covenants, the Law of slavery from Mount Sinai and the other from Jerusalem and is free. The Galatians are like Isaac, children of promise. Just as the son born of the flesh persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, it is now. The slave woman and her son were cast out so we are children of the free woman.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions’” (Isa 30:10).
            Psalm: “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Ps 62:2).
            Proverbs: “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags” (Prov 23:21).
            Galatians: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Gal 4:9).

Insight

            Isaiah: I just read a summary/editorial of Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened.[1] It apparently tells about how Hillary coped with the loss of the election. It tells about the books she read trying to take her mind off the loss. At one point, she turned to a sermon by Paul Tillich[2] that had helped her in the past. I read Tillich’s sermon and when I read Isaiah 30:10, I thought, this is what people are looking for today. They turn to theologians like Tillich to find a God that suits their needs rather than turning to the Lord who has made himself clear in the Bible. They hear things like universal acceptance without the need to believe in Jesus. They hear that all they need to do is accept themselves so they can accept others and love themselves to love others when they realize God accepts them.[3] The word repentance doesn’t come into play. The word worship isn’t used. Philosophical jargon and psychology replace biblical definitions of sin and grace.
            We may not worship idols, but what we do worship is anything but God who made us and has sovereign control over us. We should look at the prophecies against all these people and countries and see ourselves. Isaiah was told to write on a tablet that would be a witness to future rebellious people that we are unwilling to hear the Lord but only what we want to hear (Isa 30:8-10). We have that tablet in the Bible. Let us open our eyes to read it and obey.
            Psalm: David again refers to God as his Rock, the rock of his salvation. In Isaiah, we were introduced to the cornerstone in which is the standard for righteousness and justice. They are both the same. When we see Jesus as our Rock, we also see God’s standard for righteousness and justice as well as our means of salvation. The problem with many who reject Jesus is that they stumble over those standards of righteousness and justice. They think one of two things. They think they must become righteous like Jesus or they think they don’t want to have anything to do with being righteous. The don’t realize that once they fall onto the Rock, that is, trust in him completely for their salvation, then they receive his righteousness in place of theirs. That is the answer for those who think they have to be good enough before trusting Jesus. Those that don’t want to be righteous will have Jesus’ justice crush them because they won’t accept him.
            Proverbs: I think more people who become alcoholics end up in poverty than those who are able to navigate it and retain their wealth. Add to this Proverb drug abuse and even more people fall into poverty because of it. What is even worse is that everyone who practices sin and doesn’t turn to Jesus for salvation becomes spiritually poor but not in the good way of realizing it (Matt 5:3) and turning to Jesus. Those who continue to practice it all their lives will find eternal poverty.
            Galatians: The Galatians were being hounded by people who kept telling them that if they really wanted to be saved and to please God, they would have to obey the Jewish religious Law. They would have to observe all the correct feast days, abstain from certain foods, separate themselves from Gentiles, be circumcised, and offer sacrifices by the priests. These were some of the elementary or basic principles that they would have to observe. As soon as they got those down, they would have to look at the traditions of the elders that Jesus had already condemned. Jesus condemned the traditions because they were more important than the basic principles.
            We have churches today that do the same thing. We call them legalistic churches. They write up lists of things that you have to do to be spiritual. If you adhere to them, you can count yourself among the spiritually gifted people. You are holy. If you get those down pat, you can always find more things to do. There then becomes an echelon as you can become priests or other high-ranking clergy. Common people plod along doing what they can and just hoping it will be good enough. However, no one really knows if he’s done enough in these religions.
            It is sad to know that these things are still going on. Christian sects or cults embrace the need to observe all the Jewish feasts. When they do it because they believe it helps them be better Christians, they are a sect. When they do it because they believe it is necessary for salvation, they are a cult. The good news is that it doesn’t matter who you are, Jew or Gentile (Gal 3:28), our salvation is found in Christ (Gal 3:26) and we are free from all of the legalistic bonds (Gal 3:24; 4:5).

Application

             Jesus is my Rock. I find my salvation in him and him alone. I don’t have to do all the legalistic things in the law. I can’t do anything that would make me more a child of God than I already am. However, that doesn’t mean I am free to sin. Thank you, Jesus.