Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12: Isaiah 10 – 11; Psalm 56; Proverbs 23:6-8; 2 Corinthians 12:11-21



Overview

            Isaiah: Woe to those who oppress the poor and fatherless. What will they do when their punishment happens? They can’t flee and no one will help; all they can do is die. God’s anger hasn’t turned away.
            Assyria is God’s instrument of anger and God has sent them against Jerusalem to kill and plunder. But their heart is not right. They think their commanders are kings. They think that because they have destroyed nations with idols that they can do the same to Jerusalem. When they have finished punishing Jerusalem, God will punish them for their arrogance and boasts.
            God affirms that he is the one that has done this. He changes national boundaries and bring down kings. Should Assyria boast as if it were the one that did this rather than the one that was used by God? It is like an axe boasting over its user So, God will punish them with sickness, he will burn and devour them. There will be so few left that a child could count them.
            In that day, the remnant of Israel will lean on the Lord instead of their enemies. A remnant will return though they were once like the sand of the sea. The Lord has decreed destruction to the full on the earth. It will be done in righteousness.
            The Lord tells his people in Zion not to be afraid of the Assyrians. When they have finished punishing them, his anger will cease against Jerusalem. It will then be directed against Assyria and he will destroy them like he did Midian and Egypt.
            Assyria will march though Israel and stop at Jerusalem. There, the Lord will stop them and cut them down like a tree.
            Then the Messiah will come with the Spirit of the Lord resting on him. He will judge righteously. He will be faithful. At this coming, changes will occur in nature so that predators and prey will graze together and be led by a child. There will no longer be destruction and everyone will know the Lord. The root of Jesse will draw all nation to himself. The Lord will, for a second time, bring the remnant of Israel from all nations.
            There won’t be any who will want to attack Israel or Judah. Instead, they will conquer and plunder all the surrounding nations. Those wanting to return to Israel will have a clear path.
            Psalm: David is writing from his troubles again. He again asks the Lord to be gracious to him because his enemies are causing problems. He is afraid but he trusts in God so what can man do to him if God is for him? However, they continue to watch him and wait for opportunity to kill him. He asks God to take them down. God knows his sleepless nights and his tears. He knows that when he asks God, his enemies will turn back. He reiterates that he trusts in God whom he praises and asks what can man, who has no comparison to God, do to him. He will be able to make his vows because of God’s rescue. He will give thanks and walk in God’s light.
            Proverbs: Don’t accept a stingy person’s hospitality or desire what he has. While he says to eat and drink, he doesn’t really want you to eat much because it is costing him. What you do eat, you will puke and your words of compliment are wasted.
            2 Corinthians: Paul says the Corinthians forced him to be a fool because they should have commended him. He isn’t inferior to the super-apostles though he is nothing. He performed sign, was patient, and treated them the same as other churches except he didn’t take support from them. He asks forgiveness for not taking their money.
            He is going to visit for the third time and he wants them, not their money. In the same way parents save for their children, so he has spent himself for their souls. He loves them so should they love him less? They may say he deceitfully took advantage of them by not burdening them. He asks them how he or anyone he sent to them took advantage of them. Did Titus? Didn’t everyone have the same Spirit and act the same way?
            The Corinthians may have thought he and his companions were defending themselves, but they have really been ministering in the sight of God to build them up in Christ. He suspects that when he visits, the Corinthians will not be the way he wishes and he not the way they wish. He thinks that he will still find quarreling and other sins against each other as well as all of the sexual immorality instead of repentance. In that case he will mourn over them.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes” (Isa 10:12). 
            Psalm: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Ps 56:8).
            Proverbs: “For he is like one who is inwardly calculating. ‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you,
but his heart is not with you” (Prov 23:7).
            2 Corinthians: “It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved” (2 Cor 12:19).

Insight

            Isaiah: The Lord makes it very plain in this reading that he is sovereign over nations and peoples. He is the one that sent Assyria against Israel and on into Judah. The Assyrians thought that they had done this by their own power. They boasted about being able to conquer all the other gods of the lands they overthrew. That is total nonsense and arrogance according to the Lord. So, he will bring their arrogance down on them when they reach Jerusalem.
            Apply this to our individual lives. What happens to us when we think we are in control of our lives? If you are a Christian and go about running your own life, you find yourself in opposition to what God wants. You may even be very active in Christian ministry but you are doing this all according to your plan. I’ve heard of pastors who did careful research to determine their vocation before entering seminary. They decided to become a pastor because it offered a good salary and was people oriented. (I’m not sure they were accurate on the first point.) The Lord hadn’t called them and they were not doing it for him but for themselves. These usually fail in their ministry and end up doing something else.
            Unbelievers do the same thing, running their own lives the way they want. They may end up like the “professional” pastors and fail miserably in what they want. They may also become very successful and amass huge fortunes. But according to the Lord, he will punish the arrogant heart. When the judgment comes and the unbeliever has to give account to the Lord, he will not be able to boast about his accomplishments because not a one will have been done for the Lord.
            The lesson for all of us is to humble ourselves before the Lord so that he will lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6). The only way to do that is to submit to Jesus Christ for salvation and repent of our desire to run our own lives.
            Psalm: Sometimes, when we are going through a tough time, we feel like we are all alone, especially in the night. David certainly felt that way and it kept him up during the night as he even wept over his situation. Yet, we know that God knows each time we toss and turn trying to get some sleep. Our minds are racing and we are trying to figure out just what we must do in the situation that is causing us unrest. This isn’t a physical ailment but emotional problems dealing with people and life in general. We think about what we are going to say and rehearse our plan a million times.
            Wait a minute! God knows what is going on in our minds. He even knows all the tears that we are shedding over all this. He has them recorded and knew we would be doing this before we were born. So, stop all the business of trying to handle this yourself. Trust the Lord. Then your enemies (your anxious thoughts and endless looping playbacks of your plan) will turn back. This is one of those give-it-all-to-Jesus moments. “Thank you, Jesus I know you have it under control and I don’t have to plan it all out. I’ve done it once, a thousand time and now I give it to you. Please grant me a restful sleep.” Repeat this each time you are tempted to rehash the problem. The verse right after humbling ourselves is to cast all our anxiety on the Lord because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
            Proverbs: I have to stop and wonder if I’m that stingy person. Do I calculate how much it will cost to feed and entertain someone and really hope they don’t eat so much that there won’t be any leftovers. When they complement me on the affair, does it make me feel better or bitter? I hope that this isn’t my attitude but it could also apply to other situations. If I’m going to be generous, I don’t want it to be feigned but to be genuine.
            2 Corinthians: Paul is rather sarcastic in several places in this reading. Especially when he asks to be forgiven for not burdening the Corinthians for support. He has gone on quite a while comparing himself with super-apostles, some of which are nothing more than false teachers and servants of Satan. He explains that all of this is to build them up in Christ. Though Titus came back with a good report, he is still concerned that many of them are just as carnal as the day he first found them.
            It really makes me wonder how a person can claim to be a Christian and not repent of some of the things that concerns Paul about the Corinthians. This isn’t just the concern that they slip up, but that they have not demonstrated any change in their attitudes and behaviors since confessing their belief in Jesus. I can see why Paul would mourn over this. They are most likely not saved. Jesus said you will know them by their fruit. If the fruit is nothing but sinful behavior and not even a desire to change, then the conclusion is that they don’t belong to Jesus.

Application

             I do not want to run my own life but do what Jesus wants. Part of that is having a good attitude about being generous. Another thing is to see growth in sanctification and not stagnation or backsliding.

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