Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23: Isaiah 41:17 – 43:11; Psalm 67; Proverbs 23:29-35; Ephesians 2


            Isaiah: God is going to take care of the poor and needy. He will be remaking the earth turning deserts into fertile lands with water and trees. He will do it so all will see and know the Lord has done it, the Holy One of Israel
            Let the idols come and prove they are gods. Let them tell of past things or the future things. Let them do good or harm. The idols can’t; they are nothing and anyone who choose them is an abomination.
            The Lord brought one from the north and from the east. He will call upon the Lord. He will trample on rulers. Who knew that from the beginning? None! God was the first to tell Zion the good news of help. None of the idols did because they are all pieces of junk.
            God’s chosen servant has God’s Spirit and will bring justice to the nations. He won’t rant and rage but will be gentle with the weak. He won’t give up until justice is in all the earth. The Lord who has made everything and gives life and spirit to people has called him in righteousness. The Lord will lead him and will he will be a covenant for the people, a light to the nations, while freeing prisoners. The Lord will not give his glory to another and certainly not to an idol. Old things are gone and new things he will tell before the happen.
            So, sing a new song to the Lord and praise him in all the earth. Deserts and cities and coastlands are to praise and sing to him.
            God has kept quiet for a long time but now he will scream! He will destroy the earth. He will lead the blind and guide them from darkness to light. Those who trust in idols will be put to shame.
            He calls upon the deaf to hear and the blind to see. His messengers were not heeded though his Law was glorious. The people will be plundered, looted, killed in battle, and burned; no one will save them. The Lord gave them over to this because they wouldn’t obey.
            But now the Lord will redeem them because they are his. They won’t be burned by fire or drown in water. The Lord is their Savior. Instead, he will take Egypt, Cush, and Seba in place of Israel who is precious to him. He tells them not to fear and he will bring back the people from the ends of the earth.
            He calls on those who are blind and deaf but should be able to see and hear to be able to foretell this. They are all witness as is the servant he has called to know and understand; no god has been made before or after God. He is the Lord and there is no other Savior.
            Psalm: The psalmist asks God to bless us so that God will be known throughout the earth. Nations should be joyful because God is fair and guides them. All people should praise God. He has blessed though the earth’s abundance. Everyone on the earth should fear him.
            Proverbs: People who spend too much time drinking alcohol have strife, complaints, sorrows, woes, and hangovers. Wine is deceptive because it supposedly tastes good and look good. But in the end, it bites like a snake. It develops into alcoholism with hallucinations, abusive language, and the need to drink more to cover the pain. Blackouts occur and the drunkard doesn’t know where or how he was injured.
            Ephesians: We were all dead in our sin obeying Satan and doing whatever we wanted. We were all condemned. But God in his mercy made us alive and seated us with Christ in the heavenly realm. By his grace, he gave us the gift of faith and this saved us, not our good deeds. Now we can do good deeds that he designed us to do before we existed.
            All Gentiles were previous separated from Christ and alienated from Israel. We didn’t have any promise or hope being without God. But in Christ, we have been brought near by his blood. The separation between Jews and Gentiles is removed by Jesus because he has abolished the Law and commandments. He has reconciled us both to God by the cross.
            We all have access in the Spirit to the Father. We are now citizens of heaven and the part of God’s family. We are a holy temple in the Lord with Christ as the cornerstone and the apostles as the foundation. We are being built together to be God’s dwelling by the Spirit.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior” (Isa 43:10-11).              
            Psalm: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations” (Ps 67:1-2).
            Proverbs: “When shall I awake? I must have another drink” (Prov 23:35).
            Ephesians: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1).


            Isaiah: The emphasis on today’s reading is that the Lord alone is God. There has never been any god besides him. In Isaiah 43:10, he says that there was no god formed before him. This is one foundational truth about God. Since he is eternal, anything that could be called a god had to be created by him and he clearly states that none have been formed after him. It would have been impossible for a god to be formed before him. If one was, then that god would be God and not the Lord.
            Cults and religions that have multiple gods stumble at this point. Some claim that God was once a man and because of his goodness and ability to do whatever was his assignment, his god rewarded him with being a god. Then this god goes about creating or organizing matter to form his own world or universe and rules over it. He establishes his rules and then rewards those who obey the rules and do good with becoming gods. They all go out and do the same, over and over again. But the Lord says all this is nonsense. He is the only one and since he is God he would certainly know if there were other gods.
            Let me ask you a question, if there was a God way back in time somewhere who made some people and most of them became gods, who would you worship? Would you worship one of those gods or would you worship the original God. I certainly would want to worship the first one who made all things.
            But the Lord assures us that all that is hogwash. He says very clearly that no other gods have ever been created. He is the only Savior and we also know that Jesus is our Savior and that means that Jesus is just as much God as the Father is. We know this because the Lord says he will not give his glory to another (Isa 42:8). So, while cults and other religions worship all these non-gods, we worship the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
            Psalm: The Psalmist isn’t asking for a blessing upon the people for their own sake. He is asking this blessing so that everyone else on the earth will know that the Lord is God and he is the one who saves. We often ask for blessings but I would guess it is more often for our comfort and not necessarily to bring glory to the Lord. We may thank him and tell others afterward, but we seldom have God’s glory as our primary reason to ask for blessings.
            Proverbs: This passage is a classical description of how a person becomes and alcoholic and what happens to them in the end. If you’ve never seen the old classic movie, The Lost Weekend, you should try to find it. It brings this passage to life.
            Ephesians: We were all spiritually dead before we were saved. The word dead is a great description. A dead person can’t respond to a living person. A dead person can’t hear or see or do anything else. He can’t do anything to improve his situation. If I were to walk up to a dead body and tell it to get up and walk, it would just lie there and continue in its dead state.
            But God isn’t another person. He is the one that gives life to our dead spirits. It isn’t until he gives life to our spirits that we can respond to him. Both Calvinism and Arminianism recognize this principle. The Holy Spirit regenerates us so that we can respond to God.
            Calvinism pronounces this as the moment of salvation. We then respond to God because we are saved, we repent and start doing the works that God has designed for us. We can only repent because God has given us the grace and faith to believe and repent when we are regenerated. His grace is efficacious so we do it. This is called monergism because it is totally dependent on God.
            The Arminian belief is that God gives us prevenient grace so that we can respond to God and make up our minds accept salvation. This prevenient grace corresponds to what the Calvinist would call the point of regeneration. But salvation is different because it still requires a person’s agreement to be saved, this is called synergism. It is God working in cooperation with man.
            Regardless of which view you believe, we all agree that we can’t respond to God until God does something in our lives. The great part of this reading is that we then become part of the family of God and citizens of heaven. We are one in Christ and there should be not hostility between Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians. I would add Calvinistic Christians and Arminian Christians are also one in Christ and should not be hostile toward each other since we all have the same Spirit and are being built up as temple of God.


             I want to be a Christian who acknowledges there are different ways of looking at the way God works in our lives. But it is only in Jesus we are saved and not by other gods or religions. It is important to be united in Christ and to do the work he has prepared for me.

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