Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 26: Isaiah 48:12 – 50; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 24:5-6; Ephesians 4:17-32


            Isaiah: God continues to tell Israel he is the only God who is the beginning, the last, and Creator. He continues to tell that no one else has foretold events. He is bringing one against Babylon and will lead him. He hasn’t spoken in secret but the Lord and his Spirit has told this through Isaiah.
            The Lord told Israel how to live and he wishes they would have listened so they could prosper. But they didn’t and they will be killed. Yet when they flee from Babylon there will be joy because his people will be redeemed. But there will be no peace for the wicked.
            The Lord speaks about his servant whom he called before birth. What the servant says will be cutting like a sword but it will appear his work is in vain. He will be rewarded by the Lord. He will gather Israel and also be a light to all nations so that salvation will be for all the earth. Yet the Lord, the Redeemer says that the servant will be hated by nations yet kings will arise who submit to him.
            The Lord speaks about a future day of salvation when the servant will make a new covenant. Prisoners will be freed from darkness. There will not be hunger or thirst. Rough places will be made smooth and people will come from east and west. The heavens and earth will rejoice.
            Zion thinks the Lord has forgotten her. The Lord assure Jerusalem that he will never forget and the destroyers will leave and then come back to enhance Jerusalem. Their population will increase so that the land appears to be too small. They will be astounded at their numbers and wonder who brought all the people. God says he will bring them from all over the world where kings and queens took care of them. Then they will know that God is the Lord. Those who wait for the Lord will not be put to shame. He will free the captives and wipe out their oppressors for he is the Redeemer of Israel.
            The Lord continues and explains that he sold them and divorced them because of their sins. He asks why no one listened to him. It wasn’t because he didn’t have power because he controls all nature.
            Isaiah was given words to teach and encourage every day. The Lord enabled him to hear and he did not rebel. He submitted to those who persecuted him. Because the Lord helped him he was not disgraced and remained focus on his mission. Who can fight against him because the Lord helps him. No one can say he is guilty though his clothes are worn out. Isaiah asks who fears the Lord and obeys his servant. The one who is in darkness can trust in the Lord. Those who rely on their own light will be burned and tortured by his hand.
            Psalm: David is again in trouble. He is drowning in the pits of despair and he’s tired of waiting for God. His enemies are numerous; they lie about him and want to destroy him.
            David admits that the Lord knows all of his foolishness but he asks that people who hope in God will not be shamed or dishonored because of them. He believes that his problems stem from his zeal to worship in fasting and with sackcloth. He again asks God to deliver him from his enemies and depression. He is asking based on God’s steadfast love and mercy. He asks to be redeemed and ransomed from his enemies.
            Proverbs: A wise man has strength but adding knowledge, it becomes might. A wise counselor can tell you if you should go to war but many counselors ensure victory.
            Ephesians: We must not live like unbelieving Gentiles whose minds are darkened with hardened hearts being separated from God. They give themselves over to all kinds of sinful perversions and they are eager to do even more. We were taught that isn’t the way Jesus wants us to live. Instead, we were taught to put off all the corrupt desire we had that belong to our old self. We are to be renewed in our minds and live the way God has remade us, to be like God in righteousness and holiness.
            Examples: Stop lying and speak the truth in love to everyone. Don’t add to your sinful anger by not resolving it in the same day; that only gives Satan a foothold on you. Don’t steal but do honest work and share with others who are in need. Clean up your filthy and demeaning talk; instead build others up extending grace to those who hear you. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit; he has sealed you for the day of redemption. Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and other malice; instead be compassionate and forgiving in the same way God has forgiven you.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (Isa 50:10).  
            Psalm: “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness” (Ps 69:13).
            Proverbs: “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might” (Prov 24:5).
            Ephesians: “Be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:23-24 NIV).


            Isaiah: The Lord continues to tell Israel about their future. He predicts times of redemption as well as punishment. He repeats that if they would have listened, this punishment would not have to happen. Isaiah identifies himself as the servant of the Lord in these readings. Yet it becomes obvious that this servant isn’t just talking to Israel about their immediate future but he is also talking about a future Servant who will bring salvation to the whole world (Isa 49:6). This salvation is available to all who obeys the Servant’s voice and trusts in the Lord (Isa 50:10).
            John tells us that Jesus is the Light of the world (John 1:9-10) and Isaiah told us that anyone in darkness has to rely on God’s light. If he trusts in his own light, he will only end up being tormented by God (Isa 50:11). Jesus explained that people who love the darkness are the ones that don’t want their sins exposed to the light and are condemned (John 3:18-20).
            It is clear that Isaiah was talking not just about himself, but Jesus. When we trust in Jesus for our salvation, we will escape eternal torment and suffering. Israel’s exile was a picture of eternal punishment for those who reject Jesus just as Isaiah was a picture of Jesus.
            Israel would not listen to Isaiah and ended up in exile. If you haven’t listened to Jesus and trusted him, how is the time to turn to him who is the true light and ask for salvation in Jesus’ name.
            Psalm: David was in the pits of depression because of all his enemies. It is apparent that his zeal for God is part of his problem. Psalm 69:9 was quoted of Jesus when he cleansed the temple. David had obviously done something in honoring the Lord to bring condemnation on himself. Perhaps it was his first attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem and Uzzah was killed for touching it. Bringing the Ark on a cart was David’s foolishness (Ps 69:5) and it undermined people’s confidence in him. When we’ve screwed up, we need to look to the Lord in confession as David did.
            With all his outward mourning over this state of affairs, on thing is very important. David is not doing all this to impress people with his piety. It is all part of his prayer to the Lord. When we get into situations like this, we usually pray and ask God to get us out of the mess, now! David didn’t do that. Instead he acknowledged that God’s timing is best. His answer will come at an acceptable time (Ps 69:13). Do we trust the Lord enough to leave the timing up to him?
            Proverbs: Wisdom without knowledge give you the strength to proceed in the right direction. The Bible tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Ps 111:10, Pro 9:10). Both of these verses point out that this is only the beginning. Both of them then move on to getting understanding. In a sense, wisdom has to have something to work with. It’s like a powerful computer without any data. It sits there waiting for something to do (not a terrific analogy, OK?). When a person has a fear of the Lord then gains the understanding of what God wants (knowledge), God is able to use him. That is true might.
            Ephesians: Paul is done with his theological instruction and is now telling us how we should live in light of what God has done for us. One of the theological points in the beginning of chapter 2 is that we were once dead in our sins. When God made us alive, everything changed. The reference in today’s reading to the old self and the new self are the different people we were and have now become. When we were spiritually dead, we did all these bad things just like all the other Gentiles. Once we have been made spiritually alive, we have been made to be like God with his righteousness and holiness. Therefore, we shouldn’t be doing all the old sinful stuff we used to do.
            What is really great about this passage is that Paul doesn’t just tell us to be good (wisdom), but gives some practical examples (knowledge). He tells us what to put off and what to put on. After our salvation, we must work with the Holy Spirit. We can grieve him when we resist getting rid of the old habits of our sinful past. We must let the Holy Spirit renew or change our attitudes about all these sinful habits. It means we must constantly look at correct behavior in the Bible, agree that it what we should do, and start doing it. It is possible to go many years after we are saved and not realize some attitude and behavior we have is wrong. Then we read something in Scripture and realize we need to repent and do something different. Notice that the change of mind comes before the change in behavior. If someone simply changes behavior but not their attitude about it, he is simply a compliant rebel. As the little boy who was told to sit down said, “I may be sitting on the outside, but I’m standing on the inside.”


             I don’t want to be like Israel when they obeyed regulations of the Law but were only paying lip service. I need to agree with the Lord about sinfulness and replace it with righteous behavior. That is being wise and gaining understanding to move on the way the Lord wants.

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