Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28: Isaiah 54 – 57:13; Psalm 70; Proverbs 24:8; Ephesians 6



Overview

            Isaiah: The Lord says to the barren woman (Israel) that she will have more children than the one with a husband. She will have to make her tent bigger to make room for them. The shame will be lifted for the Lord is your husband, the Redeemer and will be called God of all the earth. For a short time, the Lord abandoned her in anger but will bring her back with compassion.
            The Lord was angry with Noah’s generation but swore not to flood the earth again. So, this time, the Lord will swear not to be angry with her again. The earth may be shaken but his love and covenant will never be removed.
            This future Jerusalem will have jeweled foundations and gates. Righteousness will be established and there will be no more storms of tyranny. He will not send attackers and if they come they will surrender. But now, God has created those who attack. Then, no one will forge weapons or accusations against Jerusalem.
            Come to the Lord and receive what is good from him. It can’t be bought with money or good deeds. Listen and be saved with an eternal covenant of love like that given to David. Nations will come to him and he will lead God’s people. It is because the Lord has given splendor to Israel.
            All should seek the Lord while he is near and the wicked turn away from evil. The Lord will have mercy on them. God’s thoughts and ways are much greater and holier than ours. His word accomplishes what he wants like rain watering the earth. Therefore, you (Israel) will have joy and peace as well as a land restored and will not be destroyed.
            The Lord instructs Israel to be just and do what is right because his salvation is near. Keep the Sabbath, abstain from evil. Foreigners and eunuchs will not be excluded. Eunuchs who do right will have a memorial in the temple better than children, they will have an everlasting name. Foreigners doing the same will be accepted at his holy altar for the temple will be a house of prayer for all nations. Just as the Lord will gather exiles he will gather others as well.
            The Lord warns Israel’s watchmen who are blind, fail to warn, and bad shepherds that they will be consumed by wild animals. All they care about is getting drunk and doing the same thing the next day.
            When the righteous perish, it is because the Lord is sparing them from evil. They will have peace in death. But all the wicked people, those who rebel against God, worship idols, sacrifice their children, you will end up like the idols in the ravines. Those who secretly worship as pagans and make pacts with their idols and have been false to the Lord, God will expose their works. When they cry for help, let the idols save them. They will be blown away like a breath. But the man who takes refuge in the Lord will live in God’s holy mountain.
            Psalm: David asks God to help him and do it quickly. He wants his enemies to be routed, confused, and put to shame. He asks that all who seek the Lord will rejoice in salvation and extol God. However, he is needy and wants saved, now.
            Proverbs: Conspirators, traitors, and connivers have one thing in common. They are planning evil.
            Ephesians: Some more things to put on: for children – obey an honor parents, fathers – teach your children about the Lord without frustrating them, slaves (employees) – work as if your boss was Jesus because he is, masters (bosses) – treat your slaves with dignity because God is both your Master and theirs.
            Be strong in the Lord and put on his armor when dealing with the devil’s schemes. Remember we aren’t fighting people but spiritual forces that exist outside of the earthly realm. God’s armor is useful to stand firm in this evil world. It includes truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. Prayer must be ongoing, in the Spirit, and all kinds including request and thanksgiving. The battle is reals so we must always be alert and pray for each other as well as our leaders. Pray for the ability to boldly proclaim the gospel. Paul did, even while in chains.
            Paul sends Tychicus, a faithful believer, to let the Ephesians know how he is doing and encourage them. He closes with a benediction of peace, love and faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He asks for grace for everyone who loves Jesus with an enduring love.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money,
 come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa 55:1).        
            Psalm: “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, ‘God is great!’” (Ps 70:4).
            Proverbs: “Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer” (Prov 24:8).
            Ephesians: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:11-12).

Insight

            Isaiah: The Lord tells of the glorious New Jerusalem (Isa 54:11-12) that is described in more detail in Revelation 21. He tells us that it will be open for everyone who takes refuge in the Lord. Even those who were excluded from the temple in the Old Testament, eunuchs and foreigners, will have a place there. It isn’t based on any kind of works (Isa 55:1-2). You can’t buy or work your way into the New Jerusalem. It is only available to those who call upon the Lord while he may be found (Isa 55:6). It is by repentance for all of us because we have been sinners (Isa 55:7).
            If anyone thinks he has human answers to salvation then he is mistaken, because this is God’s plan, his thoughts are greater than ours and his words will not be thwarted. His word will accomplish exactly what he has said (Isa 55:8-11). If we look back to Isaiah 53 and the picture of Jesus, it is evident that Jews can’t and won’t think as high as God’s thoughts because they have rejected what it says about Jesus. When we look at today’s world, people reject the inspiration of the creation and fall of mankind in Genesis. Their thoughts are limited by what they can see, feel, and touch. So, they make up their own versions because they have no spiritual insight.
            When it comes to the future, we have the promises of the New Jerusalem, they can only think about the sun burning out in billion years, the universe collapsing and starting over. That takes more faith than believing in Jesus. They can’t see that God is near and can be found because they don’t believe he exists. They are the ones without any real hope. They think that tomorrow will be just like today, except for global warming, and will continue doing what they do without any thoughts about God (Isa 56:12). They are the ones that will have no part in the New Jerusalem.
            Psalm: I see God’s heart for the salvation of everyone in Psalm 70:4, as he has in Isaiah 55:6. When we know that God is great and that he rewards those who believe he exists and seek him (Heb 11:6), we will be saved. If we don’t know that God is great, or worse, we think he is not omnipotent or omniscient, loving, kind, compassionate, or any of his other attributes, it is just as bad as believing he doesn’t exist. If he isn’t great, then why pray to him? If he isn’t great, how can he save us? If he isn’t compassionate, how can he comfort us? If he isn’t loving, then he is just a mean ogre who takes pleasure in causing us problems. Drawing near to God, seeking him, isn’t just walking into the woods and yelling, “Where are you.” It is a diligent search to understand and know him. When we know Jesus, we will know the Father and we will be saved.
            Proverbs: Who is the biggest schemer? Was it Benedict Arnold who planned to turn over West Point to the British during the Revolutionary War? Is it one of those who turned over U.S. secrets to Wikileaks? While these and other may be listed as people doing evil, it is also a matter of perspective. The British didn’t consider Arnold to be evil. They made him a Brigadier General and paid him a bonus. The one we should be very careful about is Satan (Eph 6:11). His schemes are designed to cause eternal evil and nothing that can be judged in any other way than evil.
            Ephesians: Speaking about the devil’s schemes leads right in to today’s reading in Ephesians. One of the devil’s schemes is to make us think that we are fighting against people. While it may seem that way, and there are wicked people who must be subdued or they will harm others, this is all part of Satan’s schemes. Look at all the division and hatred being expressed in our country today. Satan must really be having fun because people, Christians and unbelievers alike are acting toward each other just the way he wants. I fell prey to it today by forwarding an email I received. It made fun of the way some of us think. As I read this and thought back about what was in yesterday’s reading, I realize it was not building anyone up. It was not benefiting the receivers and it only serves to make the “right” thinkers stauncher in their denigration of the those that don’t think the same way.
            Satan’s schemes are all around and we should be taking our thoughts captive and using our divine weapons to battle him instead of each other. We often say that the word of God is our only offensive weapon, but I think prayer is also a significant divine offensive weapon. When we are praying for the people we think are the enemy, God not only works in them but in us. We must remember they are victims of war. They can be enlightened and become allies when they turn to God.
            For more reading on the armor of God and the schemes of Satan, I have written some books that reveal some of the ways Satan battles us. I’m making the kindle versions of them free 9/29 and 9/30/2017. If you don’t have a kindle, you can get a kindle app on your phone, tablet, or PC or MAC for free. You can get the app for your PC at https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201245960. For others just search google for “kindle app for …” To get the books, just click on the title.
            Battling Satan with the Armor of God. This is a short scriptural booklet on how to battle Satan. It is practical and will open your eyes about our true enemy.
            999 Years After Armageddon. This is a long Sci-Fi novel about how Satan deceives the nations at the end of the millennium. The plot takes you through many of Satan’s schemes that he has used in the past and will use again.
            The Voice of Con. This is a short novel about a schemer (con man) who hears a voice that gives him direction and power. Guess where that voice comes from!
            The Horses of Carvecchio. This also a short novel about an immortal wizard who is opposed to Christianity. He uses several of Satan’s schemes throughout history to try to derail Christianity. You know who is behind Carvecchio’s powers, don’t you?
            Reflections on First and Second Peter. This is more of a devotional/commentary going through Peter’s letters. It isn’t specifically about Satan’s schemes.
            If you get any of these and read them, please leave a review on Amazon.

Application

             I need to be more careful about falling into Satan’s schemes. Even when I’m sinning because of my own desires that are enticing me, I’m falling for a lie from Satan that tells me God’s way isn’t better for me every time I sin.

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