Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29: Isaiah 57:14 – 59; Psalm 71; Proverbs 24:9-10; Philippians 1:1-26



Overview

            Isaiah: The Lord will comfort his people. He is above all things but will live with those who are humble. He will not be angry with them forever but will heal them of their sinfulness. Those that he has punished are not repenting but he will lead the way back. They will have peace but not the wicked who are like the tossing sea.
            The Lord wants this known about his people who are sinners. They delight in thinking they are drawing close to the Lord by their sacrifice and fasting. They ask why the Lord hasn’t heard. The reason is that during their fasts, they haven’t repented of their sin but still seek their own pleasure. The Lord doesn’t want them to fast and act humble with dust and sackcloth. He wants them to get rid of wickedness, stop oppression, and share with those in need. Then they will be righteous and the Lord will take care of them and guide them. Their land will be restored. If they honor the Sabbath and delight in it instead of doing their own pleasure, then the Lord will take care of them like he did Jacob.
            The Lord is not unable to save but their sins are the reason that God doesn’t answer their prayers. They do all sorts of wicked things from murder to lies. Their behavior poisons those around them like spider eggs. They don’t know peace or justice.
            Isaiah confess they don’t have justice or righteousness. They look for the light but have only darkness. Their sins just grow more and more before the Lord. They are not following the Lord. There is no truth in them.
            The Lord saw it and was displeased. Since there was no one to intercede, he will bring salvation and righteousness. He put on righteousness, salvation, vengeance, and zeal like a soldier’s armor. He will repay his enemies and the coastlands. All to the west will fear the Lord for he will come as the Redeemer to Zion. His covenant with them is to give them his Spirt and his words in their mouths to all generations forever.
            Psalm: God is the psalmists’ refuge. He rescues from the hand of the wicked. He has hoped in the Lord and stated that he trusted God from his birth. While many may see the psalmist as being strong, he looks to the Lord as a refuge and praises God.
            He asks that in his old age, God will not abandon him. His enemies plot against him and he asks that God quickly help him, causing them to perish in shame.
            It doesn’t matter what enemies want, the psalmist will have hope and tell future generations about the Lord. He will remind the next generation of God’s righteousness. He has been tested by trials and asks to be revived again.
            Proverbs: Planning to do something foolish is sinful and scoffing hurts all mankind. If you pass out when problems come, you don’t have much strength at all.
            Philippians: Paul and Timothy are writing to the believers in Jess at Philippi and their leaders of the church. He greets them with grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
            Paul thanks God for them when he prays because of their partnership in the gospel. He knows that God will continue working in them until their work is complete when Jesus returns. He is right in this because they are all partakers of grace with him in his imprisonment and in his defense of the gospel. He really wants to be with them with the affection of Jesus. He prays for their love to increase along with discernment and knowledge. That way they will know what is good and stay pure and righteous through Jesus until Jesus comes again. This will bring glory and praise to God.
            He tells them that his imprisonment has advance the gospel. It has spread through the imperial guard and believers are more confident and bold to preach without fear. Some are doing it out of envy and rivalry thinking their success will hurt Paul’s feelings while he is in prison. Other preach out of good will because of their love. Either way, Paul is glad that Christ is proclaimed.
            Paul is also sure that the Philippians’ prayers and the Spirit’s help will get him out of prison. That is his hope and expectation, but even if he is not released, he won’t be ashamed of his hope. If he dies, it is gain for him. If he lives it means he can keep on working. If it were up to him to decide he couldn’t. He really wants to go and be with Christ but to live on may be more necessary for them. The latter is more convincing so he is sure he will continue with them and this will also glorify Jesus.

What Stood Out

            Isaiah: “‘And as for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time forth and forevermore’” (Isa 59:21).                                                   
            Psalm: “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again” (Ps 71:20).
            Proverbs: “The devising of folly is sin, and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind” (Prov 24:9).
            Philippians: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Phil 1:9).

Insight

            Isaiah: Some of today’s reading is like James when he asks why God doesn’t hear prayers. They have all these problems so they pray but they ask so that they can spend it on themselves (James 4:1-3). Israel was doing the same thing with their fasting. They were acting very humble on the outside but on the inside, there was no change in attitude or belief. In fact, while they were fasting they were continuing to oppress others. When we seek God in prayer we should be ready to do what it takes on our part to work in agreement with God.
            If we pray for the homeless situation in our area, then we should be prepared to support a shelter. If we pray for peace then we shouldn’t be associated with those who clamor for non-peaceful solutions. If we pray for salvations, then we should be sharing the gospel.
            We should remember that the promise of Isaiah 59:21 was given to those who were separated from God by their iniquities (Isa 59:2). We were in the same boat until we were saved. We are living the promise that God gave Israel thousands of years ago. His Spirit is in us and we have his words in us. We can see how Israel behaved and it is a warning to us. We should do much better in our prayers and fasting because we know from God’s word what he requires of us.
            Psalm: One of the blessed hopes that we have is our resurrection from the dead. The Psalmist had this same hope (Ps 71:20). He acknowledged that in his life, he had seen many problems. Yet, his hope is fixed on being with the Lord after death. Most of the first century Christians were slave or poor people. They were oppressed and suffered persecution. Their hope was not so much in being relieved of their suffering in this life, but in an eternity with Jesus.
            Sometimes we get so caught up in the troubles surrounding us that we forget this isn’t our eternal home. We also know that Jesus is with us right now. He won’t leave us or forsake us but will carry us through the storms of life. Some of those storms are the very means of bring us into his eternal presence. If they kill us, we will see him. If he gives us strength to get through, then we can tell the next generation (Ps 71:18) so that they will have the same hope in him. Sometimes, we even want to go to be with the Lord, but as Paul told us, it is usually for the benefit of others that he keeps us around (Phil 1:23-24).
            Proverbs: People who actually plan on doing something foolish are more than stupid, they are sinful to the utmost. They could be endangering both themselves and others. Scoffers are in the same category. They scoff about the things of God to their own harm and that of those who are affected by their remarks.
            Two areas of scoffing have done immense harm to mankind. The first is those who scoff at the resurrection of Jesus. They not only condemn themselves to eternal hell, but those who are swayed to reject Jesus by them are dragged away as well. The second are those who scoff about God’s creation and substitute it with evolution. They have convinced unknown numbers of people that the Bible is nothing but a fairy tale and turned them away from knowing God through Jesus. Their condemnation is just.
            Philippians: How do you pray for your loved ones and friends who are Christians? Paul prays that the Philippians will have love, knowledge, and discernment.
            Discernment gives them the ability to know what is excellent. Knowledge doesn’t tell us what is right or wrong. It is only facts. However, without those facts, we can’t make good decisions. That is why we need to have discernment. Discernment has to have a moral compass. Two people can come to two different conclusions using the same facts. Love is the moral compass that provides the ability to discern from a godly perspective.
            If we are using these in submission to the Holy Spirit, the result is to be pure, blameless, and filled with the fruit of righteousness. This all comes through Jesus Christ and brings glory and praise to God. These are all things we should desire for ourselves and for other believers.

Application

             I don’t want my prayers to be selfish. I pray that they are God-honoring and effective to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

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