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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Monday, 5 February 2018

Isaiah Day 199 - He Doesn't Think Like We Do


Isaiah Day 199 - He Doesn't Think Like We Do



55:7

Let the wicked forsake his way

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

And let him return to the Lord,

And He will have compassion on him,

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

8

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.

9

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

10

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

And do not return there without watering the earth

And making it bear and sprout,

And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

11

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

It will not return to Me empty,

Without accomplishing what I desire,

And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

12

“For you will go out with joy

And be led forth with peace;

The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,

And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13

“Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up,

And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up,

And it will be a memorial to the Lord,

For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”



If you are familiar with the Scriptures, Isaiah 55:8,9 are at least vaguely familiar to you. The verses are well known and often quoted. I must confess that before this morning they were roses plucked from a garden for me. I knew them and could repeat them from memory but I could not have told you the context from which they came. As is always the case, placing the roses back in the garden makes them even more beautiful, in fact they lead us straight to Jesus. Without context the verses simply say God thinks differently than we do but that could be good, bad, or just different.



Now look at the context. The context is forgiveness and renewal. When it comes to forgiveness we think in terms of exchange. I will forgive when they ask me, or when they demonstrate they or sorry, or when... Always an exchange. To get, we must give, to give we must get.



"But" you say, "verse 7 is all about an exchange. We forsake our ways and our thoughts and we get forgiveness in return."



We read verse 7 that way because we think in terms of exchange all the time. Remember the prodigal son? What did he have to do to get forgiveness? He had to stop running from his father, turn around, and run toward Him. Do you remember his thoughts when he decided to forsake his way and return home? He had a speech all prepared about how he was no longer worthy to be a son and instead he would be a hired servant. He felt he had nothing significant to exchange or buy his way back in. His father cut him off mid speech. He immediately reinstated him as His son without payment or price. All he had to give in exchange for forgiveness was to return.



The only way he would fully benefit from the extravagant (scandalous) forgiveness of his father was to forsake his own thoughts of forgiveness having to be paid for.



Can you see it? Our ways and our thoughts all run in the vein of buying, of giving to get. We must forsake these thoughts if we are ever to rest in the grace of God. He doesn't think like we think.



We'll continue tomorrow and discover Jesus in a whole new way... :)

Isaiah Days 194 to 198


Isaiah Day 194 - Divine Temper Tantrum?



54:6

“For the Lord has called you,

Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,

Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”

Says your God.

7

“For a brief moment I forsook you,

But with great compassion I will gather you.

8

“In an outburst*** of anger

I hid My face from you for a moment,

But with everlasting loving kindness I will have compassion on you,”

Says the Lord your Redeemer.



I find it both sad and frustrating that the Bible gets translated according to our biases and picture of God, rather than sticking to the text. In the end though it makes no difference. God promised that we would find Him if we seek after Him with our whole heart. Jesus came and said "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father", to clear up any misunderstanding about what He is like.



Even though Jesus lived out the character of God, the clouds and questions remain, partly due to the Old Testament in general being written "through a glass dimly" as Paul described it, and partly because we can't seem to get over a dual concept where God is distant and easily angered and Jesus is nice. Sort of the good cop/bad cop routine.



Our passage today has a great example in it of how the Bible gets translated according to our biases, namely the bias that God is prone to fits of rage. The word translated 'outburst' in verse 8 is not what the Hebrew text says at all. The margin of my Bible suggests 'overflow' as a better translation. The literal Hebrew word is 'little'. The literal word translated anger is 'foam'.



Hebrew has a limited vocabulary and uses word pictures to convey meanings they don't have words for. So literally because of a little foam God hid his face momentarily from Judah. Not exactly a description of an outburst of wrath. What really happened is that Judah took on another lover and God while that relationship was bubbling up God turned away. He is a gentleman. He forces no one. He does not use the underhanded techniques of this other lover.



Notice the sequence of events. God is wooing Judah back after her disastrous affair with Satan. She is a wife cast off in the blush of youth. It never takes Satan long to chew us up and spit us out. Like the prodigal son, God gives us whatever time and space we need to choose but His arms are ever open wide to receive us again. His covenant is everlasting. He will never divorce His bride unless she stubbornly insists and even then He will take her back if she chooses to return.



Foam has the appearance of substance but is mostly air pockets. Everything Satan offered us appears good but it lacks any true substance. His lying promises are a lot of hot air.



Remember Jesus on the cross? They offered Him sour wine on a sponge. He refused it. He turned His face away from it. He was thirsty but committed to that which has substance. Someday soon He will drink the fresh fruit of the vine with His bride for the first time since He drank it with His disciples the night before He died. He was committed. He is committed. He will always be committed. Choose your "husband" wisely.





Isaiah Day 195 - The Ultimate Promise



54:



9

“For this is like the days of Noah to Me,

When I swore that the waters of Noah

Would not flood the earth again;

So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you

Nor will I rebuke you.

10

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,

But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,

And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”

Says the Lord who has compassion on you.



11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony,and your foundations I will lay in sapphires.



12

 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, and your gates of crystal, and your entire wall of precious stones.



13

“All your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great.

14

“In righteousness you will be established;

You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;

And from terror, for it will not come near you.

15

“If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.

Whoever assails you will fall because of you.

16

“Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals

And brings out a weapon for its work;

And I have created the destroyer to ruin.

17

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;

And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.



I kept this section together as one because it needs context to prevent misunderstanding. The message is from God. The recipient is His wife, His bride, those who chose Him as their Husband and Redeemer.



The promises all hinge around one idea: God will never hide His face from His bride again. Never again will His "anger" cause a division or separation. Why?



The separation that God instigated was in Eden. He "threw His bride out". No longer could they enter the garden He made just for them. No longer could they eat from the tree of life. No longer could they walk and talk with Him face to face. They were separated. It is critical to remember and understand that this separation was caused by the choice of Adam and Eve to seduced by "another lover". It is also critical to understand that the separation put in place by God was temporary. It was put in place with conditions and a promise. One was coming who would crush the lying lover they were seduced by.



Note in our passage today that God presents His case for why we can trust His incredible promises. He created the blacksmith that forges the weapons. He created the destroyer to ruin. These ideas have been grossly twisted by some but God's point is clear. He States that trouble will continue to come for a time but not by His hand and ultimately He will deliver us from all trouble. How can we trust such a promise? Because our enemies are under Him. They are mere creatures but He is the Creator. God didn't create Lucifer for evil and ruination; that is not His point. His point is we don't need to fear Satan because he is just a created being and when God knows the time is right and the great controversy has run it's course, Satan will meet his end and "one pulse of harmony will beat throughout the vast creation".



God will keep this ultimate promise. It was sealed in blood by His Only Son and even though the mountains still quake and trouble still comes, hold on. He will come for His bride. He will continue to keep every promise He has ever made, especially the ultimate one:



 "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also." – Jesus







Isaiah Day 196 – Where Are You Investing?



55:1



“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;

And you who have no money come, buy and eat.

Come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without cost.

2

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And delight yourself in abundance.



These verses are heavy with meaning. They can apply literally to practical every day living, and they apply to deep needs of our soul. The practical things you can pick up at Walmart or the Grocery store or wherever money is exchanged for goods. The needs of our soul are another matter. Sometimes we get the two entangled with each other.



Let's start with the practical. Why buy and eat food that isn't going to feed your body? Researchers are saying my generation (generation x) and the generations that follow are the first in North America that will have shorter life spans. Ever since our ancestors crossed the Atlantic, the fresh air, fertile soil, and hands on lifestyle have been extending our life expectancy. Now processed foods, extreme amounts of sugar, and inactive lifestyles are turning the tide. Why do we do it? Why do we spend our hard earned money to buy edible stuff that isn't really food, that our bodies can't benefit from, and don't ultimately satisfy?



Now the deeper meaning:



Our souls are hungry. To satisfy the hunger, the emptiness, the gnawing void we try lots of things. We buy more stuff - bigger house, better vehicles, more trips, more gadgets etc... We consume more entertainment. We involve ourselves in relationships that are perhaps sexually deep but otherwise shallow like that woman Jesus met at the well. Speaking of sexual pursuits to attempt to satisfy the hunger in our souls, how far are we going to go? Pornography is being consumed at a greater and greater rate, sexual deviance is straying further off course by the day. While all this is happening our ability to make and keep healthy relationships is becoming less and less. Where are we going?



God steps into our self-directed yet directionless attempts at satisfying our very real and legitimate needs and asks "Why?" "Why are you doing what makes no sense and isn't working when I'm offering you everything you need without cost?"



I get it partly. Religion doesn't exactly have a stellar record but guess what? Neither does the empty and endless pursuits we engage in to fill the void only He can fill. Read the studies. The wealthiest people in the world as far as cash goes, have the highest rate of unhappiness. They have access to everything and found that the pot at the end of the rainbow is full of shiny hot air.



I'm not proposing religion for you. I'm proposing you seek out your Maker. Let Him into your life. Let Him help you make the choices both in your practical purchases at Walmart and your deeper pursuits that will feed your soul. I drive a 2003 Ford Focus. Our house is 43 years old and tired all over. We make less than the average income for our area by quite a bit. I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't consume pornography, I don't have the latest and greatest of anything. When I have time or need a change of pace I work on a 1968 Mercury truck because I love the process of restoration. It constantly reminds me that My Father can fix anything.



Give Them All To Jesus



Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?

Are you tired of spinning round and round?

Wrap up all those shattered dreams of your life

And at the feet of Jesus, lay them down.

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus

Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys.

Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus

And He will turn your sorrows into joy.

He never said you only see sunshine,

He never said there would be no rain.

He only promised a heart full of singing

About the very thing that once brought pain.

Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."





Isaiah Day 198 - Today



55:6



Seek the Lord while He may be found;

Call upon Him while He is near.

7

Let the wicked forsake his way

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

And let him return to the Lord,

And He will have compassion on him,

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.



Why the urgency? Why does it read as if God is going away soon and then we won't be able to find Him? Didn't He promise multiple times "I will never leave you nor forsake you?"



Have you ever intended to do something but didn't and then forgot about it completely? We all have. Sometimes it ends up being no big deal. Other times it is a major problem. How about major lifestyle changes? "I'm going to quit... " or "I'm going to start..." but we do neither and eventually we are so far down the path of failed good intentions that we don't even desire to change any more.



Are you seeing where this is going?



The book of Hebrews and several other places in the Bible talk about the importance of Today. "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." Every decision we make and/or every intention we fail to or do follow through on sets us on a course. The further we pursue any course the less likely we are to change. That's why God says "Search for Me while I may be found" and "Today if you hear My voice..." Today is all we have and if we turn away today the chances of making a better choice tomorrow are diminished and if we keep resisting we will eventually not hear Him at all.



How often I have done it and how often I hear others asking God to be with us, to protect us, to never leave us. We talk to Him as if He is the unreliable One, as if He is the One prone to wandering or not listening. The truth is the opposite. Each day we are forming the person we will ultimately become. Are trending towards Him or away from Him?



Yesterday I was reading my French Bible and I came across the famous verse in Jeremiah 29:13 where He says: "Search for Me and you will find Me..." but the French was worded differently. Translated to English it said "Turn towards Me and you will find Me..."



Didn't Jesus come looking for Adam and Eve when they ran and hid? Didn't Jesus come to this dark planet as one of us to rescue us? He has been pursuing us from the start. If you can't find Him turn around. He's been there all along. If you wait, you will eventually have no desire to turn around. "Today if you hear His voice, turn around, don't wait..." The only sin that will keep you from Him is the one you don't permit Him to erase. He will refuse none of us.


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Isaiah Day 193 - Never Alone, Never Abandoned



54:5 

“For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.

Many years ago I had a woman in one of my churches that was abandoned by her husband. In her grief and despair she turned to the Lord and He revealed to her this verse. She clung to it like a drowning person clings to a life saver. What we fail to appreciate is the deep meaning in this one little verse. The culture in Isaiah's time was extremely patriarchal. Women were more like property than people. They could not own anything even though God tried to correct that foolishness way back in Moses' time. A girl was owned by her father. She was then sold to her husband. If he died there was a detailed process for how she became the responsibility of his nearest relative. This relative was called her kinsmen redeemer. If he refused to fulfill his duty a woman could quickly find herself destitute on a level that doesn't exist in our society. The book of Ruth is a beautiful story of how Boaz was willing to be Ruth's kinsman redeemer even though he wasn't directly responsible and she went from essentially dumpster diving to having a husband, a family, a home, stability, security, and eventually a mother of a child that became an ancestor of Jesus.

When Isaiah says the Lord is your husband and your redeemer the meaning is rich and deep. Think about it. Humanity is referred to as the bride of the Lord. Adam and Eve essentially had an affair and chose another lover. This new lover Satan talks a big game but knows nothing of love. He romances and then discards, leaving us with nothing.

Judah fell for the lies. She came to believe that happiness and fulfillment was found in greed and selfishness. Oppression and injustice became the norm and it was leading to bankruptcy of every kind, but they were not to despair. Destitute they would not remain. Their Kinsman Redeemer would come and come He did, while we were yet in the arms of our lying lover who knows nothing of love.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. He is our husband. He is our Redeemer. We are not alone, not destitute, not abandoned. He loves us with an everlasting love. He rejoices over us with singing. He is our Lord and there is no other.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Isaiah Day 192 – Hope?



54:2
“Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
3 “For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

4 “Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 “For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
6 “For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
Says your God.

Would you plan a wedding for a person who just died? Would you tell a woman who just had her doctor tell her that she'll never have children to get a baby's room ready in her house? Would you plan a graduation party for a young person who was kicked out of school? Would you tell a man on death row to invest for retirement?

So why is God telling a nation (Judah) to plan for expansion when she is already under Assyrian control and destined to be flattened by Babylon?

Once upon a time there was a young man from backwater Nazareth who caught the attention of the crowds by the things He did, the things He taught, and the miracles He performed. He also caught the attention of the Jewish religious leaders. After 3.5 years of mostly avoiding their presence, escaping their verbal traps, and eluding their murderous schemes He eventually found Himself (by choice) hanging on Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. His life, His ministry, His influence, whatever they meant and wherever they could have gone were over. "Save yourself!" His enemies cried. "Come down and we'll believe you!" they claimed.

It was hardly a Hollywood ending. His most loyal followers scattered, hiding from the public to avoid a similar fate. Since we know the rest of the story it's difficult to fully experience those moments. Hope was lost. The lights went out. Time to board up the factory, close the gate, shutter the windows, box up whatever remains. Jesus Inc. is done...

What does this have to do with Isaiah's words to Judah or with you and I in 2018 and beyond?

Simply this: If you are in step with Jesus, and embracing His promises, it doesn't matter how dark the night, how bleak the outlook, how hopeless our prospects, or how great the number of those against us. If we are with Him, the end is assured. Some say hope is everything and when it's gone we have nothing left. The Bible says something a little different. It says there are faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. Believe in His love and you will never lose hope. Love wins.

So plan for a larger tent. Let the ropes out longer. Get some bigger pegs. God keeps His promises.