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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

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Isaiah Days 97 to102



Isaiah Day 97 - We Are So...

37:17 But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,

For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
18 For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
19 The living, the living man, he shall praise You,
As I do this day;
The father shall make known Your truth to the children.

20 “The Lord was ready to save me;
Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments
All the days of our life, in the house of the Lord.”

21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”

22 And Hezekiah had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”


These verses and the few that preceded them which we read yesterday were written by Hezekiah. They are his petition to God for healing. He states why God should heal him and then asks for a sign. God did heal him and He gave him a sign.

It's one of those feel good stories that ends well so we tend not to put much thought into it. Today I could have moved on to the next chapter but Hezekiah's prayer here just isn't sitting well with me. He wants to live. That's understandable. He knows only God can save his life. That's bang on. His approach to God reveals his heart and that's where it gets messy. His main argument for God to heal him is so that he can praise Him. "God dead people can't praise you so you better heal me so I can toot your horn." The request and reasoning betray the fact that Hezekiah thinks God is motivated by selfishness. He is trying to get God to do what he wants by pointing out that ultimately it is a good business move for Him.

Last week I finally took the time to watch Hidden Figures, a movie/documentary based on the real life contributions of three African American women to the space race. At one point in the story one of the women needs to take courses only available at an all white school. To gain admittance she has to get court permission. To succeed she does some background research on the judge who holds her future in his hands. She discovers he has a history of being the first. He was the first in his family to serve in the Navy and to go to college. He was the first to appointed judge by three different administrations. Capitalizing on this theme and his own personal drive she offers him the opportunity to be the first judge to grant permission for a black woman to take classes at an all white school which will enable her to become the first ever black female engineer in US history. He of course sees the significance of the moment, the importance of the space race and his chance to be a part of the story and grants her request. She flat out manipulated him by exploiting his self-obsession.

Is God really like that? Does He just do stuff to get accolades and attention?

It was pretty quiet when Jesus was on the cross as I recall it. Other than the screens and jeers from His enemies there wasn't much praise to be heard.

Hezekiah is very much like us and he like we do too often, assumed God was like us. He is not. Like the thankless hours and unheralded service of moms raising their babies, God works tirelessly behind the scenes for us simply because He loves us and when individuals achieve success in this world how often does Mom get any praise for it?

God healed him because he loved him and because he asked, not for praise. Tomorrow we'll find out how true it was...


Isaiah Day 98 - Is That Me?

39 At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2 And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.

3 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?”

So Hezekiah said, “They came to me from a far country, from Babylon.”

4 And he said, “What have they seen in your house?”

So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.”

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

Oh Hezekiah. In your prayer for healing we saw your self-obsession. In the visit of the royalty from Babylon we see your self-obsession. In the prophetic word delivered by Isaiah we see your self-obsession full blown. Heal me. Look at all my treasures. Peace in my day. Me, me, me. .

Those men traveled 1500km because they heard about the miracle of his healing. That's why they came. They didn't come to see gold, silver, arms, and trinkets. Hezekiah had a golden opportunity to share with them the God of heaven, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They wanted to hear. They were thirsty for something beyond the day to day, beyond the endless round of eating, drinking, fighting, defending, and acquiring.

What if he had shared with them how he took Sennacherib's threatening letter and laid it out before the Living God? What if he had told them his health was a direct gift from a Loving Father? What if they had left with no other thoughts than of this Wonderful God? What if they left only seeing and knowing that He was the source of Hezekiah's happiness, health, peace, and success? The history of the world yet to unfold would have been altered. The future would have been very different indeed. Instead he showed them what every other king could have showed them. He showed off his stuff. They went home lusting after his stuff. Instead of the God of heaven filling their thoughts, the god's of silver and gold did instead.

Gut check time: When people enter my life who don't know my Jesus what do they see, hear, experience in my presence? Do they leave with Him filling their thoughts or is it other "stuff"? In commenting on this moment in Hezekiah's life my favourite author wrote these words:

"Those with whom we associate day by day need our help, our guidance. They may be in such a condition of mind that a word spoken in season will be as a nail in a sure place. Tomorrow some of these souls may be where we can never reach them again. What is our influence over these fellow travelers?

Every day of life is freighted with responsibilities which we must bear. Every day, our words and acts are making impressions upon those with whom we associate. How great the need that we set a watch upon our lips and guard carefully our steps! One reckless movement, one imprudent step, and the surging waves of some strong temptation may sweep a soul into the downward path. We cannot gather up the thoughts we have planted in human minds. If they have been evil, we may have set in motion a train of circumstances, a tide of evil, which we are powerless to stay.

On the other hand, if by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same beneficial influence over others. Thus hundreds and thousands are helped by our unconscious influence. The true follower of Christ strengthens the good purposes of all with whom he comes in contact. Before an unbelieving, sin-loving world he reveals the power of God's grace and the perfection of His character." PK pg 348


Isaiah Day 99 - As Long As...

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

The selfishness displayed here is staggering. I wish I could point my finger and walk away but can I? Hezekiah is perfectly fine with his children and grandchildren being enslaved by a foreign pagan nation and Jerusalem being completely ravaged as long as he gets to live out his own days in peace...

"Dan your neighbours have no food"

"Oh that's ok as long as there is food on my table..."

"Dan there are thousands of people all around you who have no peace, who live in fear of the future, who are afraid to live and afraid to die."

"Oh that's ok. I'm at peace. I have the truth. I sleep fine at night."

"Dan the choices you are making today are setting your own children up for failure tomorrow."

"Well as long as I don't have to experience it that's ok..."

Is Hezekiah really a selfish monster or did he just put into words what is all too prevalent in us? As long as I'm ok who cares...?

Remember the disciples words to Jesus concerning a distraught mother in Sidon? "Jesus send her away, she's annoying us."

When I was in Germany on a historical tour the guide took us into a Christian Church. There was a railroad that passed by outside. He told us that during world war II a load of Jews was being transported by the Nazis right by the church during a service and the cries and screams could be heard inside the church. The pastor's solution was to have the congregation sing loudly to drown out their cries for help.

None of us can save the world. We can however choose to hear and see the needs of those close by and start there. It might be our own child who needs us. It might be our parents. It might be our neighbour. If you look and listen there are opportunities to extend a hand. Jesus helped more than He talked and He was the Truth...


Isaiah Day 100 - Doom to Daylight

We ended yesterday with doom predicted against Jerusalem. A doom that Hezekiah selfishly shrugged off because it wouldn't affect him directly. In case you didn't catch those descendants of his that would be castrated (made eunuchs) and carried off to Babylon were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and many others.

Today God gives us a glimpse further into the future when the doom and gloom are gone, gone forever. I will let you read it and tomorrow we'll start taking a closer look at this inspiring chapter.

49:1“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from theLord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert[a]
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he[b] said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lordblows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

9 O Zion,
You who bring good tidings,
Get up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem,
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

10 Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
11 He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.

12 Who has measured the waters[c] in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of theLord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales;
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
16 And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,
Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.
17 All nations before Him are as nothing,
And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.

18 To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare to Him?
19 The workman molds an image,
The goldsmith overspreads it with gold,
And the silversmith casts silver chains.
20 Whoever is too impoverished forsuch a contribution
Chooses a tree that will not rot;
He seeks for himself a skillful workman
To prepare a carved image that will not totter.

21 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
23 He brings the princes to nothing;
He makes the judges of the earth useless.

24 Scarcely shall they be planted,
Scarcely shall they be sown,
Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth,
When He will also blow on them,
And they will wither,
And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.

25 “To whom then will you liken Me,
Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created thesethings,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.


Isaiah Day 101 - Ask Questions

40 “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


If you are like sometimes you're reading the Bible and you're like "Wait a second, that makes no sense...?"

Isaiah 40 is(was) one of those places for me until this morning. I am learning to see the Bible through new eyes. It takes some time but Jesus taught me in John 5:39 that the Old Testament is about Him. It admittedly doesn't seem that way. I see bloodshed. I see fighting. I see broken/dysfunctional people and relationships. I see war. I chaos. I see paganism. I see messed up people. Where is Jesus in all that mess? Well it turns out He is there. It turns out He is there a lot. More than I ever expected could be possible. I didn't point Him out in every place I have found Him in Isaiah because it would take too long but I'm going to point Him out today in a most unusual and hidden place.

The chapter begins with a message of comfort. A message of forgiveness. Then it says in order to explain this good news "for she has received double for all her sins from the Lord's hand."

What does that mean? We sinned, God got super mad and punished us twice as much as we deserved and now that He has spent His anger He is ready to forgive and make nice?

You can see why I had questions about this chapter. You can see how warped my thinking was/is yet I knew I was missing something. I knew there had to be more. I just didn't know what. There is half my problem. Even though I know now that my search is for Who rather than what, I am still probe to search for the what and miss Him.

Can you see Him? Who came from the LORD's hand? "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son..." When Jesus came what happened to Him? "He who knew no sin became sin for us" so that "where sin abounds grace abounds all the more". He is the Rock of Ages, the double cure that saves us from both the guilt and power of sin.

We can take comfort, genuine true comfort. Not the empty platitudes of "everything will be ok" based on sketchy well wishes from well meaning people. We can take genuine comfort because Jesus came from God's side and paid double. The warfare is ended. Sin has been crushed, both the guilt caused by it and the power it had to control us. We are not in bondage any more. Egypt is behind us. The Promised Land is before us. We are living like the servant of Elisha. We can't see the truth of how things really are. When we do, when our eyes open the Reformation will be complete, and Jesus will return to take us Home. Until then keep searching for Him on every page. He's there. How good is this Good News? Whatever you think, it's at least double. :)


Isaiah Day 102 - Many, Many to Unlearn

40: “Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”

“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

9 O Zion,
You who bring good tidings,
Get up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem,
You who bring good tidings,
Lift up your voice with strength,
Lift it up, be not afraid;
Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”

He isn't like us. The greatest barrier to us finding, knowing Him, understanding Him is the simple fact that we aren't like Him and He isn't like we are. When we try and understand our significant other, or a friend, or a boss, or an employee, or a colleague etc... the greatest impediment to our success is the subconscious assumption that they think like we do and see things as we do.

Abraham couldn't wrap his head around a son being born to Sarah after menopause because in his reality things didn't work that way. He couldn't fathom a God who could bring such a thing about because he couldn't see beyond human limitations. The underlying assumption was that God is really no different and no more capable than we are.

Currently in my church (global, not local) there are some controversies brewing. Two of the major ones are women ordained or not as pastors and the other is the trinity/no trinity and/or nature/relationship of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. What most aren't seeing is that two apparently separate controversies are closely linked and rooted in a common human idea we have projected onto God.


Confused yet? Listen to Jesus and follow closely:


Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?”

She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”[d]

They said to Him, “We are able.”

23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The two brothers (and mom) wanted to secure the highest positions in the kingdom they mistakenly believed Jesus would set up. Jesus exposed their thinking and motives by talking about how the Gentiles used rank. Higher meant more power, more advantage, more exploitation of those lesser in rank. Then Jesus turned the system upside down. To be higher means to serve more. In other words position had/has an entirely different meaning in His kingdom. We already saw in Isaiah 9 that the government is on His shoulder. Jesus isn't a king as we think of kings. His kingdom is not like we think of kingdoms. As a result the argument over women and ordination is an argument rooted in the human/gentile view of hierarchy. It's a power struggle. It's a question of rank and power. So too is the trinity debate. People are trying to figure out if first of all there is God/Jesus/Spirit or just God/Jesus and within each of those who has the highest rank. The whole premise is flawed because the nature of God cares nothing for "who is the greatest?" Love asks no such questions. Love serves, it does not lord over. In fact many against the ordination of women are using their misconstrued ideas of a hierarchical God is above Jesus motif to support their view that men are above women.

Isaiah announced the LORD is coming. Prepare the way for Him. The valleys must be brought higher. The mountains must be brought lower. Why? Because when what is low is elevated and what is elevated is brought low everything levels out. There is no hierarchy. The whole controversy that launched Satan into rebellion was one of hierarchy. He wanted to climb higher but not to serve more. He wanted the position and power without the character of God. He wanted the government to support him, rather than carry it/us all as God does.

Here's the bottom line. If the LORD is to come into your life. If He is to make your crooked paths straight and bring water into your desert you first must make preparation. You must ask for eyes that see as He sees. Our human perspective inherited from the tree of the knowledge of evil has us thinking like the devil and assuming God thinks like we do.

Love is not boastful or proud... My favourite author says we have many things to learn and many, many to unlearn and it's more true than I ever realized...

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