Monday, 24 July 2017

Let grace be shown

Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
Lord, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see.
But they will see and be ashamed
For their envy of people;
Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them. – Isaiah 26.10-11

‘Let grace be shown to the wicked even though he will not learn righteousness.’

That’s an amazing statement. It tells us that God is willing to show His grace to anyone – even those who are going to reject it. God shows grace everyday to a world that doesn’t deserve it. He keeps the water cycle working. He keeps providing fresh air. He shows grace by holding back the full impact of sin on the world.

I think what we are seeing here is a reminder of the love of God and the grace that goes with it. As God shows grace to the ungodly knowing that they will not respond so should we continue to show grace to the world around us even if there is no chance of a response.

That’s pretty amazing.

If our perfect, sinless, holy God is willing to keep showing grace to a world rejecting Him what ought we we to?

The principle is that God’s grace is always worthy of sharing just because it is God’s grace. The whole world needs to know that we serve a God of all grace. We show His grace through our words and our actions. We show it by loving others even when they don’t love us back.

Let me manifest God’s grace in this tired old broken world.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Perfect peace

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26.3


Perfect peace. That is a goal I think all of us can identify with. We would all lie to have total peace in our lives where we don’t have to worry about all the thing that trouble our minds.

God says here that those who minds are fixed on Christ and those who trust in Him will find perfect peace. Of course I think about Philippians 4 when I read this passage. Have a look:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

The way to perfect peace is clear – it all depends on whether we are willing to go after it. Don’t let yourself be full of cares. Pray with thanksgiving and peace beyond comprehension will be yours. Think about and focus on the right things and the peace of God will be with you. Perfect peace comes when we cast our cares on Him knowing that he cares for us.

We lack peace because we are relying on ourselves instead of relying on God.

Unrest comes when we depend on us. Great peace when we leave it all up to him.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Good things come to those who wait

And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” – Isaiah 25.9

As much as I might not understand it or ‘get it’ waiting is a good thing. God says that it is good to learn how to wait while we are young. I think part of the reason is that the older we get the harder it is to wait.

Right now it is pretty tough to live in this broken world, and wait on the Lord to come back and sort all this mess out.

Here we have an insight into what it is going to be like in that day when Jesus has come to establish His reign on earth. On that day the broken world will be fixed and we will see the wonder of seeing Christ face to face.

‘We have waited’ the people say, ‘and now we will be glad and rejoice in His final salvation.’

In other words they are saying ‘we waited and now it will be worth it all.’ The old saying ‘good things com to those who wait’ and this is the ultimate example of that adage.

The great old hymn ‘When We See Jesus’ says it perfectly.

Ofttimes the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God's eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Death is swallowed up

He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25.8

Like a lot of Christians on of my favourite modern hymns is the Getty’s’ song ‘The Power of the Cross.’ It is a wonderful song proclaiming what Christ accomplished at the cross. One stanza says

‘Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.’

I love the line ‘death is crushed to death’ and that idea is seen way back here in Isaiah with the words ‘He will swallow up death.’ We see the results of that in 1 Corinthians where we read ‘O death where is your sting?’

Nobody likes the idea of dying. Dying is so unknown that it is natural to be anxious about it. It si scary to thing about.

That’s natural, but for the believer death has no power over is. We have nothing to be afraid of. Death has no sting – because Jesus swallowed it up. He crushed death to death. ‘He is risen’ gave hope to all generations.

But that hope is only for those who have put their faith in Him because He along had the power to conquer death.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Shade from the heat

For You have been a strength to the poor,
A strength to the needy in his distress,
A refuge from the storm,
A shade from the heat;
For the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. – Isaiah 25.4

We have been in the South for about six weeks now and one word sticks out – HOT!  I have been able to do quite a bit of geocaching, but I can’t do all I want because it is just so hot. You step outside the house or the air conditioned car and within seconds you are drenched with sweat. I find myself looking for spots of shade for relief from the heat.

Life can be like that sometimes. There are times when we can’t seem to escape the heat of the pressures of life. The heat can seem relentless. It beats us down and we are exhausted.

The wonderful truth is that just like I can find shade and comfort from the hot sun the Lord will be our shade from the heat. The heat will still be there, but we can find rest and comfort in the shade of His protection.

When the heat just gets to hot let us run to the shade that only He can provide.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Peace in the MIddle East

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians. – Isaiah 19.23

The goal of peace in the Middle East is a noble one. There has never been peace there since the time of Christ, but most of us are fully aware of the current situation there. Since the modern state of Israel in 1948 there has been conflict and ensuing attempts at a resolution to the conflict. The one that sticks out the most in my mind when President Carter’s Camp David Accord. There is a famous photo of the president with the leaders of Israel and Egypt shaking hands. People thought or hoped that this was finally the answer – but it wasn’t.

Today we still see nearly daily reports of rocket attacks and suicide attacks and all sorts of violence. There is no peace in the Middle East.

And it is not going to happen. It won’t happen because wars are caused by man’s selfish lusts and desires. Nations are never going to be willing to accept what is not going to be best for them. Wars and conflicts are going to go on and on and on.

But there is a day coming when Israel and Egypt and Assyria are all going to be called God’s people and there will be unity in the land.

But that is only going to happen through the power of Christ. It is not President Carter or Reagan or Bush or Clinton or Bush or Obama or Trump or anyone else who will negotiate lasting peace. Only Christ has the power to do that.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sing

Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth. – Isaiah 12.2-5

Singing is special. Singing is universal. In every culture singing plays an important role. Even in the cultures most secluded from human material progress some plays a role. We sing praises to our nation or our schools or our sports teams or even how favourite toothpaste.

But here we go again – how are we about singing praises to our God?

I love singing in church, and I have been blest to be in a lot of services where there is a real godly spirit of singing in a way that honours God.

But too often our song services our just a matter of going through the motions.

That’s not want God wants. Our singing is to honour God, edify others, and to encourage our own spirits. We are to sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord. We are encourage each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

It is not just in church, but we ought to fill our lives with praiseworthy songs so that in those quiet moments songs of praise fill our hearts instead of toothpaste jingles.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Declare His deeds

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
And in that day you will say:
“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth. – Isaiah 12.2-5

A lot of us like to talk. When we talk we are ready to brag about things that like. We talk about how great our country is or how great our sports teams are. We openly declare the great things they do and we are proud of our devotion to them. We don’t care what other people think.

And I guess that is okay.

But why is it so hard for us the declare the things our God does? Why don’t we brag on Him? Here in Alabama it is easy to say “Roll Tide’ but it is much harder for us to say ‘Praise God.’

But how are people going to know about our God unless we talk about Him and what He does? If we are going to brag on anything ought we not to be ‘bragging on’ our God?

How do we do that? I think we simply need to include God in our conversations. Instead of the usual answers to ‘How are you?’ We might say, ‘God is good. We facing a few challenges right now but He will get us through it’ or ‘I am really doing well, thank God.’

Let’s give God the credit he is due and brag on Him a bit.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

With joy

Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12.2-3

I love these two verses kind of tucked into Isaiah’s prophecy here. The image here reminds me of the story of the woman at the well and Jesus offered here eternal life from the ‘well of salvation.’

But it is not just eternal life, as good as that it. Jesus says that we can draw for the well but that we can do so with great joy.

I think we Christians can at times forget about the importance of joy. Sometimes we can act like life is a drudgery. We can almost make it sound like we are extra spiritual if we are suffering for Jesus. Christians walk around downcast and dark and living a life that on one could possibly desire for themselves.

Sure, we are going to have bad days. News is going to shake us and make us sad and we are going to get depressed.

That’s why we are reminded to draw water from the wells of salvation with joy. At the end of the day we can always rejoice in the knowledge that we are truly saved and that no matter what storm we are going through we have the joy of the Lord as our strength.

No matter what storm we face there ought to be that deep, abiding, eternal joy drawn from the well. There ought to be that ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory.’

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The delight of the Branch

His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist. – Isaiah 11.3-5

What does our Branch delight in? What does our ruler take joy in?

Most of our earthly rulers love the exact opposite of the kinds of things we read about here. Human rulers delight is power and prestige and personality and popularity. They delight is doing what is best for them.

But this Branch of Jesse delights in the fear of the Lord and because of that He will judge in righteousness and decide with evenness for the meek and will punish the guilty and be dressed in righteousness and faithfulness.

I am so looking forward to righteous rule. One day all of the wicked rulers we deal with today will be dead and gone and we can live in the way of true righteousness. Until then we strive for righteousness and holiness and faithfulness in our own lives.

Our day will come.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The spirt of the Branch

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. – Isaiah 11.1-2

The ‘Branch from the stem of Jesse’ is a clear allusion to the coming Messiah, who we now know is Jesus Christ. It describes His character and we can immediately see the contrast between His character and those in power today. It gives us something to look forward to during His reign on earth, but it also comforts us in who are true Master is today.

He has the Spirit of the Lord
He has a spirit of wisdom and understanding
He has a spirit of counsel
He has a spirit of might
He has a spirit of knowledge
He has a spirit of the fear of the Lord

That us certainly the kind of spirit that I want to follow and it is the kind of spirit that I want in my own life.

The great thing is that we have that Spirit dwelling in us. When we were saved we received the Spirit of the Lord in the person of the Holy Spirit.The only thing that keeps us from manifesting those traits is our flesh. We have the power to walk in that kind of spirit because we have the Holy Spirit living in us.

I am afraid that my spirit doesn’t always reflect the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me. I am afraid that too often it is my flesh that wins out.

Lord help me today to walk in that Spirit instead of my flesh.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Tools

Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood! – Isaiah 10.15

I like tools. Well, I love the idea of tools. I like the feel of them and what they do and the potential they have to do. I have a toolbox full of tools.

The problem is that I am not much of a DIY guy and my toolset has, through the years, scattered and partly disappeared. The tools I have left don’t do much unless somebody uses them.

This is the illustration Isaiah uses to talk about us. Unless the Lord is using us we aren’t going to get much accomplished. Unless we depend on Him we are working in vain.

But in the hands of the Master we find our usefulness. A good workman can get a job done even with flawed tools. In the same way God can use us even with the nicks and chips and rust spots and all the other flaws. All we need to do is to be wiling, not perfect tools.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The zeal of the Lord

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. – Isaiah 9.6-7

Zeal is a great thing. Zeal, even human zeal, can get a lot accomplished. Zeal is even praised by God a we are called to live of Christian lives with zeal. We are told to be zealous of good works.

The problem is that our zeal will always flag and weaken. Our zeal will always let us down and at times or zeal will fail. If it were up to us to establish the kingdom of God we would tire and fail.

But the Kingdom of God does not depend on us. It will all be done because ‘the zeal of the Lord will do this.’

It is hard for us to imagine a zeal that does not wear out, this is God’s zeal. His is zealous in all that He does. He is zealous about his Wonder. He is zealous about His Might and His Fatherhood and His peace. And He is zealous about His governance.

It is of great comfort that it is God’s zeal that we count on, not mine or any other man’s. His is the only zeal we can trust completely. His zeal alone will cary us through.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Forever

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. – Isaiah 9.6-7

There is not a whole lot we can really depend on. Part of the reason for that is that everything is temporary. The greatest nations on earth rise and fall. Great churches rise and fall. Great men and women rise and fall. Even the things that we feel like we can really depend on are going to end eventually.

But in this blessed messianic promise we find hope that will not fail. Jesus will order His kingdom in judgement and justice forever.

One day He is coming to establish His kingdom and His literal reign on earth. All else will be taken away and there will be no corruption or failings will exist because King Jesus will be in control and He will reign forever.

Although the passage speaks of His earthly reign we now know that His reign doesn’t have to wait until then. We can begin to enjoy the reign of our King while we are here. King Jesus is already at the head of His kingdom and we live under his reign.

The most wonderful thing about King Jesus reign is that it is forever and forever He will be Wonderful, Counsellor, Almighty God, my Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.

Monday, 10 July 2017

His name

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. – Isaiah 9.6-7

A name is an important thing. We are told for ourselves that a good name is more important than riches. Our name becomes associated with our character.

Even naming a child can be a big choice. These days in our cultures names most often are just family names or names that we think sounds good or just because we like the name.

I like my name. Roger is derived from the old Norse/Germanic name Hroogar. It means ‘a mighty spearman or warrior.’

But, back to our topic. The Son who is given for us has a name, or several of them. Here we read that His name will be called

Wonderful
Counsellor
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace

That’s a lot of names and that’s a lot of meaning. Every one of those names has an impact. His blessed names give us hope for the future. He is the one who is truly full of wonder, the One who can give counsel in every situation, the Almighty God who can do all, the eternal Father who will never stop loving, and the One who along can bring peace to this troubled world and to my troubled life.

His names ought to give me all the comfort I need to survive this troubled world. Let me rest in His names.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Unto us

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. – Isaiah 9.6-7

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.

Unto us – you and me
Unto us – unworthy sinners
Unto us – fleshly beings deserving of the wrath of God
Unto us

When I think of the ways God could have given us the truth using a child doesn’t make much sense. I would think He would split the skies and have His Son appear in the heavens and proclaim His truth.

But He sent a Child – His Son.

God became one of us. He became a living human being subject to tiredness and hunger and pain. Unto us He became one of us. God so loved this world that He gave His only begotten son. When He was born the angels proclaimed ‘unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour.’ ‘Unto you’ the angels said.

In God’s love, despite our sin and rebellion and rejection, He sent His Son to us.

Praise God for the words 'unto us.'

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Broken the yoke

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian. – Isaiah 9.2-4

There are a couple of kinds of yokes. One kind of yoke is the kind a person might use to carry a load. It goes over the shoulders and has hooks or some kind of devices to attach a load to both sides so that the weight is balanced. The other is a device used to attach animals together to pull a load.

I think this yoke is the first kind. The people of Israel were under the yoke of the Midianites. Over and over God had delivered the nation from the oppressive yoke of various nations.

But we know now in retrospect that this ‘lifting of a yoke’ also pictures the yoke of sin or the yoke of the Law that was lifted on the cross. We are all born with a great sin burden. Nothing we could do had any power to break that burden. Jesus said ‘don’t use that yoke that you are carrying by yourself, join up to my yoke, for it is a light burden.’

Israel could rejoice that their yoke of oppression was broken. We an rejoice that Jesus broke our yoke of sin on the cross.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Woe is me

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. – Isaiah 6.5-8

I’ve been thinking about this passage, and though I talked about it a few days ago I had to go back and mention it again. I skipped right over and important aspect of theses words – ‘woe is me.’

Isaiah’s response is the only response we can have to the holiness of God – He was literally awestruck. In the presence of a thrice holy God Isaiah is fully confronted with his sin.

I am afraid that sometimes I don’t take my sin that seriously. I can make a light thing of it even when I am acting spiritual. It is way to easy to take sin way too lightly.

When I see my sin, my sin in particular, my only response should be that of Isaiah. When I am confronted with my sin I should fall on my face before God and say ‘woe is me.’

When I see my sin that way I see the joy that Christ brings. Woe is me as a Christian because when I see I am making light of what Jesus did for me on the cross. My sin ought to break my heart whenever I sin. It ought to put me on my face before my holy, holy, holy God.

This is one of the reasons I am thankful for a weekly opportunity to go to the Lord’s Table and examine my own heart. It doesnt give me a chance to get complacent in my sin.

Lord, give me a heart to view my sin the way that Isaiah saw his.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I will wait

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
And I will wait upon the Lord,
that hideth his face from the house of Jacob,
and I will look for him.
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me
are for signs and for wonders in Israel
from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. - Isaiah 8:16-18

It sometimes looks like the tests and trials that we go through are going to go on forever, doesn’t it. Sometimes it feels like we can’t buy a break. Trouble is followed by problem which is followed by testing which is followed by more bad news.

That must be how it felt to Isaiah during this time. It felt like God was hiding from them and it seemed like the enemy was going to win.

Isaiah had the right perspective though – ‘I will wait for the Lord…I will look for Him.’

That reminds me of the words of Micah when he was in a similar situation. ‘I will look to the Lord. I will wait. And my God will hear me.’

We go through those same kinds of things today. As the world gets worse and worse we need to keep looking to our God. As our trials and testings come and it even seems like God is not listening we need to remember that He is still there.

Like Isaiah we need to say ‘I will wait on Him’ and while I am waiting ‘I will look to Him.’

Wait on God. Look to Him. And He will answer.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A conspiracy?

For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand,
and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
Say ye not, A confederacy,
to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy;
neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself;
and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
And he shall be for a sanctuary;
but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel,
for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken,
and be snared, and be taken. – Isaiah 8.11-15

I love a good conspiracy story. I think everyone does. At one point back in the 70s I joined the John Birch Society which is a hyper right wing conservative group dedicated to exposing all the conspiracies and groups and organisations in the world and how it is all being done to destroy our lives. Two of my favourite writers, Agatha Christie and Taylor Caldwell, were believers in the world conspiracy to control all the nations of the world. Just look through any list of television programmes on various cable channels and you will see that conspiracies are still big business. I don’t know for sure, but I would not be surprised if there was a ‘conspiracy channel’ out there somewhere.

The problem with all of these conspiracies is that once we get past the intriguing titillation they are all based on stirring up fear. They are based on the notion that some vast international conspiracy is so powerful that it is in control of our lives and it is what is going to determine our future.

But here God says ‘don’t you worry about conspiracies or confederations that may seem to endanger you. Instead set the Lord apart from all that in your lives. He will be your protection and your safety even when those things happen.’

So we need not be too concerned and the Illuminati or any other supposed vast world-wide conspiracy. They can’t win out anyway. Instead let us keep our focus on the high and lifted up thrice holy God that Isaiah saw in the vision that called Him to service.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

God is with us

Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces;
and give ear, all ye of far countries:
gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces;
gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought;
speak the word, and it shall not stand:
for God is with us. – Isaiah 8.9-10

I am in America for the Fourth of July this year. It is my first time to be here for the Fourth since 1997. Things have changed in the last twenty years. There is still, at least in the South where I am, a great show of religion. Right now I am in the buckle of the Bible Belt.

It is kind of nice the be a Christian in comfort.

But that doesn’t mean that we are no longer strangers in a strange land or pilgrims passing through until we get to our real homes. We even find ourselves right now in a land which is being friendly to Christians.

But we need to be careful that we never put our hope in a friendly government. The danger of this kind of comfort is that we can get, well, comfortable. And then comfort makes us lazy and lethargic. Then we are in danger when things turn on us.

But Isaiah had that covered.  He wrote 'God is with us.'

Our total reliance must be on the Lord even when things see okay. Things an turn on a dime was we need to remember that no matter what happens God’s always already given us the ultimate victory.

Our faith cannot be in politicians or leaders. They are prone to be pragmatic and do whatever works for them, but God is with is. Let our faith be in that turn, not in laws and leaders.

Monday, 3 July 2017

How long?

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered,
Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant,
and the houses without man,
and the land be utterly desolate,
And the Lord have removed men far away,
and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten:
as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves:
so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof. – Isaiah 6.11-13

God showed me this verse years ago when I was in one of my cycles of being discouraged about the ministry. It seemed like for every success there were two failures. I was in the shower one morning and was really upset. I remember saying to God as I was getting dressed ‘how long do you expect me to keep doing this?’

As I walked into the office I turned on the computer and checked my email. A friend and I were sharing devotions at the time. The email he sent that morning started with this passage!

How long? Until these cities lie empty and a wasteland. In other words, when we go for God we go. Whether is to to our neighbour next door or someone on the far side of the world – we go and we keep going and going and going. We don’t give up. We don’t get weary in well doing. We don’t lose heart. We are stedfast. We are immovable. We are always abounding. We will reap in His time. Our labour is not in vain. God’s word will accomplish that which He desires.

How long? God will let us now when we are done.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Here I am

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. – Isaiah 6.5-8

When God revealed Himself to Isaiah he was stunned. All he could was to fall on His face in worship and confess His sin.

In the midst of that we see God Himself calling out ‘Who will I send? Who will go for us?’

It is an amazing fact that God has chosen men to do His work. We can all say ‘woe is me’ and must recognise that we too are men of unclean lips in a land full of the same kind of people, but it is to that land that God says ;who will go for us?’

Then we see Isaiah responding ‘here I am, send me.’

Such simple but powerful words from a man of unclean lips. Isaiah knew he was not worthy to go – but still he said he would go.

Isn’t that a lot like us? God is still looking for people to go and do His work He is still looking for someone who will go for Him.

Who will it be? Are you and I willing to say ‘Here I am Lord, send me?’ Are we willing to say ‘send me to that hurting neighbour or that troubled co-worker or that family member or needs Christ or that town character that everyone laughs at or that refugee fleeing oppression or that foreign land where vast numbers don’t know Christ?

None of us a ‘good enough’ to go – God will take care of that, but are we ready to say ‘here I am!’

Saturday, 1 July 2017

High and lifted up

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said,
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory. – Isaiah 6.1-3

The nation needed something. It was a mess and it was only getting messier and messier. The people had totally forgotten God and were living lives only for themselves. 

But all was not lost, there was a prophet named Isaiah in he land. When King Uzziah died Isaiah saw vision that would start a great change. 

Isaiah saw God. 

Isaiah saw God high and lifted up. He saw the Lord on a throne and God’s apparel filled the temple. He saw angels surrounding God and they cried out ‘holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.’ And they cried out ‘the whole earth is full of His glory.’ 

We are certainly not going to find much holiness around us. It’s a word where holiness is mocked and ridiculed. 

But the holiness of God is our hope. God is separate from all sin. He is the only One who is so He sees things from the outside in a sense. He sees with unmuddled vision because His nature is not tainted by our sin. So He sees the answer and way through all of this. 

That’s why it is so important to pursue holiness in our sin cursed world today. We need to see this world from God’s perspective and we can only do that as we see Him high and lifted up in our lives. Instead of being drawn away by the wickedness of this broken world we ought to be looking at God in His holiness and putting our faith in Him.