September 24, 2021

Isaiah 43:14–45:10

This section of Isaiah is truly transcendent. These are words from our Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, who will definitely deal with and defeat ALL of our enemies. I hope that encourages you. We need not fear!

The LORD, our Creator and King would defeat Babylon (Isaiah 43:14-15). This prophecy of Babylon’s fall – is given even BEFORE their rise! God would make a way for His people, and crush opposing armies, chariots and all (Isaiah 43:17).

This would be a new thing for Israel – speaking not merely of the military victories, but of a relationship with Him to give His people waters in the wilderness and a life of praise and gratitude for God. There’s no need to look back as we go forward in life.

Isaiah 43:18–19 (NKJV) “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

What a beautiful promise from God – let’s enter in with all of our hearts.

This was something Israel did not do. I’m fascinated (and a little frustrated) with the way Israel burdened God with their sins, they wearied Him with their iniquities (Isaiah 43:24). We all should examine our lives. Is this something I’m guilty of?

And then…we discover His amazing grace! Do you know how God is?

Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV) “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

I have a question for you – do you have any fears? It’s kind of funny, because the one thing we might most easily succumb to is fear for our children. Will they serve the Lord? Will they be “successful.” But then the promise of God shows up:

Isaiah 44:3 (NKJV) “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.”

Hold tight to that one my friends who have children. 

These promises and all the others in the Bible come from the one and only God. There’s no god before Him, nor shall there be one after Him (Isaiah 44:6). The one and only God is on our side – so, “Do not fear, nor be afraid.” (Isaiah 44:8)

The world trusts in their myriads of idols. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Isaiah elaborates on how they cut down a tree, and part of the tree is used to burn and cook, while the other part of the tree is used to make an idol (a god) before which they pray and bow down. Can such idols deliver them? (Isaiah 44:17).

Isaiah 44:19b (NKJV) “Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”

Idols cannot deliver anyone in any way. My soul is grieved when I see statues of saints, or Mary, or even Jesus. Do people honestly believe that bowing down and praying to them makes a difference? It’s actually sin, a violation of the 2nd commandment, that even harms parents and their children.

Exodus 20:4-5 (NKJV) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,”

Sometimes I’ll go in to various restaurants and see little idols and even their offerings to these idols. My heart is grieved – it’s nothing but the invitation of demonic spirits. 

Isaiah writes about the one true and living God, our Maker and Maintainer who redeems us and interestingly wants us to always remember…that He will never forget us.

Isaiah 44:21 (NKJV) “Remember these, O Jacob…My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me!”

Isaiah goes on to prophecy about the day a king named Cyrus would do His bidding and allow the Jews to rebuild their temple. This prophecy was written approximately 200 years before it came to pass, when the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon, and the Jews were allowed to return to the land.

What other God knows the end from the beginning? What other God is detailed in thousands of prophecies – proving He is God? (see Isaiah 46:9-10) There is no other God (Isaiah 43:6). And this one God is with us (Immanuel), so friend, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, “Do not fear nor be afraid.”

Ephesians 3:1-21

Paulwas not simply a prisoner of Rome, he was a prisoner of Christ FOR the Gentiles. God had called him to preach the Gospel to everyone, but his ministry would be most effective with the Gentiles (non-Jews). God had graciously opened Paul’s eyes and revealed to him a mystery – that the Gentiles would be grafted in to the Olive Tree of Israel (Romans 11:17). This truth was, to a very large degree, implicit in the Old Testament, but the Jews never saw it, it was hidden from their eyes. Paul was chosen to preach this truth explicitly, “…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ…” (Ephesians 3:6).

Paul had been chosen as the Apostle who would reveal many of God’s mysteries to the world, but it’s fascinating how he was never puffed up by this. On the contrary, it seems like the longer he served the Lord and the more he accomplished, the greater he grew in humility. As a younger man he compared himself to the Apostles and said he wasn’t worthy to be called an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9). Here in Ephesians he considers himself to be less than the least of all the saints (Ephesians 3:8). But a few years later, he grew even more in humility, calling himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). God help us to grow in this way as well, to grow in humility.

I love what Paul writes concerning his responsibility as a preacher, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Part of our calling is to tell the people the blessings available to them, blessings beyond our wildest imagination. It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to know what God has done through Christ for both rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, all men and women, the criminal and moral, the gang member, the family member, the vicious, the religious – doesn’t matter, God has done a work for all to see. Even angels and demons see God’s work – principalities and powers, according to Ephesians 3:10. It’s wonderful what God has accomplished in Christ – His forgiveness has flung heaven’s door wide open so that those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus have full-on confident access to Him anytime (see also Hebrews 4:16).

This prayer of Paul’s in Ephesians 3:14-19 provide a ton of truth that we can also pray for each other; four things stand out:

1. For inner strength by the Spirit.

2. For Christ to feel at home in our hearts (our lives).

3. That we’d be established through a better understanding and deeper experience of God’s love.

4. That we’d be filled with the fulness of God.

Do you believe God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think? According to Paul, God IS able. This can refer to the work through us – for the truth is, any of you may be called to be the next Billy Graham, but I have a hunch (when you consider the context) it refers more to the work in us. God is able to strengthen us, to touch our hearts, to make His love real to us, so that our cups would overflow.

Psalm 68:1-18

Before this Psalm begins, my Bible has the heading, “The Glory of God in His Goodness to Israel.”

And just as God protected, defended, led, redeemed, had mercy and grace upon the children of Israel in all their wanderings and wars, so God does for us.

He will defeat our enemies, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against demons that are too strong for us. God will bless the widow and fatherless. God will rain blessings upon us, even in the middle of the wilderness. We will be weary at times (Psalm 68:9) but God will encourage us through personal and Divine intervention; often He uses His Word.

The mountains of Bashan refer to the Hermon mountain range, only a few miles north of Bashan. The Psalmist depicts these great mountains as being envious, for the LORD did not pick them, but went from Mt. Sinai straight to Mt. Zion – this is the mountain which God desires to dwell in, forever (Psalm 68:15-16).

God’s angelic chariots fight for His people (Psalm 68:17). Thank You Lord!

Psalm 68:18 is quoted in Ephesians 4:8 in reference to Jesus’ ultimate victory on behalf of His people, in that He ascended into heaven after His cross and resurrection, and gave gifted people to the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).

It’s good for us to know that our God NEVER loses!

Oh the Glory of God in His Goodness to His people! I hope you enjoy Him.

Proverbs 24:1-2

Proverbs 24:1-2 (NKJV) “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; 2 For their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.”

Why would anyone ever be envious of evil men? Well…evil men often possess power, position, money, and the things that money can buy; they might even “get the girls,’ if you know what I mean, and in our foolishness, our flesh wants that.

They have the good car, the good house, the good money. And yet here we are (as “good” guys) just trying to make ends meet, living on leftovers.

It might be tempting to envy evil men.

But God in His wisdom says, “Don’t envy them. Don’t desire to be with them.”

If you look deeper you’ll see so much chaos. Physical, emotional, and spiritual violence within their hearts, not just times of trouble, but tons of trouble.

Let’s double-check the desires of our hearts.

Let’s be careful who we want to hang with.

That’s why David prayed in: 

Psalm 26:9 (NKJV) “Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men.”

Psalm 28:3 (NKJV) “Do not take me away with the wicked and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.”

The NLT puts Proverbs 24:2 this way, “For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.” Double-trouble.

So many of these people end up dead, in jail, or just wasting their lives. It’s nothing to envy.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 23, 2021

Isaiah 41:17–43:13

Isaiah 41:17-18 speaks of water for the poor and needy. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words in:

John 7:37-39A (NKJV) “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…”

Are you thirsty for the Lord? He will provide that water to quench our thirst and even the grace to water others that they may bring forth fruit, symbolized in Isaiah 41:19.

God commands His people to flee idols, He even challenges these idols to do something so “that we many know that you are gods…” but they can’t, for they’re lifeless.

Isaiah 41:29 (NKJV) “Indeed they are all worthless; their works are nothing; their molded images are wind and confusion.”

Isaiah 42:1-13 speaks of Jesus as Servant. Matthew 12:18-21 quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 and applies it specifically to Jesus. Jesus was upheld by His Father, anointed by the Spirit. He spoke truth and encouragement to those who were hurting (Matthew 11:28-30). The day will come, when Jesus will establish justice on planet earth, and people all around the world, the coastlands, the Gentiles – many – will trust in Him.

Isaiah then transitions into Israel as servant, but they weren’t a faithful servant. They were blind and deaf (Isaiah 42:18-19) they had trusted in idols. They would not walk in God’s ways, they were disobedient to His Word (Isaiah 42:24). God disciplined them, but they did not take it to heart (Isaiah 42:25).

And yet, God would not give up on His people. Isaiah 43 begins with a wonderful exhortation to Israel to “fear not” for God had redeemed them, He bought them back. This would be words of encouragement for those Jews who would return to the land…there’s no need to be afraid.

Isaiah 43:1–3 (NKJV) “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. 3 For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

God tells His people He loves them (Isaiah 43:4). God defeated other nations in order to set His people free. We’ve witnessed it throughout the ages and even in our generation, how the Lord has regathered the Jews from all over the world. God wants us to see this as a sign of who He is.

Isaiah 43:10 (NKJV) “You are My witnesses,” says the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.”

The fact that Israel is in the land today, is a sign for the whole-wide-world to see, that the LORD, He is God. There was no god before Him, neither shall there be one formed after Him. He is the only Savior.

It’s time to let go of all idols. Isaiah teaches us this. Isaiah also teaches us not to trust in Egypt either (the world). No matter what we’re going through (even if it’s fires and floods) may we know that God is with us as He was with the three Hebrew children (Daniel 3:25). He will accomplish His purposes for our good and His glory. Let’s trust in Him and Him only (Isaiah 42:17; 26:3).

Ephesians 2:1-22

At one time I was on a slippery slope, without hope – “but God” came in and rescued my life. I wasn’t just spiritually sick, I was dead in my sins. I thought back then, that I was only doing my thing, but Paul sheds light on the fact that I was on a certain “track” – a course set by the fallen world (see 1 John 5:19). This “world” is under the influence of the devil himself. Paul calls him the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). 

All this evil just fed my fallen flesh, so that my three enemies – (1) the world, (2) the flesh, and (3) the devil were pounding me down, paving the way to hell, where I was in route to experiencing the eternal wrath of God, and justifiably so (I was by nature a child of wrath with all the rest).

But God…

Those two words in succession are some of the most beautiful words we’ll ever read or hear. God is rich in mercy (not set to give us what we deserve). He’s great in love (passionate for our best even when we’re at our worst). He’s amazing in His grace (lifting us up all the way to heaven even though we only deserve hell). God didn’t just raise us from the dead and leave us in the cemetery, He’s raised us from the dead and seated us in the heavenlies…it’s ALL Him – that’s why He gets all the credit and all the glory, now and forever more.

Ephesians 2:8-10 are some of the most important passages in the entire Bible, worthy of memorization. We are saved by grace (undeserved favor), through faith (genuine belief/trust in the heart) in Christ (the Person and work of Jesus). Salvation is a gift, it’s not something we’ve earned in the past or will ever be able to earn in the future. It’s not by some ceremony, or sacrament, or any “work” of our own – on the contrary, WE are God’s work, we are His workmanship. The Greek word is poiēma from where we derive our English word poem. The truth is, God is working in us and through us to be the people and do the things He has planned – it’s a story He’s writing, that started…even before time began.

Paul goes on to address the fact that the Gentiles (non-Jews) were at one time far away, without hope – without God. They were strangers to the Scriptures, they were people who didn’t know the promises, they had no covenant, without the commonwealth of Israel, but now they (we Gentiles) have been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ blood has broken down the middle wall of separation so that now there is no spiritual advantage whether Jew or Gentile; now there can be unity in Christ. No longer are the Gentiles aliens, stranger, or foreigners, spiritually speaking, but now they are fellow-citizens of heaven. This doesn’t mean that the church has replaced Israel (as some mistakenly teach “Replacement Theology” – see Romans 9-11 – God is still dealing with Israel) it just means that we Gentiles have been grafted into God’s vineyard. The church is built upon the foundational teaching of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Himself being the Chief Cornerstone – a fulfillment of Psalm 118:22-25. The cornerstone (foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, it’s most important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure – that’s Jesus!

Psalm 67:1-7

Psalm 67:1 is an appropriation of the High Priestly prayer of Numbers 6:23-27. This was the blessing the High Priest was to pray over Israel. Here we see that we can even pray it for ourselves.

We desperately need God’s mercy and blessing. 

For His face to shine upon us, describes His smile over us, His grace and favor, and even His intimate presence.

This Psalm is an invitation to the whole wide world. One day Jesus will rule over ALL the nations. What a glorious day that will be.

As we allow the Lord to rule over our own hearts, we will experience His gracious blessings in our lives.

Proverbs 23:29-35

Proverbs 23:29-35 (NKJV) “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?  30 Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

I remember when I was just a little boy, seeing people around me drinking alcohol. I saw fights between grown-ups. It usually started with words that escalated to punches thrown. I saw them get beat up, right in front of my eyes.

I don’t think this would have happened if they hadn’t been drinking. One statistic I heard said that 80% of all crimes are committed by people under the influence of alcohol.

I just don’t understand why people drink – even people who call themselves Christians. Some say the Bible permits it, and yet we’re clearly commanded not to be drunk with wine, for it leads to a wasted life (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible is filled with warnings such as the one we have in this Proverb and elsewhere:

Isaiah 5:11 (NKJV) “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!”

Isaiah 5:22 (NKJV) “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink.”

Consider what it cost Noah (his respect), Lot (he fell into incest with his daughters), Herod murdered John the Baptist – the greatest prophet of God, and it cost Nabal his life. It’s just not worth it!

NET Notes, “The point of these similes is to compare being drunk with being seasick. One who tries to sleep when at sea, or even worse, when up on the ropes of the mast, will be tossed back and forth.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 22, 2021

Isaiah 39:1–41:16

Hezekiah was a good and godly king, but he wasn’t perfect (none of us are). Hezekiah let his pride get the best of him, and against all wise judgment, he allowed the ambassadors of Babylon to see all the treasures of Jerusalem. Isaiah breaks the news to Hezekiah that one day the Babylonians would return and completely conquer Jerusalem. They would take away all the treasures, and even the precious people of the land. 

According to 2 Chronicles 32:31 God withdrew from Hezekiah at this time, He didn’t influence him, he testd him in order to show him (and us) his heart. We read in:

2 Chronicles 32:31 (NKJV) “However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”

Warren Wiersbe commented, “This was the third test (2 Chronicles 32:31), and the king failed miserably. What could not be accomplished through an army or an illness was accomplished through flattery. If Satan cannot succeed as a lion, then he comes as a serpent.”

As we transition into Isaiah 40 we now enter the second half of the book that has often been compared to a Bible. Just as the Bible has 66 books, Isaiah has 66 chapters. Just as the Bible has 39 Old Testament chapters that emphasize God’s holiness and judgment, Isaiah does the same in the its first 39 chapters. But just as the Bible emphasizes God’s grace in the New Testament and the last 27 books, so also Isaiah emphasizes the grace of God in the last 27 chapters. It’s a fascinating parallel.

It’s now time to comfort the people – her war is ended, her iniquity is pardoned (Isaiah 40:1-2). The Messiah would come, but before Him, the forerunner would come. Isaiah 40:3-5 is in reference to John the Baptist who was the fulfillment of this, “voice” crying in the wilderness. The people needed to get ready for the coming of the Christ.

The day would come when the religious leaders would ask John about this. He identified himself with this passage of Scripture.

John 1:22-23 (NKJV) “Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said: ‘I am The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD.’’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Isaiah goes on to describe an awesome and wonderful God. He’s the Good Shepherd of His people. He’s sovereign over all the nations. He’s not the work of man, lifeless idols, no – our God is the Maker of heaven and earth. There is no one like Him (Isaiah 40:25).

If He made and maintains the stars, knowing them all by name where not one is missing, how much more does He take care of every single one of us? Don’t think that God doesn’t see you my friend…and all that you’re going through.

Isaiah 40:27 (NKJV) “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?’”

He sees. He knows. Wait on Him. Trust Him. The Caring Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth will give you power.

Isaiah 40:29–31 (NKJV) “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.

Don’t fear. Don’t act hastily. Don’t step out in sin. Wait on God, trust Him. Be patient and be empowered…next think you know you’ll be flying high, soaring far above all the struggles of life that at one time had you down and out.

Isaiah 41 predicts the return of the nation of Israel to her land. The “one” God will raise up is King Cyrus (Isaiah 41:2, 25; 44:28; 45:1) who will be used by Him to bring this to pass. Again…the LORD is not like the lifeless, useless idols of pagan people, He is the first and the last (Isaiah 41:4), He is the Savior of Israel and the people whom He’s chosen (Isaiah 41:8), there is nothing, nothing for us to fear (and for good reason)

Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

What a beautiful promise. May it give us peace. God will defeat every enemy of ours (Isaiah 41:12). Even though we’re as helpless and as weak as wretched worms, God will strengthen us – He will transform us into victorious weapons of righteousness.

Isaiah 41:14–15 (NKJV) “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you,” says the LORD and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff.

I hope that encourages you. What a difference it makes, with the living God on our side!

Ephesians 1:1-23

We now embark on the book of Ephesians (I must confess, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible). Paul begins by listing some of our spiritual riches as believers – in Christ. We read in Ephesians 1:3 that we’ve actually been blessed with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING! I can’t list or elaborate on all that is here, but I was mulling through verses 3-13 (which are all one sentence in the Greek language) and here it is:

Chosen by God to be forgiven by God (Ephesians 1:4); Predestined and adopted as children of God (Ephesians 1:5); Accepted in Christ, to the glory of God (Ephesians 1:6, 12); Redeemed by the very blood of God (Ephesians 1:7a); Abounding in the amazing grace of God (Ephesians 1:7b-8); Selected to know the mysteries of God (Ephesians 1:9a); Blessed to be pleasing and part of the purpose of God (Ephesians 1:9b); Destined to one day live forever in the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 1:10); Willed to be joint heirs with the Son of God (Ephesians 1:11); and just to express the certainty of all this, now and forever – we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).

In Ephesians 1:15 Paul points to two aspects of genuine salvation – faith in God, and love for the brethren.

After Paul heard this about the people, he, from that point forward did not cease to pray for them. Ephesians 1:16-20 would be a great section to memorize and pray for those believers in your life – that God would open their eyes to realize the riches they have in Christ. I like the way the NLT translates v. 17 (NLT) “…asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” Paul wanted them to get to know God more, to get to know the great hope of our calling, the riches of our inheritance, and the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Do we truly, actually, and in all reality know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead, that lifted Him up above ALL demonic entities – lives in us! It’s vital that we come to understand our wealth (Ephesians 1-3) for that transitions into the faith to walk as Christians (Ephesians 4:1-6:9), end even war against the devil and his demons (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Before duty comes doctrine, before behavior comes belief, before the walk or the war, we must know our wealth.  This is Ephesians chapters 1-3.

We are the body of Christ, and He is our Head (Ephesians 1:22) may this encourage us and even empower us to live and love like Jesus by drawing upon the infinite resources and riches that we’ve been freely given “in Christ.”

Psalm 66:1-20

This Psalm exalts God far above the nations of the earth and even looks forward to the day when the whole wide world will worship Him (Psalm 66:4). What a day that will be!

In the meantime, we can clearly see God’s power, love, and work in the nation of Israel.

The Psalmist invites the world to “Come and see” (Psalm 66:5) and to “Come and hear” (Psalm 66:16).

How God parted the Red Sea and His people prevailed. Even how they went through difficult times of trial and discipline, and yet God refined them in the fires and the floods (see also Isaiah 43:2).

Psalm 66:10–12 (NKJV) “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. 12 You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”

A closer look at God’s people reveals that He really does work ALL things together for good  for those of us who love Him (Romans 8:28); that He really does hear our prayers, as we do our best to keep our hearts right before Him. 

I’ve always been challenged by Psalm 66:18, its essence is captured in the NIV:

Psalm 66:18 (NIV) “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

As we abide in Him, believe in Him, trust in Him, and even yield to His discipline, with clean hands and surrendered hearts, we will see God work, He will answer our prayers and inevitably the day will come when we will:

Psalm 66:1a (NKJV) “Make a joyful SHOUT to God…”

Proverbs 23:25-28

Proverbs 23:25-28 (NKJV) “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice. 26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 27 For a harlot is a deep pit, and a seductress is a narrow well. 28 She also lies in wait as for a victim, and increases the unfaithful among men.”

It’s probably no secret to read that we parents will be glad and even rejoice when our children walk in wisdom.

And as we give God our hearts, and observe His ways, we will be protected from one of the most dangerous temptations of all – seduction.

That 18 inches from the head to the heart, make all the difference in the world. 

How we need to know, believe, and receive, that “…a harlot is a deep pit…” “a narrow well.”

Proverbs 22:14 (NKJV) “The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit; He who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.”

NET Notes, “The metaphors of a “deep pit” and a “narrow well” describe this sin as one that is a trap from which there is no escape. The “pit” is a gateway to Sheol, and those who enter are as good as dead…”

Friend, be so careful, that man, or that woman you might be flirting with, “Lies in wait…”

Proverbs 23:28 (NLT) “She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.”

Will you be a victim? Will I? Not if we give God our hearts and observe (obey) His ways.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 21, 2021

Isaiah 37:1–38:22

King Hezekiah heard the words of the Rabshakeh, the ambassador of the king of Assyria, how he blasphemed the LORD and intended to slay God’s people. King Hezekiah therefore tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the House of the LORD to seek Him wholeheartedly. Hezekiah also sent word to the prophet Isaiah, perhaps the LORD would have mercy upon them and against all human odds, deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrian army.

Isaiah sent word back to the king, “Do not be afraid,” their enemy would return to his own land and die by the sword.

Rabshakeh sent a letter to Hezekiah – not to be deceived by this hiccup in his plan to conquer Jerusalem. Rabshakeh vigorously attacked the faith of God’s people.

Isaiah 37:10 (NKJV) “Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, ‘Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’’”

When Hezekiah received the letter he read it, and spread it out before the LORD for Him to read as well. Then Hezekiah prayed, acknowledging God as the one and only God, the Maker of heaven and earth. The only reason the other nations weren’t able to stand against Assyria is because their gods were not gods at all, they were the work of men. We then read the marvelous motive behind his prayer:

Isaiah 37:20 (NKJV) “Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone.”

Isaiah then sent word to Hezekiah with an important message, “Because you have prayed…” (Isaiah 37:21)

Because King Hezekiah prayed, God would send an angel, some say it was Jesus – the Angel of the LORD…to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians.

They had blasphemed God. They had rage against Him, so God defended this city, He saved it…because their king had prayed.

What if Hezekiah had never prayed? What if he didn’t pray passionately, covering himself with sackcloth, spreading the matter before the LORD? I’ve always been challenged by this story, “Because you prayed…” May we be moved and motivated to pray for the protection and salvation of the people, the way Hezekiah prayed. I like the way he even asked Isaiah to join him in prayer (Isaiah 37:4).

Hezekiah prayed for the nation – he also prayed for himself. In Isaiah 38 we have the account of King Hezekiah’s appointed death. Isaiah came to him and told him to set his house in order, he was going to die. The king prayed and wept, he pleaded with the LORD who answered by granting him and extra fifteen years of life.

There’s debate among Christian circles as to whether or not this was a good thing (an extension of life). Some say it wasn’t good because it was during this time that Manasseh was born. Others say it was good because it seems to be something that took place during the whole Assyrian invasion, which is why we read:

Isaiah 38:5–6 (NKJV) “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. 6 I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.” ’

If Hezekiah had died then, would Jerusalem have been delivered without their key intercessor? Today I lean towards the latter view. It’s okay to pray for more time and leave the results in God’s sovereign hands. He knows what’s best and will answer according to His will (1 John 5:14).

Keep looking up my friend (Isaiah 38:14) for God will hear, God will speak, and God will do (Isaiah 38:15). Isn’t it encouraging to know that as we cast ourselves upon the mercy of the Lord, He is gracious and willing to cast all our sins behind His back! (Isaiah 38:17)

Galatians 6:1-18

I often quote Galatians 6:1-2 when I meet with someone after they’ve fallen. If the one who has strayed is repentant and open to restoration, we need to gently, Biblically, and humbly help them. We as friends and “counselors” are not anyone special, and were it not for the grace of God, I could just as easily have done the same thing a fallen brother has done.

But certain situations are too much for a person to bear alone, and we need to show our love for them, by bearing it with them.

I like the way the NLT translates:

Galatians 6:3, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

Galatians 6:3-4 teaches us that there are those times (works) that we are solely and personally responsible for; wise and Spirit-led is the person who knows the difference.

As a teacher I would encourage you to pray for your teachers (Galatians 6:6) encourage them in the Lord.

It’s important to realize that every day we are “sowing seeds,” every day we are making an investment, either to our fleshly life or to our spiritual life. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can sow to the flesh (take in and practice sin) without it affecting us. The law of the Lord is that whatever you plant will eventually grow, and we will reap that harvest, whether good or bad.

If it’s bad seed, don’t be deceived, and if it’s good seed, don’t be discouraged. I love what Sandy Adams said on this, “Just remember you never reap in the same season you sow. Whether you have sown good seed or bad, there is always a waiting period before your crop, crops up. If you are sowing bad seed the delay can deceive. If you are sowing good seed the delay can discourage. Do not grow weary in doing good! God will fulfill His promise! You be patient and persistent.”

Let us do good to all, especially the brethren (Galatians 6:10) take advantage of those “opportunities.”

As Paul closes the letter he personally pens it himself with big letters (that may indicate he had an eye problem). But he goes back to his primary premise and that is for the Galatians to stay away from false teachers who taught salvation or sanctification through circumcision. These imposters were only trying to avoid persecution; they were not of the Lord or of His gospel, they were just another one of those so called “ministers” who likes to boast in numbers, or his own accomplishments.

Paul’s only boast in all of life was the cross where Jesus died for all of his sins. The blood of Christ was/is enough! “Nothing in my hand I bring, only to Thy cross I cling!” Paul let go of his grip on religion (the world) and therefore the world lost its grip on him. The people who hold to the pure gospel will experience peace and mercy, they are the ones who belong to God (Galatians 6:16). May we be minsters who have the “marks” Paul had – service to the point of sacrifice and suffering…what a sermon he was (Galatians 6:17).

Psalm 65:1-13

I like the way Warren Wiersbe outlines this Psalm: the Worship goes up, the Witness goes out, and the Wealth comes down. “This is a harvest Psalm for believers who want to thank God for His goodness and care during another year.”

We also thank Him for His grace in the way He deals with us personally. I praise Him for what we read in v. 3:

Psalm 65:3 (NKJV) “Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.”

Have you ever been there? I know I have, when I feel like I’m losing the battle, I stumble, I fall, I fail the Lord at times. I’m eternally grateful for the atonement, and how Jesus really does wash away my sins. (1 John 1:8-9)

I also thank God for the way He stills the storms. He does it literally (Psalm 65:7 – Jesus did it as a demonstration of His deity – Matthew 8:26). But He also does it spiritually, God stills the storm within me and all around me.

Thank You Lord, I give You all of my praise.

Proverbs 23:24

Proverbs 23:24 (NKJV) “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him.”

Or as the New Living Translation puts it:

Proverbs 23:24 (NLT) “The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise.”

John the Beloved tells us there’s no greater joy in all the world then when our children walk in truth (3 John 4). We want our children to be saved and sanctified – it’s the deepest longing for any Christian parent.

May God grant us grace and wisdom as parents on how we can do our part to raise our children in the ways of the Lord.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 20, 2021

Isaiah 33:10–36:22

Bible Knowledge Commentary said, “Isaiah noted the kind of people who will be saved (Isaiah 33:13–16) and then described the land in which they will live (Isaiah 33:17–24).”

In Isaiah 33:14 we read of sinners and hypocrites who will dwell in devouring fire, in everlasting burnings. May we never forget what we’ve been saved from!

Those who are saved will see the King in His beauty (Jesus in His glory).

Isaiah 33:22 (NKJV) “(For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us).”

Back in the “day” the nations viewed the gods as local deities. The Jews revealed the fact that there is only one God, and He rules the whole-wide-world. One day, and it sure seems like it’s going to be soon, God will judge the world…we read that vividly in Isaiah 34.

Isaiah 34:1–2 (NKJV) “Come near, you nations, to hear; and heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world and all things that come forth from it. 2 For the indignation of the LORD is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter.”

The world will be judged for their sins against God – AND – for their sins against Israel (Zion). God has blessed the United States of America for its support of Israel; if we turn our back on Israel…we will pay the price.

Isaiah 34:8 (NKJV) “For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.”

Isaiah 35 speaks of the future glory of Zion and at the same time describes the future ministry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who gave us glimpses of what will happen under His rule.

Isaiah 35:5–6 (NKJV) “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”

Isaiah 36 chronicles the threat and arrogance of the Assyrian army as they surrounded Jerusalem. You can also read this account in 2 Chronicles 32 and 2 Kings 18-19. Some people wonder why this story is repeated in three books of the Bible and the answer would have to be that God wanted to emphasize it – He wants us to know this emphatically.

Assyria was the world power in that day. they had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, and they were 100% certain that they were about to completely devour Jerusalem and finish off the southern kingdom of Judah. Assyria foolishly thought that it was all by their own strength.  They tried to strike fear into the hearts of the Jews, speaking to them in their own language, attempting to make them surrender to their enemy. Rabshakeh boasted how Assyria had defeated the gods of all the other nations. If he would have stopped there, perhaps he and his army would have survived, but Rabshakeh boasted against the one true living God, the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He attempted to undermine the faith of the Jews, specifically warning them not to let King Hezekiah persuade them to trust in the LORD their God.

Hezekiah was a good leader. He had commanded the people not so say a word. Rabshakeh, King Sennacherib, and all the Assyrian army was on the verge of discovering that there’s only one God, Who was about to put them in their place.

Galatians 5:13-26

Our Christian life should be a blessing not a burden. God wants us to be free, to travel light, to rest assured, to walk in peace. God has granted us liberty – but – we are not to use this liberty as a license to sin. What beautiful words we read in Galatians 5:13, “…but through love serve one another.” That’s it, that’s what we’ve been set free to do – to love God and to love everyone else!

This type of love cannot be manufactured in our own strength or effort. Agape (Divine) love is only possible if we walk in the Spirit (function under His influence – Ephesians 5:18). The contrast would be if we walked in the flesh – referring to our own fallen nature which is inclined to sin.

How can you tell if you’re walking in the flesh or walking in the Spirit? There will be evidence, there will be fruit.

As I read Galatians 5:19-21 I do so reverently and honestly…does any of this describe me? If it does, if any of these characteristics describe a person consistently, wherein this is their unrepentant practice, then Paul says such a person will NOT inherit the kingdom of God! I thank the Lord that He’s set me free from the sins of immoral sex, drugs, and rock and roll parties of my b.C. days, but what about hatred, strife, quarreling, outbursts of wrath, envy?

What about love? Does that describe me? How about you? This is the eevidence of a Christian. This is definitely an emphasis in this chapter (see Galatians 5:6, 13-14, 22). Pastor Chuck Smith taught that love is the fruit of the Spirit and the other eight qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are simply manifestations of love. If we’re truly Christians then we live in the Spirit, we must now do our best to be led by the Spirit, and hence walk in the Spirit…under His influence (Ephesians 5:18; Proverbs 1:23).

Psalm 64:1-10

In this Psalm, David prays for God’s protection from the slander of his enemies. It’s painful to think that others would speak bad of us, and at times it’s even more than painful – it’s harmful. The lies Saul was spreading about David mustered up a movement against a man who was completely innocent of those accusations (Psalm 64:4).

David was confident that God would speak on his behalf (Psalm 64:7) and as we see so frequently in the Psalms, he ends on a high note:

Psalm 64:10 (NKJV) “The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory.”

We’ve probably all had those days or seasons of slander against us; one passage that has helped me time and time again is:

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) “‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the LORD.”

Proverbs 23:23

Proverbs 23:23 (NKJV) “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Not that truth, wisdom, and understanding costs actual money, but it does “cost.” We must pray, study God’s Word, and be willing to say “no” to sin. Some people are not willing pay the price, or they sell out to whatever the devil deals them.

A related Proverb is:

Proverbs 17:16 (NKJV) “Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?”

O Lord, please give us a heart for wisdom.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 19, 2021

Isaiah 30:12–33:9

God was calling His people to trust in Him, to return to Him, but they refused. We read in:

Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV) “For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not.”

How important it is for us to listen to the Lord, to return to Him, to trust in Him. Tragically His people were relying on Egypt (a typology of the world) and not the LORD. They would pay the price for their mistrust.

 The book of Isaiah reminds me of the book of Judges due to the fact that there are these constant cycles. One minute he’s writing about judgment, the next minute he’s writing about mercy. That’s what happens next in Isaiah 30:18-26. God’s discipline would lead to God’s grace and answer to prayer. 

Isaiah 30:19 (NKJV) “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”

God would wait for Israel and they would wait on Him (Isaiah 30:18). “Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” Trust Him friend, whatever you’re going through, just wait on Him. If you do, you watch, He will do a new work and you will experience victory in that “situation” you’ve been struggling with.

The Lord will even bless you with the grace to put into practice the things that your Bible teachers share (Isaiah 30:20-21). Idols will fall by the wayside (Isaiah 30:22). What a bright “day” that will be:

Isaiah 30:26 (NKJV) “Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.”

In Isaiah (30:27-33) we read about the judgment of Assyria. Isaiah spoke of this before it came to pass. 

Isaiah 30:31 (NKJV) “For through the voice of the LORD Assyria will be beaten down, as He strikes with the rod.”

In Isaiah 31 he warns once again about trusting in Egypt.

Isaiah 31:1 (NKJV) “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!”

The day would come when the Egyptians and the Jews would be judged by God. 

I don’t understand why we trust in men, and the puny weapons of this world, when we have God and His omnipotence. It doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to have friends to help, weapons to fight, or medicine to hea, it simply means that we primarily and ultimately look to God. He is able to work through others, and He often does, but our trust is just not there – in “Egypt.”

And again we see how the time would come when God would deliver Judah from Assyria (Isaiah 31:4-9).

Isaiah 32 speaks of God’s reign of righteousness; a warning against complacency; and the peace of God’s reign.

Isaiah 33:1-9 is a prayer of God’s people while in deep distress.

Isaiah 33:2 (NKJV) “O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for You. Be our arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.”

Galatians 5:1-12

The enemy was trying to reroute the Galatian Christians away from Jesus, and he’ll try to do the same to us. We must stand firm, hold our ground, cling to Christ, stay right where we are, in a relationship with God based on faith and love – not law and legalism.

Paul issued a heavy, heavy warning to the Galatian Christians, if they bought the lie of the legalists, that Christ wasn’t enough. If they were circumcised, they basically exited Christianity and entered into Judaism, they fell from grace and were now obligated to keep the whole Mosaic law (something that no one can do – Acts 15:10).

They had been doing so well as Christians, they were running the race, but whenever and wherever God does a great work, the enemy will oppose that work vigorously. These lying leaders had leavened the lump. 

We have many cults today and established “religions” who teach salvation by works and faith. These heresies are taught by men who not called by God but sent by Satan. Paul was filled with a righteous indignation towards these false teachers, even wishing that these troublers would “cut themselves off” (mutilation). The Judaizers were teaching that men must be circumcised in order to be saved, so Paul took it a few steps further and expressed his fiery desire that these imposters castrate themselves! (He sounds upset – and rightly so)

Friend, we were saved by faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of the cross. We don’t need to ADD anything to that simple, saving faith in Him. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

Psalm 63:1-11

This was another one of those times when David’s life was on the line, there were those who were seeking to destroy him (Psalm 63:9). Have you ever been there? Ever had an army hunting you down, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy? Maybe not physically, but definitely spiritually…we’ve all been there. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words of contrast between the Devil and Himself in:

John 10:10 (NKJV) “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

In this war we’re in, we are to fight the good fight with spiritual weapons. David sought God, HIS God, early. David did not look to anything the world had to offer because it was all futile in this fight. David looked to God and even more of God.

David wanted God and worshiped God.

Psalm 63:3 (NKJV) “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.”

 That combination of God’s absolute sovereignty and His perfect love for us all should bring us to a  place of total trust.

We should all cultivate the determination of David:

Psalm 63:8a (NKJV) “My soul follows close behind You.”

We can even praise the Lord in advance for the victory in front of us…and the eventual and inevitable defeat of all our enemies.

Psalm 63:11 (NKJV) “But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.”

Proverbs 23:22

Proverbs 23:22 (NKJV) Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

What a treasure it is to have parents who pray for their children and give them the Word. My encouragement to all those children who’ve been blessed in this way, is to listen to your parents. Not only are they aspiring to plant the truth in your hearts but it comes from a heart of love. As a dad I know, there’s no one who can love you like your parents.

When our parents get older, we should honor them, even more.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 18, 2021

Isaiah 28:14–30:11

Isaiah 28:16 is clearly a reference to Jesus Christ – the Rock of our salvation.

Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.”

The context references leaders who were not leading the people to heaven, but on the contrary, were leading people to death, to Sheol (hell) (Isaiah 28:14-15, 18). Thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ, the precious cornerstone, the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11;  1 Peter 2:6-7) who has made a way for us to have life, to go to an eternal home in heaven…the key we see, even here in Isaiah, is “…whoever believes…” (John 3:16).

“A destruction is determined upon the whole earth…” (Isaiah 28:22b) but if we listen to God and His wonderful world, we will be spared from that judgment we deserve:

Isaiah 28:26 (NKJV) “For He instructs him in right judgment, His God teaches him.”

As we read God’s Word and listen carefully to His voice, He will counsel us through the hard times, He will guide every step of the way:

Isaiah 28:29 (NKJV) “This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”

But what happens when we don’t cling to God and His Word, to God and His ways? We will experience God’s discipline, just as Jerusalem did. In Isaiah 29 he pronounces woes upon Ariel, which is an allusion to Jerusalem. Babylon would conquer Jerusalem, and over the years many countries (including the Romans) have crushed this city. We even read in Isaiah 29:8 that the multitude of nations shall fight against Mount Zion.

One of the most miraculous things about being a believer, is that we comprehend the things of God, we understand the “language” of God as we read His Word and heed His still small voice. Isaiah writes about people who were not saved and therefore God’s Word was sealed to them. Isaiah writes about people who were literate, able to read, but were not able to understand the Scriptures or the words of the prophet of God. (Isaiah 29:10-12)

It’s tragic to see that the Jews of Isaiah’s day were guilty of the same thing in Jesus’ day who referenced Isaiah 29:13 in:

Matthew 15:7-9 (NKJV) “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

We call ourselves Christians, but are we really like Christ? We sing and tell God we love Him, but do we truly love the Lord? May God protect us and remind us to rid ourselves of any hypocrisy. Let’s draw near to God in our hearts. May the Spirit of God empower us to be the “real deal,” not just talkie-talkies, but walkie-talkies.

And yet, in spite of all this, God would not abandon the Jews, God would one day and throughout all of time, spare Israel (see Romans 9-11). They would be “fruitful” (Isaiah 29:17), they would be joyful (Isaiah 29:19), “Those who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:24)

In Isaiah 30 he begins with an indictment of God’s people who go down to Egypt for help. Egypt is a “type” of the world.

It’s so sad when we see people who call themselves “Followers of God,” end up following the world; people who devise plans that are not of God and ask advice from the unsaved. The Jews would soon discover that Egypt would not be able to deliver them from the enemy. Isaiah tried to warn them, but the people refused to listen. 

Isaiah 30:8–10 (NLT) “Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness 9 that these people are stubborn rebels who refuse to pay attention to the LORD’s instructions. 10 They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.”

Galatians 3:21–4:31

The Mosaic law has no power over sin, it can only point it out. The law was therefore intended to point us to our Savior. In those days children had a guardian while they were young. The “tutor” had various responsibilities such as taking the children to school so they could learn, but eventually the day would come when the child would no longer need a tutor. That’s what the law was, a temporary school-master to bring us to Christ by showing us our sin and our need for forgiveness.

We mustn’t misunderstand Galatians 3:28 – of course we know that there are still racial, financial, and sexual differences, but this passage teaches us that none of those things create any spiritual advantage or disadvantage.  We have all been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Most of us nowadays have no clue what it’s like to be a literal, actual slave. In the Roman world of Paul’s day, there were sixty-million slaves, and every single one of them knew the infinite difference between them and someone who was free. Until Jesus came, the whole world was in spiritual slavery, under bondage to sin and lawful religion, but when Jesus came, He set us free. If we place our faith in Christ, the chains are gone (John 8:35-36). This is what Paul is trying to teach the Galatians. In Christ, we are no longer slaves, we are children of God! 

Why were the people going back to the bondage of rigorous religion?

Paul mentions the fact that they were turning again to religious rules and regulations (Galatians 4:9). Earlier in Galatians 1:9 Paul marveled that they were turning away so soon from Jesus! Paul was heartbroken and even afraid at the possibility that he had labored for them in vain, that he had wasted his time (Galatians 4:11).

Paul urged the people to return to Christ and His message and messenger. He reminded them of how it was in the beginning, the relationship they had when Paul first preached the Gospel to them. We don’t know all the details, but there was a day when they esteemed Paul to the extent that they would have plucked out their eyes and given them to Paul. Now they see him as their enemy simply because he’s telling them the truth (Galatians 4:16). The false teachers wanted to replace Paul, they wanted the people to be zealous for them.

I thought it was interesting that Paul was here laboring in birth “AGAIN” until Christ was formed in them (Galatians 4:19). It’s almost as if he was starting all over with them.

Paul goes on to give an allegorical example and explanation from Genesis 16 as to what was taking place from a Spiritual perspective (I encourage you to read that chapter if you can).

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael was born from the bondwoman (Hagar), Isaac was born from the free woman (Sarah). Ishmael was born of the flesh (it was man) but Isaac was born of the promise (it was God). Ishmael corresponds to Mt. Sinai, where the law was given, Isaac corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, which gives birth to children who are born in liberty, who are spiritually rich, and who are freely empowered to be like their God (and Father). This is who Christians are.

Sandy Adams elaborates on this wonderful teaching, “Isaac was the result of God’s work, or grace. Ishmael was the result of man’s work, or legalism. Ishmael became jealous of Isaac and refused to let him live in peace. Likewise, the legalist is jealous of the believer who lives by grace. Paul is warning that there will be no rest for the Galatians until legalism and the legalist have been booted from the body.”

Psalm 62:1-12

Twice in this Psalm David shares the fact that his soul waits silently for God. This doesn’t mean he didn’t pray (that’s what this Psalm is). It simply means he didn’t complain to others…he waited on God alone (Psalm 62:5).

It’s important to realize that God is our Rock, our defense, He alone is the one who will protect us from being moved (Psalm 62:6). God alone is our salvation, our glory, our strength, and our refuge (Psalm 62:7).

May we not put our trust in man, money, or make moves of manipulation, let’s not set our hearts on that (Psalm 62:10).

Instead let’s pour out our heart to God:

Psalm 62:8 (NKJV) “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”

Have you ever poured out your heart to God? It’s probably something we should do – every day.

We love our fellow man, but we mustn’t look to them as the ultimate source of help and peace. We can’t trust in man or money, even if it increases, we are not to set our hearts on it! God help us to look only to Him…power and mercy belongs only to Him (Psalm 62:11-12).

Proverbs 23:19-21

Proverbs 23:19-21 (NKJV) Hear, my son, and be wise; and GUIDE YOUR HEART in the way.  20 Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.”

Don’t you just love the way he tells his son (and us) to GUIDE our hearts?

We are not to follow our heart, but guide it in the way.

And again, this is one of those Proverbs about how we are to choose our friends wisely; to keep good company. Not drunkards or gluttons – for the fruit of such friendships, will be drowsiness, laziness, leading to poverty in a variety of ways.

NET Notes, “…warning about poor associations. Drunkenness and gluttony represent the epitome of the lack of discipline. In the Mishnah they are used to measure a stubborn and rebellious son (m. Sanhedrin 8). W. G. Plaut notes that excessive drinking and eating are usually symptoms of deeper problems.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 17, 2021

Isaiah 25:1–28:13

Isaiah 25 is a song and celebration of the salvation of the Lord. The “City” that has been ruined is probably a reference to Babylon. God would one day judge the nation and city that came against His people, but it’s also a reference to ALL of our enemies. One day God will judge the world and destroy the cities of the “terrible nations.” God will judge the ungodly and save those of us who have placed our faith in Him. God will even judge (eradicate and end) death (1 Corinthians 15:26).

Isn’t it beautiful what we read in:

Isaiah 25:8 (NKJV) “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.”

And then:

Isaiah 25:9 (NKJV) “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.”

Warren Wiersbe said this of Isaiah 26-27, “The phrase ‘in that day’ links these two chapters (Isaiah 26:1; 27:1-2, 12-13) and focuses attention on the glory of God in the promised kingdom (Isaiah 26:15). Knowing that the future is secure in the Lord is an encouragement when you suffer (Romans 8:18–25; 2 Corinthians 5:1–8).”

Life is hard, this world is fallen, we must do our best to live a good life and impact the world for good, but we must not focus on ourselves, or on our world…we must focus on the Lord. Isaiah 26:3 is a special verse to me:

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

It’s the only way we can find perfect peace…if we keep our minds, our thoughts, our hearts on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1).

During the Millennial Kingdom the inhabitants of the world have the opportunity to learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:9) but the wicked won’t truly learn and be saved (Isaiah 26:10). It’s hard to fathom the thought, but at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be loosed and there will be one final fight from mankind. After one-thousand years of Jesus’ reign, man will still rebel, those who don’t really know the Lord! This is why it’s of utmost importance to make sure that our life in Christ is not superficial, or artificial, but official! Is it really real, deep, genuine, and true? All things and everyone will eventually be exposed.

There are different views on Isaiah 26:20-21. Some say it’s in reference to Israel being sheltered during the Tribulation Period in Petra. Others see it as the Rapture of the church, as God pulls His people out of this world, before He judges the world. Either way the principle is the same as articulated by Peter:

2 Peter 2:9 (NLT) “So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.”

Isaiah 26:20–21 (NKJV) “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. 21 For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.”

Isaiah 27:1 mentions the punishment of Leviathan. This is definitely symbolic. Leviathan may be the antichrist, the false prophet, or even the devil himself.

Isaiah goes on to describe the restoration of Israel – what a contrast between this vineyard which is fruitful and protected, and the vineyard of Isaiah 5 which was barren and judged. When Israel receives their Messiah, their sin will be taken away (Isaiah 27:9).

Isaiah 28 speaks of the judgment of Israel and Jerusalem. There’s always a remnant of believers who are spared, but going back in time, Israel was judged by Assyria,  Jerusalem was judged by Babylon, and both were allowed to be judged by the LORD Himself.

Thankfully there’s always a remnant (Isaiah 28:5) but it’s sad to see the way the so-called leaders of the Jews, led them astray (prophets and priests). If only they would have been under the influence of the Spirit of God and the Word of God, they wouldn’t have cause the people of God to err. Beware of wine…and beware of a time when you tire of hearing the truth of God, line upon line, and precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:9-13). The people of Isaiah’s day despised it and would not listen, even though God was offering them salvation and rest.

Isaiah 28:12 (NKJV) “To whom He said, ‘This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” and, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear.”

Galatians 3:10-22

Paul explains that the law was never intended to save a single soul. The law is good in that it keeps people in check, but ultimately it brings a curse because no one can keep the law – no one, that is, except Christ, who not only kept the law, but bore the curse for us, when He hung, bled, and died on the cross of Calvary.

The Ceremonial law of Moses was temporary, til the Seed should come to whom the promise was made (Galatians 3:16, 19).

Paul quotes from the book of Habakkuk 2:4

Galatians 3:11 (NKJV) “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’”

“The just shall live by faith,” is also quoted in Romans  1:17 and Hebrews 10:38 – it takes three New Testament passages to explain this amazing truth rooted in the Old Testament.

It’s not human works that save us, it’s not ceremony or sacraments, it’s not baptism or circumcision, and it’s not the law of Judaism, it’s faith in Jesus Christ that saves us, “The just shall live by faith.”

Paul goes on to reason that the Divine Covenant God made with Abraham and his Seed, of salvation by faith, cannot be altered. The law came AFTER the covenant with Abraham! The Judaizers wanted to go back to Moses, but if they wanted to get to the heart of the matter they should have gone back farther, to Abraham. There they would discover that salvation is by faith; something that even the OldTestament explicitly stated in Habakkuk 2:4.

The Mosaic law has no power over sin, it can only point to our sin, and was therefore intended to point us to Jesus.

Psalm 61:1-8

In the midst of the masses who were probably praying at the time, David pleaded, “O God, hear my cry, please, listen to my prayer!” 

He wanted to get God’s attention.

David was a rugged soldier, but he was also a tender poet, musician, writer, and worshipper. It’s hard for most men to admit when their heart is overwhelmed, but blessed is the man who is emotionally healthy and seeks to have that sensitive heart.

David prays for God to meet him there, when he’s down; for God to lead him, and lift him up “to the Rock that is higher than I.” A rock is a solid foundation, the Rock is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

David knew where to turn, and he knew how to turn; he also knew that this in turn would work out for his deliverance. Imagine that, being right smack dab in the middle of depression and even danger – and yet KNOWING that God will preserve me. That’s the heart of faith.

I’m blessed by the way David ends the Psalm, with an eternal perspective of praise, and yet – it affects him to obey, every single day.

Psalm 61:8 (NKJV) “So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows.”

Proverbs 23:17-18

Proverbs 23:17-18 (NKJV) “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.”

We have this command repeatedly throughout the Scriptures – not to be envious of the wicked:

Psalm 37:1 (NKJV) “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.”

Proverbs 24:1 (NKJV) “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”

Proverbs 24:19 (NKJV) “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the wicked.”

Why would we be tempted to be envious of sinners? Maybe it’s their money – the lifestyle of indulgence, footloose and fancy free, seems like fun. They get to do whatever they feel like doing…and on and on and on.

But here we read the reason we’re not to envy them – and it’s a big one. It’s because there is a hereafter, there is life after death in one of two places, heaven or hell.

So, friend…don’t just fear the Lord, be zealous for the fear of the Lord, all day of every day, and remember there is no reason to envy the wicked (see also Psalm 73:1-17).

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 16, 2021

Isaiah 22:1–24:23

Isaiah 22 begins with the judgment of the city of Jerusalem. Some say it has to do with the Assyrian attack, and it may be, but I would lean in a different direction. We will see as we study the Scriptures, that the Assyrians did not conquer Jerusalem, but the Babylonians did.

When Babylon conquered Jerusalem the Jewish men were slain with the sword (Isaiah 22:2), God removed the protection of Judah, and the city of David was damaged (Isaiah 22:8-9). The leaders and citizens of the city of Jerusalem did everything they could to protect themselves – even using their broken down houses to fortify the wall – but they did not get their lives right with God. They looked to their military but not the Almighty.

Isaiah 22:11 (NKJV) “You also made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to its Maker, nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

Isaiah also predicted the replacement of Shebna, an unfaithful steward in Jerusalem, with Eliakim, a faithful man. I’m reminded of:

Psalm 75:6–7 (NKJV) “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. 7 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.”

Isaiah 23 describes the future judgment of Tyre and Sidon, cities that prospered greatly on the Mediterranean coastline.

Warren Wierse, “Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician cities that brought great wealth to the nation by shipping and trading. It seemed incredible that such a successful economy would be wiped out, but it happened just as the prophet warned.”

Isaiah 23:8–9 (NKJV) “Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the honorable of the earth? 9 The LORD of hosts has purposed it, to bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.”

As we read through Isaiah, we’re reminded that our God is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the just and holy Judge who in the appointed time, will make all things new, every wrong will be dealt with – every wrong will be made right, justice will be served.

Isaiah 24 even speaks of the judgment of the entire earth. Did you notice how any times Isaiah mentions the “earth” in this chapter? Here are few instances:

Isaiah 24:1 (NKJV) “Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants.”

Isaiah 24:6 (NKJV) “Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.”

Isaiah 24:19–20 (NKJV) “The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly. 20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut; its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it will fall, and not rise again.”

Isaiah 24:21 (NKJV) “It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth.”

And then the day will come, when King Jesus will rule the world. O Lord, how we long for that day!

Isaiah 24:23 (NKJV) “Then the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.”

Galatians 2:17–3:9

Paul reminds the Galatians (and us) of salvation by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law. I believe the sin Paul is writing about in Galatians 2:17-18 has to do with the sin of unbelief and returning back to the law. He doesn’t want to “build” those things again! The religious person Paul had been all his life had died, he was crucified (Galatians 2:20), now the life he lived on earth, he lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved him and gave Himself for him (us).

Legalism and a performance-oriented Christianity is not only an external temptation…it’s also an intrinsic inclination. This is why the enemy is so successful in his endeavor to bring people back into the bondage of legalism. It’s hard to believe that not only are we saved by faith, but we’re also sanctified by faith. By nature, we’ve come to believe that nothing is free and therefore we must work hard and “perform” in order to possess the promises of God, this is why the law was so alluring to the Galatians.

Paul rebuked them strongly – they were being foolish, they were “bewitched,” it’s as if someone had cast a spell on them. They knew Jesus died so they might live, but now it’s as if they were saying a crucified Christ was not enough. 

If you think back to the beginning of your Christian life, you’ll remember that you were saved when you simply believed in Jesus, by faith. We began as Christians, in the Spirit, why then do we think we can grow as Christians, in the flesh? (And that’s what religion is, all those rules and regulations – personal convictions imposed on others – it’s fallen flesh – it will fail every time).

The Judaizers were telling them that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved, to be a Jew first, in order to be a Christian – Paul said absolutely not! We are saved by faith alone…In Christ alone.

Paul goes back to Abraham to whom the promises were given and illustrates the fact that Abraham simply believed, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. It’s interesting that the Abrahamic covenant was not only a covenant of personal faith, but it was also a covenant that would spread to the whole wide world, “…in you all the nations shall be blessed…” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).

Psalm 60:1-12

The background to this Psalm is 2 Samuel 8 when the war wasn’t going well. God went on to give Israel the victory, but it wasn’t easy.

David felt as if God had cast them off, and broken them down, that God was displeased with them; he says something interesting in:

Psalm 60:3 (NKJV) “You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion.”

Yes, it’s true my friend, God does allow us to go through days of difficulty, there will be many times when we just don’t understand, but God is NOT the author of confusion for His people (1 Corinthians 14:33). David was mistaken about that.

When we find ourselves in those trying times, let’s keep praying as David did in this Psalm, standing on God’s promises (Psalm 60:6) and remembering God’s track record. Who will give us the victory? Only God. He alone is the source of our strength, the heart of our help.

Psalm 60:11–12 (NKJV) “Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless. 12 Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.”

It has to be God – are we seeking Him? Seriously? Honestly?

If so, wow, what victory we will experience! To be “valiant” is to have courage and persevere, especially in difficult circumstances (Psalm 60:12). A basketball player with a sore ankle who helps win the game has played valiantly. A war hero has served his or her country, valiantly. This word “valiant” has to do with strength of character and fortitude. Acting valiantly is difficult, which is why our friends admire it and our foes despise it. It’s by this type of God given valor that our foes are defeated.

Proverbs 23:15-16

Proverbs 23:15 (NKJV) “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself; 16 Yes, my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak right things.”

What sweeter sound could there be than hearing God’s Word and wisdom flowing from the lips of our children? John the beloved articulated this in:

3 John 1:4 (NKJV) “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

The greatest joy of a Christian parent, is not in the physical health of their children, it’s not in the financial success of their family – it doesn’t matter all that much if our kids are talented or prosperous, rich, or “successful,” – what if they had all that and lacked godly wisdom.

If their heart is spiritually wise, our heart rejoices.

“The love of our child’s soul is the priority, the epitome of the Christian parent’s love.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

September 15, 2021

Isaiah 19:1–21:17

In the next three chapters Isaiah predicts the fall of various nations, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Philistia, Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. I find it fascinating that Isaiah prophesies the fall of Babylon at the hands of the Medo-Persians, even before either nation had risen to any type of world-power status (Elam is Persia/Iran – Isaiah 21:2).

God did NOT want His people to trust Egypt any longer. Egypt is a typology of the world.

Warren Wiersbe, “A strong faction in Judah advised the king to get help from Egypt (Isa. 31), but Isaiah warned that Egypt could not help them. Why? Because the Lord had discouraged and divided the Egyptians (Isaiah 19:1–2), their counsel was from the devil (Isaiah 19:3), and they were heading for bondage themselves (Isaiah 19:4). Furthermore, their economy was about to fail (Isaiah 19:5–10). How could they help? The counselors in Egypt were supposed to be very wise, but God said they were deluded fools (Isaiah 19:11–13). God’s people get their wisdom from God, not from the world (James 1:5). The wisdom of Egypt would lead them into staggering and humiliating defeat (Isaiah 19:14–15).”

Isaiah was commanded by God to walk in public without his outer garment and sandals – for three years! This was a sign for the people to see:

Isaiah 20:4 (NKJV) “…so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.”

Warren Wiersbe, “God uses things we see and hear to help us make the right decisions. Do we really pay attention?”

Isaiah also mingled in prophecies about Egypt and Assyria serving the LORD, along with Israel (Isaiah 19:24-25). Today we do find believers in both of these areas, but this won’t come to complete fulfillment until the Millennial Kingdom.

Isaiah reminds us that the whole-wide-world, yes, the nations of the world are like a drop in the bucket, they’re dust to God (Isaiah 40:15). God will deal with each one. Isaiah also reveals to us that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). We have innumerable prophecies that have been fulfilled in the past, this gives us an absolute assurance that God’s Word for the future WILL indeed come to pass.

Galatians 2:1-16

The incident Paul writes about can be traced back to Acts 15. False teachers had crept into the church and taught the people that faith wasn’t enough, that they also needed to be circumcised in order to be (or stay) saved. Thank God that Paul was an advocate for the Gospel, he didn’t give-in for a moment to even a single “drop” of perversion to the Gospel!

Paul reveals one of the motives of these false teachers, and that is to bring people into “bondage” (Galatians 2:4). This is what legalism does, it takes away the freedom and peace we’ve been given in Christ by imposing various rules and regulations, additions of traditions, and the next thing you know, you’re either weighed down by the burden, or you lose the very assurance of your salvation. Friend, please, beware of legalism! Let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of the Gospel, that we are no longer bound by any law. We are saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Paul only agreed to go up to Jerusalem and be part of that first church council, because the Lord supernaturally told him to go (he said he went up “by revelation” Galatians 2:2). I’m sure Paul respected the leaders in Jerusalem, but he knew that God doesn’t have favorites. The Gospel is not something that originated with men, Paul says, they “added nothing to me,” in other words, they didn’t add anything to my message.

The truth is, James, Peter, and John, as well as the other apostles who were in Jerusalem, had the same Gospel, but a different “audience.” At that point in time, those other brothers were focusing on evangelizing the Jews, while Paul was reaching out to the Gentiles. They approved of each other’s different ministries geographically, and logistically, but in their hearts they served Christ unitedly, they only asked Paul to continue to consider the poor in Jerusalem, something he was always eager to do.

Over the years I’ve read some pretty strong thoughts about Paul and the Apostles. Some of them say that if it weren’t for Paul, Christianity would have ended up as simply a “sect of Judaism.” We see a hint of that here in Galatians 2 as Paul boldly confronts even Peter and Barnabas for their hypocrisy. Under the New Covenant, they were allowed to eat anything (1 Timothy 4:3-4) and with anyone (see also Acts 10). So, Paul and Barnabas freely ate with the Gentiles, but, when “certain men” came from James in Jerusalem, they reverted back to the Old Covenant – they wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles under such circumstances, and Paul confronted Peter face-to-face!

We are called to preach the Gospel to the lost, protect the Gospel from false teachers, and preserve the Gospel by expounding it to the church with courage and clarity.

Galatians 2:16 (NKJV) “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

Psalm 59:1-17

David prays/sings and essentially says, “Deliver me, Lord. Defend me. Save me…for my enemy is against me. My enemies seeks to kill me for no reason – deal with them Lord. 

In the morning and at evening, they surround me, they’re watching me…so Lord, I pray to You, I trust in You, I wait on You.”

The background to this Psalm is 1 Samuel 19 when Saul sought to murder David simply because he’s jealous of David.

It’s instructive to learn that even though David here clearly turns to God and trusts in the LORD, David ends up fleeing from Saul (1 Samuel 19:12, 18). There are times when God protects us in practical ways. Remove yourself from the dangerous situation. We are not to test God, we are to trust Him, and follow Him every step of the way.

David would be on the run for ten years. During that decade God delivered him, defended him, helped him, dealt with his enemies, and answered his prayer. 

Psalm 59:13 (NKJV) “…and let them know that God rules in Jacob to the ends of the earth. Selah”

Proverbs 23:13-14

Proverbs 23:13-14 (NKJV) “Do not withhold correction {NIV discipline} from a child, for if you beat {NIV punish} him with a rod, he will not die. 14 You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell. {NIV death}

NLT – They won’t die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death. 

That’s a heavy truth! And not just death but destruction; a home in hell!

There’s a lot of this type of parental guidance in the Proverbs which tells me it’s important.

We read last time in: 

Proverbs 22:15 (NKJV) “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”

And before that way back in: 

Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.”

If we don’t discipline our children then we’re neglecting them, leaving them to raise themselves, and that’s not going to be good.

Proverbs 29:15 (NKJV) “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Some parents don’t discipline their children because they’re fooled and influenced by the world, or they just want to be their friend – but other parents don’t discipline they’re children simply because they’re too busy doing other things. The truth is, our children need constant attention.

This neglect can happen at the hands of anyone. Eli and David were examples of men in prominent positions, who neglected to discipline their sons, who paid the price with their lives.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…