Tuesday, January 16, 2018

“HERE I AM!” GOD

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 57-58

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

An Acacia tree grows in the rocky wilderness of Timna Park in the Jordan Valley. In the most desolate places on earth, life has a way of springing up from the barren ground. Today’s reading describes moral and spiritual death, but even in the worst of circumstances we have a promise of a glorious future. God says through Isaiah, “I will cause you to ride on the high hills of earth!”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 58:6-7

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:

To loose the bonds of wickedness,

To undo the heavy burdens,

To let the oppressed go free,

And that you break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;

When you see the naked, that you cover him,

And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

 

Chapter 57 draws our attention to the depths of moral and spiritual depravity to which we as humans can sink. The most unthinkable evils were confronted by Isaiah. For example, during the latter part of Isaiah’s ministry, under the rule of King Manasseh, the children were offered as a sacrifice in idol worship (read 2 Kings 21:6-9). But in the midst of such horror, God offers to “Revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (57:15b).

Chapter 58 contains the word “delight” four times. The first two are in verse two. The people took delight in their religious exercises. This chapter can teach us the difference between outward observance of certain practices such as daily prayers, even fasting, and a true (daily also) experience described in 58:14, “Then you shall DELIGHT yourself IN THE LORD!” This “delight” is not in religiosity but in a personal relationship with God, following repentance (changing our ways). Setting aside a full day for God, “Sabbath,” becomes a “delight” also, because it is not a compulsory religious act, but a day with minimum distractions in which we can have close communion with the Lord. We can, as Isaiah describes his experience with God, “Ride on the high hills of the earth.” How great is that!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Great and mighty God, I have knelt before You once again. I pray for grace to grow in my delight in You, rather than in outward religious practices only. I desire to have a contrite and humble spirit. I pray for revival in my heart and in Your Church! Amen!!! (Isaiah 57:15)

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

In four more days here on 100words.ca we’ll move into the book of James. James says that “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Serving God by serving others rises out of a “Delight in the Lord!” A personal relationship with God cannot help but produce loving acts because “God is love!” I’ve just read 1 John 4:7-21, and I’m convinced more than ever that this is the only way that people will come to know God around the world in much greater numbers. For many years Crossroads Christian Communications Inc. has sought to provide a means whereby the hearts of God’s people here at home can connect with those who are most needy of tender loving care. Click here for some of the ways in which Crossroads has provided an opportunity for many to reach out to others, partnering with followers of Jesus on the ground in various places around the world, who then are able to share the good news of Jesus’ love!

Yours for, as God says in our key verse, “…the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke… to share your bread with the hungry…”,

David

Monday, January 15, 2018

THIRSTY?

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 55-56

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

David and his men, fleeing from the death threats of King Saul, stayed here in Ein Gedi and certainly enjoyed the fresh water falling from the desert plateau above. The water courses over several waterfalls of differing sizes before it flows into the Dead Sea. Today’s reading starts with an invitation to thirsty people to “come to the waters.” Imagine the physical refreshment found here. Then meditate on the spiritual refreshment which is ours as we respond to God’s call to come to Him, drinking deeply from “the Water of the Word!” In both Psalms and Ephesians, water is a symbol of God’s Word!

 

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 55:7-11

Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

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

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

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

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it…”

 

This is the longest emphasis on key verses for this daily blog. We often hear Isaiah 55:8-9 along with a statement such as, “We can’t understand the ‘thoughts’ of God, nor can we keep His ‘ways,’ because His thoughts and ways are up there in Heaven and ours are down here on earth.” This takes these words out of context. Isaiah is not telling us that the separation between God and us cannot be overcome. Verses 10 & 11 tell us how we learn to think the “THOUGHTS” of God, and how we learn to walk in the “WAYS” of God!!! Let us ask ourselves this simple question, “How would we get wet when it is raining?” It’s obvious; go out in the rain and get wet. Take down the umbrella! How does one get covered in snow? Lie down in it. Roll around in it. The result of being soaked in the rain of God’s “THOUGHTS” (our daily readings), and covered in the snow of His “WAYS,” will be life, spiritual growth, a healthy daily diet, and God’s Word accomplishing all He desires in us!!! Go ahead! Get drenched in His Word and His Ways. It’s guaranteed by God’s promise that we will experience “JOY” and “PEACE.” As illustrated in the Sound of Music movie, “The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing” (Isaiah 55:12). Listen! He’s communicating His thoughts and giving grace to walk in His ways. Don’t leave His “THOUGHTS” and “WAYS” up there in the heavens. Make them ours!!!

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, my thirst is quenched in the waters of Your Word. I pray that You will give me the grace and the consistency to be in Your Word daily, without fail! Thank You for Your promise to “abundantly pardon” me as I ask forgiveness with repentance, forsaking my sinful ways and thoughts. I receive Your mercy! In the Name of the Jesus, Who said from the Cross, “Father forgive them!” Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

As I consider Isaiah 56, I cannot miss the fact that Jeremiah identified some people in places of leadership by words such as blind, dumb, asleep, lazy, greedy, self-seeking, ignorant and gluttonous drunkards. No doubt this was true and no doubt this was a part of the reason that Jeremiah was put in prison by these people. I’ve heard it said that we define a fanatic as someone who is more passionate about their cause than we are about what we believe and practice. Recently at church there was a man sitting behind me who insisted on shouting with a loud voice words such as “Hallelujah!” and “Glory!” and sometimes he sounded as if he just wanted to make a noise. It bothered me, and I know why…he was more fervent than I was! Actually, I was shouting inside. In fact, when I’m alone, and no one but God can hear me, I have often shouted His praises very loudly indeed! As I read back over what I’ve just written, I don’t know where my musings are going here. I do know that I want to serve God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and also I want to love my neighbour as myself. Therefore, I may tone it down while standing right behind my neighbour in church. Maybe? It occurs to me that all of us should experience a church service where people shout for God! Check it out! After all, on the birthday of the Church, Peter had to explain the actions of Spirit-filled believers by saying, “These are not drunk as you suppose!” (Acts 2:1-21).

Yours for all that God wants us to be!

David

P.S. In his autobiography, President Bill Clinton said that everyone needs to visit a church service such as the one I described. It occurs to me that he might have avoided impeachment if he had stayed in such a church. The rain of God’s “THOUGHTS” surely will help us overcome some of those thoughts which are sinful and destructive. Amen???

Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE MAN OF SORROWS

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 53-54

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

The sun casting a shadow of a cross inside the ruins of the ancient Colosseum in Rome. A cross, the instrument used throughout the ancient Roman Empire for the most painful and gruesome form of capital punishment ever devised by man, became the greatest symbol of hope and eternal life.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

 

Chapter 53 should be read two or more times today in a quiet and reflective atmosphere. It would be good to back up to 52:13-15 for today’s reading. When the chapter divisions were chosen to make it easier to find specific Scriptures, they could have started Chapter 53 three sentences earlier with the words about the One Whose “Visage was marred more than any man.” There are 41 personal pronouns, “He” and “Him.” “He” is the subject of our attention. The object of God’s plan of Salvation is “Him.” One might almost think that Isaiah was standing there with Mary, Peter, John and the others at the foot of the cross, but Isaiah’s description of events was written hundreds of years earlier, long before crucifixion was used as a means of prolonged dying and death. Meditate on those pronouns! A pronoun takes the place of a noun. A noun is the name of a person, place or thing. A personal pronoun takes the place of a person. Ask the question: “What person’s name, of all people who ever lived, could be put there in place of those pronouns?” If our answer is “Jesus,” then let us read this powerful prophecy by substituting “Jesus” for each pronoun. For example, 53:5, “Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, Jesus was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Jesus, and by Jesus’ stripes we are healed.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

O Lord Jesus! O my Saviour and Lord Jesus! I give You all of me once again. I am not my own. You have purchased me with the blood of Your suffering! Fill me with as much of Your passion as You know I can bear. May I never be so selfish as to keep this to myself. Please equip me, Lord Jesus, with a greater passion for lost people for whom You “were led as a lamb to the slaughter” and for whom You were “numbered with the transgressors,” bearing all our sins. In Your Name (His name stands for all He is and has done) I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’ve just read Acts 8:26-39. It was Isaiah 53 that brought this treasurer of the Queen of Ethiopia to Jesus. The “pronouns” of Isaiah brought a Jewish medical doctor to Jesus. He was first violinist in a symphony orchestra. The full story is in the book, This Far By Faith (pages 113-116). If you don’t have this volume containing powerful stories of God’s love and grace, click here for ordering information. I had the privilege of teaching public school as an 18 year old. I would visit the homes of my students and ask if I could read Isaiah 53 and have prayer with them. I was never turned down. I could hardly see the keys of my computer through my tears as I typed the first part of this blog. I’m gaining my composure now, and I realize that I’ve not mentioned our other chapter in today’s reading. Here is the prophecy of the “children of the desolate” (that’s us, the Church). The “married woman” to whom Isaiah refers is Israel (Isaiah 54:1). Both the Church (made up of Jews and Gentiles) and Israel have glorious futures under the rule of Messiah!

Yours for sharing Jesus, the Name to which the personal pronouns of Isaiah refer,

David

P.S. The centrepiece in The Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is Isaiah 53 from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Isaiah was the only book of the Bible found complete in those scrolls, which were stored in clay jars and hidden in caves along the shores of the Dead Sea before the birth of Jesus! They were found by an Arab shepherd boy in 1948. How special is that?! Would you agree that God wants this message communicated to the whole world?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

AWAKE! AWAKE!

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 51-52

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. Jesus made His home in Capernaum, which is located on the north end of this Lake. His habit was to awaken and pray even before sunrise. Like the rays of early morning light break through the clouds, so we should expect to receive God’s Word for the day. Psalm 119:130a tells us that “THE ENTRANCE OF YOUR WORDS GIVES LIGHT!!!”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

 

Three times in today’s reading, God’s people are told, “Awake! Awake!” Three times God speaks through His prophet Isaiah and says, “Listen to Me!” God wants our undivided attention! Whatever it takes to move us to bring the Good News of Jesus is beautiful in God’s sight, even our feet! The “Good News” in today’s reading is that Messiah (Christ) will come to us. His feet, beautiful because of the message He brings, have brought Him not just to the mountains seen in the above picture but to those places where each one of us have experienced His “Peace,” His “Good things,” “Salvation,” and the fact that “God reigns!”

Isaiah wants to be wide awake and listen to the message of the One who has come to be a Servant of mankind. Specifically, he tells us about the death of the Messiah, and the total surrender that would take Him to the Cross and render Him unrecognizable because of the beatings He suffered. “His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of man” (Isaiah 52:14). His beautiful feet were nail-pierced, as was the practice in Roman crucifixion. Read Psalm 22:14-18 and Luke 23:33-49.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray that I will be fully “Awake!” You’ve reminded me six times about this in today’s reading. You’ve also reminded me three times to “listen” to You! I’m awake and I’m listening. You are telling me that I am to have the beautiful feet of one who, like Messiah, has the responsibility to bring the Good News to everyone I meet, and that I must support those who go to the end of the earth to bring that Good News to all! I ask for grace to sacrifice my resources, my time, and my very life in Your greatest of all causes. I pray in the Name of the One who has gone before me, Jesus, Messiah, Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

There were eight beautiful feet that brought Wallace, Douglas, Delbert and Merrill to that grade 12 high school classroom, where I watched their lives carefully from September to November that fall. Not only did they pass my tests for what a true Christian should be, but they shared the “Good News” of Jesus with me. The previous summer, I worked full time for the local Chrysler dealer and then part time during the school year. There were beautiful feet there too. The witness for Jesus was strong! I knew the Gospel, but as a result of my mother’s death when I was 12 and my father’s departure when I was 15 for his mission field in Egypt, I had run away from God. After grade 11 high school in a Christian boarding school, I was informed that I was not welcome to return to that school, because of my rebellion. Therefore, I ended up living with my oldest sister and her husband, moving to Pembroke, Ontario, and meeting people who, along with my sister, brought me “Good News,” “Peace,” “Glad tidings of good things,” and who proclaimed, “Salvation!”

With my time, energy, resources, and all my heart, I want to do the same for others! I may have more time to give. I definitely have more energy, and I have some resources to give.

Yours for feet that bring “Good News!”

David

Friday, January 12, 2018

THE MORNING BY MORNING SEARCH

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 49-50

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

“Morning by morning,” Orthodox Jews read the Torah and other holy books in a library that is part of the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) of Jerusalem.

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Isaiah 50:4

The Lord God has given Me

The tongue of the learned,

That I should know how to speak

A word in season to him who is weary.

He awakens Me morning by morning,

He awakens My ear

To hear as the learned.

 

No doubt the people of Berea, Greece, read Isaiah. They did as we are doing daily in this blog. They “searched the Scriptures daily to find out if these things [the message Paul preached] were so” (Acts 17:10-12).

Search Isaiah 49 and discover the birth of “Messiah,” and that “He” (God) would tell Messiah’s mother what His Name would be. For the third time Isaiah speaks of Messiah as a “Light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 9:2, 42:6 & 49:6). Messiah was rejected (49:7a). Messiah’s mission statement is introduced (49:9). Let us think of a Person who lived among us whose life and death fits these descriptions, who arose early every morning to pray (our key verse). Search for and read Mark 1:35. Jesus did this! Whose back was struck and whose beard was plucked out? (50:6). Let us take time, “Morning by morning” to “SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, I pray, as our key verse says, that I will “know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.” Awaken me “morning by morning.” Awaken my ear that I may “hear as the learned.” Then grant me, I pray, that I will, with wisdom, boldness, and consistency, share with others what I am learning. I ask these blessings in the Name of the One who never failed, Jesus Messiah (“Christ” in Greek), Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

There are great places everywhere in which we gather to worship. I expect that Pastor Blackburn will bring a strong message from God’s Word which will nourish and strengthen us for living! It was after a week of fasting and prayer by members of this church that I was awakened the second Monday of January of 2012 and I heard that “still small voice” prompting me to learn to do this two-year blog journey through the Bible!!!

Yours to encourage us all to “SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!!”

David

P.S. In yesterday’s blog I wrote some things about China and the people of Chinese descent who live by the millions all over the world, blessing the countries where they live. In today’s reading, Isaiah 49:12b speaks of those from “Sinim.” This is China! While seeking to have a Christian pavilion in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, I found an amazing story of Chinese Jewish people who lived in an area of Shanghai where Jews had lived since the Assyrians practiced ethnic cleansing on the northern Ten Tribes of Israel. The Chinese are proud of the safe haven they provided for Jews during the Nazi-inspired Holocaust.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

“PROGNOSTICATORS” OR “A MORE SURE WORD”

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 47-48

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A young man embraces God’s Word while standing in front of the Colosseum in Rome. Over and over in recent readings, the words, “Thus says the Lord,” appear. God desires to communicate with His human family. Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 48:17-18

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,

The Holy One of Israel:

“I am the Lord your God,

Who teaches you to profit,

Who leads you by the way you should go.

Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!

Then your peace would have been like a river,

And your righteousness like the waves of the sea…”

 

Chapter 47 prophesies the fall and humiliation of Babylon years before it rose to become a world power. The polar opposites of God’s Prophetic Word are the efforts of astrologers, stargazers, and monthly prognosticators (47:13). The horoscopes in our newspapers contain clever generalities, as does the slip of paper inside a fortune cookie, but, as Isaiah points out, these things cannot “stand up and save you.” Babylon’s eventual destruction is inevitable as prophesied by Isaiah.

Chapter 48 prophesies that God, who has allowed His people to go through the “furnace of affliction” in order to refine them, will not forsake them. When these prophesied events come to pass, as they did, God’s people will know that their God is the “First” and the “Last” and is the One and Only God!! Isaiah 48:16 gives us a glimpse into the nature of God, One God in three Persons, “Lord God” (the Father), “His Spirit,” and “Me” (the One sent by God, God the Son). The Hebrew scholars point out that in 48:16 the singular verb, “Have sent,” is used with the plural subject. Is this a mistake in grammar or is this the verbal inspiration of the Word of God pointing to the Trinity? We see this in other places in the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, in Genesis 1:1, God, (Elohim, a plural word) “created” (a verb which is singular). Isaiah says that “The Lord your God”…”teaches” and “leads.” We should experience the result, “peace… like a river” and “righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Again today, Lord God, I ask for continued effectiveness in doing as Isaiah 48:20 urges me to “declare, proclaim…With the voice of singing,” and to “utter it to the end of the earth.” I pray that this blog, along with a multitude of other ministries, will be more and more effective than ever in convincing people everywhere that You exist and that You “are a Rewarder of them that diligently seek” You (Hebrews 11:6). I ask for these opportunities in the Name of the One Who has fully communicated Who You are, Father God, Your Son and my Saviour, Jesus Christ! Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

A while back Norma-Jean and I had dinner at a Chinese food buffet restaurant in Brantford, Ontario. I opened the fortune cookie and discovered a generality on the paper inside which could apply to anyone. It said that I would meet someone that would change my life for the better. Actually that has happened many times during my many years on earth, but the most far-reaching and forever change happened when I met Jesus Christ through believing His Word (John 6:37-40), and my life was forever and ever altered! When I saw the word “prognosticator” in today’s reading, I thought of that cookie. I also thought of what the Apostle Peter has written to us in 1 Peter 1:15-21. He declares, “We also have the prophetic word made more sure!”

Yours for reading, underlining, understanding, digesting and then with the spiritual energy derived from all this, proclaiming God’s message to the “end of the earth,”

David

P.S. Over 25 years ago, Crossroads began working with a group of Toronto Pastors from Chinese language churches. We produced, financed, and released weekly telecasts on Toronto’s multilingual TV station. After about two years, we encouraged the pastors to incorporate, raise their own finances from the Chinese churches, and strike out on their own, with God’s enablement. Today, this television ministry, called “Showers of Blessing Evangelistc Ministry” (SOBEM), is reaching multiplied millions all over the world, providing a mighty utterance to “the end of the earth” to all those who understand the languages of China. At the 20th anniversary of that great ministry, I was given the plaque pictured below. Here is a musical sample of this ministry. The song is called “There is a God!” With the official atheism of the People’s Republic of China, this message is so very powerful! (click here).

Click on photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

LOOK

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 45-46

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

God’s handiwork is beautifully on display in Meteora, Greece. The fall colours and the cliffs make for a spectacular view. You can also see some of man’s achievements as you look high atop the cliffs at the Monasteries. Such a scene makes one wonder how some people can miss doing as our key verse says, “LOOK”!!!

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Isaiah 45:22

Look to Me, and be saved,

All you ends of the earth!

For I am God, and there is no other.

 

God’s credentials for making such a statement as we read in our key verse are clearly presented here. (1) God revealed the name of Cyrus, the king of Persia (Iran), before he was born, who would restore the slaves from Babylon (Iraq) to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem after he had conquered Babylon. Only God knows the future! Back up to Isaiah 44:25. God “frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives the diviners mad!” Thus God says, “Look unto Me and be saved!” (2) He reveals His right to say those Words by His creation and maintenance of nature (Isaiah 45:8b), “I, the Lord, do all these things.” Our key verse is repeated for emphasis in 45:22, “Look to Me and be saved…” As we continue to read Isaiah, we will come across dozens of personal pronouns such as He, Him, Whom, etc. Only one Name can be exchanged for those pronouns. Read Hebrews 2:9-10!

This emphasis is continued in Isaiah 46:9-10, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, the message to “Look…and be saved” must be shared with the entire world. I pray for wisdom, vision, determination and opportunity to tell people everywhere how to be saved!!! In the Name of the One who lived, died, and rose from the dead to provide salvation, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I take personally the commission of Jesus to believers to “Go into all the world (ends of the earth) and preach the Gospel (Good News) to every creature.” There have always been missionaries willing to risk health, life, material possessions, everything! I ask myself, “Could I have done more to support these people?” I answer, “Yes!” I’m determined more than ever to pray, give, and even go! Crossroads, the sponsor of my blog, is literally reaching to the ends of the earth as I type this. Check out some of the ways Crossroads Christian Communications is making God’s message available around the world and expressing His love in very practical ways (click here). My wife and I are committed to supporting these kinds of efforts, as well as many other initiatives, for as long as we live, and if Jesus does not return before our passing, through our Last Will and Testament!

Yours for telling everyone to “Look…and be saved!!!”

David

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

GOD KNOWS OUR NAMES

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 43-44

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

A flooded river bed, now dry, makes its way from the high country in Israel to the dry and arid region of the Dead Sea. The roots of the trees can find water which remains underground. Even in dry times we can reach down in our prayers and Bible studies to tap the life-giving underground water Source. God has promised to “pour water on him who is thirsty” (44:3a).

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 43:1, 44:3

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…”

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;

 

Our Scripture reading for today begins with the fact that our God is a personal God! No doubt Isaiah’s readers will have brought to mind stories such as that of the Prophet/Priest Samuel. God called “Samuel” by name. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and realize that God knows each one of us by our names. God called a man who was persecuting His people. In Acts we read of the man who became the Apostle Paul, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:1-22).

Isaiah 44 describes the efforts of men to create new gods and then represent them by images made of wood and stone. In contrast, the true, One and only God, is not a creation but is the supreme Creator! Man does not imagine Him, nor do we name Him. He names Himself! And to think that Almighty God can call us by our individual names! Let us take time right now to listen for God. Is He calling us by name with that “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). When we hear His voice, it is truly like a refreshing drink of water for the thirsty soul.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, You said, “My sheep know My voice”! (John 10:27). I am one of Your sheep Lord, so it follows that all I have to do is quiet my spirit and listen carefully. I hear You calling me and telling me, “I know your name and I love you!” I pray that I will love You back more and more, Lord Jesus! 1 John 4:19 declares that “We love Him because He first loved us.” Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I have on my laptop screen a page of icons. I can click on “Concordance” and type in a few words of a verse, and it immediately finds the reference so that I can then open my Bible and read the verse in its context. For example, this morning I did not use the Concordance app, but put the words “still small voice” into the Google search engine. It said that for those words there were 430,000,000 results in 0.16 seconds!!! All this boggles my mind. I may not know how this all works, but I do know with the certainty of God’s Word that God knows my name, and He calls me by my name! Through the years, when I needed a particular chapter and verse and my son-in-law, Rev. Nizar Shaheen, was nearby, I would give him two or three words of the Scripture I wanted to find. He would immediately tell me where it was found. I’ve never found anyone else with such a memory.

The story of Nizar’s conversion to Christ is an amazing one, and today’s first key verse is a big part of his testimony. He fell from the minaret of a mosque under construction and his brothers thought he was dead. They laid him in the back seat of a car to take him to the hospital when they saw signs of life. Lying there he heard a voice saying, “Nizar, Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine!” Click here for an interview I did with Nizar in 2003, where he tells this amazing story of our great, personal God Who knows each of our names and Who created each one of us for His purpose. I’ve just read again Isaiah 43:7-11 and committed myself again for today to be as verse 10a says,”You are My witnesses”!!!

Yours in recognition of the fact that God not only knows our names, but He knows everything about each one of us and He loves us!!!

David

P.S. Below is a picture of the life-giving waters of the Jordan River right after my grandson, Eric Mainse (Ron and Ann’s son), was baptized by Nizar and me a few years ago.

Monday, January 8, 2018

FEAR NOT

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 41-42

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

Here you can see a rolling stone that crushes dates. It is located at Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel, located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This place is a Biblical garden and nature reserve which attempts to re-create the physical setting of the Bible. The judgment of God, which nations bring upon themselves, is often likened in Scripture to the process of “threshing” or “winnowing” (Isaiah 41:15 & 16).

 

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verses: Isaiah 41:10

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.

 

God says “FEAR NOT” three times in Isaiah 41! Why not fear? Firstly, because God says, “I am with you”! (41:10). Secondly, because God says, “I will help you”! (41:13b). And thirdly, He says again, “I will help you”! God tries to get this message through to all people at all times throughout human history. God has a history of inspiring the recording of the fulfillment of the prophecies He has given through His prophets and through the greatest of all Prophets, Jesus Christ. In 41:21-23 God challenges all the gods (so called) of the nations to prove the reality of their power by the test of prophecy and its fulfillment! The reality is stated in 41:24. He says to these gods, “You are nothing and your work is nothing.” Therefore, people of the true God, “Fear not”!!!

In Chapter 42 the “Servant” of the Lord is now clearly identified as a Person rather than a nation. The identity of this Person will become more and more evident as we continue our readings in Isaiah. Read the New Testament quotation of Isaiah 42:1-4 (see Matthew 12:17-21). Let’s read again Isaiah 42 with Jesus clearly in our minds, identifying those statements which Jesus fulfilled.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord God, as the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:9a, “But we see Jesus!” May I “see Jesus” over and over again here in Isaiah’s writings! And may I “see” Him with perception, insight, and with 20/20 clarity of vision. As a result, I pray that I will comprehend more fully than ever Who Jesus really is in all His wonder, love and grace. In His Name I ask this. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

My “daughter-in-love,” Ron’s wife, Ann, checks over my punctuation, etc. before my blog is posted. One of her articles fits in beautifully with my blog from yesterday. I’ve asked her to put here just a portion of her story below. Thanks Ann!

Yours for “seeing” Jesus and “soaring” with Him,

David

“Called to Soar”

By Ann Mainse

(Excerpt from an aritcle in the January, 2014, Crossroads Compass magazine)

There’s a story of a traveler who came upon an eagle’s egg. He searched for the nest but found nowhere to return the egg. So the man did the next best thing. He put the eagle’s egg into a nest with chicken eggs. Eventually, the egg hatched and the eaglet fit right in with the other baby chicks. He clucked and scratched and pecked around and basically lived as a chicken for years. And then one day he saw a glorious sight. High up in the sky, with wings outstretched, was a magnificent bald eagle. Something stirred within him. Something called him to come up high.

“What’s that?” he asked a nearby chicken. “That is an eagle,” the chicken replied, “the king of the birds. He soars and flies and has unlimited freedom – something we will never have.” Upon hearing this, the chicken-eagle hung his head in sorrow and ignored the urge to join his brother high above the clouds. Sadly, he lived the rest of his life clucking and pecking and scratching. He never knew he could fly.

What a sad story. But what is sadder still is that for many of us, that is our story. We have the ability to fly, but we choose not to.

In the book of John Jesus announced His gift to us when we accept God’s Grace through the Cross…

“…I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” ~ John 10:10 (MSG)

What a gift!  But how many of us are actually living the more and better life?  Because of what God-the-Son, Jesus, has done through the Cross, we don’t have to be grounded. Life… real life… abundant life… can be ours.

We are called to soar. We are offered the wings of eagles

“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.” ~ Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)

God’s amazing Grace – which is available to everyone – is calling us to soar. And once we have experienced it, once we have shed our chicken-eagle perception, we no longer want to ignore the call of freedom, the freedom that is found in more and better life.

There’s an age-old question that has been circulating for years: “Why don’t Christians live just like the rest of the world?” In light of all we have to gain, perhaps the better question would be…

“Why would we want to… when we can soar?”

Sunday, January 7, 2018

“BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!” – GOD

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 39-40

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

 

This bronze eagle, found in Pella Greece, is now on display at the Archaeological Museum. It sure looks like this eagle is “mounting up with wings,” as our key verse tells us. Let’s all stretch our wings and fly onward and upward in our relationship with God!!!

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Isaiah 40:31

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.

 

In his book, Isaiah gives us God’s Word! Isaiah said to King Hezekiah, “Hear the Word of the Lord!” (39:5). Hezekiah would pray and God would answer through His Prophet. This was the way it was in Old Testament times. False prophets were plentiful and they would distort God’s message, or simply make up something and claim they had heard from God. This was a dangerous time for God’s people. They did not have the book of Isaiah, let alone Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As John wrote in his first chapter, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!!!” The Apostle Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:15-21 bring together “our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the prophetic Word.” Essentially, God summed up all He had to say to the world in His Son and our Saviour and Lord, Jesus. Read Matthew 17:1-8 and note the words, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. HEAR HIM!!!”

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

O Lord God, I pray for grace to follow You so closely that I will know all that You are saying to me. You promised that “My sheep know My voice.” By this I know that I am hearing directly from You and not just from someone else speaking for You, as the true prophets like Isaiah did. You, Lord Jesus, are the One of Whom Isaiah wrote, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11a). What assurance I have in the knowledge that You are holding me and that I am hearing from You! In Your Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen!!!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m so glad I’m able to get to church regularly. I know that I hear New Testament prophecy, as described in Revelation 19:10b, “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” On the birthday of the Church, Peter took as the text for his message the words of the Prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:14-21). Peter said that as the 120 spoke of Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem, they (sons, daughters, all of them), were prophesying. These were New Testament prophets. I want to daily share Jesus. In this understanding, when I do this blog each morning, I’m functioning as a New Testament prophet. And so are you when you share Jesus with someone!  A few years ago Pastor Kevin Shepherd launched a campaign for the New Year called, “Because I said so!” Most people in attendance signed up and were given a sticker to put in a prominent place. I put my sticker on the back of my cell phone. It reminds me that God’s promises can be relied upon! For the past two years I have received a text message each week with one of God’s promises selected by the Pastor. One of them was our key verse, and again I’m encouraged to “Wait on the Lord…mount up with wings as eagles.” Because God said so, we will “run and not be weary,” and “walk and not faint.”

Yours for hearing and understanding God’s Word to each one of us,

David

Some of my family members praying for me in the hospital, including my great-granddaughter Janice, who just turned 3 on New Year's Eve.

Some of my family members praying for me in the hospital, including my great-granddaughter Jadice, who was 3 years old in this photo. I’m deeply touched by the simple faith of a child.