Saturday, 30 September 2006

No other rock

“Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” - Isaiah 44v8

Today’s thought actually comes from the NKJV which translates the end of the verse this way, “…there is no other Rock, I know not one.” The Hebrew word translated “God” in the KJV is tsoor, and properly means a “rock, or a cliff face.” It is the word all throughout the Old Testament to say, “There is no rock like our God.”

People today are clinging on to all kinds of rocks for their stability. They cling to the rock of finances, the rock of materialism, the rock of religion, the rock of popularity, or the rock of pleasure. They soon find that all of these supposed rocks are really nothing more than pebbles that can never sustain anything.

God makes it clear that we have a Rock. In fact, we have the only Rock. Whenever I think of the word tsoor my minds runs to Edinburgh Castle. When the castle was built it was built right into the a vast volcanic rock. When you look at the foundation you see it cut into and embedded in that rock. It has stability because it is built on a solid rock.
As a believer my life is established on the only solid rock. That Rock is Jesus, yes He is the One. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. What rock are you clinging on to today – after all – there really is only One Rock!

Friday, 29 September 2006

You are precious in my sight

“Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” - Isaiah 43v4

What did I possibly do to be considered precious by a perfect and holy God? As God speaks to those whom He has redeemed He says – “I will be with you through fire and flood, you will not sink and you will not be burnt. You are precious, you are honoured, and you are loved.”

Do those sound like things that a perfect, righteous, holy God would say to a rotten, miserable, unworthy sinner? The answer is back in 1 – “I have redeemed you.” The cost was heavy for those who were redeemed from Babylon, but think of the cost of redeeming us! The final, permanent, perfect redemption required the shedding of the Redeemer’s blood! What a price to be paid – no wonder we are so precious.
The things that are the most precious to us are those that cost us the most. My salvation cost the Father His Son. Praise God the he so loved me, that he sent His only Son to redeem make and make me a precious possession!

Thursday, 28 September 2006

You are mine

“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” - Isaiah 43v1

This little verse is packed with blessings. In context the Lord is referring to the physical redemption of His people from Babylon, but it is evident from the rest of Scripture that this is a type of His ultimate redemption of His people through the Redeemer Messiah.

God tells His people of the time, and ultimately all the redeemed:

Don’t be afraid
I have redeemed you
I have called you by name
You are mine

It is only the last that I want to see today. What a precious truth to read about. Because I am redeemed I now belong to the Creator of the universe. I am no longer owned by sin, I am not longed owned by the world, and I am no longer even owned by my flesh. I am His!

I am His! That means He cares for me as His possession. He treasures me as His own and all that He brings into my life is because He cares for me and knows all that is best for me.
Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.

Wednesday, 27 September 2006

The bruised reed

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” - Isaiah 42v3

In 1630 Richard Sibbes wrote a marvellous little book called “The Bruised Reed.” In this book Sibbes details and explains in a very clear and succinct manner how Jesus, as the servant, never break the bruised reed or quenches the smoking flax on those who are weak and oppressed.

I am touched by His compassion and the example He sets for us. I think sometimes we are too fast to cut off those who are weak and who stumble in their faith. We may not think they are worth the trouble or that they are too much work. Sibbes paints a beautiful picture of how Jesus seeks to heal the bruised reed and fan the flames of the smoking flax so that they are once again usable.

May we follow His pattern. When we encounter the “bruised reed and smoking flax” may we treat them with tender care instead of hasty dismissal.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Holding God’s hand

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”
- Isaiah 41v13

This is something of a continuation of yesterday’s thought, but it is much more intimate and personal. Here God says that not only does He uphold us with the right hand of His righteousness, but He also will hold our hand and say to us, “Don’t be afraid, I will help you.”

Our little Morgann is only three. She is a very confident little lady and attacks life with a passion. Even Morgann though sometimes goes into an unknown and scary situation. At those times she instinctively reaches out her hand for a big person, preferably mum or dad, to take it. There is very little as comfortable to a child in an unfamiliar situation as holding their parent’s hand and having them say – “Don’t be afraid, I am here.”

Here we have some of the most precious words we can hope to here. As believers we can trust that our Abba, our daddy, is going to hold our hand and help us in those difficult and “scary” times. No matter how dark the future might be, no matter how scary it appears, our daddy is there to hold our hand and go with us.

Praise God for Daddy holding our hands!

Holding God’s hand

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” - Isaiah 41v13

This is something of a continuation of yesterday’s thought, but it is much more intimate and personal. Here God says that not only does He uphold us with the right hand of His righteousness, but He also will hold our hand and say to us, “Don’t be afraid, I will help you.”

Our little Morgann is only three. She is a very confident little lady and attacks life with a passion. Even Morgann though sometimes goes into an unknown and scary situation. At those times she instinctively reaches out her hand for a big person, preferably mum or dad, to take it. There is very little as comfortable to a child in an unfamiliar situation as holding their parent’s hand and having them say – “Don’t be afraid, I am here.”

Here we have some of the most precious words we can hope to here. As believers we can trust that our Abba, our daddy, is going to hold our hand and help us in those difficult and “scary” times. No matter how dark the future might be, no matter how scary it appears, our daddy is there to hold our hand and go with us.
Praise God for Daddy holding our hands!

Monday, 25 September 2006

God’s right hand

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” - Isaiah 41v10

We indeed live in a scary time. The world is moving and changing at such a fast pace that nothing seems certain. Prophets of doom and gloom abound. The war on terror is making headlines on a daily basis. Immorality seems to threaten the very fibre of our culture and it seems like every day brings news revealing a new low of man’s depravity.

Judah was facing an uncertain future – God had just told them that judgement was coming to the nations all around. So God gave them words of comfort that we can take to heart today.

Don’t be afraid
Don’t be dismayed
I am your God
I will give you strength
I will help you
I will hold you up with my righteous right hand

All of these are a blessing, but I want to look at one in particular. Think of a child in an unfamiliar or scary situation. Immediately the child want to reach out to take the hand of a parent to give them courage and strength. “If mommy is holding my hand everything is going to be okay,” is the mindset. We can all identify with that, and this is the picture God gives us. His right hand is righteous and he wants to take us by the hand to lead us in tumultuous times.
There is no need to fear – we have a mighty God Who will hold us up with the right hand of His right hand of righteousness.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Enduring the drudgery

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” - Isaiah 40v31

Sometimes the simple drudgeries of life can seem like too much. Life can just seem to go and on, nothing that bad, but nothing really happening that is exciting either. Sometimes the Christian life can just be a life of waiting. This mundane life can sometimes be worse than being in direct conflict.

At least twice in this chapter God says, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the earth does not faint and He does not get weary.” Whereas we light get tired of waiting and be tempted to faint, God does neither, He is always there. That’s why He can say in verse 31 – “…they that wait on the Lord will renew the strength, they will mount up on eagles, the can run and not grow weary, they can walk and not faint.”

The key here is a patient waiting on God. He has not left us, He is in control, and he is not going to get tired or faint. He will be there, if we can wait on Him he will give strength in His due time.
May we learn to wait on Him so that we may be lifted up!

Saturday, 23 September 2006

One thing stands

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.” - Isaiah 40v8

A lot of things have come and gone since I entered this world in 1955. Political rulers have risen to power and fallen. Some nations have passed from the scene new nations have appeared. Sports dynasties have risen and collapsed. The race to walk on the moon started, was accomplished, and has been dead for decades. Hemlines have risen, fallen, risen, fallen, risen…

Even in the few short years since we came to Ireland in 1996 we have seen phenomenal changes. If you came back for the first time he might thing he was in a different world.

Everything changes – the grass withers and dies. The beauty of flowers fades away and the flower falls from the stem. In all this world of change praise God that one thing never changes and never fades away. The word of God endures FOREVER. What a marvellous gift He gives us in a place we can always find strength and confidence!

Friday, 22 September 2006

Because you prayed

“Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:”
- Isaiah 37v21

We will never understand until we get to heaven to see how our prayers work in relation to God’s will and His sovereignty. Sometimes we pray and God gives us just want we desire. Sometimes we pray and we must wait for what seems like a long time. Sometimes we pray and never see what we ask for. How does all this work? Do our prayers really affect God? I wish I knew how it all worked out.

One thing is clear. Sometimes God does act because we pray. Here King Hezekiah was facing the wrath and violence of King Sennacherib. Sennacherib had been pouring out threats against Israel, and the situation looked gloomy. In response Hezekiah took the needs to the Lord. He asked God to do a work and protect the land. After Hezekiah prayed Isaiah came and said “Thus saith the Lord…because you have prayed against Sennacherib…” Isaiah goes on to tell how He is going to judge Sennacherib.
What happened here? I don’t really know, but something happened because Hezekiah prayed. It is not too much to say “prayer works.” What are missing because we are not praying?

Thursday, 21 September 2006

The Highway of Holiness

“And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” - Isaiah 35v8

In the days of the American settlement of the west there were men called “trailblazer” who cut paths and trails west for others to follow. Some of these trails developed roads, highways, and even “super highways.” The trails begun so long ago by trailblazers have become highways for people to travel.

In Hebrews 2 we have the story of the ultimate “Trailblazer.” “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The “captain” of salvation is the “one who goes before” and could just as well be translated as “pioneer,” or “trailblazer.”

Jesus came to earth and took on flesh and blood to “blaze the trail” to heaven for us. That trail is now a “highway of holiness” on which the redeemed may walk. Apart from Christ this “Highway of Holiness” would be closed to all. He alone blazed the trail and redeemed us that walk on it.
Praise the Lord for the Highway of Holiness!

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

The Lord will wait

“And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”
- Isaiah 30v18

Who usually has to wait in the case of an important meeting? Is it the president, monarch, or the head of the company? Of course not! If anyone has to wait it is the person wants to see the “dignitary” who has to wait to fit into their schedule.

That’s why it is so amazing to come across a verse like Isaiah 30v18 – The Lord will wait to be gracious to you…” This is a mind-boggling statement! Why would the Lord, the creator and sustainer of the universe wait for me? Why did He wait for me to come to Him? Why does He wait for me when I am out of fellowship with Him. Why would He ever wait?
The answer is simple; while He is a God of justice and righteousness He is also a God of grace and mercy. He is like the father of the prodigal son who waits and looks for his return. Praise God for this marvellous truth – “The Lord will wait to be gracious!

Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Misplaced trust

“Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” - Isaiah 30v3

Where do people put their trust today? Psalm 20v7 put it this way – “Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses…” Very few of us would say today that they put their trust in chariots or horses. However, we could say today, “Some trust in bank accounts, some trust in their own ability, some trust in their government, or some trust in their possessions.”

Israel had made a similar error in Isaiah’s day. They had chosen to put their trust in Pharaoh and Egypt. They apparently did not think that God was capable of taking care of them. So that misplaced their trust by putting it in a foreign king. God makes it clear that this is a major mistake – “The strength of Pharaoh will be your shame and the shadow of Egypt’s protection will be your confusion.” Putting our hope and trust in the wrong place will only bring problems, shame, and confusion. This might be paraphrased today to something like this, “The strength of your bank account will be your shame, the shadow of protection of your government will be your confusion.”
The end of Psalm 20v7 says this; “…but we will remember the Lord our God.” Where is your trust today? Where is my trust today? Lets be sure that it is not misplaced trust.

Monday, 18 September 2006

They honour me with their lips

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” - Isaiah 29v13

It is easy to say, “Praise the Lord” and to pay Him lip service in our daily walk as well as in worship. There are vast numbers of people in hundreds of churches who do that everyday. The people of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day were doing the same thing. They, “drew near with their mouths,” and they, honoured God with their lips,” but there was a major problem. “They have removed their heart from me,” was God’s response.

As we look at our lives we may fairly ask the same question, “Do out hearts back up what we say with out lips?” Or, do we say one thing and do another? The end of the verse is intriguing as well – “their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.” It is tragic when our view of God is determined by the precepts of men instead of His word.

Do our hearts match our words? Do we see our fear of God in His eyes or in the eyes of men? Our lives must reflect a heart which truly follows God instead of trying to please men.

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Rock of Ages

“Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:” - Isaiah 26v4

Verse after verse, chapter after chapter, the statements about God’s wrath and God’s judgement goes on and on. All we see if the wrath of God on wicked, sinful people. Finally it seems, at the end of chapter 24 God’s pours out His final judgement. Chapter 25 is a song of praise for God’s perfect judgement and then chapter 26 is a future song of salvation that will be heard.

Isaiah 26v4 is a verse of blessed assurance. “Trust in the LORD forever.” Sounds great doesn’t it. But its not always easy. I was talking to Morgann this morning and she told me she was talking to God when she went to bed last not. She told me though, “Sometimes its hard because He doesn’t answer.” Profound words from a three year old! We, of course, would never say anything like that. How do we trust God even when it seems like He doesn’t answer?

The rest of the verse has the answer – “JAH JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” We can trust Him no matter what because He is our everlasting strength. Literally our “rock that endures forever.” We can keep going to Him because He never changes. He is always our strength even when we can’t necessarily sense it. It is indeed a step of faith the trust Him as our strength in the midst of trials, yet we are told to keep on trusting Him. It is worth it all; He is our Rock of Ages – even when He doesn’t seem to answer.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

I will be like the Most High

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” - Isaiah 14v13-14

This chapter in Isaiah deals with two situations at once. It deals with the king of Babylon, but it also deals with Lucifer who is behind him. This section is probably one of the most prideful in all of scripture. Look at the “I wills” here –

I will ascend into heaven
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
I will sit upon the mount of the congregation
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
I will be like the Most High

At first glance we would say, “I don’t do anything like that,” but if we really think about it that may not be totally true.
What do we do anytime we think we know better than God how to deal with a situation? What about when God does not answer our prayers in a way or in a time that suits us? Are we not saying that we are smarter than God? Aren’t we saying, “I’ll take over God’s job for a while?” Are we not saying in fact, “I will be like the Most High”?

Friday, 15 September 2006

The wells of salvation

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” - Isaiah 12v3

In the midst of judgement in the book of Isaiah God takes time to encourage His people with the promise of His Messiah. In that description of Messiah He gives a beautiful word picture regarding Him – “…with joy you will draw out of the waters of salvation.” If I were an artist would paint a picture of a well bubbling over with fresh, cool water. If I were a poet I would write of all the joys that come with finding a well of fresh water in a dry and barren land. But, alas, I am neither.

I think of Jesus speaking to the woman of the well of the “Living water” that He could offer her. He told here she would never have to thirst again. Not only would she never thirst, but also from this verse we find that there is joy to be found in the wells of salvation. If we are saved there is unspeakable joy in being saved, being a child of God, being daily loaded with His benefits, and being the heirs of eternal salvation.

John Peterson captures the idea beautifully in his song “Springs of Living Water.”

“I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame,And nothing satisfying there I found;But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came,Where springs of living water did abound.


Drinking at the springs of living water,Happy now am I, my soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,O wonderful and bountiful supply.

How sweet the living water from the hills of God,It makes me glad and happy all the way;Now glory, grace and blessing mark the path I've trod,I'm shouting Hallelujah every day.

Drinking at the springs of living water,Happy now am I, my soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,O wonderful and bountiful supply.

O sinner, won't you come today to Calvary?A fountain there is flowing deep and wide;
The Saviour now invites you to the water free,Where thirsting spirits can be satisfied.

Drinking at the springs of living water,Happy now am I, my soul they satisfy;
Drinking at the springs of living water,O wonderful and bountiful supply.”

Let’s make today a day where all spend the day joyfully drawing from the wells of salvation!

Thursday, 14 September 2006

The Spirit of the Lord

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” - Isaiah 11v1-2

Even in the midst of the severest judgment God always offers hope. There has been a whole list of God’s severe judgment in the last few chapters, yet God says that one day Messiah will come to bring hope and deliverance to Israel, and as we know from other places, to all nations.

When Messiah comes, from the line of Jesse, God’s Spirit would rest upon Him. God’s Holy Spirit of course worked in and with Christ and here He is called the Spirit of:

The Lord
The Fear of the Lord
The most amazing thing here is that this same Spirit comes to indwell believers at salvation. His power as described above is available and accessible to all of us everyday. There is therefore no need to ever depend on our own abilities since we can depend on Him.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Wonderful Counsellor

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9v6

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Usually you go to someone for advice and counsel. When you do that you are best to go to someone who knows what they are talking about. This is a wise thing to do; the Bible commends looking for counsel in these situations.

There is one place we can always go and be assured that the counsel will be right. Isaiah prophesies that Messiah will be the “Wonderful Counsellor.” The wonderful thing about having a Wonderful Counsellor is that His counsel will always be wonderful! We never need worry about getting bad advice from the Lord. He will always be right. He has given us His perfect counsel in His perfect word. I know it is a wonderful thing to know that we have a place where the counsel will never let us down if we follow it.
Praise God for my Wonderful Counsellor and for His wonderful counsel!

Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Let the Lord be your fear

“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” - Isaiah 8v12-13

Conspiracy theories are rampant amongst many conservative Christians. Some of them seem to find a conspiracy around every corner. Some seem to delight in coming up with new conspiracies. This mindset is nothing new. Back in Isaiah’s day people were blaming a conspiracy for Israel’s problems and many were living in fear of these conspiracies.

God gives an answer to this, a very simple one. Even if there are a load of conspiracies out there we are not to be afraid of them. They really have no power over us. We shouldn’t even give them a mention. Don’t spend all your time on those conspiracies and all that stuff, instead, fear the Lord. If you want to worry about something, worry about your walk with the Lord and do something about it.
There is a lot more to be concerned about than conspiracy theories – walk in the fear of the Lord and seek to please Him and all the rest will fall into place.

Monday, 11 September 2006

Here am I Lord, send me

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” - Isaiah 6v8

After Isaiah saw the holiness of God and His glory filling the earth he was convicted of his own sinfulness – “woe is me, for I am undone.” At this stage he knew that he had no right and no ability to stand before God. He fell on his face before God in his unworthiness. God saw his humility and his brokenness and sent an angel to purge him of his sin.

Up to this point Isaiah was not a fit vessel to serve God because of his wickedness. Once he was cleansed he heard the call of God – “Who will I send and who will go for us?” When Isaiah heard this call he responded as we all should – “Here am I, send me.”
Just like was looking for people to serve Him in Isaiah’s day He is still looking for them today. God is still calling out “Who will go for?” It is easy enough to say “Here am I, send me,” in a general sense, but are willing to say it when it comes to specific people around us? Are we willing to let God send us to our friends and neighbours who might be put off by His message? Do we really have the courage to say, “Here am I, send me?” Or are those only vain words that sound good?

Sunday, 10 September 2006

The whole earth is full of his glory

“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” - Isaiah 6v3

How could Isaiah go from bemoaning the Israel’s spiritual state to the point where he says “the whole earth is full of His glory?” In chapters 1-5 Isaiah saw the great spiritual wickedness of the land. He says when the king died his focus changed. “I saw the Lord high and lifted up! His glory filled the temple. The seraphim cried holy, holy, holy.”

When that word is used three times in a row like that it is to emphasis the fact, each use of “holy” building on the previous one. Now, it is because the Lord is “holy, holier, holiest” that Isaiah could say – “the whole earth is full of His glory.”
The only thing that changed was Isaiah’s perspective. Man is wicked and vile, he had made a total of mess of things, but the whole earth is still full of God’s glory! Man’s wickedness on the face of the earth does nothing to affect God’s glory. Praise God that even when man’s wickedness seems great God’s glory is still there!

Saturday, 9 September 2006

The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” - Isaiah 1v18-20

There come times in every leader’s lives when they have to say “We are doing this because I said so.” That is one of the toughest parts of being a leader. Every so often authority must be tough. A leader’s words do have authority, but there is no word that has more authority that God’s.
God lays it down here. Sins are like scarlet and crimson – they are a barrier between man and God. They can be made as white as snow and as wool. Only one thing stands in the way –“be willing and obedient” to His word. His word says that Jesus is the only way. My what authority can we boldly say that – The mouth of the Lord hath spoken.” God said – that settles it.

Friday, 8 September 2006

Tests of true religion

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” - Isaiah 1v16-17

In the previous verses God had condemned Israel for their false worship. He let them know in no uncertain terms that He was sick and tired of them acting like they were religious but having nothing in their hearts.

Here He gave them some things that would mark their lives in they were truly worshipping Him:

Wash yourselves
Make yourselves clean
Put evil away
Stop doing evil
Learn to do what’s right
Seek justice
Help the oppressed
Do right to the fatherless
Pray for widows

That’s quite a list! Worshipping God is more than just going to the Temple or going to church. Anyone can do that no matter what their heart is like. The question becomes “Is my worship seen in my actions?” True worship will ALWAYS be reflected in a changed life. It will always spur us on to action. Purity and service are the words that can be used to describe all the words above. James put it this way, “Pure religion and undefiled before God is this; to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
How do we do with that standard of worship?

Thursday, 7 September 2006

I cannot abide your iniquity and solemn meetings

  • “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” - Isaiah 1v13-15

    The prophet Isaiah opens with a litany of sins and problems in the nation of Israel. One of the greatest, and the one God condemns in no uncertain terms, is that of hypocritical worship. The Jews had continued to have public meetings, but their hearts were not in it. They were living in sin and still acting like there were worshipping. Look at God’s response to it:

    · I cannot abide it
    · My soul hates it
    · They are a trouble to me
    · I am weary of them
    · My eyes and ears are closed to them

    God expresses the same feelings towards mixed worship in the church, saying that lukewarm ness make Him sick. We had better be certain that our worship is genuine. It is easy to put on a false front that may fool others, but we cannot fool God. Make sure that your worship is pure and genuine. How sad it is if our worship make God tired of us.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

The whole duty of man

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” - Ecclesiastes 12v13

Solomon finished the book of Ecclesiastes with the same conclusion he started the book – all is vanity. We all live our live, we get old, and we die. We are in a constant stage of aging and pretty soon we too will pass from the scene.

At the end of the day there is only one thing that really matters, there is only one thing that is our “whole duty,” and there is only on thing that is our “all.” What is that? To fear God and keep His commandments. Nothing else means anything – it is all vanity and grasping at the wind. When God is taken out of the picture all meaning is gone. No wonder we have a world running around helter-skelter directionless and meaningless.

On the other hand, we do have a purpose. Our life does have meaning, walk in the fear of God and keep His commandments. With that in mind every day has meaning, every experience is an opportunity and nothing is a waste. Praise God for giving us meaning and purpose!

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Put away evil

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.” - Ecclesiastes 1v9-10

There is an apparent contradiction here – “Rejoice, let your heart cheer you, follow your heart – but know this, in all these things God will bring you into judgement.”

How do we explain this oxymoron? Simple really – God wants us to enjoy life and live it to its fullest. He does not what us to live a dull, boring, moribund life. His desire is that life is to be lived to the fullest. Yet, in all of the living we must remember that God is going to judge our actions. It is possible to live a full, exciting life without living a sinful, carnal life. Full enjoyment in life comes from living in accord with God’s will and by the standard of His word.

What advice does God give? Put away your sorrowful spirit and put away the evil from your flesh. The two go hand in hand, evil always brings sorrow, it never brings real joy. Real joy and real enjoyment comes from walking in close fellowship with the Lord as we put off the sins of the flesh.

Monday, 4 September 2006

The ways of the wind

“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” - Ecclesiastes 11v5

There is no way that we are ever going to figure it all out. We are full and “whys” and “hows” but there are some things are just too marvellous to understand. We can no more figure out the way God works that we can figure out the wind. We can measure the wind, we can see what it does, and we can even take a good guess as to what it is going to do. But, at the end of the day God is on control of the wind – “The Lord has His way in the storm, and in the whirlwind, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. Only He knows for sure where the wind will blow next.

When we think of a child in the womb we consider a great mystery. With modern technology we can look inside the womb to determine the sex of the child. We can see some of its characteristics and traits. But, until a child is born and begins to grow we cannot know the way he will take. Only God knows that.
Just like these things we cannot know what is going is doing in a particular situation. All we can see is the moment and we can never comprehend the eternal consequences. Yet, the God Who makes all does. He knows how it is all going to work out and in the end He will have the victory. May we have the faith to trust Him and His way without always trying to figure it our for ourselves.

Sunday, 3 September 2006

It will be well

“Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” - Ecclesiastes 8v12-13

There can be no doubt that we live in very wicked day. It seems like sinners do evil and hundred times and more and yet they just keep going on and on in their sin. Sometimes it is hard to understand how this can just go on and on. It seems like they are going to prosper forever and that we are losing ground all the time.

God gives us great words of comfort though – It will be well for all those who fear God. At the end of the day it will be well for us and that days of the wicked will not be prolonged any longer. All of the seeming prosperity it but a shadow, it has no substance and no reality.

On the other hand our future is secure – we are going to be fine when it is all said and done. One day the roles will be reversed. We will prosper while the prosperity of the wicked will be over. Praise the Lord for eternal blessings.

Saturday, 2 September 2006

Get over it

“Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.” - Ecclesiastes 7v21-22

Don’t you hate when you find out something that someone has said about you? I thought about that this week when news came out that Kyra Phillips, a CNN presenter had left her mike on when she was in the toilet and the whole world heard her call her sister-in-law a “control freak” during what was supposed to be a broadcast of a speech by President Bush. Surely her sister-in-law was upset by this offhanded remark.

Even here the word of God has some advice for this kind of a situation. To paraphrase the verse above God says, “Don’t let it bother you when you hear what someone else makes some kind of comment about you. You know in your heart of hearts that you have done the same thing yourself.”

Our pride is far too easily hurt. Hopefully Kyra and her sister-in-law will have a good laugh overt the remarks above. We can’t take this kind of thing seriously when it happens to us. This is the kind of thing Satan can use to divide and destroy relationships. If we are not careful a root of bitterness can grow and trouble you and defile many (Hebrews 12v15).

The best advice when we hear that someone has made some kind of comment about us? Usually, the best choice is to just get over it and move on.

Friday, 1 September 2006

Let your words be few

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” - Ecclesiastes 5v2

There is wonderful advice here for those of us who tend to be loquacious. The context here seems to be about taking an oath, but the principle is that we need to be very careful with our words.

“Be not rash with your mouth,” God says. Why? Because one day we are going to give account for every idle word. We shouldn’t make promises or say things that we can’t follow-up on. Why? Because God is in heaven and we are on earth. He sees the whole picture, we see only the moment.

Great advice here – lets learn to just keep our mouths shut and wait a little while to see what God is going to do.