Tuesday, 31 October 2006

No one listens to me

“And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:” - Jeremiah 16v12

How do we feel when it seems like no one is listening to us? As a pastor, teacher, and parent there have been many times when it indeed feels like no one will listen to anything I say. We feel frustrated, angry, and even hurt.

The nation of Judah were doing this to God. God was judging the nation because no one in the land was paying any attention to Him. The NKJV translates this passage something like, “they are walking after the dictates of their own hearts and no one is listens to me.”

I don't know if God feels the same kind of emotions as we do. I know that He does have emotions, so I have to assume that He feels something of what we feel in rejection. Can you imagine what it is like to be part of the group that does not listen to Him? He has graciously given us His word. He gives us parents, pastors, and teachers to help guide us. Yet, far too often we choose, like Judah, not to listen to Him and choose instead to listen to and follow the dictates of our own wicked hearts.

May I never be one of those who does not listen to Him.

Monday, 30 October 2006

The joy of my heart

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” - Jeremiah 15:16

What is the true joy of our hearts? Sometimes we joy over the success of our sports teams. We can joy in our possessions or our power. We can joy in so many things. We can also joy in good things like our family, our church, or our friends. Not all of these things are bad things to rejoice in, but there is one thing that should be the true “joy of our hearts”

Jeremiah had it right. In the midst of all the troubles around him, Jeremiah found a place of comfort and absolute joy. It was not in any of his situations or surroundings – he found his joy in the word of God, calling it the, “joy and rejoicing of my heart.”

We all trust God’s word and put our faith in what God has to say there, but how often can we honestly say that God’s word is our own joy and the rejoicing of our hearts? Do we find absolute joy and confidence there? Do we find joy in its challenges as well as in its comforts?

Lord, make your word my joy and the rejoicing of my heart!

Sunday, 29 October 2006

They would not hear

“For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.” - Jeremiah 13v11

God, as He always does, had great things that He desired to do for His people. In this case it was the nation Israel and He had renown, praise, and glory that He wanted to give them. There was a problem in receiving it however, they would not hear what God had to say and so missed His blessings.

Today all around us there is a generation of people whom God desires to bless. He has all the blessings of life with Him and eternal life awaiting them, but they will not attain them because they will not hear.

I wonder though how often we are in the same situation. How often does God have blessings laid up for us that we miss because we will not listen to Him?

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Glory in this

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” - Jeremiah 9v23,24

All of us can tend to glory in the things we are good at. Wise men glory in how wise they are. Athletes glory in their physical prowess. Artists and musicians can glory in their ability, and so on and so on.

1 Corinthians refers to the same idea – “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
God makes it clear that we have nothing to glory in within ourselves There really is nothing there at all. Where then are we to glory? We are to glory in the fact that we understand and know God – that He is loving, just, and righteous in all that He does. This means that we glory no matter what is happening because we know that He is doing the right thing. When we do that we learn to glory in the Lord no matter that He is doing.

Friday, 27 October 2006

They don’t know how to blush

“Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” - Jeremiah 8v12

Blushing seems to have gone completely out of vogue. Even Christians seem to be ashamed to be ashamed. What has happened to cause this? How have we become so much like the Judah that Jeremiah wrote to who “were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush”?

We have a fine line to walk as Christians. We must live in the present world, we have no option, and we cannot crawl off to some monastery and hide away in exclusion. Living in this world we must deal with it and all of its inherent evils. We are going to see and encounter things. However, Jesus prayed that though we live in the world we must not be of the world. It is when we become of the world that we cease to be ashamed and forget how to blush.

What a wonderful thing it is when Christians are still embarrassed and still blush at sin. It is time for us to stop being ashamed to be ashamed.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Following the dictates of the heart

“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” - Jeremiah 7v24

One of the great motivations and reasons for Christians to do certain things or accept certain teachings is how they feel it about it, or just somehow knowing it is right. Others may say that we should listen to our hearts when it comes to knowing what to do.

Judah did the same thing. They had already seen Israel punished for her sin, they had God’s prophets telling them God’s way, and yet they decided to listen to the counsel and dictates of their own hearts instead. The result? They went backward instead of forward.

God has graciously given us His word. We know that it can be trusted. He has also given us our heart, which is know is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Yet we still may be tempted to do certain things just because we feel that they are right or okay.
Looking at the choices, God’s perfect word and my deceitful heart, which should we trust?

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

What will you do in the end?

“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
- Jeremiah 5v31

Judah was in a mess. Their prophets prophesied falsely and their priests ruled by their own authority. This in itself was bad enough, but the worse thing was that the people loved it the way it was! All of the religion of the day was done in a way that suited the people!

There is a movement afoot today where churches set up their churches at the whim of the community, where church is designed to meet the needs of the people instead of doing what God wants done. Instead of being centred of Christ, it becomes focused on man. When we look at this passage it is obvious that this concept is nothing new.

This kind of worship may build great numbers in churches, but it is often at the price of standing for God and His truth. The question still remains – “What will you do in the end?” How will men face God at the Bema seat with the knowledge that they have done things their own way instead of God’s way?”

Are you living for God today, or for the moment? If you are living for the moment, what will you do in the end?

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

They have belied the Lord

“They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:” - Jeremiah 5v12

What does it mean to belie the Lord? We often use the phrase, “Your actions belie your words,” to mean that what we do tells a different story than what we do. In this same light it is possible to belie the Lord when we say we are His, yet live like there are no consequences to our actions.

How would we do daily if we honestly asked ourselves the question, “Have I belied the Lord today by my actions? Do my actions agree with my words? It is easy enough to talk about our Lord – a bit more challenging to back it up with actions.

Monday, 23 October 2006

The foreskin of your heart

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” - Jeremiah 4v4

This hardly seems at first glance like an appropriate topic for a devotional thought, but God uses it and it is the perfect illustration of a surgery that many Christians need to submit to. In the Old Testament God instituted circumcision for physical cleanliness, but more importantly as a sign of spiritual cleanliness for Israel. All Jewish boys were circumcised physically as a matter of course, but many had never experienced spiritual circumcision where the fleshliness of their heart was cut away. Here Isaiah instructed them of that needed aspect.
As always there is a principle here for today. God wants all fleshliness removed form our hearts as well. We can perform all of the religious rituals we want, but if we do not deal with the fleshly desires of the heart we will battle our whole lives. Lets follow His advice and circumcise the fleshly desires of our hearts!

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Repentance in pretence

“And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.”
- Jeremiah 3v10

Israel had already suffered God’s wrath. He had dispersed her to nations for her sin. Sadly, Judah was going down the same track, but she had gone through all the motions of repentance. God knew their hearts though, they had gone through all the motions, but had really done nothing about their sin. They had repented “feignedly,” or “in pretence,” but not with their whole heart.

It is easy for us to sit back and judge Judah. “Shame on them for trying to fool God. Don’t they know He can’t be tricked?” Yet, how often do we do the same thing? We read something in our devotions or hear something in church and we go through the routine of doing something about, but we never really have a change in our hearts. We swear that we are going to do better, but don’t deal with the root of the problem, which is sourced in our wicked hearts.
When God convicts us of sin, may we let the repentance be genuine, from the heart – the kind of repentance that results in real change, and not only a temporary turning away.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

I remember you

“Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” - Jeremiah 2v2

I am always amazed at the concept that a perfect, holy, sinless God would choose to remember imperfect, wicked, sinful souls like us. Here of course He is talking about His people, Israel, but He sets down a principle that He does remember His people.

God remembers the early days of our relationship with Him. He remembers the “honeymoon” time when we walked close to Him, followed Him, and were willing to go wherever He called us. It reminds me of the church in Revelation that had “left their first love.”

It is sad how often that while He remembers us, we do not remember Him. While we far too often forget about Him, He never, ever forgets about us.
Once again I am amazed at our awesome God. His remembers me because He loves me with His perfect love. I can forget about Him because my love is imperfect. Praise God that I can love Him because He first loved me!

Friday, 20 October 2006

They shall not prevail

“For, behold, I have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” - Jeremiah 1v18-19

God gave us instructions on how to go; gird up, rise up, speak up, and buck up. But He did not stop there. He tells us that He has already done a work to prepare us. He has made us a defenced city, preparing us for the attack of the wicked one. He has made us an iron pillar, ready to stand during attack after attack. He has made us a brazen wall to stand against the fiery attacks of the enemy.

Why does He have to do all of this? Because the enemies will come to fight against me – it will come, the battles will rage and we will face opposition. But, there is good news - THEY SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST THEE!! Glory to God the enemy has no power over me? Why, because not only has God provided all of my protection, but, but He is right beside me to deliver me!

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Four steps to do God’s work

“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” - Jeremiah 1v17

Jeremiah was still not convinced that he was the best man for the job. Even after God gave him all kinds of encouragement he could not see it. The Lord than simply gives him four simple instructions:

Gird up – prepare yourself, get ready, gird your loins with truth
Rise up – get up and get going
Speak up – say what God wants you to say
Buck up – take courage, don’t be afraid

I think we all work better when the steps laid out for us. As we serve God today we can take the same instructions to heart. Lets make sure we prepare ourselves by girding up our loins with truth. Lets not be content there though, but let us rise up and get going. Even then we can’t just “go out” we need to speak up and proclaim God’s word. It’s a scary process, so we need to take courage from God that He is with us and not be confused or confounded at their opposition.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

I am with you

“But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” - Jeremiah 1v7-8

Jeremiah did not jump at God’s call the first time. I like this about the word of God. It does not lay any pretence that the characters are any kind of super humans with some kind of inbred sanctity. When God called Jeremiah his first response was fear. “What am I going to say God, I am far too young for this task!” He is something like Moses in that he was afraid because he was aware of his own limitations.

God did not respond in anger at Jeremiah’s fears. God instead gave him some blessed words of comfort to take with him.

I will go wherever I send you
I will give you the words to say
Don’t be afraid of them
I will deliver you

Surely Jeremiah realised that he did not have to face his seemingly insurmountable task alone. His job was not going to be easy, in man’s eyes it was not going to even necessarily be successful; but as He went he could bravely go knowing that what was going to happen was not his work, but God’s work.
Oh that we would learn that lesson in our lives. We can go with confidence because God goes with us to do the work He wants to do in each of our lives.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Clay on the Potter’s wheel

“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” - Isaiah 64v8

What does a lump of clay do? Has it the power to jump on the potter’s wheel and shape itself into a thing of beauty? Can a lump of clay turn into a fine, useful, and beautiful utensil?

These are silly questions. A lump of clay has no power of its own and Isaiah here returns to an illustration he used earlier in the book. The picture is simple – God is the Master Potter and we are clay on His wheel. As such He has absolute power to do with us as He will.

When clay is being shaped it goes through a lot. Clay in shaped, beaten, punched, and kneaded. If clay had feelings it certainly would not enjoy this process. It would hurt and would not be nice! Clay is also tenderly shaped and moulded to the Master’s purpose. He is indeed moulding a masterpiece, a thing of great beauty. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.
The moulding and shaping may not always be comfortable, but it always for our best and for His purpose and glory. Lets accept His moulding and shaping with great joy!

Monday, 16 October 2006

The value of our own righteousness

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
- Isaiah 64v6

How good can we be? No matter how hard we try we may tend to think that there is something, no matter how small, good about us. We like to think that surely there is something we can do right, or something we have done right. Surely we cannot be all that bad.

God has a very clear, definitive view of just how bad our sin is. It is so bad that He puts in in terms not of our sin, but in our perceived righteousness. All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in His sight. The KJV translators avoided the literal meaning for the sake of tastes and propriety in 17th century England, but the literal meaning is that all of our best efforts at being righteous in God’s sight are as vile as menstrual rags.
There is nothing good in us, lets make sure that we remember that. All we have is totally my His grace and mercy and is a result of His great love wherewith He loved us.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Beauty for ashes

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” - Isaiah 6v3

This passage in Isaiah is directed primarily toward God’s promise of deliverance for Israel from her captivity, but like so many of this promises looks forward to the final deliverance that Messiah is going to provide. Jesus made that clear when He proclaimed this passage was taking about Him in Luke 4. Therefore, according to Ephesians 2, we too share in these promises.

In this present world we are often confronted with the ashes that come as a result of trials. There is often a spirit of mourning and heaviness as we deal with this sin cursed world and with our own flesh. God has a much better future for us. When Christ returns for us all of that will be changed. Our ashes will become beautiful, the oil of joy will replace our mourning, and our heaviness will be replaced with garments of joy as we, His “trees of righteousness,” glorify Him.

What a day that will be! Praise God that every day I can look forward to my ashes being turned to beauty”

Saturday, 14 October 2006

Whose fault is it?

“Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” - Isaiah 59v1-2

Whose fault is it when it seems like God is just not there? I’m not talking about when we are going through a dry spell in our spiritual lives or our ministries. I’m not even talking about trials and tribulations – those are the times when we should sense God’s presence.

There may be times when we just don’t feel like God is there. Prayers are not being answered, our Bible reading seems empty, and preaching seems dry and dead. What is the problem when that happens?

God’s hand is not shortened; His ear is not blocked so that He can’t hear. Clearly it is not God’s fault.

There is a problem however, and it is ours. “Your iniquities have separated you from God. Your sins have hid His face, He will not hear.” God cannot tolerate sin. Sin is so offensive to God that He turned His back on His Son on the cross. That being the case, what makes us think that He will hear us at all when sin? When we sin we cannot expect God to hear our prayers, we cannot expect to sense His presence
Whose fault is it? It is ours and our sin – God’s hand is still not shortened and His ears are still not blocked.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Seeing God’s blessings

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” - Isaiah 58v13-14

People try all kind of things to see “God’s blessings” on their lives and ministries. The problem is when looking for God’s “blessings” becomes the motivation. We can all get caught in this trap. We see what seems like everyone else prospering while we are just plodding along in mundane service.

How do we overcome this problem? Verse 13 seems to have a helpful application – 1) Delight in the Sabbath. The idea is not just keeping one special day as under the Law, but to delight in doing things God’s way and following His plan, 2) Honour God; 3) Stop seeking our own ways and our own pleasures, 4) Don’t speak our own words. Then in verse 14 God tells us that this is truly delighting in the Lord and we will ba able to rise above and ride upon the high places.

Our circumstance may not change, but when we learn to truly delight in Him we learn to rise above those circumstances. When we get our eyes off ourselves and on Him we learn to delight in whatever He has for us – then we truly have great delight!

Thursday, 12 October 2006

A proper fast

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” - Isaiah 58v6-7

In words that are much like what Jesus will use to later condemn the Pharisees Isaiah condemns “fasting for show” where people fast and abuse themselves in some kind of religiosity. There is no good in this, it is a vain attempt to placate ones own sin without dealing with the heart.

In these verses God gives us two things that should accompany our fasting. First, our fasting must be accompanied doing the spiritual work of “loosing the bands of wickedness, undoing burdens, and breaking the yoke of sin.” However, that is not really enough, there is a second component which most of us miss – there is a physical work that God wants His people to do – “deal bread to the hungry, bring the homeless to protection, and to clothe the naked.” Combined with what Jesus says about taking care of the needy as an indication of how we feel about Him, it at least appears that we must be doing something to care for the needy.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

The wrong fast

“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labors. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.” - Isaiah 58v3-4

Fasting is a good thing, isn’t it? We know that fasting was a big part of the Old Testament worship, Jesus taught how to fast, and the early church fasted. There can be no denying that fasting is a Biblical concept.

Here is Isaiah 58 we find people criticized by God for their fasting. The reason is clear, like any other “religious” activity it is possible to fast the wrong way. As usual the key here is motivation. Israel was fasting as a religious practice. They were proud about their fasting and they were contentious about it. They made it a “big deal” instead of the simple one on one practice that it was supposed to be. They fasted, not so God would be pleased, but so that they could get what they wanted.
Jesus Himself warned against this same kind of fasting – lets be sure that when we fast out fasting is not done to be heard or seen, but with a proper motivation.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

No peace for the wicked

“But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” - Isaiah 57v20-21

What the world would not do for peace, even a little peace. A huge chunk of human history has been given over to the quest for peace between nations. An even bigger chunk has been given over to individual’s quests for peace in their own lives. The world cries out, “peace, peace,” but God says “there is no peace for the wicked.”

How can the wicked hope for peace? What hope do they have? What assurance do they have for the future? The problem is there is no hope and no assurance. They cannot have any real peace because they have no hope for the future.

God does offer peace though. To the lost He offers peace with Him at salvation. To the saved He offers a peace beyond understanding if we will come to Him in thanksgiving and bring our needs to Him.
Praise God for the peace He offers to all who will come to Him. Praise God that there is no peace for the wicked, there is a peace if they will take it.

Monday, 9 October 2006

The High and Lofty One

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” - Isaiah 57v15

If we stopped reading Isaiah 57 in the middle of this verse we would be without any hope for eternity. In the previous few verses God had laid out the problems that man has in approaching God. In one verse He said that all of man’s righteousness and all of man’s works are of absolutely no profit – none. Then God goes on to tell us some things about Himself.

He is the high and lofty One
He inhabits eternity
He lives in the high and lofty place

If man’s righteousness and good works are of no profit, and God lives in the “high and lofty place” then man is surely hopeless and faces eternal doom.

The wonderful thing is that is not where it stops. No only does God live in the high and lofty place, but He also lives somewhere else – “I live with Him that that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” There is no way that we can ever get close to God in His high and lofty place. The way to approach God is by simply admitting that we cannot approach Him. It is His work – at the same time He lives in the high and lofty place He can also live in the lives of those who have humble and broken hearts. How amazing is it that the way to reach God is by stepping down!

Sunday, 8 October 2006

God Word does what He wants

“Have you For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” - Isaiah 55v10-11

Part of the reason we can’t understand why God does the things He does the way He does them and what He is trying to do. Sometimes we pray and witness and work and nothing seems to happen. Then we read verses like this that tell us that God’s Word is not going to return void. How does this all work out?

The key is in verse 11. God says that His word will not return void, but then it puts something of a clarifying statement – “It will accomplish that which I please and will prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.

We tend to look at things from our point of view, not God’s. We want God to accomplish with His word what we want Him to accomplish. God says that He is going to do what He wants to do – that is what His word is going to accomplish.
In reality, that is what I want God’s word to do. I want it to do what He wants, not what I want.

Saturday, 7 October 2006

His ways and my ways

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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.” - Isaiah 55v8-9

Over and over again in my Christian life I have disagreed with God about how we should get things done. I want things to happen in my timeframe and according to my plans, but He always seems to have other plans for me.

Why is it that His plans and my plans so often differ? The answer is clear – His ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts. There are as different and far apart as heaven and earth.

When I see a situation I always see it from a self centred, moment in time, location is space viewpoint. All I can see is one tiny microscopic dot in time and space. On the other hand, God sees everything from an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal point of view. I see things with my limited, sin flawed wisdom. God sees the situation in His prefect wisdom. I see things based on their immediate result, God sees things with eternity in view.
Who does it make more sense to follow?

Friday, 6 October 2006

Abundant pardon

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” - Isaiah 55v7

In Isaiah 55 we find a wonderful invitation where God is calling out to all who are thirsting to come to Him. God gives many kinds of wonderful offers, but what sticks out in my mind this time through is the phrase “He will abundantly pardon.”

When I consider my own sin, the fact that God laid the full load of my iniquity on Christ, the fact that Christ ever lives and to make intercession for me, and the fact that He provides an abundant pardon for my sin I am overwhelmed by His goodness.
He not only pardoned my sin, but He provided an “abundant” pardon. This pardon is “exceeding, abundant, above all we could ask or think. Not only did He pardon my load if iniquities, but He did so in an overwhelming manner in a way that I cannot really comprehend. All I can do is give Him all the praise and glory for His exceedingly abundant pardon.

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Its not what you know its Who you know

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” - Isaiah 53v12

We use the phrase “Its not what you know its who you know,” all the time. We all find that this is very true when it comes to trying to get something done. No matter how much you know about rules and policies – it always helps to know someone on the “inside” who can help you get it done.

If I were Christ I would certainly have tired long ago of me and my sin. Not only did Jesus go to the cross to bear my sins, but He continues to always and ever intercede for me. Hebrews 7v25 says – “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” He carried my sins to the cross, He bore my iniquities, He fully paid the price and though I at time go blithely on sinning, He still intercedes for me.

I could know all about sin and salvation, but unless I know the Intercessor I am without hope in this world. Praise God He intercedes for me even when I choose to go on my own way.

How can I take sin so lightly? How can I ever knowingly consider a choice to sin? How can I choose to follow the flesh instead of the Spirit?
Lord, remind me daily of not only Your supreme sacrifice on the cross, but your daily work of intersession. Remind me that every time I sin, I take selfish advantage of Your work.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

My Saviour bore my sins

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” - Isaiah 53v6

The Lord has laid on His Son the sins of Roger Parrow. That’s the only way to personalise this verse. Without any further explanation this would be an astounding fact. Look back over the verses that tell what happened to our Lord as He took my sins and yours to the cross.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

What an amazing price had to be paid for he penalty of my sins! Why would He suffer being despised and rejected, carry my griefs and sorrows, be stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted? Why would He be wounded for my transgressions and be bruised for my iniquities? Why would He take my iniquity on Himself?

Because He loves me – that’s why. Because while I was still a sinner he loved me and gave His life for me. Because He is the perfect example of charity suffers long.

And yet, how do I respond to this? Too often I do despise His precious gift by dabbling with sin and playing with as though it were some cheap bauble that did not cost anything. I forget the great price that was paid and go on my merry way as though nothing had happened. If I had an expensive Waterford Crystal vase I certainly would not use it as and outdoor flowerpot. I would treasure this special item. Yet, I have the incomparable gift of the forgiveness of my sin, yet I treat as though it were nothing more than that bade flowerpot. I drag it back into the filth and mire of this world.
Lord, remind me of the price that was paid for my sin. Help me to never take it for granted or to treat it lightly my dabbling in the “petty” sins of this world. Whenever I sin, remind me of the price that was exacted for it.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Before and behind

“For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.” - Isaiah 52v12

In Isaiah 52 the Lord is commissioning His people to do their work for Him. He knows and they know that it is going to be a difficult task. He knows, and they know that they are going to face opposition. As they go out God gives them tremendous words of comfort – “You need not run in fear as you go out and here is the reason – ‘The Lord (Yahweh) will go before you and the God (Elohim) of Israel will be bring up the rear for you.”

God’s lays down a wonderful, comfortable, encouraging image. As we go out today God is not only leading us into battle, but He is also “watching our backs.” The enemy cannot get to us because God go ahead and at the same time guards us from the rear. How is this possible? Simple enough – God is God. He can be everywhere at once. Psalm 139 makes it even clearer, God is before, behind, and all around.

As we go out in our service for the Lord, lets do so with great courage. God is leading us into the battle, but, at the same time, we is indeed “watching our backs.” What more could we want.

Monday, 2 October 2006

Why fear man?

“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?”
- Isaiah 51v12-13

It is easy to be afraid of other people isn’t it? It is easy to fear what other people think about us. It is easy to fear what they might say to us, or what they may say to us. It is easy to fear what they might do to us.

We forget sometimes that man is only temporal. He is going to die – he is going to whither away like grass. On the other hand we have God on our side who:

Comforts us
Made us
Stretched forth the heavens
Laid the foundations of the earth

Why should we ever be afraid of men who are really powerless as compared to our Almighty God? As we trust in the Lord, we need never be afraid of what man can do to us.

Sunday, 1 October 2006

The clay arguing with the potter

“Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?” - Isaiah 4v:9-10

Picture this – a potter is diligently working over his clay. His hands are busy, dirty, and wet as the lump of clay turns on the spindle. He moves and shapes, cuts and indents as we seeks to shape the clay into a lovely pitcher. Suddenly, the lump of clay cries out – “Hey, what do you think you are doing – I want to be a vase, not a pitcher!”

Sound absurd? Of course it does. It is foolish to think that the clay could call out and complain to the potter about the way it is being handled. It is no less absurd when we argue and contend with the One who has made us, with our Master Potter. He is shaping us according to His perfect will – He knows exactly what He is doing. We are like the clay, we really don’t have a clue as to what he is trying to accomplish. Who do we think we are to question Him and what He is trying to do?

There are things that the Master Potter is doing in my life that I do not understand, I never will. But may I never be guilty of fighting and contending with Him. He knows best, I am no better than the clay when it comes to eternity at work.