Thursday, 17 August 2017

Despised and rejected

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. – Isaiah 53.3

I think one the saddest aspects of the gospel message is the rejection of Christ by the world He died to save. He was known from the beginning that He would be rejected, and yet still He came to die for us.

John describes it as a matter of life and darkness. The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin. There was nothing man could do without light. Sin always blinds us.

Because man was hopeless and helpless Jesus came as the Light of the world. But, as man normally does, the world rejected Christ because they love their darkness more than they love the light. He was despised and rejected by men despite His ultimate sacrifice.

That’s bad enough, but Isaiah is speaking to God’s people when we says ‘and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He was despised and we did not esteem Him.’

How sad it is when God’s own people ignore Him and despise Him by our actions and our attitudes. And yet we do that all the time when we choose our way over His. We do that when we ignore His promises to us and choose to trust our way. We despise His word when we ignore all that He does for us and choose to live according to the flesh.

It’s bad when the world rejects Him. It’s heartbreaking when His people do.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Beautiful feet

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!” – Isaiah 52.7

What do we think about a messenger who brings good news, peace, glad tidings of odd things, salvation, and the words ‘Your God is in control?’

In these days of seemingly endless bas news that is the kind of news that we need to hear. I hate to admit that I am a news freak. Even when the news is all bad I still am a bit obsessed about seeing and hearing it and reading about it. Good news stories are always a joy to see and even human good news stories can help lighten a day.

Here though we read about the ultimate good news. Peace, good things, salvation, and having a God who has all this covered should make any day bright. God says that the deliverer of this good news has ‘beautiful feet’ and I think that is a lovely way to describe how we feel about the bearer of good tidings.

Of course ultimate bearer of this good news His Christ for He is the one who brought salvation and peace and the knowledge of a God who is in control.

But he told the disciples that He was sending them out just like the Father sent Him out to do these things. We too are called to share the same news. That means that we too can have beautiful feet as we go about our daily task of sharing the good news with those around us. Our lives and and actions and our words should constantly reflect Christ’s message of salvation and peace and how others can know the God who reigns.

It is a shame when I, or anyone else, is so consumed with the worldly news and the badness of it that we don’t have time to share the good news.

Lord, give me beautiful feet today that I might be the bearer of good news to a world that needs it so desperately.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Forever salvation

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished. – Isaiah 51.6

As I get that little bit older it seems like nothing lasts forever. Everything wears out.
Even heaven and earth will one day pass away and it is certainly true that not a one of us is going to escape death.

Yet it is all these temporary things that grab our attention and that is where we tend to focus because they are so visible and so real. It is these things we see everyday and it only make sense to pay attention to them.

For Christians though there is something in our lives that will last forever. God’s gift of salvation will last forever and His righteousness will never be abolished. Heaven and earth are going to pass away, but Jesus will never fail.

Jesus’ salvation is forever. It is not temporary. It doesn’t come and go. Forever means forever.

Monday, 14 August 2017

God's hand is not shortened

Why, when I came, was there no man?
Why, when I called, was there none to answer?
Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
Indeed with My rebuke I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a wilderness;
Their fish stink because there is no water,
And die of thirst. – Isaiah 50.2

Israel often through her history doubted the power of God. From the time they left Egypt and were sent into the wilderness they questioned God’s ability to take care of them.

And man doesn’t really change, does he? I don’t know about everyone else, but there are plenty of times in my life when I am just as bad as they. I wonder if God can really deal with this situation. Even though I have watched God deliver me from trouble after trouble I still can wonder ‘can He really deal with this one?’

I need this reminder. There are a couple of things in my life that make me anxious about the future. I know I am wrong. I know these things should not make me nervous. I say that I know God can handle it, but I wonder if I REALLY know He can handle it.

God hand is never going to be shortened. He is God. Nothing can limit His power no matter how bad it might look to us. God can do the things that seem impossible to me. His hand is never too short. Nothing is impossible for Him.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The ends of the earth

Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” – Isaiah 49.6

We can find clues that God plan, from the very beginning, was not just to be the God of Israel but His desire was to be God of the whole world. It only makes sense because, indeed, God so loved the world that He gave His only son.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance – the whole world.

Speaking here to His future Messiah God says ‘it is not enough that You be saviour to the Jews alone, but that You should be a Light to the Gentiles and carry my salvation even to the ends of the earth.’

What is truly is amazing is that Jesus passed that commission on to us. ‘Even as the Father has sent me so send I you’ He said and ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel.’

It is easy to get focused on our own Jerusalems or Judeas because they are so close and they are the people we are most comfortable with. It can be harder to carry God’s salvation to our Samarias and the ‘uttermost parts of the earth.’

God’s plan is for His salvation to be carried to everyone, to the ends of the world. I wonder if we are really doing our part.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

No peace

And they did not thirst
When He led them through the deserts;
He caused the waters to flow from the rock for them;
He also split the rock, and the waters gushed out.
“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” – Isaiah 48.21-22

Peace.

What a wonderful goal. Everyone wants peace. Nobody really wants fighting and struggle. “Peace, peace’ the world cries. But there is no peace for the wicked.

Peace, real peace, abiding and eternal peace is impossible apart from the peace that Jesus said He would leave behind. The problem with peace is that as long as people live in their sin they cannot find peace. I looked at inner peace recently so I think this time we can look at actual peace between men.

Apart from Christ that is impossible. James tells us why when he describes where fights and wars come from. He tells us that conflict comes because of our wrong lusts and desires and without Christ those lust and desires rule and we do whatever it takes to get what we want and because we do whatever we want and try to get what we want we are never going to be content and never find peace.

The only hope is the internal peace that comes with a relationship with Christ. When we are in Christ we learn to be at peace and to find contentment in Him. We realise that our own lusts and desires are not really all that important. Christ’s peace allows us to rest in Him and not try to fight and scrap like the rest of the world.

There is no real deep abiding forever peace outside of Christ.

Friday, 11 August 2017

He created all things

For thus says the Lord,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. – Isaiah 45.18

For about 150 years now there has been a wholesale attack on the concept of creation. The obvious, all of this world could not happen by itself, as been dismissed. Despite the rule that nothing comes from nothing is now mocked and attacked as being unscientific.

But if the world can be convinced that everything got here by itself there is no need for a god and if there is no God there is no one to be accountable to and the world does not need to worry about eternity and go whatever it wants.

But there is a creator God who made heaven and earth and everything in it. There is a God who made the world and who loves His creation. That means that He made us and loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him. That means that we are accountable to a holy God and that our sin offends Him and His righteousness. But He loves us an provides salvation to all those who will call on Him.

The world may hate the notion of a creator God and do all it can to ignore Him. What joy they miss
both now and for eternity if they continue to ignore Him.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

No other rock

Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one.’ ” – Isaiah 44.8

On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand
This Rock is Jesus, yes He’s the one
The Lord liveth and blessed be the Rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
The Lord’s our rock in Him we hide

And so it goes with our hymns and songs. Jesus as the Rock in a great theme of many great songs of the faith. I think this rock picture is so popular because everyone can get it.

I have seen a couple of fabulous structures built into a solid rock foundation. The Rock of Cashel in Ireland and Edinburgh Castle in Scotland we built into massive rocks. Both have stood majestically over the surrounding countryside for about 1000 years. They have not been shaken because they are founded on a rock.

And that is the picture here. There is no rock like Jesus. Only in Christ can we find the total stability we need to face the storms of life. In this world of instability there is only one sure and safe foundation.

That rock, that foundation, is Jesus and nothing else.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I will not remember your sins

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43.25

There is a difference, I think we all know, between forgiving and forgetting As humans we can understand foregoing someone. When we forgive we choose to no longer be offended by something that once offended us. But we can’t forget the whatever it was that offended us. Those things are burned into our memory. I can’t ‘forget it’ as we sometimes say, but I can choose to not recall the memories of the event.

But when God forgives He can forget. When He forgives ours sins He chooses to not even remember them.

Now that is powerful forgiveness. Once our sins are forgiven it is to God like they never existed. We can’t take old sins back to God because we feel guilty because He has already cast them aside. They are as far separated as east and west and they are buried in the depths of the deepest sea.

Thank God for His forgetfulness of our sin.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

No other saviour

I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no saviour. – Isaiah 43.11

From the beginning of human history we know that man has sensed his need salvation. Man may not have known the details – but he has known that man needs to have a relationship with God because we all know that we are not perfect. Man always has wanted a chance at life after death.

Religion tends to focus on this need for deliverance. Religion is always based on providing our own salvation. Usually religion is a bunch of dos and don’ts and it is based on what we can do to get rid of our sins. All these are attempts to do something to make God, or someone’s perception of Him, let us into heaven.

But because our sin debt is so serious there is no other salvation than in Christ. There is only one Saviour and that is the Messiah that the Jews were looking for and who we have seen in Jesus Christ.

A lot of folks blame religion for all the evils in the world. I wouldn’t go that far, but man made religion does cause problems. Religion apart from Christ is worthless at best and destructive at worst.

There is no other salvation than that which is found in Christ.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Redeemed

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.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place. – Isaiah 43.1-3

I don’t want to get into a theological debate about ‘replacement theology’ and I certainly don’t want to imply that the Church as replaced Israel in God’s eyes. However we do know that the Church is the spiritual seed of Israel and we do know that God’s redemption applied to Israel and it applies to us.

Redemption in this context is a compensation for the bad actions of something or someone in order to get a good result. Because we are all sinners our sin nature needs to be redeemed. Something has to be done about it. In the Christian context we had to be bought back from the ravages and the penalty of sin. A price had to be paid and the redemption price of sin is death.

But only a prefect sacrifice would be able to pay the price. We had no capacity to pay it.

So Jesus redeemed us when He paid the redemption price through His own blood. Once we accept that gift of salvation the redemption price is paid and we are no longer under the penalty of sin.

And because we are redeemed, we can, like Israel, face whatever comes our way because our Redeemer walks by our side. No matter what trails and tests come our way we are assured that we belong to our Redeemer and He cares for us as His ‘peculiar’ people.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

He will prevail

The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man;
He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war.
He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud;
He shall prevail against His enemies. – Isaiah 42.13

We live in a world where it seems lie there is no way that good is going to win out over evil. There is no good news. We are amazed every day at the capacity and the capability of man to sin. Evil has become good and good has become evil.

But we are not alone in feeling that way. It has been going on for a while.

Henry Wandsworth Longfellow wrote a poem called ‘Christmas Bells’ after the loss of his son who was killed in the Civil War. After writing about the war he wrote:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;

"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Too often we get stuck there, but Longfellow went on to point out a wonderful truth:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

God is going to prevail one day. The victory is already won. God have given us the victory in Christ. We, and with Him we, will prevail.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

He won't get discouraged

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.” – Isaiah 42.1-4

This is a wonderful picture of the nature of, for Isaiah, the future Messiah. It gives only a few descriptions of His divine nature.

He won’t brea the bruised reed. He wants to heal the bruised reed.
He will not put out the fire even when it is just a spar.
He will reveal His justice in truth.
He will not fail.
He will not get discouraged.

I lie that one especially. There are times when things go so badly that we can get discouraged and give up. It can seem like there is no solution.

But our Saviour never gets discouraged with us. No matter how ‘prodigal’ his children get He nows there is always hope. He loves us so much that He is always out looking for us to return and ready to run to us to welcome us home.

God is not prone to our discouragements. God always holds out hope for us. He doesn’t get discouraged because discouragement means He is ready to give up on us. His arms are open for the lost to turn to Him and they are open to us when we wander.

Friday, 4 August 2017

I will hold your hand

For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’ – Isaiah 41.13

I love it when God uses these very clear and practical illustrations. Somehow the image of God holding my hand is extra special because is sweet and tender and compassionate.

We have grown children now and we are enjoying the grandparent part of life. It is a precious thing when our children or grandchildren reach up and take us by the hands. We have had a few handholders who almost every time we walk with them will reach up for a handhold. Sometimes, it we aren’t paying attention, they will nearly force our hands open. The children find love and strength and power and encouragement in holding our hands. When they hold our hands they feel lie nothing can go wrong.

Of course, we do all we can, but we can still fail.

But we have someone to hold our hand who can never let us down. God tells His people ‘don’t worry, I’m right here, I’ll hold your hand, so don’t be afraid.’

God isn’t just here with us. He is here with us holding our hands. As long as I am holding on to Him I am not going to wander and stray.

And if I do wander off He is always waiting with His hand open for me to come back and grab His hand again.

Than God for His open hand.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

I am with you

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.’ – Isaiah 41.10

God was encouraging His people. At the time He was speaking to Israel but this precept continues on into the New Testament and the promise is renewed for the church.

Fear not, not be dismayed. I am with you. I am your God.

That reminds me of the angel’s message when he announced ‘his name shall be Immanuel – God with us.’ It reminds me when the angels said ‘for unto you is born this say a Saviour.’ It reminds me of when Jesus said ‘lo, I am with you always.’

The idea of ‘God with us’ is a universal and timeless truth for the people of God. It transcends time and space. It is always true. The writer of Hebrews wrote that we ought to be content because God is with and He will never, ever, ever leave us.

We need nor fear. We need not ever fear. We need to remember that our God is with us and that is never going to change no matter what.

Just like God was with Israel He is with us. He has always been there. He is always here now. He will always be with us.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

They that wait on the Lord

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
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. – Isaiah 40.29-31

They that wait on the Lord. There is that waiting again.

When we are waiting we are waiting on something or someone. We are at their mercy. When we wait we have to admit that we are not in control.

And we don’t like that – we would rather do it our way in our time. When we do that we get mired down in all the troubles and muck of this world.

But if we can learn to wait on God acknowledging that we are totally at His mercy. If we can wait on Him, He has some blessed promises for us.

He promises that He will give us the strength to keep on going.. He will enable is the not be ‘weary in well doing.’ He will allow to to not faint in the ministry He has given us. He will help us to ‘be stedfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.’

And He promises that we will mount up with wings as eagles instead of being of having to involve ourselves in all of the filth that makes up this world.

Wait on Him – it will be worth it.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Nothing gets by God

 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable. – Isaiah 40.28

Don’t you know that God, the Lord…never faints and never gets tired?

Nearing the end of our two month US trip I will admit that I am tired. I cannot thank God enough for the chance to make this trip and for the time we have spent with our US family. There are things I am going to miss when we go home – but I am weary and look forward to the rest we will get.

I often find myself right now fighting to stay awake while driving or talking or in church. Doziness is a real battle and when I get dozy I have a hard time concentrating or thinking clearly. Things slip by me watching the telly. Several times I have had to fight road hypnosis on this trip. It is an uncomfortable state.

Thank God that He is not a man who has to battle weariness. He doesn’t have to fight to keep his eyes open.

Psalm 121 tells us that God is our Keeper and that He does not slumber nor sleep. He is always there and always focused. When I slumber and dose I miss thing, like who the killer was on ‘Murder She Wrote.’

But God misses nothing. We can rest because He is not resting.

Now if I can just remember that every day.