Your Light Rising Part 1

Your Light Rising in the Darkness

Last week, we worked our way through Isaiah 58:6-9a and this week we will study in verses 9b-12. Today, we will be focusing on verse 9 part b. All these verses are so important to me. God has used them so many different times in my life and I am very excited to share them with you!

Isaiah 58:9b (vv 9b-12) (NIV)

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry, and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the old age foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Thinking about last week and now this week’s text, I think it is clear that if we seek God with prayer and fasting, interceding for others, but also getting our wills in line with God’s will and our hearts tuned to His heart, we will soon get to where today’s focus text is a reality in our lives.

Working through today’s text:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression… “

Sweet freedom from Oppression

Do you need freedom from oppression? You may need it and not even realize it. Ask God to help you see if there is an area in your life where you are not living in the freedom that Christ bought for you on the cross.

This part of the verse is talking about our own yokes of oppression. The closer we get to God the more we will see our yokes of oppression drop off of us. When God increases in our lives He pushes out the things that are not of Him and oppression is definitely not of Him. Sweet freedom!!

It could also apply in that as we pray for others, God works in their lives to lift their yokes of oppression.

Criticism

“…with the pointing finger and malicious talk… “

As we get closer to God we desire to remove the sinful behavior from our lives. We will want to do it for His glory.

In the Amplified Bible this phrase is:

“…the finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly] and every form of false, harsh, unjust and wicked speaking… “

I think this describes criticism very well. I so often catch myself being critical of others, especially other Christians. This phrase in the AMP says not to point fingers at the oppressed or the godly. Everyone is included here. Christians and non-Christians can be oppressed.

It is interesting. Generally, I think that we as believers expect other Christians to be perfect and non-Christians to act like Christians. When they don’t, it messes with our comfort.

In reality, to live and act consistently like a Christian takes a very focused life – focused on God and even then we are going to blow it sometimes. On the other hand, if non-Christians act like Christians then we will not know that they need Christ! What we will see is polished up people burning a trail to a fiery eternity in Hell. If they act like Christians, we will not know to pray for them or share with them.

Each One of Us Need Some Grace

We need to have grace for others – both our brothers and sisters in Christ and people who do not know Him yet. We need to pray for non-believers, we need to pray for each other and to not criticize anyone.

In my life and yours, there are areas that can generate criticism. We are all in need of a Savior. As we look around it will be easier not to criticize if we see ourselves as we really are. We are desperate for God’s grace and in dire need of a Savior and as believers we are saved by faith through God’s grace alone.

God wants to weave a beautiful tapestry with our lives, and there is no place for threads of oppression or criticism in that picture. Let’s surrender all that to Him today so He can free us from it and help us to be more like Him. As we go through this week, you are going to see how “Your Light Rising” is a fitting title for this series. Have an amazing day!!

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, thank You so much for Your beautiful Word and Your beautiful Spirit that is at work in our lives to make us more like Jesus. Help us to seek You in all we do and get our hearts in line with what You want. Please, help us to let go of our wants and be all about Your wants. I thank You for the clarity You gave me last week and I ask You that each reader would know You as faithful to lead us in glorifying You! Make us what You want us to be and, please, makes us completely Yours. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 24:3-6

 

 

A Tender Father

A Tender Loving Father

Today, we are going to look at how God deals with us in times of trouble.

Isaiah 58:9a (NIV)

“Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help and He will say: Here I am.”

Wow! It is amazing that the God of the Universe – Creator of All – Maintainer of All – wants to hear from us! The more I think about His greatness, His power, and His realm of responsibility the more amazed I am that He wants to spend time with me. Is it hard for you to grasp that He wants you close to Him?

Here is the sweet part of it all: Even though He is huge and powerful He is so tender and attentive to details. He does not say, “Yeah, I love you, now run along.” Unlike we busy parents, He has all the time in the world to spend with us. However, He is not just going to let us sit perched upon a cloud listening to harp music. He wants us to be close to Him and about His business at the same time. He is not a doting father who spoils His child. He is the perfect Father – holy and wise. He has never made a mistake, never broken a promise, never disciplined in anger. He is the perfect Father.

Let’s go to the verse now:

“Then you will call and the LORD will answer… “

God does not serve us and I think sometimes we expect Him to, possibly without even realizing it. This verse is saying that when we, who seek Him sacrificially through fasting, call on Him He is ready to answer us. Think of the ramifications of God Almighty listening for your call and answering when you call Him. That just sends chills all over me!

“…you will cry for help, and He will say: Here I am.”

Do you remember when you were a kid and you were just beginning to stay home alone? Do you remember what it felt like to get scared when you were alone? How about when you parent came home and you knew everything was fine?

Or how about after a bad dream? Crying out in the night and hearing “I’m here.” or “I’m coming” from your mom or dad? How comforting it was just to hear those words before they even got into your room?

Oh but now you are a grown up and you are not supposed to get scared. You are supposed to be in control all the time, right? WRONG! Now, who is going to say those words of comfort when things fly out of control?

All Grown Up

Our great and wonderful Father God waits for you and me to cry out so He can speak those wonderful words of comfort in His Word and your heart, “Here I am.” What a tender loving Father we have. He is Omnipotent (all-powerful), Omniscient (all-knowing), Omnipresent (present everywhere), Awesome God and He is your and my Tender Loving Father.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When I struggle the most is when I attempt to get through hard and scary things on my own. When I cry out to Him in faith I know He hears me and I know He is with me.

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

Have I not commanded you? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

He is with you and He is with me!

We will be beginning a new series on Monday with verse 9 part b. It seems a little strange but that part of verse 9 goes with verses 10-12. We will share more amazing beautiful truth from the book of Isaiah next week.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, I thank You so much that You are with us. I thank You that we can trust You to keep and comfort us in times of trouble and distress. Thank You that Your love never fails and You never tire of being needed by us. Please make us all You want us to be and make us completely Yours. In Jesus name, Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Jeremiah 29:11-13

Our Whole Reason

Our Whole Reason for Living

This is my favorite part of this entire passage! To glorify God is our whole reason for being here, right? Right! Remember what we talked about yesterday:

Isaiah 58:8a (NIV)

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear… “

Now today’s:

Isaiah 58:8b (NIV)

“…then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rearguard.”

Since glorifying God is our purpose in life, it should be our passion, too. Is glorifying God your passion? Is His glory an all-consuming obsession for you? My passion for His Word and His glory is definitely growing this week!

As we seek Him more intensely and sacrificially, aligning our hearts with His, He will more and more become our all-consuming passion. As a result, people around us will see Him in our lives. His light in our eyes will help people see Him. That is glorifying Him!

Exercise in Futility; Lesson in Love

Striving to glorify Him in our own strength is an exercise in futility. He will do the work of glorifying Himself in us as we seek Him and live with passion for Him. As we have seen in the last few days, that passion comes from seeking Him earnestly and working with Him as He draws us closer and helps us to align our hearts with His heart. Being consumed with Him and loving Him intensely will automatically bring obedience in us and glory to Him. Pray that He will do this in your life. Ask Him for help! He knows we need Him, but we need to admit it to Him. (Matthew 5:3) There is no room for self-sufficiency in our relationship with God.

A Beautiful Thing!

As we seek God and surrender control to Him, the Holy Spirit is helping us and that surrender is so much easier because we are obeying the One who has become our terrific obsession. The amazing benefits circle back to Him. It always circles back to Him when we seek Him and we progress toward Him and into a deeper relationship with Him. This is a completely beautiful thing!

Let’s go to the verse:

“…then your righteousness will go before you… “

His Righteousness

The righteousness we have is positional. According to Isaiah 64:6, we have not righteousness on our own, so the verse is talking about Jesus’s righteousness on us. This righteousness was given freely when Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. If your faith is in Him for your salvation and He is Lord of your life then you have His righteousness. Isn’t it exciting to know that we can trust that we are living under the covering of the righteousness of Christ? As we live submitted to Him others will see Him in our lives. Our righteousness is as filthy rags but His righteousness? Glorious! Perfect! Pure! Astoundingly beautiful!

A Light in the Dark

I think about it like this: If I walk into a dark room with a lit candle, the light glows far beyond the actual candle. Though the candle flame is in the doorway, the light from it can reach the opposite wall. So in the same way, the righteousness that Christ has given us goes before us.

Back to the Verse:

“…and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

King David was known to let out a loud shout when he got excited about God. This makes me want to shout! Woohoo!!!

Ripple Effect

Have you ever watched a speedboat on a lake when it throttles up? The motor digs down into the water, the nose of the boat begins to point skyward. Then as the motor courses through the water and drives the boat forward it leaves an impressive wake. According to the power of the boat and the nerve of the driver, the wake may be several feet deep/high. The wake is thrust out behind the boat and the waves will ripple all the way to the shores of the lake. Piers will move up and down with the swell of the water as the wake spreads as far as possible. That wake effects everything it comes into contact with – everything must react to it. Have you ever tried to stop a wave? It just bounces off you and goes somewhere else, doesn’t it?

Your Rear Guard

This is how I see God’s glory being our rear guard. As He is our obsession, as we dig in diligently and sacrificially seeking Him, His glory will go before us where we go and He will affect EVERYTHING!

The glory of the Lord will not be stopped as it is the wake off of a life focused on Him. It will ripple out far beyond what we are even aware. People will be impressed but not by us – by Him who is EVERYTHING! His righteousness and His glory will be what is seen. People will want Him because of what they see in us. That is to glorify God and that is our sole purpose for being here.

Now, do you feel like shouting?? May the Lord bless you today! May your righteousness go before you, may His glory be the wake that follows, and may His glory ripple from shore to shore!

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, You are so very great! Thank You so much for giving us Your righteousness since we have none of our own. Thank You for drawing us to You. Please help us to seek You with all our hearts. Help us to love You with all that we are! Please make us what You want us to be and please make us completely Yours. In Jesus’s beautiful beautiful name I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 95:1-7

 

 

Terrific Obsession

This Terrific Obsession

Our passage for today is the first part of verse 8. We will finish the verse tomorrow. Such a short passage, but it can lead you to a terrific obsession with God and His wonderful Word!

Isaiah 58:8a (NIV)

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear… “

The further I go in this passage the more excited I get! God’s Word is so awesome and so beautiful. The more time I spend in His Word the more I want to spend time there.

Intimate Relationship

Years ago, I realized I did not love God’s Word the way I should – the way God wants me to love it. I thought of my daily quiet time with God as an obligation that I needed to fulfill if I wanted a blessed life and a close relationship with Him. This is what I thought.

One day, I realized that was a wrong attitude. I began praying that God would cause me to fall in love with Him and His Word – that I would be obsessed with His Word and that my obsession with His Word would lead to my being obsessed with knowing and loving Him intimately.

Terrific Obsession

Other people can tell you about a person or you may even think you know a person pretty well. However, you will never know them intimately until you spend ample time talking to them and listening to them. As you well know, God talks to us through His Word and we talk to Him by praying. The more time we spend listening as God tells us about Himself the more deeply our love for Him will grow. It can grow to the point of obsession. I want to be obsessed with Him. I want my thoughts to be constantly on Him and who He is. Seeing Him work in the world around me makes me love Him more too. Plus, I think that the more obsessed with Him I really am, the more I notice what He is doing around me.

Best of all, this terrific obsession is self-perpetuating. In fact, the more you know Him the more you love Him and the more you love Him the more time you want to spend with Him. The more time you spend with Him the more you want to know Him and so on and so on.

Let’s begin working through today’s part of verse 8:

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn… “

Keep in mind, the text is on the subject of fasting. As we seek Him intentionally (by studying His Word, prayer, and sacrificing comfort through fasting [especially food]) and as our desires align with His will, we will be filled the joy of the Lord!

You can see a light in the eyes of a person who is full of the joy of the Lord, can’t you? It is a light you cannot ignore – like the light of dawn breaking forth over the horizon. So beautiful and so undeniable! God’s beautiful light shining through the eyes of His children is so undeniable!

Your Healing

“…and your healing will quickly appear… “

Many things in our lives are set right, when we align our hearts with God’s will. Sin sickness will dissipate as we are in line with God’s heart and mind and will. He will heal our souls that are sick with sin.

This passage is not saying that if you fast, God will heal you of cancer or diabetes. If that were the case we could fast like taking an aspirin and just make God do what we want Him to do. He would not be Sovereign God if we could manipulate Him like that, would He? I know He can heal cancer, diabetes, and anything else He chooses to because He is sovereign (solidly in control). Sometimes He just does not choose to and we have to trust Him (Romans 8:28).

Heart and Will Aligned

I know from personal experience that if you or someone you know is very ill with some horrible disease, your heart and will being aligned with God’s will, makes the journey much more bearable, and yes, even joyful. To walk closely with God is worth whatever He uses to get us there. He may not put the sickness on us but He can allow it and use it to help us see our need for deeper trust in Him and a deeper relationship with Him.

Hopefully, in the near future, I will be able to share how God did miraculous things in my life and the lives of others during my breast cancer journey.

Tomorrow we will finish up verse 8.

Have an amazing day!

Let’s pray!

Oh Lord, I rejoice in Your Sovereignty. I thank You that You really are in control and that You love us with such passion that You went to the cross and died for us. I thank You for Your beautiful Word. Help us, Lord, to love and even be obsessed with You and with Your Word. I praise You for all You are and all You do! Please make us completely Yours! In Your beautiful name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 10:1-18

 

 

Hearing His Voice

Thinking questions:

  • Do you feel that you know what God’s will is in daily situations?
  • Are you needing to get closer to Him so you can be more sure about that?
  • What do you do on a daily basis to help you walk closely with Him?

I don’t know about you guys, but I need to think about being in line with God and His will today and this week. I am really seeking the Lord for wisdom and for His will in a particular area in my life.

Our Passage for Today

Isaiah 58:7 (NIV)

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Being Ready to Help Others

Fasting is an act of sacrifice of our own comfort in order to be dedicated to God’s will above all. It will benefit those around us if we are sacrificially praying and following after God because we will be available and ready to help others in need. We can truly be used for His glory and benefit others by following wholly after God and praying fervently while aligning our hearts with His will.

Let’s go to the Verse:

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry… “

If we are completely trusting and knowing God, because we are sacrificing our own comfort and spending time praying, then, we will trust Him to meet our needs. If we are supposed to give our food to someone else, then, He will surely provide for us.

Outlandish Things

“…and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter… “

Sometimes God calls us to do outlandish things. If we are seeking Him and praying sacrificially, we will hear Him, recognize His voice and hopefully we will obey Him. Not many of us today would allow a stranger or wanderer into our homes – it is just too dangerous but if God leads us to do it we can do it trusting that He will take care of things. The key is seeking and knowing Him so that you know His voice. I am reminded of Hebrews 13:2 where the Bible speaks of entertaining angels without knowing it.

Knowing His Voice

This concept itself seems outlandish but we need to be walking closely with God – closely enough to be confident when we hear His voice and obey Him when He tells us to do something. I am reminded of a story Beth Moore shared in one of her video series where while waiting for a flight in an airport, she felt God leading her to brush an elderly man’s long, matted, and tangled hair. He was a complete stranger and she was very uncomfortable asking him if she could. However, the blessing was huge for her and the gentleman – because she was obedient in this outlandish task.

Yes, sometimes God leads us to do outlandish things because He wants to pour out His blessing on others through us and He wants to pour blessing out on us as well.

I will caution in one way though – always be sure that what you feel led to do lines up with God’s Word. If you are not sure ask your pastor. If it doesn’t line up with His Word, it is not His voice!

Clothing Those in Need

“…when you see the naked to clothe them… “

Years ago, I worked at a crisis pregnancy center. I was so blessed by the people who were willing to clothe the people who could not clothe themselves. We got huge amounts of baby and maternity clothes – many with the tags still on them. People would go out and buy brand new clothes and bring them in for people they did not even know. It was such a huge blessing!

Your Own Flesh and Blood

“…and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

How many Christian people have someone in their family who is destitute? Probably 8 out of 10. How sad it is to see godly people walk away from family members in need. There is, however, a difference between meeting a need and perpetuating a problem. We all know you cannot give a drug addict $100 to go pay their power bill, right? We must pray for wisdom in how to help in those kinds of situations – family or strangers.

What is God doing in your life?

I believe that through these last two days of study, that God has shown me that He wants me to fast, pray and seek Him deeper on a weekly basis. What is God doing in your heart through this devotional? Just think about it and be obedient to His voice. I would love to hear from you if you would like to leave a comment or email me. I am praying for you all today.

Join me tomorrow as we begin studying verse 8!

Let’s Pray Together:

Dear Lord, thank You so much for loving and drawing us to You. Help us to seek You with a new fervor and grow in our relationship with You. Please help us to know You and know Your voice when You speak to our hearts. Help us glorify You in all we do. Make us completely Yours and help us to love You more. Thank You so much, Lord! In Jesus wonderful name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Matthew 25:34-40

 

 

The Blessing of Fasting

Thinking Questions:

  • Are you looking to get closer to God?
  • Have you ever gone on a fast?
  • If so, why did you?
  • What was the outcome you were looking for?

Our passage today may seem outdated and even foreign to a lot of you but I hope you will stay with me this week. I think you will be tremendously blessed and I know God has blessed my life with it.

I think your exposure and opinions on fasting depend on what kind of church you are in and/or what the leadership believes about fasting. In the church I went to while I was growing up, fasting was not talked about at all that I remember. So, until I was a young adult and started visiting a church of a different denomination, I had very little knowledge of it at all – the Pharisees practiced fasting regularly, and that was all I knew.

Our passage for today:

Isaiah 58:6-9a (NIV)

Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderers with shelter– when you see the naked to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help and He will say, “Here I am.” (We will be working through this passage this week and next week we will pick up at the second half of verse 9 and work through vesre 12.)

My Experience

At one time, several years back, I was digging into God’s Word and trying to understand why we are supposed to fast.  I had heard that it was to let God know that I was serious about what I was praying for but that just seemed like an attempt to manipulate God to me and I knew that was not why we were to fast.

Consequently, during this time of seeking to understand, my concordance directed me to this passage in Isaiah. It is wonderful!

You can see what fasting is not and how it should not be done by reading verses 1-5 later.

Let’s look at verse 6:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen… “

This simply indicates that the right way to fast is about to be explained. I bet I did not have to tell you that. 😉 Fasting is an act of humbling ourselves. It is an act of denying our own comfort and seeking God. We may be wanting to grow in our relationship with God or doing intense praying for someone else.

Injustice

“…to loose the chains of injustice… “

We need to get serious about praying for them when someone is caught in chains of injustice and God brings them to our attention. What are some examples of chains of injustice that you might be caught in? An abusive home; a catastrophic disease, etc. I would say this would be a situation the person did not put themselves in intentionally.

“…and untie the cords of the yoke… “

However, many times we do put ourselves in yokes of bondage from which we cannot free ourselves. In many cases, our decision/sin definitely puts us in a yoke of bondage – drug addiction, adultery, negativity, gossip… This list goes on and on. As a result, we get so deep in that we cannot get ourselves, then, God has to intervene for us. For this reason, when we or someone we know are in a yoke of bondage we need to get serious about praying.

Free and Break

“…to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke?”

To be oppressed is to be weighed down with a burden – a yoke of bondage. I know that what God wants to do is to align our will with His will. When we are seriously seeking Him – humbling ourselves, denying ourselves and praying – He often does just that. 

Our Being Free

Also, fasting is not just for when we are praying for someone else. We can seek God for ourselves. We may have had a yoke of bondage for as long as we can remember or we may have just seen it take hold of us over the last few years. These are things I know about bondage:

  1. Oppression is from the enemy of our God and our souls – Satan.
  2. It will keep us from being effective and walking in the freedom of Christ.
  3. We need God’s help to get free of it.

Humility or Audacity

I have often heard, “I am going to fast to let God I am serious about… ” I have seen people fast trying to get their own way in a situation. One aspect of fasting is that we are taking time and discomfort (hunger) and letting it remind us to pray fervently for someone or a situation. Of course, the best prayer is always for God’s best in a situation. We may not know what His best is but He can bring us around to His thinking if we humble ourselves and seek Him.

Indeed, He wants to break chains of injustice and untie the cords of bondage but on His terms, in His time and according to His will. So, just know that we cannot and will not convince Him to do anything by fasting that He does not already intend to do. We cannot change His will by showing Him that we mean business. Think about that prospect. It is appalling! To think that we could ever manipulate or force the hand of God Almighty – so audacious.

The Main Change Fasting Brings

What He changes when we fast and seek Him is our hearts. He aligns our will with His will, and He is God and we are not. We need desperately for Him to help us keep things in perspective.

Tomorrow we will take it a little deeper. I am so glad we are on this amazing journey together!!

Let’s go to the Lord in prayer:

Thank You, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. It is so rich and full of Your character and personality. I am so thankful that You allow us to know You. Please help us to walk with You according to Your Word. Makes us completely Yours. Help us to glorify You, alone. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Isaiah 58:1-5

 

 

Faith Comes From Hearing

Questions to Ponder

  • Do you have plenty of faith?
  • If not, what do you do about it?
  • How easily do you trust God in the daily situations of life?
  • How about in the hard situations?

Our verse for today:

Romans 10:17 NIV

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is through the word of Christ. 

Faith to Trust

A couple of weeks ago we talked about trusting God and how He gives us peace when we do that. Today the subject is faith. Trust and faith are very closely related. Trust can be a verb or a noun but we are going to discuss trust in its verb use today, and faith is a noun. When we have faith in God we can trust Him. If we do not have faith in God trusting Him is very difficult to just plain impossible.

So how do we get faith? It is a gift from God according to Ephesians 2:8. We cannot work it up in ourselves. It is a gift given to us by God for us to act on by trusting God. For me to trust God is an action that comes out of the faith He has given me.

Look at the first part of our verse:

“Consequently… “

Consequently is sort of like, therefore, isn’t it? What Paul is about to say lays on the foundation of what he has already said. If you look back at the previous verses and you will see that they talk about how we cannot believe unless we hear the good news of God’s way of salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“…faith comes from hearing the message… “

Hearing and Hearing

A Bible study leader I used to know would say, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing the Word of God.”

We cannot muster it up because it comes from God. Though faith in God is a miraculous thing given by Him alone, He also tells us how we can build it up.

Think about it:

  • The more you listen to someone, the better you get to know them.
  • The better you know them, the more you know whether or not they can be trusted.
  • The surer you are that you can trust them, the more faith you have in them.
  • The more faith you have in them, the easier it is to trust them.

Now, when we step this concept up past human limitedness into divine unlimitedness and we can somewhat grasp faith in God. In situations so much bigger than human reason can deal with, miraculous faith from God can cause us to trust Him even when to an outsider, it does not make sense.

“…and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Absolutely Clear

There it is.  No mystery or veiled meaning, it is absolutely clear that hearing God’s Word – Christ is the Living Word according to John 1 – builds our faith.

We do not have to go through our lives struggling to trust God through thin faith. Rich faith in God can carry us through whatever comes if we know He is faithful, He loves us, and we can trust Him to bring us through and work all things together for His glory and our good (as believers).

Just Like Gravity

If I pick up a pebble on the bank of a lake and toss it out over the lake gravity will pull the pebble into the water. It will do this every single time. I have seen this enough to know that it will happen.

When we live listening to God, know His stories, know His character, we can know that He is trustworthy. Just as gravity will always act in keeping with its character, God will always act in keeping with His character. If we know His character then we know the basic direction that He will go in. His glory (and our good) is always His destination. Always.

So our plan of action needs to be to hear/listen to God’s Word

  • day in, day out – don’t wait for hard times to build your faith, be ready for hard times
  • in solid sermons preached by learned men who desire to glorify God
  • by reading it, even aloud
  • in singing the Scripture, so many songs are straight out of Scripture

God loves you so much and He wants you to know Him. He wants to give you strong faith in Him so you can trust Him. He is not hiding from you, He is waiting for you to seek to know Him.

Let’s pray:

Lord, first of all, thank You for Your beautiful Word. Help us to never forget what a huge blessing it is that it is so easily available to us. Today I ask You to help us to know You better so we can trust You more. As we have seen today, knowing You gives us faith so help us, please help us to know You through Your Word. Help us to know You better and better so we can trust You more and more – that our faith may be great for Your glory! Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name, I pray! Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 84:1-12

 

 

Do I Tremble?

Ask yourself this question:

When do I tremble?

And now these questions:

  • As you look around the room you are in, what comes to mind?
  • When you walk through a parking lot and look up at the sky, what comes to mind?
  • When you begin your work whether that is at home at another place, what comes to mind?
  • As you sit down to read your Bible, how do you feel?

Our Passage for today:

Isaiah 66:2 NIV

“Has not My hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “This is the one I esteem; he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.”

Do I Tremble?

I often take going to God’s Word lightly. The God and Maker of the Universe in all its vastness saw fit to write a book for me so that I could get to know Him and I take it lightly.

This is no ordinary book! It is literally the words of God. He told men what to say and they wrote it down, but He inspired and determined every word. How is it that I can approach it with a casual attitude? As I think about this I am ashamed of myself.

Oh God, please help me, help us, to tremble at Your Word! As we open our Bibles, the love letter that You wrote to us, help us, Lord, to tremble… to stand in awe or even fall on our faces. Please help us not to take it lightly.

Let’s go to the verse:

“Has not My hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.

Consider the questions at the beginning of today’s entry. Take a moment and look at your surroundings. Now, look out the window. Let’s consider this for a minute: Everything, absolutely every single thing that you see was made by God or made with things that were made by God. Even the energy used to make the “man-made” things was provided by God. He is truly the source of all we see.

Then

“This is the one I esteem… “

If you have a desire to please God; to bring a smile to His face: to make Him say, “This is the one I esteem… ” get ready!

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

“But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard… “

The next part of the verse:

“…he who is humble… “

When I think of the word humble and what it means, I think of keeping myself in an attitude of complete dependence on God for everything.  We are, whether we will admit it or not, completely dependent on Him for absolutely everything. He controls our next heartbeat and the next breath our lungs draw in. The energy we use to work and/or earn money to buy food and pay rent or a mortgage is from Him. The position I have to go and earn that paycheck and the money used to pay me is from Him. Keeping our complete dependence on Him in mind will keep us humble.

Being humble is also realizing that I do not have all the answers. Actually, I don’t have any answers. The answers are His too. He is God and I am not. A dear pastor friend of mine often said, “You are God, and I am not and I need You again today.”

Recognizing and acknowledging our need for God and our dependence on Him is the key to humility.

The Next Phrase

“…and contrite in spirit… “

The Amplified Bible uses the word broken. Think of a horse that has been broken in training and will now follow the lead of the one who has control of him. Do we allow God to lead and control us like that well-trained horse?

God is holy. The word holy means spiritually perfect, sinless, having no flaw. God is holy.

We are selfish, sinful, flawed people. We desperately need to understand the difference between us and God. Though we were made in His image, the differences are great and obvious.

  • We are made of dust; He is majesty.
  • We are finite; He is infinite.
  • We are flawed; He is flawless.
  • Our righteousness is as filthy rags; His righteousness is completely perfect.
  • Our beauty is superficial and fleeting; His beauty is radiant and everlasting.

An Honest Look

As I take an honest look at myself and I think of God in all His holy perfection, I am in awe and I want to bow my head before Him. How huge is it that this awesome, holy, beautiful, perfect God allows me to be near Him?! It breaks me that He wants me near Him. How can it be possible that He wants selfish, sin-filthy people like us close to Him? I am overwhelmed.

Do I Tremble?

“…and trembles at My word.”

Let’s pray:

Thank You, Lord, for Your word! Oh Lord, may we get a clear perspective on who You are and a clear perspective on who we are. Help us wrap our minds around the huge-ness of You allowing us to know You and even be near You! Please help us to see what an amazing thing it is that You have given us Your Word. Help us, Lord, to tremble at Your Word. Please make us completely Yours. We love You, Lord. In Jesus beautiful name I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 67:1-7

 

 

God Stood Near – Part 2

Think About It

  • Have you ever been up against overwhelming odds?
  • If so, how did you see your way out of the situation?
  • Did God have a hand in your “survival”?
  • Did You acknowledge God’s intervention in it?

Our passage again today is long and ties to yesterday’s entry. I hope you will take time to look back at yesterday’s scripture and read today’s passage carefully too. Note how much Paul, himself, had to do with his survival.

Plot to Kill Paul

Acts 23:12-24 (focusing on 23-24) NIV

The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves to an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot. They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case.We are ready to kill him before he gets here.

But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of the plot, he went into Paul’s barracks and told him.

Then Paul called one  of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.” So he took him to the commander.

The centurion said, “Paul, the prisoner, sent for me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”

The commander took the young man by the hand, drew him aside and asked, “What is it you want to tell me?”

He said, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. Don’t give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request.”

The commander dismissed the young man and cautioned him, “Don’t tell anyone that you have reported this to me.”

Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horseman and two hundred spearman to go to Caesarea at nine tonight. Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”

Against Big Odds

Our last time together, we read about God clearly telling Paul that he would testify in Rome, even though the odds were definitely not looking good.

In what was surely a discouraging time for Paul, the Lord, Himself, stood near Paul and encouraged him. Then, the plot to kill Paul was revealed by his nephew to the commander who was held responsible to Rome for Roman citizens to be protected, so responsible for Paul’s protection. The people who plotted to kill Paul were not fooling around. They had even taken an oath not to eat or drink until they had succeeded.

Odds Reversed

When the commander learned of this plot, he placed a huge army of soldiers around Paul, some 470 men! They were to take him straight to Rome! How’s that for intervention!

Some would say that Paul’s nephew had a hand in Paul’s protection so maybe it wasn’t so miraculous after all. However, if Paul’s nephew had not been where he could overhear the plot, Paul would not have known about it and would not have had any message for the commander. The commander would not have known to stop the ambush. God was totally in it all – Paul’s protection and immediate transport to Rome. This thrills my soul!! God is able to reverse any odds!!!

To the Verse 23:

Then he called two of his centurions and ordered them, “Get ready a detachment of two hundred soldiers, seventy horseman and two hundred spearman to go to Caesarea at nine tonight… “

Now, think back to what God told Paul when He stood near to him. He said that Paul would testify in of Him in Rome. Very close to the same time that God was encouraging Paul, the plot to end Paul’s life and his testimony were being set in place.

Strong and Mighty

Once again, God showed Himself strong! He literally wrapped hundreds of soldiers around Paul to shield him against forty men. Now those odds are laughable! I just love how God sometimes does things BIG!

To the verse 24:

“…Provide mounts for Paul so that he may be taken safely to Governor Felix.”

God is able to make His plan go forth. Sometimes we do not even know how He has intervened such as a canceled trip keeping us from being in a horrible accident. I am sure you have heard stories of ways God spared other people with these kinds of interventions. Other times, He intervenes in big loud ways – like putting an army of 470 between one man and his 40 enemies. He may not always do things the way we want Him to, but He will do them according to His will.

God is so big. And, He holds you and me in the palm of His hand, closes His fingers around us and allows in only the things that will make us more like Jesus. What a mighty, beautiful God we serve!

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, thank You so much for intervening in our lives in big and small ways. I thank You that You can help us hear You when You whisper softly and when You whisper loudly! You overwhelm me with the love that You have for us. I am simply and wonderfully amazed at how You demonstrate it to us and pour it out on us! Be glorified in us, Lord, I pray! In the beautiful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Luke 24:36-49

 

 

God Stood Near – Part 1

He Is Always with Us

Our passage today is much longer than usual. The entire passage is very important for today’s devotion but we will be focusing on verse 11. Please take a few of minutes and read the whole passage carefully, so it makes sense.

More Obvious than Usual

Acts 22:30 and 23:1-11 NIV

The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them. 

Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”

Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’[fn]”
Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Phariseesstood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

The Lord Stood Near

Consider Paul’s circumstances. He is desperately trying to Rome to testify about Christ there but things keep happening to keep him away. As you have just read, he has been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees to defend himself. The Roman military leader is not comfortable with what is happening to this Roman citizen so he is staying close by. When the uproar breaks out, he has Paul removed from the situation to preserve Paul’s life.

The prison cell Paul had come from was probably looking pretty good at that point. It was a lot safer than being in the midst of all those emotionally charged leaders, leaders who wanted him dead.

The Tenderness of the Lord

As we go to the verse I hope you will notice the beautiful tenderness of our wonderful loving sovereign God. He could have just intervened and never told Paul that He was going to, but He stood near Paul and told him that he would go on to Rome.

“The following night the Lord stood near to Paul…”

It is not often that we read that the Lord stood near to someone in the New Testament. He did not send an angel this time. He came Himself. With all that was going on its possible that Paul was getting discouraged and feeling like he really was not ever going to get to Rome.

Have you ever felt like if you could just feel God near you, you would be okay?Just to know, really know that He was with you?

How Tender He Is

He is so tender that at times He allows us to feel this special closeness. He is always with us, but in times of deep distress, He lets us know even more clearly that He is right there. When circumstances scream loudly, His presence can whisper loudly. What an awesome beautiful Lord we have!

“…and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem so you must also testify in Rome.’”

God knows His plan and how to carry it out. Sometimes He quietly carries it out and other times He shows His great might and ultimate control in a big, big way! We will see just how He fulfilled what He said to Paul while He stood near to Him.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You, Lord, for showing us that You do see us in our individual circumstances and You are not ignoring us. I thank You for helping us to see Your tenderness in all Your greatness. Help us to live obedient lives and trust that You are with us and making a way for Your will to go forth. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 4:5-8