Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Royal Diadem

July 31: Isaiah 59-63

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
Isaiah 60:1 & 19-20

1 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Isaiah 62:1-3

A Royal Diadem

The dictionary tells us that a diadem is something that adorns, like a crown. Imagine that, we will be a royal diadem in the hand of God!

The book of Isaiah is filled with warnings against sin, but it also speaks of the glories to come when we will be with Christ forever! In our passage today, Christ is described as our light!

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you
.


We often equate sin with darkness; many people are afraid of the dark, but do you know of anyone who is afraid of the light?

When Christ returns, He will be our light; we will have no more need of the sun to light the day nor the moon to light the night. It is hard to imagine, is it not?

But, Christ is also our Light right now; only in Him do we have knowledge of the light of salvation and righteousness that leads us away from the paths of darkness which only lead to sin and death. I think this is perhaps what Isaiah is speaking of in Isaiah 62.

For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch
.


How brightly does your light shine for the Lord Jesus Christ? How does your life light the way of truth to those around you so that they see Jesus, rather than you, reflected in that light? These are serious questions that are good to ponder.

That brings us right back to where we started--we are a royal diadem for the Lord! As our light shines in the darkness around us, and we reflect the righteousness of Christ, we are part of the His adornment.

Go forth today, and shine your light for Christ!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Come to the Waters

July 30: Isaiah 54-58

1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 55

Come to the Waters

Come to the Waters, . . . seek the Lord while He may be found, . . . for you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace.

Who can promise such a thing, and then deliver it?

How do we spend our money? Do we waste it on vain and foolish things that have no profit for our soul? Christ calls us to come to the waters and buy wine and milk that has no price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food
.


6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts
.


There are no words that I can say that express our potential in a world full of service to Christ better than Isaiah 55:6-9. God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We must totally reverse our ways and our thoughts and cling to Christ who will lead us in the right way, because God's thoughts are higher. God calls us to a higher plane of living totally for Him.

When we confess our sins to Christ, and cry out to Him for salvation, what is the result?

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands
.


Come to the waters! For the Christian, leave the things of the world and serve Christ completely; there is no better life! For the non-Christian, Seek the Lord while He may be found.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Man of Sorrows

July 29: Isaiah 49-53

6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and they who dwell in it will die in like manner;
but my salvation will be forever,
and my righteousness will never be dismayed.

7 “Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear not the reproach of man,
nor be dismayed at their revilings.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment,
and the worm will eat them like wool;
but my righteousness will be forever,
and my salvation to all generations.”
Isaiah 51:6-8

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53

Man of Sorrows

I could not help including all of Isaiah 53 in today's devotional reading, but, even better, take the time to read the entire passage for today: Isaiah 49-53.

Look at the surety of Isaiah 51:6b. But my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. Who, besides our God, could promise such a thing? How can that be? How can He make such a promise? The answer is found in Isaiah 53, where we are introduced to the Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief.

Look at the beauty of the language from the King James Version of Isaiah 53:5-6.

5 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.
6 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
.


When we looked upon the broken body of our Lord, we hid our faces from Him. Yet, He never spoke a word; He knew that His body must be broken for us!

Look at verse 10:

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand
.


His very soul was willingly made an offering for our sins, so that He might bear offspring. Verse 11 continues:

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities
.


Now there is a thought to lay hold of and take with you everywhere you go this day! This Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief chose to lay down His life in payment for the sins of His people. There is no other way to God but through the Lord Jesus Christ!

Go to Him today; cry out to Him for the salvation of your soul which is doomed to hell because of your own sin.

"Man of Sorrows," what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood,
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die,
"It is finished," was His cry,
Now in heaven exalted high,
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew this song we'll sing;
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Philip Bliss, 1838-1876
Amen!

God Bless You,
Linda

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Refuge and Strength

July 28: 2 Kings 18:9-19:37, Psalm 46, Psalm 80 & Psalm 135

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46

Refuge and Strength

As we return to 2 Kings in today's reading we again read of the account of the Assyrian army approaching Judah when Hezekiah was king. The passage is almost a word for word duplicate of the account found in Isaiah 36. Appropriately, the Psalms included with the 2 Kings passage remind us that the Lord, who is our Fortress, endures forever, and calls us to return to Him when we have gone astray.

Just think, Hezekiah may have comforted himself with the words of Psalm 46, which is one of the most well-loved Psalms in the Bible. What a beautiful reminder that God is always with us even in times of trouble. As a matter of fact, even if the earth gave way and the mountains were moved into the heart of the sea, He would be there to keep us safe.

As you contemplate our current world situation with nations raging against nations, just meditate on these words.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns
.


God calls His children to behold Him. We are often quick to run to the Lord with our needs, which is as it should be, but how many times do we just prostrate ourself before God and just listen? How many times do we find a quiet place to just sit and ponder our glorious God?

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress
.


Two times, the Psalmist repeats those last 2 lines in Psalm 46. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Do you believe that? Is the Lord of hosts your refuge and strength in times of trouble?

Christian, this is our God! Pray today that you will live in the comforting knowledge that God, the Lord of hosts is right there beside you every moment of this day.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

No Peace!

July 27: Isaiah 44-48

6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel

and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
Isaiah 44:6-8

12 “Listen to me, O Jacob,
and Israel, whom I called!
I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last.
13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I call to them,
they stand forth together.

17 Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;
19 your offspring would have been like the sand,
and your descendants like its grains;
their name would never be cut off
or destroyed from before me.”

22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
Isaiah 48:12-13, 17-19 & 22

No Peace!

Peace is a popular topic in the news today--peace between countries and ultimately world peace. The only problem is that world peace will never be attained before Christ comes back.

Look at Isaiah 48:18, Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river. Now look at verse 22, “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” There are the two contrasts: peace for the righteous, but no peace for the wicked.

That is a pretty blatant statement to make, but look who is making it.

I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last.
My hand laid the foundation of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I call to them,
they stand forth together
.


Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go
.


Only in Christ do we have true peace; as we rest upon our great Creator who, alone, controls all things, we have complete peace that, as His children, we are always in His care.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

The wicked have no peace, but to the righteous we can sing with the song writer,

"I've got peace like a river in my soul!"

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wings Like Eagles

July 26: Isaiah 40-43

7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.

10 Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for 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 40:7-8, 10-11, 13-14 & 28-31

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3a

Wings Like Eagles

When you go through the Bible chronologically, it is inevitable that you will come across a day like today. How can you isolate a small section from such an overwhelming passage for a devotional study? Take the time and read the entire reading for today; there are no words that I could write that would bless you more!

Who is this God of ours? How much of our day is impacted by our relationship with Christ? Ponder these questions as I include some characteristics of God from Isaiah 40 and 43.

*The word of our God will stand forever.
*He will tend his flock like a shepherd.
*Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel?
*The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
*He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
*He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
*I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

No wonder He can say, They who wait for 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.

Where can you go apart from God? Where can you go outside of His arm of protection?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you
.


This, dear Christian, is your God!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is God's Hand Shortened?

July 25: Isaiah 37-39 & Psalm 76

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Isaiah 37:14-20 & 33-38

Is God's Hand Shortened?

As we look at today's devotional we must backtrack a little to yesterday's reading where our story began. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had just taken the 10 tribes of Israel into captivity and now he had his sights on Judah.

2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer's Field. 3 And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar.”
Isaiah 36:2-7

As we read today's reading we see Hezekiah prostrating himself before God, asking for help; God miraculously answered Hezekiah's prayer by defeating the Assyrian army Himself! Then, in Isaiah 38 we have another miraculous account when Hezekiah prayed and asked the Lord to give him a longer life. God added 15 years to Hezekiah's life and gave Hezekiah a sign by making the shadow on the sun dial go back ten steps.

As we have shared these devotions together, we have read of miracle after miracle performed by God on behalf of His children. Sometimes we overlook their significance because they are found in the Old Testament Scriptures, but we should not do so!

My question for you to ponder this day is, Is God's Hand Shortened in the days in which we now live? Is He still able to perform such miracles today? I would like to encourage you to understand that God works miraculously in your life every single day! His angels take an active part in every moment you live!

. . . for he [the Lord] has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?"
Hebrews 13:5b-6

Pray to God that you will not live this day as those who have no hope.

Is God's Hand Shortened? No, praise God!

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Come to Zion

July 24: Isaiah 35-36

1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
2 it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isaiah 35

Come to Zion

I could not help but include Isaiah 35 in its entirety. Please take the time to read it, as it is one of the most glorious Bible passages for the Christian.

Isaiah is drawing a picture with two meanings. First, Isaiah is picturing the desert of the world without Christ; as people come to Christ their wilderness and dry land blossom. Second, Isaiah is speaking of the time to come when Christ will rule the earth; the eyes of the spiritually blind will be opened, and the ears of those deaf to Christ and His Gospel will be unstopped.

Do you realize that Christians have the only message of true peace and hope? Spread that message to others; use it to, Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. As you study and internalize the Word of God, use it to bring peace to the anxious of heart. There is nothing more sure in all the world than the presence of God, and the truth that He will come and exact perfect judgment on this world, and give complete peace and everlasting joy to His people.

If you do not already know Christ as your own personal Savior, Come to Zion! Fall before Him confessing your great sin against a righteous and holy God, and cling to Christ who paid the penalty for your sins upon the cross of Calvary.

Then, join all Christians from the beginning of time as you read these beautiful words from verse 10.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away
.


That, my fellow believer, is your true destiny!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zion's Treasure

July 23: Isaiah 31-34

17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
Isaiah 31:17-18

5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
6 and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.

13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.

17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
they will see a land that stretches afar.

21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
the Lord is our king; he will save us.
Isaiah 34:5-6, 13-17 & 21-22

Zion's Treasure

The fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure. What an unusual statement to make! What does it mean?

In today's reading Isaiah continues on with his pronouncement of judgment upon the wicked and of eternal righteousness and good for His people. Specifically He is speaking of the judgment to come of the ungodly when Christ returns.

What happens when you give a small child 10 pieces of candy and tell him to eat one each day so that it lasts until you buy the next 10 pieces of candy in 10 days? Most will eat all 10 pieces of candy in one day, and then beg for candy each of the next 9 days until he gets more. We are so like that child!

As Christians, we know that Christ will return, and we know that when He comes He will bring judgment upon the ungodly, but often we do not take our Christian life seriously because Christ's return seems so far away.

Take a moment to reflect, honestly, on what is the greatest treasure you possess, or wish to possess. Now reflect again on the words of Isaiah 34:6b, The fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.

Are we, like the small child, living each day with our eyes focused upon this world and the things we can attain, or are we, instead, focused on eternity to come? The fear of the Lord is the greatest treasure we can possess! Christ is all! There is no greater treasure in all the world. Will you see the King in His beauty when He returns for His people?

21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
the Lord is our king; he will save us
.

Isaiah 34:21-22

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Diadem of Beauty

July 22: Isaiah 28-30

5 In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory,
and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people,
6 and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
Isaiah 28:5-6

13 And the Lord said:“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
14 therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”

15 Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel,
whose deeds are in the dark,
and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
16 You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”?

17 Is it not yet a very little while
until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing
and the scoffer cease,
and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
Isaiah 29:13-21

A Diadem of Beauty

Our Bible passage today begins with the summary and then explains itself in great detail. As with the other prophets, God's justice and judgement are intermingled with His love and grace for His people. It must be so! When we look upon our Savior who is a diadem, or crown, of beauty, we must see both aspects of His perfection.

We tend to think of the wicked as only the "ax murderers" rather than those around us who can be ever so nice. The wicked are all of those who reject God! Look at how they are described in verses 13 & 14 of chapter 29.

. . . this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men
. . .


Now there is a sobering challenge. Remember Christianity is a religion of the heart; outward appearances can be very deceptive. What do you fear most? Do you fear disobedience to the commandments of men, or disobedience to the commandments of God?

The wicked turn to the Potter, their Maker, and say, "You did not make me, therefore You do not see what I do in secret."

God responds by saying, "Therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”


As we look around us we can easily become discouraged with the state of our modern day culture. However, we must pray that God will help us to remember that this is only a temporary state. God will do wonderful things with this people: the "wisdom" of the "wise" will perish and the "discernment" of their "discerning" men will be hidden.

Are they truly wise? Do they really have discernment? We call it "political correctness." What a great definition of the "wisdom" and "discernment" of this age! When man leaves off obedience of the commandments of God, he of necessity must make his own commandments to avoid total chaos in the land. Think of the freedom in that! Murder can be legalized, adultery can be overlooked, and the criminal is protected while the victim sees no justice. It all becomes very simple once man asserts that he was not created by God, but rather just evolved from a "big bang."

So, where is the grace of God? Look at Isaiah 29.

17 Is it not yet a very little while
until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing
and the scoffer cease,
and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender,
and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate,
and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right
.


He who has eyes to see, let him see!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Upright Walk

July 21: Hosea 8-14

1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4 I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.

5 They shall not return to the land of Egypt,
but Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
6 The sword shall rage against their cities,
consume the bars of their gates,
and devour them because of their own counsels.
7 My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.
Hosea 11:1-7

4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.

9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
Hosea 14:4-6 & 9

The Upright Walk

The picture that Hosea paints in chapter 11 is one with which we can easily identify. When Israel was yet but a child, God led them out of Egypt, taught them to walk, and led them with cords of kindness. As they continually rebelled against them, He continued to call them to repentance. But, now the time has come when He will call them no more.

Hosea, the last Israelite prophet before they were taken into exile, prophesies that God will not allow them to return to Egypt, but will rather give them into the hands of the Assyrians.

Is that the end of the story for Israel?

No, it is not! As we skip down to the last chapter of Hosea, we again see the great love that God has for His people.

I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them
.

I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon
.


What about Christians today who are not Jewish; what is our relationship to God? We are told in the Bible that gentile Christians have been grafted into the family of God; we are able to come in as adopted children of God. How amazing is that?

Just like as with Israel, God is long suffering, but we must take care not to allow His long suffering nature to overshadow us so that we become complacent in our Christian walk.

Hosea ends with a challenge to all of mankind.

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them
.


The upright walk, but the transgressors stumble! Which one are you?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Defying God

July 20: Hosea 1-7


2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
Hosea 1:2

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.


16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
Hosea 2:14-20

1 Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel,
for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land;
2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field
and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.
Hosea 4:1-3

1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:1-3

Defying God

Often times God used the prophets as living examples of the message He was sending to the people. This is the case with Hosea. God commanded Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife to illustrate the adultery of the nations of Israel and Judah, which prostituted themselves before the Baals of the land. As we continue through this book, we find that Hosea's prostitute wife was with him at times, but she also left him and continued her prostitution.

It is hard for us to picture God using a prophet to graphically display the Israelites' prostitution to them. But, Hosea is also used by God to show his incredible love for His people by having Hosea take her back and love her even after she had left him.

Just as in our day, we are constantly reminded of God's justice, but also His mercy, so we see this displayed in the book of Hosea.

18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
Hosea 2:18-20

Even while Israel was sinning against God, He promised His faithful rescue of His people.

Hosea 6:1-3 again proclaims God's mercy to His people.

1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Does anything sound familiar to you in this passage? Look at verse 2:

2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him
.

We might have missed that prophecy of Christ's death and resurrection, but it surely must have come to mind to the religious leaders of Christ's day after His resurrection. Israelite children were schooled in the Old Testament Scriptures from the time they were quite young, so they would have been familiar with this prophecy from Hosea.

God has chosen to weave prophecy throughout the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament, so unless one puts them together, we can easily miss their significance.

Today, we live in a time when that prophecy was fulfilled almost 2000 years ago, and yet we still find that most of the world rejects Jesus Christ as the only Savior, as well as our only link to God the Father.

Pray today, that you will not find yourself defying God! It was a long time between Hosea's prophecy and its fulfillment, and then an even longer time until now. Just as that prophecy was fulfilled, so will every other Biblical prophecy be fulfilled.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good King Hezekiah

July 19: 2 Kings 18:1-8, 2 Chronicles 29-31 & Psalm 48

1 Hezekiah began to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. . . . 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.

3 In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. 4 He brought in the priests and the Levites and assembled them in the square on the east 5 and said to them, “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.

15 They gathered their brothers and consecrated themselves and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord. 16 The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron. 17 They began to consecrate on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the Lord. Then for eight days they consecrated the house of the Lord, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.
2 Chronicles 29:1a, 2-5 & 15-17

1 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel.

10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 30:1 & 10-11

20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.
2 Chronicles 31:20-21

Good King Hezekiah

What a breath of fresh air King Hezekiah must have been to the people; Israel had already been taken into captivity, and because of their sin, Judah was soon to follow. As the new king, one of the first things that Hezekiah did was to order the cleansing of the temple.

Even with all of the men working on the project, it still took 16 days to complete the cleaning, and then the consecration of the temple. Finally, the stage was set for the keeping of the Passover.

Even those who remained in the land of Israel, following their captivity by Assyria, were invited to join in the Passover Feast. Though most laughed them to scorn, some did come from the tribes of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun.

The people were so overjoyed that Hezekiah extended the Passover another seven days!

Truly Hezekiah was a remarkable king; unlike so many before him, he did not fall away from the Lord in the latter days of his reign. Psalm 48 ends with the following words,

. . . this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever.

Can you speak these words in honesty? Even in the midst of times of great judgment, God did not forsake His people.

In the same way, God will not ever forsake His true children today; He alone is worthy to be praised!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, July 18, 2008

Perfect Peace

July 18: Isaiah 23-27

1 O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place.

6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:1, 4-5a & 6-9

1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
2 Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
3 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Isaiah 26:1-4

Perfect Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3, King James Version

Some verses simply cannot be stated more beautifully than in the King James Version of the Bible. That is certainly true of Isaiah 26:3. This verse falls right in the middle of a wonderful Bible passage recounting the glories of the Lord and all that He has done for His people.

Isaiah has just proclaimed oracles of judgment against Tyre and Sidon, and then the whole earth before he goes into a long treatise explaining that God has conquered death forever. Think about that! In reality, God has already conquered death--we just have not yet reached the time when all of these things will come to pass.

Read through the Bible passages above; what a wonderful acclamation to the Lord our God. All of the evil which surrounds us, and all those who refuse to follow God will be removed forever. Christians throughout the whole earth will be able to say,

“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”


As we wait patiently for that time to come, think through Isaiah 26:3 again.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. KJV

In the middle of wars and rumors of wars and nations rising against nations, pray that God will grant you perfect peace which comes from casting yourself before Him forever.

Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock
.
Isaiah 26:4

God Bless You,
Linda

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.