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Category Archives: Isaiah

Isaiah 10:33-11:10

But look! The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought down. He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One. [Chapter 11] Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment. In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
Isaiah 10:33-11:10

Dear God, the passage for today was the first 10 verses of chapter 11, but I thought the last couple of verses of chapter 10 were important because they reference how the stump in 11:1 came to be. You had cut down the tree of Assyria. Out of that destruction, after that time of suffering under Assyria, you brought Jesus. Of course, as it turned out, Jesus came while Rome was in charge. But he still brought an entirely new covenant. He brought healing. He brought forgiveness. He brought peace. I could go in depth on the metaphor. The new Branch. The old root.

The people who first heard and read this didn’t have any idea what it meant. They had no idea how this would all work out. They didn’t know where, when, or who. All they knew was that there was hope.

For me, I have seen some frustrating things unfold in my life. I’ve been discouraged at times. But you are teaching me that you are doing things I cannot see. You are giving me hope. I don’t have to know where, when, or who? I don’t have to know how. But you have spoken to my heart and assured me that there is hope. My job is to put my trust in you, worship you, love you, and love my neighbors.

Father, thank you. Thank you for hope. Thank you for peace. Thank you for justice. Thank you for encouraging humility. Thank you for opportunities to love others and serve you. Thank you for everything you’re doing that I can and cannot see. Thank you for what you have done and what you will do. Thank you that you care at all. You don’t have to.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 1:10-20

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Isaiah 1:10-20

Dear God, this passage from Isaiah reminds me of a conversation I had at lunch yesterday. A friend is the president of a homeowners association and he inherited a situation where a lot of the restrictions have been allowed to slide for a while. Now, people are angry with their neighbors about violations of the covenants that everyone signed when they purchased their property, and those who are violating are angry that the association is enforcing the codes. This is what he walked into. So now he is trying to bring things into line/up to code, and trying to figure out how to get everyone back into harmony.

His first step is what reminds me of this passage. He told me that he sent out a letter a month or two ago that basically encouraged everyone to be respectful and kind to their neighbors. Yes, there is the letter of the law, but there is also the spirit of the law, and a lot of people are ignoring that too. Let’s start with kindness. While he was talking, I thought of the greatest two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Isaiah is telling the Israelites in this passage that it’s time for them to stop depending on all of their little rituals and ceremonies to save them and simply come back into relationship with you. “Come now, let’s settle this.” I love that line. It’s almost like you’re saying, let’s get back to what this was supposed to be. Our relationship is supposed to be loving and fun. It is supposed to be good and delightful. And all you have to do is do what you know is right and not do what you know is wrong.

Father, help me to not lose the spirit of the law in all of my theology. Help me to remember that this is about having the opportunity to be in communion with the most amazing “existence” in the universe. You are it. You are all. You are my all in all. As I go through this day, help me to look beyond the ceremony and simply look into your eyes.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2019 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 46:3-7

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.”
Isaiah 46:3-7

Dear God, what are my other gods? What earthly things have I taken and turned them into things I worship?

Probably the first thing that I most often put before you is me. It starts with my ego/insecurity and doing things to please others. Frankly, a lot of it starts with that because when I’m putting my wife or children before you it’s usually, ultimately, to get something out of it for me. However, if I am serving them out of my worship of you then it’s altogether different and they can feel the difference.

Father, I do worship you. You are my god and I am your servant. Direct me and lead me. Help me to rest in your arms.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2019 in Isaiah

 

Isaiah 48:17-18

This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.
Isaiah 48:17-18

Dear God, I think that sometimes we get confused by your pattern. On the one hand, passages like this tell us that if we obey you then things will be okay, but then stories about people like Job or Paul indicate that we shouldn’t focus on our own circumstances, but simply follow you. Maybe there’s a difference between whether people as a group/nation follow you vs and individual? I don’t know. But it seems to be pretty inconsistent.

I wonder what it would be like if it really worked that way–that you rewarded us as individuals for our performance and punished us for unfaithfulness. What if all of those who were rich were rich commensurate with their goodness and all of the poor were poor commensurate with their evil deeds? When I put it like that, it sounds like a terrible idea. It’s a little like what I was talking about regarding how you gave the Bible to us. What would have been better? Any other way would probably have been a terrible idea.

But what about as a country? Are the rules different for large groups of people than they are for individuals? If a country is lead by people who love, worship, and pursue you and then filled with people who love, worship and pursue you, then will that country experience your favor? It’s hard for me to thoroughly think through it just sitting here, but I can see where the rules would be different for larger groups of people than they are for the individual.

But I suppose at the end of the day, it is all about serving your larger purpose. Maybe, just maybe, you needed to use the 400 years of Israelite slavery to grow them in the incubator of Egypt. It’s horrible to think that millions of people had to live and die in slavery for that, but maybe. And maybe the early church had to be persecuted to get them out of Jerusalem and into the world. Maybe Stephen had to die a martyr for your plan to work.

Father, the truth is, my job isn’t to figure all of that out. My job is to remember you and everything you are. My role is to worship you, ask how you would like to use my life, and then yield to your plan. Whether or not I experience the peace Isaiah describes here is more contingent on the attitude of my heart than it is the circumstance of my life.

I pray all of this by the power of Jesus’s name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2019 in Isaiah

 

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Isaiah 26:1-3

In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation. Open the gates to all who are righteous; allow the faithful to enter. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Isaiah 26:1-3

Dear God, the verse of the day was verse 3 (You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!), and I really liked that. I picked up verse 1 and 2 just so we could have some context, but it’s verse 3 that’s on my heart this morning.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve said this to others, or even to you, but of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, “peace” is my litmus test. I can fake love, joy, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness and self control, but the peace I experience comes from you. It’s different for my wife. She has told me that “joy” is hers. She can’t fake joy. But for me, it’s “peace.”

Where does my peace come from? One of the things that brings me peace is a clear conscience, and the only way I can experience a clear conscience is through repenting to you and receiving your grace. Then there is a peace that comes from just spending time with you. Even having typed out this prayer this morning will start my day in a peaceful way. Finally, there is just the peace that you minister to me as I fix my thoughts on you. To quote the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” “The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of your glory and grace.” Yes, indeed, the more I turn my eyes upon you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, the more the things of earth grow strangely dim and peace overcomes me.

Father, help me to turn my eyes upon you today. Be glorified through me. Help those I love, especially my wife, children, and extended family, to turn their eyes upon you as well. Give all of us peace, freedom, love, joy, faithfulness, gentleness patience, kindness and self control. And help us to share that with others for your glory’s sake.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Isaiah

 

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He Has Borne Our Griefs — Isaiah 53:1-6

IMG_1692
The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image was created by Ned Bustard and is called “En Agonie (after Rouault).”

Isaiah 53:1-6 [NLT]

1 Who has believed our message?
    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

Dear God, in so many ways I feel like a failure. I normally write these at the beginning of each day, but I ran out of time this morning and I was having trouble finding a scripture upon which to meditate, so I just went to work. Then something happened this afternoon that has caused me a lot of sorrow and even some fear. My tendency is to try to push through this pain and solve my problems in my own wisdom. But there is no peace in that. There is usually only foolishness.

So I sat down and opened up my new favorite book to find a Bible story and see what I can learn from how an artist has interpreted this passage. The passage itself is familiar to evangelical Christians, especially charismatic ones. The last part of verse 5 is often translated, “by his stripes we were healed,” and a lot of people praying for healing will quote this passage, although I personally believe they are using it out of context.

Anyway, the part of this passage that struck me this evening was verse 4: “Yet is was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!”

I had someone give me a compliment tonight that I absolutely felt like I did not deserve. He complimented what I consider to be a weakness, and I think if he knew me better he wouldn’t have complimented me at all. In fact, I told him as much. But it was that weakness that Jesus carried too. It was this sorrow I feel tonight that He carried as well. It wasn’t His sin. He had no sin. No, it was all about me and all of us.

Now, I want to turn my attention to the image that Ned Bustard did for this passage. It took me a while to see it, but it’s Jesus on the cross, from the waist up–or maybe just below the waist. It’s rough. Jesus arms are up on the cross, but his head is down. If He is not yet dead, he will be soon. His arm and pectorals are represented as being straight and stretched. There is a small horizontal cross in the middle of His chest. Is that intentional? His abdomen is done in circles as are his nipples. And I think His nakedness is showing. How often we forget that there was no loin cloth for modesty. Our God was hung naked for this sorrow. For my wickedness.

Father, this is the cross at which I am supposed to lay my burdens. This is the cross that is there to hold my sorrows and fears. I’ve been talking to people about how much you did for us last year, and how providential your timing was in some of our needs. Do I believe you can do that again? Am I prepared to seek you as much now as I did then? Well, it starts now. I give you this pain. I pray also for the others involved who are also in pain. Help them. I give you my fear. I pray also for the others involved who are fearful. I give you my worship. I pray that the others involved will worship you as well.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

 

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Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Dear God, I read a letter to the editor this morning that bemoaned how our society has gotten away from you. It talked about the immorality that we see around us and the listed the things he feels are immoral. While I agree with some of them and those issues concern me as well, if he was trying to open a door to anyone who might disagree with him and build a bridge for them to see his view he missed the opportunity.

One of my favorite political columnists has said that Christians have this wonderful message of hope, love, freedom, forgiveness, and peace to share, but over the last generation we seem to be more concerned with what people do in their bedrooms than offering them a relationship with you.

I say all of this because the strength mentioned in this passage is available to all of us. The freedom. The joy. Everything that comes from the simple act of submitting to you, repenting, receiving grace, and then pursuing relationship with you offers all of this. So I don’t have to shame someone for this behavior or that behavior. That’s a terrible sales technique.

Father, help me to take advantage of opportunities to do what Chris Pratt did this week. We are not perfect. But you are the being who created us that way and you offer grace that was paid for with someone else’s blood. You want relationship and in exchange you offer love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self control.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in Isaiah