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Category Archives: 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

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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

 

Isaiah 52:11-12

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 52:11-12

Dear God, I’ve always struggled with getting anything out of the passages from the prophets. It has always felt like if I take a couple of verses like this out of context and try to apply them to my current reality then I am being foolish. But both of my sources for daily scripture (Bible Gateway and “My Utmost for His Highest”) had passages from Isaiah today so I thought I would just talk to you about this concept.

I suppose just about anything I read in the Bible is is set in someone else’s context and not my own, but at least those contexts are usually presented in a smaller package so I can see what similarities there might be between my life and the situation about which I’m reading. But the prophets are usually a little more vague, and include prophecy that you’d have to be a biblical scholar to link to reality. So, whether it’s right or wrong, I’ve usually ignored the prophets to some extent.

I guess I will add that a couple of years ago I heard some good teaching out of Habakkuk at a retreat that, when a scholar opened up the context for me, really had a lot to teach me about a error in my own thinking. Maybe that will be my journal for tomorrow.

Father, help me to be who and what you need me to be today. Love through me. Please take care of my wife and me during our long drive. Ordain my steps and help me to turn loose of my own self-perceived wisdom and submit to your glory and grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah 9:1-7

Dear God, I confess that I have no idea what this government looks like. All I really understand from these seven verses is that Jesus is the child. Other than that, I don’t get it. I don’t understand what it looks like to have the government referred to here. Is it Heaven? Is it some sort of Heaven on Earth? I don’t get it. Apparently, I don’t need to get it either.

Of course, today is Christmas. In my earnest belief, the child referred to here was born at some point (possibly the spring?), grew up poor and having to move around, lived and amazing life, and then put it all on a cross with the sole goal being to reconcile us to you. Of course, all of that would be useless without the resurrection. That’s what gives the sacrifice it’s power.

Father, I don’t understand your plan. Mary and Joseph had no idea what was to come. And I don’t know how all of the things going on in my life will shake out. But I know that this is another day that I need to use to worship you and represent you as well as I can.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Isaiah