Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Riches for the Rats

Isaiah 2 - In a way that I can break it down into bite size pieces.

There will come a time in the future (in the last days) when the kingdom of God will be exalted above all other churches, kingdoms, nations and powers. God will reveal Himself. With true wisdom, He will have authority over all nations and He will bring peace. Hearts once filled with hatred and war will be transformed. Be wise and do not reject God's truth. But you (as an individual and a people) have aligned yourself with the unGodly. These men are greedy, they are hoarders, and they have created their own gods to worship. When God decides to deal with this, you are gonna want to hide - and make no mistake - God is going to deal swiftly with this sin. A day of reckoning is ahead. There will be no place you can hide; no place you will be safe; no destination that will put you beyond God's reach.  Man will be put in his proper place and the Lord will be exalted above all. What men value above God and have created as their own personal gods will be tossed aside into darkness with the scavengers (rats and bats, the dirty and disease filled creatures of darkness) on that day. Stop putting your faith in men; they live and then they die but they cannot compare to God.

For Isaiah's original crowd, that long awaited day of the kingdom of God was the arrival of the Messiah. Yet even now the church still waits for the second coming of our Lord, and the day of ultimate judgement. In Isaiah's time, God's people had aligned themselves with an unsavory group and it had a negative affect. That continues to remains a risk for both the modern day Christian and the modern day Church. Greed, hoarding, and idolatry are as prevalent today as they were 4000 years ago.
Think about it. When is there enough money in the bank account? Why do we buy into the lie that we need the nicer house, the newer car, the bigger ring or the better vacation. How about this, every hear these thoughts bouncing around in your brain?  Maybe I can't afford this right now, but I deserve it. Her kids always have on the cutest clothes. Did you see his new techno gadget; I need that too. Well of course we have five cell phones four computers, three televisions, Direct TV in every room, two state of the art gaming systems and one surround sound set up that will nearly make you deaf! Doesn't everybody? If I can just buy myself or my wife, or my man or my kid this special thing or that special thing, then IT will be better. Life will settle down soon and we can get back to the family thing and the church thing...I just need to... land that better job, get that promotion, get in a little bit better shape, finish up this sports season... Any of that sound familiar to you, or is it just me? Greed, hoarding, idolatry - remixed for the 21st century. Still as deadly as ever.

But it's the last verse today that returns again and again to my mind... Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. What good are they?

God help me today. You are my foundation. You never fail. You are faithful. I want you to be my focus. Yours is the only voice that matters Lord. Continue Lord to refine my vision and give me eternal eyes. Amen

Monday, January 27, 2014

Harshness mixed with hope

God's plan for purification. Isaiah 1:21-31 is a short 10 verse passage that clearly states the problem of God's people at this point in history. The verses also reveal in glimpses what God's going to do about it.

See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers. Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine. Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them love bribes and demand payoffs, but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans or fight for the rights of widows. Well, it's pretty clear. God's people are committing spiritual adultery. They are cheating on God with their pagan idols. Righteous living has been replaced with wickedness, their value has been tarnished. God's chosen people have become stagnant and stale; their flavor has been compromised.  The leaders are not honest and have become greedy and unjust men. They no longer seek to promote right relationships between the people, but instead look to better their own personal and financial interests.

 Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes! I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities. Then I will give you good judges again and wise counselors like you used to have. Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice and the Faithful City.” Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness. The people are living contrary to God, and are thus enemies of His kingdom. God's had enough, and He is going to take the time to do some cleaning up and some cleaning out.  This seems harsh at first glance; but in reality it is harshness mixed with hope! Here's the hope...God's not going to destroy, He is going to purify with fire. For those who turn from evil and turn to God, righteousness will be restored.

But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who dessert the Lord with be consumed. You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks. You will blush because you worshiped in gardens dedicated to idols. You will be like a great tree with withered leaves, like a garden without water. The strongest among you will disappear like straw; their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire. They and their evil works will burn up together, and no one will be able to put out the fire.  The unrepentant will be destroyed. Idols and pagan rituals have replaced worship and right relationship with God. Those who turned from God and stubbornly refuse to repent will be embarrassed by the revelation of their folly. The result will be isolation and complete destruction.

So these are my thoughts as I meditate on these scriptures this morning:
     - Does the Church of today run the risk of committing spiritual adultery? What about me personally?
     - Are there things in my personal life that I have let take priority over my relationship with God?
     - As a Christian leader, do I promote right relationships between people?
     - Are their impurities in my life that God needs to refine?
Refine me today God. Burn away all that tarnishes, diminishes and dishonors you. Purify me - that I may reflect you. Amen

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I'm starting off my new year with Isaiah - and it's not going to be a fast read. I need to make time for his words to soak deeply. I need to meditate on them, I will quiet my mind and my soul until all that I hear is my Fathers truth.  The back story to Isaiah is simple. Once again the house of Israel has turned their back on God. It was an individual turn and a corporate turn - disobedience on both a personal and a national scale. It didn't happen by accident, it happen by choice. And Isaiah is the man that will speak hard and unpopular truth.

In the first fifteen verses of chapter one, Isaiah spells it out; you are stubborn, you are ungrateful, you are saturated with sin. It's only because of God's mercy that all of you haven't been burned up and completely destroyed like the evil doers of Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah then goes on to say that sacrifices, prayers and religious rituals are worthless when they are offered up by a people who DO NOT approach God with hearts of repentance and obedience. In fact, those types of offerings aren't about God at all - those are people doing the church thing to look good to other people. It's going through the motions; it's being a pretender. God doesn't like it, in fact God finds that behavior repulsive. But then God delivers these words: "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. 'Come now let us reason together' says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land; BUT if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword."  Isaiah is a long book - almost 100 pages in my Bible, but God doesn't want to save hope for the end of the message; He includes it with the introduction! Make no mistake, God is going to swiftly deal with sin, but there is restoration possible for those who repent. Praise God!

Stop doing wrong  Stop sinning. Don't just feel bad, don't settle for guilt. Repent. Acknowledge the sin, don't deny it. Turn from the sin, don't just talk about not sinning any more. Sin no more.

Learn to do right  It's not enough to just stop sinning. Next I have to choose to learn what God requires of those who love, serve and follow Him.

Seek justice  Take the time to learn what is right and righteous and then then take action.

Encourage the oppressed  Life is hard enough. I should look for practical ways to ease (and not increase) the burdens of those around me. I may even have to make amends for some burdensthat I have placed on others.

Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow  I have a responsibility to the marginalized in my society. I need to speak up and stand up for those who have no strength or voice.

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  God's desire is to purify and redeem - and that is awesome!

 If you are willing and obedient you will eat the best from the land  God doesn't require that I am perfect, He requires that I am willing and that I obey. It's about God - His purpose, His plan, His standard and His will. God blesses and honors obedience.

BUT if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." If I stubbornly cling to my will, my way and my sin - it will ultimately lead to my destruction.

In these verses there are only two choices presented: I can be willing and obedient or I can resist and rebel. A journey of hope or a journey of hopelessness; A path to deliverance or a path to destruction.
It's my choice to make.
It's your choice too.