Sunday, February 7, 2016

He wept!

"Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer for the vine of Sibmah; I drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh; for over your summer fruit and your harvest the shout has ceased." -- Isaiah 16:9
There are many who refer to the Old Testament writers as "Prophets of Doom". There are also many preachers who have taken the roll as "Prophets of Doom" in the pulpit. They preach with a fiery presentation of God's condemnation of sin and the rebellious. But, one must ask... does God take pleasure in the death of the wicked?
According to this passage, Isaiah was moved to tears as he announced the coming judgment of God. His sorrow was so overwhelming that he spoke of drenching tears. The passage seems to express both the prophet's heart and the Lord's. God chose a man who would proclaim both the message and mind of God as spoken of in Ezekiel 33:11, "... As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live..."
The question is my friend, do you weep over the lost? When you see great rebellion or wickedness in your community or nation and those who persist in sin, are you just angry? Or are you saddened to the point drenching tears? Before we shout words of judgment, we need to join the prophet of old in weeping for the wicked and pray for their salvation. Consider the heart of Jesus as he approached Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-42, "And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!"

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Only One God

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit." -- Isaiah 14:12-15
Have you ever noticed what letter is found in the very center of the word "pride"? Yes, the letter is "I". The concept is rather simple. When the whole world revolves around me and I am the only one that matters in all my hopes and dreams, I am suffering from pride. In this condition I have become the center of the universe and God is pushed aside. The fact is ignored that there is only one God and I am not Him.
The above passage has often been seen in a secondary way to be the story of Satan's fall. Pride has been the culprit for many people, great and not so great, being brought down from power and position. Solomon spoke in wisdom as he wrote in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."  The truth is this: "For from HIM and through HIM and to HIM are all things. To HIM be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36) God alone is the center of the universe.
Why are you ambitious and why do you strive for success my friend? Is it to make certain that others know of your accomplishments and honor you? There is no gain when we seek the glory for ourselves. John the Baptist put it best in John 3:30-31, "He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all..." Remember, there is only one God... and you are not Him.

Friday, February 5, 2016

All we need for the Journey

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." -- Isaiah 12:2-3
A weight lifter is strong... so is a marathon runner. An entertainer can sing... so does a song bird. Each of these comparisons is similar and different. One has strength for the moment and the other for the long run. One has a song for a night and the other continuously. Which do we need for the journey of life?
As we draw water from the wells of salvation, we find a never ending resource. There is a strength that carries us through every mile and a song that wells up every moment. When God is our salvation the heart overflows with abundance. In the Lord we have far more than a moment in time; we have all that we need for the journey of life.
The thought for today is "I will trust and not be afraid". When we have God as our salvation we have all that we need and so much more my friend. So, rather than fear, trust with all your heart and joyfully draw water from the bottomless well of salvation. God alone is the strength and song for the longest journey.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Light in the darkness

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." -- Isaiah 9:2
During my college years I worked for a security company on the third shift. I remember how deep the darkness can be and how much I welcomed the sunrise. Darkness is filled with unknown dangers, evil activities and godless ways that flee from the light. No matter how quiet and restful the night might seem, darkness is no place to live life.
The prophet foretold of a light that would come to those who dwelt in darkness. He used two qualifying terms as he revealed this coming event. The darkness was "deep" and the light was "great". Time may pass ever so slowly, until the darkness of life becomes "deep", but when the Lord finally breaks in, his light is "great". God's light is always greater than our deepest darkness. 
It has been said that it is darkest before the dawn. While this may not be scientifically true, it certainly seems that way when every day seems darker than the day before. But take a word of counsel from the psalmist, "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning." (Psalm 130:5-6) Be patient my friend, for when the Lord pours out his light... it is great.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's Missing?

"To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn." -- Isaiah 8:20
I remember having professors in college that spoke quite well on their subject but when the questions were too experience oriented they were at a loss. One might wonder why the lack of insight. The reason was quite simple; these professors had never worked in the field. They had book knowledge, but they didn't have personal experience.
On this note Isaiah pointed to those who spoke well, yet not according to the word of the Lord. Such persons were providing vision and false hope for a rebellious nation but they didn't have God's light within. They knew how to speak convincingly without the reality of experiencing the Lord. Time has passed, but there are still those who don't speak the truth because they don't have the Light of the Lord.
Every believer needs to remain alert to the possibility of deceivers. Words may sound encouraging and truthful, but are they in line with the Scriptures? When the truth is missing, perhaps the Light is missing as well. John made it clear in 1 John 4:1, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Still on His Throne!

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple." -- Isaiah 6:1 
On November 22, 1963 the youngest elected president of our country was assassinated. This death led many into to a downward spiral of emotion for years. The sudden loss of leadership led to a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. Questions of conspiracy swirled around and national confidence waned. Where do people turn when their world is shaken in such a way?
When we look at this time in the history of Israel, we find a moment in Isaiah's experience that was similar to the death of a president. While his later years of pride led to God's judgment of leprosy, this King had provided the best leadership for Israel since Solomon. Now the nation was suffering from grief and a season of insecurity and vulnerability. Yet, Isaiah found confidence and stability in the one never ending fact... the Lord was still on his throne.
Your world may not be as troubled as a nation that lost a king or a president, but it's bad enough to you. Well, where do you turn when the bottom falls out? Is there any help for the fear and hope for the future? Take a moment and look to the courts of heaven and KNOW that the Lord is still on his throne... therefore, all is well.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The hole in your heart

“Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands." -- Isaiah 5:11-12
Why do people love to party hearty? Some just love to celebrate and have fun, while others try to distance themselves from the struggles of life. There are also those who suffer from a huge emptiness of soul and make every effort to fill the void. The latter group is the most honest about their condition... they have a hole in their heart.
As the people of Isaiah's time drifted farther and farther from God, greater was the emptiness of life. They woke up with emptiness and stayed up late trying to fill the void. Yet, they never came any closer to meeting the need. The real problem was then and is today the same; people "...do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands". As a result, they have a hole in their heart.
Look at your life my friend. How do you spend your free time? Do you move from one social celebration to the next, always looking for another opportunity to "party hearty"? After the dust has settled do you feel better about yourself and more fulfilled? Maybe you're making the wrong choice to make up for the emptiness of your life. Augustine once said, “Lord, you have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” He understood our need best... the only one who can fix and fill the hole in your heart is God.