Monday, February 29, 2016

The Outcasts

““And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”" -- Isaiah 56:6-8 
Our church is a little slice of heaven. We have believers of 14 language groups from all around the world. I can't imagine what it would be like if the doors were only opened to a select few. The Lord gathers from every nation a people who will love and serve him.
In the kingdom of God there will always be a place for "foreigners". In a real sense we are all "outcasts" until we have been redeemed. But, the Lord is in the business of gathering a people to his altar for joyful prayer and ministry.
When it comes to the Lord my friend, you are always welcome. He has made a place for you.  So never feel unwanted or like an "outcast", just come to Lord in prayer and know that he accepts you with a loving heart.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

His Hidden Face

“In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer... For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you." -- Isaiah 54:8, 10
Have you ever experienced the silence of the Lord? Whether it's a time of correction or trial, when the Lord is quiet we all struggle with questions. We may wonder if His love has waned or if we have been cast aside because of some failure. But, the Lord's hidden face never means absent love.
Always keep the everlasting love of God in the center of your heart my friend. His silence will only be for a moment, but his compassion and steadfast love will outlast the mountains and hills. We are eternally embraced by the LORD, our Redeemer and he will never depart nor remove his loving peace from his children. Remember, the Lord's hidden face never means absent love.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Good News!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”” – Isaiah 52:7
News is still all important in a day of technological progress. The means of communication may be advanced, but bringing news to people is still of utmost significance. In most cases the focus remains the same; "Read all about it"... bad news on the front page. But every now and then good news takes center stage and brings joy to the heart.
As today, so were the days of Isaiah. Most news was bad or sad news, with the onslaught of enemies and God's judgment approaching. Serving as a prophet was often a very discouraging job to fill, but every now and then good news took the center stage and brought joy to the heart. What was that news? The Messiah was coming!!
Are you inundated with bad and sad news? Do you find nothing but dark clouds reported in the news and discussed over coffee? Well, there is good news to take your center stage and bring you joy. His name is Jesus and he has come to give peace and happiness to whoever will turn to him. Now that's good news for any and every day, and beautiful are the feet of anyone who will spread the story. Will that someone be you?

Friday, February 26, 2016

His Care Forever

“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… I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass” – Isaiah 51:6, 12
Most of us have known class bullies who brought fear to the hearts of other students. But as the years passed, so have such tyrants. In the same way we have known international dictators that brought devastation to their world for many years, but they too are long gone. Abusive and powerful people, like grass, also dry up and blow away.
In the days of Isaiah there were nations and leaders that brought fear to the heart. But, as time passed they slipped away into the pages of history. The Lord spoke of such transience and reminded his people of the One who comforts them in the midst of trials. Abusive people pass away, but the Lord’s salvation will be forever.
Are you troubled by someone who is making your life miserable my friend? Do they wield such power that fear overwhelms you? Take a moment and consider the fact that all men are like grass that dies. But, the Lord is your comforter and his care for you is forever.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

God's Guidelines

“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. 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;” – Isaiah 48:17-18
In earlier years I worked in retail sales. I was led to believe that there was great profit to be had in sales commission. I quickly discovered that while this was true, the monetary gain required an incredible amount of time and work. To receive a large paycheck, there were sales guidelines that I needed to follow.
In many ways spiritual profit of peace and righteousness is no different than tangible profit. Israel had been given commandments to follow, with instructions from the Lord. Walking in line with God’s revealed will would require an incredible amount of time and work. But to receive lasting spiritual benefits, these Biblical guidelines needed to be followed.
We are saved by the grace of God my friend, and nothing can ever change this fact. But, to have the benefits of peace and righteousness requires a commitment of paying attention to the revealed will of God. When you read the Scriptures do you look for ways to practice what you learn? To have peace like a river requires a life that follows God’s guidelines.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

He will Carry You

“Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. ‘ – Isaiah 46:3-4
I remember carrying my two boys around when they were little guys. Then the years passed and I carried my parents around, and the day came when my wife and I carried her parents around. One day our boys will carry us around. Over the years, we all need someone to carry us, from birth to old age. 
The Lord reminded his people that no matter how stressful the days were or would be, he would be there to carry them through. He was there when they were young and he will be there even to their old age, to gray hairs he would carry them. While others may abandon them in heat of battle, the LORD himself would faithfully carry them.
I will never forget looking down into the eyes of my little son, his arms lifted up, waiting for me to carry him. Have you ever needed the mighty arms of God to lift you up and carry you? Do you wonder if he will be there when your strong muscles weaken and the gray hairs take over? Remember... he carried you before birth and he will be there even to your old age. And one day he will come and will carry you to himself, that where he is you may be also. (John 14:3)     


One night I had a dream--
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord
and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints,
one belonged to me and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life.
This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you would walk with me all the way,
but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life
there is only one set of footprints.
"I don't understand why in times when I needed you most,
you should leave me."
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never, never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you

...Mary Stevenson

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Always the Same

“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... 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
In a day of medical specialists one tends to forget the old days of the General Practitioner that was fully equipped for every need. There was always something comforting in the fact that your family Doctor knew you well and had the necessary skills to fix whatever ailed you. Oh, for the day when you would go to one physician for every condition.
In Isaiah's day and ours as well, there is only one true God and he is sufficient for every need that we could ever have. Think of the two verses mentioned... they speak of our LORD, King, Redeemer, LORD of Hosts, "first and last", God and Rock. He is our God and he alone is the eternal General Practitioner. There is no other specialist, for the LORD is our one physician for every condition.
With the LORD life can be quite easy and most comforting my friend! You have a God who is all that you need and more. He knows you better than anyone and is more than sufficient for your personal condition. There is no need to ever be afraid, because "from of old", He is "the same yesterday, today and forever". (Hebrews 13:8) Turn to him and be saved! (Isaiah 45:22)

Monday, February 22, 2016

You'll never walk alone

“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.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” – Isaiah 43:2-3 
I was lying in the leaves and brush with a severely broken ankle. My motorcycle was a wreck and I wondered if my riding buddy would find me. Eventually I heard his bike approaching and in a short while I was in a hospital bed with a brand new cast. It's never wise to ride alone.
The Lord spoke softly and kindly to his people Israel in these verses. He had formed and named her and she was his. Therefore, the Lord would be with her through the waters and the fire. His protective hand would always be there because he loved her (verse 4). Israel would never walk alone.
When you trusted the Lord as your Savior my friend, you came to the One could formed you and loves you... you are His. Therefore, he will be with you wherever you go, as he says in Hebrews 13:5, “... I will never leave you nor forsake you.” No matter how high the water rises, he will keep you safe, no matter how hot the flames may be, he will protect you. With Jesus, you'll never walk alone.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” – Isaiah 42:1-3
When I was young there was large oak tree in our yard. My friends and I had so much fun climbing all over this big guy. We added a rope swing to one of the larger branches and flew as high as we could. The old oak took a beating and is probably still standing to this day. On the other hand, I came to understand that our garden plants don't fare as well with rough treatment. Some of God's creation requires gentleness.
Isaiah has recorded an introduction of the Messiah Jesus in this passage. He is the one filled with the Spirit and in whom there is much delight. This Servant Savior came to bring justice to all the nations, but he came to people with gentleness. He does not cry aloud or lift up his voice. He never breaks a bruised reed or quenches a faintly burning wick. He said in Matthew 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Jesus knows that troubled souls require gentleness.
Do you experience load crying and harsh voices at your work or in your home my friend? Do you feel emotionally battered and beaten down? Well, God never intended for you to be climbed on or to carry the weight of the world. David reminds us that, "... He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14) But, the Lord says, "For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you."" (Isaiah 41:13) We have a Savior who knows that we require gentleness.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?” – Isaiah 40:26-27
Ford motors sells a Super Duty pick-up truck that has a 6.7-litre Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel in the F-Series that's rated at a best-in-class 860 lb-ft of torque.  What a powerful vehicle to own, but with all that torque do you think it is capable of transporting the weekly groceries? Duh!
As you think about the above concept consider the passage at hand. God created and sustains the complexity of all the heavens. Through the greatness of his power each star exists, is named, and not one is missing. We read of a God with incredible strength, but Israel felt hidden and disregarded by the Lord. How could they believe this about such a great Creator?
We need to see the Lord's work from greater to smaller. If he is sufficient for the immensity of all creation as well as the great work of our redemption then he can do the little things too. Paul put it this way in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? So, since the Lord holds the very universe in his hand, do you think he can care for that pressing need in your life? Duh!

Friday, February 19, 2016


"The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord. Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?" -- Isaiah 38:20-22
There's the surgeon and there's the physical therapist. When a patient needs the special treatment of surgery the physician is the first one from whom they receive care. After the internal work is completed and the healing begins, the physical therapist takes over. With such teamwork the patient experiences quality recovery.
While we understand that there is no recovery without the surgery first, Hezekiah had no hope for healing without the Great Physician's healing touch. But, along with God's intervention came the word of Isaiah, "Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover". The mighty God of the universe chose medicine to be a part of quality recovery.
When you turn to the Lord for the needs in life, are you willing to use the resources that he provides? There is only one Great Physician, but he has chosen the medical community to be part of his work. Are you wise enough to seek the Lord first and accept medical care as from God, my friend? Those who do are blessed with quality recovery.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Turn to the Lord

"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. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:" -- Isaiah 37:14-15
When times of trouble come we seek help. Most people seek the counsel of physicians, lawyers and therapists. Whatever the trauma may be, we call on the specialist in that field. Sometimes their insight and recommendations are just what we need and sometimes not. When all else fails many people finally turn to the Lord.
Hezekiah will always stand in the pages of Biblical history as a man who had his priorities in order. He could have gone to wise leaders, prophets or elder statesmen, but his first choice was to go up to the house of the Lord. He took the troubling letter and "spread it before the Lord". Hezekiah sought the face of God for wisdom and deliverance. He knew that before all else is considered he must turn to the Lord.
What are your priorities, in the face of trouble my friend? Do you have a list of specialists to call when stormy moments arrive? Or have you made it a practice to seek the face of God at the very first sign of threatening news? Put your priorities in order and before all else is considered, turn to the Lord.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Streams in the desert

"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; 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 Lordthe majesty of our God... For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;" -- Isaiah 35:1-2, 6
While I'm not in a desert right now, I sure do look forward to the spring blossoms. And then the battle of watering the flowers and plants will begin. When the heat of the summer settles in, our garden and lawn often looks just like a desert. But, now and then we get a perfect summer rain that brings everything back to life. As my sweetheart of a wife says... "No one can water like God!"
If we step back with Isaiah and look down the prophetic valley we will see that in God's time the desert of this sinful world will one day blossom with beauty. The wilderness and dry land shall be glad with abundant blossoms and joyful singing. Only the Lord can bring life out of nothing and joy out sorrow. The promise was given to provide hope in dark days for Israel. After all, "No one can water like God!"
Has your life ever felt dry and parched my friend? Have you tried every resource available to water your soul, only to find a lingering thirst? Be encouraged in this truth, our God is the one who brings blossoms out of the dry ground and streams in the desert. Turn to the Lord and find a fresh summer rain and a great river of joy because... "No one can water like God!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Well founded Hope

"O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble." -- Isaiah 33:2
No matter how troubling a day may be, tomorrow always holds the promise of a better experience. But will the next day really be better than the one before? Many people approach each new day as the gambler does the casino. They hope for a better roll of the dice, turn of the wheel or deal of the cards. Their hope is unfounded.
In the midst of national threat and divine judgment a remnant of God's people faced each new day with hope. They prayed for God's grace, his arm of strength and his salvation in the time of trouble. The request was for the Lord's protective provision "every morning". Their hope was well founded.
Don't gamble your days away my friend. There is no hope in the "roll of the dice" or the singing of "The sun will come out tomorrow". The only dependable hope is in waiting for the Lord to "be our arm every morning". This is hope well founded indeed!

Monday, February 15, 2016

"Who" are you?

"But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands." -- Isaiah 32:8
Does a person who is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor plan to achieve the honor? Or does it come as a result of what they chose to do at a critical moment? Still further, isn't such recognition given to someone who is essentially honorable? It's all about "who" we are, not just "what" we do.
After a list of unworthy people are listed, Isaiah mentions that "someone" who is noble. They make noble plans and stand on noble things. The reason for such plans and standing is rooted in the quality of godly character. They do noble things because they are essentially noble. It's all about "who" they are, not just "what" they do.
Are you noble my friend? Those who make noble plans and stand on noble things are those who have noble hearts from the Lord. Luke writes about such people in Acts 17:11, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." It's all about "who" you are, not just "what" you do.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Be still...

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling," -- Isaiah 30:15
I had my first knee surgery a few years ago. Afterward I was determined to get going right away. I attended rehab with high expectations and I pushed myself to get back to normal. But, when things didn't go so well, I came to realize that healing would take time and I would need to rest in the care of the Lord and allow his hand and time to take a restoring course. I needed to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
As Israel fought the challenges that were surrounding her, as she fought the chastening hand of God as well, she pushed herself with the help of everyone but the Lord. She chose to run, run, run and seek shelter with those who needed shelter themselves. In the midst of the turmoil, the Lord prescribed the cure for the sinful and stubborn heart. “In returning and rest you shall be saved". They needed to be still and know that He is God.
Are you working and driving yourself, seeking to overcome the pain, heartaches or struggles of life my friend? Just as our salvation comes from returning to and resting in Jesus, our strength comes from quietness and trust in Him. Stop running... and be still. Know that He is God, then be at rest and be restored.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Draw near with your heart

"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, 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.” -- Isaiah 29:13-14
We are often offended when politicians and executives speak with such concern for the common man, but then have no heart for him in their decisions and actions. They are such a heartache to those who serve under their leadership because they are just self seeking and really don't care about others. As a result days come and go without wonderful things taking place.
In turn, the Lord looked to Israel for sincerity of heart. He expected more than actions that came from repeated rote without devotion of life. Their hearts were far from God and they dealt with life in their own wisdom. But the day would come when the Lord would "destroy the wisdom of the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:19) and do wonderful things for those devoted to him.
As years and generations passed, Jesus found the same condition as he quoted this passage in Matthew 15:8-9. The people of his day were more interested in man-made rules than the heart of God. As a result they lost everything that they counted valuable. Be careful my friend to choose wisely for “... no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”. Love comes from a heart near, not far.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Calming the Journey

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." -- Isaiah 26:3-4
Gyroscopes are used in ship stabilizers to counteract rolling. They also provide the means for aircraft navigation systems to measure how they have rotated and determine what direction they are pointing. While unseen, they make all the difference for stability and direction. They are the hidden source that calms the journey.
Like an unseen gyroscope, our mind can bring stability and direction in every circumstance in life. Isaiah reveals the only way such peace can be realized though. When the mind is stayed on the Lord through absolute trust, we are protected from unsettled and misdirected living. The mind that trusts the LORD God as the everlasting rock is the hidden source that calms the journey.
When the wind and waves of life bring unexpected turbulence how do you handle it my friend? Are you thrown off course and robbed of your peace? It's all a matter of trust, and where your mind is centered. Take this word of counsel and stay your mind on the LORD and you will have stability and direction. Only then will you have the hidden gyroscope that calms the journey.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Our Hiding Place

"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, like heat in a dry place." -- Isaiah 25:4-5
For most kids with a healthy family there is no fear of being hungry, homeless or harassed by the school bully. They learn early on that their parents and siblings will always be there for them when the going gets tough. No matter what life may throw at them, they have a hiding place.
As the enemy presses in upon God's people, and the fortified city becomes a ruin, Isaiah sees the Lord as a stronghold. For the righteous of Isaiah's day and time yet to come, there is always a stronghold for the poor and the needy. There will always be a shelter from the storms of hardship and a shade from the heat of persecution. Our Heavenly Father will always protect and provide for his children. He is our hiding place.
Where do you go when the world presses in my friend? Do you have a place to run when there seems to be no place to turn? Well, Isaiah has a word of encouragement for you today. You have a Father who cares for you in every circumstance and He is your stronghold, shelter and shade. Consider what David said of the Lord in Psalm 32:7, "You are a hiding place for me: you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah" 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From whence you came

"You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago." -- Isaiah 22:11
Every generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one. Wisdom and wealth is passed down and received as a resource to carve out a new day. It is far too easy to forget our roots and those who contributed to our success. But this selfish lifestyle has permeated our times with no consideration of the past. We need to remember from whence we came.
Time has done little to change the outlook of mankind. As Jerusalem faced the approaching enemy, she worked diligently to fortify her walls and make reservoirs for dark days ahead. Yet, with all that this people had to draw from, they failed to consider the Source. How easy it was to use the abilities and provisions which had come from God, and yet forget their maker. They failed to consider from whence they came.
When you woke up this morning and walked across the floor to brush your teeth, did you consider the One who gave you legs? Or when you watched the wind blow across the snow covered field yesterday, did you consider the One who gave you eyes? When you finished your work last night and looked back over the day, did you consider the One in whom you live and move and have your being? (Acts 17:28) Remember from whence you came my friend... "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16) 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Misplaced Trust

"Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?'" -- Isaiah 20:5-6
During the last few years there have been a great many dismayed people who lost everything in an economic fallout. They had placed all their financial hope in certain investments only to suffer incredible loss instead of promising gain. Retirement plans were gone and many families went from being wealthy to homeless. Hope and stability in life is all about who you trust.
Judah suffered in a far greater way when she looked to Cush and Egypt for help against the attacks of Assyria. This was a great power struggle that involved military prowess and strategic alliances. Judah had taken her eyes off the Lord and looked to man-made armies to be her deliverance in the time of need. But when that time came, those countries failed as a result of their own defeat. All hope and stability was gone because of misplaced trust.
Where do you look for help in times of need my friend? Whether you are building a financial future, a business endeavor or family dreams, who is your first and foremost resource? Take a lesson from the recession... hope and stability is all about who you trust. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Relationship

"In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense." -- Isaiah 17:7-8
A vast number of marriages fall apart every year. Two people spent years building their world. They bought a house, a car and all the amenities that are a part of the "good life". As time passed these two began to live only for bigger and better until one day they came to realize that one thing was missing... a relationship.
The days of Isaiah were very much the same as today. People lived for themselves and were all about building personal material kingdoms. They chose to worship things rather than the Lord and the work of their hands was more important than anything else. They too were missing one thing... a relationship.
Your life with the Lord is much like a marriage. But if you seek to build your religion with the work of your hands you are sadly mistaken. It's not about buildings, programs or agendas. Nothing will replace the need for looking to your Maker, the Holy One of Israel. Seek His face my friend, because the most important thing should never be missing... a relationship.

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 " 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.