Category Archives: Bible study

Isaiah 44-49; A Matter of Life and Death

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. I don’t know your world view, or your level of spirituality. But I challenge you to read these chapters with an open mind. Hear what God says about Himself. Pay attention to the proof He gives that what He says is true. It is a matter of life and death.

You’ll hear God repeat the statement that “I am God. There is no one like me.” You’ll hear Him point to evidence of His reality in creation, the proof in nature. He’ll ask you to use common sense. And He will tell the future of the Israelites in such detail that, if you study their history, you’ll find it will happen just like God said it did, down to the pagan king named Cyrus who is said to have a nose like an eagle’s beak.

But I don’t want you to stop there. Once you realize God is exactly who He says He is, I want you to go to the New Testament and hear what the One and Only God says about Jesus. Read the Gospels and hear what the angel said to Mary about the birth of her Son, to Joseph about his future step son.

Hear what the One and Only God said to anyone within earshot when Jesus was baptized. “This is my Son…” He’ll say it again in Matthew 17. Then hear God’s Son Jesus say in no uncertain terms that He is the Messiah. (John 4:25-26)

Then I challenge you to turn to John 14:6, and understand it means exactly what it says.

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. But I know that unless you believe God is who He says He is, and that His Son Jesus in the only way to know Him, you are wrong.

Do you know Him? Have you received what Jesus died to give you, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life? Like I said, it’s a matter of life and death.

I’m praying for you.

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Isaiah 31-35; Isaiah and Jesus

Jesus is everywhere in these chapters. The Gospel, the Church are depicted in glorious reality. I am reminded that the people to whom these words were initially written were looking forward to the Messiah. And God, through Isaiah, draws a parallel between their lives as Jews B.C. with Jesus and His Kingdom A.D. It’s so beautiful!

Matthew Henry calls the brick and mortar city of Zion, “a type and picture of God in the world.” (Commentary in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 877) Jerusalem, he says, is the tabernacle which will not be taken down. God is the protector of Himself, of His Presence in the world, and of we who are the temple of God today: “for in every age Christ will have a seed to serve Him,” from verse 33:20. (Commentary in One Volume; page 876)

Think about what we know of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Think about the amount of blood that was shed by the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the fact that Jesus died once and for all. He caused blind people to see, deaf people to hear, tongues were loosed, the dead were raised. The people who were privileged to meet Jesus in the flesh, saw “the glory of the Lord.”

Then think about what we know about the beginning of the Church. People saw “the glory of the Lord” when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high on Jews and Gentiles alike. Tongues of fire, a mighty wind, blind people saw (both physically and spiritually), deaf people heard (physically and spiritually)…

Think about what we know about the Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 4:6) Jesus also said:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Isaiah spoke about the same thing in chapter 35.

I hope you’ll read these chapters and let God speak to you about Himself, about Jesus, about the Church, and the Gospel. It’s all in there. And it is amazingly accurate considering it was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, thousands of years before we were born.

Be encouraged. We worship the same God who promised Isaiah that He would protect His children. Be strengthened in your determination to stand faithful to the Truth. The battle is the Lord’s. With Him there is no shadow of turning.

God’s Word is alive! Don’t you just love spending time in it?

 

Isaiah 28-30; Obstinate

Obstinate: Stubbornly adhering to an opinion, purpose, or course in spite of reason, argument, or persuasion. (Mirriam-Webster)

Someone close to me began accepting the so-called “progressive” view of religion. When I tried to engage in conversation about spiritual truth I was told, in effect, that they would not talk to me about that because, “You are not going to  change my mind.” (those words haunt me yet today)

God, through Isaiah, says:

Woe to the obstinate children… to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin. (30:1)

As I read Isaiah I pray that God will speak to me about my own walk with him here in 2018. When Isaiah speaks about enemies, I am reminded Satan is mine. When Isaiah says, “Woe to…” I want to be sure that if he’s putting a finger on sin in my life, I’m quick to repent.

Today I’m asking myself if there are things I’m stubbornly holding on to that God is asking me to change. Are there things He wants to teach me, ways in which He wants to grow me, but I’m being obstinate while holding on to what I’ve always done or thought?

In verse 10, when talking about children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction, Isaiah says:

They say to seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right!” Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.”

Now I know this is a problem in our society, rampant in many churches, and it would be easy to shake my head and lament over the state of things in our world. But God isn’t interested in talking to me about the world. God’s not asking me to change the world. He’s demanding to change me.

So I ask myself, when I open His Word, am I sincere about being taught? When I go to church do I want to be uplifted or broken? Do I want to hear the truth, or am I looking to hear only pleasant things? Because often the truth hurts. Growth hurts. Conviction is never pleasant.

Now there is one thing I will adamantly adhere to: that is the Truth of Scripture. The Bible is like no other book. It is God breathed, and therefore 100% trustworthy. It’s not my opinion. The Bible proves itself over and over.

Last night in Prayer Meeting, the pastor shared that recently he was sharing the Gospel with someone who wanted to know what the pastor thought about abortion and homosexuality. The pastor was quick to tell this person, “My opinions are only opinions. Let’s look at what the Bible says.”

Can you say the same? Or are you obstinately holding on to your opinions as some kind of truth, with the attitude, “You’re not going to change my mind.”

I’m not just talking about conversations with loved ones. I’m talking about your quiet time, every time you open the precious pages of God’s Word. Are you teachable? Are you pliable? Moldable?

Or obstinate?

Isaiah 5-7; My Vineyard

Did you read these chapters and see what God has to say to you today about your walk with Him? I did. When I read chapters 5-7 I realized I am the vineyard Isaiah is talking about. As a Jesus follower, God established me on rich, fertile ground. He did all the work to clear that land when Jesus died on the cross.

What He offers me is pure, perfect, and prepared in advance for me to produce good fruit. (Ephesians 2:10) He gifted me with abilities to serve Him. He built a hedge of protection around me to guard my heart. He is the watchman who protects me from Satan’s arrows. He gave me everything I need to live a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)

Then God turns over the vineyard to me, and waits for me to start producing good fruit. After all, He did all the hard work to get it ready for me so that I can go and make disciples, so that I can be a light to the world, so that I can share the Good News of Jesus with lost souls. The potential is endless!

But it didn’t take long for me to feel the sting of conviction today. Verse 2b: but it (me) yielded only bad fruit.

Then God asks, What more could I have done? The answer sadly is, Nothing.

Verses 4-7 are sobering when you consider yourself as the vineyard who isn’t producing fruit. God won’t stay where He’s not wanted.

I hope you read the “Woe to’s” in chapter 5 and let God speak to you about choices you make, attitudes you have, whether you tolerate sin in yourself and ignore it in others, whether or not you think you have all the answers apart from God.

When Isaiah came face to face with Jesus he cried, “Woe to me! I am ruined for I am a man of unclean lips…”

Now I don’t know what kinds of problems Isaiah had with what came out of his mouth, but this is what spoke to me this morning. Look at 8:6-7. When Isaiah confessed his sin of speech, God sent an angel to touch Isaiah’s lips! God met Isaiah at the point of his need. Isaiah confessed a sin. God forgave that sin.

Another thing I see is, that cleansing hurt. Most of the time, it takes a broken heart to repent, turning from sin is not always easy. Sometimes it really does hurt to admit you’ve sinned, to humble yourself, to accept grace. And sometimes separating yourself from that sin means giving up some things and people you really like. Ouch.

I think God wants us to know that as we read His Word, asking Him to speak to us about our walk with Him, He’ll point out sin. He’ll reveal things to us about our hearts’ condition before Him. He’ll talk to us about our vineyard.

Don’t forget this: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness! (I John 1:9)

Every. Time.

So, read God Word and allow Him to put a finger on the problem. Confess. Repent. Allow Him to cleanse you. Then go back to the vineyard and get to work. Turn that precious property into something beautiful, and useful in God’s kingdom.

Isn’t God’s Word amazingly personal and relevant? I love it!

Isaiah 1-4; It’s Personal

Honestly, I think it’s a bit unfortunate when people read books like Isaiah’s as merely an historical account, or a glimpse into the future, Yes, there was sin in Israel. Yes, they were captured by the Babylonians. Yes, Jesus is coming again. But I don’t want to miss what God wants to say to me in these pages about my walk with Him in 2018.

When I read this, I hear hear Him ask me why I am sometimes miserable, why I can feel defeated. He tells me it’s because I persist in rebellion, I’ve let foreigners (sin) in, and sin is stripping me of the blessings He would love to shower on me.

I hear Him tell me He’s sick of me going through the motions of serving Him when my heart isn’t in it. The He says in 1:18-20:

“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.

In other words, “Come on, Connie. Use your head. Your sins will be forgiven, you will be washed clean…

If.

I must be willing and obedient. I must stop resisting and rebelling. Then He can bless me. There is order to His plan.

As I continue to read these chapters and make the “you” personal, I understand that God means what He says. Look at 2:5:

Come, O house of Jacob, (of which I am a part through the blood of Jesus) let us walk in the light of the Lord.

That’s God’s will for my life. To walk in His light, not the opinions of men, not in theologies or philosophies. God wants me to walk with HIM!

Isaiah points out that the world seems to have it all, but there will come a time when every man and woman who has ever lived on this planet will be required to face God. Judgment will come to those who reject Him.

I know that in a general way. But God can convict all of us of the personal struggles we have with sin as we read this book. He can convict of us embracing pagans, or considering views other than those in Scripture, or aligning ourselves with ungodly people. He can convict us of tolerating idols, or making idols out of our families or careers or ourselves. He can convict us of arrogance and pride as we read what Isaiah penned so long ago.

I challenge you to read the book of Isaiah with me, and make it personal. What is God saying to you about your walk with Him? Let’s not miss it.

Proverbs 13-16; How Do You Know?

The proverbs repeatedly differentiate between wisdom or righteousness with foolishness and sin. Many proverbs speak of gaining wisdom and understanding, acting out of knowledge, holding to this truth.

But how do you know what is true?

I am convinced, as I read these verses, of the absolute necessity of Bible study for each of us. There are so many made-up definitions of truth out there, so much advice that tells us to look out for number one at any cost, so many ungodly examples of people treating one another with anger, dishonesty, violence, and hatred while we call it entertainment.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (14:12)

There is a flip side to that verse. There is a way that is right, and in the end it leads to abundant life here in this life, and everlasting life when we leave this earth.

What is right? What is true? What is advice you can bank on every time?

Read your Bible. It’s in there.

 

Proverbs 1-4; A Wisdom Litmus Test

How aware are you of God’s Presence in your day-to-day? How often during your day does a verse of Scripture come to mind? Are the truths in God’s Word evident in your life, His commandments known and obeyed, His thoughts as recorded in Scripture your thoughts?

The answer to those questions reveal your level of wisdom, according to Solomon. A wise person knows and cherishes God by spending time studying His Word (2:1-11). A wise person walks with God in an intentional way (2:20-22). And a wise person places all his faith, his finances, family, and future in God’s hands and trusts Him to do all things well (3:5-10)

The litmus test of a wise person can be seen in his sleep (3:19-26). When worries and burdens are thrown off and given to God, when a conscience is clear from a right relationship with God, sleep comes sweetly.

As we read the book of Proverbs together, let’s seek wisdom that begins with a healthy fear, a reverence of God. Let’s approach this book with open hearts and minds. Let’s soak up the wisdom of Solomon and make it our own.

It would be foolish not to.