1 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my righteousness be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
6 “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—
7 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.” – Isaiah 56:1-7
I would guess that most of you have noticed that there was a week-long gap in the devotionals. While I try to write and post these every weekday, there are times when circumstances make that difficult and times when I simply have nothing to say. I need a recharge from time to time. The last couple of weeks interfered with my normal time of rest and reset as I followed the example of our Master to do good (especially on the Sabbath). It is my usual custom for the last few years now, to make the Sabbath a deliberate time of rest in our house and for me personally as much as I am able. I am convinced from reading much Scripture, that this time is still blessed by God and that He blesses anyone who takes heed to His instruction in this area. This passage from Isaiah is prophetic to the times we live in and even to the age yet to come, when Jesus restores the Kingdom at His second coming. His promise is sure and His ways are true. May our lives be lived as a continual offering to Him in the manner in which He has given to us to live them (Romans 12:1-2).
How long, O Lord ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.
Oh the Psalms…. how I relate. See that verse that says “I wrestle with my thoughts” I do that too and let me tell you – it’s exhausting. : o ) So what is the key to overcoming those night time invaders that wrestle with you while you should be sleeping. “I trust in Your unfailing love.” Head those nasty thoughts off by “singing to the Lord… for He has been good to me.” In honor of the sleep deprived wrestlers in our group…
Psalm 62:5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure
Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord , make me dwell in safety.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
There is nothing more depressing than the thought that all you do will be for nothing. No one wants to build something only to have someone else tear it down for no reason at all. There are times when Satan tries to convince us that the life of faith is all in vain. This is a lie. It is the only language he knows and it is all he can say. Scripture reminds us that there is a hope. Even the pain of death cannot put an end to the work of Christ in you and in me. So be steadfast and continue day by day in the work of the Lord. Let nothing stand in the way of serving Him and loving one another in that service. Don’t let the devil get you down.
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Isaiah 25:6-9
I got word Tuesday morning that a dear friend of mine, a fellow brother in Christ and a warrior for the faith had fallen in battle. No, not on the fields of physical warfare in some foreign land. This was a spiritual battle that claimed the highest toll. I spent much of the day alternating between tears and disbelief. There are all the questions that come in times of grief and loss, especially a loss such as this. As ministers, we are not immune to the stress of life and the pressures of ministry can often add a dimension that few are aware of unless they experience it firsthand. Yet, there are still the promises of God and His Word. I found this promise appropriate to where I am today. Death will be done away with someday. Jesus Christ has proved that this is true by His own resurrection from the dead. The tears will be wiped away someday, just not today, at least not yet anyway. But we wait for Him and the day we can rejoice with no tears to dim the celebration. Please pray for my fallen brother-in-arms and for his family during this time of sorrow.
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
will suddenly be broken beyond healing. – Proverbs 29:1
It is ever true in the life of faith. Those who will accept rebuke and correction and put it to practice will see much easier growth to maturity than those who won’t. In extreme circumstances, God will resort to drastic means to get the attention of those He loves. This past Sunday I spoke about brokenness and hardheartedness. Those who harden their hearts against God and against His instruction are most certainly headed for a day of brokenness and heartache beyond their ability to cope. Not only that, the pain and consequences from such a disaster will leave devastating scars that will never completely heal. This is the warning from Scripture. Take heed to correction when you are able to do so willingly and avoid the pain of stiff-necked behavior.
5 Adonai is merciful and righeous;
yes our God is compassionate.
6 Adonai preserves the thoughtless;
when I was brought low, He saved me.
7 My soul, return to your rest!
for Adonai has been generous toward you.
8 Yes, you have rescued me from death,
my eyes from tears and my feet from falling
9 I will go on walking in the presence of Adonai
in the lands of the living
10 I will keep on trusting even when I say,
“I am utterly miserable,”
11 even when, in my panic, I declare,
“Everything human is deceptive.”
The Psalms are some of the best known and probably most appreciated Scriptures. There is a genuineness in them that touches us at any point of our life. Whether we be in the midst of joy and happiness or grief and sorrow, God’s Word in the Psalms speaks to our hearts. The Lord (Adonai in Hebrew) preserves us even when we have no thought about Him. He is our rest and our comfort and we can always trust in Him. In the good times and the bad.
Luke 5:36 -39
He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. Otherwise, not only will he tear the new, but also the piece from the new garment will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, it will spill, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine should be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, ‘The old is better.'”
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how God choses to make things new. It seems that often a destruction of the old must take place for the new to come forward. Our human minds see destruction, in all its pain and horror, as a bad thing overall. No one wants that pain. No person cries out to really be shattered with all that the shattering brings. But we want to be new.
I want to be new.
Tonight I have the realization that the shattering of my current life is the foundation of the new.
He is making me new.
He has chosen not to put His new work in the old skin.
So He is making me new.
Even in pieces at the moment I realize that it is a good thing. When the new wine comes the new me will hold.
Even in pieces He is making me new.
P.S. Gina is writing again. This is an all-new devotional post from her, it isn’t a classic rerun. Please keep her in your prayers.
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
Have you ever tried arguing with someone who just doesn’t agree with you? I did this for years myself over a variety of topics. I was sure that I could convince people of the truth of <insert view here> if I just showed them enough evidence. It took me a long time to understand human nature. I am not saying that we shouldn’t point out the truth. I am certainly quick to correct or at least try to if I feel that someone can benefit from the knowledge. But if that correction falls on deaf ears, then I am not going to keep on arguing anymore. So do what you can do. Speak the truth in love and let God do the rest. After all, if they won’t listen to One who rose from the dead, what makes you think they will listen to you?
Better is a dry morsel with quiet
than a house full of feastingwith strife. – Proverbs 17:1
There is real value sometimes in silence. But I have found that a lot of people are simply uncomfortable with silence, especially silence amongst a group of people. We have a household with three kids, so there isn’t a lot of quiet around here most of the time; and I think it goes without saying that there can be some strife from time to time. The contrast in the food available in the proverb reminds us that peace among family and friends is far more valuable that anything that money can buy. It doesn’t matter what you can buy, if you can’t enjoy it in love with your family and it doesn’t matter what you can’t buy if you have that already. Be blessed as Jesus has promised. Blessed are the peacemakers. May you find peace (and quiet) in your home today and every day.
21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. – John 13:21-22
It still is striking to me (and maybe I have mentioned it before in a devotional), that when Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray them; their instant reaction was puzzlement. They didn’t all automatically look at Judas and say, “we all knew he was crooked.” They didn’t even get it when Judas was the one Jesus indicated with the sign and then he left. It wasn’t perfectly obvious that Judas was going to betray Jesus. The fact that one who walked so closely with Jesus for so long could betray Him should certainly give us a moment or two of sober reflection. Loving Jesus isn’t just about hanging around Him. As he would tell the rest of the disciples a little while later that evening. Loving Him is about hearing His words and keeping them (i.e. doing them).