Wed, Sep 30th - 12:36PM
As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post, the Old Testament contains an analogy, I won't say it is perfect, in the physical realm of the spiritual strategy that is developed then in the New Testament. Let's look at both.
I. Old Testament Analogy...The Physical Realm.
In Genesis 1:28 we find God's first words spoken to the humans that He created: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it..." His design for Adam and Eve, and for all subsequent generations, was that they cohabit in fidelity and reproduce themselves. Perhaps there is no greater drive in the mind and life of a couple, married in the Lord and deeply in love with each other, than that of reproducing after their own kind. It is perhaps one of the most mysterious and exciting areas of life to both discover and cultivate. Even with the birth of sin in man's life, God did not retract His first statement of command. After the flood, God told Noah and those of his family who had survived in the ark, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth(Genesis 9:1)." Both times God did not want one family alone to enjoy the earth. He wanted it to be full of creatures. As we think about the process of physical reproduction, we find three barriers that prevent it from happening: the absence of partnership, the presence of disease or impairment, the lack of (physical) maturity. What is true in the physical realm is also true for the spiritual realm: there must be a union, good health, and maturity. Did you get that? It is vitally important to understand this relationship between the physical and the spiritual.
II. New Testament Stratigy...The Spiritual Realm.
Let's see how this strategy for reproduction fits in with this Old Testament analogy. First, the Lord's original plan has not changed (Be fruitful and multiply...): only the emphasis has shifted. The Lord commanded that we reproduce after our own kind...spiritually!
A. The Plan and Progress. One of Jesus' major goals in early ministry was to train His men to reproduce themselves. From the very beginning He put the objective of discipleship before them: "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-19);" "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men (Luke 5:9-10)." Christ was very intent upon building into the lives of His men so that they would in turn build into others everything that He gave them. The term "to catch", as used and recorded by Luke, is used only in one other place in the Greek New Testament, and in that case refers to the devil's activity of "catching men." The Lord wanted His disciples to catch men for the Kingdom of God. Applied to modern times, men and women will either be caught for Christ or for Satan. It is that simple my friends. Later on Christ did not relinquish this goal. In fact, before Jesus left our planet He firmly emphasized it:
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20)."
The book of Luke records for us the progress of the spread vision which Christ declared. Just as they had been called upon to do, the apostles ("sent ones") reached out to men and women, winning and building them (Acts 2:41; 5:13-14; 6:1; 9:31; 12:24). Here is the process which became the pattern in building the early church, and which we today have forsaken, by and large.
I will halt here for today. Tomorrow I will continue with some essentials and enemies. God willing we shall all meet here again to open up the Word of God. Grace and peace be yours.
Tue, Sep 29th - 7:00PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Here in this next verse we are introduced to the section that speaks of the greatness of God as Creator.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance (40:12)?
The question is put to us, who has done that? Has any person who has ever lived on this planet been capable of doing this? No, no one. Only God is capable of doing this.
Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor has taught Him?
With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding (40:13-14)?
Here we settle upon the arrogance of mankind. They persist in perceiving of God having human fraility. They believe He must fly off into mindless rages. They believe that He is an old, doddering fool ready for the retirement home. Who presumes to know more than an omniscient God? They are arrogant. Who presumes to possess the power to direct an all-powerful God? They are arrogant. God knows no equal nor is there anyone to whom He could go for advice. Is there anything that you have seen that God has not already seen?
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.
And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.
All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity (40:15-17).
These verses point out the fact that everything on this planet is as nothing to God. Even if all of the animals in Lebanon were to be sacrificed to Him it would not be enough to make any difference. This tells us that animal sacrifice does not save us. All of the nations of our world are as nothing to God. They can all gather together to stand against Him and it will amount to nothing, actually, less than nothing.
To whom then will you liken God? or what likeness will you compare unto Him (40:18)?
All that we can know of God is what He has revealed in the Word of God, and I seriously doubt that He has revealed everything. For one thing, we can't comprehend what He has told us.
Isaiah contrasts God to idols. "To whom then will you liken God?" Look around at the pictures of Him that have been created. Is that what He really looked like in the flesh? Stores sell such things to those who feel comforted by them, when they ought to be comforted by God's Word. Beloved, we do not need pictures of Jesus. No one thought of painting a picture of Christ until they had lost His presence in their hearts.
The workman melts a graven image, and the goldsmith spreads it over with gold, and casts silver chains (40:19).
Very ornate idols get made by men. It enables them to achieve wealth through the sale of these images to others. It also is a means of enslaving people spiritually.
That is all for tonight my friends. God willing I will continue this study tomorrow. May Christ richly bless you as you faithfully serve Him in all that you do.
Tue, Sep 29th - 12:53PM
Ah, time has slipped by this month! Too busy, not taking enough time for God's work here. I apologize to all who have been waiting for this study to continue. Let us pick up where we left off in looking at illustrations of Christ evaluating His disciples.
3. In John 1:42 we looked earlier at the moment when Jesus first met Simon. That situation reveals another aspect of Christ's activity with men. Jesus helped Simon to gain insight into his own potential. He directed Simon's attention to qualities that were to eventually surface and make him a stone-like person of stability and strength. Simon would become unmoveable from his faith in Christ no matter what might happen. He became anchored in Christ.
We can summarize here and say that discipleship is all about picking up the missing pieces of a person's life and putting them together so that the person, themselves, may picture their value and strength as an individual, useful to God for touching others' lives and changing those lives for the better.
Identifying Blind Spots - A blind spot is an area of our life in which it is unrecognized that help is needed. In helping His disciples, Jesus drew attention directly to their blind spots. We can look at some examples:
1. Unwise statements. In Luke 10:17-20 seventy followeres of Christ returned and reported to Jesus, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." Jesus apparantly heard some tones of presumption and frivolity as they described the way they handled His power. Seeing their statements to be unwise, He reminded them that the power they enjoyed was His own power entrusted to them.
2. Unrealistic opinions. We find Peter, in John 13:36-38, though sincere, was unrealistic in the way he viewed his loyalty to Christ. Peter let his mouth get him in trouble with the truth, and Jesus told him so. When Jesus heard Peter's unrealistic opinion He, as an honest counselor, challenged it.
3. Unbiblical attitudes. In Luke 9:51-56 we find that in the days approaching Jesus' ascension, the disciples had gone into a Samaritan village to make some kind of arrangements for Him. The people in Samaria had refused service to Jesus because He was headed into Jerusalem. James and John asked the Lord, "...Do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" Christ rebuked them for considering such an action. In essence, He had to remind them of the reason why God was made manifest in the flesh. They had plumb forgotten why Christ was there. Today we place ourselves in the exact same position as these disciples whenever we utter, "May God drag you down into the depths of Hell!" We need to be rebuked for not remembering why Christ saved us, why He came to earth in the flesh in the first place. Power can corrupt if allowed to run rampant without any wisdom and understanding applied to its use.
Techniques of Evaluating disciples
Here are four "how-to's" that emerge from this study. They relate directly tothe definition established earlier. When helping others in the realm of evaluation, we ought to:
1. Choose timing carefully. Prepare the person, use tact, and be sure you have developed a relationship that will support the emotional weight related to an evaluation.
2. Stay objective. Do not be so much in love with the other person that you lose your objectivity and lose sight of what the original purpose of discipling this person was.
3. Express how it will bring benefit. Talk about the possible ways this evaluation will help the person reach his or her ultimate goal of personal spiritual maturity.
4. Say it with love. Convince that person of your personal care and interest in them.
Perhaps each of us, at this point in time, ought to seriously consider entering into a personal relationship with another individual with the sole purpose of allowing them to evaluate us objectively as Christians. Weaknesses spotted can be make into strengths through exercise. Strengths can be celebrated and shared.
Next time, God willing, I shall take a look into the goal of discipleship---Reproduction of believers. Discipleship is not an end in itself, but only the means to an end. The good news of Jesus Christ is to be shared and not hoarded. It is to be an ongoing process. This process is what I shall bring forth when next we meet here to open up God's Word.
Grace and peace be with you all,
Mon, Sep 28th - 12:44PM
Relationship of Seed, Water, and the Word
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase(I Corinthians 3:6-7)."
Our text today addresses a common boastful claim of some evangelists or of the personal "soul winner." Paul spoke against those who personally identified themselves as belonging to the person who led them to salvation. People tend to laud themselves about accomplishments or praise those who helped point them in the correct direction. It is a man-pleasing statement when someone says: "I was won to Christ by Pastor Wayne's sermons!" The same applies to the person who claims, "I led Stephanie to the Lord!" Neither statement is correct, nor is it accurate in fact. Yes, each of us are commanded by God to be faithful and earnest witnesses for Christ but it is needful to always give Christ alone the praise and glory for anyone's salvation. God alone gives the increase. Of course we ought to be grateful whenever God uses something that we have said, written, or preached to lead someone to Himself, but He is by no means ever limited to such human efforts. To begin thinking such ways is the sin of pride taking credit for what only the Holy Spirit can accomplish in a person's heart.
Our Christian ministry is of necessity limited to "planting" and "watering," and I intend not to minimize these very things in any way. These activities/efforts constitute a tremendous responsibility and are a privilege of eternal value. But even these are productive only if they are centered around the Holy Scriptures, for both the seed which is planted and the water whichenables it to grow are said to be the Word of God. Even Paul said, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
In doing these things we do have many promises that, if we remain faithful in planting and watering, God will give the increase, and we can share in His joy. "He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him(Psalm 126:6)." "For whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap(Galatians 6:7)."
Admittedly, there are several applicable themes to these verses, but for us today we see that if we do not sow then we cannot reap anything. As found elsewhere in the Bible we can learn that God has established that like begets like. If I plant apple seeds I will not end up with orange trees growing from those seeds. So, in order to reap spiritual things I must sow spiritual seeds and water those seeds with God's Word. One last point I will offer up today: Christ wishes to be sown in your life. Once you accept Him into your heart He wishes you to "water" that "seed" daily with the renewing of your mind through the washing with God's Word. Christ's influence in your daily life can then grow stronger and stronger with each passing day drawing you further and further away from your prior sinful lifestyle and moving you closer and closer to a holy spiritual life style. Another picture of this use of water and God's Word to cleanse a person is found in the Old Testament with the Tabernacle. Check it out. In order to come closer to God in that Tabernacle a person entered in and offered up a sacrifice of blood and then had to wash themselves before moving any further within. And back then it was a priest who did the washing and physical movement closer to God's presence but today we are the priest and we must do the exact same thing: cleanse ourselves in order to approach God's presence. Ponder these things and see whether or not they are true.
Sat, Sep 26th - 8:28PM
Book of Isaiah Study
The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God (40:3).
All four gospel writers records the quotation of this verse as applying to John the Baptist. Since it appears four times in the New Testament I will not question it at all. This man was prophesied of long before he was ever even born.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
The voice said, Cry, And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field (40:4-6).
In the Book of Luke it is applied to John the Baptist. The "glory of the Lord" used to be referred to as the Shekinah glory in the Old Testament and it resided in the Temple's Holy of Holies. Now we see reference to a time in which this "glory of the Lord" would be revealed to all flesh. All flesh will see it at the same time apparantly. Is this applicable to when Jesus walked in the flesh? I would dare to say no, it does not for not everyone "saw" Him together. This seemingly points us toward the time when Christ is to return the second time during the Tribulation Period. At that time He is to be seen coming in the clouds by everyone on the planet.
The grass withers, the flower fades: because the spirit of the Lord blows upon it: surely the people is grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever (40:7-8).
Humans are compared to the grass of the field. How can any of us have comfort in being reminded that we are like the grass? That is a very short season of life. Well, there is no comfort in that at all. We are faint, frail, and feeble, but the Word of God is strong, sure, and secure. God's Word is our hiding place, our cleft in the rock. It is a foundation upon which we can rest; our anchor in a turbulent world; our sword and shield, our high tower, protection, security, and salvation. We can read this in I Peter 1:23-25: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." It is only the gospel that gives eternal life to us who are naturally just a transitory creature on this earth. There is our comfort and security.
O Zion, that brings good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!(40:9).
We could think that "good tidings" is the gospel and that the good tidings of John the Baptist was "Behold your God!" Have you and I reached this postion yet? Of seeing Christ as He really is? Have we "seen" Him as God manifest in the flesh, have we known Him as the God-Man? Is He Immanuel to us? If we fall into the trap of thinking that Christ is just a human, then He cannot be our Savior; but He is Immanuel, and He is our Savior. In that we can find ultimate comfort and security.
Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him (40:10).
Here Isaiah ties together the first and second comings of Christ. This verse looks forward to His second coming. In reality, the gospel includes both of Christ's comings. We simply get stuck into our finite thinking patterns and put all of the emphasis on Jesus Christ's first coming or on His second coming. But the totality of the gospel message contains both comings and we need to preach and teach the truth.
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young (40:11).
Christ took the title of "Shepherd" when He came the first time. "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep(John 10:11)." "I lay down My life for the sheep(John 10:15)." We are His sheep, we are a part of His flock. He shall care for us, feed us, watch over us. In this we can find comfort and security. I find comfort and security in these verses for no matter what may happen to me I know for a certainty that my Lord and Savior is with me always. I know without any doubt that He works all things for my ultimate good welfare. I know that He watches over me, that He dispatches angels to minister to me and to protect me from the attacks of Satan. My prayers ought to be directed to thanking God for all of these things, to being grateful for His watchcare over me each day. This ought to be a model for me to practice with my family and those saints with whom I associate with each day. I need to be living this out daily for others to see. This needs to become a vital part of my "witness" to the lost people of this world. There should be no running around with my hands up in the air fretting over what is going on in this world of ours. Do I, or don't I, rest on the Word of God? If I rest upon the Word of God then I ought to be settled, assured, and even confident. Nothing ought to come as a surprise to me for all has been foretold by God in His Word which He has given to us. We simply need to get to work showing ourselves approved unto Him by studying His Word. I personally have been a slackard in years past in this regard, even though I strongly suspect that even at my worst I put many to shame in this arena. But I can no longer afford to put "my treasures" in as many things of this world as in time past but to put it into the heavenly places. Will you decide to do likewise? That is my eternal hope.
Fri, Sep 25th - 8:53PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Chapter 40 introduces us to the final major division of this book. A sharp contrast can be seen within the book. The first section was a revelation of the Soveriegn upon the throne, while this final section is a revelation of the Savior in the place of suffering. In chapter 6 we could see the crown, in chapter 53 we shall see the cross. The theme of the first section was the government of God, in this section itis the grace of God.
The change of subject matter has led the liberal critics to propose the Deutero-Isaiah hypothesis. Because the subjects are entirely different, these people suppose that they were written by different writers-two Isaiahs. A change of message does not necessitate a change of authorship. Different message but the exact same messenger. Many writers today write upon entirely different subjects without anyone's comments.
Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God (40:1).
The opening words set the mood and tone for this final section. The message from our God is comfort rather than judgment. Here we find a sign of yearning from the very heart of God. He is our God of "all comfort." That is how Paul speaks of Him in II Corinthians 1:3-4: "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." The Holy Spirit is called "the Comforter." Christ said, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever(John 14:16)." The Holy Spirit today is our comforter and He is with us forever.
Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins (40:2).
Jerusalem's sins bought her people twice the judgments of other peoples. The Israelites had been given great responsibility to be living examples of serving God to all other peoples. They dropped the ball badly and had to pay the consequences. But we must notice, and remember, that God says here that her iniquity was pardoned. The sins of Jerusalem were paid for by the One who suffered outside her gates. This is the difference between the dealings of God with His people in the Old Testament and with us today. It separates Christianity from all pagan religions and from the Mosaic Law. The difference? It is all wrapped up in that word propitiation. In pagan religions te people bring an offering to their gods to appease them, and that is what propitiation means. Many believe that that is what it means in the Bible, that they have to "do" something, because God is angry, to win Him over. Heathens are always having to do this because their gods are always angry and difficult to get along with. Their gods' feelings are easily hurt and they are not very friendly. The uncomfortable fact is that sin, man's sin, has separated him from God, but it is God who did something to fix that problem. Today God is propitious. You and I do not have to do anything to gain His favor. Propitiation is toward God, reconciliation is toward us. God has already done everything that needs to be done. We are asked to be reconciled to God, not to do something to win Him over or to be reconciled. God has already been "won over" for that is what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross at Calvary. We need only to accept what Christ has done for us. Here then is the word of comfort for a lost world today.
I think that may be more than enough for many to chew upon for awhile and so I shall halt right here. God willing we shall continue this study tomorrow. May His peace and grace be yours this day!
Fri, Sep 25th - 1:07PM
The Man of God
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.(I Timothy 6:11)"
In the New Testament there are just two places where we can find a person is called a "man of God," and they reveal the attributes which allow us to call someone a man (or woman) of God. Both instances are found in the letters sent to Timothy.
The first instance, found in our text today, informs us that such a person ought not to be one who loves money and the material things money can buy. Verse ten contains "these things" of which it is being said to flee. Instead this person's pursuit should be after personal righteousness and godliness, as well as stronger faith, more genuine love for others, more patience, and true meekness.
Checking out further what constitutes "meekness" we find that Moses was called "the man of God" in the very first use of this phrase in the entire Bible, and we are told that "the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3)." Yet he was able to lead some two million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and then through 40 years in the Sinai Desert. Moses then was not a weak man at all.
The other New Testament instance to the "man of God" is in reference to their use of the Scriptures. They will recognize that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God...That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (II Timothy 3:16-17)."
And so the essential characteristics of a true man of God will be a great desire for personal righteousness and godliness, faith and love, patience and strong meekness, accompanied by the avoidance of any taint of greed or covetousness. This person will have an unshakable confidence in the verbal inerrant truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures. They will constantly seek to live it out in their lives. Sin will deeply grieve them. I hope and pray that each and every person who reads this post will become such a person.
Wed, Sep 23rd - 8:27PM
Book of Isaiah Study
This chapter 39 reveals to us the great blunder of Hezekiah's life and also his human weaknesses. Isn't it always after our greatest spiritual triumphs when we are vulnerable to suffer our worst defeats?
At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered (39:1).
This man is a meaningless king to us today, but his name is full of meaning. Merodach means "a rebel" and baladan means "not the Lord." Behind this king is Nimrod, the founder of Babylon, and Satan, who is the archrebel against God and is the "god of this world."
So these ambassadors brought these letters which flattered Hezekiah. They told Hezekiah that the king of Babylon had been concerned over his sickness and now, after hearing of his recovery, sends a gift to rejoice with him. Sweet words designed to flatter and deceive, if at all possible.
And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah did not show them (39:2).
Can you believe that? Total strangers and Hezekiah shows them everything! Hezekiah had not yet lost very much of the wealth that David and Soloman had amassed. But he goes ahead and shows this off to these strangers from Babylon. In II Chronicles 32:27-28 we can read of all the riches that he had in his storehouses. Did Hezekiah go and read this letter from the king of Babylon before God? No, he did not. He gave these men a guided tour which provided Babylon with solid reasons for invading Israel later on.
Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto you? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon (39:3).
Where Hezekiah thought it was simply wonderful to have this flattery, Isaiah recognized the very real danger.
Then said he, What have they seen in your house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them (39:4).
Would you meet someone who shows up at your frontdoor after you have recovered from a mortal illness and accept their flattery? Would you just invite them in to see your electronics, appliances, checkbook, savings account, pantry, stock portfolio, etc.? Does that make any sense to you? Would you show them where you hang the keys to your brand new sports car? Would you tell them where you dock your brand new inboard-outboard motorboat? You could, but you ought not to be surprised when they come later on and steal them from you. It would be simply foolish.
Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts:
Behold, the days come, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, says the Lord.
And of your sons that shall issue from you, which you shall beget, shall they take away; and they shall be enuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (39:5-7).
The Lord did not waste any time in pronouncing judgment upon Hezekiah's actions. This prophecy was literally fulfilled in II Kings 24-25 and Daniel 1. Wouldn't this announcement have stunned you if you were the king? I know that it would have floored me and reduced me to tears of shame, remorse, and grief.
Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which you have spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days (39:8).
What a sad response by the king. He wasn't even heartbroken by his own actions. He knew what God had promised to him, fifteen more years of peaceful life. It would seem that that is all Hezekiah worried about. It did not matter that his sons and grandsons would become enuchs to the king of Babylon and that the combined wealth of his fathers would be stolen from Jerusalem. Know of any people today who echo this sort of attitude? History repeats itself over and over again.
Was Hezekiah's extended life good? Three terrible things took place during those years. That concludes chapter 39, a very short chapter.
Next time, God willing, we shall begin chapter 40 which has a theme of comfort, a message from God, a revelation of God, and a call from God. But that is next time my friends. Peace and grace be yours today.
Sat, Sep 19th - 8:24PM
Book of Isaiah Study
And I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city (38:6).
God ties two deliverances together in this verse. That of Jerusalem from the Assyrians and that of Hezekiah from death. God's answer to one request encourages the believer's heart that He will answer the other requests. I have been greatly encouraged in my faith because God has heard and answered several of my prayers in recent years.
And this shall be a sign unto you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that He has spoken;
Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down (38:7-8).
Now would that convince you today that God has heard your prayer and answered it? The sun moves backward ten degrees in the sky! That is a sign! Here is king Hezekiah lying upon his bed, looking out the window towards the sun dial of Ahaz and gets to witness the sun's shadow upon that dial move backwards by ten whole degrees. Instead of discouragement and despair filling his heart he now has joy and hope brightening his eyes as he watches the shadow covered stairs around the dial become sun brightened. Hallelujah!
The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness.
I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.
I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.
Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: He will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night will You make an end of me.
I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones: from day even to night will You make an end of me.
Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.
What shall I say? He has both spoken unto me, and Himself has done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.
O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so will You recover me, and make me to live.
Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but You have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
For the grave cannot praise You, death can not celebrate You: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
The living, the living, he shall praise You, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Your truth.
The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD.
For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover.
Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD (38:9-22)?
All of these verses are a very fine example of a thesis on death. They ought to be for the one who wrote them was very near unto death. We can see a great deal of praise arising from out of Hezekiah's heart.
It is sad to know that after this experience Hezekiah became proud and arrogant. In the Book of Chronicles we are told that Hezekiah did not give back to God as God had given unto him. The king thus brought down holy judgment upon himself, Jerusalem, and Judah.
Was the king right in asking God to extend his life? Would it have been better if he had died when the time came originally? Consider this: Manasseh, his son, was twelve years old when he began to reign, which means that he was born after Hezekiah's sickness. Manasseh was the worst king who reigned in either kingdom. It would seem that during his reign the Shekinah glory departed the Temple. Manasseh was very much like Antichrist, the Man of sin who is yet to come. This would be an arguement against Hezekiah being allowed to live longer.
How did God perform the miracle healing of Hezekiah? Did God have Isaiah pray over him? Did Isaiah lay his hand on him so forcefully that he fell backward? No.
Verse 21 shows that Isaiah did two things. Both of these are recommended by James in his small book. "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14)." This is an anointing which is not religious nor ceremonial. The oil is for healing; it is medicinal. The elders are to pray for the one who is sick. So when we get sick, pray and call for the elders of your congregation to begin praying for us. If necessary, they ought to come and anoint us with oil for healing.
That concludes chapter 38. The next chapter's theme concerns Hezekiah and Babylon. Assyria is no longer a threat. They were still a strong kingdom, but they were no longer a growing empire. Babylon was a struggling city on the banks of the Euphrates river, unable to overcome Assyria. But, in the near future they would become the "head of gold" of Daniel's statue. So this chapter is quite significant. That is for next time. God willing, we shall meet here once again to open God's Word and look into more truth.
Fri, Sep 18th - 1:05PM
Evaluation in Discipleship
This is a major advantage to being discipled. Getting objective evaluation is critical to effecting permanent change in our lives. When left to our own devices we are all prone to fall out of balance. At the beginning of our walk with Christ we are especially vulnerable to this. We blunder through various areas of our lives due to "blind spots" in our experience, many times totally unaware of what we have just missed. What all of this proves is that we have a need for having others more mature than us to evaluate and help guide us in our spiritual growth in Christ. How did Jesus do that with His disciples?
I. Definition of "evaluation" - this is something that leads to improvement in our lives, so we really need to nail down its definition. Thus we can then know what it is we are in search of, or are in need of providing to others. Let's look in the Book of Proverbs:
A. Timing - In Proverbs 15:22-23 we read, "Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed. A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!" Evaluation presumes a right word given at the right time in order to edify an individual. Advice given at the wrong time accomplishes nothing.
B. Objectivity - In Proverbs 18:17 we read, "The first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines him." Doesn't it often seem that our case seems right to us? But then when we have received the objective, unprejudiced input of someone else, we tend to see the entire issue much more accurately. Our perspective/viewpoint becomes properly tempered.
C. Guidance - In Proverbs 20:18 we read, "Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance." Separated from good information we can easily become misguided. With the help of those that God has placed all around us, we can move ahead more securely, avoiding crippling circumstances resulting from uninformed choices.
D. Personal interest - In Proverbs 27:17, 19 we read, "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man." When we get close to others who care about us we often are allowed to see our own inner person revealed by the reflection they provide. They can mirror back the real people that we are.
Definition: Evaluation is a timely and objective appraisal given for guidance by one who is personally interested in us.
This process of evaluation is more than simply carrying on conversation with someone else, it is more than handing out stinging rebuke, and is more than flattering and affirming comments. It is genuine appraisal. It means telling the truth to one another in love. It is extremely important that all of us know how to evaluate and what is involved. So what's involved?
A. Sharing insights - We can find that Jesus shared three types of insights with his disciples, so let's look at each one:
1. In Mark 6:30-32 we find Christ sharing "situational" insight. The disciples had been sent out to perform ministry. When they returned they anxiously began to report on the results of their activities among the people. They had preached, ministered, healed, and cast out demons. Our Lord and Savior listened carefully as they spoke and took advantage of that situation to help them see the best thing for their lives at that moment. With great wisdom He realized, inspite of their enthusiasm, they were in need of immediate rest. God wanted to bring them back into balance.
2. In Mark 9:38-40 we find Christ sharing "relational" insight. While engaged in the work of the ministry, the disciples witnessed someone outside of their group of twelve casting out demons in Jesus Christ's name. This obviously bothering all of them, John told Christ: "...We tried to hinder him because he was not following us." Christ used this situation to broaden their viewpoints on personal relationships. Christ said to John, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who shall perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us." In this Christ puts to rest the question of whether or not to accept those into our "group" who are different from ourselves even though they obviously believe. Just because someone has arrived at salvation in a slightly different manner from ourselves we must not reject them. We need to invite them in and learn about them and their experiences and discover how they came to accept Christ.
That is all for today my friends. My apologies for the fairly long gaps in postings this past week or so. It has been a very busy time. My eldest daughter underwent a hysterectomy, my eldest granddaughter underwent seven days of assessment in a psychiatric unit, and my soon to be five year old adopted son spent a day in a pediatric intensive care unit for pneumonia and an ear infection. Time has flown by at lightning speed! But, here we are again. My God is always with me and He will enable me to withstand all things. In His infinite wisdom He only allows situations to last as long as I am able to handle them. They are trying times, they are growing times. Life continues on.
God willing, I will be posting soon in the Isaiah study. Until then, grace and peace of Christ be yours today and always.
Mon, Sep 14th - 9:30PM
For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead (37:35-38).
God promised to defend Jerusalem and He most certainly did. One hundred and eighty five thousand soldiers were found dead upon sunrise in the Assyrian camp. The angel of the Lord went out and slayed them all. Sennecherib decided (wouldn't you?) to return home to Nineveh. Just as the Lord had prophesied to Isaiah the king was assassinated by two of his sons and was suceeded by his other son, Esarhaddon. What God says shall come to pass most certainly will come to pass. Thus we ought to read the Book of Revelation and ponder long and hard those things that are yet to come.
Secular history confirms the death of Sennecherib by murder via his sons. Shortly after this the Assyrian kingdom began to disintegrate and eventually it was absorbed by Babylon. God already informed Isaiah that He was preparing a kingdom down on the banks of the Euphrates River, one which would take Judah away into captivity. The people may have been saved this time by God, but the time was coming when this whole issue of following God would be revisited and the failure of the nation to not forsake the Lord would result in judgment.
We now move along into chapter 38 which covers the prayer offered up by a dying King Hezekiah. It also includes God's promise of healing and the miraculous recovery of Hezekiah. He reigned 29 years in total, 15 of them coming after this healing event. Sennecherib came up against him during Hezekiah's 14th year of reign and so all of these things happened within the exact same year. Hezekiah suffered from a boil when his kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians. That is where we pick up the thread of scripture in chapter 38:
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus says the Lord, Set your house in order: for you shall die, and not live (38:1).
Hezekiah was not having a very good year. A boil was plaguing his health and he then had the Assyrian army show up outside of the city's walls. This "boil" appears to have been something that was a terminal condition back in those days. God has delivered the news via Isaiah the prophet to the king. True, each of us faces a similar situation for the time of our death has been appointed by God. It is a divine date. And it is a date of which we should concern ourselves with for it concerns where we shall spend eternity. What was Hezekiah's response to this intonement of death?
Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord.
And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept sore (38:2-3).
Here is a genuine time when any man can weep. Who wouldn't weep at the news of impending death? It is a perfectly natural reaction. But see here, Hezekiah also prayed to God on the basis of his past life. Up to this time this man had a good reputation before God and under the Mosaic Law this was an accurate thing to do. II Kings 18:5 says, "He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him." Hezekiah was an outstanding man among men. He was not engaging in boastfulness when claiming that he had walked in truth and with a perfect heart before God. What was the consequence of his prayer?
Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah,saying,
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will add unto your days fifteen years (38:4-5).
Here is evidence that God does hear our prayers when they are lifted up in truth and goodness. At this time prayers were heard by God for the sake of King David. For almost 2,000 years now our Holy Father in heaven hears our prayers for the sake of His Son, Lord Jesus Christ. In John 16:23-24 we are instructed to take our requests to God the Father in the name of Christ and in no other name. But notice that it is God who decides whether healing is to take place here, or not. We must remember that God hears our prayer requests and He is the One who decides what shall be done in His will.
I will halt there for this evening my friends. Next time, God willing, I shall continue with the Lord's message to Hezekiah and the king's resultant poem of praise to God. May the grace and peace of Christ fill your soul to overflowing! Remember that we are engaged in establishing beachheads on the shores of enemy occupied territory and our adversary will defend his kingdom ferociously. This is a spiritual warfare that we are engaged in, not flesh and blood even though frequently people become embroiled in the conflict. Satan simply flings bodies into our paths to distract our focus, enflame our emotions to cloud our judgment and scatter our wisdom. We must keep our eyes upon the goal: serving Christ and showing the world that we are genuinely His by our love for one another, just as He loves us.
Wed, Sep 9th - 1:20PM
What most believers consider as the real "Lord's Prayer" is to be found in John 17. We have looked at various parts of that passage and picked it apart. In summary, Christ's requests in this prayer centered around three topics: Himself, His eleven disciples, and all those people who as yet did not believe. In praying for Himself Jesus focused upon those things that the Father above had given to Him. God the Father had given Him power over all flesh so that He could give eternal life to as many as God the Father had given to Him. What was/is eternal life? Verse 3 tells us the answer to that question: knowing that God is the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom God had sent to earth. I know, I know, "But salvation and eternal life comes through Jesus' blood cleansing me of my sins!" Very true, but that will never happen unless we come to "know" Christ and the fact that God is the ONLY true God. If we never come to that conclusion in our hearts and minds then we shall not have eternal life, there will be no salvation, there will be no admittance of our eternal souls into heaven. There is no other way to get there beloved. One way, Christ's Way.
Getting back to John 17, Christ voices the fact that He has now completed the Father's work that was given over to Him. We need to voice these same sort of things in our prayers to God. We need to tell God how much of the work that He has given to us to complete is actually done. Call it accountability, call it reviewing what we have accomplished. It will help us to stay focused upon what is really important and not become obsessed over those things that shall not go with us in death.
In praying for those whom we are teaching we must acknowledge the fact that they are not "ours" but rather, they have been given to us by the Father. If Christ did this in His prayers, then so must we for we have less "ownership" of people than Christ obviously felt that He had. We must be sure to give to them all that we have learned and been taught by other solid bible believers. Properly identify those things which are "opinion," or are "conjecture" on our part from those things that are spelled out clearly in Scripture. We can not, must not mix the two together and create confusion. We must give our disciples the pure Word of God, undiluted, unchanged. We must pray that they shall be protected from the Evil One who walks this world seeking whom he can devour, for walk it he does and he does devour all who are foolish, ignorant, or arrogant in their thinking.
We must finally pray daily for those people, known and unknown, who God will draw to Himself in the future. We do not know which of them He shall direct to us to teach, to influence, to point them further along the Way to life. In order to do this we must separate ourselves from all appearance of evil, of sin, of wrongdoing. If we wish to instruct others to separate themselves from sinful activities then we must have done so ourselves beforehand. We must direct this sanctification movement from sinful things towards holy things: point them towards Christ. No one can survive separation from something if it means trying to live in a vacuum. Leave worldly things and move towards possessing spiritual things, holy things. This entire process leads us into loving other believers as laid out in I John. Here in John 17 Christ tells us that we will be known as His when others can see us loving each other just as He loved those disciples. It is a timeless trait of a Christian. Hating sinful acts but loving the people just like Christ did. "Go, and sin no more!" means that God loves you deeply and wants you to stop the actions that separate you from Him. We must reproduce this same heartfelt need when interacting with other people who are seeking out God and have yet to find Christ.
Last, but not least, each of us need to practice praying in a fashion similar to how Christ prayed in John 17. He modeled this prayer for each of us. He fully intends each of us to be priests, ministers, to others around us. He fully intends each of us to disciple someone. If so, then he fully intends each of us to practice praying just like He did here. His disciples took this teaching and incorporated it into their lives and so must we.
God willing I shall move into the final section of this study when next we meet here. It shall become clear what the goal of discipleship is. It was clearly stated in Genesis 1:28, it has mostly been misapplied over the centuries by a majority of the world. Until then, be sure to look to the heavens for there is where yours and mine salvation comes from!
Tue, Sep 8th - 1:28PM
The Disciples in Jesus Christ's Prayer - Found in John 17:6-19, we would do well to focus on the second emphasis of His prayer while keeping this question in our minds: "How shall we intercede for our own disciples...what should we ask on their behalf?" In this part of Christ's prayer two things are revealed: first, the kind of relationships He had with them; second, the concern He felt for them.
A. Christ's personal relationships with them - In verses 6-10 we can see that it was characterized by two things.
1. It was a godly relationship as can be seen in verses 6-7. Jesus said, "I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world...and they have kept Thy word. Now they have come to know that everything Thou hast given Me is from Thee." Jesus did not simply tell these men about the Father, He was the embodiment of God on earth; He displayed God to them. Jesus provided them with a direct link with God. Personal application was made by Christ, He was transparent with His disciples. This exact same application must be made by us as well. We must be very sure that we are transparant in our relationships with those we disciple; we are to serve as mirrors that only reflect Christ to them. Christ is the sun, we are the moon. Jesus trained his disciples to look to the Father as the giver and to become dependent upon Him. Each of us must remember that fact. The Lord God alone is the giver and the originator of truth, not us.
2. It was centered around Scripture - Verse 8 gives us this fact: "...the words which Thou gavest Me I have given to them..." We as disciplers must preserve this focus. Our relationship is one that is centered only on the Bible, not on personalities. We may be drawn by mutual interests, hobbies, etc., but our discipleship relationship must be centered upon the Bible.
B. His personal concern for them - This concern is to be found in verses 11-19 and we can see that due to the type of relationship He had with His beloved disciples He expressed three specific requests on their behalf:
1. "Keep them" Christ prayed not that the Father of Lights would isolate them, but that He would insulate them. Christ prayed for our protection and preservation while we remain in this cruel, cold, sin-filled world. Just as Christ prayed thusly for His disciples, so too must we pray for those whom we would disciple ourselves. They shall require His protection and love during the evil times in which we all live today. Beloved, we must specifically pray for those God has given us to shepherd. We must remember to pray for them each and every day.
2. "Make My joy full in them" The emphasis is upon the personal pronoun "My." Christ did not just ask that they be joyful, but that they experience His own special joy that was eternal and satisfying. We should pray that they will come to know Christ-like joy, that the pain and ache of our demanding society will not be the thing which shapes them. This way they will not become cranky, stubborn, discontented, bitter men and women.
3. "Sanctify them" This term means to "set apart for God's task and purpose." In essence, Jesus asked the Father to guide them through life with the kind of commitment they needed. As disciplers, we have the responsibility of praying for the direction of those whom God has given us to encourage and nurture.
What is the bottom-line conclusion that we come away with from this passage? What was true then is still true today. What was the task then is still the task today. Truth comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the reading of God's Word. Stick to the task at hand. Do not waver, do not swerve left or right, do not change the truth. Study the Word, live the Word, teach the Word. Some things come easily and some come with difficulty, so work hard at those in order to obtain them.
That is all for today my friends. My lack of DSL signal over the holiday weekend prevented my posting anything to this site. I hope you all worshipped Christ and rededicated yourselves to establishing a work schedule which incorporates regular time off from your labors so that you can become rejuvenated physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope that you all have determined in your hearts to begin to disciple one person this year. It might be someone within your immediate household (as with me at this time!) or it could be someone who has just joined your particular congregation. Or, if not ready to dive in that deep, perhaps you will decide it is time to begin a small, intimate Bible study group one night per week. Not sure you can come up with topics? Then check out a Serendipity Bible, these have group study questions and topics to help get one started. They even have study aides that provide "ice breaker" activities to assist in creating a "group" out of strangers. Visit the online website to find out more on this possibility of using Serendipity.
God willing, we shall all meet here again to study more of God's Word. Mercy, grace, and peace be yours.
Sat, Sep 5th - 4:54PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Whereas you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:
22 This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, and laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head at you.
23 Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? and against whom have you exalted your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
24 By your servants have you reproached the Lord, and have said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel.
25 I have dug, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.
26 Have you not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that you should be to lay waste defensed cities into ruinous heaps.
27 Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
28 But I know your abode, and your going out, and your coming in, and your rage against Me.
29 Because your rage against Me, and your tumult, is come up into Mine ears, therefore will I put My hook in your nose, and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way by which you came (37:21-29).
Jehovah says that He has heard the blasphemous speech of the Assyrian king. We need to note what God says He will do in response to such blasphemy. God will bridle and lead the Assyrian back the way he came to Jerusalem’s walls. He will do this because Hezekiah had been praying to God and had not neglected God in his life. Christ expects us to ask Him for help when Satan encircles us and threatens to over run our lives.
God had signed Sennacherib’s commission against Judah (10:6); here He supersedes it. He has frightened them, but he must not hurt them, and therefore is discharged from going any further; no, his commitment is here signed, by which he is clapped up, to answer for what he had done beyond his commission.
And this shall be a sign unto you, You shall eat this year such as grows of itself; and the second year that which springs up of the same: and in the third year sow you, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof (37:30).
God gives the children of Judah some comfort in knowing that they will continue to live in their land a while longer.
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
33 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it (37:30-33).
If a single arrow had passed over the walls of Jerusalem God’s promise would have become null and void. But that event never happened as the Assyrians withdrew their forces and returned to their land.
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, says the Lord (37:34).
This is very specific, and it was then literally fulfilled. Sennecherib was lead back to his homeland by rumors. He never returned to invade Jerusalem.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, next time we shall look at how God dealt with the Assyrian army. I pray that you have a peaceful and love-filled Labor Day weekend.
Tue, Sep 1st - 9:00PM
Book of Isaiah Study
We now look at one of the truly great prayers within Scripture.
And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying,
O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwells between the cherubims, You are the God, even You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: You have made heaven and earth (37:15-16).
None of the instructed Israelites believed that God was a local deity who lived in the temple, just a little box in Jerusalem. King Solomon had prayed: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built? (I Kings 8:27). Every Israelite recognized that He was the God of heaven, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennecherib, which has sent to reproach the living God (37:17).
Hezekiah lays it all out in the open with God. He is working up to asking for deliverance from the Assyrians but he first desires to lay out the particulars of the situation. Hezekiah focuses attention upon the fact that the Assyrian letter is directly against God.
Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them (37:18-19).
See, we need to admit to the facts that are put before us, especially when they are irrefutable. Hezekiah knows the Assyrian army has beaten down everyone they have met thus far. He would waste no time nor energy denying it. In our dealings with God it is wise to tell Him the truth, especially about ourselves.
Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, even You only (37:20).
And there is Hezekiah’s plea: Deliver us O Lord! In this fashion the entire world shall see that God is Lord over all. We ought to pray for God to deliver us in such a fashion that the entire community in which we live, work, and move around in, would be able to see the greatness of God and know that He lives and is truly real.
Of course, gods made by men’s hands do not become limited to just physical images crafted in silver or gold. No, they can be our system of thinking, our philosophy, our religion, our homes, our families’, our possessions. These things are all “made” by us. Thus to follow Christ we must cast off these “gods,” pick up our cross, and closely follow His example of living. It is as simple as “losing oneself” in Christ, and as complicated as “finding oneself” in Christ. We must be willing to do as Abraham did with his son Isaac. We must be willing to dispossess ourselves of everything if God so desires it on the path that He wants us to walk. That can be a difficult task, reaching that understanding that all that I have is God’s, that He has given everything to me, it is His.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time, God willing, we shall see God’s answer to this wonderful prayer. Until then, may Christ richly bless you beyond your wildest imagination!
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