Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31st

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Jeremiah 5:20-6:30; 2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:8-28.

Today's passage in Jeremiah continues in the same vein as yesterday's - completely relevant to our culture.

Our passages in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles basically bring up the question - when you hear/read the Word of the Lord, when you recognize the holiness of the God we serve, when you realize how far our society has gone away from following our God - what is your response?

Is your response like Josiah's?
From my Life Application Study Bible... As the Book of God's Law was read to Josiah, he was chocked, frightened, and humbled. He realized what a great gap existed between his efforts to lead his people to God and God's expectations for his chosen nation. He was overwhelmed by God's holiness and immediately tried to expose his people to that holiness. The people did respond, but the Bible makes it clear that their renewed worship of God was much more out of respect for Josiah than out of personal understanding of their own guilty before God. How would you describe your relationship with God? Are your feeble efforts at holiness based mostly on a desire to "go along" with a well-liked leader or popular opinion? Or are you, like Josiah, deeply humbled by God's Word, realizing that great gap between your life and the kind of life God expects, realizing your deep need to be cleansed and renewed by him? Humble obedience pleases God. Good intentions, even reforms, are not enough. You must allow God's Word to truly humble you and change your life.

What is our response to the Word of God? King Josiah found a copy of the law that had been lost for years - and he treasured it, he studied it and he changed his life because of it. We often have 10 different versions of the entire Bible at our finger tips - and for so long we've left it sitting on the bookshelf collecting dust.

What's the difference between a lost Bible and an unused one? Quite frankly, the unused one is worse - because now we're just purposefully ignoring the Word.

Of course, we are now reading and studying the Word together and that is wonderful. But that is not the final step. The final step is, of course, applying what we learn to our lives.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Do we allow the Word to do it's work? Do we give the Spirit access to our inmost thoughts? Do we acknowledge our own sin when we study the Word or do we justify it or pretend it's not even there? If we acknowledge it, do we then convince ourselves it's not a big deal or do we repent, resulting in changed behaviour?

Do we respond like Josiah?

Or do we respond like his son Jehoiakim who after hearing the Word of God, tore it up and threw it in the fire (Jeremiah 36)? Oh, no, we would never do that! But in reality, when we don't bother to read it, when we disregard it, when we ignore it - we may as well have thrown it in the fire.

You can be like Jehoiakim's father. You can hear the Word of the Lord and fall on your face and say, "Oh, God, I'm so sorry." Humble yourself and say, "Lord, I want to live in obedience to Your Word. Have mercy on me."

And He will. (Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Outlasting the Critics)

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Kings 23:1-20, 2 Chronicles 34:29-33, 2 Kings 23:21-28, 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, Nahum 1-3.

Less flipping: 2 Kings 23:1-28, 2 Chronicles 34:20-35:19, Nahum 1-3

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30th ~ tammi

I couldn't help but think all these words in today's passage could easily have been directed to us today. And, since they are a part of God's Holy Word, I guess they are, but it's so easy to pretend sometimes that the Old Testament is just history; that it's not applicable today. But if we believe the Bible is God's complete, unerrant, infallible, all-suitable Word, then there are lessons to be learned even in the books that were written during the theocratic days of the Old Testament.

I think the verses that struck me most were in the beginning of the passage:
"They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, 'Come and save us!' Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! for you have as many gods as you have town, O Judah.

"Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me," declares the LORD. "In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a ravening lion."

You of this generation, consider the word of the LORD: "Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, 'We are free to roam; we will come to you no more'? Does a maiden forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number. How skilled you are at pursuing love! Even the worst of women can learn from your ways. On your clothes men find the lifeblood of the innocent poor, though you did not catch them breaking in.

Yet in spite of all this you say, 'I am innocent; he is not angry with me.' But I will pass judgment on you because you say, 'I have not sinned.'

Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria. You will also leave that place with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those you trust; you will not be helped by them."
(Jer 2:27b-37)
Doesn't this sound like He's talking to our current generation, our culture? He's calling Israel by name here, but as we've come to see, Israel is a very accurate portrait of human nature ~ crying out to God only when they've exhausted every other avenue of rescue (sometimes not even then), but deserting Him the instant they figure everything is under control. No matter what calamity befalls them, they turn to idols or other nations first before they repent and seek God.

We're fooling only ourselves if we claim that isn't how we operate!

How many times has mankind been "punished in vain," I wonder? How many times have I been punished in vain?! My stubborn heart refuses to recognize the rebuke or chastisement from God sometimes because my pride doesn't allow for the admission that I sinned in the first place! "These circumstances that I find myself in couldn't possibly be a lesson from God because I've done nothing wrong! I'm not nearly as bad as ______!" Oh, how much easier and simpler our lives would be if humility were practiced a little more actively!

Not all the bad things that happen in our lives are necessarily direct punishment from God, but they DO all give us a reminder to turn to God, to cling to Him. Our actions and reactions in our circumstances WILL demonstrate what kind of relationship we have with Christ. Rachel Barkey says, "There is a natural tendency within us to try and make God who we think He is or who we think He ought to be. If all is well in our world, our view of God is unchallenged. He is good. He is loving. He is fair. But when things start to go awry, that is when our true view of God is revealed." What does the way I handle trials say about my faith?

I heard Rachel's INCREDIBLE testimony for the first time last Saturday. I think it's SO applicable here. She was a woman from Vancouver, BC who died of cancer at the age of 37 last summer. A few months prior to her death, she gave an intensely gripping and inspiring message, a thorough explanation for the hope that she had, to an audience of several hundred women. In it, she demonstrates an awe-inspiring grasp of God's nature, why bad things happen, and how gracious God is being as over and over He reminds us that HE. IS. THE. ALMIGHTY. GOD. and that we need to turn to Him.

Know God. Know yourself.
Know the gospel. Know your purpose.

This was Rachel Barkey's "recipe" for peace and hope in God, no matter what life threw at her. I would strongly encourage you to listen/watch the whole message on Rachel's official Death is not Dying site, or listen/read the transcript of Part 1 and Part 2 as they aired on Revive Our Hearts last week.

Tomorrow's passages: Jeremiah 5:20-6:30; 2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:8-28.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-17, 2 Chronicles 33:10-19, 2 Kings 21:18, 2 Chronicles 33:20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7, Jeremiah 1-2:22

Way less flipping: 2 Kings 21-22:2, 2 Chronicles 33-34:7, Jeremiah 1-2:22

Today we read the story of King Manasseh - one of the most evil kings to have ever lived. He sacrificed at least one of his own children to idols and worshipped idols in the temple of the Lord.

But it's also a story that once again demonstrates God's completely undeserved mercy. There was likely no one was deserved God's wrath more than King Manasseh. And make no mistake - if he had died without repenting he would've received that wrath.

But he did not.

Why? Because God lowered His standards?

No. Because King Manasseh experienced true remorse and genuine repentance and God, in His great mercy, forgave him.

Honestly, the human side of me doesn't like it. In my oh-so-humanly-flawed opinion, Manasseh deserved the wrath of God. He did not deserve God's mercy.

And it's true. He didn't.

But neither do I. And neither do you. That's what makes mercy, mercy.

I cannot be thankful for the mercy God has shown me, and not be thankful for the mercy God showed to King Manasseh. I need to be thankful for God's mercy period.

I was actually planning to write about Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart and about Jeremiah 1:7-8 But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child'. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the Lord. which also reminds me of 1 Timothy 4:12 Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. but this is getting pretty long, and besides, John Piper can say it better than I can anyway.

Tomorrow's passage: Jeremiah 2:23-5:19

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 63:15-66:24; 2 Kings 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 32:32-33.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God beside you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4

Our Creator God works on behalf of His creation.

First of all, we know that God is the only true God and there are no other gods. And no god but our God would actually work on behalf of His creation. The thought is just incredible really.

God works on behalf of all creation - by providing the sun and the rain, by giving us our next breath, etc. But this verse talks specifically of God acting on behalf of those who wait for him. So what does it mean to wait for him?

We first wait for Him by praying before we act - by being open and submissive to God's counsel. When we receive His counsel, our response again involves waiting.

Either God will explicitly tell us to wait and do nothing while He works completely on His own on our behalf (such as when He put to death the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a recent passage).

Or God will tell us to act, but again to act while also waiting and relying on His help, realizing that apart from Him we can do nothing (such as when He instructed kings to go into battle and He would deliver them into their hands. They still had to fight, but they were to rely on God for the victory, not their horses or chariots).

Human labour is not guaranteed. But God's labour cannot fail. In his sermon on this verse, John Piper says....
God is not lacking in any of the things that cause human workmen to let us down in the service we need. They may lack a sufficient concern for the reputation and honor of their firm. They may lack sufficient understanding of how to do the job. They may lack sufficient strength or endurance to finish it. In other words, their motivation, their knowledge, and their power may be inadequate for what needs to be done, and so they sometimes let us down.

But with God things are utterly different. His motivation to preserve his honor and avoid the reputation of a bumbler is infinite. His knowledge of how everything works and how to meet every need is infinite. And his strength and endurance are infinite. God cannot fail.

So, we need to wait for our God and He will work on our behalf. What an incredible promise!

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Kings 21:1-9, 2 Chronicles 33:1-9, 2 Kings 21:10-17, 2 Chronicles 33:10-19, 2 Kings 21:18, 2 Chronicles 33:20, 2 Kings 21:19-26, 2 Chronicles 33:21-25, 2 Kings 22:1-2, 2 Chronicles 34:1-7, Jeremiah 1-2:22

Way less flipping: 2 Kings 21-22:2, 2 Chronicles 33-34:7, Jeremiah 1-2:22

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27 - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 58-63:14.

I found SO much that spoke to me in today's passage.  Like we read previously in Ecclesiastes, there really is nothing new under the sun.  In the first two chapters of today's reading, Isaiah could have been describing our world today. 

We start off today's reading with Isaiah 58: "True and False Worship".  It's always easy to say "Oh, look at so-and-so.  See how they fold their hands and bow their heads in church, and tomorrow they'll be lying or gossiping or cheating or fornicating.  What a hypocrite!"  All the while forgetting that our sin is no less evil than is theirs.  We don't truly know the state of anyone else's heart or their relationship with God, and we are not fit or equipped to judge someone else.  I think we need to take stock of our own attitudes and Isaiah 58 can shed some light on how we're doing in that area. 

On to chapter 59:  I often hear Christians lamenting about how much worse things are in the world now than they were several decades ago.  I think mainly the things that used to be more hidden are much more out in the open now. We see it more and hear about it more because of the advancements in technology and the vast amounts of information and media available to us in the blink of an eye today.  For example, certainly years ago there was a lot less bad language and nudity in the media.  People didn't expose as much of their flesh in public as they do now.  Things like homosexuality were taboo and so people pretended not to be gay, married someone of the opposite sex and even had children, and kept their "extracurricular activities" behind closed doors.  But the attitudes, the sin, the darkness of heart, the rebellion against what we know we should do as opposed to what we want to do... that is the human condition and I don't believe that has changed one iota since Adam & Eve got kicked out of paradise.  You can disagree with me if you want; it's just my opinion.  I wonder sometimes if we didn't have access to worldwide media and just got our worldview from the people and communities in our vicinity whether that perception of how much worse things are would still hold true. 

Be that as it may, today's reading sounds a lot like the world today, as did the readings regarding the state of the world before the Flood and when God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah.  From Isaiah 59:

No one cares about being fair and honest.  The people’s lawsuits are based on lies.
They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin.
All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark.
Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.  Misery and destruction always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good.

The next two chapters, 60 & 61, are about hope.  Originally these promises were for the nation of Israel, as God's chosen people.  Ephesians 1 & 2 talk about how Gentiles, upon receiving God's gift of salvation through Christ's death on the cross, are "adopted as sons"..."fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household" and therefore heirs to the kingdom together with Israel. 

Ephesians 2:14-16 ~ For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Isaiah 60:18-22 ~ Violence will disappear from your land;
the desolation and destruction of war will end.
Salvation will surround you like city walls,
and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there.
“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day,
nor the moon to give its light by night,
for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set;
your moon will not go down.
For the Lord will be your everlasting light.
Your days of mourning will come to an end.
All your people will be righteous.
They will possess their land forever,
for I will plant them there with my own hands
in order to bring myself glory.
The smallest family will become a thousand people,
and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation.
At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

What a promise!  When comparing those verses to what we see in our world today, I can hardly wait for that day to come.  And yet, there is that hesitation about the unknown - that uncertainty.  I love my husband and my children.  I love my parents, my siblings and their families, my husband's family, my friends, my church, and my home.  I love our incredibly beautiful, gorgeous, amazing-beyond-description Earth.  I know that what is to come will be more, better, greater, awesome... more than I can possibly hope for or imagine (which is probably part of the problem) and yet there is still that part of me that likes the familiar that is afraid to really embrace and look forward to that day. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  Sorry I'm late - last night's thunderstorm and consequent brief power outage tampered with my plans.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 63:15-66:24; 2 Kings 20:20-21; 2 Chronicles 32:32-33.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 52:13-57:21

“The Triumph of the Suffering Servant” An Exposition of Isaiah 52:13—53:12 by Allen Ross
Future Blessings for the People of God Isaiah 54:1-17 by Allen Ross
God’s Exhortation to Receive His Grace Isaiah 55:1-13 by Allen Ross
Are You Thirsty? Then, Come: God’s Gracious Covenant of Life in Isaiah 55 by Greg Herrick
Surely He Has Borne Our Griefs Isaiah 52:13-53:6 by John Piper
The Risen Christ: Satisfied with His Suffering Isaiah 53:3-12 by John Piper
Like a Lamb That Is Led to Slaughter Isaiah 53:7-9 by John Piper
He Shall Be Satisfied with the Fruit of His Travail Isaiah 53:10-12 by John Piper
The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son Isaiah 53:10 by John Piper
The Great Invitation: Call Others Too! Isaiah 55:1-3 by John Piper
The Great Invitation: Come! Drink! Eat! Live! Isaiah 55:1-3 by John Piper
The Great Invitation: A High Way for Low Sinners Isaiah 55:6-9 by John Piper
The Great Invitation: God's Triumphant Word Isaiah 55:10-11 by John Piper
The Great Invitation: Break Forth in Song Isaiah 55:12-13 by John Piper
Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters Isaiah 56:1-7 by John Piper
The Lofty One Whose Name Is Holy Isaiah 57:14-21 by John Piper

Our God is so great it is literally beyond description.

I've just started reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it is incredible. If you have 3 mins, please take the time to watch this clip - God Declares His Glory.

And, if you have another 3 mins, watch this clip - The Awe Factor of God.

Now, with that in mind, reread the following passage....

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6

This amazing, holy God, creator of the universe, this Jesus took the punishment that you and I so rightly deserved, He took the wrath of God upon Himself, He endured separation from His Father, and the Father endured inflicting His wrath upon His own Son and separating Himself from Him - all of this, for you and for me.

He loves us that much.

THAT is crazy love.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 58:1-63:14

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday's Guest Post by Alicia

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 48:12-52:12

Isaiah 49:15-16
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are ever before me."

The whole time I was reading these passages I kept being drawn to the perspective of reading it as it applied to me, a child of God. For in fact, I am Israel, I am the wayward child that is bought and loved. It was so evident that I could not seem to hardly read it in it's OT context. Still the fact is, it is very much the sentiment God has for those He has purchased in Christ as well. This verse in particular declares His deep passion for His people.
As a mother, to imagine forgetting your child rips your heart out and yet, God's affection and devotion is deeper still.
"your walls are ever before me" is a reference to Ex 13:9 which is believed to be a reference to the tradition of the people to engrave the image of their city on their hands to show loyal devotion to it. I'm not sure if that was a tattoo but it would have to be something permanently evident.
The verse is filled with heart wrenching word pictures to get across His statement of faithfulness.

We are his people. He has chosen us and written us on his hands. He can no more reject us than reject his son for indeed rejecting his people would be to destroy the whole sacrifice of His son and He would never do that or even make light of it. The covenant to his people Israel has been given to us at the cross, it has transferred over to his bride the church and we are in Him. A covenant written in the precious blood of Christ that causes God to look on his people as if we had always obeyed. The motivation for devotion to our faithful God that comes from pondering this is powerful. Guilt will never motivate us, it will tear us down and stop us because it's all about us and our performance. Preaching this gospel of the purchased people over and over, will take the light off us and always put it back on Christ where it belongs. We are His, His people, to eternity.

Lord help us wrap our heads around this more clearly. Let it become part of who we are so our devotion is genuine and our praise of you thick and true. Thank you that you did what we could never do, and help us not fall into the trap of trying to do it now and therefore spit on the work of your son to make it "finished". Let us think about what it cost you, not just in the pain, but in the tearing of the trinity. The painful separation even for a moment from your Son as you had to turn your face from Him for our sakes. Let us ponder the agony of his rejection because of our sin and the love for you that powered that in obedience. Help us get it Lord. Let us not build up our own glory story with our 10 steps to being a better Christian, but to really know that this is your work, done and finished and working daily to sanctify us. You work in us to make us more like yourself. Help us get our mind on you, you, you and our covenant with you that YOU have perfected. Let it explode within us the return sentiment of praise to your name and works to your glory powered by genuine want of you and love for what you did.

Tomorrow's reading is:
Isaiah 52:13-57:21

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24- Guest post by Pamela

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 44:6-48:11.


Isaiah 47:11
Disaster will come upon you,
and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you
that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee
will suddenly come upon you.

Observation: God does not stop bad things from happening.

Application: I think there is a common misconception that once you are a Christian that you will be free of problems. Or maybe that is just what we would like to believe ;) On the contrary, Christians face many of the same problems that anyone else will face. Sickness, loss, terminal illness, depression, loneliness, anger, addictions, marital problems and many others attack the Christians and non-Christians without prejudice one way or the other. I believe God puts us in these tough situations not only to draw him closer to him but also to serve as an example to others which may lead them to join God's family. It doesn't always make sense why a young Father dies suddenly, why a youth pastor is killed in a car accident, why a young mother is diagnosed with cancer, or why a loving couple remains unable to have children. In our small human brains, we can't wrap our heads around these terrible things that happen to such dedicated Christian men and woman. Just today, I learned that friends of ours lost their new home in a devastating fire. Why? Why would God let something so terrible happen to them? I think God allows bad things to happen to remind us that He is in control.
He says:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God. (
Isaiah 44:6)
He was always here and always will be and there is no one more powerful than Him.

I am the LORD,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself, (Isaiah 44:24)
Everything belongs to Him, therefore He is in control of us keeping it or losing it.

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.(Isaiah 45:4)

The Almighty God knows us and provides for us and supplies us everything that we need. He does not want us to rely on anything else and reserves the right to demonstrate this through disaster.

Prayer: Lord, You are an all-knowing God. You know the past, you know the future, and everything in between. We don't always understand why disasters come into our lives and threaten to shake us. When we hear about the earthquakes, floods, murders, fires, or any other multitude of disasters, we ask why are these bad things happening? Help us to realize that You have the ultimate control over all situations and everything is Yours. Guide our thoughts to You and let us focus on what You desire and not on what is out of our control. Thank you for creating us, knowing us intimately, for knowing all that is to come, and for carrying us through the disasters in our lives. Amen.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 48:12-52:12

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23rd

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 40:1-44:5

There are a lot of sermons by John Piper on today's passage. Here is the list....
Three Meditations on "The Messiah" - Isaiah 40:5
Thanksgiving Toward the Past, Faith Toward the Future - Isaiah 40:8
Fear Not, I Am with You, I Am Your God - Isaiah 41:1-13
Fear Not, You Worm Jacob! - Isaiah 41:14
God Created Us for His Glory - Isaiah 43:1-7
The Joyful Purpose of God - Isaiah 43:1-7
I Am the Lord, and Besides Me There Is No Savior -Isaiah 43:8-13
From Wonder to Witness -Isaiah 43:10-13
A Precious Promise: The Outpouring of God's Spirit - Isaiah 44:1-5

Commentaries on
Comfort for God’s People (Isaiah 40) - J Hampton Keathley
A Message of Comfort to God’s People Isaiah 40:1-31 - Allen Ross
The LORD is the Gracious Redeemer Isaiah 43:1-13 - Allen Ross

There are so many awesome verses in this passage! (any emphasis is mine)

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1b

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I love how John Piper unpacks this verse in his sermon Fear Not, I am your God.
  • The God who judges all the earth and calls the coastlands to give account . . . (v1)
  • The God who rules the rulers of history . . . (v2-3)
  • The God who calls the nations of earth into being because he is first and last . . . (v4)
  • The God who calls his own people and makes himself their God freely and graciously . . (v8-9).

That God says to us who believe,

  • I am your God.
  • I am with you.
  • I will strength you.
  • I will help you.
  • I will uphold you.
.....Therefore, do not fear. (emphasis and verse references mine)

And what strikes me most about all these message of hope, of comfort, of strength, of assurance, of steadfastness, of faithfulness is that these are personal messages to each one of us by the God so great we cannot even begin to imagine his greatness.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Isaiah 40:12, 13, 15

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Isaiah 40:22

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

How many stars are there?

Taking the Milky Way as an average galaxy, the total number of known stars is thus (100 billion)2=(1011)2=1022. These estimated stars number 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, when we write this number out. This figure would be pronounced as “ten billion trillion” stars.

According to NASA, the stars are countless.

But according to Isaiah 40:26, God can not only count the countless stars, He has given each one a name! It's just mind boggling!

And to top it off - this great God of the universe, the almighty Creator, who can control the wind and the rain and the stars - THIS GOD loves me and you .... individually. He cares about us, about every detail of our lives. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He will help you. He will uphold you. He is with you. He loves you.

This is yet another example of the fear of God being combined with the hope and grace of God.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 44:6-48:11

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22nd

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Kings 20:1-11, Isaiah 38:1-8, 2 Chronicles 32:24-31, Isaiah 38:9-22, 2 Kings 20:12-19, Isaiah 39:1-8. Or, with less flipping: 2 Kings 20:1-19, 2 Chronicles 32:24-31, Isaiah 38-39

This passage contains the incredible miracle of God turning back time. He literally reversed the direction of the earth ten degrees and then got it going in the right direction again. Incredible!

I love these verses.....
But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord's wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 32:25-26

Hezekiah messed up. Just like we all do.

But he reacted appropriately to the correction of the Lord. He repented. Often when we start to go our own way it's pretty hard to repent - our pride kicks in and we try to justify our sin which just leads us further down the wrong path. But Hezekiah, though it was exactly the sin of pride, recognized his sinfulness and repented.

It's interesting to me that Hezekiah sinned after God provided such an amazing miracle for him. Another reminder that we need to be especially vigilant to spiritual attacks after a spiritual high or victory.

Another interesting thing - God allowed Hezekiah to live another 15 years during which time his son Manessah - the most evil king to ever live (but who, amazingly repented at the end of his life!) - was born. I wonder if Hezekiah would've regretted his prayer had he known what would've resulted from it. And yet, Manessah's birth also ensured the continuation of the Davidic line - necessary for the fulfilment of the prophecy that David's kingdom would last forever in the birth of Jesus.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 40:1-44:5

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21st

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is 2 Kings 19:1-19, Isaiah 37:1-20; 2 Chronicles 32:9-19; 2 Kings 19:20-37; Isaiah 37:21-38; 2 Chronicles 32:20-23. Or for less flipping: 2 Kings 19:1-37; Isaiah 37:1-38; 2 Chronicles 32:9-23.

I love today's passage! I love the faith that King Hezekiah displays in the face of Assyrian power, knowing that God was able to defeat them and their worthless idols.

Hezekiah didn't care that the King of Assyria was boasting about defeating all these other cities and their idols. He knew they were just man-made, worthless pieces of junk. Yes, the King of Assyria was mighty. Yes, the King of Assyria had defeated numerous nations. Yes, Judah was the perceived underdog in a completely mismatched fight. Yes, Assyria would be humanly impossible to defeat.

But Judah had God.

And Hezekiah prayed to God.

And God answered Hezekiah because he prayed and for His glory.

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria.....I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!" Isaiah 37:21 & 35 (emphasis mine)

Our God is mighty to save. Our God answers pray. Our God delights to intervene in humanly impossible situations because then it is impossible not to give Him the glory.

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16b

In his sermon Prayer and the Victory of God, John Piper says...

One man prays for the salvation of God’s people and the victory of God, and God responds by killing 185,000 soldiers and rescuing his people.

Today the enemies of the church of Jesus Christ are not political or national or ethnic. Paul said, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Until our King comes from heaven, we wish the destruction of no man. As Christians we do not kill our enemies, we pray for our enemies, as Jesus taught us to do (Matthew 5:44).

The great battle today is fought not with swords but with the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. It is fought for the souls of men. It is fought in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is fought with words of truth and deeds of love and justice. And all of that backed by prayer. The victory will come and will come by prayer.

Therefore, in this new year, pray for the victory of God. Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Send forth laborers, O God. Open a door for the gospel. Give boldness to your people. Save the peoples, O Lord. Vindicate your elect who cry to you day and night. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Prayer is a powerful weapon. Wield it!

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Kings 20:1-11, Isaiah 38:1-8, 2 Chronicles 32:24-31, Isaiah 38:9-22, 2 Kings 20:12-19, Isaiah 39:1-8
Tomorrow's passage with less flipping: 2 Kings 20:1-19, 2 Chronicles 32:24-31, Isaiah 38-39

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20th - Miriam

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Micah 6-7, 2 Chronicles 32:1-8, 2 Kings 18:13-37, and Isaiah 36.

Two sermons are available from Micah 7 by John Piper:
Parenting With Hope In The Worst Of Times and
When I Fall, I Will Rise.

Micah 6 talks at first about how much God has done for Israel and how far from Him they have strayed.  Many of us will recognize Micah 6:8 as a song that we've sung in church.  "He has shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee.  To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."  It's a pretty short list, but man, it's a tough one to stick to on a day-in, day-out basis.  I like what the 2nd sermon above says about chapter 7 verse 9:

Do you see this in verse 9? An amazing verse from God's Word this morning!

I will bear the indignation of the Lord
because I have sinned against him . . .

 There's brokenness and contrition and remorse—"I have sinned against God! And I will not try to defend myself or in any way lessen my guilt. I will bear the indignation of the Lord. He has every right to be angry with me. I put my hand upon my mouth and my back to the rod. For I have sinned against the Lord of glory, and I am ashamed."

But then look at the next two lines of verse 9:

. . . until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.

There's boldness and confidence and ruggedness—"God will plead my cause. God will execute judgment for me."

I have sinned against him, and so I am broken beneath the his holy indignation. But this very God—this very same angry God—will soon plead my cause, he will take my side and vindicate me, and so I am bold in his grace. Broken under his indignation, bold in his grace.

What is so remarkable and helpful about this verse is that it keeps these two things so close together. Many of us feel that we can't live this way—keeping these two things so close together. If we think of God as angry with us, we collapse in despair. If we think of God as gracious to us, then we feel there is no place for brokenness and remorse. And so today we tend to separate what the Bible keeps together.

 The message today, then, is this: Let's keep these things together! When we sin, let's accept the indignation of God and not deny it or hide ourselves from it. But not only that: when we sin, let's be bold and believe that this very God will soon plead our cause and vindicate us in justice. That's today's message: in your experience of God keep together what God has joined—brokenness and boldness.

The story we read afterwards about Hezekiah and the representatives from Assyria made me think of the church, or Christianity, vs. the world.  You have the Christian community (your church or your Christian friends) telling you:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles."
Or something to that effect, befitting the situation.  Then you have the world telling you:
Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!
Or in other words "Make it easier on yourself!  Following all those rules and being good all the time is too hard!  Take what you want and have it now!  Nevermind storing up treasures in heaven!  Who says there is a heaven anyway?"

It seems at first that you're getting the good stuff when you turn away from Christ and follow the world, but soon the flavours begin to taste like dust and the colours wear off and you see what is really underneath -- desolation, despair, hopelessness...  bondage. 
Tomorrow's passage: 2 Kings 19:1-19, Isaiah 37:1-20; 2 Chronicles 32:9-19; 2 Kings 19:20-37; Isaiah 37:21-38; 2 Chronicles 32:20-23. 

Or for less flipping: 2 Kings 19:1-37; Isaiah 37:1-38; 2 Chronicles 32:9-23.

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 34-35, Micah 2-5

The difference between Isaiah 34 (the judgement of the wicked) and 35 (the redemption of the faithful) is incredible.

The word pictures are amazing - frightening on the one hand, and hope-filled on the other.

For the wicked....
He will totally destroy them , he will give them over to slaughter. Their slain will be thrown out, their dead bodies will send up a stench; the mountains will be soaked with their blood. All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll (Isaiah 34:2b-4a)
The sword of the Lord is bathed in blood (34:6a)
It will not be quenched night and day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again. (34:10)

But for the faithful....
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. (35:1)
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. (35:5-6a)
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. (35:6b)
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it...But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (35:8, 9b-10)

Wow, what a stark difference between the two!

As we've been going through this year's readings, as I've been studying the Word, and as I've been reading some books by Christian authors, I think I am finally starting to realize the depth of my own depravity.

We need to grasp the seriousness of our own sin.

God despises sin. Any sin. He despises my sin and He despises your sin.

The biggest obstacle to the gospel today in our culture, is the complete ignorance of our own sin. In our culture, most people think that if they are good enough they will go to heaven, that hell is only for the vilest offenders in prison. Basically everyone else is good enough. We certainly are personally. We don't see the need to be rescued because we don't understand how much God hates sin, any sin no matter how "small" or how "big".

In our current culture, we first need to convince people of the bads news (that they are sinners) before we can even begin to tell them the Good News.

The man swallowing ocean water and going under doesn't need to hear he's drowning; he needs a life preserver. But countless people today, arms flailing, as they attempt to keep their heads above water, don't believe they are drowning - and so don't think they need rescue. (from Randy Alcorn's book If God is Good, pg 77)

If we don't have a correct view of sin we will never acknowledge our need for a Saviour. And, even worse, we minimize what Christ did for us on the cross.

We don't only demonstrate evil by what we do, but also by what we fail to do, and by what we stand by and allow others to do.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:17)

I really think that even the majority of Christians (including myself) have not truly understood how totally our sin separates us from our holy God.

When God says he is holy...he means that he constantly and actively separates himself from all sin, wickedness, evil, and moral corruption - that is, all that is common to this world...It is as if God were allergic to evil in all its forms, and he must immediately remove himself.... God is holy. That means that he is perfect, pure, and spotless in a way that we cannot imagine....His holiness defines all his other attributes. We fear his wrath because it is holy, and we admire his love precisly because it is holy. Day and night, those closest to him, the cherumbim and seraphim, cry: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts" (Isa 6:3) The cross was the most graphic demonstration of the Father's holiness in human history...... Here is the stunning truth: Such is the holiness of the Father that when his Son bore our sin and transgressions, God separated himself from him. "My God, my God," Jesus cried from the cross, "why have you forsaken me?" (Matt 27:46)... If God hates sin so much that he would separate himself even from his only Son when he bore our sin, how much more will he separate himself from our children if they are not reconciled to him through the miracle of new birth?... Because God is holy, he cannot forgive without punishing sin. The cross gave God a way to both forgive and satisfy divine justice at the same time. When God forgives a guilty sinner, it is only because his justice has been satisfied. God has punished it in his Son at the cross....God put the sins of all believers, Old and New Testament, on his Son. Then he punished those sins with the torments they deserve. In this way, God is able to forgive the offender without compromising his holy justice... The real question is not: "How can God be loving and wrathful at the same time?" Rather, the real question is: "How could God be good - infinitely good in the way the Bible describes him - and not feel intense anger at sin and evil?" Sin destroys everything it touches. It destroys the glory of God.... It corrupts families. It divides churches....Although sin often brings short-term pleasure, if not atoned for, it terminates in infinite pain. God is holy. How could he be infinitely good and apathetic toward evil at the same time? Infinite goodness must aggressively hate everything that destroys happiness.... The cross leads us to this conclusion: there are only two types of people. There are those who put their faith in Jesus and let him bear God's wrath in their place. And there are those who try to earn salvation on their own terms. They will bear this wrath themselves, in hell, for eternity. (William P Farley, from his book Gospel-Powered Parenting)

I really believe that the lack of understanding of the seriousness of our sin is the biggest hindrance to the futherance of the gospel in our culture today.

But when we finally grasp the eternal implications of sin, when we truly understand the wrath of God (as described in Isaiah 34), it makes the grace of God (as described in Isaiah 35) all that more amazing.

Tomorrow's passage: Micah 6-7, 2 Chronicles 32:1-8, 2 Kings 18:13-37, Isaiah 36

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 18th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 30-33.

In his sermon, Battling the Unbelief of Impatience (Isaiah 30:1-5, 15, 18), John Piper argues that impatience is unbelief, and that patience is not optional for a believer as it is a fruit of belief. He says that the way to battle the unbelief of impatience is (no surprise here) with the Word of God!

So you battle the unbelief of impatience by using the promises of God to persuade your heart that God's timing and God's guidance and God's sovereignty are going to take this frustrated, boxed in, unproductive situation and make something eternally valuable out of it. There will come a blessing, a strength, a vindication, a mounting up with wings like eagles.

Another section that jumped out at me..
They say to the seers, `See no more visions!`and to the prophets, `Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!` Isaiah 30:10-11

That is such a human response - we`re willing to listen to a lie instead of be convicted by the truth.

And yet iron sharpening iron is exactly how we grow to be more like Jesus. It`s painful, but necessary and so worth it!

If we`re not being convicted by the Word preached at our churches we need to ask ourselves if we are being honest in our self-evaulation (instead of thinking - X needs to listen to this sermon!) or if the Word is simply not being preached, in which case a change of churches is in order.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 34-35, Micah 2-5

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Isaiah 24-27 & 29.

So, yesterday I had an opportunity to redeem the time. I was sitting at the Olive Garden by myself (if we take kids along, Nathan usually drives around or shops a bit so we don't have restless, rowdy kids waiting with us for a table) with nothing to do. I took out my handy compact Bible from my purse and finished up the day's readings and then I put it away preparing to twiddle my thumbs till our table was ready. And then I remembered - redeem the time. This is exactly the time Janet Pope was talking about - and I could use it to memorize Psalm 1 as I verbally committed to doing on July 6th. And so I got my Bible back out and did it. Yup, I memorized the whole chapter (except verse 1 which I already had worked on) instead of doing nothing. Sounds like a good use of time to me!

I am going to continue memorizing scripture with my kids as we go through My ABC Bible verses, and when that is complete, I will pick another chapter to memorize. I like the idea of memorizing chapters because you don't have to memorize all kinds of references along with it. Plus you do get much more of a flow to what you're memorizing and it's easier to pull out a passage to recite to yourself during "redeem the time" moments.

Back to today's passage which flows excellently out of yesterday's passage and Tammi's post - the hope of the Second Coming.

In his sermon Cities of Ruthless Nations will Revere Thee on Chapter 25:1-8, John Piper sums it up so well with these words....
the cause of God we are investing in cannot fail. All the nations will turn to God in worship. God will spread a great banquet for all the peoples. Cities of ruthless nations will revere him. He will remove all suffering and grief and reproach from his people; and he will put away death forever.

Therefore, when it comes to world missions not one life, not one prayer, or one dollar, or one sermon, or one letter of encouragement, or one little light shining in some dark placenothing in the cause of God's advancing kingdom will ever be vain. (emphasis mine)

Can you feel the triumph? Can you sense the victory? Can you feel the certainty? Can you hear the absolute assurance that every promise of God will be fulfilled in that day?

Then live in the light of what you have heard and the hope you profess!

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 30-33

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16th ~ tammi

After reading this passage, quite honestly, I wondered how on earth to approach posting about it. Six chapters of doom and gloom for Jerusalem and her surrounding nations. Sure, there were some interesting points:

  • Isaiah walking around in only his undergarments for three years to demonstrate the shame in which Israel would be led into captivity. That's some serious commitment to follow God! (ch. 20);

  • the part of the prophecy about Egypt that says someday Egypt and Assyria will worship God together with Israel and together, they will be a blessing to the earth. I found it VERY interesting that Isaiah says God will bless them and call Egypt "His people" and Assyria "His handiwork." (ch. 19:23-25);

  • the restoration of Tyre after only 70 years of being cursed and forgotten, and while still compared to a prostitute, will yield her profits to God (ch. 23:15-18).
But other than that, it's all just death and destruction. I could end my post right here --

if it hadn't been for yesterday's passages and Tammy's look at it. Go back and read it; I'll wait.

*** (insert elevator muzak here) ***

So now you've read yesterday's passages, yesterday's post, and today's passages, right?

Notice where the emphasis is in yesterday's readings ~ on placing our trust SOLELY in God? To worship God with "fear and trembling" (man, that John Piper sure knows how to make things like that easy for simple folk to understand! Thanks for posting that excerpt, Tammy!) and to look to God alone to meet our needs?

And today we see why that's so important.

The great kingdoms of the past are, well... passed. They've fallen away. Some are barely remnants of former glory. Some don't even exist anymore. And so it will someday be with the great nations of today. Someday they, too, will cease to exist ~ whether a result of politics, war, natural catastrophe, or the Second Coming. ALL countries, nations, dominions, and kingdoms of the world, both great and small, will one day cease to exist.

God promises us that.

And all throughout the Bible we see warnings like this passage. Words of urgency to BE PREPARED, FOR THE END IS NEAR! Christ Himself, in the New Testament, says it several times, too, stressing the need to live in readiness for His return. To make sure we're placing our lives and our souls in God's care, trusting HIM to meet our physical and spiritual, our temporal and eternal needs.

And yet we see evidence in this passage, and so many others, that instead of repentence and remorse, there is revelry; instead of worship, there is wining and dining; instead of prayer and preparedness, there is partying. (22:12-14)

And we see it in our world today. Even in our churches.

We just don't tend to live like Christ's return will be today. We all know it COULD happen, but clearly we don't really believe it will. We all say we'd live differently if we knew we'd die tomorrow or next week, and yet, even though we know it COULD happen, we obviously believe it won't. Very few of us make permanent changes to our lifestyles based on that knowledge.

Or maybe it's not so much we don't believe it will happen as that we don't really WANT it to happen. We like our lives. There's so much we're planning on accomplishing, buying, and experiencing yet ~ we don't want to be "robbed" of those opportunities by a Second Coming in our lifetime.

But what if it happens at 2:00 tomorrow morning? Or next Tuesday? Or only on May 16, 2045? How would my day, my week ~ my LIFE ~ be different? WOULD they be different if I knew the exact date and time, especially if I knew I had at least 35 years yet? Could I meet God either way with the assurance that I'd lived to bring Him glory? That I'd pursued a life of holiness, separated from the world, living like a royal priest so that others would see the glory of God, regardless of how many more years, months, or mere days, He gives me? (1 Peter 2:9; Heb. 12:14-15) Would there be no careless words for which I needed to give account? (Matt. 12:36)

Wouldn't it be wonderful to live each day in anticipation of the end of time, preparing whole-heartedly for the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, rather than dreading it and/or shoving its reality into the far recesses of our hearts and minds?

Tomorrow's passages: Isaiah 24-27, and 29.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Psalm 136, 146-150

I'd like to highlight a couple things from two sermons by John Piper about two of these psalms - specifically 147:10-11 and 148:5

Psalm 148:5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.

In He Commanded and They Were Created, Piper describes the absolute power of God shown through the act of creation...
If you ever start to doubt the Word of God think on this: God can issue a command that is so powerful that if nothing is there to obey, the word itself brings forth its own obedience through creation out of nothing.

How incredible is that? Absolute power that is truly beyond human comprehension.

He concludes by saying...
The foundation of all redemptive history is that God the Father, through the agency of his eternal Son, created out of nothing all that is not God by his word of command, and by that same word he upholds all things so that the emergence of every new being is his peculiar creation. Therefore, God owns everything that exists. We and all our so-called possessions are his to do with as he pleases. What pleases him is the achievement of his ultimate purpose to fill the earth with his glory. Therefore, the all encompassing life-goal of every creature should be to display the value of God's glory. But since we are helpless and absolutely dependent on God for everything, the only way this can be done is by becoming like little children who are not anxious for anything, but entrust their souls to the faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).

Psalm 147:10-11 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

In The Pleasure of God in Those Who Hope in His Love, Piper gives an excellent illustration to show how it is possible to fear God and hope in Him at the same time - normally two very opposite responses.

Suppose you were exploring an unknown glacier in the north of Greenland in the dead of winter. Just as you reach a sheer cliff with a spectacular view of miles and miles of jagged ice and snow mountains, a terrible storm breaks in. The wind is so strong that the fear rises that it might blow you and your party right over the cliff. But in the midst of it you discover a cleft in the ice where you can hide. Here you feel secure, but the awesome might of the storm rages on and you watch it with a kind of trembling pleasure as it surges out across the distant glaciers.

At first there was the fear that this terrible storm and awesome terrain might claim your life. But then you found a refuge and gained the hope that you would be safe. But not everything in the feeling called fear vanished. Only the life-threatening part. There remained the trembling, the awe, the wonder, the feeling that you would never want to tangle with such a storm or be the adversary of such a power.

And so it is with God.

And God delights in those who experience this fear and this hope because our fear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace. God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence.....

The beauty of the gospel is that in one simple demand ("Put your hope in the love of God!") we hear good news and God gets the glory. And that is why God takes pleasure in those who hope in his love—because in this simple act of hope his grace is glorified and sinners are saved.

And why does God not delight in horses or the legs of man? It's not that He doesn't delight in the things He has created (He does!), but He is displeased with those who put their hope in their horses and legs, who put their hope in themselves and their own abilities or strengths. Because then those things get the glory, not God. And we are lost, not saved.

We need to put our hope in the aweinspiring power and love of God, not in ourselves or anything we think we can achieve on our own.

And that is the key - we think we can achieve it on our own. When in reality, with God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things, without His word and will continually speaking our very breath into being we would simply cease to be. Our every breath, every movement, every thought, every strength, our everything - is completely dependant on Creator God. We only fool ourselves when we think we can do anything on our own strength.

Tomorrow's passage: Isaiah 18-23

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14th

Today's reading from the One Year Bible Chronological Reading Plan is Psalm 128-130; 132; 134; & 135.

Our Hope: The Character of God (Psalm 130)
The Pleasure of God in All That He Does (Psalm 135) - John Piper

Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. (emphasis mine)

People who worship idols are as blind/deaf as the idols themselves. And we become like the idols we worship.

We will become like what we worship.

We can tell what we worship by evaluating what we spend our time, money and energy on. Where are our priorities? What is important to us? Not what we say is important to us - but what we live out. What are our goals? What do we value?

Our walk doesn't always match our talk. When the two don't line up, the walk is what we genuinely believe. Talk is cheap.

What you spend your money on, what you expend your energy on, what you invest your time in - that shows where your priorities are, what your idols are.

And, slowly, in time, we begin to resemble the things we worship, the things we prioritize.

This is, of course, good news and bad news - depending what we worship. If we are worshiping God, we will become more like Him as we worship Him. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.

It reminds me of a poster I once had up in my room that said "Practice makes perfect. So be careful what you practice."

Lord, we praise You for being the One True God. All glory and honour and praise to Your holy name. We know that any other god is a false, worthless imitation created by fallen humanity. Help us to honestly evaluate our priorities and to be purposeful in what we spend our time, energy and money on. We know that we become like that which we worship - we want to worship You, we want to become more like You. Help us to study Your Word daily, to meditate on it, to spend time in prayer and communion with You, and to invest in the lives of those around us for Your glory. Amen.

Tomorrow's passage: Psalm 136, 146-150