Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 8 September 18:
1. Isaiah 5:1-7 – “…and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?…”
– God created us to love Him for eternity and to serve Him on earth, to glorify Him on earth, and to manifest His will on earth. He loves us beyond measure and has commissioned us for our earthly purpose with all power and authority. He has given us all that we need and has provided us His Holy Spirit to empower us. If we fail to fulfill our purpose on earth, it is not because He did not adequately support us.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — The prophet Isaiah told the story of a man with a vineyard on a fertile hill. The man cultivated the ground and removed the stones so that nothing would hinder the vines’ growth. He planted only the best quality vines. He built a tower in the middle of the vineyard so he could watch for wild animals and intruders. He constructed a wine vat so that he would be ready for the ripe grapes. Then he waited. Rather than producing good grapes, however, the vineyard produced worthless ones. The story illustrates the relationship between God and His people. God has done everything necessary for us to produce an abundance of spiritual fruit in our lives. He saved us when we were without hope. He gave us His Holy Spirit to produce fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). He removed our sin so that we are free to serve Him. We have the Bible in numerous translations. We have access to more Christian books, music, videos, conferences, schools, radio and television stations, magazines, and seminars than ever before. There are churches of every kind and size. We have teachers and pastors to instruct us and encourage us. Most of all, we have direct access to God through prayer. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48). One day God will hold us accountable for all that He has done for us. He will ask us to show Him the fruit of all of His bountiful provision for our lives. What will He find?
2. Isaiah 5:5 – “And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.” When God removes His protections, there is no hope.
3. Isaiah 5:6, 10, 25, 26 – “I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it…. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah…. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come!” God punishes nations by allowing lawlessness to go unchecked, by allowing the rise of corrupt governmental and church leaders, by bringing natural disasters, famines, and plaques; through economic collapse; and by sending foreign nations to war against them.
4. Isaiah 5:8-10 – “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: ‘Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.’” During what seems to be its most prosperous time, the ungodly nation falls like a house of cards.
5. Isaiah 5:11, 12 – “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands.” The rebellious church and ungodly nation prefer entertainment over worship.
6. Isaiah 5:13 – “Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.” We suffer because we have sought to serve ourselves and lead ourselves rather than to serve God and to be led by Him.
7. Isaiah 5:18, 19 — “Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, who say: ‘Let him be quick, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!’” Pay attention church: There are many active church members who are excited about the return of Jesus and His judgment on the wicked, not recognizing that they have failed to be the salt and light on earth God called them to be. Many point a finger at “the world” and blame the rapid proliferation of sin upon them, as if sinners have a choice but to sin, ignoring that the growing darkness is the result of the dimming of the light, ignoring that the salt no longer preserves because it has lost its saltiness. The church fails to see the burden of responsibility that rests upon us. Those who have been given the lamps have put them under bowls and then complained about the darkness. Christians should not blame a sinful world for being sinful and hope for the sinners’ judgment, rather Christians should repent of their compromise and recommit to a wholehearted approach to the Great Commandment and Great Commission. If the nation is getting darker, it is because the light is not bright. “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
8. Isaiah 5:20 — “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…. Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”
– Are we not celebrating sin in America today? Does anyone see an outcry from the church?
– Ok. This is very simple. Who decides what is good and what is evil? Where do we find out what is good and what is evil? What happens when people start to think they are the judges of what is good and what is evil? Who is our only hope?
– From Henry T. Blackaby — It is Satan’s practice to convince people that what God calls good is actually evil and what God declares evil is, in fact, good. Satan persuaded Adam and Eve that their disobedience, rather than their obedience, would guarantee a full life. They believed him and immediately began to experience sin’s consequences! Despite the absurdity of Satan’s logic, he continues to deceive people into doubting what God has clearly said. King Saul sought Samuel’s affirmation for the sacrifice he had offered, even though he had acted in direct disobedience to God’s command (1 Sam. 15:13). Ananias and Sapphira expected praise from the early church for their offering, though they were blatantly lying (Acts 5:1-11). An Amalekite soldier sought David’s gratitude for killing Saul, God’s anointed king (2 Sam. 1:1-16). We, too, will face the temptation to call something good that God has declared wicked. We may be persuaded that we can accomplish more good by lying than by telling the truth. We may claim that we are mobilizing Christians to pray for someone in sin when, in fact, we are spreading gossip. We may assert that we are following God’s will in our job when, in fact, we are striving to pursue our own ambitions. We will also be tempted to call evil that which God declares is good. God says it is good to love our enemies, yet we might decide our task is to hold them responsible for their actions. It is so important to hold ourselves accountable to God’s word. God does not need us to find exceptions for His commands. He requires our obedience.
9. Isaiah 5:21 — “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”
– Today’s sinner considers himself a part of history’s most “enlightened” generation, but we are enlightening ourselves to extinction.
– It is a curse to a nation, a people, a church, and a Christian to trust in human wisdom rather than the word of God.
10. Isaiah 5:24 — “They have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” When we, as a nation, reject God’s law, there is no hope. No politician, no technology, no social reform, no economic plan, and no military strategy can save us from destruction. The only hope for our nation is collective repentance and revival. We need to put far more energy into publicly proclaiming Jesus than we do in supporting political candidates. I observe that Christians talk more about politicians in everyday conversation than they do about Jesus.
11. Isaiah 5:25 – “Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people.” God’s anger starts with His people, though we act like the grace that we have received in salvation frees us from all accountability.
12. Isaiah 5:26-30 — We will certainly be shocked when God enables foreign nations to have a great military victory against us. Perhaps we have forgotten how horrific total war can be.
13. Isaiah 6:2 – “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” The seraphim were created and equipped to serve God in a very specific way; they even had wings that enabled them to be in the presence of God, covering their face and feet. We too have been made to serve God specifically on earth, physical bodies to transform His will into tangible results on earth.
14. Isaiah 6:3 — “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” In the Bible, words are repeated to show emphasis. The only attributed of God repeated three times in the Bible is “Holy”, not “Loving”, not “Merciful”, but “Holy.” In Revelation, the Bible says another word three times: “Woe, Woe, Woe” because the world fails to honor God as Holy. Sin defies God’s holiness.
15. Isaiah 6:5 – “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” From Henry T. Blackaby — An exalted view of God brings a clear view of sin and a realistic view of self. A diminished view of God brings a reduced concern for sin and an inflated view of self. Isaiah may have been satisfied with his personal holiness until he saw the Lord in His unspeakable glory. Isaiah’s encounter with holy God made him immediately and keenly aware of his own unholiness and the sinfulness of those around him. It is impossible to worship God and remain unchanged. The best indication that we have truly worshiped is a changed heart. Have we so conformed ourselves to a sinful world that we are satisfied with unholy living? Have we sunk so far below God’s standard that when someone does live as God intended, we consider that person “super-spiritual” If we only compare our personal holiness to those around us, we may be deceived into believing that we are living a consecrated life. Yet when we encounter holy God, our only response can be “Woe is me!” You will not see those around you trusting Jesus until they recognize a clear difference between you and the rest of the world. God wants to sanctify you as He is holy. When God deals with you, there will be a radical degree of purity about your life that is absolutely different from what the world can produce. The world, including those closest to you, will be convinced you serve a holy God by your consecrated life.
16. Isaiah 6:7 — “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” As per the note above, we were given lips to communicate God’s will and word to others. Isaiah’s mouth had to be cleansed because He could not stand before the Lord having failed to honor Him as he had been created to do.
17. Isaiah 6:8 – “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me.’ And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people….”
– Isaiah answered the call to proclaim God’s truth to the people, and God sent him with His word. Will you answer the call and be sent?
– It takes a pure heart to see God (Matt. 5:8). You can attend church services, read your Bible, and pray, but if sin fills your heart, you will not see God as you should. Sanctification prepares you to see and hear God more clearly. It enables you to serve Him more powerfully. Only God can purify your heart. Allow Him to remove any impurities that hinder your relationship with Him, and then your service for Him will have meaning as you offer Him your consecrated life.
18. Isaiah 6:9-13 – “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.’ Then I said, ‘How long, O Lord?’ And he said: ‘Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.’ The holy seed is its stump.” Isaiah was given a hard message of judgment to deliver to the people. Are you willing to tell people the truth they don’t want to hear?
19. Proverbs 8:1-8 — Wisdom is readily available to anyone who is willing to listen and take heed.
20. Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” A true follower of God hates evil as much as God does. Reread today’s Isaiah chapters to understand how much God hates evil.
21. Proverbs 8:17 – “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Who does God love? See Psalm 11:5, and Psalm 45:7 to see who God hates. Did you think the Lord loves everyone equally like pop culture proclaims?
22. Psalms 103:7 – “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” From Henry T. Blackaby — Are you satisfied with merely knowing the acts of God, or do you also want to know His ways? There is a difference. This difference is illustrated in the lives of the children of Israel as compared to Moses. The Israelites witnessed the miracles God performed; they walked across the dry Red Sea just as Moses did. They ate the manna and quail from heaven even as Moses did. They were content to receive God’s provision without ever knowing God Himself. Yet Moses saw beyond the provision of God to the person of God. Others, such as the Egyptian magicians, might perform miraculous acts, but no one else did things the way God did (Exod. 7:11-12). The way God acted provided a window into His nature. If Moses had been content with only God’s power, he could have accepted the presence of an angel and been victorious in his efforts (Exod. 33:15). But Moses wanted to experience more. He wanted to experience God Himself, not just God’s activity. Some today, like the Israelites, are content to experience God’s activity without ever coming to know God. They are the recipients of answered prayer, yet they never come to know the Provider. They are blessed by God’s providential care over their families, their homes, and their jobs, yet they are satisfied not knowing the One from whom the blessings come. They benefit from God’s protection, yet they never become acquainted with the Protector. Have you come to know God more personally as a result of your experiences with Him? As you observe the acts of God, look beyond them to the revelation of His character (Gen. 22:14; John 6:35).
23. Psalm 103:8-10 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Our Heavenly Father is the perfect parent we never had and never can be. He disciplines us, not to destroy us but rather to conform us to His will which is for our ultimate best. He will continue to discipline out of us those things which hinder our unity to Him. He allows us to suffer, not to hurt us but rather to build up our Christ-like character. He never gives us what we deserve, which is complete condemnation. In His discipline is love. Because He loves us, He disciplines us and lets us go through difficulties, always under His loving control, that we might grow to know Him, His joy, and His peace. Rejoice, even in suffering, because you know He is doing great things in your life. Yes, it is very hard to keep this perspective in the midst of trials which is why it is so important to always remind yourself of this fact during the easy times so you can be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared for the hard times.
24. Psalm 103:11, 12 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” The heavens never end and neither does God’s love for us. If you travel east on the globe, you will never arrive at west (notice the Bible does not say, north to south) – God’s forgiveness for us never ends; there is nothing we can do that is not unforgivable by God if we will turn to Him in true repentance.
25. Psalm 103:13 – “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” The Lord does not show compassion to everyone all the time in the same way. He shows compassion to His children who honor Him as Lord. God will not be mocked. He knows who are really seeking Him as BOTH Lord and Savior.
26. Psalm 103:15, 16 — “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” The proud, arrogant, and rebellious seem to completely lose perspective on their lives, failing to understand that the temporal is nothing compared to the eternal which is in God’s hands.
27. Psalm 103:15, 16 – “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” Our time on earth is very fleeting. Our relationship with God is eternal. Invest in what lasts, without losing sight of the fact that eternal life started the day you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Our time on earth is a time to serve God here and now, planting seeds and cultivating them for eternity. Make the most of today for eternity.
28. Psalm 103:17, 18 — “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” God’s love is steadfast and everlasting, but it is not for everyone, contrary to what many will preach.
29. Psalm 103:20, 21 — “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!” God’s people are not the ones who say they obey His word and do His will. God’s people are not the ones who carelessly proclaim God’s grace. God’s people are the ones who truly obey and do His will. The rebellious are very quick to use words like “love” and “grace” to excuse sin. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9, 10) “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal 6:7) “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 Sep 18: Begin the day by getting your mind right about why you are on earth, what God intends for your life, who you serve, and how God intends you to serve Him. Meditate deeply upon how you will make the most of the day for God’s glory. Consider deeply what might distract you or drag you into the worries of the world. Focus on your mission of reconciliation today, drawing others closer to Jesus. Consider how you will communicate to others today, how you will steward the resources and opportunities God will place before you. At the end of the day, assess how you did. Consider how you revealed Jesus during the day. Make today’s preparation for the day and assessment of the day a daily habit.