Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 22 September 18:
1. Isaiah 35:4 – “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’” Faith is a belief in God that governs what you think, decide, say, and do. Faith changes your entire outlook and approach. Faith causes you to do what seems crazy to those without faith. See in chapter 36 how much Hezekiah’s faith will be tested. It takes great faith to trust God when your life is on the line. It takes even greater faith to trust God when your decisions will impact the lives of your loved ones. God’s salvation restores wholeness to a person.
2. Isaiah 35:4-6; 8, 10 — “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not…! He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy…. even if they are fools, they shall not go astray…. everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
– Do not fear or be anxious child of God. Be strong; fear not! God brings healing and wholeness, and God’s goal is to restore holiness, gladness, and joy to His children. Our perfect Father never abandons or ignores His children who He loves beyond our understanding. We usually can’t answer the ‘why’ questions, but we can trust the He has a perfect plan beyond our imagination. Today’s Psalms remind us of God’s “steadfast love” and that He “stands at the right hand of the needy one.” I like the way God’s protection is described in Psalm 91 – “Under his wings you will find refuge.” Be strong; fear not!
– “It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.” God’s ways protect even the fool if he will follow them. You don’t have to understand why, just obey. We all act foolishly sometimes, but take comfort that your foolishness doesn’t separate you from God’s love or negate His perfect plan. Life is a continual course correction of repentance, renewal, and recommitment. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
– From Henry T. Blackaby — The nation of Israel was designed to have a place where other nations of the world could come to worship the true God. The temple in Jerusalem was to be the center from which the good news of God’s salvation would spread to every corner of the world. But those who were supposed to be God’s people forsook Him and practiced every kind of sin. Rather than being ambassadors for God, they disgraced His holy name. Rather than attracting the nations of the earth to God, they became stumbling blocks to those who were seeking the true God. The Israelites fell so far from God’s original intent that God judged them and sent them into exile. Yet God promised that one day His people would be an avenue by which others could find salvation. It is God’s desire that anywhere there is a Christian, God has a way for people to learn of His salvation (Rom. 10:14-15). Whenever an unbeliever meets a Christian, the unbeliever ought to be face to face with everything he needs to know in order to follow Christ. Sadly, however, Christians can be like the Israelites of Isaiah’s day. We can be so involved in our sin that we are completely disoriented to God, ill-equipped to direct others to Him. If our lives are filled with hypocrisy, we may turn people away from God, rather than helping them come to Him. If our lives are filled with doubt or anger, we will impede others from coming to Christ. Our lives ought to be a highway of holiness, providing easy access to God for anyone around us who seeks Him. Ask God to remove any obstacle in your life that hinders others from coming to know Jesus.
3. Isaiah 36:4, 10, 9, 16 — “On what do you rest this trust of yours?… is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” …. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants? …. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern.” Are you able to discern between a false prophet and a true one? Do you believe everyone who says, “God put it on my heart to do this.”? How confident are you in God’s Word? Jerusalem was surrounded by a mighty, undefeated king who threatened to utterly, ruthlessly, and horrifically destroy the nation. Addressing the Jews in their own language, he claimed to speak for God and promised them peace and prosperity if they would surrender to him. Imagine the men on the walls listening to the king’s words thinking about the fate of their children and their wives – what would you do? With seemingly impossible odds, with logic seemingly against you, and with no signs or wonders as a “confirmation,” would you have the confidence to trust in God’s Word alone? This false prophet king confidently and convincingly spoke for God, but his words were blasphemy – he replaced God’s truth with a lie in God’s name. There are many convincing false teachers today. More and more, people are claiming that God loves what the Bible says He hates. Do you understand God’s Word well enough to know the difference? Do you have the confidence in you understanding of the truth to bet your life on it and proclaim it confidently regardless the personal cost? Hezekiah had Isaiah to help strengthen his resolve. You have the Holy Spirit; how much more fortunate are you?
4. Isaiah 36:5 — “In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?” You can’t serve two masters, and you can’t put your trust in both God and mankind. If you trust in God and make Him your LORD, you will naturally be at enmity with the world, and vice versa.
5. Isaiah 36:19, 20 – “Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” The world will try to convince you that your faith in the One, True God is no different than the faith of those who diligently follow false religions. The secular world considers all religions as equally valid or invalid. Of course, those who faithfully practice their religion consider all other religions invalid in some way. There are really only two religions in the world, the “Do” religion and the “Done” religion – salvation through a person’s efforts, or salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. Your faith must convince you, beyond any doubt, that Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life. Hezekiah had to remain faithful to God with the fate of the whole nation in His hands. What would you have done in his situation?
6. Isaiah 36:21 – “But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, ‘Do not answer him.’” There is no value in debating your faith with those who lack faith. You will not be able to influence someone who the Holy Spirit hasn’t convicted. Proclaim Jesus to everyone, but don’t argue with the fool. Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and convincing.
7. Isaiah 37:1 – “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.” When you lack faith, go to the Lord – get closer to Him, not further away.
8. Isaiah 37:7 – “Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.” God influences and controls people where you can’t. God can change the heart of your adversaries. Powerful is the person who trusts in the power of God to do what He can’t.
9. Isaiah 37:30 — “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.” It may take years for God to answer your prayer. Do you have the faith to wait?
10. Isaiah 37:35 – “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” God delivers those who are faithful to Him before unbelievers in order to reveal Himself to the world, not just to give His people what they want out of life. To receive the full blessings of God, you must live a life before others that truly seeks His will over comfort, security, and desires, a life that always points to Him.
11. Isaiah 37:36 – “And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.” When you are trusting in God in accordance with His will, He will fight your enemies, and you won’t have too; and He will do what you could never do for yourself, again to reveal Himself both to you and to the world. If you rely on your own strength for your own purposes, the world will only see what you can do – that is no witness nor a powerful life.
12. Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Habit patterns instilled in childhood are VERY hard to break. The strength of the family unit is vital to national strength.
13. Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Christians should not be in debt to ungodly institutions.
14. Proverbs 22:9 – “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.” Giving and generosity is all about perspective. What you really believe about God will be revealed in how you give. Fear makes people stingy.
15. Proverbs 22:11 – “He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.” Gracious speech is the product of a pure heart. A guilty heart produces bitter speech.
16. Proverbs 22:15 – “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” God expects parents to teach children discipline.
17. Proverbs 22:16 – “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” Again, God expects you to give to the needy.
18. Proverbs 22:8, 22 – “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail…. Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate.” God expects you to end strife you have with anyone else. You will have to deny self, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
19. Proverbs 22:17-19 – “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even to you.” Obeying the Bible helps you learn how to trust in the Lord, to grow in your relationship with Him.
20. Proverbs 22:24, 25 – “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” Anger is a snare that will needlessly entangle you.
21. Proverbs 22:28 – “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.” God has established certain rights that you never have the right to take from another person.
22. Psalm 109:4 – “In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.” Don’t focus on your enemies, focus on God. Don’t worry about your enemies – pray.
23. Psalm 109:4 — “In return for my love they accuse me.” When God called you to minister to a sinful world, He knew that sinners would treat you sinfully. When you love imperfect people as God commanded, they will treat you imperfectly. Taking a beating for the sake of that love is how you “take up our cross” and follow Jesus.
24. Psalm 109:21 – “But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!” The psalmist understood that God would act for Himself, not merely for the psalmist. God’s goal is to reveal Himself and to bring glory to Himself, not to the delivered one. Live a life that will reveal God’s love and faithfulness.
25. Psalm 109:27, 28 – “Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it! Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!” Your faith grows when you see God work in your life. God’s work in your life is your testimony to others. Walk in the faith that you have so that God can strengthen your faith every time you see Him act in your life. If you only trust in your own understanding and walk in your own strength, you will never see God do what only He can do, and your faith will not grow.
26. Psalm 109:28 — “Let them curse, but you will bless!” Our hope, joy, and fate rests with the LORD, not men.
27. Psalm 109:30 – “With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.” As our readings have taught several times today, God’s goal is to reveal Himself. When you proclaim God, you become an agent of His purpose. When you walk with Jesus and reveal the blessings of Jesus in your life, you will grow in spiritual strength, and God will use your life more and more in accordance with His purpose. If you are faithful with little, you will be given much.
28. Psalm 109:30 — “With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.” Mature faith is able to “give great thanks” to the LORD in the midst of suffering, crisis, and chaos.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 22 Sep 18: With your mouth, give great thanks to the Lord today and praise Him in the midst of the crowd. (Psalm 109:30) See how this affects you, how the crowd responds, and how God works in the midst of others.