Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 30 September 18:
1. Isaiah 53:2-3 — “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
– Jesus was not desirable to the world and, therefore, disregarded or rejected by the vast majority. Jesus did not seek to make Himself more appealing to the world, but rather focused on following, pleasing, and honoring the Father at all costs. Jesus said, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) The truth was hard and unacceptable to most. The message of “Repent, deny self, pick up your cross daily, and follow me,” coming from a man who Himself had no place to lay his head and who spent His time ministering to the poor and to the despised was a natural filter which separated the truly committed from the crowd. Out of the masses, Jesus called those who were “of the truth,” those whose hearts were receptive to the Holy Spirit’s call, receptive without the need of comfortable seating, dynamic sermons, professional musicians, impressive light shows, professional visual displays, and promises of self-actualization. Jesus called out to His sheep, those who knew His voice, realized they were powerless without Him, and were ready to follow Him at all costs. Jesus did not come to help the kingdoms of men but rather to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace on earth (requiring an acceptance of sin), but rather division, sifting God’s people from the wicked. (John 12:51-53) Jesus did not proclaim the popular notion of peace on earth through the enlightenment of mankind but rather through surrender to Christ and the return of Christ, a peace that transcends all human understanding. True peace can only come through submission to the KING – “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13) When Jesus with all power and authority commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” He modelled the pattern we were to follow. When He sent the disciples out telling them to “take nothing with you,” they were tasked to follow the pattern He modelled. Jesus exemplified the coaching model of “educate, demonstrate, replicate, evaluate, and remediate” – “I will teach you, then show you; then you try to copy me, and I will observe your efforts and coach you through improvement.” We should not be trying to market Jesus, trying to make Him more appealing to the world around us; we should simply bear witness (in both word and deed) to the Jesus we know personally, serving as His ambassadors to those whose hearts are convicted by the Holy Spirit (not by our skillful efforts); testifying to the Truth, refusing to compromise it or cheapen it in order to keep the peace with the world. We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, and we must be careful not to try to replace the Holy Spirit’s calling with pop-culture motivational techniques that rely on self. A church that seeks to make Jesus exciting creates ‘disciples’ who are prone to mistake emotions for the Holy Spirit. They may be ‘spirit-filled,’ but it is human spirit, which is short-lived and powerless.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — The coming of Jesus was like a tender plant in the midst of a parched ground. Parched ground offers little hope for survival; it is dry and too hardened to allow most plants to penetrate its crust. Yet Jesus was prophesied as a tender plant that would break through the hostile soil and overcome the dry and lifeless environment in order to bring life. When Jesus was born, His people were hardened to God’s Word. There is no written record of God’s having spoken to His people for four hundred years. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had studied and memorized the Scriptures, but the words were lifeless to them. So hostile had they become to the truth that when God’s Son came to them, they killed Him. Nevertheless, despite the enmity of the people, Jesus brought life to all who believed in Him. Jesus is capable of bringing life to any person, society, or culture no matter how hardened or hostile they have become to the gospel. Even the most calloused sinner will discover that Jesus knows how to penetrate the heart and bring life where there was only bitterness. The work of Jesus in a person’s life may seem fragile at first, but like the mustard seed, it will eventually grow into something strong. As you pray for someone you care about, don’t be discouraged if this person has not responded to Jesus. Just as a tender plant finds a way to grow in a hard and unreceptive environment, so the love of Jesus has the ability to emerge in a life that seems completely unresponsive.
2. Isaiah 53 is an obvious and amazing prophecy of Jesus that could not have been understood at the time it was provided but was intended to be understood after it had been fulfilled, designed to reveal to us God’s ultimate plan for our salvation through Jesus. Read Isa 53 with joy that you have a relationship with Jesus that the prophets of the Old Testament longed for, and share it with others.
3. Isaiah 54:1 — “’Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,’ says the Lord.” God can turn everything around, regardless how impossible is might seem.
4. Isaiah 54:2 – “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” From Henry T. Blackaby — When God comes to a life in power, it is always a time of rejoicing and expectation for the future! Isaiah described this experience as similar to that of a child born to a previously barren woman. The child’s arrival changes everything! Life cannot continue as usual! Whereas the dwelling place might have been large enough for two, it must now be made bigger. The child’s presence causes the parents to completely rearrange the way they were living. Isaiah proclaimed that when God comes, you must make room for Him in your life. You must “enlarge the place of your tent” because God’s presence will add new dimensions to your life, your family, and your church. You do not simply “add Christ on” to your busy life and carry on with business as usual. When Christ is your Lord, everything changes. Whereas before you may not have expected good things to come through you or in your life, now you should have a spirit of optimism. You ought to expect your life to become richer and fuller. You can anticipate God blessing others through your life. You can look for God to demonstrate His power through your life in increasing measure. As a Christian, how do you make room for Christ in your life? You repent of your sin. You allow Christ the freedom to do what He wants in you. You watch eagerly for His activity in your life and in your family and in your church. You live your life with the expectancy that Christ will fill you with His power in the days to come and will “stretch” you to do things in His service that you have never done before.”
5. Isaiah 54:5-8 – “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name…. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.” Throughout the Bible, God uses marriage as a symbol of His love relationship with His people, and He expects His people to model this love in their marriages as a testimony to a watching world. The Bible presents the marriage as the most important institution on earth. Jesus warned that no man should destroy what God has created in marriage. In a marriage, Christians are called to give more honor, respect, glory, and love to their spouses than they deserve, to pour out the grace that Christ exemplified. A married person first shows their appreciation for Jesus by how they treat their spouse. Your relationship with God brings you glory and honor you don’t deserve, erasing all previous disgrace. Remember the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” How you forgive your spouse is how you should expect God for forgive you.
6. Isaiah 54:13 – “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” The Holy Spirit is the ultimate teacher of God’s children. All Christians want their children to be taught by the Lord which is only possible if they have salvation through Jesus and the embodiment of the Holy Spirit.
7. Isaiah 54:15 – “If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you.” If there is strife in the church or among God’s people it is only because they have chosen to reject the power of the Holy Spirit that is available to them.
8. Proverbs 30:6 – “Do not add to his words….” Everything you need to know, God has told you. How you respond to God’s word is your choice.
9. Proverbs 30:20 — “This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” Salvation, relationships with God, and spiritual growth requires a humble, honest, repentant heart. The Christian never makes light of sin.
10. Psalm 113:3 – “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!” You should be praising God all day long, from the time you get up until the time you go to bed.
11. Psalm 113:4 — “The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!” What happens when a nation declares God’s laws unconstitutional?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 Sep 18: Focus on intentionally praising the Lord all day today, every hour of the day. (Psalm 113:3)