Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 13 May 2023:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Isaiah 5:26-30 – 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!
We would certainly be shocked if God enables foreign nations to have a great military victory against us. Perhaps we have forgotten how horrific total war can be.
Psalm 55:6-8 – And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah. I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”
Running away from problems won’t solve your problems; turning to God will.
Psalm 55:12-14 – For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it…. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend….
The closer someone is to you, the greater they can hurt you.
Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Trust your burdens to the Lord.
Psalm 55:23 – But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.
Make the decision to trust in the Lord, regardless the circumstances.
Proverbs 16:2 – All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
We tend to believe our own lies about our motives and intent. We often tell ourselves we are doing something for God or for others when we are really being self-serving. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” God knows your heart completely as well as the truth of your motives. Pray that God will reveal your heart to you and give you the strength through the Holy Spirit to turn your selfishness to selflessness.
Proverbs 16:3 – Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
The way to get what you want is to want what God wants. When you are working on God’s plan, your plan cannot fail. It is only when you go your own way and start working for yourself that you have to start worrying. God has given you just enough time, energy, and capability to do what He wants you to do. If you find yourself harried, stressed out and worn out, you are probably doing things God never asked you to do.
Proverbs 16:6 — By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
Our iniquity is atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ who displayed perfect sacrificial love for us. We demonstrate our appreciation of the grace we have received by emulating the love and faithfulness of Jesus.
Proverbs 16:20 — Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
There gives great blessings to the person who not only will carefully study God’s word but who will also trust God enough to obey His word.
Proverbs 16:26 — A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.
God knows that a little want is good for you. A life of ease and comfort will ruin a person. Stay hungry and drive on!
Proverbs 16:32 — Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
The most difficult battle to fight is the inner battle, the struggle with self. If you have self-control, you are stronger than any warrior. If you can control your emotions in relationships and learn how to engage people in a positive and effective way, you will be a very influential person. Remember, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), not merely a product of human force of will. You can’t overcome self with self alone.
- Proverbs 25:28 — A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
- Acts 24:25 — And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
- 1 Corinthians 7:5 — Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
- 1 Corinthians 7:9 — But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
- 1 Corinthians 9:25 — Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
- Galatians 5:22-24 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- 1 Timothy 2:9 — likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,
- 1 Timothy 2:15 — …continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 — for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
- 2 Peter 1:5-8 – “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 May 2023: 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.