Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 26 May 2023:
Isaiah 19:12 – Where then are your wise men? Let them tell you that they might know what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
God calls wise the one who knows the purposes of God.
Isaiah 19:16, 17 – In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts shakes over them. And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians. Everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose that the Lord of hosts has purposed against them.
God brings fear to the most powerful nations.
Isaiah 19:21-25 — And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
An indicator that someone truly knows the Lord is that they fulfill their vows to the Lord. Talk is cheap, and gifts that don’t cost the giver much are not usually worth very much.
Peace in the Middle East (and whole earth) will only come through the Rule of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ –“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it….. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:2-3, 10) Ultimately, God’s people who are among the Jewish people will accept Jesus Christ as Savior and turn to Him for salvation, and all “gentiles” who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior are considered “sons of David,” part of the Kingdom of God. (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Galatians 3:7). Are you placing your trust in worldly kingdoms or the Kingdom of God? Are you pledging allegiance to kingdoms of men or to the Kingdom of God? Are you seeking first the Kingdom of God or a kingdom on earth? Do you realize that all the kingdoms of man are at war with the Kingdom of God? Do you understand that God’s people are to be Christ’s ambassadors in foreign lands, sent on a mission of reconciliation with Him? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
- Joshua 5:13-15 — When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
- Zechariah 14 – (The Coming Day of the Lord) Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle…. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him…. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one…. Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths…. Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths….
- Daniel 2:44-45 — And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.
- Daniel 7: 13, 14, 22, — I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed…. and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom…. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart.
- Revelation 12:5 — She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
- Revelation 19:11, 15 — Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war…. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
- Revelation 20:4, 12, 13 — Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years…. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.
- 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3 — Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!
- Revelation 1:6 — …and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Revelation 5:10 — …and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
- Revelation 20:6 — Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Isaiah 19:23 – And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.
Often God needs to discipline in order to heal and to bring true reconciliation. God cannot allow sinful behavior remain which divides.
Isaiah 19:24, 25 – In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
God has always had a plan to make disciples of all nations.
Note: Here is a short video overview of 2 Corinthians: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/2-corinthians/
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Where do you go for mercy and comfort? Do you go to the Father of mercies and the God of ALL comfort? How powerful is the comfort of God in your life?
How do you experience God’s comfort?
1) Claim His promise to comfort you —
- Isaiah 66:13 — As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you….
- Isaiah 51:12 — I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass.
- Psalm 23:4 — Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Psalm 46:1 — God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
- Psalm 71:21 — You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.
- Matthew 5:4 — Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- John 14:16, 26 — And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
- Psalm 27:1 — The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
- Psalm 119:50 — This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
- 1 Peter 1:3-9 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. …
2) Pray for God to comfort your heart –
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 — Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
- Psalm 119:76 — Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
- Psalm 55:22 — Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
- Philippians 4:6-7 — Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 8:26 — Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
- 1 Peter 5:7 — Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
3) Receive comfort from God’s word –
- Psalm 119:52 — When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord.
- Romans 15:4 — For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (NKJV)
- John 17:7, 17 — Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me…. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
4) Experience comfort by comforting others –
- 1 Thessalonians 4:18 — Therefore encourage one another with these words.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11 — Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 — Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
- Romans 12:15 — Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
The word “comfort” in its noun and verbs forms is repeated ten times in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 alone. The Greek word for “comfort” in our readings today is “paraklēsis” which basically means to ‘come along side’ someone through trials. Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego in the fiery furnace?
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’” (Genesis 3:24, 25)
God did not keep Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego from the fiery furnace but rather came alongside them and protected them through it, all to His glory. Likewise, God does not keep us from the trials of life but rather leads us (shepherds) us through them, all for His glory and for our joy as we grow closer to Him through it all. Remember Jesus’ prayer before His crucifixion – “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one…. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world…. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:15, 18, 22, 23) What did the Psalmist say? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“…so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God wants you to experience His presence, His mercy, and His comfort through your trials, but not just for your own benefit but so you would be able to comfort others through their trials.
Comforting others is more than just offering them well wishes; it is coming alongside them, getting into the fire with them, helping to carry the load. As someone once said, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there.” Prayer is always the first step and a continuing action when supporting and comforting others, but “being there” means “being there,” and actions speak louder than words. As with our worship, our care for others must be done both in spirit and in truth, or practicality. (John 4:24) Where do you need to be and what do you need to do today to truly comfort others in need? What is stopping you from being there?
- James 1:27 — Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
- Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
You will find comfort in comforting others. When you take care of others, you focus less on your own afflictions and will also learn to better appreciate your many blessings.
2 Corinthians 1:12 — For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.
Another word for “simplicity” above is “holiness.” The credibility of our message will be judged by the world and other Christians by the simple holiness of our daily behavior which stands out in stark contrast to the world around us. Our attitude and behavior as we face the same trials others face reveals what we really believe to be true about our God.
Does your attitude, words, and behavior glorify God? If you have failed in the past (which we all have), today is a day of new beginnings.
2 Corinthians 1:12 — We behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God…
We are not called to win people to Christ through crafty arguments but rather through the simple word of God and through simple, sincere godliness. The Holy Spirit convicts hearts, not us.
2 Corinthians 1:17, 18 — Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say ‘”Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.
God expects us to keep our promises and our word as earthly examples of His character. We must strive to be 100% reliable.
2 Corinthians 1:20 – For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.
Comments from Henry T. Blackaby: “God keeps every promise He makes. When we walk in intimate fellowship with Christ, we have the assurance that every promise God has made in Scripture is available to us. This truth should motivate us to search the Scriptures for each promise in order to meditate upon its potential for our life. Jesus promised that when you ask for something in His will, He will give you what you ask (John 16:23b). This promise is available to every Christian. If you ask God if this promise applies to your life, His answer is yes. If you are not now experiencing this promise, it does not change the fact that God has said it. You may need to seek God’s answer for why His promise has not yet reached maturity in you. Paul claimed he had tested each of these promises in his own life and found them all to be abundantly true. That’s why he could speak of the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7b) and the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8b). Paul had found a wealth of God’s promises and enjoyed them all in abundance. Don’t become discouraged or impatient if you are not experiencing to the fullest all of God’s promises in your life. God may want to prepare you to receive some of the great truths He has made available to you. Walk closely with your Lord and, in time, you will see Him bring His promises to fruition in your life.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 May 2023: Today, see the need; meet the need, proclaiming the love of Christ in the process.