Friday, 29 November 2019
For he chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In his love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Eph. 1. 4-6
There is much to receive and ponder in these few verses. The first reality that is reinforced to me here is that I have been chosen. I was chosen before the creation of the world. I was chosen by Him to be holy and blameless in His sight. This cannot be achieved by me. This is the Father’s work through the Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. I am chosen to be holy and blameless in His sight. This becomes truth for me when I see God looking down on me from heaven and seeing, not me but Jesus, the vicarious sacrifice.
I am not chosen alone. Though His choice of me is individual and personal (let me not forget this), I am chosen in company with many others: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2.9)
Believers have been called, separately and individually, but also collectively, to come as one into the Body of Christ. We have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. We are united through Christ. He is pleased to receive us. We are called to praise Him and the glorious grace through which He unites us to Himself, the Holy Godhead, and to each other. His grace is freely given. It comes in the fullness of His love. What love, what power, what blessing is freely given to me by my wonderful Lord and maker.
Mighty and Loving God,
I see the reality of creation and the beauty of Your love in these verses. I was created to worship You and join with You in sweet relationship. I am unable to achieve this in myself because the sins if men have contaminated me. However, Your plan was not to be thwarted and, through Your love and grace You have brought about my salvation and restoration. You chose me to be brought, in wholesome purity, into relationship with You and the whole Body of Christ. I am humbled. I am overwhelmed in gratitude. I give my obedience and love to You. Amen.
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
“See, it stands written before me:
I will not keep silent but will pay back in full;
I will pay it into their laps –
both your sins and the sins of your fathers,”
says the LORD.
“Because they burned sacrifices on the
mountains and defiled me on the hills,
I will measure into their laps
the full payment for their former deeds.” Isa. 65. 6,7
Payback will come. In this context it appears to be a future event (I…will pay back). It will also be full payback for all the sins of humanity. God’s action will be for all people. It will address the present sins of people at whatever time God chooses, and it will include the sins of people past. No one will be exempt.
God has been dishonoured. He is still being dishonoured. We, all, burn sacrifices on the mountains and defile Him on the hills. I see the mountains in two lights. Firstly, these are the high places in the land, the elevated points at which people worshipped that which was precious and significant to them. And, these high places were prominent. The worship of the people was not carried out in dark corners or in the cover of night where it could not be seen. The worship was open and blatant.
Leaders (kings) encouraged such worship. A number of kings specifically dedicated these “high places” to pagan gods, and they led the people in unseemly, often licentious behaviour. This is not acceptable to the Righteous One. All who have dishonoured Him will be punished.
In the previous chapter of Isaiah’s writing, the people questioned God, “will you keep silent?” God will not keep silent. He broke the silence with the Israelites, and He will break the silence with everyone.
I believe punishment is to come, but my hope is that it will be followed by forgiveness and restoration. I lay myself before You in confession and repentance. Amen.
Monday, 25 November 2019
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are your people. Isa. 64.8,9
The Israelites are crying out to God in their despair and desperation of His possible punishment of them. They call Him “Father”, reminding Him of the fact. Do they think that He needs reminding? I believe His disappointment with them would not have been so severe if He did not see them as His children.
They remind Him they are the work of His hand, made in His own image. I feel it’s rather late to remember this when they have behaved so badly. Only a deeply loving Father could receive them back after such atrocious behaviour.
In crying out to God as their Father what, I wonder, do the Israelites think of their own behaviour? They now re-assert their relationship to Him as Father and hope they might persuade Him to be lenient with them. But what of them? If they had remembered who they were (children of God) when tempted to act contrary to His ways, would they not have brought themselves in to line?
It is so convenient to seek to give God responsibility for our actions. He has given us free will. We need to take up the responsibility that is ours, and not pass it onto the supreme and pure Being who calls us His children.
The Israelites prayed that God would not remember their sins forever. Fortunately, He is our most loving Father and we can look to Him for forgiveness.
Holy and forgiving Father,
I realise and acknowledge how blessed I am to be Your child. Like the Israelites, I do not always do what is right. Please forgive me. May I also seek encouragement from You and ask for Your leading and guiding? Amen.
Sunday, 24 November 2019
No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins. Isa. 64. 7
These words make it sound as if God is at fault. Calling on the name of the Lord invokes an image of urgent prayer when in distress. This is not happening. Nobody, it seems, cries out to God or tries to lay hold of Him.
The people excuse this omission by accusing God of having hidden His face from them and causing them to waste away because of their own sin. What a pathetic abdication of their covenant undertaking this appears to be.
Surely, when they have sinned, and seem to be most aware of it, this is the time to confess and repent. Now is the time to press into God, to call on His name, and to strive to lay hold of Him. Don’t the people see this? If they took the right action, I firmly believe that God would respond, and respond positively.
Paul makes the action quite clear” “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10.13) The non-believer who gains some knowledge of the presence and love of God, and who calls out to Him in earnest, will be saved. So will the long-standing Christian who might find him/herself in need of His help. As we call out, He will hear and He will respond. We may think He’s not there, not listening and not caring. I cannot subscribe to this thinking. I believe that our non-recognition of God’s presence does not mean that He is not there. This, surely, is a time to believe, even though we do not see.
At this moment I can say with confidence that You are there. However, there may be times when I do not have the assurance what You are with me. I pray for faith in such situations, for a belief, a knowing that You are with me. I hold to Your promise that You will never leave me nor forsake me. I trust You, and I thank You. Amen.
Thursday, 21 November 2019
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved? Isa. 64. 5
I see further reference to the Covenant in this verse. God will protect His people and lead them into salvation, but there is a part for the people to play. We are called to do right by God, and to do it gladly. We must remember His ways and abide by them.
But what happens if we continue to sin, to ignore the ways of God, do our own thing, and incur His anger? Will we then be saved? The words cry out in seeking a way: how can we be saved?
Salvation comes from God. He alone can save us. He will do so if we gladly do right in Him.
However, we are born into a fallen world, people who have fallen from the grace of God. Is there any way of restoration? Yes, there is! Jesus showed clearly the way when He said: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 4.17) Peter affirmed and clarified this statement. When asked by the crowd what they should do, Peter replied “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2.38)
We can try to do what is right in God, and to do it gladly, but we will not fully succeed. Yet, by confession and repentance in Jesus’ name, we are forgiven and released into the fullness of salvation. There is a way, Jesus is that way!
I say “Hallelujah” for the saving grace that is found in You. I thank You for the gift of life, of eternal life that we gain through Jesus. We are undeserving, I know this too well. But Your love and forgiveness rescue us. We are saved by grace. We are undeserving yet blessed. Thank You. Amen.
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you! Isa. 64. 1,2
These words call out to God to show His power and sovereignty to the whole earth. As I understand the plight of the Israelites, they could well have been daunted and cowed by the treatment they had received from neighbouring peoples who were hostile to them.
Of course, they had done wrong by the Lord God. They knew they were deserving of punishment, but they cried out to God nevertheless. As well as His His pure and just nature, they were aware of His mercy, His grace, and His love. They appealed to these qualities of His, hoping that He would respond favourably.
The world needs to be reminded of the all-powerful God. This applies today as much as it ever did. The Israelites “went their own way”, and this certainly is happening in this present time. Often God is little more than an expression of derision, even of cursing. Respect is minimal, if at all. Worldly powers and the decisions they make do not improve society nor do they preserve any code of decent behaviour among the people.
The world so needs to see the power and sovereignty of the Mighty One. Some say we are in the last days. When, I wonder, will His return come? Of course, we do not know but, just like the Israelites before us, we can make our plea to Him.
Most Mighty God,
I see the disarray that the world is in. In some parts I see hopeless desolation. I cry out for Your rule to be re-established in strength and security. Will You return soon? I hope so, and I cry out for it accordingly. I know the timing is Yours alone. I simply bring this plea before You, in Jesus’ loving name. Amen.
Monday, 18 November 2019
Why, O LORD, do you make us
wander from your ways
and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes that are your inheritance. Isa 63. 3-17
The people appear to be “bleating”. They are blaming God for their own omissions and misdeeds. When they went astray in the wilderness, God certainly allowed them to do so, not seeking to rescue them but, still, it was the act of the people to stray.
They had hardened their hearts yet, again, they sought to blame the Lord (Isa. 6.10). Then comes a plea for restoration. The people claim the “servants” of God as a reason for His recalling of the people and their restoration into relationship with Him. The “servants” here could well be the: servants of the LORD whom the LORD has declared as vindicated. (Isa. 54.17)
How often do we blame God for our feelings? I think far too often! Instead of owning our own misdemeanours and sins, we readily find excuses to blame Him. If God seeks to ignore us, reject us, or even punish us, we need to look into our misdoings and see the extent to which we are to blame. God will not be manipulated. Despite the truth of this, people attempt to pass blame on to Him, not willing to own up to their own inadequacies.
I have found from experience that I am set free when I honestly declare my faults I am set free and I am able to re-enter and resume my wonderful, blessed relationship with my maker. I am so grateful.
Again I come to You in thanksgiving. I thank You for this insight. Lead me, please, into an examination of my own thoughts, words and actions when I might be tempted to turn to You in criticism or blame. I seek to take responsibility for those things I do that displease You. Let me be willing to acknowledge and admit my insufficiencies. Lead me forward, please, in release and restitution. Amen.
Saturday, 16 November 2019
But you are our Father,
though Abraham does not know us
or Israel acknowledge us;
you, O LORD, are our Father,
our Redeeemer from of old is your name. Isa. 63. 16
The Israelites appear to be calling out to God. They declare Him to be their Father, even though they have disobeyed Him and virtually disowned Him. They recall His deeds of the former days when He led them out of Egypt through the Red Sea. He divided the waters before them and they passed through in safety. He led them such that they did not stumble. He gave them rest in His wonderful Spirit.
They then appeal to Him. They acknowledge His tenderness and compassion which they claim are now withheld from them. Again, they declare Him to be Lord, Father and Redeemer. He has been with them and for them since of old.
But now He makes then wander from His ways. They claim that He has hardened their hearts such that they do not revere Him. It would seem that, in their eyes, it is all His fault.
Why, O why, do people blame God for their own failings? It happened with the Israelites, and it has happened down through the ages. It happens still today. Do we truly think that we can do our own thing, indulge in sin and ignore the ways of our holy God, and then blame Him for the consequences?
Most assuredly God is loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving. But He is also pure, unblemished and holy. He cannot allow our impurities to pass without justice, judgment and, may be punishment.
Let us stop blaming God for those things that are our responsibility. Let us remember we are in covenant relationship. Let us seek to fulfil our obligation under the covenant.
Lord God,I thank You for this reminder of our covenant relationship. May we, may I, remember that I have responsibilities to You. I give my effort to fulfilling what is required of me. I ask for Your help. Amen.
Monday, 11 November 2019
“… but those who harvest it will eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes
will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Isa. 62.9
The enemies have been denied any food or drink. But the people of God will be blessed with the harvest. They will eat aplenty and will enjoy the juice of the grapes. They will praise the Lord.
The Israelites suffered much, but they also brought it upon themselves. They disobeyed the Lord; they denied Him; they followed pagan ways, marrying alien partners. God was not pleased, and so He punished them. But after the punishment came restitution and provision.
The sequence is clear: sin, punishment, then return to the Father. God is pure and just, but He is forgiving and loving as well. He is also unchanging. He is the same today as He was in days long ago. He is likely to treat God-followers today as He did the Israelites of old. The same applies to those “enemies” who seek to undermine Him and subject His people to ridicule and discrimination.
The world may go its own way, thinking it knows best, and doing what it pleases. But God will not be ignored. His reign will come to the earth, and the world will be held to account.
What applies to the world applies to each individual and, of course, to me. I endeavour to live in a way that is pleasing to God. I do not always succeed and so, I must rely on His mercy, His grace and His forgiveness. I cannot forget either His faithfulness. He is faithful and true. I willingly give myself to whatever he has for me.
Most Just God and Loving Father,
I give myself wholeheartedly to You. I ask You to have Your way in me. Let me go where You would have me go and do that which pleases You. Thank You. Amen.
Saturday, 9 November 2019
The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the
new wine for which you have toiled.” Isa. 62.8
Moses warned the Israelites of God’s punishment on them for disobedience: “I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.” (Lev. 26.16)
God’s punishment might seem harsh, but it is just. As I give myself in covenant relationship with Him, so I must obey, as best I can, His requirements of me. As I do my best, I believe He will forgive any trespass or omissions on my part. He is a good God, and His desire and intent is for my well-being.
Isaiah relates how the Lord now tells the Israelites that the punishment is over, and He will never again give food and drink that is rightfully theirs to their enemies. God has sworn this by his right hand and by his mighty arm. These are symbols of God’s power.
I serve the mightiest force of all. As I give myself to Him, I am protected and empowered, I am strengthened by the forces of all heaven, I am led by the wisest and loved by Him who is love itself.
When I stray or begin to falter, I pray He will bring me back. My true desire is to live fully in His presence and His will. The world would seek to draw me from Him, but Jesus saved me when He overcame the world. (John 16.33)
Mighty Lord Jesus,
You rescued me and I will be eternally grateful. I do not wish to incur the Father’s wrath. I know I do not always do what is right and acceptable to Him, but I certainly wish to please Him. I seek forgiveness for my errant behaviour. I humbly ask for the fullness of relationship with the Godhead. Amen.
Friday, 8 November 2019
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make
righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations. Isa 61. 11
I like the comparison between God’s work in His people and His work in the creation of nature.
The soil, rich in nutrients, brings growth in the vegetation. The seeds
grow and life will sprout up from the soil. We have come to see this dynamic as perfectly natural. We accept this as we can the air in our lungs which brings us breath.
The work of God in human lives – personal and collectively – ought to be received just as openly and easily as His work in the world of nature. Sadly, this is not always the case, and so many miss out on life – the very rich life they could receive through a deep and lasting relationship with God.
From our life with the Father, and out openness with and to Him, we will be blessed. He will bring to pass righteousness and praise to all nations. He will bring these things to each country, to people groups, and to individuals.
God will bring righteousness and peace to me. I see righteousness grow in the process of sanctification. As I allow Jesus to lead me, as I give myself to Him, so He will draw me closer and I will become more like Him.
I hope to minister out of righteousness and peace, and all the other gifts and qualities that God gives me. As I do so, I believe I will grow more like Him, but also draw others to Him. My vision is to do just this: to know Him in intimate relationship and to lead others into a good place in Him.
Unashamedly I want more of You, and so I ask. I want to get close and go deep with You, to know You to the greatest degree while I am on this earth. I ask for more, and I will willingly share it with those who need to know You, who You direct me to. Hear my prayer, in Your precious name. Amen.
Wednesday, 6 November 2019
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isa 61.10
I believe I was created for God’s delight. He formed me in His own image. This is amazing; it is powerful, even overwhelming. I exist in the image of God Almighty, my heavenly Father. I am in His image, but my own person is marred by the stains of sin. This is well known to God. But He has dealt with it as only He can. By the vicarious death of His Son He has rescued me from the clutches of sin and death and He has restored me into right relationship with Himself: …he has clothed me with garments of salvation. No longer do I wear the “filthy rags” of sin. I have been reclothed and my God has covered me in a robe of righteousness.
The imagery is that of a bridegroom and a bride. Their appearance is pure and even divine. They stand clean and free. These are the true children of God.
This mage applies to me. No longer am I confined to the world’s specifications and view of me. I have been liberated to be the person God created me to be. Am I royalty? Maybe, but more importantly I am brought into my heavenly inheritance. I am marked with the wonder of holiness. His presence is upon me and within me. Sanctification is underway in my life. I am moving to become the stain free, holy bridegroom ready to join in union with my Master. I give myself willingly.
I see You with arms outstretched to receive me. I feel the welcome of love releasing me from worldly trouble and toil and taking me into the heavenly realm. I join with angels and the saints who have gone before. I feel at home. I am a child of glory, and glory welcomes me. Hallelujah! Amen.
Sunday, 3 November 2019
“For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.” Isa 61.8
My God is great. He is powerful, all-mighty, all-loving, kind and gracious. He is forgiving, but He is also just. He will not tolerate injustice.
The Israelites had been extremely bad in their behaviour towards God. They had turned away from Him, spurning His sovereignty and love, and giving themselves over to alien ways. God was both disappointed and angry with his people. In His justice he sought to punish them. He did so by utilising foreign powers to invade the land and take His people captive. In captivity, the Israelites suffered. Both Assyria and Babylon were ruthless masters. God’s people were well and truly punished. God’s justice had been served.
Now was the time for God’s promise to be fulfilled. He had said He would return His people to their own land at the end of seventy years. He did so. (The wonderful love of God is seen in His fulfilment of all His promises. Praise Him!) The people returned home, and God rewarded them richly.
However, the alien countries that God had used to punish His people had overdone the treatment they had dished out. Rather than just punishment they had persecuted the chosen of the Lord. The Lord saw this hateful activity and brought judgment and punishment on these pagan offenders.
God is just, and His justice will be served. I am strengthened by this. I may well be judged and maybe punished by Him in time, but I shall know that it will be just – and merciful.
Even though I try to do what is right by You, I do not always succeed. I believe that I will be judged by You one day. I am not fearful of this because I know You are just and fair. I throw myself on Your mercy, believing all will be well. Thank You. Amen.
Friday, 1 November 2019
… to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and to provide
for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour.
Isa. 61. 2,3
This is a long quotation and filled with interest. The year of the Lord’s favour could well apply to the time of salvation for the individual. The day of vengeance is to come but, meanwhile, the life of the believer continues in hopeful growth of deeper and more intimate relationship with our Maker.
The Messiah will comfort all those who mourn. Those who grieve will be provided for. God’s children change when they enter into the journey with Him. The ashes of sorrow are replaced by a crown of beauty; the spirit of despair is removed and a garment of praise takes its place. The children of God grow strong in righteousness. They are like solid oaks on the ground and the splendour of God emanates from them.
There is a mighty change in the one who comes to Jesus. A new confidence fills him/her. This is not a worldly type of assurance in themselves, but a connection and relationship with the Power of all powers. The believer presses into God, learning of all that is available in new birth. A confidence in God replaces all attempts at demonstrating self-confidence. I don’t even claim confidence in myself any more. My full confidence is in Him. He is my strength and my shield, my protector and my provider. I need no other.
O Mighty God,
I am so grateful that You took hold of me. I find my confidence in You. I put my full trust in You. I do not fear, nor do I become anxious. You tell me not to do these things, and so I do not. I will find all that I need in You. I look to You. I give myself to journey with You I thank You. Amen.