Old Testament In a Year: September 23 – Isaiah 32, 33

Isaiah 32, 33
Focus Verse: O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for You. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble. – Isaiah 33:2

As Isaiah obediently spoke the unpleasant words that God gave him to speak to the people of Israel and Judah, he could not help mixing his prophecies with prayers. After all, the words he spoke were words of destruction and condemnation, rebuke and wrath.

Although God would allow the destruction that was coming, Isaiah knew that God was also the only one who could save from the destruction. So, he turned to prayer. He poured out his heart to God. He pleaded with Him to be gracious. Before the time of trouble even came, Isaiah asked God to save.

While we should not pray only when we are in trouble or in need of deliverance, prayer to God in such times is the best thing that we can do. Lack of prayer to God shows a lack of trust in God to change our situation. And after we have prayed to God, we must wait for Him – wait for Him to speak, to move, to work.

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Old Testament In a Year: September 22 – Isaiah 30, 31

Isaiah 30, 31
Focus Verse: Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. – Isaiah 30:18

The book of Isaiah is not the easiest book to read. Much of its message is one of rebuke, prophecy, and condemnation to the kingdoms of Israel and Judah which had shut their eyes to God’s goodness, closed their ears to His truth, and were in a cycle of idolatry, evil, and unrighteousness.

But amid the message of rebuke, there is also one of redemption. There are prophecies not only of destruction, but also of deliverance; not only of judgment, but also of justice; not only of sin, but also of salvation. The book of Isaiah not only speaks of a period of condemnation, but also one of cleansing.

In this chapter (30), after pronouncing woes upon the “stubborn children,” “rebellious people,” “lying children,” “children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord,” Isaiah then says…therefore.

Therefore…the Lord waits to be gracious to you.

Therefore…He exalts Himself to show mercy to you.

Even though Israel and Judah had turned away from Him, refused to carry out His plan, didn’t want to hear anymore about Him, and despised His Word, God still waited to show them grace and mercy. In this passage, the word “wait” means that God longed to be gracious to His people. With eager expectation, He stood by to show mercy to His children.

Because He is a God of justice and righteousness, He had to punish their sin; however, He did not mean for that punishment to last forever.

When we sin and experience God’s punishment, it’s easy to think that His punishment will last a lifetime, but that is not the case. Nothing we do can exhaust God’s long-suffering or stop His grace over our lives.

His silence in times of punishment is often just His way of standing by, of waiting for us to cry to Him, to turn back to Him, and ask forgiveness. He is not planning to make an end of us. He is resolved to wait. Determined to be gracious. Intent on showing mercy.

Old Testament In a Year: September 21 – Isaiah 28, 29

Isaiah 28, 29
Focus Verse: And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from Me, and their fear of Me is a commandment taught by men.” – Isaiah 29:13

In our Christian walk, we must be careful that our relationship with God does not turn into a ritual, that our faith does not become formality, that our salvation doesn’t end up a sham.

Lord, I lift Your name on high,” we sing…but it is the name of a friend or lover or superstar that is constantly on our mind and in our thoughts.

In Christ alone my hope is found…,” but our hope is actually in our job or our education or our family.

Jesus, take the wheel…,” but we are sitting in the driver’s seat of our lives and have zero intention of ever moving aside.

Lord have Your way in me…,” but we have not yet surrendered ourselves to Him.

If the words that come out of our mouth, do not reflect the state of our heart and the actions of our lives, then our witness will cease to be relevant, our light will dim, our salt will lose its flavor, and fruit will no longer be produced.

We must constantly stop and check that our relationship with God (which is the most stable, complete, and satisfying relationship we will ever be in), has not turned into a religion of lip-service. An outward expression of salvation devoid of inward sincerity. Formal worship without intensity, passion, and true love for the One who first loved us.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to thee!

May this not only be the prayer of our mouth, but also the prayer and desire of our heart.

Memorize a Scripture a Month: September 2017

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2
King James Version (KJV)

Old Testament In a Year: September 20 – Isaiah 26, 27

Isaiah 26, 27
Focus Verse: O Lord, in distress they sought you; they poured out a whispered prayer when your discipline was upon them. – Isaiah 26:16

When things are not going so well in our lives, we often spend more time with God. We find ourselves seeking Him, praying to Him, and spending time in His Word more than we have been doing. But why? It is usually because we want God to make things right in our lives. Whatever is broken, we want Him to fix; parts of us that are sick, we want Him to heal; areas in which we are bound, we want Him to bring freedom.

We want Him to remove all distress, all discipline, all pain – even when it is coming from Him.

But God doesn’t want to have the kind of relationship with us in which we only talk to Him when things are not going well. He only has our attention when we’re in trouble. We only have time for Him when everything around us is falling apart and people who we thought were friends have left us.

God wants us to seek Him – yes, when we’re in distress, but also when we’re not in distress. He wants us to pour out a whispered prayer when we’re living wrong and have to deal with His discipline, but also when we’re living right and are being overwhelmed with His blessings. God desires for us to worship Him because of who He is – good, loving, faithful, generous, and just; and not because of what He can give to us or do for us.

Old Testament In a Year: September 19 – Isaiah 23, 24, 25

Isaiah 23, 24, 25
Focus Verse: He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8

This is a passage of Scripture that never fails to give me hope – hope for humanity and hope for the future.

Our world is broken beyond repair and full of hurting people. The curse of sin eats away at dreams, faith, love, and life. Everything is deteriorating, withering, and languishing. Everyone is mourning, suffering, and sighing in some way. Nothing is how it should be. Nothing is how God originally created it to be.

But no matter how dark things around us may seem, we must always fix our eyes on the Light of the world. No matter how hopeless global affairs may appear, we must remember that we have a living hope.

Christ.

Even in the worst of conditions, He is doing wonderful things.

And one day, His perfect plans which were formed in the beginning of time will be brought to pass. He will swallow up death – not just for a time, but forever. He will wipe away tears – not just from some faces, but from all. He will take away our shame – not from a part of the earth, but from all the earth.

Christ has already spoken, already promised. Consider it done.

Old Testament In a Year: September 18 – Isaiah 20, 21, 22

Isaiah 20, 21, 22
Focus Verse: And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. – Isaiah 22:22

In Revelation 3:7, this symbolism is applied to Jesus the Christ.

“…the one who has the key of David. What He opens, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open.”

The Christian church and the kingdom of Heaven rests on Christ’s shoulder. He alone decides who can come in and who will be kept out; who the door will be opened for and who it will be shut against. Once He opens it for someone, no one can shut it. Once He shuts it against someone, none can open it.

Christ has absolute power over His church and absolute power over the kingdom of Heaven. By opening and shutting the doors of His church, He lets in and keeps out whom He sees fit – namely, those who believe in Him and His Father and those who don’t. And it is the same with His kingdom.

Old Testament In a Year: September 17 – Isaiah 17, 18, 19

Isaiah 17, 18, 19
Focus Verse: For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger. – Isaiah 17:10

God is our only source of salvation and He is our true defense and the Rock of our refuge. If we forget Him, we forget everything that is important…everything that is worth remembering.

If we put our trust in something or someone else and forsake the only One who deserves our trust, in the end, the other people and things will also be forsaken.

It does not matter what else we do, if we forget God, nothing we do matters.

Old Testament In a Year: September 16 – Isaiah 14, 15, 16

Isaiah 14, 15, 16
Focus Verse: For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? – Isaiah 14:27

Whatever God sets out to do, whether we think it is good or bad, He will do. Ultimately, all that God does is good. We only thing of certain situations as bad because we do not understand them or do not understand why God would allow them.

But once God determines to do something, He will do it.

Nothing can stop His purposes. Nothing can hinder His plans. No one can turn back His hand. And this includes the purposes that He has for our lives. When God wants to do something with us and through us, nothing and no one will keep God from doing so, not even our own mistakes and faults.