Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Isaiah 34 - Judgment of the Nations

by Katrina

Isaiah 34

Here God describes the coming judgment of the Gentile nations. God will fight against His enemies on earth, and they will be destroyed. This may be the same battle described in Revelation 19:11-21, commonly referred to as Armageddon. It will be a humiliating defeat of the armies of the world that attack the Son of God. There will also be a bloodbath in the temple. Rather than sheep, goats, bulls, etc., being offered as sacrifices to God, God will "sacrifice" the wicked. Verses 9-10 describe destruction similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said that just before His return, society will be much like it was in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30).
When it's all over, the land will be a desolate wilderness with wild animals and birds, but no humans living in it.

Keep reading!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Isaiah 33 - Destruction of the Destroyer

by Katrina

Isaiah 33

The historical context of Isaiah 33 is in 2 Kings 18:9-37. Sennacherib king of Assyria sent a message to Hezekiah king of Judah reminding him that the surrounding nations had not been rescued by their gods and Hezekiah should not expect his God to be powerful enough to rescue his country from Assyria. Sennacherib invaded Judah, and Hezekiah prayed to the Lord for deliverance. Then the angel of the Lord attacked the Assyrian camp and struck 185,000 dead. Sennacherib returned home where he was assassinated in a temple while worshiping an idol.

Isaiah 33:1-16 tell of God's victory over Assyria and Sennacherib in the time of Hezekiah's reign. The rest of the chapter shifts to God's universal dominion that will never end, with its center at Jerusalem.

Reflect on verses 5-6: "The Lord is exalted for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. And He shall be the stability of your times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is his treasure."

No matter how tumultuous the times, the Lord is our stability. He is just and righteous. He is the source of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. If we fear the Lord, we have a great treasure!

Lord, you are the only one who provides stability in our unpredictable lives, because you never change. You are righteous, yet you love us and have provided a way for our salvation. You are the source of wisdom and knowledge for us. Teach us to fear you and seek you as a treasure. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Psalm 106 - History Lesson Continued

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 106


Last week our psalm (Psalm 105) centered on God’s faithfulness to His people from Abraham through the exodus from Egypt. This psalm’s history lesson begins after the exodus, with the parting of the Red Sea. Psalm 106 focuses on the cycle of the Israelites' stubbornness, self-centered lack of faith and consequent sin, and God’s continuing merciful and faithful response to them. The psalm is both a lesson and an encouragement to those who belong to God. It shows us how shortsighted we humans can be, how stubborn we are to have our own way, and how quickly we turn to complaining, grumbling, and even rebellion. It also makes clear that though sin must be punished, yet God remains faithful.

The psalm ends with a cry to God in verse 47, “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.” Apparently this psalm was composed during the captivity of the Israelites. It reminds God of His actions for His people in the past, of His redemption of them in the face of their sin. The psalmist confesses that his generation is just like their fathers’. Alhough an account of the people’s unfaithfulness to God, Psalm 106 would comfort those in despair by making clear God’s faithfulness and repeated deliverance even in the face of His children’s sin and rebellion. It is so fitting that the psalm begins and ends with praising God!


This psalm is long and I hope you’ll spend some time thinking about it, so I will try to keep this entry short.

Verse 8 says, “Nevertheless, He saved them for His name’s sake.” I find that reassuring. Unlike us, God never changes. He was faithful then; He is still faithful. He is always righteous. His salvation doesn’t come because we deserve it, because we have served Him, because we are needy. His salvation comes because of who He is – His own character – His name.

It really is all about God. We want to make it all about us. That’s the struggle.

Look at how the people sinned. List the sins. I’ll start us off:

lack of understanding
lust for what they didn’t have
testing God

And I’m only to verse 19! What else is there? Think about the Israelites’ attitudes and actions. Do you see yourself there? I sure do.

After you list the sins, go back and look at the words used to describe the LORD. How did He respond to the sins of His people? Here’s my start to list of words about God:

doer of mighty acts

I stopped at verse 12. How else is God described?

I can’t help but think how this psalm foreshadows Jesus, our Redeemer. Just as God rescued His people over and over again in spite of their sin, so Jesus came, not because of anything we did to deserve it, but because of who He is. Jesus shows us the full extent of God’s desire to extend mercy, forgive, and redeem. Praise Him!

Why do I keep wanting to make it all about me?


LORD, thank you for this psalm in which I see myself. I am no different from the Israelites. I forget what You have done for me; I grumble and complain; I am impatient and want things on my timetable; I worship stupidly inferior things; I use those around me as a guide for living rather than Your word… the list goes on and on. I thank You that You redeem me because of who You are, because of Your Name, not because I have done something to deserve it. It is so restful to realize that. Help me to respond to Your faithfulness with trust and obedience. Blessed be You, our LORD God, forever!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Isaiah 27 - Israel's Final End

by Katrina

Isaiah 27

"Is that your final answer?" Isaiah is telling the people of the impending destruction of the land and dispersing of the people. That judgment is only a few years away for the people hearing Isaiah speak. But that won't be the final end of God's people. Chapter 27 tells some things about the final end.

First of all, Leviathan will be destroyed (vs 1). There are different theories as to the exact identification of Leviathan, but they all refer to God's enemies. God will destroy His enemies.

Second, God's people will be at peace with God and will become like a fruitful vineyard. They will blossom and fill the whole world with fruit. All idols will be completely crushed (vs 2-9).

Verses 10-11 describe how God withdrew His compassion and allowed Babylon to siege the city of Jerusalem. God's purpose was to chastise His people so they would turn back to Him.

The chapter concludes (vs 12-13) with a description of God sweeping through the earth, gathering the sons of Israel to Jerusalem. A great trumpet will sound, and the scattered will return to Jerusalem where they will worship the Lord. This will be the final end for Israel.

Jesus spoke of a day when a great trumpet would sound and God's elect from all over the world would be gathered together (Matthew 24:31). And Paul spoke of the trumpet calling all believers to meet Jesus in the air at the rapture and then be forever with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). When Paul spoke of the rapture of the Church in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, he said that at the sound of the trumpet, the dead will rise first, and we all will be changed to immortal beings. Death itself will be completely conquered. And we will live forever with Jesus.

In light of these truths, Paul says, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).

Let's praise and thank God for the victory over death and sin that He provided through Jesus. And let us be steadfast, immovable, always doing much work of the Lord. For this work will never be in vain!

We praise You, Lord, for conquering death and sin, and thereby providing a way for us to live victoriously in You. Strengthen us to stay "on mission" doing Your work until Jesus comes to take us home to be with Him forever. Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Isaiah 25 & 26 - Songs of Praise

by Katrina

Isaiah 25-26

Chapter 25 is a song of praise to God for His salvation. It speaks of a time when all of God's enemies will be destroyed (vs 1-3). Yet God will provide refuge (vs 4-5), then a feast (vs 6-12), for His people.

Chapter 26 is another song of praise. This song emphasizes the righteousness and peace of the kingdom. Jerusalem will be an impregnable city built on the Rock of God, and only those who trust in the Lord will enter it (vs 1-6). Isaiah describes the longing that God's people have while waiting for Him (vs 7-9) as well as the lack of understanding in the rest of the world (vs 9-11).

The Lord will establish peace for Israel. All the tyrants who have ruled Israel throughout history will be dead, never to have power over them again. And the Lord will extend the land of Israel. Isaiah compares the chastening of the Lord to the travail of a woman in childbirth. However, Israel's labor produced nothing. They failed to give birth to the blessings God intended for them to give to the world. (vs 12-18)

Verse 19 tells of the resurrection of the dead. At the end time, all people will rise and be judged.

The chapter closes with God's promise to shelter His people and punish His enemies (vs 20-21).

Read reflectively through these two chapters, looking for the words of praise. Personalize these praises and sing your own song or pray your own prayer of praise to God.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Psalm 105 - History Lesson


Ladies, hug your fathers and husbands and let them know how much you appreciate them.

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 105


Psalm 105 recounts history. It tells of God’s work on behalf of His people and calls them to remember what He has done (v 5), to seek Him (v 4), to rejoice and praise Him for His care of them (v 2-3), to tell others of God’s faithfulness (v 1-2), to call on Him (v 1), and to obey the principles He’s given (v 45). That word “remember” in verse 5 means more than to simply recall what God has done; it means to respond to His marvelous and faithful works with trust and obedience. Right remembering leads to action.

The first fifteen verses of this psalm, along with Psalm 96 and part of Psalm 106, are quoted as being used in worship in 1 Chronicles 16. The medley of psalms was sung to celebrate David’s bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. I think it’s interesting that the Israelites mixed and matched different parts of the Psalms in worship!


This psalm is jam-packed with specific accounts of God’s faithfulness to His people in their past . It is a call for His people (me!) to respond in trust and obedience, to be as faithful to Him as He is to them.

As I read the psalm I thought about how often I gloss over just what individuals must have thought and wondered as they struggled with life. For instance, Joseph is listed here; it says in v 16 – 17, “He (God) called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them – Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” We know the story after the fact and so know the end. But imagine experiencing it! Jacob and his sons didn’t know what their futures held. Jacob knew there was a famine; he watched the grass wither and his animals grow lean. Joseph knew that he’d been betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave in a foreign country. A slave! Did he even speak the language? Joseph suffered. That suffering tested and proved Joseph’s character.

This psalm takes us through the good times and the bad times in the beginning of the history of the people of God. It makes it clear that God has a plan and that through all the events He remained faithful to His word – to His promises. God miraculously worked so that the Israelites could leave Egypt. But it’s made clear, too, that His plan involves suffering.

As I’ve meditated on this psalm I’ve been led to reflect on my own history. As I’ve looked back, I can see how God has rescued me in times of trouble and trial. I’m not saying that He spared me from trouble and trial, but I am saying that He was with me during them and I can see now how He has used those times of suffering and directed my life through them.


Look at the verbs in verses 1-5. When is a good time to obey them?

What reason is given for God’s actions on behalf of the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (vv. 7- 10, 42)? How can that reassure us? (See Hebrews 13: 5b, 6, 20-21.)


We praise You, LORD, that You are faithful, that You keep Your promises. We thank you that You have recorded in Your Word examples of Your faithfulness to Your people. I am redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus and I thank You for Your promises to me through Him. Help me to walk by faith and thank You and “search for You and Your strength” and exult in Your name, and obey Your principles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Isaiah 19 - Prophecy about Egypt

by Katrina

Isaiah 19

This chapter has two sections: verses 1-15 tell of Egypt's near future, and verses 16-25 speak of Egypt in the millennial kingdom.

Isaiah warned Egypt that the Lord was about to come, resulting in great dread and fear. There would be a civil war followed by a cruel conqueror. Egypt would experience severe drought, which would destroy their economy. And the world famous wise men of Egypt will be confounded. The leading cities will fall, and Egypt will surely come to ruin. This prophecy came true in 671 B.C. when Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, conquered Egypt.

The second section uses the phrase "in that day" several times, indicating a more distant future time. It seems to refer to the millennial period. At that time, the three nations - Israel, Egypt, Assyria - will be at peace with one another. Egypt will fear Israel and worship the one true God. Assyria and Egypt will be allied together, and there will be a great highway between them.

Scarlet Thread - verse 20 says that Egypt will cry out to the Lord, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.

I love verse 22, "And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them." The land if Egypt is largely Muslim today, but this verse tells us that one day the people of Egypt will turn to the Lord and He will listen. Isn't that exciting!! But it gets even better. The land of Assyria in Isaiah's time, is today's Iraq. One day the Lord of hosts will bless all three of these nations, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance" (verse 25). No longer will Iraq and Egypt be Muslim! They will be just as much God's people as Israel. I think that's very exciting!

Lord, what a wonderful day it will be when the nations of the Middle East all bow to You, the King of kings! Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Isaiah 17 & 18 - Prophecies about Syria & Cush

by Katrina

Isaiah 17-18

Damascus was the capital of Syria also known as Aram. Israel had allied herself with Syria, trusting in protection from Syria rather than trusting in God. In chapter 17, Isaiah tells of the destruction of Syria. This happened when Damascus was conquered in 732 B.C. The fall of Damascus was a warning to Israel of their pending destruction. In 722 B.C. Israel was conquered by Assyria and was a country no more.

What was called Cush in Isaiah's day is now the land of Ethiopia, the Sudan, and Somalia. This powerful nation, and ambassadors came from other nations to seek alliances that would protect them from Assyria. But the Lord quietly watched from heaven and allowed Assyria to ripen for His judgment when He will cut it down (v. 5) and leave it for the birds and beasts to eat. There are similar images of judgment in Revelation 14:14-20 and Revelation 19:17-21

Chapter 18 ends with a description of people from Cush traveling to Jerusalem to bring gifts to the Lord and to the king of Judah. This speaks of the millennial kingdom when Gentiles will come from all over the world to worship Jesus as Jerusalem.

It's interesting that the nation of Israel has been ignoring God and His warnings all these years, yet when judgment actually comes and Assyria conquers and deports the nation, some people will turn to the Lord (Isaiah 18:7). Not only will they turn to God, but they will forsake their idols. But it will be too late, and the Lord will not listen. The destruction will still come to the nation.

I often praise and thank the Lord for His longsuffering. He is very patient with me. I don't ever want to take advantage of His patience, though, and assume I can get away with sin. That's what the Israelites were doing. They had the attitude that they were "God's chosen people" and could therefore do whatever they wanted. Rather than that kind of attitude, I want to have an attitude of thankfulness that God has made me His child. Then I want to serve Him with my life and worship Him with my whole heart.

Lord, thank you for adopting me as your child. Thank you for your patience as I learn and grow in you. As David said, teach me your ways and show me your path. I want to wholeheartedly love and serve you. Because of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Psalm 104 - Open Your Eyes!

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 104


Even though no author is ascribed to this psalm, it is traditionally assigned to David.

This psalm praises God for His mightiness and bounty, revealed in His creation. Just look at the power of the images and figurative language! Creation is pictured as something that clothes God and does His bidding. There is a sense of wonder in this psalm – wonder at the provision and power of the LORD over nature. Nature is marvelled at, but not worshipped. Rather, nature points to the power and love of our Creator God.

Many commentators have noticed that Psalm 104 is a poetic version of creation account in Genesis. Notice the correspondence of the verses in this psalm to the days of Genesis 1.

The Life Application Study Bible explains it this way: “This psalm is a poetic summary of God’s creation of the world as found in the first chapter of Genesis. What God created each day is mentioned by the psalmist as a reason to praise God. On day one, God created light (104:1, 2; Genesis 1:3); day two, the heavens and waters (104:2, 3; Genesis 1:6); day three, land and vegetation (104: 6-18; Genesis 1:9-13); day four, the sun, moon, and stars (104: 19-23; Genesis 1: 14-16); day five, fish and birds (104: 25,26; Genesis 1: 20-23); and on day six, animals, people, and food to sustain them (104: 21-24, 27-30; Genesis 1: 24-31). God’s act of creation deserves the praise of all people.”


As I’ve read and reread this psalm, it’s hit me again that God reveals Himself in the world He has created if we will just open our eyes and see. As I sit writing this I’m looking out into our backyard. A squirrel stands motionless for a few moments on the green carpet of grass, revealing his white shirted chest before he again begins exploring the ground for food. Flowers in hues of blue, pink, and purple show off amid the varied coolness of their plants’ green leaves. Sunlight reflects off the brick patio, interspersed with outlines of tree leaves traced in shadows. In the bushes and trees and bird house are nests of martins and cardinals and blue jays and thrushes and mockingbirds - testimonies to the continuation of life. All of these are gifts of God’s grace.

Yesterday as I stood watering my garden with the hose, a bird flew right past my right shoulder and landed on the limb of a tree directly above the spot I was spraying and about five feet away from me. It was a juvenile blue jay, still at the awkward stage! He fluffed up his wings and cocked his head and looked at me and then looked down at the water drops and fluttered to a limb about two feet down and a foot closer to me. Next thing I knew, he had made it down to the ground and begun to preen and turn himself in the water. He had a great time taking a shower about four feet away from me! When he’d had enough he flew just outside the range of the water and fluffed and dried his feathers in the sun. He provided me with a meditation not only on the pleasure of water and sun, but also with one on enjoying the moment and trust.

We take for granted God’s continuing provision for us and for this world. When things go wrong or there is a disaster we ask why – why did God allow that? But how often do we praise Him for the order and the beauty that we see every day? Day follows night over and over again. The moon goes through its cycle every month. We have rain and sunshine. Season follows season. There is a comforting rhythm to life.

God gives us daily feasts.

When I step outside in the daytime my ears feast on many different bird songs. The chirp- chirp of cardinals, the cooing of doves, the melodious song of the mockingird. At night there is the music of frogs and insects. I’ve already mentioned the feast for my eyes. He gives us literal feasting in the form of food. He didn’t have to give us beauty or make food taste good! He could have simply given us what we needed to survive. Instead He have us thousands of foods to eat, each with a different flavor.

This psalm glorifies God for being the Creator. It makes clear that creation itself is not in charge. Creation is never equated with God. The psalm also shows us that God continues to be involved in this world He has made. He didn’t just make it and let it go. God continues to care for it and us.


Sit somewhere outside in a natural setting and read this psalm. Then ask the LORD to give you eyes to see. Jesus told of those who “seeing do not see” and “hearing do not hear” (Mt. 13:13). The world of nature helps us know its Maker. What does it tell you about Him?

Read again verses 27 – 32. What do those verses say about our dependence on God? What kind of response do they inspire? (Read Mt. 6: 25-33.)

Today try to consciously think of all that you are given to enjoy. Think about the food you eat, what you hear, what you see and touch and smell. Make a list if you want! Thank God for all the good He has freely given you. Thank Him.


I will sing to You, my LORD, as long as I live;
I will sing praise to You, my God, while I have my being.
May my meditation be sweet to You;
I will be glad in the LORD.
I will praise You!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Isaiah 10 - Discipline & Hope

by Katrina

Isaiah 10

The first four verses of chapter ten are a continuation of God's indictment against His people. He targets the governing officials who have been enacting unjust legislation and making unjust rulings. They have taken justice out of the system, harming those whom they should be protecting. So God's punishment will hit them hard, and they will end in either exile or death.

The next section is verses 5-19 where God pronounces His judgment on Assyria. Assyria doesn't realize that they are being used by God to punish Judah. God's purpose was to chastise His people, but the Assyrian's purpose was to destroy them. Because Assyria is arrogant and cruel, God will destroy them.

Once again, amidst the talk of punishment, wrath, and destruction, God gives hope (vs 20-27). There will be a remnant of God's people who escape destruction and will turn to the Lord. God's wrath against His people will not last forever, but will soon turn against the Assyrians instead.

According to Dr. Ryrie, verses 28-32 describe Assyria's advance toward Jerusalem. All the cities named are within a three-hour march of Jerusalem.

Can you think of a time when you have been disciplined by your heavenly Father? I have experienced God's discipline in my life and have learned to be thankful for it. He is a very gentle father when I listen to him early on, but if I am stubborn and hard-hearted He has to be harsher to get my attention. That's what happened with Israel and Judah as well. But take a look at Isaiah 10:20. ". . . those of the house of Jacob who have escaped will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel." After it's all said and done, God's people will truly learn the lesson the Lord was trying to teach them all along.

Read and meditate on Hebrews 12:3-11. Can you find God's purpose for disciplining us in this passage?

Lord, thank you for being a loving father toward us. You teach us and discipline us as a loving father would. And even during the pain of the discipline, you give us hope. Teach us to fully trust you as you make us holy. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Isaiah 8&9

by Katrina

Isaiah 8-9

Isaiah married the virgin, and she conceived a son. The Lord told Isaiah to name the child Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Don't you just love how that name rolls off the tongue? ;) The name literally means "quick to plunder, swift to the spoil." This child was a sign to the nation that before the child could speak sentences (about age two), Assyria would conquer Syria and invade Israel. In 732 B.C., about two years after Isaiah's son was born, Rezin king of Syria and Pekah king of Israel were dead, Assyria had conquered Syria, and Assyria had begun to invade Israel. The Assyrian army was "quick to plunder and swift to the spoil."

In verses 5-22, Isaiah demonstrates Israel's folly of trusting Assyria instead of the Lord. There are three object lessons.
  • Verses 5-10 - They rejected the gently flowing waters of the Lord and chose the rushing river of Assyria, the Euphrates. Instead of trusting in the Lord, they were trusting in their alliance with Assyria to protect them. They rejoiced when Assyria conquered Syria but didn't realize that they were next. Assyria would soon overpower them like a flood.
  • Verses 11-15 - Anyone who did not support the alliance with Assyria was considered a conspirator against the nation. Isaiah pointed out that they should fear only the Lord. In fearing the Lord, the Lord would become their sanctuary, protecting them from enemies. But since they chose to trust in Assyria, they would not receive help from the Lord.
  • Verses 16-22 - Here Isaiah describes their choice as shutting out the light and choosing to live in darkness instead.
Chapter 9 begins with a promise of light! God won't leave His people in darkness forever. Here is a prophecy of Jesus, one we are familiar with. Verse six refers to Jesus's birth then goes on to describe His reign in the millennial kingdom.

The rest of the chapter describes the judgment coming to Israel. God chastises His people, but when they refuse to repent, His chastisement turns to judgment and He unleashes His fury.

"And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary." (Isaiah 8:12b-14a)

Examine your own heart. Whom or what do you fear? Do you fear financial problems? Job loss? Difficult relationships? Government problems? Certain people in your life? Fear of man or of circumstances are snares to us. They trap us into trusting ourselves, other people, government, or organizations to take care of us. On the other hand, if we truly trust in God, He becomes our sanctuary, our place of safety. He is the One who has power over all those other things and people. He is the only one we should fear.

Lord, teach us to trust fully in You, for You are holy and completely worthy of our trust. Help us learn not to rely on ourselves, other people, or organizations and not to fear what they will do when we break off our alliance with them. You are our refuge, our sanctuary, our protection. Amen.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Psalm 103 - Bless the LORD, O My Soul!

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 103


This is one of my very favorite psalms! I want to bathe in it and let its words and thoughts wash over me. Not only is it beautiful poetically, but its words and ideas go deeper and deeper the more I meditate on it.

Evidently I am not alone:

There is too much in the Psalm, for a thousand pens to write, it is one of those all-comprehending Scriptures which is a Bible in itself, and it might alone almost suffice for the hymn-book of the church. … Spurgeon

The Psalm, in regard to number, is an alphabetical one, harmonized in such a way as that the concluding turns back into the introductory verse, the whole being in this manner finished and rounded off. …The Psalm bears the character of quiet tenderness. It is a still clear brook of the praise of God. … E. W. Hengstenberg

It is observable that no petition occurs throughout the entire compass of these twenty-two verses. Not a single word of supplication is in the whole Psalm addressed to the Most High. Prayer, fervent, heartfelt prayer, had doubtless been previously offered on the part of the Psalmist, and answered by his God. Innumerable blessings had been showered down from above in acknowledgment of David's supplications; and, therefore, an overflowing gratitude now bursts forth from their joyful recipient. He touches every chord of his harp and of his heart together, and pours forth a spontaneous melody of sweetest sound and purest praise.
... John Stevenson, in "Gratitude: an Exposition of the Hundred and Third Psalm," 1856.


It’s timely that Psalm 103 be the one for this week. This past week marked the twentieth anniversary of the massacre of the protesters in Tiananmen Square in China and twenty years ago our family was poised to move to China. We did go later that summer. The next year was a rough one for me, one in which I came to realize in many ways my own frailty. I came to the end of my resources. I remember reading many of the psalms as I sobbed to the Lord. This one gave me strength. Verses 13 – 14, especially, comforted me:

“As a father pities his children,
so the LORD pities those who fear Him,
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.”

The following hymn, based on this psalm, was penned by Henry Lyte, a pastor in England who had lung problems and frail health and yet managed to establish a Sunday school in his town for eight hundred children. He also wrote several other well-known hymns, among which are “Abide with Me” and “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken.”

I’m linking the title to youtube, so those of you who aren’t familiar with it can hear it.

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

(by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847)

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet your tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing;
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favor
To His people in distress;
Praise Him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in His faithfulness.

Fatherlike He tends and spares us;
Well our feeble frame He knows;
In His hand He gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet His mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore Him;
You behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him,
All who dwell in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.

By the way, this hymn was chosen by Queen Elizabeth II as her wedding hymn on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey!


Many spiritual blessings are listed in this psalm. What are they? Do you realize where they come from and do you praise God for them the way the psalmist, David, did?

According to this psalm, how is God’s love demonstrated? To whom is it given?

As you meditate on this psalm think about ONE thing you want to take with you. Will you share it with us?


Sing the hymn to God, thinking about the words.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Isaiah 6 & 7 - Isaiah Sees God and Speaks of God with Us

LINK: Isaiah 6 & 7


Isaiah 6 - Seeing the Lord and Saying "YES"

This vision occurred sometime during the calendar year 740-739 B.C. when King Uzziah (called Azariah in 2 Kings 14:21) died, Isaiah had a vision of the LORD in the temple. Many commentators believe that the “temple” Isaiah is referring to is the heavenly one.
In this temple, Isaiah SEES God in all His holiness; high and exalted with His glory filling the temple. Isn't that AWESOME! Pause to think about this.
As a result, he is convicted of his own sinfulness in light of a holy God. Aiding the Lord in this vision were the seraphim. This is the only time they are referenced as “seraphim” in Scripture, but some believe that the living creatures mentioned in Revelation 4:6-9 refer to them. The Hebrew word for seraphim means “to burn,” and these angelic creatures functioned as purifiers as the coal was brought to Isaiah’s lips to burn away the guilt of his sin.
God’s holiness is mentioned three times: "Holy, holy, holy." Repeating is common in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 22:29; Ezekiel 21:27) and suggests God’s supreme or complete holiness.
Once cleansed, Isaiah is given the call to preach a message of repentance until God’s judgment came, even though the people would be unresponsive (oh joy). Note that God says “. . . who will go for Us?” The word “Us” hints at the Trinity (much like Genesis 1:26; 11:7).
In spite of knowing that the people would be unresponsive (How many of you would do a ministry that had little to no results?), First, Isaiah responds willingly. Then, God gives a message of hope: there will be a believing remnant who would be preserved in the land.
Isaiah 7 – The Promise of Immanuel (God with us)
In 734 B.C., Ahaz, king of Judah in Jerusalem (and one of Judah’s worst kings), is about to be attacked by the northern kingdom of Israel and Aram. He is frightened by the possibility of invading armies, but as Isaiah predicts, the kingdom of Judah did not come to an end. Ahaz refuses God’s help and tries to buy aid from the Assyrians (2 Kings 16:8), but the Assyrians bring more trouble than help. n 722 B.C., Samaria, the capital of Ephraim (another word for Israel, the northern kingdom) fell to the Assyrian armies, and the northern kingdom came to an end.
The prophecy of Immanuel in 7:13-16 is a scarlet thread of redemption passage. The immediate fulfillment will be that a young woman will conceive and bear a son named Immanuel; and before three years passed, the two invading kings would be destroyed. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is in the Lord Jesus Christ, born of a virgin and “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:31-35)!
This post is late because, in the midst of meditating on this passage, we had a phone call discussing procedures and protocols in a ministry in which we are currently involved. I had Isaiah’s vision right in front of me; and as my brain got really tired hearing about all the mechanics and “hoops” of this ministry, I just wanted to get off the phone and “see the Lord exalted on His throne" and get my marching orders from Him!
Sometimes, we lose sight of “seeing” God in the midst of busy activity in “Kingdom” work. Isaiah did not have to enter his encounter with the Lord in an “online reporting data base” in order to make sure everyone in his organization could track his progress. I don’t mean to be sarcastic in this, but I think we make ministry so much more complicated than it needs to be. It makes my head hurt and my eyes glaze over. I don’t want to lose sight of the whole reason why we “do” ministry in the first place.
So the point of this reflection is simple:
Don’t let your mission get in the way of your Master.
Now, I am off to behold Him.
Behold the Lord today. He is "with" you in all your activity and busy-ness. Isn't that awesome?
Holy, holy, holy are You Lord! The whole earth is full of Your glory. We worship You in the beauty of Your holiness, and we know that we fall short of your holiness and ask that You search our hearts and bring before us those things that are not holy in our lives. Thank You that the blood of Jesus purifies us. Bring us into right relationship with You. Open our eyes that we might see You in all Your fullness and glory. We want to be caught up in the wonder of You so that we might go where You would have us go and do what You would have us do for Your glory. We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Isaiah 1 - An Amazing Offer

by Katrina

LINK: Isaiah 1

I'm looking forward to this "trip" through Isaiah. It will be at a slower pace than I've read it before, and that makes it easier to meditate on it and let it "soak in" more. But before we begin reading, let's take a quick peek at some background information for this book.

Isaiah was a man who was very much in touch with his God. He had an active relationship with the Lord. He was also an effective communicator of God's message to Judah, often using striking language and real life illustrations. He loved the people of his nation but hated their sin. His message to Judah was very unpopular, but he courageously proclaimed what God instructed him, even in the face of persecution.

Isaiah began his ministry in the year that King Uzziah (of Judah) died (739 B.C.) and continued through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He probably died during the reign of Manasseh. We will discover more about this great man of God as we read through this book.

The book of Isaiah is one of the most quoted books of the Old Testament. The gospels refer to several of the prophesies concerning the Messiah, Jesus quoted Isaiah, and Paul quoted from this book extensively in his epistles. So some of these passages will probably be familiar to you even if you've never read Isaiah before.

The name "Isaiah" means "salvation of the Lord." As you read this book, look for the theme of deliverance, or salvation. There will be several different acts of deliverance that God will perform.

Chapter one is Isaiah's first message to Judah and is full of vivid word pictures. It is God's indictment against the nation. The sins listed range from chasing after wealth to committing murder. Although they carry out their religious duties, the activities are meaningless because their hearts are not in it at all. God likens them to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God threatens a judgment that will be very destructive and leave only a very small remnant in the land. Yet God promised that after the judgment there would be restoration.

This chapter is like a courtroom scene where the judge is handing down his judgment. The list of crimes is read off to prove guilt, and then just punishment is declared. The crimes were committed against the judge himself, and the judge has every right to completely destroy the guilty people. Yet, in the middle of God's indictment, he offers an opportunity for repentance! (vs 18-20) If the convicted criminals stop rebelling and listen to God, they can be completely forgiven. They will not have to suffer the punishment they deserve. Rather they will "eat the best of the land" and have their sins washed from scarlet to "white as snow." What an incredible offer! Too bad they didn't take it. :(

I, also, once stood condemned in the courtroom of God. He could have read off a very long list of crimes I had committed against him. Yet, he chose to offer me an opportunity for repentance. I did not deserve it, but he washed my sins away and completely forgave me. I now stand before him completely free of guilt. What a wonderful savior!

Lord, you are the ultimate judge, the one against whom all sin is committed. You have the right to condemn, yet you choose to offer us the opportunity to repent. Then you wash our scarlet sins away and leave us as white as snow. Our guilt is gone! What an amazing God you are! You are worthy of all our praise and worship. We give you all the glory for the work you do in our hearts to cleanse us. Thank you for providing forgiveness to us through your son Jesus, amen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

2 Chronicles 33 - Worst King Ever

by Katrina

2 Chronicles 33
parallel passage: 2 Kings 21

Manasseh began his reign around 697 B.C. at the age of twelve. Most likely he co-reigned with his father Hezekiah for a number of years. His claim to fame is that he was the most wicked of all the kings of Judah. What a sad legacy!

Hazekiah had done a lot of work to reform the nation and turn the people back to God, but Manasseh undid all of his father's work. He built altars to more and more gods, and even put altars in the temple itself. He didn't just build altars, though, he practiced the pagan religions, even putting his own sons through the fire for the god Molech. Under Manasseh's leadership, the people of Judah declined to a point below the low morality of the former inhabitants of Canaan. How very sad!

God sent prophets to Manasseh and the people, but they did not heed them. So the Lord brought the Assyrians to Judah. They captured Manasseh and led him as a captive to Babylon. This was probably during the reign of Ashurbanipal in 648 B.C. Babylon was like a second capital in Assyria at that time. During this captivity, Manasseh turned to the Lord and was humbled. When he was released and returned to Jerusalem, he began a reformation in keeping with his repentance.

But much damage had already been done and Manasseh's reform didn't "take." When Manasseh died, his son Amon ruled Judah and led the nation back to the former ways of his father. Amon never humbled himself and ruled for only two years before his own servants conspired against him and murdered him.

In the end, Manasseh was blamed for the destruction of the kingdom of Judah. The following passages refer to the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians.

Surely at the command of the Lord it came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood which he shed, for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; and the Lord would not forgive. (2 Kings 24:3-4)

And I shall make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 15:4)

Our actions can have effects that reverberate through the succeeding generations. Hezekiah's repentance apparently had much less effect on his son Manasseh than his disobedience did. And Manasseh's repentance had no affect on his son Amon. It was probably too late. By the time his father repented, Amon would have already been well down the wrong path in his life.

I think deeper than the outward actions themselves, the heart attitude is passed down to the next generation. And here is where I look at my own heart and wonder, "What messages am I sending to my children? Does the attitude of my heart match the teaching of my lips? Am I demonstrating to them an attitude of humility before the Lord?" Sometimes I harbor sin in my heart. Do I think my children don't notice? When they watch my life, what are they learning?

And it doesn't just affect family. These kings led the entire nation of people astray into idolatry and immorality. Each of us has a circle of influence. There are people around you who notice what you do and what your attitude is. What kind of an effect do you have on them?

Lord, teach us to be truly humble before you. Let us seek you whole-heartedly and thereby demonstrate YOU to those around us. Help us to lead our children to have humble hearts before you, God. Help us to have an effect on others that reflects what you have done in our lives as our savior. In the name of our wonderful savior, Jesus, amen.