Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Isaiah 65 - Blessings for Believers

by Katrina

Isaiah 65

"I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here am I, here am I,' to a nation which did not call on My name."
Once again, salvation is offered to the Gentiles! Yet, God is still willing, waiting, and wanting to receive Israel to Himself. He describes to Israel the sins that are keeping them from God and keeping God from responding to them. He explains, once again, why He allowed other nations to oppress Israel. Then He says that those who are true worshipers of God will be blessed by God, while those who continue to forsake Him will not.

One day, in the millennial kingdom, Jerusalem will be a very different place. It will be a place of joy, people will live long lives, there will be peace and security in Jerusalem, man's work will be very productive, even nature will be at peace, and God will hear the prayers of His people and answer before they even finish asking.

Let's look at the blessings that will be experienced by God's true servants.
  • will have enough to eat
  • will have enough to drink
  • rejoice/shout joyfully with a glad heart
  • be called by another name (Christ?)
  • be blessed by the God of truth
  • former troubles are forgotten
Count your blessings today and take time to thank God for them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Isaiah 63-64 - Confession

by Katrina

Isaiah 63-64

Chapter 63 opens up with a vivid picture of God's wrath on His enemies. Edom represents all the nations that have oppressed the Jews. Bozrah was one of the major cities of Edom, and its name means "grape gathering." The winepress of Isaiah's day was a large hollowed out rock on a hillside. They put the grapes on the rock and walked on them to press out the juice. The juice would run downhill into the waiting vessels. In His wrath, God will trample His enemies.

Beginning in verse seven and continuing through the rest of today's passage, Isaiah speaks. He begins with praise to the Lord for His love and kindness toward Israel through the years. He speaks of how God was a shepherd who took care of His sheep and how He led them through the waters of the Red Sea. (63:7-14)

Then Isaiah asks God to demonstrate His compassion to Israel. Israel is ignoring God, and God has allowed her to stray. Isaiah wants God to draw His people back to Himself. But as it is, Israel doesn't look any different than the nations around Her. There is no evidence that Israel's God is any different from the pagan gods. (63:15-19)

Isaiah continues praying and asks God to demonstrate His power (64:1-4). He recalls how God showed His power at Mt. Sinai and asks God to do it again. He wants God to show Himself in such a way that all who see it will know His name and will fear Him.

But Israel has sinned, and God has allowed her to live in her iniquity. Isaiah makes confession for the nation of Israel (64:5-7). And then appeals to God for intervention. He calls God "our Father" and "our potter," reminding God that Israel is the work of God's own hand. He pleads with God not to be "angry beyond measure." The destruction is enough, please intervene! (64:8-12)

Do I grieve the Holy Spirit? (63:10) Does my sin cause the stirring of God's heart and His compassion toward me to be restrained? (63:15) Is my heart hardened so that I don't fear Him? (63:17) Does my life look just like the world around me? (63:19)

If so, I must come to God in humility and confession. I love verses 8-9, "But now, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You our potter. And all of us are the work of Your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord. Neither remember iniquity forever. Behold, look now, all of us are Your people."

God is the one who can turn my heart toward Himself. He will forgive my sin and soften my heart. He will have compassion on me when I turn from my sin and toward Him. And He will make my life one that is tantalizingly different from the world.

I'm reminded of the hymn Have Thine Own Way, Lord!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray.
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

Lord, thank you for the work that You do in my heart! You are the potter; mold me into a vessel for Your use. Keep turning my heart toward You to walk in Your ways. Thank You for making me Your child, through Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Psalms 112 & 113

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 112


A companion to Psalm 111, this psalm varies its theme. Psalm 111 praises the LORD by recounting how His own works reveal His character. Psalm 112 praises the Lord by showing how the lives and actions of those who fear Him give Him praise. Those who fear the LORD reflect Him. They are characterized by what characterizes Him.


Get this: It we truly fear God we will delight in living for Him. Fearing God keeps us from fearing what most people fear. We will be different. The character traits that are revealed in those who truly reverence God are to His praise.

This is a poem – a worship song. It’s not an “if/then” doctrinal passage.

Notice that verse 3 talks about darkness overtaking the godly. Darkness there is a metaphor for difficulties, trials, tragedies, hard times. The psalm isn’t saying that fearing (trusting, living for) the LORD will keep us from experiencing suffering or hard times. It IS saying that when the “darkness” descends on the one whose heart belongs to the LORD, then light will come bursting in. Love that image! Light bursting in – something that can’t be contained.

Evil may touch the one who trusts the LORD, but it won’t overcome her. The safest place is in God’s lap.

If I fear God, then I won’t fear anything else. I am set free to live as He wants me to, in a way that honors His Name. Even in the dark times, I will reflect Him – I will display generosity and compassion and integrity and will do what is right. I will live in hope. My life will be a song of praise to my Lord.


What are you afraid of? Lots of people fear lots of different things. Do you fear other people and their opinions? Do you fear the future? Fear can be paralyzing.

After Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people from New Orleans were housed in a convention center about a mile from our house. Rumors flew: knife battles, violence on the streets nearby, people breaking into homes. I found myself having trouble sleeping at night. I reacted in fear – until – I realized that I needed to reflect my LORD. Hiding in my house wasn’t pleasing Him. Did I fear Him – believe that what He said was true really was true – that I was to help those in need – that I wasn’t to fear what man could do to me? My fear of God helped me to overcome my fear of the unknown, the fear of rumors, really, and go down the the convention center to volunteer. I spent several weeks volunteering there and was blessed by those I met. Fearing God set me free from fear!

It’s easy to be afraid of so many things. Sometimes after I read the newspaper I find myself fearful. There is so much wrong with this world. But, you know, as I focused on this psalm I realized that the only One I really should fear – because He truly has the power of life and death and eternity – is the LORD. He is the only one worth fearing and He is the only one worth trusting, because He is the only one who has any real power, the only one who knows the end and the beginning. And fearing the LORD and trusting Him isn’t paralyzing – it’s freeing!

Who do you fear? Fear God and live.

LINK: Psalm 113


Psalm 113 is the first of a series of psalms (Psalms 113-118) called the Hallel, psalms of redemption that were sung at the Jewish festivals, even in Jesus’ day. So it’s probable that this psalm was sung by Jesus at the last Passover meal he and his disciples celebrated together.


Look at the paradoxes in this psalm! The greatest One in the universe – the glorious LORD God – is concerned with those who are considered the lowest on earth – those most pitied and despised. This psalm reminds us of what God told Samuel – that He doesn’t look at the outward appearance, but at the heart.

The poor and needy are the most powerless people – not likely candidates for sitting with princes – and yet God helps them. Barren women were pitied and despised in ancient Israel and other ancient societies. Yet God turns their state upside down and promises blessing and joy.

This psalm reminds us that God’s way is indeed topsy-turvy – not the way this world functions at all! God is not status conscious.


What is your view of those you meet? Who do you gravitate toward? This psalm made me ask myself if I view those around me with God’s eyes or with the eyes of society – looking at the status of those around me.


Help me to fear you, LORD, so that I will be freed from fear to live. Help me to view others with Your eyes. We praise You, LORD Jesus, for your goodness and mercy and power. Blessed be your Name.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Isaiah 55-56 - Salvation for Gentiles

by Katrina

Isaiah 55-56

Here's an exciting passage for those of us who are not Jews. God extends an invitation to the Gentiles to experience His mercy.

Just like we need food to keep us physically alive, we need God to provide us with the nourishment that feeds our souls and makes us spiritually alive. And He offers it to anyone who is hungry and thirsty (55:1-3). God's purpose for Israel was/is/will be to draw men to Himself (55:4-5).

But the time to seek this salvation of the Lord is now. It isn't a never-ending offer (55:6). If anyone repents of his sin, God will have mercy on him and forgive him. Man may not understand God's offer of salvation, but He will speak it and His word will produce fruit (55:7-13).

The offer to come and worship God is extended to all people in chapter 56. Any foreigner (non-Jew) can join himself to the Lord and love Him. He will take them in and allow them to bring offerings and sacrifices to Him. God will accept their sacrifices and offerings and will make His temple a place of prayer for all peoples, not just the Jews. (56:1-8)

But all will not accept this offer of salvation. The "watchmen" in this passage (vs 9-12) were professional prophets. They should have been proclaiming God's word, but instead they were greedy and pursued their own desires. He rebukes them, calling them blind and dogs. They ignored their duties to watch over the well-being of the people. Instead they pursued their own desires and led the people into sin. Because of this sin, the people would go into captivity.

How my heart rejoices that God offers salvation to the Gentiles! I was thirsty, and He gave me living water. I had nothing to offer in exchange for salvation, and He gave it to me freely, not requiring any payment. I called on the Lord, and He had compassion on me. He abundantly pardoned my sin. I'm so glad His ways are higher than man's ways! His word produces fruit wherever He goes. So, today, I just rejoice in the salvation God offers to the Gentiles . . . to me!

Father, thank you! Thank you for making salvation through Jesus available to all the world, not just the Jews. Thank you for offering it to me as a free gift. I could never pay for it anyway. You are a compassionate and forgiving God! Let me live a life worthy of the gift you have given me. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Isaiah 54 - Restoration

by Katrina

Isaiah 54

Chapter 53 told about the Servant who would suffer in order to intercede for the transgressors. He was the sacrifice that would satisfy God and provide justification for man. For the Jews, this meant restoration to their former relationship with God.

The imagery in this chapter is that of a husband-wife relationship. God is the husband who has always been faithful, and Judah is the unfaithful wife. God temporarily rejected Judah because of her sin, but then brought his wayward wife back to himself and renewed his covenant with her.

God restored His people historically when they were released from their captivity in Babylon and returned to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem. But the ultimate restoration will occur when the Messiah returns to Zion and builds the city with precious stones (vs 11-12) and teaches everyone Himself (vs 13). In that millennial kingdom, Israel will be productive and strong, and will never be oppressed again.

Notice all the references to God's compassion. Reflect on His great compassion today.

Lord, we praise you for your great compassion. Without it, we wouldn't stand a chance! You remove our shame that results from our sin, and remember it no more. Truly you are a gracious God, full of lovingkindness for your people. Thank you for your great love! In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Psalms 110 & 111 - It's All About Jesus

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 110

This psalm jumps up and shouts, “Jesus!”


Psalm 110 celebrates the coronation of a king, but its prophetic purpose overshadows the literal meaning.

King David wrote this to celebrate his priest king – the Messiah. There is no doubt that this psalm refers to Jesus. Jesus refers it to Himself in Mark 12:35-37, using this psalm to show that the Messiah (himself) is greater than David. Peter uses this psalm to point to the resurrection rule of Christ in Acts 2: 29-39. Both those passages defend the deity of Jesus.

We’ve met Melchizedek before, in Genesis 14: 18-20. He was the priest king of Salem who seemingly springs from nowhere and just as quickly disappears from Abraham’s life. He blesses Abraham, and is “better” than Abraham, because Abraham tithed to him. Melchizedek is also mentioned in the New Testament, in Hebrews 5 – 7. In fact, this psalm is quoted in Hebrews 5: 6; 7:17. The author of Hebrews uses Melchizedek to demonstrate how Jesus is our priest king and to show why Jesus couldn’t be a descendent of Levi (of the Jewish priestly line) and is, in fact, greater than the Aaronic line of priests.


Jesus is pictured here as victorious king and conquerer, among other things. Look at what is said about the Lord Jesus in this psalm. Meditate on all Jesus is. What is your response?

LINK: Psalm 111


An acrostic psalm, Psalm 111 ends on what could be called the theme of Proverbs. (An acrostic psalm is one in which each half-line begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.)


This psalm begins with “Hallelujah”!

Do you delight in what God has done, how He reveals HImself? If you do, you will “study” His works. Studying what God has done will result in praise to Him – that’s what “hallelujah” means!

“Great are the works of the LORD;

They are studied by all who delight in them.”

There is a link here between pausing to think about what God’s actions say about Him – between studying His works – and wisdom. Praise, understanding, obedience, and wisdom are linked together in this psalm.

It’s fitting that this psalm ends with praise!


Read through Psalm 111 and list what it says God’s actions reveal about Him What do we learn about God’s attributes from this psalm?

List them. Can you add anything?


We thank You, LORD, for the unity of Your Word. We praise You that Jesus is our priest king – a conquerer who intercedes for us. Help us to delight in and study Your works. Make us wise servants, please. Thank you that You are trustworthy, that You in Your mercy ransomed us. Help us to follow You, to obey You faithfully. Hallelujah!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 - The Suffering Servant

by Katrina

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Wow! This is a rich passage! It speaks very clearly of Jesus' death and atonement for sin. Early Jewish interpretation of this passage was that the servant referred to the Messiah, which is also what the early Church believed. During the 12th century Jewish teachers developed the view that the servant referred to the nation of Israel. However, 53:8 clearly distinguishes the servant from the people, and verse nine states that the servant was an innocent victim. The end of the chapter clearly speaks of his death as being for others, including verse ten which says he gave himself as a guilt offering. Some rabbis skip this chapter when teaching the book of Isaiah, rather than struggle with the identity of this "servant." We know that the servant described here is Jesus. So all of today's reading contains the scarlet thread of redemption!

52:13-15 - The Servant will be "high and lifted up, and greatly exalted." This is equating the Servant with God Himself. Compare to Isaiah 6:1, ". . . I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted . . ." He will be so brutally treated that he won't be recognizable. The gospels tell of the Roman soldiers in Pilate's court abusing Jesus before the crucifixion. And by His sacrifice, He will "sprinkle many nations." The priests sprinkled blood of a sacrificed animal for purification. So Jesus will sprinkle His blood over all nations to purify us.

53:1-3 - Jesus would appear insignificant to the world. He humiliated Himself by becoming a man, and men would not recognize His worth. Paul talks of this in Philippians 2:5-11.

53:4-9 - These six verses grip my heart. Because I have strayed like a sheep, God placed all my sin, iniquity, sorrow, grief, chastening on Jesus. He carried the weight of all of it, and not only for me, but for everyone in the world! He bore my transgression and died for it. He had never sinned Himself and did not deserve death Himself. But He allowed Himself to be led like a lamb to slaughter. He was silent and willingly submitted Himself to that death. . . . for my sake!

53:10-12 - We see the victory in the final three verses. Jesus gave Himself as a guilt offering, and that offering satisfied God's demands. Therefore, we can be justified. Jesus interceded for us when we could do nothing for ourselves and provided the way for our salvation.

This whole passage is one to reflect upon. It's only 15 verses, but they are incredible ones. Read this passage through slowly several times today and ponder the salvation Jesus has provided for you.

Chapter 53 would be a great one to memorize!

Lord, you sent your son as a lamb, to be sacrificed for my sin. I could never provide my own sacrifice good enough to remove my sin. But Jesus did it for me. What an incredible salvation you have given me! I praise and exalt the risen Lamb of God! Amen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Isaiah 51:-52:12 - The Lord Encourages His Faithful Remnant

by Katrina

Today and Tomorrow's readings cover chapters 51-53. I'm going to break them up a little differently in order to keep the flow of the passages.

Isaiah 51:1-52:12

In this section, the Lord speaks to His people in captivity in Babylon. (Remember, at the time Isaiah wrote/spoke this message, they hadn't even gone into captivity yet.) God tells His people what will happen at the end of their years of captivity when Cyrus, as God's human agent, will set them free.

God begins with a reminder of where they came from as descendants of Abraham. From a single man, God had brought forth a great nation. This same powerful God will restore the people and the land. (51:1-3)

Next is God's reminder that there will be judgment for those who have wronged God's people. But while the earth and sky will one day be no more, the salvation that God provides will never end. God's righteousness and His salvation will endure forever! (51:4-8)

Then there's another reminder from God: This is the same God who brought them out of Egypt. Not only that, but this is the Creator God. He is very, very powerful! And this same God is the one who comforts His people and will soon set them free. He is their protector and provider. (51:9-16)

God comforts His people next when He tells them that they have experienced His wrath, but they will experience it no more. Instead, God's wrath will be upon those who have tormented them. (51:17-23)

God's people have been slaves in Egypt, oppressed by Assyria, and captives in Babylon. But God will show Himself by bringing His people back to Jerusalem. They will not have to pay any ransom in order to leave Babylon. Here God announces the good news that the exiles will return to Jerusalem. (52:1-10)

This section concludes with God exhorting His people to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. They will not be chased out of Babylon in haste, but the Lord Himself will go before them to prepare the way and come behind them to guard them. (52:11-12)

We can be saved from many things in this life. We can be saved from financial disaster or rescued from a burning building. We can be saved from a dangerous situation or even resuscitated in an emergency room. But these are all temporary "salvations." But I noticed some things God said about His salvation to us in 51:6-8. "My salvation shall be forever and My righteousness shall not wane." And, "But My righteousness shall be forever, and My salvation to all generations." Our spiritual salvation is available only through Jesus, and it's the only salvation based on the righteousness of God. It is the only salvation that is offered to all generations and lasts forever. What an amazing salvation we have!!

Hebrews 2:1-4 says that we need to pay close attention to what we have heard lest we drift away from it. And if "every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" The gospel message has been fully confirmed as true. We must live it ourselves and continue to spread it. Our salvation is a great one! It is way too valuable to be taken for granted. Ponder your salvation today, and really thank God for it.

Lord, what a great salvation You offer us by redeeming us from our own sin! Thank You for providing Your own Son to purchase our salvation! Help each one of us to live today worthy of the salvation You have given us. For Jesus's sake, amen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Isaiah 48 - Release from Captivity

by Katrina

Isaiah 48

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, the people of the nation of Judah will be released from that captivity. Although they claimed the name of the Lord, they have clung to their idolatry. They have been very stubborn, and God has sent affliction to teach them to turn from their idols. He has been very patient, though, and not completely destroyed them in order to protect His own name. And now He will free them from captivity for His own glory. (And God refuses to share that glory with any idols.) God also reminds His people of the blessings they missed by their disobedience. Then God will urge them to leave Babylon. It will take some prodding because they will have grown comfortable in Babylon. But there will be some who will return to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem (recorded in the books of Ezra & Nehemiah), and the Lord will provide for them as He provided for the Israelites in the desert with Moses.

An interesting note: The end of verse 16 is a reference to the Trinity - "And now the Lord God (the Father) has sent Me (the Son), and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit)."


Monday, July 13, 2009

Isaiah 47 - Fall of Babylon

by Katrina

Isaiah 47

This chapter tells of the fall of Babylon to Persia, which is an event 150 years in the future from Isaiah's time. God has told the people of Judah that they will go into captivity. Here and in the next chapter, He tells them of their release from captivity. They would have no reason to doubt that God was in control of all that would happen to them! He predicted it all.

God chose to use Babylon to discipline His people, so why will God punish Babylon for doing His will? Babylon was cruel and arrogant. God reminds Babylon that God is God, and they will suffer the consequences of mistreating God's people. They were arrogant and thought they were indestructible, but they would suffer destruction from God.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Psalms 108 & 109 - The Power of God and the Seriousness of Sin

by Becky

Psalm 108

Psalm 108 combines the last parts of two previous psalms, Psalm 57 and Psalm 60, with minor wording changes. Leaving out parts of the previous psalms and recombining other parts gives a different emphasis. Where the previous psalms begin with entreaty and some complaints, this psalm begins and ends with assurance, praise, and victory. It centers on the power and provision of God.

I hope you’ll take some time to meditate on it before moving on to Psalm 109. What is your heart fixed on? Are you steadfastly trusting the LORD?

LINK: Psalm 109


Psalm 109 is a troubling psalm, because it contains one of those imprecatory passages, a passage that curses an enemy. There is no question that this is a hard passage.

It is important for us in the 21st century, used to the personal, private use of God’s Word, to remember that this is a psalm of David and was given to the chief musician for use in public, corporate worship. It isn’t a private, personal poem, but is a song. Therefore, it must have some value for worship. It’s possible that we in our time may never understand completely why it’s included, or how it could be used in worship.

I teach Shakespeare. I have directed several of his plays. Because there are few stage directions it is possible to extract several possible interpretations from certain lines, simply by varying the way they’re delivered and by emphasizing different phrases and words. I think that is probably the case here.

The psalm begins with the presentation of a problem (vv 1 – 5), one that most of us can identify with. People are telling lies, gossiping, spreading false rumors about David. In return for David’s love he receives hatred. He continues to pray for them, has done good to them, and they respond with evil actions.

In verse 6 “the enemy” changes from plural to singular. Look at the change in pronouns. Perhaps it is not significant, but it could be, so I thought it should be noted, because at least one commentator uses that fact to propose that the words, “They say” be inserted here. Doing that would completely change the point of view and it would be clear that this is what the enemies are saying about David., rather than what David’s song says about his enemy. Verse 20 would then be a request that the Lord turn the curses of the enemies (from the previous fourteen verses) against themselves. Take a look. What do you think?

The more usual view is that the imprecation is from David against the wicked. Some writers are obviously baffled by it. Because Peter quotes this Psalm, referring to Judas Iscariot, in Acts, some commentators say that it speaks specifically about Judas and should not be extended generally.

Then there are those who try to figure it out within the context of its use. Here is an excerpt of one explanation that I found thought provoking and thorough. In my thoughts about the psalm, this is mostly where I’ve landed:

All of the above observations lead me to the conclusion that the imprecatory psalms are far more relevant and applicable to Christians today than we would like to admit. Why then are we so uneasy about them? Essentially I think the answer is that we have a distorted view of God, perverted by our own sin. We want to think of God only in terms of love and mercy, but not in terms of justice and judgment. We are soft on sin. … We have adopted the thinking summarized by the expression, “I’m O.K., You’re O.K.” If you will pardon me for doing so, I could entitle Psalm 109 “I’m O.K., but You’re Not.” Such was the conviction of the psalmist. Most of us know that we are not O.K. Therefore we respond by going easy on others, hoping our laxity will make things easier on us. Let me tell you that if we had the courage and the conviction to pray as David did, we would be very ill at ease in regard to our own sins. Our greatest problem with imprecatory psalms is that the psalmist takes sin much more seriously than we do.

You may wish to challenge me by stressing that while we must hate sin, we should not hate the sinner. We want to think that God hates the sin, but He loves the sinner. I must ask you then, why does God send men to hell? Why isn’t hell a terrible place of torment for Satan and his angels and sin? Why is hell a place where people go? I don’t think it is as possible as we think to separate the sin from the sinner. This is not the solution to our problem.

I believe that in David’s case his enemies were God’s enemies whom God hated (cf. Romans 9:13 — in some sense, at least, God “hated” Esau). The solution was not to separate the sin and the sinner, but to commit both to God. This freed David from personal vengeance, enabling him to “love his enemies” (cf. Psalm 109:5) and treat them with kindness (as David did to Saul, Shimei, and the rest of his enemies). Let us not strive so hard to separate the sin from the sinner as to separate the sin from our attitudes and actions toward the sinner. I believe that David responded as he did to his enemies because he was a “man after God’s own heart.” Our problem is that we look at sin and sinners more from a human viewpoint than from the divine.

The amazing thing is that when we strive to conjure up human feelings of love and forgiveness, we really can’t love or forgive our enemies. The best we can do is to suppress our feelings of anger and hostility. When the psalmist prayed as he did in Psalm 109 he admitted his feelings and his desires (which were in accordance with God’s character and His covenant with men). He was thereby relieved of his hostility by committing the destiny of the wicked to God. Punishment and vengeance belong to God. By giving up vengeance we free ourselves to love and to forgive in a way that we cannot produce in and of ourselves.

Let us learn from the imprecatory psalms that a hard stand on sin is the best way to prevent sin. Let me tell you it must have been some experience to gather as a congregation in days of old and sing Psalm 109. Remember, the psalm was written for public worship. To sing its words was to remind the saints how the godly should respond to sin. In so doing each individual was reminded of the seriousness of sin and the dire consequences which accompany it. To be soft on sin is to give it a greenhouse in which to grow. To be hard on sin is to hinder its growth, not only in the lives of others but in our own as well.

from Bob Deffinbaugh at bible.org

If you want to read the whole commentary, go to http://bible.org/seriespage/psalm-109-prayer-punishment-wicked . It's worth reading.

The last verses of the psalm ask God for mercy and help, so that his enemies, those attacking and maligning him, will see that God’s blessing supersedes their cursing. The psalm ends in praise to the LORD who rescues.


Sin is serious. Do you take it as seriously as it is taken in the psalm?

Let me repeat what Mr. Deffinbaugh says, To sing its words was to remind the saints how the godly should respond to sin. In so doing each individual was reminded of the seriousness of sin and the dire consequences which accompany it. To be soft on sin is to give it a greenhouse in which to grow. To be hard on sin is to hinder its growth, not only in the lives of others but in our own as well.


It is easy for us to gloss over sin – to excuse it without truly dealing with it. Help us, Lord, to recognize its horror. Sin has consequences that reach far beyond the moment and far beyond the individual. Help us to deal honestly with you about our own sin. Help us to speak to you honestly when others sin against us. Help us to leave consequences in your hands rather than adding our sin to theirs by trying to hurt them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Isaiah 42 - Messiah and Wrath against Idolatry

by Katrina

Isaiah 42

This chapter breaks down into six sections
  1. vs. 1-4 - the Servant-Messiah - Here is a prophecy of the Messiah, Jesus, coming. Matthew quoted this passage in Matthew 12:18-21 with reference to Jesus fulfilling this prophecy. Verse 4 promises that Jesus will yet establish complete justice on the earth.
  2. vs. 5-9 - God reminds the people that He is the creator and the One who chose them to be His people. He will not share His glory with idols.
  3. vs. 10-13 - Let the whole world praise the Lord; He will prevail against His enemies.
  4. vs. 14-17 - The Lord has been very longsuffering while His people worshiped idols.
  5. vs. 18-22 - God's people have turned a deaf ear and blind eye to God, and will be judged for it.
  6. vs 23-25 - So God's wrath is upon them.


God really has no tolerance for idolatry. Verse eight says, "I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images." In our culture today, we aren't bowing before man-made statues. So, what is idolatry?

Here's something A. W. Tozer said about idolatry:

Let us beware lest we in our pride accept the erroneous notion that idolatry consists only in kneeling before visible objects of adoration, and that civilized peoples are therefore free from it. The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind and may be present where no overt act of worship has taken place. “When they knew God,” wrote Paul, “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Then followed the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men and birds and beasts and creeping things. But this series of degrading acts began in the mind. Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which the polluted waters of idolatry flow; they are themselves idolatrous. The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.

Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear. The long career of Israel demonstrates this clearly enough, and the history of the Church confirms it. So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God. - A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: HaperCollins, 1961), 3-4.
Tozer so clearly explains one aspect of idolatry - lowering God. There is a flip side - elevating anything or anyone else above God.

An idol is anyone or anything that receives our devotion - music stars, athletes, actors/actresses, preachers, authors, people we know, activities, TV shows, websites, games, etc. Do these things excite you more than God does or consume much of your time? Consider the level of devotion you have given them in your heart.

Also, idolatry is placing our trust in anyone or anything other than God - political leaders, government organizations, money, banks, jobs, the market, power, churches, church leaders, etc. Are you resting in these things? Do you count on them to see you through difficult times?

We need to examine and guard our hearts against any form of idolatry. God refuses to share His glory!

Father, help us to examine our hearts today and weed out anything that we elevate too high. Help us to see any ways we devalue You in our hearts as well. We worship You, for You alone are worthy of worship. You are the only one worthy of our trust and adoration. We praise You in the name of Jesus, amen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Isaiah 41 - Encouragement from God

by Katrina

Isaiah 41

This is a beautiful chapter of encouragement for the people of Judah. I break it down into the following sections:

vs. 1-4 - reminder of God's sovereignty over kings and nations

vs. 5-16 - encouragement that they are still God's chosen people and He will help them

vs. 17-20 - God's promise to provide all their needs as they travel

vs. 21-24 - God's challenge to idols to prove themselves worthy of worship, which they can't do

vs. 25-29 - Prophecy of a ruler from the east that will come down from the north (with another reminder of the worthlessness of idols)

This prophecy would be fulfilled 150 years later, when Cyrus king of Persia (in the east) would conquer Babylon (by attacking from the north). The Jews in Babylon will be freed by Cyrus to return to Jerusalem, and God will provide all their needs as they travel there.

There are many great verses to reflect upon in this chapter. It's hard for me to choose one! Feel free to choose others besides this one. :)

God tells His people that they will travel through wilderness and dry land back to Judah, but God will provide water for them as well as trees. Why? Verse 20 says, "That they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it." God wants us to recognize that He is the one who provides our needs for us.

Make a list of ways that God has provided for you recently - physically, emotionally, spiritually. Then take some time to praise and thank Him for His provision.

Lord, you are the only one who is sovereign over all things and who can provide for our every need. We praise you today as the only true God, the one who upholds us, sustains us, provides for us, cares for us. Thank you most of all for providing the way of salvation for us through Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Psalm 107 - Cry to the Lord!

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 107


What a psalm! This beautiful, well-crafted poem celebrates God’s goodness and love for people. From the first two verses it seems to be specifically written for those Israelites who returned to Jerusalem after being scattered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians. But because of the way the psalm is structured and what it says, it’s clear that this can be extended to include all who turn to God. The message is clear: trouble and rebellion can be used to draw us back to the LORD.

There are four groups of people focused on in this psalm.

Verses 4 – 7 speak about those who wandered in desert wastelands and who eventually cried out to the Lord – who delivered them.

Verses 10 – 14 focus on those taken captive because of their rebellion. They also cried to the Lord and He delivered them.

Verses 17 – 20 deal with those who became fools through rebellion and in doing so experienced physical infirmities (loathed food, drew near the gates of death). They, too, cried to the Lord and He saved them.

Verses 23 – 30 speak of those who felt self-sufficient and in control until confronted with a natural disaster like a tempest, when they were overcome with fear. Then they cried to the Lord – who heard them and guided them to their “desired haven.”

Look at the refrain repeated between each of those accounts. That’s four times!

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men. “ (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31)

Toward the end of the psalm, paradoxes prevail.

“He [God] turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.

He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
… He lifted the needy out of their affliction. …”

We are told to pay attention to this psalm. In fact those who heed its lesson are called wise.

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the LORD.”


This psalm can be understood on both a literal level and as one full of metaphor. .

Have you ever wandered in a spiritual or emotional desert wasteland?

Have you ever been held captive by the bonds of rebellious sin?

Have you suffered physically (become ill) because of foolish choices caused by rebellion and sin?

Have you, in the midst of every day life and self-sufficiency, been confronted by your own smallness in the face of something huge and outside your control?

There is hope here! It’s quite simple, really, and yet hard, because it requires us to “cry to the LORD,” to admit that we don’t have the answers ourselves, to admit that God alone does. God has given us principles by which to live. His Way, His Word are the only life and truth. I also don’t think it’s any coincidence that Jesus calls Himself the Way, the Word, the Life, and the Truth. Jesus is the punch line to that which is repeated over and over again in the Old Testament.

Look at the paradoxes here (vv. 33 – 42). Rich, spring fed land becomes a wasteland while God fills parched desert with pools of water and springs. God leads the hungry to a place where they can produce fruit. Those who grow independent of God (proud) through their own strength are humbled, but God lifts up those who are needy. Don’t these paradoxes remind you of passages in the New Testament?

As I read this psalm I was reminded of Matthew 5: 3-10 (Beatitudes); Luke 1: 50-53 (Mary’s Magnificat); 1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 31; 2 Corinthians 12: 7 – 10 .

Do you need rescuing? Have you cried to the LORD?

Has the LORD rescued you? Are you thanking Him?


I thank you LORD for your unfailing love and for your wonderful deeds for men. You have rescued your people over and over again. Thank you for coming in the flesh to rescue those who cry out to you. Help us to continue in you the way we began, by crying out to you, by recognizing our weakness so that you can be our strength. You alone fill our hunger; You alone quench our thirst. Help us to be wise and heed this psalm’s message and consider Your great love – a love that intervenes in time and space on behalf of those who cry to you.