Monday, October 31: Isaiah 58- A different kind of fast

When fasting comes up I immediately think about not eating for some period of time, one meal, a whole day, a week. And this is certainly the common mode of fasting. But in this chapter God suggest a different kind of fast, one that involves positive action rather than simply giving food or something up for a period of time. I’ll let God explain this new fast:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. (6-12)

I need to let this soak in.  There is much here both in the way of action and reward. God’s new fast brings great reward and blessing.

I pondered this new fast.  It is more about giving oneself away than giving up food or drink. It is about serving as opposed to not indulging. There is a lot here and it calls for a reframing of life…

Lord, I have never been great at fasting. Today’s Word raises the bar significantly. The plain call of the text is to give myself away for the sake of those in need. Today’s reading scares me because I really don’t want to sacrifice self pleasures for others. Today’s Word is showing me how selfish I really am. Lord that scares me.

Jesus, I confess that I need Your forgiving, redeeming grace in order to grow to truly be the man You want me to be. Help me, Lord. Help me. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, October 29: Isaiah 57- God my refuge.

In every time there are those who follow the Lord God and those who do not. It was so in Isaiah’s day and it is so in ours. As God lays out His redemption message, God makes sure not to give false hope to those who choose their own way rather than follow God and God’s way.

This chapter speaks to both sets of people…

I drew strength from what God says in verse 13b: … the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.

My safety net is to make God my refuge… to make God the one I turn to and run to in times of trouble, heartache and fear… to make God the one who is the anchor and bedrock of my life.

The word-picture of inheriting the land and possessing my holy mountains spoke security, care, protection and provision to the people of Israel. All who took refuge in the Lord would be under the Lord’s security, care, protection and provision. And that’s where I want to be, under the Lord God’s watchful hand.

Frankly, this is particularly true in these present uncertain times.

O, Lord, my God, You are my rock and fortress, an ever present help in times of trouble. You are my refuge and my protection. I will hide myself under the shadow of Your wings.

Guide me into Your ways, that I may live for You.

Thank you for watching over me … I love you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Friday, October 28: Isaiah 56- A simple summary.

Summaries help me. The great creeds of the church –Apostles’ and Nicene for example- help me maintain a sense of the core of God’s teaching. The great commandment to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and love neighbors as ourselves, helps me understand the essence of a life lived for God.

Today I saw another ‘summary.’ Verses 1-2: This is what the LORD says: "Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil."

Verse one was most helpful for me… Maintain justice and do what is right…. I can use that as a plumb line for my living.

Maintain justice; stand up for those who have no voice, don’t let bullies get away with their offensive actions, help those too weak or downtrodden or incapable of helping themselves…

Do what is right; tell the truth rather than lie, keep my marriage bed pure, control the envy of my eyes (I am thinking through the last 6 commandments), serve others, live with integrity…

Easier to write about than live, but that’s okay with me. Goals help me focus. I rarely hit my goal perfectly, instead they motivate me to keep trying and work at it…

This morning’s Word gives me another summary to ponder, which will help me keep my life in line with God’s ways.

O, God, help me to do as You say; to maintain justice and do what it right. Lord, I know that without the strength and power of Your Spirit within, I have no chance. Holy Spirit, I know You are within, the Father and Son have promised so.  Please help me attune my life to Your voice so that I can better hear and respond to Your correction, leading and voice. I pray this through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Thursday, October 27: Isaiah 55- God's word is alive.

Magnificent… what a chapter… what promises! My heart soared. I could have lingered anywhere within this chapter and would have been richly blessed by my Lord.

I chose to linger on verses 8-11: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

[My word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. That’s why I sit and read most every day. That’s why I read and re-read and re-re-read God’s Word regularly. Because every time I spend time with God’s Word, it accomplishes a godly purpose in my life. Sometimes God convicts, sometimes God challenges, sometimes God comforts or cares, sometimes God blesses… often times God does more than one thing in my life and every time God does something. Reading, pondering, studying God’s word is NEVER void.  God is always active.

I hope you have discovered God’s Word to be alive and real as you have been reading with me…

O, God, thank You for your invitation to Come, thirsty as I am, to the life quenching waters You provide. Thank You, Lord, that You invite me to come without cost. Thank you, Holy One, for all the blessings You provide without cost to me… thank You. Bless You. Love You… in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, October 26: Isaiah 54- God keeps His word.

I felt a bit distracted as I read… this happens sometimes. I summoned more concentration and read again. The second and third verses caught my eye…..a promise from God, a promise to the nation, to His people.

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

Thousands of years earlier God promised to make Abraham’s offspring as numerous as the stars in the sky. Despite Israel’s sins and rebellions God maintained the promise, and here He gives it again, different word-pictures but in essence, the same.

God keeps His word. As I typed that last sentence, I was struck by the profound nature of those simple 4 words. God keeps His Word!

Who God says I am as a child of His… I am

What God says He will do… He does

The promises God made… He will keep!

Years ago I read a book by Neil Anderson titled, Victory Over the Darkness Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1990, 2000). In it he lists over 80 scriptural promises and statements God has made about who we, as believers, are in Christ. With Dr. Anderson’s permission I combined his lists into a booklet. It is a powerful thing to read through what God says to and about us as His children.  It gets even better because God keeps His word; every promise and statement He made is assured!

Lord, I am so thankful and blessed that You keep Your Word and that You honor Your promises. I find my security in Your surety! Blessed be Your name. Amen.


Tuesday, October 25: Isaiah 53- Humbled.

One of the great chapters and prophesies in the Scriptures… I read it humbled. Humbled by what God did to arrange for our pardon. Humbled by what Jesus endured so that our iniquities might be atoned for. Humbled that Jesus bore my sins and made intercession for me…

Thoughts compelled me to re-read this chapter.  I was tempted to print the entire chapter; instead I read it slowly the second time.  Like someone savoring a fine wine,  I allowed the wonder of each line sink deeply into my soul…

Thank You, Lord Jesus… thank You. Amen.


Monday, October 24: Isaiah 52- Beautiful feet

Isaiah continues to sing the song of the servant of the Lord. Who is he? He is one with beautiful feet.

Isaiah describes him like this: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (7). Consider what he will bring for a moment… he will:

  • Bring good news,
  • Proclaim peace,
  • Bring good tidings,
  • Proclaim salvation

This servant of the Lord will do all this and more.

In the New Testament, Paul uses this verse to describe everyone who speaks God’s message of salvation in Jesus. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:13-15)

The text causes me to wonder, “Am I (are you) a person of beautiful feet?” Think about it…

O, Lord God, perform whatever surgery is needed on my life that I become a person with beautiful feet… feet like my Savior, Jesus. Feet that go where You send, bringing peace and good tidings from the Glorious One in Heaven and proclaiming Good News and salvation in Jesus Christ, the Lord. Amen.


Saturday, October 22: Isaiah 51-

As I read verse 11 (The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away), I found myself humming a song from my college days:

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord will return

And come with singing unto Zion

An everlasting joy will be upon their heads.


They shall obtain gladness and joy

And mourning and crying will flee away


Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return…

As I hummed, something felt familiar and I remembered I did this not long ago. I thought for a bit and recalled it was part of my thoughts from Isaiah 35:9-10: … the redeemed … of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. The words weren’t an exact duplicate but very close.

The most noticeable change was the word “ransomed.” The word is similar in meaning to redeemed but ransomed, at least to me, suggests the idea of being kidnapped.

I thought about that. In the garden when our ancestors Adam and Eve sinned, we were ‘kidnapped’ or taken hostage by the serpent. Oh, he didn’t throw them in a car and carry them off but he hijacked their minds, causing them to dream that they could be like God if they only disobeyed and ate what God had forbidden.

I pondered the ways my mind gets hijacked or kidnapped today… the thoughts and thought patterns that drag me off God’s intended route and bind me.

Thank God for Jesus’ ransom on the cross… Yes, thank God!  That is exactly what I will do…

Lord God, thank You for the gladness and joy that fills my life as I consider my ransom by Jesus. Tomorrow I will gather with others who have been ransomed by Jesus and we will praise You with gladness and joy in our hearts because of what You, O God, have done for us! Alleluia Amen.


Friday, October 21: Isaiah 50- More about THE Servant

This chapter continues with more about the servant. Verses 4-9 attracted my attention as I listened to attributes of the servant. I found them thought provoking for my life, as one who follows the Lord as His servant.

Verse 4: The servant listens to the Lord and from his listening and learning can tell others (he has an instructed tongue). Do I give apt attention to God’s instruction and God’s Word so much so that when appropriate I can explain things to others with ‘instructed tongue?’

Verse 5: The servant is not rebellious and does not shrink back from what God leads and instructs him to do. Do I follow through on those things I believe God wants me, personally, to do?  Is my life guided by the general instructions in God’s Word given to all who follow Him?

Verse 6: The servant will suffer humiliation and pain for the sake of his master the Lord.  Even when God’s way is difficult, do I give myself fully to the way of God surrendering self for the sake of my master?

Verse 7: The servant sets his face like flint to do the bidding of God, his master. Do I live locked into God’s agenda and way, or do I allow distractions to lead me off God’s track?

Verses 8-9: The servant knows it is God’s judgments that matter in the end, thus he trusts God to be his vindication when accused and judged others. Is my trust in God?  Do I live for the Lord or the accolades of other people in my life?

Wow, as I was typing these thoughts, I discovered much more depth to these words from the Lord than I anticipated when I began. Big question.  Am I a good servant of God, following the example of THE Servant of the Lord, Jesus, the Righteous Son?

O, God, You have set the standard high and Jesus followed perfectly. I am not close. I fall short regularly and routinely. Despite my failings, I choose to follow and to set Jesus as the one whom I will emulate. I know I can only do that as I humble myself and draw upon the strength, wisdom and leading of the Holy Spirit.

To be wholly Yours, O God…

Help me to be wholly Yours. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 20: Isaiah 49- Beneficiary and ambassador.

In this marvelous chapter of hope and rescue there was a promise of God’s redemption reaching out to the Gentiles.  Yes, Israel was the apple of God’s eye but from the call of Abram, it was God’s intention to bless the nations (Genesis 12:3 to Abram: I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.). In verse 6, God’s promise to bless the nations is bestowed upon His servant. "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."

The servant of the Lord, who we know to be Jesus, is shining God’s light to the ends of the earth through His church. This verse is the seed of the Great Commission (Matthew 28 and Acts 1:8, and elsewhere).

One of my first thoughts is that I am a beneficiary of this promise. As a Gentile I am a partial fulfillment of this promise. But then as I reflected further, I am also an ambassador of this promise to others…

What a picture!  I am (and very likely your are as well) a beneficiary and fulfillment of this promise and an ambassador to others of it as well…

O,God, make me an able under-servant to Your Servant and Son Jesus in the spread of Your blessing and salvation to the ends of the earth. Amen.



Wednesday, October 19: Isaiah 48- What is best.

I found myself focusing on verse 16-17: Come near me and listen to this: …. This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

What a simple truth and yet profound. God is my teacher. He teaches me the way I should go. His way is best. My heart knows this is true and yet I continue to struggle to follow God’s way. Living God’s way is not easy. My selfish, sin-filled self rebels and leads me to go my own way.

My heart breaks, the pain I have brought upon myself, by following my way instead of God’s way. Oh, the peace I often forfeit, oh, the needless pain I have born going my way instead of God’s.

Verse 18 stings a bit because it is sooo true. If only [I] had paid attention to [God’s] commands, [my] peace would have been like a river, [my] righteousness like the waves of the sea.

O Lord, forgive me for my waywardness, for straying from Your path, sometimes carelessly, often willfully. Forgive me, Lord, please.

Restore to me a willing spirit and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Guide me by Your grace to Your paths of righteousness, that I may walk with You all the days of my life.

Lord, may the joy of Your salvation dance in my life and may Your peace surround me. May I know the wonder of sharing You with others who see a living faith in Jesus in me. Through the power of the Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, October 18: Isaiah 47- OUR Redeemer.

In the midst of this chapter, which is all about judging Babylon, one love verse stuck out as I was reading. Verse 4, it seemed almost out of place and yet it beckoned me to meditate upon it. After reading the chapter I went back to verse 4 and tried to soak myself in it. Our Redeemer--the LORD Almighty is His name-- is the Holy One of Israel.

Redeemer –one who saves, one who comes to the rescue of another. Additionally, the redeemer being talked about is the Lord Almighty. God, Himself, is the Redeemer.

As I read it again, I noticed the word our. Not only is Isaiah declaring the wonders of the Lord, he personalizes who God is for him and all of Israel. This led me to contemplate my relationship with the Lord; how God Almighty has redeemed me…

… salvation in Jesus Christ,

… sins forgiven, past present and in the future,

… the troubles God has helped me through,

… the sins God, the Holy Spirit, has helped me avoid

As my thoughts multiplied, I sat in awe of God who has and continues to redeem me!

My heart began to soar…

My redeemer lives, my redeemer live… I know he rescued my soul I know he rescued my soul. His blood has covered my sins. I believe, I believe

Alleluia, my redeemer lives… He is Jesus. Amen!


Monday, October 17: Isaiah 46- God's salvation is coming.

The early portion of Isaiah was filled with judgment and woe. Since chapter 40, God has been announcing His love, care and salvation. Even though Israel is imperfect at best and at times even debased, God has not removed His love and God has not canceled their covenant.

Verses 3-4 resonated with me: Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. God’s care will carry Israel throughout the generations…

My devotions bounced from Israel to me, to us.  God treats those of us in this family today the same way. God has upheld us since we were conceived and carried us since our birth. He will do so into our old age. God sustains and rescues.

There is a doctrine in the Reformed branch of the church sometimes called ‘the perseverance of the saints’. I had a professor who I believe more accurately named it the “perseverance of God for the saints.” See it is God who sustains us. God who will see us through to eternity. God who watches over, protects and rescues us. Romans 8 captures it beautifully in the NT, even as Isaiah 46:3-4 does in the OT.

I sit and marvel this morning that my eternity is secure, not because I have earned it or I can even keep it now that God has graced me with it. NO, I am secure and my future inheritance is secure because God guarantees it.

For some I suppose this could invite laziness in the faith.  However for me, it fills me with awe and love and appreciation for God who loves and sustains me.

Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of creation. O my soul praise Him for He is my help and salvation!!!. Alleluia, Amen!


Saturday, October 15: Isaiah 45- Controls the nations.


It was common in the days of Isaiah for there to be ‘national gods,’ a particular god who watched over a country. Some countries had a pantheon of gods. Kings often claimed that their god told or directed them to make war against and take over other countries. What I find fascinating is that in this chapter the Lord God makes claim to absolute power and authority.  There are no other gods apart from Him. Invoking sovereign power, the Lord God will raise up and use Cyrus to restore Jerusalem even though Cyrus does not believes in Him. In other words, the God of the Bible claims sovereign power to influence and use for His purposes even people who do not worship Him!

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you [Cyrus], though you have not acknowledged me, … I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty (5, 13).

Now that is sovereign power! Such is the One we serve…

I pondered this amazing display of sovereignty, this declaration of Cyrus is about 200 years before he is born! I sat thinking about all this. The Lord God not only claims sovereignty, He delivers!

I find myself simply in awe of God!  What a wonderful foundational thought upon which to build my preparation to worship the Lord tomorrow!

Thanks be to the Lord, that He, the one who controls the universe and everything therein, invites me, invites us, to come into His presence in worship. What a privilege, what an honor, what a delight to worship the Lord! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Friday, October 14: Isaiah 44- Pascal's wager.

At some point in life everyone makes a decision about God. Some choose not to believe in God, choosing instead to be captain of their own lives. Others choose to follow mystical spiritual powers; theirs may not be a god, per se, but a life force or something like that. Others follow one of the various regional or world-wide religions following its tenants and practices and beliefs about god or spiritual power or… I don’t believe anyone is truly neutral or ambivalent on the matter of God.  Everyone believes and follows something.

In this chapter the God of the Bible claims supremacy over any and all others gods or spiritual forces.  Some don’t like the exclusivity of God’s demands to follow Him alone but if you are God and God alone, You get to set the rules.

I have chosen to follow God as revealed in the Bible. I have staked my life on it and I seek to follow the teachings and ways of the Bible. I have staked my eternity on it as well.

Pascal put it something like this in his famous wager…

If I am correct about my beliefs in the God of the Bible, then I have lived a certain way for my 70 or 80 years and although some people feel I am foolish to live the way I do (by the way I am happy with the way I am living my life) I will be rewarded with an eternity in heaven. If I am wrong and this life is all there is maybe I gave up some pleasures others have run after but like everyone else, I end up a pile of ashes in the ground.

One the other side, people who choose not to follow the God of the Bible, if they are correct then they possibly enjoyed some things in this life I did not but we all end up in the ground together anyway. However, if they are wrong and the God of the Bible is God and the Bible is His Word, then they have earned themselves an eternity of punishment and wrath.

Question is, ‘Are you willing to take that gamble?’

I hope you choose to follow the God of the Bible –the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Think about it.

Lord, help everyone who reads these words to see the truth of Your Word and may they all have the grace to believe in Jesus. In His name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 13: Isaiah 43- The good news message.

This chapter is a gem, a powerful gospel presentation. It opens with words like ‘created’ ‘redeemed’ and God’s promise to be ‘with them,’ which are used to describe God’s love for Israel.

In the middle God provides an all encompassing description of himself: "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.  I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior (10-11). God is sovereign; there is no doubt about it. And God alone is Savior, there is no other.

The chapter concludes with an incredible picture of God’s forgiveness… forgiveness because Israel was chosen, not necessarily deserving.

The wild animals honor me …, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

"Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, O Israel. … But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (20-25).

I sat this morning with those 3 scenes as truths dancing in my thoughts.

I am loved, redeemed and chosen by God.  The one and only God and Savior, who created all things visible and invisible. And this Savior, God, forgives me not because I deserve it -I do not- I am filled with sin and continually sin. And yet He forgives me for [His] own sake, and remembers [my] sins no more.

That is gospel and that deserves meditation throughout the day.

O, Lord God, Redeemer and Savior, You are good and Your love endures forever. I do not deserve Your forgiveness yet You lavish it upon me and upon all Your chosen. Halleluiah! Amen.


Wednesday, October 12: Isaiah 42- A bruised reed he will not break.

In this song to God’s servant, the one who will save Israel, I found myself delighting in a number of the images. Top on my list was verse 3-4a:

A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.

The Servant of the Lord will bring justice on the earth.  Oh, how we need justice! The broken, the abused, the battered, the down trodden, the beaten, He cares for. They are pictured so vividly in verse 3; A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

What a picture of Jesus!  The one who cared for the widow, who’s son had died; who spoke life and truth to the women caught in adultery; the Samaritan woman;  who set Mary of Magdala free from seven demons (Mk 16:9, Lk 8:2); who healed the epileptic son;  who fed 5000; and the one  on whose every word 4000 desparate people hung.

These words cause me to think about today.  Am I willing to be Jesus’ eye and ears, the one who hears and sees the cries of hurting today? Am I willing to be His hands and feet, the one who runs to lift up and help those in need today?

The Holy Spirit pushes these questions deep into me.  Will I be a “Good Samaritan” and a faithful representative of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, of whom it was written:

A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.

Dear Jesus, I pray so… I pray I will be Your man, an able representative for You in my world. Holy Spirit, tune my ears to the plight for whom God’s heart breaks… and then send me forth in the power of Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, October 11: Isaiah 41- I have chosen you.

My eyes and heart latched on to a word from the middle of this chapter. Speaking to Israel God said:

… I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (9-10).

As I connected these words with my life, I felt at peace. God took the burden. God produces the outcome. My life rests in God’s sovereign hands.

First I noticed all the “I’s”, which refer to God… I did this, I did that… God did it all!

Next I rested in the verbs: chose ‘me’ and did not reject ‘me,’ is with ‘me,’ strengthened and helped ‘me’ and upholds ‘me.’ I sat in awe of all God’s gifts. God’s caring for me!

Lastly, I looked at my role.  I am to be God’s servant. And even more I need not fear or be dismayed because God is my God!

Awe, wonder, amazement wash over me…

Thank You, Lord God, for all You have done for me. Words escape me. I am in Your mighty, caring and outstretched hands. Thank You… Amen.


Monday, October 10: Isaiah 40- A Corner turned.

The stinging rebukes of the previous chapters have dramatically shifted to comfort, tenderness, strength, and care. What a shift….

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. … And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken" (1-2, 5)

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young (11).

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (28-30).

I sit and soak in these words…

Dawn is breaking outside as I ponder these words. The world is beginning to brighten; a perfect metaphor for what is happening in my soul. God’s love and care, tenderness and comfort are breaking into my life.

Alleluia for the Lord our God the, Almighty reigns, His forgiveness is real, His love is deep!

O, Lord God, my soul sings, my soul sings of Your wonder and greatness, Your mercy and tenderness. I feel my spirit being renewed by Your Word… Alleluia, You reign. You triumph. You bring hope and a future…

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, my heart sings and prays this morn. Amen.


Saturday, October 8: Isaiah 39- Absorbed with Self

So what would you do, how would you live if God healed you from a terminal illness in dramatic fashion? That’s the situation for Hezekiah as we enter this chapter.

It took me a while to begin to get a sense of this chapter and why God was so unhappy with Hezekiah’s actions. I saw a few things when I read it moments ago that helped me complete the picture and grow in understanding this text.

Think of it this way.  You are a person of stature and you are healed in a dramatic way.

OK, pretend you are a king or president. Other world leaders send envoys to extend greetings and well-wishes. Envoys from a rival and pagan country arrive and you greet them and then take them on a tour of all your fame and riches. You take out all the state treasures, showing the visitors how wonderful you are…

OK, pretend you are a big time CEO, Gates or Jobs or Murdock or … you get the idea. Other industry magnets stop by and during their visit you flaunt all your possessions and the things you have acquired because of your fame and fortune…

Once more you are a famous author or academic.  When visitors come to wish you well in your new found health, you take them to your library and show off all you have written.  You show them all your awards and degrees and honors and…

See this is how Hezekiah acted. What I noticed today, as I read, was Hezekiah’s emphasis on self. Check out what I noticed in the text I have bolded and underlined.

Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses--the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

When queried by Isaiah about what the visitors where shown, Hezekiah replied, "They saw everything in my palace," Hezekiah said. "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them" (2,4).

Hezekiah gushed with self and all his accomplishments and treasures…

Now mix in the faith piece. Hezekiah had the perfect opportunity, served to him on a golden platter, to talk about what the Lord had done for him.  However, he avoids God’s gracious healing and instead he magnifies himself… Here is the problem.

And if you aren’t convinced, check out the end. When told of judgment to come on Israel because of his actions, he replies, "The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "There will be peace and security in my lifetime" (8).

In effect Hezekiah says… do what You want God, be as harsh as You need to be when You judge them, I’m just glad everything is going to be ‘hunky-dory’ for me in my life time!

Hezekiah has become absorbed with self…

The questions come to me… “Bill, are you absorbed with Me (the Lord God) or are you absorbed with yourself?”

Think about it…

O, God, it is so easy to become sucked into self, to make myself lord of my life, to slide You to the back burner or even off the stove. Please, please, please forgive me for each and every time I do this or even begin to do this. And, Lord, please show me in ways I will grasp that I am acting selfishly, so that by Your Spirit and strength I can repent and change my ways. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Friday, October 7: Isaiah 38- Facing Death

A summary of this chapter: The faithful Hezekiah was told he would die… stunned he prayed to God begging for more time… God answered and gave him 15 additional years…

Someone said there are two guarantees in this life, death and taxes. This chapter fired up all kinds of thoughts for me about handling death. I notice that I cannot do what I once was able to do.  My wife and I are busily working with our sibs helping our parents who are in or nearing their 90’s.

I wonder how I will handle the time when age catches up to me? I wonder and I talk with God.

I wonder how I would handle a significant illness? I wonder and I talk with God.

I wonder how I would handle the death of someone from my immediate family? I wonder and I talk with God.

I really do talk with God about these things. They are not everyday or even every month conversations with the Lord but when something sparks, I talk and muse with God.

Death will come someday and I think I know that this is not my home, heaven is. I am not afraid of death; the process of dying (at least some of them), however, I am not so comfortable there.

How are you handling your mortality? That’s the main question that arises as I read today’s chapter in the light of God speaking to me….

My hope is to live faithfully all the days the Lord God gives me and to cross from this world into the next faithfully, as well… praising God, bringing glory and honor to His name and loving the people around me.

Lord, may I live strongly for You all the days of my life, clear through to the days I live it with You in eternity. May I love You and enjoy You forever. I need Your Holy Spirit with me to do this, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, October 6: Isaiah 37- I choose Almighty God.

Yesterday the text left off with Hezekiah facing a dilemma.  What would he do? Today we learn that he turned to the Lord.

Action #1: Hezekiah went to the Temple and sought the Lord in humbleness.

Action #2: He sought an audience with the famed prophet Isaiah and explained the situation.

Action #3: After receiving another threat from Assyria, Hezekiah immediately goes to the Temple and prays again. His prayer is honest and humble… "It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God" (18-20).

God gives His answer through Isaiah and then the Lord delivers Jerusalem as He promised.

Summarizing Hezekiah’s actions were helpful for me.  Faithfulness and choosing the God-honoring action grew out of his connection and relationship with the Lord. Both times Hezekiah faced his dilemma, he immediately turned to the Lord in prayer. I have the distinct impression that his prayers were not the cries of a desperate man turning to his last resort but rather they grew from his life-ingrained custom of seeking God when he had decisions to make.

Maybe I am overstretching my reading but his utter honesty and the immediacy of his turning to prayer are two prime indicators. Seeking the advice and godly word from a trusted spiritual authority gives me another indicator that Hezekiah was serious about his faith and walk with the Lord.

For me, this morning becomes a reminder that if I want to make God-honoring decisions then my first responsibility is to cultivate an on-going relationship with the Lord, so that seeking Him and His advice and counsel in a situation becomes a normal and natural response for me…

Now there’s a nugget to chew on for today! Happy chewing…

Lord, I pray that these times with You each day form the foundation of my connection and relationship with You. I pray that I will grow in my humbleness before You and my honesty with You. Like David I pray that I grow to be a ‘man after Your own heart’ and like Moses, at life’s end, people will say of my life, he was ‘a friend of God’s’. I so love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, October 5: Isaiah 36- What would you do?.

Take a moment and put yourself in Hezekiah’s sandals. You are king and a vast army is marching against you. In fact they have marched throughout your nation and captured every bunkered city and now they have encircled your capital city. You send three trusted officials to meet with the attaching general and he requires unconditional and total surrender. Not only does the general require unconditional and total surrender, he ‘loud-speakers’ his demands so that all your soldiers and people huddled in the capital city hear his unequivocal demands.

What would you do?

Now add to your thinking that your prophet has told you not to surrender and not to seek help from Egypt. Why? Because the Lord would fight for and protect you.

What would you do?

Oh, one last reminder.  You are king and your decision will affect thousands of lives. If you make the wrong decision thousands of your people will die.

What would you do?

Reading this morning, it hit me that hypothetical decisions and real ones are very different. And hypothetical faith is very different than real faith. I can think all I want about what I think I would do in this or that situation. Thoughts like this can be helpful. However thoughts are not the same as when I am faced with a real situation.

Hezekiah had a real problem and his faith would inform his decision.

I am not a king and my problems are generally not of the magnitude that Hezekiah faced but most days I face real faith questions.

I hear of a missionary in need at worship or in a solicitation letter.  Will I give or not?

A family member or friend stings me with a verbal dressing down.  Will I retaliate by getting even or ahead or will I ‘turn the other cheek?’

The nice weather is fading and this weekend is forecast to be beautiful.  Will I take a trip to see the colors or take the boat out for one more sail?  That means skipping weekly worship.  What will I do?

Faith is lived out day in and day out in the decisions we make, in the voices we listen to, and options we consider.

Real faith is lived out in real ways…

How are you doing living out your faith???

Lord, I pray for faith, real, vital, living faith. I pray for the kind of faith that allows me to make decisions with my money and my time and my attitudes and actions that honor You, that advance Your kingdom, that point to You as the source of my life and that brings You glory. I pray this in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.


Tuesday, October 4: Isaiah 35- Encouragement.

In college my Christian fellowship group sang a song that went like this (I think I got the words right, but it has been a long time since I have sung this song).

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord will return

And come with singing unto Zion

And everlasting joy will be upon their heads.


They shall obtain gladness and joy

And mourning and crying will flee away.


Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return…

And so it went. I remember leaders and friends with guitars strumming away as 35 of us sang and prayed and read scripture together.

What I didn’t realize until today is that the song we sang came from Isaiah 35:9-10: … the redeemed … of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Having this memory pop up was so encouraging. Oh how God has been with me and watched over me these three and a half decades. God is faithful.

And God’s Words which once encouraged His people a millennia ago, encouraged a small band of believers in college and continues to encourage me to this day. There is a day coming when God will right all wrongs and bring His people home with joy and singing. Gladness and joy will overtake us, and sorrow and sighing will flee away forever. Hallelujah! Amen!

Thank You, God…

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, most high…


Monday, October 3: Isaiah 34- The salvation of the Lord

My thoughts bounced back and forth between the destruction of Edom (present day southern Jordan) and the promise to God’s people in the closing 2 verses.

Southern Jordan is dessert, parched and barren, true to the word spoken against Edom. Then I thought, hmmm, if God’s Words of judgment are true, so true must be God’s Word to pick up and restore His people. And so I lingered on the closing verses of chapter 34. Look in the scroll of the LORD and read: None of these will be missing, not one will lack her mate. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together. He allots their portions; his hand distributes them by measure. They will possess it forever and dwell there from generation to generation (16-17).

The scroll of verse 16 sparked thoughts of the scroll mentioned in Revelation (3:5, 13:8, 20:15, etc.), the Lamb’s Book of Life, the one that lists the names of those who will be saved from the eternal fires of hell. None of these will be missing…. For it is his mouth that has given the order, and his Spirit will gather them together.

The Lord’s salvation is definite, nothing can thwart His salvation plans… none … will be missing. The Word of the Lord has spoken it!

Lord, the only words that form are the words, Thank You! Praise be to the Lord my rock, my fortress, the One in whom I find life and salvation. Praise the Lord. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord… Amen.



Saturday, October 1: Isaiah 33- Help me God, help me.

Verse 2 seemed to stick out. I was drawn to the verse as I read and drawn back after I completed the chapter. O LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.

I found myself thinking….that’s a prayer, that’s a prayer that I wish our country could/would pray. We want to do it on our own, we hope to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in… we, we, we. It seems it is all about what ‘we’ can do. It is not just nameless ‘we’ either. I’ve lived that way and still do sometimes. I can do it, I will dig myself out of the hole I dug for myself… I, I, I.

The wonder of verse 2 is the dependence upon God; crying out for God’s grace and God’s mercy. Longing for God, asking God to be the strength we need. Wow, the more I ponder this the richer my time with God grows. God is the one on whom I can and must depend! That’s what drew me back to this verse over and over again. It is so beautiful in its simplicity… so wonderful, in fact, that I want it to become my morning prayer… and a prayer by God’s grace I will pray over and over as I continue my life…

O LORD, be gracious to me; I long for you. Be my strength every morning, my salvation in time of distress. O Lord teach me to lean on You… in and through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.