Isaiah 45-50 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He provides the best guidance for our lives

It seems like almost every day I run to the Internet for answers that I need immediately – what did I do before Google? Guess at the answers?  The internet offers us an answer to every possible question within seconds just by one quick little Google click.  It gives guidance and directions based on information handcrafted by man.

I love the 30 different German Chocolate Cake recipes I immediately had at my disposal to choose from today. Well, I may allow it to give me directions for a cake, but there’s not a chance it will provide instructions for my life unless, of course, God chose to use it for that purpose.  Many wonderful scripture-based Christian sites are uplifting and are great ministry tools, but ultimately I turn to the Source of all knowledge for His guidance and direction.

Just as we are sojourners in this life on our way to Heaven, the Israelites were captive sojourners in Babylon.  They were struggling to keep their faith grounded in the true and living God and were tempted by the idol worship of Babylonian gods going on all around them.  In Isaiah 46, God reminded His people of the origin of these idols, “Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move!  And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.” (6-7) I’ve known more than a few individuals who treat their computers/smartphones like an idol…pour out their cash to buy it…carry it around all day…and nearly worship it. Help!

As sojourners, we are surrounded by idols crafted by the world and capable of pulling us away from the true and living God.  Besides the distraction the internet offers, we can find advice and counsel from television talk shows and news programs on just about every subject imaginable.  Most of the information sources available to us today are helpful, but they are fallible and often derived from ungodly resources.  Would we really want them to direct our lives? 

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (46:10) While our enemy would like us to think that he knows the future, he does not and only spews out what he wishes to be the future.  Basing our direction on this false information is just as useless as man’s handcrafted devices.  There really is only one Source that can be trusted.

“I am the Lord your god, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” (48:17) While this is amazing in itself, God reveals the intimacy of His love for Israel and for all those who love Him, “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (49:16)  Incredible!  Why would I ever look to anyone or anything else for guidance in my life! 

Moving Forward:  It’s you, Lord, the one whose direction I seek, no one other than you. 

Tomorrow @ Matthew 23-25

Isaiah 40-44 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He is God, creator of all things, yet tender enough to carry us in His arms.

“You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’…He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” (40:9,11 nkjv/nlt)  The first 39 chapters of Isaiah have been rugged with prophetic judgments on the nations, but the tone of the prophet Isaiah changed in Chapter 40 as he reminded Israel of who God really is:  He is God, creator of all things, yet tender enough to carry us in His arms.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” (43:2) I am thankful that because of Jesus, I am part of this promise to Israel.  As I go through rivers of difficulty in my life, He is with me and will not let me drown. Sometimes the waters feel like they are right at my neck, but somehow He supports me and keeps me afloat through the difficulty.  I look back at situations in life and see myself as though I was almost walking on water rather than drowning because of God’s grace.

This is the God that Isaiah was encouraging Israel to remember and to follow.  One of the most beloved and quoted scriptures is found here in Isaiah 40:31, “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” And they just may walk on water…

These chapters in Isaiah remind me of Who ultimately controls the outcome of powers, governments and kingdoms and their deeds.  In Chapter 41:2 and again in 44:28, Isaiah prophesied about a king from the east, 150 years in the future, who would deliver Israel out of Babylon captivity, someone God called into His own service to do His bidding. King Cyrus of Esther and Nehemiah fame, a pagan king, sent Israel back to their homeland simply because God willed him to do so.

I think of the events in more recent history where powerful men and nations chose to carry out their evil imaginations causing death and destruction, but their actions soon brought their own demise.  Out of the rubble of World War II, an evil regime died and Israel once again returned to its homeland, a nation stronger than ever, with a friend by its side, a strong friend and ally, the United States.  My prayer is that we remain a friend to Israel, for our own sake as well as for theirs.

Because heartless leaders and zealot groups around the world have met their doom, the gospel is now being preached and churches established in an area of the world where they were once forbidden. I am ever convinced that God will use the acts of all powers, governments and kingdoms to ultimately bring about His good.  Yet, so personal is He that He feeds little me, carries me in His arms when needed and guides me along life’s path.  I declare with Isaiah, Behold our God!  There is none other like Him.

Moving forward:  God is in control – I will remember this today regardless of the news alerts and headlines.  I’ll remember that He is with me through my difficult moments of life as well.  He’s got this! 

Tomorrow@Matthew 20-22

Isaiah 29-33 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He waits for us to come to Him so that He can show His love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, our thoughts are turned to those we love and the ways we will express our love.  Capitalists that we are, we have turned this sentiment into a multi-billion dollar enterprise – chocolate, flowers, diamonds…and again I say chocolate!  In step with this focus on love, television programming is filled with love stories to touch our hearts and to remind us of our own love story.

A familiar story is one of unrequited love where the dear young man desperately loves the young woman who seeks after the more dashing or successful men in her life and ignores his adoration.  Or another story is where the young woman, listening to her biological clock, becomes impatient in waiting for the right man to come along and almost marries Mr. Wrong.  Fortunately, with television movies of this nature, love sweeps in at just the right moment and everybody lives happily ever after. (Sigh) In our reading today, Isaiah talked about God’s unrequited love for an impatient nation, a love deeper than Hollywood could ever imagine. 

@ Isaiah 30
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.  But you would have none of it.  You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt.  They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’” (15-16)  As the advancing Assyrian army threatened Judah, God asked them to rest in Him, and in due time He would deliver them, but Judah was impatient.  Time was ticking away, and they considered an alliance with Egypt. This response reminds me of an impatient young woman, her biological clock and unfortunate alliances.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.  For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for his help.” (18)   Here was a compassionate God waiting for Judah to fall in love with Him, to stop looking to others for love and protection.  Unrequited love.

If they would once again fall in love with God and not turn to others, He would love and protect them beyond their wildest dreams. “He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries…he will still be with you to teach you… Your own ears will hear him.  Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” (19-21)   Their gracious God who loved them so dearly would answer, teach and guide if they would only turn to Him, forsaking all others.

And what a great message for us in the climate that we live in today!  Instead of turning in panic to unknown sources for our answers and help, God asks us to patiently wait for Him to respond to our hearts cries.  He will be gracious if we will ask for help.  He will respond to our cries and teach us along the way as we wait on Him.  He will direct our steps on the very best path and at the perfect moment in time.

When we are tempted to turn to others first for help, He waits for us to come to Him so that He can show His love and compassion to us and be gracious to us.  A sovereign God, so full of love, created us to be the recipients of this great love – He only has eyes for us!  How can we resist so great a love?  How can we make Him wait? 

Moving Forward:  As I patiently wait on Him today, I’ll listen for His voice right behind me, directing my path.  I love Him so. 

Tomorrow @ Matthew 14-16

Isaiah 18-22 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He is our help in the time of storm, worthy of our trust

Florida is a beautiful place to live with its dramatic coastlines and lush greenery.  Fresh year-round fruits and vegetables and seafood only add to its appeal.  Yes, Florida is a great place to live, except for those pesky hurricanes, and they definitely keep everyone on their toes.

Generally, Floridians respond to an approaching hurricane in one of two ways.  Most will stock up on water, lots of water, and non-perishable foods, tape windows, put away lawn furniture/play equipment and secure plants.  In other words, they batten down the hatches.  However, some Floridians have friends come over, turn up the music to drown out the wind and throw a big party to ride out the storm.  I am more of the batten down the hatches crew combined with some very serious prayer for protection.  When Israel faced utter destruction back in the days of Isaiah, they trusted in their weapons and stockpiles and chose to party.  They failed to pray. 

@ Isaiah 22
“You run to the armory for your weapons.  You inspect the breaks in the walls of Jerusalem.  You store up water in the lower pool.  You survey the houses and tear some down for stone to strengthen the walls…But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.” (8-11)  I can’t imagine facing possible annihilation without turning to God for help and protection.  We can reinforce our structures and stock up on water, and this is wise, but God is the one who is able to cover us with His protection or even turn the storm out to sea.  Isaiah warned of Israel’s fate through his vision, but once again he was ignored.  The God of the Exodus, the Red Sea and miraculous victory after victory was not called upon for help in the face of the storm.

In the face of sickness, loss or any kind of storm, we should do all that we can to strengthen ourselves through doctors and those who are trained to help us.  But when we fail to pray, we put our trust in everything other the One who controls all things just as the Israelites did.

“At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn… But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep.  You feast on meat and drink wine.  You say, ‘Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!’”(12-13)  And die they did. I’m always ready for a party, but if God calls for fasting and weeping, I’m going to fast and weep.

As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:4, “For everything there is a season…A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.”   It wasn’t time to party.  Israel had lost their faith and trust in God along the way; and not only did they fail to pray because of it, they approached the coming storm with a fatalistic attitude.  Feast, drink, tomorrow we die.  Many in our world share this attitude, not only because of personal storms but because of the turmoil in the world.  If for no other reason, this should give us cause to fast and weep when our hearts are stirred to do so, and then He will never need to question why we never asked for help. 

Moving Forward:  I’m going to prepare for life’s storm as best I can and pray for His help.  I know where my help comes from – the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and in Him have I placed my trust.  When the victory is in hand, I will celebrate! 

Tomorrow @ Matthew 8-10

Isaiah 45-50 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He teaches us what is good for our lives

It seems like almost every day I run to the Internet for answers that I need immediately – what did I do before Google? Guess at the answers?  The internet offers us an answer to every possible question within seconds just by one quick little Google click.  It gives guidance and directions based on information handcrafted by man.

I love the 30 different German Chocolate Cake recipes I immediately had at my disposal to choose from today. Well, I may allow it to give me directions for a cake, but there’s not a chance it will give directions for my life unless, of course, God chose to use it for that purpose.  Many wonderful scripture-based Christian sites are uplifting and great ministry tools, but ultimately I turn to the Source of all knowledge for His guidance and direction.

Just as we are sojourners in this life on our way to Heaven, the Israelites were captive sojourners in Babylon.  They were struggling to keep their faith in the true and living God and were tempted by the idol worship of Babylonian gods going on all around them.  In Isaiah 46, God reminded His people of the origin of these idols, “Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move!  And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble.” (6-7) I’ve known more than a few individuals who treat their computers/smart phones like an idol…pour out their cash to buy it…carry it around all day…and nearly worship it. Help!

As sojourners, we are surrounded by idols crafted by the world and capable of pulling us away from the true and living God.  Besides the distraction the internet offers, we can find advice and counsel from television talk shows and news programs on just about every subject imaginable.  Most of the information sources available to us today are helpful, but they are fallible and often derived from ungodly resources.  Would we really want them to direct our lives? 

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (46:10) While our enemy would like us to think that he knows the future, he does not and only spews out what he wishes to be the future.  Basing our direction on this false information is just as useless as man’s handcrafted devices.  There really is only one Source that can be trusted.

“I am the Lord your god, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” (48:17) While this is amazing in itself, God reveals the intimacy of His love for Israel and for all those who love Him, “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (49:16)  Incredible!  Why would I ever look to anyone or anything else for guidance in my life! 

Moving Forward:  It’s you, Lord, the one whose direction I seek, no one other than you. 

Tomorrow @ Matthew 23-25

Isaiah 40-44 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  He is God, creator of all things, yet tender enough to carry us in His arms.

“You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’…He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.” (40:9,11 nkjv/nlt)  The first 39 chapters of Isaiah have been rugged with prophetic judgments on the nations, but the tone of the prophet Isaiah changed in Chapter 40 as he reminded Israel of who God really is:  He is God, creator of all things, yet tender enough to carry us in His arms.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” (43:2) I am thankful that because of Jesus, I am part of this promise to Israel.  As I go through rivers of difficulty in my life, He is with me and will not let me drown. Sometimes the waters feel like they are right at my neck, but somehow He supports me and keeps me afloat through the difficulty.  I look back at situations in life and see myself as though I was almost walking on water rather than drowning because of God’s grace.

This is the God that Isaiah was encouraging Israel to remember and to follow.  One of the most beloved and quoted scriptures is found here in Isaiah 40:31, “Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” And they just may walk on water…

These chapters in Isaiah remind me of Who ultimately controls the outcome of powers, governments and kingdoms and their deeds.  In Chapter 41:2 and again in 44:28, Isaiah prophesied about a king from the east, 150 years in the future, who would deliver Israel out of Babylon captivity, someone God called into His own service to do His bidding. King Cyrus of Esther and Nehemiah fame, a pagan king, sent Israel back to their homeland simply because God willed him to do so.

I think of the events in more recent history where powerful men and nations chose to carry out their evil imaginations causing death and destruction, but their actions soon brought their own demise.  Out of the rubble of World War II an evil regime died and Israel once again returned to its homeland, a nation stronger than ever, with a friend by its side, a strong friend and ally, the United States.  My prayer is that we remain a friend to Israel, for our own sake as well as for theirs.

Because heartless leaders and zealot groups around the world have met their doom, the gospel is now being preached and churches established in an area of the world where they were once forbidden. I am ever convinced that God will use the acts of all powers, governments and kingdoms to ultimately bring about His good.  Yet, so personal is He that He feeds little me, carries me in His arms when needed and guides me along life’s path.  I declare with Isaiah, Behold our God!  There is none other like Him.

Moving forward:  God is in control – I will remember this today regardless of the news alerts and headlines.  I’ll remember that He is with me through my difficult moments of life as well.  He’s got this! 

Tomorrow@Matthew 20-22

Isaiah 29-33 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He waits for us to come to Him so that He can show His love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, our thoughts are turned to those we love and the ways we will express our love.  Capitalists that we are, we have turned this sentiment into a multi-billion dollar enterprise – chocolate, flowers, diamonds…and again I say chocolate!  In step with this focus on love, television programming is filled with love stories to touch our hearts and to remind us of our own love story.

A familiar story is one of unrequited love where the dear young man desperately loves the young woman who seeks after the more dashing or successful men in her life and ignores his adoration.  Or another story is where the young woman, listening to her biological clock, becomes impatient in waiting for the right man to come along and almost marries Mr. Wrong.  Fortunately, with television movies of this nature, love sweeps in at just the right moment and everybody lives happily ever after. (Sigh) In our reading today, Isaiah talked about God’s unrequited love for an impatient nation, a love deeper than Hollywood could ever imagine. 

@ Isaiah 30
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.  But you would have none of it.  You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt.  They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’” (15-16)  As the advancing Assyrian army threatened Judah, God asked them to rest in Him, and in due time He would deliver them, but Judah was impatient.  Time was ticking away, and they considered an alliance with Egypt. This response reminds me of an impatient young woman, her biological clock and unfortunate alliances.

“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.  For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for his help.” (18)   Here was a compassionate God waiting for Judah to fall in love with Him, to stop looking to others for love and protection.  Unrequited love.

If they would once again fall in love with God and not turn to others, He would love and protect them beyond their wildest dreams. “He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries…he will still be with you to teach you… Your own ears will hear him.  Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” (19-21)   Their gracious God who loved them so dearly would answer, teach and guide if they would only turn to Him, forsaking all others.

And what a great message for us in the climate that we live in today!  Instead of turning in panic to unknown sources for our answers and help, God asks us to patiently wait for Him to respond to our hearts cries.  He will be gracious if we will ask for help.  He will respond to our cries and teach us along the way as we wait on Him.  He will direct our steps on the very best path and at the perfect moment in time.

When we are tempted to turn to others first for help, He waits for us to come to Him so that He can show His love and compassion to us and be gracious to us.  A sovereign God, so full of love, created us to be the recipients of this great love – He only has eyes for us!  How can we resist so great a love?  How can we make Him wait? 

Moving Forward:  As I patiently wait on Him today, I’ll listen for His voice right behind me, directing my path.  I love Him so. 

Tomorrow @ Matthew 14-16