Acts 19 Part 1–Paul at Ephesus

Paul moved on from Corinth and ended up in Ephesus.  When He arrived in Ephesus he met up with some disciples.  They repented and accepted Christ, but only was baptised for repentence. Paul laid hands on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit. They immediately spoke in tongues and prophecied.  Paul continued his ministry and grew the church in Ephesus.  He had an amazing ministry and even healed people by touching handkerchiefs and aprons and sending them out.  It was great two year ministry and provided great growth and stability for the church and region.

 How important did the Church become? Well Timothy became the pastor for a time. Then the Apostle John became the pastor for a time and was finally exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote Revelations.  Interestingly, the first church John reviewed in revelations was the Church in Ephesus.  That church was known as a great church that did great things.  John told them that they had simply lost its first love. 

Ephesus was significant in the group of churches.  The Ephesians taught us that it is not what we accomplish that makes us a Christian; it is our faith that redeems us.  Our acts and traditions do not improve our standing with God, we simply need to trust and love the Lord with our hearts.  It is also Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that reminds us that “It is by faith we are saved through faith, and not of ourselves.  It is a gift from God not of works lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.  The Church at Ephesus became a central church in the growth of the faith.  We see it was started because Paul continued his journey as God led Him.


God Bless You


While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Luke 24 Part 2–The Walk to Emmaus

Jesus was back! He had suffered and died for our sins. But just as the prophets had predicted, He rose on the third day.  News was starting to spread of the crucifixion of the Lord. Two men were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. During the walk, Jesus joined them.  the Lord acted as though He had not heard the news.  The men explained the week’s events and the furor those events caused.  Then Jesus spent the journey telling the men the prophetic signs and how the father let people know what was to come.

Jesus then stayed and joined them for dinner and when the Lord had broken bread and gave it to them, He revealed Himself and promptly disappeared.  They were amazed, informed, and now ready to face whatever and tell the world that Jesus was alive.  The men ran to the eleven and told them what had happened, all that Jesus said, and His breaking bread.  The eleven were amazed. Once again as amazing as it was, it was only the beginning.

Jesus’ resurrection changed the course of History. But at its beginning, those whom God planned to use, needed to see He was real, and His resurrection was also real. In the days that followed, Jesus would appear to more than 500 folks. I Corinthians 15:6. Jesus then ascended and sent His Holy Spirit in His place.  His Spirit indwells us and reminds us that He is with us, moment by moment.  If we will walk by faith, as the men did that day, we will see Jesus revealed in our lives.  That will be the most amazing journey of all.

God Bless You


13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Luke 18 Part 2–Child Like Faith and Wealth

Dr. Luke continues to recount the principles that Jesus taught while He was wrapping up His ministry on earth.  It remained important to Luke for those that read his account to see as many sides of the Lord as was possible.  In this account, Luke looked at how Jesus felt about children and childlike faith.  Parents were bringing their children to meet Jesus, and have the Lord bless them.  What a nice change for Jesus–pouring out blessings to the young.  The disciples, however, saw it as a bother, taking Jesus from the important duties.  Jesus called the kids to him and told the disciples not to interfere.  Jesus saw the children and their faith as pure and undamaged by life.  He wanted all to understand that it was that pure and complete faith of children that pleased God most.  It was a picture of the relationship God longed to have with His chosen.

Next, Jesus was asked what it really took to receive eternal life.  The man that asked was very wealthy. Jesus said that he should follow the law and prophets.  The man smugly said he had done that all his life.  Then Jesus dropped the bombshell–“Sell your stuff, give the proceeds to the poor, and then come and follow Me.” The man became sad. Jesus then told the group that it is very difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. 

God told Israel at Mount Sinai that They must have no other God before Him.  Sadly, time has revealed repeatedly that money and wealth are some of the most difficult gods to release.  They give the illusion of independence and control.  They make one feel safe and unstoppable.  Jesus knew and showed us that those feelings were not real and were as temporal as a morning fog. 

Wealth is never satisfying, and unless its owner is willing to lay it at the Lord’s feet, it will take the Lordship of their lives.  Jesus was simply stating that to have eternal life, we must lay whatever controls us at his feet. Wealth, power, relationship, family, career, or anything that we consider our ticket to independence or control must be laid at God’s alter.  

Fear not, however, as He told the disciples, whatever we lay at God’s feet, He will restore exponentially back to us.  He is a loving Father that only wants us to enjoy peace and freedom.  That peace and freedom comes from trusting and following Him.  It has been the same since the beginning and will remain so until His return.

God Bless You


15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]

21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Luke 9 Part 1–Now It Is Your Turn

It is difficult to grasp the enormity of what Jesus accomplished when He sent out the apostles to minister.  Remember, Jesus came to do several things.  He came to give folks a clearer picture of God– His heart, and His desire to have a personal relationship with people.  He also came to demonstrate the difference between being religious and being in relationship with God. Finally, He came to redeem our souls through His sacrifice and resurrection.

Today’s passage was His first real demonstration of God’s desire to make the relationship personal.  Jesus sent out the 12 to do what he had been doing.  The message to His guys was simple, “Go do what I am doing and do not take anything with you.  Let the people provide; and, if the reject you, shake the dust from your sandals.   Jesus wanted His disciples to know they were being prepared for something great. 

As they traveled through the countryside, they were healing and changing the world.  It was a miracle; it was a confirmation that Jesus was and is who He said He was.  Not only was He saving and changing lives, those that He appointed were also doing the same.  

As His chosen, we are called to do the same. We are told to go and make disciples of all nations.  We are told to be Christ’s ambassadors.  We are told to be content with our lives and know that we can do all things through Christ–who is faithful to supply all our needs. Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:20, Philippians 4:11-13. 19.  In short, we are to walk and live by faith as Christ and His disciples also lived.  We are to walk without fear.  We are to pray, seek and trust God to use us as He sees fit.  We are also to live in a way that is confident in His plan and His desire to prepare, protect, and provide for our needs.

He has been teaching His chosen that for millennia!

God Bless You

_____________________________________________


When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Luke 8 Part 3–Help for a Hopeless Man

Jesus met a hopeless man. This demoniac, hated by all, greeted Jesus and His guys as they disembarked from their boat.  He was uncontrollable and had beaten every restraint designed to help. His life and behaviors caused him to be driven from polite society.  He now lived among the tombs completely controlled by the demons that plagued him.  When he approached Jesus, the man fell on his face and begged for the lives of the demons that possessed him.  Jesus had no sympathy for the demons, but he did have compassion for the man the demons had possessed. 

Jesus exercised the demons. They ended up in a herd of pigs and the once hopeless man was now free and sane.  The event startled all in the area.  The hopeless man was now a man saved from the chains of sin and death. The people wanted Jesus out–He scared them.  So, Jesus and His followers prepared to leave.  As they did the once hopeless man begged to join Jesus.  Jesus had a better plan.  Jesus asked the man to go back and tell his estranged family and community.  The now free and sane gentleman did as Jesus asked.

In our lives, we all have our demons that we battle.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He deals with our demons.  We are free to live a life out of the tombs of the world and into the community and family that have seen us at our worst.  With God’s influence, we can draw those that know us to the Lord that freed us.  That needs to be our mission, as that is what Jesus calls us to do.  He desires that we enjoy freedom here and eternity with Him.  If a few pigs drown in the process, SO BE IT!

God Bless You 


They sailed to the region of the Gerasene,[b] which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time, this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times, it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, 35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. 37 Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So, he got into the boat and left.

38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So, the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him

Isaiah 53–He May Have Endured my Pain, But Don’t Call Me Shirley

This is the most beautiful and specific prophecy about the coming Messiah.  It has been the verse for some of the most beautiful music.  It describes in such detail the sacrifice made by our Lord.  We often forget the level of pain and degradation that the Lord Jesus suffered on our behalf.  In Philippians 2, we are told to have the same attitude as Christ. Who being God, already did not need to attain immortality or authority over all. Yet out of Love for us, He emptied Himself of His Godhood and became a man.  Being in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient to Death–a death on the cross.

Isaiah’s description of the Lord’s sacrifice goes to the very heart of that.  He was GOD! he created the universe. So, to live humbly as a carpenter and then an itinerant Rabbi was quite a step down.  Then to spread the message of the Father’s Love and desire for relationship with us; only to be at odds with the leadership of HIS chosen people…not easy to take. Finally, to heal, raise the dead, feed the masses, and cast out the enemy; knowing all the time these people would demand His execution, uugh. 

It was the most beautiful way for God to demonstrate His love for us.  For Isaiah, well he had the first preview of what would become the greatest event in history.  He saw the thing that would, in fact divide time.  He forecast this life hundreds of years before as if he was watching it in HD.  That is why we should trust God.  He created us and a plan to save us despite our wicked nature. What a prophet and what an evangelist. Thank You Lord, for the prophetic markers to remind us of our Lord’s love and sacrifice for us!

God Bless You


Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 29-30 With God, There Is Always the Hope of Restoration

It is an amazing part of the knowledge of the Lord, to realize the reality that God’s strongest desire is to bless and protect the ones He loves.  In Isaiah 29-30, God speaks first of the siege of Jerusalem.  He speaks of the sadness as Jerusalem is taken down.  He warns not to run from what is ahead–but, to repent.  Turn their hearts from other gods and destroy their idols.  Then as they return to Him, the Lord will protect and restore them.  He will restore their faith, hope, and their future.  

When they return to Him, the Lord will then come in a fury and destroy the enemy, restore the land, and restore the faith and joy of the people.  Amid the sieges, the captivity, and the loss of national identity, it had to be these promises that allowed many to maintain their faith and follow God.  It was these promises that led the remnant back and through the centuries allowed the people of Israel to continue their traditions and seek the Messiah.

Now these thousands of years later, the Messiah has come and died and rose again; and, we all can be in personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus.  That faith will bring hope in all circumstance and as in the passage return us to days of peace and times of joy.  We will quit worshiping our handmade gods and humbly seek our Father.  We will experience peace, love, and have the confidence that we will be with the Lord throughout eternity.  

We can live without fear in a fearful time.  We can have real joy during chaos and unrest.  In short, we can and will live abundant lives even while the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) We can walk in confidence as we allow our lives to be hidden in Christ with God. (Col 3:1-4) Thanks Father, that Your peace does pass all human understanding; and Your desire is to bless those You love.

God Bless You


18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore, he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”

23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar,
    burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;[d]
his lips are full of fury,
    and his tongue is like a devouring fire;
28 his breath is like an overflowing stream
    that reaches up to the neck;
to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction,
    and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.

29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. 30 And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. 31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the Lord, when he strikes with his rod. 32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the Lord lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them. 33 For a burning place[e] has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.

Isaiah 1 Part 2–Sorry, Not Sorry

God had had it! He was very clearly using Isaiah to tell the people of Judah that he did not need any more bull or lambs’ blood.  He needed His chosen people to truly be sorry for their sinful lives and begin to turn their attitudes and heart back to Him.  From God’s view, the children of Israel would present each sacrifice with a, “Sorry–Not Sorry!”  God was clear–“Not a fan of animal blood, I am a fan of repentant people.”
 
The problem Isaiah was trying to express was simply that sacrifices were not a get out of jail free card.  Sacrifices were acts to atone for the guilt we have from our sin.  Sorry–not sorry does not express the true attitude of a repentant heart that a father looks for from an errant child.  So, in effect, God used Isaiah to tell the people–save your beef.  Save your lamb.  Have a cookout! I want to see different hearts and attitudes.  I want us to be able to talk about sin and its devastation using our heads and our hearts–not excuses.
 
Nothing has changed. We receive Christ and that begins a relationship and journey that leads us to become eternal minded and God focused. Praying the prayer, is no more a get out of jail free card than were the rams and bulls of old.  All the Lord has ever really wanted was a repentant heart and desire to follow Him. Without that, no amount of church attendance or “Sorry-Not Sorry” prayers will change our hearts.  As with Judah, God wants us to seek him.  He longs to be in relationship.  
 
He especially longs to be in a genuine relationship with his kids. In short, God says keep it real.
 
God Bless You

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.

12 “When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

18 “Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 1 Part 1–Isaiah the Prophet

When my mom would get really mad at me for some behavior, I displayed; she would make a statement that was crushing, “This is not how we raised you!” As she compared my life to the standards and actions, she thought important–I not only failed to measure up, but, my actions did not even vaguely resemble the behaviors of what I was taught. Isaiah opens his book of prophecy with a Father’s message to Judah.  The message was that simple, “You look nothing like the chosen people that I freed and gave the land.  What is worse, you look more like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
 
Not a great way to start a discussion.  As Isaiah proclaimed from God–“Dumb oxen know their masters. Donkey’s know where they live and to whom they belong!  Sadly, you do not even pretend to know you are a chosen people; you are sinful through and through.  This is not an error in judgement or a behavioral mistake–You have simply walked away from your heritage. 
 
The result, you are laid to waste, your lands are laid to waste and your nation is laid to waste. What a waste!
 
For us, look at our nation. It sadly looks nothing like what was intended by our founding fathers. From an outside view, you cannot even recognize the heart of the nation. We have become like every other society that fell into disarray. We have minimized God, family and selflessness and replaced it with materialism, selfishness, distrust, and dissention. We look nothing like the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” 
 
Like Judah, we are laid to waste, and our land is laid to waste.  We need to repent, humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. There needs to be a priority on getting unity back into our country, after all, we are the “United States of America.” 
 
It starts in our individual lives and slowly works its way out.  As we become others focused, the behavior spreads.  Then, before you know it, people care for each other, and those issues that divide can finally be addressed with reason. 
 
Only then, will we as a nation begin to look like the people we were raised to be.
 
God Bless You

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children[a] have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.

Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching[b] of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!

2 Chronicles 32–Isaiah the Prayer Warrior

Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer is not the preparation for the greater work ; it is the greater work. Prayer is not the preparation for a battle, Prayer is the battle.” One of the great stories of the Bible is this story when Isaiah and Hezekiah’s prayed and trusted God while Judah’s armies were outmanned and out armed by the Assyrian Army. The king of Assyria sent messengers all over the land boasting that he was going to invade Judah and destroy it as he had so many other kingdoms.  Assyria’s king scoffed at God and said in short, “I will run roughshod over your God as I have so many others.” Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed, and God sent an angel that cut off all the armies and commanders from the camp sending the Assyrian king home in shame and soon after to his death in disgrace.
 
Hezekiah did not have to raise a finger in the battle, he and Isaiah simply had to bow the knee and take the need to God in prayer.  As a prophet and historian, Isaiah saw the difference between following the lord and following selfish pride.  Isaiah knew that God wanted to bless His people, but he refused to ignore and honor their sinful ways.  As such, he counseled the king to trust in God and the king listened and trusted God–it worked.  Hezekiah had a great reign and became both prosperous and powerful as God’s king of Judah.
 
In our lives, we must never stop seeking God.  We cannot allow the circumstances of the day to rob us of our faith and trust in Him.  Like Isaiah and Hezekiah–we must be prayer warriors and allow God to complete the work He starts in our lives.  In short, we cannot forsake prayer.  We cannot cease studying His word, and we cannot take our eyes of God and focus on the world and its culture.  God remains the Alpha and the Omega, the Mighty God, and the everlasting Father.  He never tires in hearing from us and walking with us through this amazing journey.
 
God Bless You
 

And his servants said still more against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the Lord, the God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, “Like the gods of the nations of the lands who have not delivered their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people from my hand.” 18 And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. 19 And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.

The Lord Delivers Jerusalem

20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.