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.

Joshua 8 Part 2–The Victory Party

The people of Israel obeyed.  They wiped out Ai. They were able to take the plunder from the victory without fear, and the campaign to claim their inheritance had begun in earnest. The post battle victory party looked a bit different than one would think.  The Israelite people gathered in front of two mountains, they built an altar, they made sacrifices and then Joshua read to the people all the words of the law.

It was not an option to miss the reading.  whether native or foreign born, if one was to be a part of Israel, they would listen and know God’s law.

It was apparent to Joshua as the new leader and shepherd of this people, that they needed to remember the importance of trusting and following God. Moses had instructed the people to build the alter here and they made that a priority. 

It is quite possible that after the extreme circumstance of the recent days, that spending a day listening to the law and making sacrifices did not seem like great fun.  Yet, these people did so without grumbling or complaint.

God must be the priority. In victory or defeat, we must continue to seek God and follow Him.  If we will, God promises us, as His people to meet our needs and direct our path.  Joshua knew this better than any of the people. He had been watching the results of failing to follow God his entire adult life.

So now as the leader, Joshua was careful to listen to God, follow Him closely and lead His people toward the Lord and not away from Him.

We also must live a life that leads people toward God and not away.  We must listen to the word and seek God in prayer and fellowship.  It is not always convenient; it is certainly not always fun–but it will help us to face our battles with confidence and it will help us to prepare for our eternal inheritance. 

Paul said it best in Colossians 3:1-4, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

God Bless You


Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33 All the Israelites, with their elders, officials, and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.

34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.

God Does Provide. Genesis 22 Part 2

<It is rarely easy, it is often challenging but, it is always rewarding to trust God. Big or small, walking by faith is always the right answer. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son…but God was not. God had provision ready. He allowed Abraham and history to see that faith is always correct.

Abraham’s faith showed his son and the world that God loves us and will not ignore our needs or our willingness to follow him. In our lives, we have opportunities daily to trust him. The more we do the easier it becomes to follow him any and everywhere.

As we follow, like Abraham, we impact those we know and those to come. We can never know how great his impact will be on our lives and the lives we touch. That is why each day we must continue to trust and serve him.

God Bless You

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.&It is rarely easy, it is often challenging but, it is always rewarding to trust God. Big or small, walking by faith is always the right answer. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son…but God was not. God had provision ready. He allowed Abraham and history to see that faith is always correct.

Abraham’s faith showed his son and the world that God loves us and will not ignore our needs or our willingness to follow him. In our lives, we have opportunities daily to trust him. The more we do the easier it becomes to follow him any and everywhere.

As we follow, like Abraham, we impact those we know and those to come. We can never know how great his impact will be on our lives and the lives we touch. That is why each day we must continue to trust and serve him.

God Bless You

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.;It is rarely easy, it is often challenging but, it is always rewarding to trust God. Big or small, walking by faith is always the right answer. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son…but God was not. God had provision ready. He allowed Abraham and history to see that faith is always correct.

Abraham’s faith showed his son and the world that God loves us and will not ignore our needs or our willingness to follow him. In our lives, we have opportunities daily to trust him. The more we do the easier it becomes to follow him any and everywhere.

As we follow, like Abraham, we impact those we know and those to come. We can never know how great his impact will be on our lives and the lives we touch. That is why each day we must continue to trust and serve him.

God Bless You

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”“Here I am,” he replied

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

Live Like Christ–But Do it in His Power 1 Peter 4

There is a sense of urgency–We should be living as though Christ is returning…Because he is! It is so easy to become complacent in these current circumstances.  No matter how comfortable things seem, we are living for eternity.  That means we seek God, we love others and we act as he would act.  The great news is that we do not have to do it in our power.  The Holy Spirit comes and fills us and guides us to living a Christ like life. 

So what does that life look like, well according to Peter their are three major components–Love, selflessness and humility. If we are selfless and humble, it does not mean we act like EEOre.  It only means that we are always looking for ways to promote others and show them Christ in our lives. Loving others means that we see the from God’s perspective and as members of our family.  We accept them as they are but steer them to the wonderful journey with Christ.  Life is about selfless, loving humility.

Living that kind of life is a sign we are looking to eternity–not simply existing for today!

God Bless You

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Follow Me–1 Mark 1 part 3

How easy is it to follow the Lord.  Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me.” Luke 9.  When Jesus started out, he was looking for men that were to become the pillars of the church. He did not go to Jerusalem, he went to the shores of the sea of Galilee. There he found Andrew, Peter, James and John. Four men, all gainfully employed, simply walked away from all they knew to follow the son of God.  In the days to come, these men were able to share time, trials, meals and their hearts with the one true God.

They were the first to experience a personal relationship with God.  Until that time, God had a relationship directly with prophets, priests and kings.  Now he would begin building personal relationships with folks like us. The question is– are we willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.  Would we walk away from our worldly life.  Would we submit to his plan and leadership.  Andrew, Peter, James and John left everything. In exchange, they were a part of something that changed the world.  Jesus wants us at all costs—help me Lord to follow you the same way.

God Bless You

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

I Samuel 25 continued–Sacrifice Saves

Abigail did not know David.  She had no reason to believe her plea would make a difference.  But, her wisdom caused her to make amends and attempt to right what her husband had botched up.  She was honest, vulnerable and confident that God would protect her…and he did.  What an amazing story .

In our lives we are sometimes faced with situations that are not of our making. We are left to clean up messes left by those around us.  While it is easier to ignore them or convince ourselves that it is not our problem—often, a contrite heart and an honest spirit can repair the damage even when done by others.  God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  As we live like him, we lead sacrificial lives.  We are ready to step out to serve others whether they deserve it or not.  Like David, God will honor such a life.

God Bless You

18 Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel[b] of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes. She packed them on donkeys 19 and said to her servants, “Go on ahead. I will follow you shortly.” But she didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.

20 As she was riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, she saw David and his men coming toward her. 21 David had just been saying, “A lot of good it did to help this fellow. We protected his flocks in the wilderness, and nothing he owned was lost or stolen. But he has repaid me evil for good. 22 May God strike me and kill me[c] if even one man of his household is still alive tomorrow morning!”

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed low before him. 24 She fell at his feet and said, “I accept all blame in this matter, my lord. Please listen to what I have to say. 25 I know Nabal is a wicked and ill-tempered man; please don’t pay any attention to him. He is a fool, just as his name suggests.[d] But I never even saw the young men you sent…32 David replied to Abigail, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! 33 Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. 34 For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning.” 35 Then David accepted her present and told her, “Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.”

I Samuel 22–When Life Loses Value

What happens when life no longer matters? That was the issue that faced Saul as he faced the priests that assisted David.  He had already committed to killing David—to attempt to keep what He had already lost. Once Saul started down that road, killing more became meaningless.  In a swift decision he ordered the deaths of God’s priests simply because they helped David. His men refused to kill God’s priests. They still saw the line…but Saul had allowed his personal desires and fears to obscure the value of life and so the line of being a ruler and being a killer.

In current culture, we struggle with similar issues. We have allowed our selfishness to color our perception of life’s value. The unborn, the poor, the sick and the elderly—once considered treasures to be protected and preserved are now considered inconvenient and obsolete.  We are more than willing to help unless it becomes a bother or a conflict in our schedules.  Like Saul, we try to gather and keep things we have no control or title to.  Jim Elliot, a missionary that was martyred in South America said it best, “He is no fool that trades what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Life holds great value—God knew that.  That is why he sacrificed the life of his soon to redeem the world. But, when we discount life’s value to the point that anything else becomes more important—we soon find Life totally loses its value. Help me Lord to always remember the value of life and especially the value of your life.

God Bless You

Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the Lord.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

Excruciating Friendship-I Samuel 20 part 2

Sometimes a true friend can only listen and grieve.  It is great to be a friend when things are easy—more difficult to be a friend when things are dire.  Jonathan could only ache as he watched his father mark his friend for death.  He could still deliver him.  He could still be committed to him—but he could not affect the outcome in any way.  In those times, a friends very inability to change the outcome is also the lovely act that shows commitment.  Jonathan never backed away, abandoned or betrayed his commitment to David.  That commitment would stay with David all the days of his life.

 In our lives, we are faced many times with situations where all we can do is listen, grieve and pray for our friends.  Our temptation is to want to withdraw, because it literally hurts not to be able to help.  In other times we simply wear out and no longer desire to remain in the messy lives of others.  But, the true friends roll up their sleeves and stay in the lives of their friends in need.  Often times, when they do, they feel hopeless and inadequate—NOT TRUE.  It is in those times, as with David, that we have the greatest impact on those we love.  Our steadfast prayer, continued encouragement and small gifts are the very lifelines that keep our friends from giving up. 

 If I were to list all of you that have profoundly changed my life, I fear this devotion would extend for pages.  Suffice it to say, that You will only find out in Glory how much you truly did to save the Smith household and how eternally grateful I am and we are! To each of you I can only humbly say thank you for never backing away. 

God Bless You

 28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

Matthew 19 Final–With God all things are Possible

With God all things are possible.  It seems often that life is impossible.  Trials and temptations leave us stressed and feeling hopeless.  The great thing about God is that in the midst of the trials he is still in charge and executing his plan for our lives.  He is intimately concerned for us.  He is also amazingly generous in our lives.  We can never out give or out serve him.

God sees our hearts and is thrilled to prepare rewards for the efforts we have expended in our following him.  Like any dad, he does not love us based upon our efforts, but, he is thrilled to bless, direct and reward us for our faithfulness.  The distinction is understanding our behavior is not what saves us, but it is simply our faith that he is Lord and God has raised him from the dead that saves us.  Once saved, we cannot help but behave in a way that honors him.  We do it out of Love–not to obtain his Love.  None the less, he joyfully rewards our faithfulness and prepares for us an incredible inheritance in the kingdom to come.

Help me Lord to follow you knowing that I can never out give or out serve you.

God Bless You

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Matthew 16 final–What Disciples are Carrying This Spring

Jesus the rock star was now Jesus the loving leader.  It would have been easy to simply leave the hard stuff out. People really enjoyed the free meals and the miracles.  The teaching was awesome, and the way he continued to make fools of the religious leaders was a sight to behold.  But—that simply was not the purpose for the visit.  Jesus came to restore the relationship destroyed by man’s sin and sinful nature.  That was a singular act of sacrifice.  This was the tipping point and probably the hardest time for Jesus—That is why the statement to Peter was so poignant—While directed at this lovable fisherman, Jesus was calling out from anguish—Satan actually did not mind rock star Jesus as much as he minded this leader that was about to change the world.

Today’s church struggles similarly—Technology makes worship quite a show.  The internet has made multimedia messages power packed with active animation, film clips and meaningful video to accentuate the heartfelt message delivered from the stage.  The show is great, the crowds large the message delivered worldwide.  But—it is so tempting to leave out the hard stuff.  There is so much need for messages of hope and promise that we hesitate to dwell for any period on holiness, stewardship and selflessness. We would not want to drive away seekers.  Sadly, that is not the purpose for the journey.  Jesus said it best”, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

We are here to live like we are simply passing through—the meaningful parts are 1. the legacy we leave behind and 2. the people we bring along’.

Help me, Lord to live like I am a real disciple!

God Bless You

 

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”