Isaiah 43 Part 1–The Gospel of Isaiah

Isaiah communicates one of the sweetest promises in the Bible to God’s chosen people.  First, the Lord makes clear who He is–I am the one who created you, who formed you; and, I am the one that has redeemed you.  In short, God is not a disinterested party!  As discussed throughout this book of Prophecy, History and promise–God desires most ardently to communicate to Israel and to those who have decided to be in relationship with Him.  The primary message is very simply I know you.I love you, and I will care for you.

The word pictures are so beautiful and specific.  I have summoned you by name and you are mine! Through flood and fire, you will be safe. I will bring you back literally from the corners of the earth. There is no price to high, no people more important than the ones I have chosen and have chosen Me.  God knew that what lay ahead for Israel and for the church would be difficult.  He wanted both to know that He would never leave or forsake them.

In our day, it is difficult to see that love from God.  All media, culture, and forces in the world would have us believe God is a crutch the weak use to cope.  But the loving Father that called out to Israel through Isaiah calls out to us in 2020–“I created and formed you! Do not fear, I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are Mine!”

In the most difficult of circumstance, we can cling to this truth that has stood for thousands of years.  God loves us and knows us like none other.  The world desires to use us and then cast us aside.  It only loves itself and makes no provision for the care of others.  That is why we must cling to the truth and gift of our faith.  Romans 10:9 says it best, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe God has raised Him from the dead–You will be saved.”  God wants us to trust Him and allow Him to have lordship of our lives.  He knows us and wants to lead us through this mess we call life!

God Bless You


But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
    who have ears but are deaf.
All the nations gather together
    and the peoples assemble.
Which of their gods foretold this
    and proclaimed to us the former things?
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,
    so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “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 Know Jesus and I Know Paul–YOU Ain’t them–Acts 19 Part 2

There is just a huge difference in being religious and being redeemed.  It all starts at the heart.  Since the time of Adam and Eve, all God wanted was for his chosen people to realize how he loved them and to have them simply want to be in relationship with him.  The idea of knowing about God as a means to further your life and purpose has always been man’s failed way of bringing himself to an equal place as God.
 
The Jews in Ephesus wanted to make themselves equals with Paul and his mission in Ephesus.  They knew all about God after all! So they went around attacking evil and entering spiritual warfare claiming Paul’s authority in Jesus.  The evil spirits and the enemy was not impressed.  He made it clear–I know Jesus and I know Paul–but you simply are not them!!! The result was horrific for the imposters.  They were beaten and left naked and bleeding.
 
It is not a great deal different in our culture.  So many people want to get their spiritual look on and claim God’s power with no real knowledge or relationship with him.  They act spiritual (or so they think)–but they have no clue of who God really is or what He can mean in their lives. So, they play church and play religion and when they enter the battle ground of spiritual warfare, they are soundly defeated and left bleeding and naked. 
 
Meanwhile, those of us who choose to follow Christ are prepared for battle and armed with the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We realize it is a difficult fight, a challenging journey but one we do not do alone.  The more we lean into God and his power, the more his victory and grace shine through!The enemy sees and respects him–and does not question or intimidate us.  We are his and we are victorious in him.  Galatians 2:20 says it best, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me!  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me!”
 
God Bless You

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.13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.[c] 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Raising the Stakes–Acts 14 Part 1

Without fail, when one walks consistently with the Lord and ministers freely, two things happen. First, lives are affected. Second, the opposition grows and the stakes increase. As Paul and Barnabas preached in Iconium, people’s lives were being changed. The church was established and many were converted from among the Jews and among the gentiles. But, there was also rising opposition from among competing priests from the Jewish temple and rival foreign gods. Still, Paul and Barnabas remained faithful and simply spoke the truth without fear of the enemy or thought of personal consequence. 

In our journey, as we follow God, we see him do amazing things in our lives and the lives of others we touch. When we remain faithful, we have significant influence on our family and community. Proportionally, the greater the influence we have, the greater the opposition and trials in our lives. We are certainly in a spiritual battle with a seasoned enemy. If we do not recognize that truth we can be defeated, neutralized and destroyed. If, however, we remain faithful–trust God with our future and its timing, then he will also be faithful and lead  us, protect us and prepare us for what lies ahead. 

One can remain assured that it will not be easy, it will not be fun, nor will it transition quickly–this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. But, the faithful will–without a doubt, see God do incredible things in and through their lives. It is that truth that makes this an amazing journey. 

God Bless You

At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.

But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the other Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.

So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.

The people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles.

There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them.

But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country,

where they continued to preach the gospel.

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked.

He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed

and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

I John 4 Part 1–Its All About God

Time and again we try to make difficult what is truly simple.  How do we discern the true teachers from the false ones…Well, it is all about whom the focus is on.  If we are listening to those speaking the truth, then we are hearing messages about God, his power, his desires to make us free.  The teachers name, exploits and blessings are not the focus.

Conversely, the teachers that are not God centered speak of themselves, they tell you that it is all in and up to you and you are the master of your destiny.  They show you wealth and sparkles and remind you that you have to captain your own ship. 

God’s message is clear–there can only be one leader–Him.  He will lead, protect and provide but not share authority.  If we are willing to follow, he will free us from the chains that hold us and lead us to an eternity that will be so much greater than we could ever imagine. Any teacher that leads you away from that truth is a liar. Help me Lord, to teach your truth.

God Bless You

If a person claiming to be a prophet[a] acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

The Advocate–1 John 2 part 1

As an attorney, one of my favorite qualities of Christ is him as our advocate.  He knows us for the sinners that we are.  He knows we are frail and daily subject to falling into sin and independence from him.  Still, despite that, he intercedes on our behalf.

Oddly, there stands Satan–the prosecutor; accusing us of the sin he so conveniently placed in front of us, swaggering to the bench and saying to God–he is so evil, look at all he has done.  Meanwhile, Christ stands at our side, points to the accuser and says, “That sin is forgiven and forgotten, because I paid the price.

Grace is not a license to sin, though.  We should be seeking to follow him daily and closely.  If we do, we do not desire to disappoint him. We instead seek to be like him—selfless and surrendered.  That desire to follow is the best sign we are a part of the family. Help me Lord to follow you closely today.

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

A False Teacher’s Destiny–2 Peter 2

God takes seriously the diluting or falsifying of his message of hope and freedom.  He does not tolerate those that would use his name to extort, intimidate, control or in any other way deceive his chosen ones.  Like any father, he could tolerate someone attacking or trying to lead him astray, but if you mess with his kids, it will not go well for you.

So many have tried to use God’s message of freedom for personal gain or glory.  He tells us that the end for them will be awful.  We have to seek the truth.  We also have to carefully discern the message those who teach are spreading.  If their focus is on anyone other than the Lord, it is a sign they are not teaching the truth.  Their message should be clear, consistent and Christ centered, otherwise its veracity is suspect.  We need to follow the true message and teachers that are committed to its communication.  Help me Lord to listen to and teach the truth!

God Bless You

But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

Confession With Passion–2 Peter 1 Final

Peter’s confession is unrivaled in passion and in credibility.  Here, he is writing to the church–soon before being hung upside down on a cross, letting them know this is a passion he gained through eye witness experience.  This same Peter–that denied Christ the night of his arrest.  The Peter that told God he did not like his cooking on a roof in Joppa.  The Peter that avoided the barbeque when Paul and kosher Christians showed up to meet with Gentile Christians–now is telling what he saw and heard that would convince anyone of the deity of Christ!

We are the same. We can go from fear to Fanatic by simply clinging to the truth of Christ as it has been shown in our lives.  We have all seen and experienced the difference the relationship has brought in our lives.  We have done great things and we have failed–but, no matter what we can stand before others and passionately tell them What a difference he has made in our lives.  We simply need to remember and cling to the countless times he has intervened on  our behalf.

We need not be afraid–He loves us as we are and knows us as the frail children that we sadly remain.  We simply need to also know him for the mighty God he is and follow him accordingly!

God Bless You

For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,[e] 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.

16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”[f] 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines[g] in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,[h] 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

House IN Order-2 Samuel 21

My youngest has watched a cartoon called total Drama Island.  It is a parody of all the “Survivor” type reality shows.  For the last several years, David’s life, reign and experience had been “Total Drama Island.”  Now, back in power, back in order and back to business David is back in battle.  Sadly, as with all of us, time had taken its toll and David was exhausted.

Throughout our journey, we too face battles and drama.  Our walks with the Lord ebb and flow as does our faith and behavior. But, even as we walk faithfully, often time takes its toll on us.  We lose the energy and the optimism of youth.  When that happens, even when the Drama has passed, we grow exhausted in battle. Thanks be to God for those in our lives that meet the challenges of life with us and sometimes save our lives when we cannot face the battle.  It is OK to grow exhausted.  It is OK to pick the battles we are to face. It is OK to look to our fellow soldiers to battle along-side us and even on our behalf.  It is also ok to be warriors in prayer.  We can use his word and spirit to accomplish great things.  The key is to continue to follow Joshua’s example and make every day a CHOOSE-Day. “Choose this Day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

God Bless You

15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels[b] and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.”

18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[c] the Bethlehemite killed the brother of[d] Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.

22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

I Samuel 23 part 1–Stay in the Fray

David could have simply laid low.  He was being pursued by the King and accused of treason. He and his small band were given no protection or provision. But he heard his people were in danger.  So, he did the wisest thing he could have done—He asked God what to do. God directed and protected him from what was before him. He was not out of danger, his circumstance had not really improved—but, he knew God was with him and was guiding him to the truth.

We often face similar choices.  We encounter trials and want simply to lay low and et life pass. But as we seek the Lord, He directs us to stay in the fray and trust him for protection and provision. When he then provides, he does not promise all will be well—but he meets our needs for that day and that event. When we choose to seek him, we must be prepared to do so in all circumstance. We must also listen for his direction as he leads us through what many would call “the valley of the shadow of death”.

We must remember that he who calls us is faithful and he will do it. In 1st Peter 5, he tells us to be alert and encouraged.  We are under attack, but in his time he will restore and bless us—simply because we are his.

God Bless You

One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?”

“Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.

But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”

So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

God as Warrior–I Samuel 14 part 3

When we follow God’s Lead, it can completely change the world.  Israel was stuck on the sideline—no weapons, afraid and hopeless.  Jonathan trusted the Lord and followed him into battle and God caused a panic, re-invigorated the Israelite troops and routed the mighty Philistine army. All because Jonathan followed the Lord into battle.

In our lives, there are times when the battle seems lost, troops defeated and hope completely gone.  But, as we continue to follow the Lord into Battle, he can completely change the course of the battle and the condition of our hearts. He gives strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless.  He brings victor out of certain loss and humility out of utter pride. If we remain faithful, he will lead us to victory in his time. We can never give up, give in or lose hope.  Help me, Lord to follow you into battle and to see your mighty hand disrupt and defeat our enemy!

God Bless You

Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]

16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[b] 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the Lord saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.