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March 27, 2023
Gleanings From Genesis: Faith

He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days (Genesis 7:23-24).

The Lord repeated his instructions on loading the ark. The record identifies the specific day on which the rain began (based on Noah’s age). The narrative repeats Noah’s loading of the ark and a graphic description of the antihalation of all life on the earth except that which was on the ark.

Noah’s faith – he believed what the Lord said would happen even when nothing like this had happened before. He was obedient in following God’s detailed instructions on constructing the ark and followed God’s detailed directions on loading the animals on the ark. Note: at this point, the animals did not fear man and obeyed Noah (see Genesis 9:2).

When God is going to perform a miracle, he expects us to step out in faith. Moses had to stretch his hand out over the Red Sea before the Lord parted the waters. The priests had to step into the Jordan River before God stopped the river. The Israelites had to march around Jericho before God destroyed the city.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7).

March 20, 2023
Gleanings From Genesis: Obedience

So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man, and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:7-8).

This chapter opens with a description of rampant sexual perversion and evil in the world. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:20). Therefore, God said he would destroy the earth.

But Noah found favor with the Lord. Noah was set apart from the wickedness of his generation and the Lord chose to use him to reset creation.

In the second part of the chapter, the Lord gave Noah instructions on constructing the ark and what to load on the ark. He told Noah he would destroy the earth with a flood.

The Lord is always looking for faithful men and women through whom he can do great things. The Lord uses obedient and faithful people for tasks that advance his kingdom. There are many examples of God working through his people, Noah, Moses, David, Paul, and Martin Luther. Billy Graham . . .

What are great things? Leading someone to the Lord, encouraging someone in their faith, mentoring, and teaching (using spiritual gifts). Meeting spiritual or physical needs. We are called to change the world, our world.

What is the world the Lord has called you to change, your family, your fellowship, neighborhood, community . . .

Noah’s faith produced obedience. Even though he stood alone, and the scholars and leaders of the community mocked him, Noah made an ark exactly as God told him to make it.
Bob Burridge
March 6, 2023
Gleanings From Genesis: Separation

Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden (Genesis 4:16).

There are three sins in the story of Cain: anger at God for rejecting his offering, jealousy because Abel’s offering was accepted, and his failure to be reconciled with God. The Lord punished Cain by preventing crops from growing on his land because Abel’s blood was in the soil. As a result, Cain became a wanderer. Yet God promised to protect Cain from those who would him harm.

Cain lacked remorse, objected to his punishment, had deep concern for his wellbeing, and “went away from the presence of the Lord.” In short, he was both physically and spiritually separated from God. He exiled himself, a conscious decision.

First we must acknowledge our sins and accept the Lord’s offer of salvation. If we are not serious in this decision, we are condemned to wander from thought to thought and from “truth” to “truth” never finding secure footing in life or a personal relationship with the Lord.

Second, even in salvation we can choose not to follow the will of God. When we fail to listen to the Spirit’s prompting and do not confess and repent, we break the relationship we have with the Lord. If our acceptance of the offer of salvation is sincere, we are guaranteed eternal life with the Lord. Failure to confess sins restricts the flow of blessings in the abundant life now.

“It is only deliberate, willful sin that has not been confessed and forgiven that makes us feel that God has forsaken us, for that sin causes Him to hide His face from us.”
Alan Redpath
Gleanings From Genesis: Excuses

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

Did God actually say, ‘You shall not . . .” or, “Go and do . . .”

Was God serious when he gave us the Ten Commandments? Did he really mean for us to encourage one another, to be transformed, to make disciples? Does this apply to me? Where do questions like these come from?

Like Adam and Eve, God places limitations on our thinking and behavior and, as we discussed last week, gives commands to care for one another and build his kingdom.

When God asks us to do something that is out of our comfort zone, Satan is behind our excuses and objections While we speak the truth when we say some form of “I can’t do that.” We have been commanded to go forth and build his kingdom. We are told to be Christlike, to be Christ to an unbelieving world. We either forget or ignore that the power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us and it is that Spirit that does the work.

Do our lives demonstrate Spirit control or Satan’s control? Ouch!

 

To whom do we listen?

“God knows what each one of us is dealing with. He knows our pressures. He knows our conflicts. And He has made a provision for each and every one of them. That provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, indwelling us and empowering us to respond rightly.”
Kay Arthur
February 20, 2023
Gleanings From Genesis: Multiplication

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

Multiplication in the Old Testament. Multiplication is a fundamental part of God’s creation. On the fifth day God said to the fish of the sea “Be fruitful and multiply…” (1:22). After creating man his command was to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (1:28). Continuing in verse 29, he told the man that he provided plants and trees yielding seed for food – seeds being the means for plants and trees to reproduce. Reproduction or multiplication is not only built into creation but also a command.

Chapter five is a record of multiplication from Adam to Noah. Following the flood, God commanded Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” ((9:1, 7). The Lord’s intention is clear; we are to “fill the earth.” The population of the earth today is about eight billion people. Clearly, we have done that.

Multiplication in the New Testament. The command is. ”Go and make disciples,” – spiritual multiplication. Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing . . . that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples (John 15:5, 8). He commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Then in Acts 1:8, he said you will be empowered to be my witnesses “to the end of the earth.” We are commanded and empowered for spiritual multiplication.

“To make disciples is to engage with God in fulfilling his desire to bless all the peoples of the earth.” 
John B. MacDonald
February 13, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Hearing the Lord

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:26).

Spiritual transformation leads believers into a deeper and more personal knowledge of the Lord. As the Spirit transforms us, we recognize his voice and hear what he is saying. Our biggest challenge is that we think and hear in physical terms while the Lord speaks in spiritual terms.

This truth is illustrated by six conversations Jesus had with people recorded in the book of John.

Nicodemus thought Jesus was talking about physical birth when Jesus was talking about spiritual birth (John 3:1-15).

The woman at the well thought Jesus was talking about physical water when Jesus was talking about living water, water that sustains spiritual life (John 6:4:10-11, 19-25).

The crowd wanted physical bread when Jesus fed the 5000 but Jesus was offering spiritual bread, and spiritual nourishment (John 6:34-35).

Mary knew she would see her brother in eternity, but Jesus was talking about the abundant life now (John 11:23-24).

Thomas wanted to know where Jesus was going, a physical location, but Jesus was talking about how to receive eternal life (John 14:1-7).

Philip wanted to physically see God, but Jesus said that he and the Father were one (John14:8-9).

Like Samuel, we need recognize the voice of the Lord (1 Samuel 3). We do that through time in the Word, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and the leading of the Spirit. As he transforms us, we tune to his frequency, filter out the world and our own thinking, and hear his corrections and directions. We hear the language he speaks.

“Specifically, in our attempts to understand how God speaks to us and guides us we must, above all, hold on to the fact that learning how to hear God is to be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life, a life of loving fellowship with the King and his other subjects within the kingdom of the heavens.”
Dallas Willard
February 6, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Doing the Impossible

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:12-15).

Spiritual transformation leads believers into a deeper understanding of the presence and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. As we mature in faith, we realize that it is the Lord who does his work in us and through us and not we ourselves. He is the hand in our glove.

As we experience God at work in us, we are encouraged to give him more freedom to unleash the Spirit’s power us. We do that by transferring control of our lives to him, surrendering to his authority, and submitting to his will. When he calls, we can step out in faith and he will work through us.

We always seem to have objections and excuses when God gives us a task. We are right when we think we cannot do what he asks. In fact, we cannot do God’s will in our own wisdom and strength. The Lord never intended for us to do his work because even the most spiritually mature of us are too earthly-minded and self-centered. God’s call always takes us out of our comfort zone. Only when we allow the Spirit to work can do what he asks. The Lord wants to use when he is going to do the impossible.

 

The Spirit works in us to clean up our acts and empower us to make a difference in the lives of others. He equips us with a grace gift for motivated service (Romans 12:6-8), situational gifts when and where needed (1 Corinthians 12:7-11), gifts to build up the body (1 Corinthians 12:27-31), and to some, a leadership gift (Ephesians 4). The Spirit does the work. We just need to be available.

God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible– what a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.
A. W. Tozer
January 30, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Holy Ground

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Exodus 33:7.

Spiritual transformation takes place with time on holy ground; time away from the fast-paced, cluttered life and be alone with the Lord. The challenge for believers is to shift from the world to a sacred time with the Lord. While we may not be called to a burning bush, a serious, focused time with the Lord is time on holy ground.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed (Mark 1:35).

Daily holy ground: Spiritual transformation happens in the course of time alone with the Lord. Jesus took time away from teaching, healing, and ministry to connect with the Father. It was essential for Jesus; therefore, it should be essential for us. Quiet time is important for spiritual recharging. It is difficult to carry on a meaningful conversation with the Lord in our fast-paced life. We must go to the “inner room” for a quiet time with the Lord (Matthew 6:6)

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31).

Periodic time away on holy ground: Spiritual transformation happens in the course of recurring extended times alone with the Lord. He instructed his disciples to go to a “desolate place” or a “tent of meeting” away from the daily grind of life for spiritual rest and recuperation. This can be with time in the Word, prayer, reflection, and meditation.

“Solitude well practiced will break the power of busyness, haste, isolation, and loneliness. You will see that the world is not on your shoulders after all. You will find yourself, and God will find you in new ways.”
- Dallas Willard
January 23, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Worship

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-23).

 

Spiritual transformation is a process whereby believers know how to worship the Lord in spirit and faith.

Worship flows from a real and personal relationship with God. It begins with the assurance of salvation. It continues with God personally speaking through his Word. It is a response to a burden being lifted and a peace that passes understanding. Worship flows when we experience the right words coming at the right time without conscious thought. Worship is a joyous response to seeing God at work in us and around us. It flows even when things are not going well, and we celebrate God in control. It flows when there is a growing awareness that he is God, and we are not.

Worship takes many forms and style. For some it is formal or liturgical. For others, it may be free-flowing. Then there are variations between. It may include silent prayer, audible prayer, singing, time in the Word, testimonies, giving, and a message on the Word. It can be a celebration. Worship may be public or private.

Worshiping idols: The challenge today is discerning the difference between needs and wants. Idols are false gods. Peter said that on the day the Lord returns all these things will be burned up (1 Peter 3:10). Obviously “these things” are not eternal if they will be consumed by fire. Only what is eternal will remain. We spend a lot of time, energy, and money acquiring and maintaining possessions, positions, and power, things that will be burned up. We are always worshiping something.

“Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.”
- William Temple
January 16, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Boundaries

Spiritual transformation is a process by which believers are molded by the Spirit to live within God’s boundaries.

We are aware of the boundaries we face in life such as laws and the norms of society. When we ignore those boundaries, there are consequences. Likewise, God has set spiritual boundaries. As we mature spiritually, we learn what those boundaries are, and give the Holy Spirit control to bring us within those boundaries. The shaping by the Spirit transforms us into Christlikeness and makes us effective in advancing his kingdom.

In Psalm 19:7-9, the psalmist identifies the Lord’s boundaries as law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules.

The Spirit works in three ways to shape our ideas, attitudes, and behavior. He gets our attention by gentle reminders, by the consequences when we venture outside his boundaries, and by looking in life’s rear-view mirror where we become aware of the mysterious, behind-the-scenes transformational work of the Spirit.

When prayer becomes a two-way channel, the Spirit will warn us we are out of bounds. With time in the Word, the Spirit brings personal corrective application from scripture. Then there are the times the Spirit alerts us to our rough edges as we observe others’ reactions or when we are held accountable.

Paul said: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Contrary to human thinking, transformation is the Spirit’s job, not ours. Note the construction: transformation is something done to us. It is the indwelling Spirit that brings us within the Lord’s boundaries. Only with Spirit control do we recognize there is a boundary problem. Only with Spirit control do we adjust to living within the Lord’s boundaries.

When we experience the Spirit working to transform our lives, we are freed of worry about living within the boundaries. The Spirit takes care of that for us.

“Transformation is a process as life happens  there are tons of ups and downs, it’s a journey of discovery.”
- Rick Warren
January 9, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Knowing God

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

 

Spiritual transformation is a process by which believers gain an ever-increasing knowledge, understanding, and awareness of God. When we begin knowing God, we begin to know ourselves.

Two Realities: We live, walk, and work in a world that is based on what we see, what we hear, or what makes logical sense, a physical reality. God, on the other hand, operates in spiritual reality. It is hard for us to recognize and respond to a God we cannot see or does not speak audibly. At salvation, we trust the promises of an invisible God and begin the process of seeing the world from a spiritual perspective.

Prayer: in the beginning, prayer is a one-way conversation. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we begin to hear God as he answers our requests, reveals areas that need to change, and points out actions we need to take.

Bible: In the beginning, we see the Bible is a collection of nice stories divorced from reality and words and concepts that are hard to understand. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we begin to understand spiritual patterns and truths. We become aware of the changes he wants to make to our attitudes and behavior, where he is leading us, and the legacy he wants us to leave.

Transformation: As our knowledge of God grows, we become more dependent on him realizing we are in a spiritual battle and only the power of the Spirit brings victory. Further, we begin to understand that everything comes from God, nothing from us (Romans 11:36). We also realize that we do not pursue God, he pursues us.

“There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have the energy to serve Him, boldness to share Him, and contentment in Him.”
- J.I. Packer
January 3, 2023
Spiritual Transformation: Overcoming

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 5:4)

Spiritual transformation is a process that overcomes the heavy baggage we carry into our lives at salvation. The word victory implies a battle, challenge, or contest. The nagging of the Spirit reminds us that the Lord wants and needs to clean house.

Fear: The Bible tells us “Fear not.” Yet, fear always seems to be lurking somewhere. There is uncertainty about the future, our health, safety, and security. Worry is a form of fear. Fear exists because we do not believe that the Lord is in control, that he has our best interest at heart.

Habits: There are patterns of behavior that interfere with our relationships, health, and effective ministry. These are actions we know are wrong, but we are unable to break. We are burdened because we are unable to shake bad habits.

Bondage: Then there are those repetitive actions are firmly embedded, actions that our intentions and self-discipline fail to eliminate: drugs, alcohol, and porn. They destroy our lives and the lives of those around us.

Impossible: The Christian life is not difficult, it is impossible. It is impossible because we are engaged in spiritual warfare. We overcome or have victory only through the power of the Spirit.

Freedom: Victory is another word for freedom. Only when we commit our lives to the Lord, surrender to his power, and submit to his will do we experience victory. The victory is the Lord’s!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

“When we pray for the Spirit's help ... we will simply fall down at the Lord's feet in our weakness. There we will find the victory and power that comes from His love.”
- Andrew Murray
December 26, 2022
Spiritual Transformation: Living Water

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

Spiritual transformation is a process where Living Water flows in to nourish the believer and then flows out to advance Christ’s kingdom.

Living Water flowing in. When the children of Israel were wandering the desert, the Lord provided water necessary for physical life. The Samaritan woman came to draw water to sustain her physical life. The Lord on the other hand pointed her to water that nourishes spiritual life.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul calls us jars of clay. We are vessels made from the dust of the earth. In Paul’s day, clay pots were common containers made to hold water or wine. Ray Stedman pointed out in Authentic Christianity, that as common, ordinary containers, we have within us the glory and power of God.

Living Water flowing out. Jesus said we are called to make disciples, meaning that we are to allow the water that flowed in to flow out. It is to flow over the top, that is active advancement of the kingdom. A pastor, in interpreting the verse in 2 Corinthians, claimed that we are cracked pots and that Living Water flows out through the cracks. Jesus said we are not to bottle up his presence but to freely pour his Spirit into the World.

Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” John 7:38).

“Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.”
- Oswald Chambers
December 19, 2022
Spiritual Transformation: The Bread of Life

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:48-51).

Spiritual transformation is the process of a growing daily in the knowledge and understanding of the ways and purposes of God.

Bread is a common theme throughout scripture. While bread has always been a basic element of physical life, Jesus proclaimed himself to be the essential element of spiritual life. Everything in our lives as believers hangs on the presence of Jesus, the Bread of life” in us.

The Lord gave the children of Israel bread to sustain their physical life. However, the Lord’s detailed description on gathering, storing, and using manna point, without question, to our need to daily gather and apply the Word. It must be gathered daily; labor is required. Jesus directed us to pray for daily bread (Matthew 6:11) because it is fresh daily. Whether we take in much or a little, it leads to a deeper knowledge and understanding of the ways and purposes of God.

We need to be renewed every day in the power of the Spirit that is in us; the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). Only by the power of the Spirit can we live like Christ and offer the world the “Bread of Life.”

“The people are hungry for the bread of life. Do not offer them a stone”
- Ellen G. White
December 12, 2022
Spiritual Transformation: Being Set Apart

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

 

Spiritual transformation is the process of being set apart, set apart from our past, set apart from the world, and set a part for the Lord.

From our past. We are set apart from our past, our life of self-interests and indulgences. The transformed life is one of separation from those things that seemed right but led to death (Proverbs 14:12). It is a matter of forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to the upward call (Philippians 3:13-14). With transformation we become new creatures (2 Cor 5:17).

From the World. As our mindset and thinking change, so does our behavior. We have been called to be in the world but not a part of the world (John 15:19). John says our behavior gives evidence as to whether the love of God dwells in us (1 John 2:15). We are being molded to not do as the world does.

For the Lord. On the other hand, we are being molded to do good things (Ephesians 2:10). Doing good things is a matter of giving God (the Holy Spirit) the freedom control over our lives. Only God can do good (by his definition).

Spiritual transformation is the process of being set apart.

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men. A. W. Tozer
December 5, 2022
Spiritual Transformation: Joy

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).

Spiritual transformation brings increasing joy. Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances, events, people, places, and thoughts. It comes and goes depending on what we are facing at the moment. Happiness is generated by outside experiences. It is fleeting.

Joy, on the other hand, is internal. It is permanent because it comes from the eternal Spirit within us. As we mature in our walk with the Lord, we have joy despite our situation. Like Job, we can say in the most trying difficulties, ““I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on earth” (Job 19:25). Joy is knowing that in Christ we shall overcome.

Joy comes from a personal relationship with the Author and Creator of the universe, the One who has given us eternal life and poured his Spirit into us. “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation” Rick Warren.

Joy is the filling of the soul when we:

  • Have absolute assurance of our salvation, peace with God

  • Experience God working in us, the peace of God

  • See God working in the lives of others through us

  • Being present when someone accepts Christ as Savior

  • See something new in familiar passages of scripture

  • Wake up to a new day and its potential to make a difference

Our joy increases as we are being transformed into Christlikeness.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

“It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy full.”
- A. B. Simpson
November 28, 2022
Spiritual Transformation: Direction

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11).

Spiritual transformation is the process of listening to the Lord for guidance and direction. The key is having a personal relationship with the Lord. As that relationship matures, the Spirit gives us ears to hear and eyes to see where he is leading us, with whom we need to connect, and actions we need to take.

Our tendency is to depend on our own wisdom or the counsel of the world. We move through life by deciding on a career, marriage, family, and job. We make financial decisions, about where to live, what church to attend, or how can I live a Christian life.

Further, we are called to minister to others: Who needs encouragement? Who needs prayer? Should I start a small group? Should I mentor someone? With whom should I share the gospel? How do I share the gospel? Etc.

Prayer: The Spirit speaks to us through our quiet time. Prayer is a two-way conversation. When we pray for direction, we need to listen. The answer may come then or later or even during our daily routine, an encounter with others, or situations we encounter.

The Word: The Spirit speaks to us from the Word, either from the Word itself or a thought triggered by the Word. This means keeping our spiritual ears on.

Others: The Spirit speaks to us through other believers through encouragement, exhortation, suggestions, or needs.

The Past: Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) suggests that we need to look in the review mirror. What has God led us through, how has he prepared us, how has he equipped us. What he has done in the past may be prepared for the task in front of us. We need to keep an eye on the review mirror.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Intimacy with God is not experienced through monolog prayers but through reflective listening as well as earnest petitioning.”
- Gary Rohrmayer
November 21, 2022
Spiritual Transformation

I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

Paul’s plea to believers is to be transformed. Once we are saved and become a part of God’s family, we are expected to act like it. And for most of us, that means trying hard to be Christlike.

But note, as we have said earlier, Paul stated that becoming Christlike is not by self-discipline, but an action performed by Christ in me. Paul said we are to “be transformed,” not transform ourselves.

Living a Christian life is impossible. Our DNA drives us to conform to the world. The changes WE make in our behavior and thinking are superficial. They do not deal with the root cause, our sinful, self-centered nature that goes against everything the Lord expects of us.

Spiritual transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit whom the Lord places in us at salvation. Like salvation, unleashing the Spirit is a choice. It is a matter of submitting, surrendering, and committing to the power God placed in us.

While salvation moves us from eternal death to eternal life, spiritual transformation moves us from slavery to sin to freedom in Christ.

In the following weeks, we will look at what happens during that transformation process.

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)

Beware of harking back to what you once were when God wants you to be something you have never been.
- Oswald Chambers
November 14, 2022
Overcoming Sin (Part 4 - Bondage and Addiction

Problem: Bondage and addiction is a presumptive sins. It is an ingrained or habitual behavior that we just cannot shake. While we may be under the conviction that we need to eliminate those attitudes and behaviors, nothing seems to work. No matter how hard we try, they just will not go away. We discover that self-discipline is a patch of old cloth and therefore fails. Obedience eludes us.

Like Jericho, addictions not only appear impregnable, they are impregnable. They are giants in the land. They loom over our lives like Tyrannosaurus Rex and will not go away. We recognize that there is nothing we can do about it. We are powerless; helpless. The bondage is shut up tight. And just saying “No” does not work. The bondage controls us.

Recognizing Bondage and Addiction: You know that you are compelled to engage in bad behavior. You know that your behavior is destroying your relationship with your spouse, family, and friends. You know it undermines your work and work relationships.

Overcoming Bondage and Addiction: When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, the first thing they encountered was Jericho, a major fortified city that was shut up and had to be removed before moving on. However, it was not destroyed by siege or the army of Israel, but by the Lord. Christ in me – the Holy Spirit is the power within us that overcomes bondage.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us with our weaknesses. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:26–28)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37–39)

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 4:6).
November 7, 2022
Overcoming Sin (Part 3 - Presumptive Sin)

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression. (Psalm 19:13)

Problem. Presumptive (intentional) sin gets its name from a person’s presumption or belief that they have been saved and that God has forgiven their sins. They know their actions are wrong but continue anyway. They can be ingrained actions, often things done without thinking. It is deliberate or habitual actions that destroy one’s testimony. They may be premeditated. The problem is like all sin, it creates a barrier between us and the Lord. And that sin reduces our effectiveness in relationships and ministry.

 

Presumptive sin can be:

  • Adultery

  • Arrogance

  • Inappropriate relationships

  • Jealousy, covetousness, envy

  • Taking the Lord’s Name in vain in its various forms

  • Being quick to anger, rage

  • Drunkenness

  • Rebelling or objecting to the Lord’s direction

  • To name a few . . .

Recognizing Presumptive Sin. There are two ways to recognize this type of sin. First, the gnawing sense of guilt as the Spirit probes reminds and reveals sin. The second is like David’s adultery, an honest and open relationship that brings accountability. Questions to ask: Does this activity glorify God? Does this activity destroy my testimony? What does this activity reveal about who is at the center of my life?

Overcoming Presumptive Sin. The solution is being honest, confessing the sin, and having heartfelt repentance (the desire to turn in a new direction). We mistakenly believe all that is needed is self-discipline. Self-discipline deals with the surface issue and not its roots. Removal of this sin requires an act of God – the Spirit’s transforming work.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26).
October 31, 2022
Overcoming Sin (Part 2 - Hidden Fault)

Problem. Hidden faults (unintentional sin) take one of three forms:

First, actions or habits others see we do not. These may be inappropriate patterns of behavior that pop up in our interactions with others. We may be alerted to these sins by the Spirit, an accountability partner, or another person. If we recognize them, we may excuse them as “that's just the way I’m wired.” Examples include angry reactions, speaking what comes to mind, being argumentative, correcting others, or monopolizing the conversation.

Second, inadvertent errors, thoughtlessness, or sins committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9:7). These may be actions we take that we do not recognize as sins or actions that interfere with God’s plan for us but may not be a sin for others. Examples include distractions, idols such as activities that consume time and money and distract from relationships and ministry, or our spiritual health, hobbies, and amusements that do not contribute to our God-given purpose or make keeping the rules a religion.

Third, internal ongoing thoughts and attitudes may not be obvious to others. These hidden faults are dangerous in that they can lead to outward expression. They are inappropriate thoughts and attitudes we rent space to in our heads. Examples include being judgmental or having a critical spirit, being unforgiving, living with guilt or remorse for past actions, jealousy or comparing oneself with others, or dwelling on insult or injury.

Revealing Hidden Faults. Before we can deal with hidden faults, we need to recognize them. Some people may be bold in confronting us. Also, we need to watch for verbal or nonverbal expressions as we interact with others such as a frown or scowl. Further, there is the Spirit revealing these faults as we mature in the Lord. Finally, we can ask the Lord to reveal these sins to us.

Overcoming Hidden Faults. Once alerted, we need to confess the fault, repent, commit, submit, and surrender to the power of the indwelling Spirit. Remember, the Lord stands ready to forgive and transform.

Praise: The Spirit is always at work transforming believers into Christlikeness.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
October 24, 2022
Overcoming Sin (Part 1)

Problem. Jesus told us to be Christ-like, that is be perfect (Matthew 5:48). But that is impossible! Our attitudes, thinking and behavior clearly fail to meet God’s standards. We can never be good enough. In fact, followers of Jesus walked away because what he was saying was too hard (John 6:60-63). Salvation brings our fallen nature under the blood of Christ and gives us eternal life. While that is great news, salvation does stop sin. Sin is in our DNA, and we continue sinning. However, there is more good news: at salvation, the Lord places his Spirit in us. The first work of the Spirit is to identify our sin and transform us into Christlikeness. As Paul said:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:18-20)

Overcoming Sin. To unleash that power, we need to commit our lives to the Lord, submit to his will, and surrender control to him.

  • Commitment is an intentional, voluntary decision to put the Lord in charge of our lives. Keeping that commitment needs to be renewed routinely.

  • Submission is placing our lives under God’s authority. Submission gives the Lord control over our lives.

  • Surrender is the willful relinquishing of control to the Lord. To surrender is to give up doing things our way.

Paul said we are to be “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Notice we are to be transformed, not transform ourselves. Transformation into Christlikeness is the work of the indwelling Spirit.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

and your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:5-6)

Aside from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
October 17, 2022
The Grand Invitation - Isaiah 55

The invitation. The Lord extends an urgent invitation to all people to join him at his banquet. It is a banquet of great abundance laid out to meet the deep and everlasting needs of the soul. The bread, wine, and milk are deeply satisfying, satisfying in ways the world cannot provide. It is a picture of restoration, refreshment, and fulfillment. It is an invitation to eternal life, a life promised at creation. The overflowing abundance at the banquet is provided at expense of the host, the Lord himself.

The Promise. The Lord continues by announcing that he has (past tense) provided one who has great compassion for the people, a witness to God’s goodness and grace; one who will lead his people into eternal life. Not only is the call to Israel, but to the nations (people) beyond. All of this to glorify the Lord.

The Warning. The Lord warns the listeners that he will not always be found. We know Jesus spent three days in hell, but he has been resurrected from hell; he is no longer there. Those who do not respond to his invitation will be in hell and cannot find him. To find him we must turn away from following our wicked ways. We need to turn to him. This message is amplified when the Lord makes a clear distinction between his ways and thoughts and ours. Further, he makes that point clear by expressing it in terms of physical separation.

The Eternal Word. The Lord, using the continuing cycle of life in nature which produces physical nourishment, makes certain we understand the continuing nature of his invitation to provide spiritual nourishment. The Lord has a plan, and nothing will stop him from achieving that purpose.

The Celebration. The Lord concludes the passage by describing a future in which there is peace and great joy, the order has been restored to creation, and there will be a great victory celebration. Sin and death have been defeated. Nothing can compare with eternity in the presence of the Lord. Rejoice! And again, I say rejoice!

By name i have called you
By name I will save you
By Name you are mine, you are precious to me.
By name I have called you
By name I will send you,
Forever with you I will be

October 10, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:13

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;

instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;

and it shall make a name for the Lord,

an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Creation Restored. Not only will the mountains and trees rejoice as the believers are led out from being captive from our earthly life, but all of nature rejoices.

Life Everlasting. Some believe the crown of thorns is a reference to that Christ wore on the cross. Thorns will be replaced by the cypress; an evergreen that gives evidence of life throughout the year. The cypress is frequently used in cemeteries for that reason. The Lord is describing the journey from death to a joyful life.

Pain and Chaos Gone. Briars that prick and leave a burning sensation, will be replaced by the myrtle, a fragrant bush or tree that produces lavender, white, pink, or red flowers and berries. We will be leaving pain and turmoil behind and moving into the eternal presence of the Lord.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Rejoicing. The redeemed will rejoice and praise the Lord, the Creator, the One who brought salvation to man. This transformation is the work of the Lord. The rejoicing will be for the Lord's renown, for His Name’s sake. It will be a permanent sign that will not be destroyed. While the stone monuments of man will fall into ruin and disarray, the Lord is everlasting and so is his coming kingdom.

“Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”
- C. S. Lewis
October 3, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:12

For you shall go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and the hills before you

shall break forth into singing,

and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Salvation. Upon accepting Christ offer of salvation, the Lord lifts burden of guilt. He places his Spirit in us to transform us and begin perfecting our relationship with him. We are freed from the fear of death. We have joy. We have peace with God and access to the peace of God.

In That Day. But that is not what the Lord is describing here. In the final two verses of Isaiah 55, the Lord promises that all believers will leave the temporal life with great joy and peace.

Release. The going out is reminiscent of Israel being led out of Egypt and delivered from the bondage of the Egyptians and the army of Pharaoh. Additionally, there will be the release of believers from earthly life and our mortal bodies. Believers will be led forth in a festive and glorious processional. They will go forth together in unity!

The Great Promise. Because his Word will not go out without accomplishing his purpose, so the day will come that his people will enter into exuberant celebration. We will walk in the presence of the Lord, rejoicing in his victory over sin and death.

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:22-25)

All Creation. The Lord describes a great festival beyond our understanding. How can the mountains sing? How can trees clap their hands? In that day, all of creation will burst into song together with God’s people.

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.
- Martin Luther
September 26, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:10

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven

and do not return there but water the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Spiritual Prosperity. The Lord uses the images of rain and snow to teach an important spiritual concept. Rain and snow come to water plants that produce food for man. His word comes to produce spiritual nourishment and bless the believer.

Power. God’s patience is evident in this process. It does not happen overnight. Moreover, the process is expressed in the present tense: come down, return, water, making, giving, etc. It is a physical condition indicating a routine, habitual or customary action.

Nourishment. The process concludes with physical nourishment from bread. The point is that physical bread does not nourish the soul (verse 2). As God sends the rain and snow, so he gives his Word to meet spiritual needs.

Eternal Purpose. God expresses the divine, unchanging nature of his Word. It will not fail. It brings salvation to those who seek it, life to those who live by it, and judgment to those who reject it. His Word will do what he sends it to do.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. (Psalm 147:25)

God can’t give you the blessings He has for you until you first put down the things you are clutching in your hands. 
- Richard Stearns
September 19, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Positional. Having made the distinction between his ways and thoughts and man’s, the Lord makes a positional distinction. The Israelites saw three levels of reality: the earth, the sky (daytime), and the heavens (nighttime). Today, the heavens remain a mystery despite centuries of astronomical study with increasingly sophisticated instruments. The ways and thoughts of the Lord are beyond man’s understanding. The heavens can be observed but not fully explained. Even as members of God’s family, we understand only the fringes of his being, thoughts, and ways.

Bridging the Gap. Verse six states that God is available now and we can draw near to him. On the other hand, this verse is a reminder that the Lord’s ways are beyond our understanding. While God is near, He is distinctly different from man; He is separate and offers to bridge the gap through salvation.

The Bottom Line. God is sovereign. He makes the rules. He created the universe and life itself. He is the One who knows how the universe works on both the physical and spiritual levels. He did something no man can do; he provided a path for sinners to reconcile with the Master of the universe after a man destroyed that relationship in the fall.

His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:20-23)

We begin to grasp his thoughts and ways only after being reconciled with God.

Man’s plans lead from triumph to tragedy. God’s plans lead from tragedy to triumph
September 12, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

Thoughts. This is the first of two verses in which the Lord makes a clear distinction between himself and man. Notice the order. The lord deals with thoughts first and then ways. Thoughts deal with plans, purposes, and designs. The Lord separates His plans, purposes, and designs from ours.

Ways. Think about it. How many thoughts do you have in a day, an hour, a minute? How much control do you have over those thoughts? We can, however, exercise control over whether we act based on those thoughts through self-discipline. However, when we surrender our lives to the Lord, he places his Spirit in us who transforms our thoughts and ways. Our ways are observable and the obvious indicator of the heart. He who is at the center of our lives will renovate our ways. Solomon states it clearly:

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

Keep your hearts with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

The Difference. The Lord makes clear the distinction between man (sin nature) as expressed in verse seven and the acceptance of the gift of salvation and a life set apart from the past (his thoughts and ways).

Righteous. God’s thoughts and ways are righteous and cannot be compared to those of man. Therefore, man must abandon his ways and thoughts and give God control. Even in that, there is no way we can grasp or understand the ways and thoughts of God. He is Holy, pure, and sovereign. We are not.

No Debate. There is a note of finality here. The Lord has declared it. He is the authority. It is not open for discussion.

God’s plan is the only plan, and it is always bigger than our plan.
- Patrick Morley
September 5, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:7

let the wicked forsake his way,

and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Turn Away. The Lord continues his plea in earlier verses by admonishing people to repent and turn from disobedience. We are to turn from the path of the wicked to that of the Lord. We are to abandon the ways of the past and rebel. We are to turn from being enemies of God to be his friend. The Lord is calling us to a change of heart; to turn away from, forget, or leave behind the old patterns of behavior such as that depicted in Romans 1:21-32. While the Lord addresses wicked ways first, it is thoughts that lead to ways. The command is to repent and then turn to God. Peter repeats this exhortation in Acts 3:19 – repent and be converted.

Repent. Repentance opens the floodgates of mercy and pardon. The negative command is to turn away from wickedness and evil thoughts, a conscious act. The wicked ways are outward, observable evidence of one’s thinking.

Turn To. The positive command is to turn to the Lord. Returning to the Lord brings with it the idea of going back to a position once held; life in and companionship with the Lord. In return, man will experience the outpouring of the abundant mercies of God (Romans 5:20), that is, the undeserved forgiveness, getting what we do not deserve, and the abundant blessings of the Lord.

He does not deal with us according to our sins,

nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us?

                                                                   Psalm 103:10-12

We owe a debt that we cannot pay.

Jesus paid a debt he did not owe.

August 29, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:6

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;

call upon him while he is near;

Seek. The Lord’s invitation is timeless. The invitation is a personal invitation to everyone to turn to God in repentance and humility and be reconciled to him. It is offered to both Jew and Gentile. We are to actively pursue Him. The Lord’s intent is for us to draw to him and into his kingdom. We are called to have an intimate relationship with him.

Now. God is available now! “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). However, he will not always be available to sinners. The exhortation is to take immediate and intentional action now to seek him! Now is the time of salvation!

          Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtakes you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12:35-36).

God is available now. He wants to be found. But there comes a time when God will not be found.

          For you know that afterward when he (Esau) wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears (Hebrews 12:17).

Rejection. From the previous verse, we are told that God extends the invitation to all. We have until our final breath to accept it. If we die having rejected the invitation, we are judged and condemned to eternal separation from him in Hell. Because God is not in Hell those in Hell cannot find him.

We have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. We have everything to do with our damnation. 
- Robert Young
August 22, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:5

Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,

and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,

because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,

for he has glorified you.

The Invitation Goes Beyond Israel. The Messiah will call or bring into the kingdom a nation or people Israel does not know. He knows Israel because he set them apart. They are his people. He has a special relationship with Israel. The Lord is saying the truth would be proclaimed to other nations. The good news is that the people of other nations will hear the call and respond and be brought into the eternal kingdom of God. Upon hearing the Messiah’s call, they will run to Him as savior, leader, and commander. They will follow Him.

 

Glorified. It is the God of Israel who has sent the Messiah, The Holy One of Israel has glorified the Messiah because of his ministry of reconciliation.

 

For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord,

Every knee shall bow to Me,

And every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom 14:11)

This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light that gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:7-9)

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate when he was determined to let Him go. (Acts 3:13)

Advance His Kingdom. The Lord invites everyone to a personal relationship with him. He wants all people to be a part of his kingdom and plan. We have a choice to either accept or reject the invitation.

We are in the business of reaching the living dead.
August 15, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:4

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander for the peoples.

Witness. The Lord continues with great emphasis. Behold or do not be surprised that I have given you a witness. “I have made” is in the past tense, although the Messiah had not yet come. It is a completed action. This flows from the promise of verse three. From David’s lineage would come one who would proclaim truth to the nations.

Leader. The witness or Messiah will be a leader (prince, ruler, or overseer). He will be an authority. One who holds a high position, first among equals, one who provides vision and direction.

Commander. While commander can be interpreted to mean leader, the intent here is to separate the position (leader) from the work, that of caring for the people and carrying out the mission. The Messiah will proclaim the truth, lead the people, and demonstrate the compassion and love of God.

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom, there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, Revelation 1:5

God is an interlocking community of magnificent persons, completely self-sufficing and with no meaningful limits on goodness and power.
 
- Dallas Williard
August 8, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:3

Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live;

and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,

my steadfast, sure love for David.

Listen. The invitation continues. The Lord is insistent: “Incline your ear and come to me”. The word “ear” is collective, meaning all who listen. The Lord directs His audience to tune in to him. Hear from the One who provides life. The imperative is to come to the Lord and hear his instructions. In verse one, the offer was nourishment for the soul. In this verse the offer is life itself.

Hear. We need to know that the Lord is speaking and that we need to approach him to understand and apply what he is saying. He has promised us an eternal covenant, eternal life, abundance now and riches beyond the imagination in eternity. He is taking the initiative. While the world may seek God, God seeks us. His call is spiritual, not physical or understood in worldly terms. God's mercies are constant, never failing, and always sure. The covenant is the boundless love the Lord promised David.

The Covenant. Life given us by the Lord comes through the eternal or everlasting covenant the Lord made with David. It brings salvation through the Messiah who offers us eternal life. The Lord makes it clear, eternal life is received by coming to him and responding to his offer of deliverance from eternal death, the death of the soul. The Lord takes the initiative in providing eternal life, but we need to respond. The covenant brings with it the mercies of the Lord through life everlasting. While we certainly benefit from the promises of the everlasting covenant, the covenant is for the Lord’s benefit, for his glorification, and for the advancement of his kingdom.

Assured. The Lord guaranteed his love to David (see Psalm 89:2-4). His love is certain. David could rest in the assurance of the love that God promised him and those who follow him. His love is never failing. The Lord is faithful in pouring out love on those who hear and respond to his call.

Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.
 
- Charles H. Spurgeon
August 1, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:2

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Not Bread. Continuing the thought from verse one, the Lord contrasts what is needed for physical survival with that which is needed for spiritual health. In life we must pay for things that sustain us. However, that which sustains the soul is offered free. The emphasis is on the futility of our working for something that is free. The mana that the Lord provided his people in the desert was given daily and was provided without cost (Exodus 16:31-35).

Labor. In the world everything has a price, and we must work to pay for it. The world offers bread that does not satisfy. In fact, we labor for that which will be burned up in the end-times (2 Peter 3:10-11). “All is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). We always want more of what the world offers. Spiritual bread, like mana, is supplied daily through time in the Word, prayer, and regular time in fellowship with believers.

Listen. The Lord’s command is to listen to him, carefully focus on what he says. Do not listen to all the other voices flooding our senses. Delight comes from listening to the Lord.

Delight. We are to eat what is good in contrast to what is not bread; what is not of eternal value. We are to seek spiritual nourishment, enjoy the peace that comes from that nourishment, and delight in richest of fare. Enjoy the promised abundance and blessings that come from obedience (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.
 
- French mathematician, theologian, and philosopher, Blaise Pascal
July 25, 2022
Thoughts on Isaiah 55:1

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and he who has no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without price.

Come. The chapter begins with an imperative and urgent call. Ho or Hoy in the Hebrew is an expression of woe, a lamentation or crying after. The call is followed by four commands to come. It is a pressing invitation. The repetition expresses earnestness or gravity. It is a call to those who thirst. The call is to people who are not where they need to be or do not have what they need. God is calling because He is aware of the need and is offering a way to meet the need.

Personal. The invitation is personal. God calls us as individuals. God sought Adam and Eve after they sinned. He sought Moses in the burning bush. He called Samuel and Gideon. He called His disciples. He takes the imitative.

Water. In scripture, water is used to symbolize several things: The Word of God, salvation, spiritual cleansing, the Holy Spirit, among others. The Lord is using physical imagery to make a spiritual point. Water is essential for human life. The Lord is calling people to spiritual water, water essential for spiritual life.

No Money. God’s call is to the poor in spirit. The invitation is to buy. Those who have no money are invited to buy, but without money. The feast is free! It is paid for by the Host, the Lord. The feast of the abundant life has been bought with a price, the death of Jesus. The price has already been paid. It is the gift of God to those who thirst for a relationship with him. That which satisfies the longing of the spirit is free.

Banquet. God is calling us to his banquet. The table is set with wine and milk. Wine symbolizes love, charity, spiritual blessings, joy, celebration, festivity. Milk brings nourishment. The banquet’s purpose is to feed the soul while rejoicing in the presence of the Lord. Note other references to banquets in scripture: The feast of the bridegroom (Revelation 19); the great feast (Luke 14:16-24); and the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:39ff). All reflect celebration in the presence of the Lord.

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot
July 16, 2022
Empowered by the Spirit

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11)

IF. Three times in these verses, Paul uses the word “if” indicating that the Holy Spirit is present only when a person is a part of God’s family. We belong to God through trusting him for our salvation. That means, making a conscious and deliberate decision to accept Christ’s offer of eternal life through his death, burial, and resurrection. God places his Spirit in us when we acknowledge that he paid the penalty for our sins. God is eternal. Therefore, his Spirit is eternal and with the Spirit in us we will live forever. These verses connect being in Christ (salvation) and Christ in us (John15:5)

 

Dwells in you. Three times Paul said that the Spirit dwells or lives within believers. This is a compelling thought: God, Christ, the Spirit residing in believers to do his will.

 

The Spirit. Paul stated that the Spirit gives life because, as part of the eternal Godhead. As such, it is perfect, omnipotent, without blemish, and righteous. Sin brings death. The Spirit brings eternal life. Moreover, Paul stated that it was the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. As believers, that Spirit, that power, lives in us overcoming sin and death. He goes on to repeat that the Spirit gives life to our dying bodies. Because of sin we die. Because of the Spirit living within us, we live.

 

Empowered. Therefore, the Spirit, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, works in us to transform us into people God can use (1 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2). We are not only empowered; to overcome sin, we are enabled to do his will: what he asks, where he asks and when he asks. (Acts 1:8, Ephesians 6:10), Philippines 4:13).

What is the indwelling Spirit empowering you to do?
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