Monday, September 19, 2011

The Full Ministry of the Lord

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 30:12-33:9

Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem.  Defending, He will also deliver it; passing over, He will preserve it.  Isaiah 31:5 (NKJV)

God desires to do a FULL MINISTRY in each of our lives.  We often see or understand or receive only one apect of His ministry.  But, He wants to bless you completely.

In this small verse, we see three stages of God's work for you.  First, there is the ministry of DEFENDING you.  Far too often, we are simply under attack.  We are harried and bothered by Satanic harrassment.  God wants to DEFEND you. 

But there is another level.  He wants to DELIVER you!  He does not simply want to keep the enemy at bay.  He does not just desire to beat back the opposition.  We wants to DELIVER you out of the mess so that you are no longer fighting the same old battles.  He will DELIVER you!

Lastly, He desires to PRESERVE you.  This speaks of the sustaining, upholding, enablement of God.  He wants you to PREVAIL.  Preserving means that when it's all said and done, you're still standing and you are propering!

So where are you?  Are you surviving (on the defensive all the time)?  Or are you being delivered from your enemies?  Are you walking in the providence of God -- preserved for every good work?

God wants to do a FULL MINISTRY in your life.

The Faith Walk

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 30:12-33:9

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.  Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)

The guidance of God is wonderful.  For anyone who seeks to do the will of God, there is a continual prayer, "Lord, guide me."  We sincerely desire to be led by the Lord.

This passage is about guidance, but there is an interesting insight that we should notice.  The prophet says that you will hear a word from the Lord!  It is a word of guidance.  But, notice that this word is BEHIND you. 

I would think that the word ought to be IN FRONT showing the way.  But instead this passage says that the word will be behind you pushing your forward. 

This is the true faith walk.  We often desire for God to be so visibly AHEAD of us that we move forward TOWARD Him.  Actually, it is rather easy to move ahead when you see the Lord in the road ahead beckoning you to come.

But this Scripture says He will be behind you.  Ahead of you may well be darkness and question marks.  Ahead of you may be a pure faith walk like jumping off into a void.  But, you will have a word from the Lord BEHIND you propelling you forward.  By faith in God and God alone, you take steps of obedience.  He said that this is the way for you to walk, and His instruction is all you need.  You don't require appealing circumstances.  You don't demand confirming evidences.  You rely one hundred percent on the word you have heard.

We move by faith having just enough light for the next step.  It is not a halogen lamp shining out miles ahead.  It is just enough to take that needed step.  And our God promises that He will keep you in the way.  If you veer off to the left, He will correct you.  If you lag off to the right, He will pull you back in. 

This is the GREAT ADVENTURE.  Hear today the Word BEHIND you that will propel you into your glorious future.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

His Work in Us

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 25:1-28:13

Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us. Isaiah 26:12 (NKJV)

Paul would write years later, "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10) The grace-filled life is the peace-filled life. Some have mistakenly said that grace is New Testament and law is Old Testament. The Bible, however, is a grace book from start to finish.

God never commands us to do that which He does not also ENABLE us to do. We are His workmanship. He does His work in us and through us. That brings real peace!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Day of Righteousness

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 15:1-18:7

In mercy the throne will be established; and One shall sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.  Isaiah 16:5 (NKJV)

There is something in every human heart that desires to be right and to be righteous.  We may fear justice but we earnestly desire it.  Written into our very fiber is a sense that everything should someday be set right.

In this world, it seems that true justice is but a fleeting wish that rarely materializes.  Wrongs often go uncorrected.  Injustice seems to have its way.

But a day in coming when God will set things right!  Only He can do it.  His throne of justice will be a throne of mercy.  He will rule in truth and will bring perfect righteousness.

It is for this future world that we now prepare.  It is for that day that we live.  Everything will be made right.  Our God has promised it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Lies Ahead

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Isaiah 10:1-11:16

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 11:9 (NKJV)

A life without hope is a living hell.  It is the firm expectation of good to come that keeps us moving forward -- that keeps us alive.  What is your vision of the future?  What is your expectation? 

Isaiah is full of words and pictures of a great future that lies ahead of each of us who follow Jesus.  He is the Rod, the stem of Jesse (11:1), He is the Branch -- the root.  He is the seed planted in this earth that will grow into a glorious future.  Ultimately, He will redeem His creation.  In that day, the wolf will dwell with the lamb.  The calf and the lion will lie down together.

God has determined to fill the earth with His glory.  The magnitude of this promise is immense and wonderful.  But remember, YOU are part of this drama.  He has promised to fill YOU with His knowledge -- with His glory.

Our present discomfort does not compare to the magnificent future that lies ahead.  With this hope in our hearts, we can overcome any obstacle. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deliver Your City

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18

There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it.  Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city.  Yet no one remembered that same poor man.  Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 (NKJV)

The Bible says that the kingdom of God is live leaven in the earth.  It is small, and seemingly inconspicuous -- like a mustard seed.  It operates quietly and in hidden fashion.  We should always be wary of times when it seems the people of God are openly powerful.  We are like a "poor wise man" living in a besieged city. 

Yet in our humility and in our insignificance, we become immensely powerful.  It is through this "poor wise man" that the city is delivered!  When the church operates as "salt and light" in the world, there is great power released to change our world.

Our battle is not simply economic or social.  It is not merely political or educational.  It is a battle of wisdom and it is spiritual.  We should major on being powerful BEFORE GOD rather than powerful BEFORE MEN.  Even though men quickly forget our name, yet God remembers.  Our names are written in Heaven's Hall of Fame.  That is all that matters.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Two are Better than One

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Ecc. 4:9-10 (NKJV)

God designed us to walk together.  We are meant to live helping each other and cooperating with each other.  It was John Donne who penned the words:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

These thoughts are heightened when we consider the Body of Christ.  In our individualistic, self-centered Western culture, we too often go it alone.  But, as the writer states, "no man is an island."  If mishap befalls your brother, it affects you.  Also, if success comes to my brother, I am with him increased.

We are not just a part of mankind, we are part of one Body in Christ.  It is important to surround yourself with those who will "hold your rope" when you are in need.  The added benefit is that each of our lives are elevated.  It is the best way to live.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eternity in Their Hearts

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Ecclesiates 1:1 -3:22

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)

The Providence of God!  Underneath our lives and underneath this world is the wonderful, life-giving providence of God.  He sustains us day by day.  He gives us life, hope, beauty -- the very air we breathe. 

I know that some may respond with skepticism at my words and the words of Solomon.  No doubt, sin has deeply marred this beautiful world.  Pain courses through our existence.  Yet, in the words of words of Dt. 33:27, "The eternal God is your refuge, and  underneath are the everlasting arms."

In His redemptive work, God has surrounded us with tokens of His goodness.  We glimpse Him in His creation, and in the wonder of our world.  There are moments when we feel we can see eternity.  In that sense, we today have one foot in this world and one in the world to come.  It is beautiful.

One last note.  Solomon says we cannot find this out.  What He means is that the grandeur of how God created us and how we sustains us will always be hidden in Him.  We will never fully exhaust the knowing of God.  We can only love Him, serve Him, worship Him, and stand in awe. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A New Kind of Praying

"One Year Bible" Old Testament Passage
Job 40:1-42:17

And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends.  Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10 (NKJV)

There are two dimensions in our lives: the upward and the outward; the vertical and the horizontal.  One of the foundational realities of Scripture is that these two are connected.  The vertical (upward) speaks to our relationship to God.  It is aimed at heaven.  The horizontal (outward) deals with our relationship with people and engages us with earth.

For Job, restoration from God was tied to reconciliation with men.  Only when he was willing to pray FOR his "friends" was blessing released to heal his own personal brokenness. 

We are all by nature inwardly focused -- turned in on ourselves.  It is part of what Scripture calls the flesh.  God's plan is to bring us to immense freedom and joy.  This involves giving us a new center -- a new focus -- a new core.  As we turn from self-centeredness, God uses people with their faults and frailties to draw us out of our introversion. 

Rather than praying so hard for yourself, try praying for those who give you problems.  Rather than asking for relief from their inconsistencies, pray for blessing on them!  Such is the key to new joy is us.  That is breakthrough!