Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Isaiah 39

"What did they see in your palace?" Isaiah 39:4

If someone would closely examine your or my life and home what would they see?  Would they see lives that are passionate about our relationship with the Lord?  Would they see lives that are consumed with a desire to please and obey the Lord in all things, or would they see lives and homes consumed with materialism and the pursuit of temporal possessions?

In our Scripture passage today God had just healed King Hezekiah from a serious illness. Because of King Hezekiah's desperate plea to God in prayer God had granted him fifteen more years of life. Shortly after this the king of Babylon sent King Hezekiah letters and a gift.  The king of Babylon did this, because he had heard of King Hezekiah's recent illness and recovery.

When the envoys from Babylon came to visit King Hezekiah's palace, he could have shared his testimony of God's grace in his life.  King Hezekiah could have shared with the Babylonian envoys how the Lord had been gracious to him and had answered his prayers for healing.  It would have been a perfect opportunity to share with these people the love and grace of his God. Instead King Hezekiah used this occasion as an opportunity to brag about "what was in his storehouses-the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine oil, his entire armory and everything found among his treasures.  There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them." (Isaiah 39:2b)

After the envoys from Babylon left King Hezekiah's palace the prophet, Isaiah, came to King Hezekiah and asked him, "What did they see in your palace?" (Isaiah 39:4)  Notice Hezekiah's answer to the prophet's question in the later part of Isaiah 39:4.  Hezekiah said to the prophet, Isaiah, "They saw everything in my palace."  Then Hezekiah went on to say, "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them."

Hezekiah did not mention speaking to the Babylon envoys about the spiritual and eternal treasures he had in the Lord God.  King Hezekiah did not mention speaking to the envoys about God's blessings in his life in healing him from his serious illness.  He did not speak of the daily blessings and treasures of the Lord's presence in his life.  King Hezekiah spoke only of his material and temporal treasures.

The prophet, Isaiah, then told King Hezekiah, "The time will surely come when everything in your palace and all your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon.  Nothing will be left, says the Lord." (Isaiah 39:6)  The information gained by the Babylon envoys about King Hezekiah's treasures would be valuable to future Babylon kings, and someday Hezekiah's descendants would be taken into captivity.  All King Hezekiah's hoarding of earthly possessions and all his pride and dependence on these things was useless.  King Hezekiah's focus should have been on the Lord God and on eternal and spiritual treasures.

Matthew 6:19-21 tells us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Where is your and my heart?  Do we place value in the material and temporal things, or are we placing value on spiritual and eternal treasures?  If others came to our houses today, what would they see in our homes and lives?  May others see in us the treasures of a vibrant love relationship with the Lord.  May they see the joy of the Lord in our lives.  May they see obedience to the Lord in all areas of our lives.  May they see us storing up eternal and spiritual treasures! Nothing this earth has to offer is worth pursuing.  The Lord and His spiritual treasures are all that ultimately counts in this world and for eternity!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Isaiah 6:1-8

"'Woe to me' I cried, 'I am am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'  Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.' Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?'  And I said, 'Here I am,  Send me!'" (Isaiah 6:5-8)

Isaiah was a prophet in the Old Testament times of the Bible.  In this chapter of the Bible Isaiah was in the temple.  Suddenly Isaiah had a vision from God.  Isaiah was suddenly able to see beyond the limits of ordinary understanding and eyesight.  God allowed Isaiah to see the Lord God in all His holiness.  Isaiah also saw God in all His greatness, sovereignty, and glory.

Isaiah further saw angels in His vision in the temple.  These angels had six wings.  With two of their wings these angels covered their faces.  This showed the glory and supremacy of God. With two of their wings these angels covered their feet.  This showed their humility before the Lord God. Finally, with two wings these angels were flying.  This showed their obedience to the Lord in all things.  We also need to stand in awe and bow in humility before God's glory and holiness. We also need a willing and obedient spirit in all things.

The angels were calling, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory." (Isaiah 6:3).  The Lord is infinitely holy.  He is majestic and sovereign, and the whole earth is filled with His glory!  The Lord's power is seen all around us in our world.  It is seen in how the Lord controls creation and in how He controls the nations.

When Isaiah saw all these things in His vision He realized the depths of His unworthiness and sin.   In Isaiah 6:5 he said in response, "Woe to me!"  You and I are also naked in our sins before a holy God.  We like to compare ourselves with others sometimes, and we like to imagine ourselves as good and decent people.  The more we realize God's holiness, however, the more we realize our sinfulness and unworthiness.  

Isaiah was overcome with an awareness of God's holiness and an awareness of his own sin and unworthiness.  But God said to him in Isaiah 2:7b, "your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." You and I also deserve hell and God's condemnation.  Praise God, however, that He chose us to be His children!  Praise God that He cleansed us from our sins through the blood of Jesus on the cross! The Lord says to you and me, as he said to Isaiah long ago, "your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

Then the drama of Isaiah vision unfolded one more step.  God said to Isaiah, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?  Isaiah's response was, "Here I am.  Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8).  In light of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for our sins on the cross for us we need to live our lives in eternal gratitude to Him. We need to be passionate about our desire for an ever growing personal relationship with the Lord. We need to be passionate about our desire to serve Him.  We need to submissively obey the Lord in all things.  We need to be willing to go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do.  We must be a willing servant for Him wherever He has placed us in our small corner of this world.  We must seek to bring Him glory in all areas of our lives!  We must pursue practical holiness in our lives. How can we do anything else in light of what He has done for us? 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Psalm 51

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."  Psalm 51:2

"Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."  Psalm 51:7b

Sin is not a popular topic.  We do not like to think about the sins that reside in our lives.  We can not appreciate the wonder of our salvation in Jesus, however, if we do not realize the gravity of our sins. Also, we as redeemed believers, can not fight against sin and grow in holiness, if we do not come to an ever greater awareness of the gravity of our sins.

In Psalm 51 David expressed a deep sense of the depth and depravity of his sins.  David also expressed a profound desire for the Lord's forgiveness from his sins.  David said in Psalm 51:1-2, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."

David called his grievous sins "transgressions" and "iniquity."  David knew he was in desperate need of the Lords's "unfailing love" and "great compassion."  David knew his only chance of being restored to a love relationship with the Lord was by having his sins blotted out and washed away. We too need to have a deep sense of our sins.  We too must run to the Lord in repentance and for forgiveness from our sins.  We too must be washed from our sins by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God.  Jesus Christ needs to wash away our sins and restore us to a right relationship with the Lord.

David went on to say in Psalm 51:3-4, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight."  We often like to excuse and justify our sins, but there is no justification for sin against our Lord God.  We must confess those sins like the tax collector in Luke 18:13b.  Our prayer must be,"God, have mercy on me, a sinner."  There must be sorrow for sin, confession of sin to our Lord God, and a turning away from sin.  Like David our penitent prayer from our heart must be "Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7b)  Jesus Christ can and does wash away our sins and turns the filthy rags of our sinful lives into white robes of righteousness!

Verse eight of Psalm fifty-one even suggests that unconfessed sin can have physical consequences on our bodies.  Our desire and prayer to the Lord should be, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10) Jesus Christ can restore us to a right relationship with Him, if we confess our sins and seek His cleansing with a sincere heart.  The Lord will then restore to us the joy of our salvation.  Joy in our relationship with the Lord only comes after we confess our sins,  After confessing our sins we must also pray for a "willing spirit to sustain" us in our struggle against sin and in our desire to live holy lives (Psalm 51:12).

The Lord does nor desire our empty rituals and sacrifices. Psalm 51:17 says "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart."  The sacrifices that the Lord desires from us is our grief over our sins.  He wants us to run to Him for forgiveness and restoration.

Psalm 51 :15 suggests that the Lord also desires the sacrifice of our mouths declaring His praises and our thanks for His forgiveness in our lives.  The Lord desires the sacrifices of lives totally devoted to Him in thanks for what He has done and continues to do for us!  Sin is a grievous thing in our lives. Praise God for His salvation in our lives!  Let us live our lives in a sacrifice and service of praise to Him!