Today’s reading from Isaiah reminded me of the words of one of my favorite contemporary Christian songs. It says “He’s not mad at you. He’s not disappointed. His grace is stronger, still than all of your wrong choices.” Those words echoed … Continue reading
In this time of year, and really all throughout the year, the book of Isaiah is a great book for us to read as Christians. There are so many beautiful references to Jesus within its pages, so many prophecies that … Continue reading
The mission of God is always expanding. It always gets bigger. It always pulls more and more people into the movement that God is doing. It starts small, with one person. But one person, one faithful person, they can change … Continue reading
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Grace is a life-changing thing. To know that someone looks at the worst thing you’ve done, the worst thing you can imagine, and say to you, you are forgiven, that changes everything. That’s exactly what God … Continue reading
In a world that is fascinated with beauty and fame and power, what is really beautiful? What is a true image of beauty? What do you think of? Today in Isaiah 52: 7-10, we get one of the more well-known passages … Continue reading
Have you ever read through any of the Old Testament prophets? There’s a lot going on there. They are some of my favorite books of the Bible. When you read them, you see a similar pattern. The people have done something wrong, something that they should have not.
God says, you will be punished for your sin. The sins that God normally punishes the most (or really seems the most upset with) are idolatry and how the poor are treated. Those two come down to what Jesus told us to do – love God and love our neighbor.
If we love God, we won’t worship idols, we won’t place other things above Him. He will be first in our lives.
If we love our neighbor, we will help our neighbors, we will care for them, we will do right by them and for them.
When the people of God in the Old Testament didn’t do right, they were then punished.
Boy, this sounds great, doesn’t it! But that’s not why I love the prophets. Why I love the prophets comes next. After those things, God always says – I love. I can’t destroy you. You are mine, I made you, I can’t forsake you. I will redeem you. Today’s reading in Isaiah 54: 7-10 is a great example:
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“This is like the days of Noah[a] to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
God will not leave us. He will not forsake us. No matter what. He is for us. He is with us. He is our friend, our rock, our Savior, our God. Do not fear. Do not quake. Do not give up, give in, quit, or let go.
God will not give up on you. He won’t.
Though all the things of this life my fail. God’s steadfast love for you will not depart.
His covenant will not be removed.
He will show compassion. He will. He always has. He always will. Don’t doubt that truth today. God will not forsake you. God will not give up on you.
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One of the problems that the prophet Isaiah faced in his time in Israel as a prophet was religion.
Religion was a huge problem for him as a prophet.
Yep, religion. How? Why?
Listen to what he says today in chapter 1: 12-18:
“When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
What was happening was this. The people were keeping the rituals of religion. They were going to the appointed holy days. They were keeping the festivals. They were offering sacrifices. They were “doing” the “right” things.
Except they weren’t. They were keeping the rules of religion. But they weren’t keeping the heart of faith.
They weren’t treating others with love and respect. They weren’t seeking God. They weren’t chasing after justice. They weren’t showing God’s love to all.
They were just going through the motions.
And that’s a dangerous thing. Because going through the motions can confuse religion with relationship.
God doesn’t want us to be religious. He wants us in a relationship with Him. And when we are in a relationship with Him, He takes care of the life of religion with Him.
Today, don’t just go through the motions. Really seek after Him with all you are. And, you will find Him.
And in finding Him, we will have all that heart and our life can desire. And we find the life that we are desperately wanting.
Today, chase after Him. Today, find life!
Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.
One of the things that we preachers try to do is share, present, and interpret scripture in a way that helps you. I want this daily reflection of scripture to a be a help to your day, an encouragement, a challenge. I want it to be something that will enable you to know God’s love for you and to feel the challenge to go out and live in His grace.
So, sometimes I tell I story. Sometimes I try to relate it to your (or my) life. Sometimes I just talk about what it means to me.
Today, through, this reading is one of my favorites, and one of the most powerful in scripture. So, I ask you right now to stop and listen. Stop what you are doing (unless you are driving) and listen. Listen to what Isaiah 43 says:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
God created you. He formed you. You are His. He loves you.
Today, no matter where you are in your faith, whether you are where you need to be, whether you are walking daily with Him, or whether you have drifted. Maybe you are just starting to come back to faith. Maybe you’ve never had faith before at any point in your life.
No matter where you are – know this. God formed you. You are made in His image. And He loves you. He sent His son to redeem you. And if wants to know you. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to carry you.
He formed you.
And He wants you to trust in His strength and provision today. So that when you pass through the fire and the water, you will be ok.
Not if you pass through them. When you pass through them. There will be fire. There will be water. We will go through trials in this life.
When we cling to the one that formed us we know we will be ok. He will be with us. He will uphold us. He will strength us.
Today, know that God has formed you. You are His.
Today, trust in Him. Trust in His strength. His might. His power. His comfort. His grace.
Fear not. He has redeemed you. You are His. Today, may we trust in Him, in all things.