Isaiah 61 Messiah knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. He recalled the words of Isaiah 61 as he spoke before the audience in his local synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;” [Is 61:1 & Luke 4:18=19]
Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote: “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1Jo 2:20] Peter wrote:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1Pet 2:9]
Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. God gave him the spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.
To whom should you go and speak a refreshing word from the Lord. It might be a parent who sees a child who has made a wrong choice, someone who has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, or a missionary in a far-off land that is lonely—or perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.
Remember, God has called and anointed us for His service.
Of all the disciples, only John remained at the cross and witnessed the death of Jesus. Later Jesus came and stood before them, but Thomas was absent. He had said I will not believe unless I can put my hands in the holes where the nails penetrated. Jesus lovingly came and offered Thomas that witness. When Thomas saw Jesus face to face he responded, “My Lord and my God.” [Jn 10:28]
One of the many questions men ask is: can I be sure of my salvation? Am I eternally secure, or can I lose my salvation? “Scripture clearly affirms the fact we are protected by the power of God through faith. Faith brings us into a grace relationship with God as a gift of God through the merit of His beloved Son. We are saved by His record, not ours.” [H. Keathley III]
Although we haven’t had the privilege of visually seeing the holes in the hand of Jesus as Thomas did, we do have the Prophet Isaiah’s and the Apostle John’s words: “I [God] have inscribed your name on my palms.” [Is 49:16] Jesus said: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” [John 10:29] Each time you close your hands to shield your palms, picture yourself securely enfolded in his.
Today as you wash your hands, fold your hands in prayer, or go about your daily duties, stop and look at your hands and picture your name inscribed on His.
2Kings 18-19, Ps 46, Ps 80, Ps 135 “How to Handle a Bully.”
King Hezekiah was a righteous king who followed the Lord but faltered when the bully King Sennacherib sent his emissary to taunt King Hezekiah. King Sennacherib is what we call a bully, for his words do not match his actions unless we capitulate to his demands, which Hezekiah did the first time. Bullies, seek to shame, ridicule, tease and yes even slander our faith. When you concede, you give a bully the right to up his demands, precisely what Sennacherib did. The second time, Hezekiah did not falter but took the demand to the Lord. Why is it that we follow Hezekiah’s example? The answer is found in Prov 29:25 “The fear of man is a snare…” We fear men more than we fear God. But, don’t forget the last part of that verse: “he who trust in the Lord will be exalted.”
We should learn from Hezekiah how God works when we do not meet the bully’s demands but lay them before the Lord. When Hezekiah did that, Isaiah the prophet sent him the answer: Do not fear but trust in the Lord. So then, to cement that truth in Hezekiah’s mind and the minds of his kingdom, God sent his angel of death into the camp of the Assyrians and killed not just one but 185,000 in one night.
Lesson from Hezekiah’s playbook on how to handle a bully; humble thyself and seek the face of God. Trust in God that He will work to protect His own. He may not kill the enemy but then again He just might. The lesson for us is to stand back and watch God work!
Isaiah 43 to 45 Do you feel the overwhelming presence of the unknown before you? Do walk as on hot coals because the enemy has come calling to frighten you? Does he who is evil remind you of your past to keep you in his grip? Precious one, know this truth: do not fear, for He has paid your redemption price from the slave auction block of sin so that you may know He is God, and there is no other.
No matter what lies in your path, you can be assured of His presence whether you are facing the tossed waves of the Red Sea, the fiery furnace as in Babylon, Hagar’s wilderness, or the barrenness of Naomi. Lift your head and see; the pool of water is before you so that you may know “El Roi,” the God who sees me. He promises that whatever lies before you is in His sovereign control. Just as God asked Hosea to pay the redemption price for Gomer, God has paid the redemption price for you through the death of His Only Son. Step out and believe His promise: “you will hear a word spoken behind you; “this is the way, walk in it, whether you are heading to the right or left.” [Is 30:21]
What is a true friend? Isaiah reminds the people that God called Abraham his friend. How and why did God choose that designation? James tells us that “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.” [James 2:23] Ruth also fits in that category because she believed Yahweh and left what was familiar to go to the unfamiliar as she joined “hip to hip” with Naomi. Jesus told the disciples you are no longer servants but friends. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,” [Jn 15:15]
A friend is one who drives two hours in the middle of the night to be with you as your sister is in the OR. A friend joins you in prayer as your precious family member nears their last hours. A friend is one who leaves the familiar to walk beside you mile after mile back to their hometown as Ruth did with Naomi.
Am I a friend of God’s? Am I a true friend? Webster defines a friend as one who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiment of esteem, respect, and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.
We live in tumultuous times of uncertainty, and many men and women are troubled. It seems that our entire world is topsy turvy. Many say there is no peace; they wring their hands and moan. They ask where is God? It seems the Lord is unaware of what is happening! Yet Isaiah’s words from the Holy One are comforting:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you – yes, I help you –yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!” [Is 41:10] “I am the Lord! That is my name!” [Is 42:8]
God is not only aware, but He is still on the throne and waiting patiently for men to turn to Him. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” [2Pet 3:9] The evidence is overwhelming: “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” [Rom 1:20]
Whatever you are facing, know this truth: God is the Holy One; give Him praise for He sees, He hears, He knows. He is waiting for you to turn to Him.
In the 30’s Al Capone ruled Chicago. He taunted those who did not want to pay him for protection, and if they didn’t, he took note and sent his thugs to “take care of the problem.” Sennacherib was the Capone Hezekiah faced. His thugs were Rabshakeh and his contingent. They mocked God and repeated “Capone/Sennacherib’s” words: “what is your source of confidence….in whom are you trusting.” They surmised that Hezekiah would then be shaking in his boots and succumb to their threats. Hezekiah’s advisors Eliakim and Hilkiah returned to Hezekiah with their clothes torn as a sign they were demoralized just as Rabshekah had hoped.
This time Hezekiah took the letter with its demands to the Lord in the Temple. Isaiah the prophet told him because this time he sought God’s help, He would bless him. God would put hooks in the jaws of this “Capone” and send him packing back to his home country but not before God would provide evidence that He alone was God.
God gave Hezekiah three principles that teach us truths about living in a “Capone” world. Vs 31: remain steadfast—Paul said much the same in 1Cor 15: 58. Secondly, take root where you are; Col 2:7 firm in your faith and thirdly bear fruit; Matt 3:8 that proves your repentance.
God speaks to His children through Isaiah: woe to you who make alliances with those who are not My Sheep. You are a rebellious people who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord. You are saying we don’t want to hear any more about the Holy One of Israel. Don’t prophesy to us what is right but speak to us of pleasant words. Does this not sound just like today?
“For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things.” [2Ti 4:3]
God asked his people: “What did you not learn after 430 yrs. of bondage? These are the very ones who held you captive, and only after ten plagues did they release you!” Their gods did not save them, and they won’t save you. So why do you trust in them instead of the Holy One of Israel? Have you forgotten this? “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” [Prov 29:25]
Isaiah’s words are pertinent today. “For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22 If you are like these to whom Isaiah was speaking, return to Him, and trust Him. He alone is God. He is waiting.
Hosea 1-7 How often do we make plans without consulting God? But, if we were to consult God, He would answer us: “for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.” [Is 5:9] Did you grab that idea? God’s plans are superior to ours. How can we then explain the plans for Hosea? God said to go and marry a prostitute! How is that superior? What were God’s plans for him? God wanted to have a visual picture for the nation of Israel who followed the ways of Jeroboam, and so God would use Hosea to present a picture of their unfaithfulness. Is it hard to wrap your mind around that?
What else did God want Hosea to know? “Although it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are children of the living God!’: [Hosea 1:10] Although, like Hosea, we can’t see the future, God has it in his sovereign control. He has a plan that is beyond what we can ask or think. In the meantime, as we follow the prophet Hosea we read that he marries and then becomes a single parent when his wife, Gomer, flees.
Do you say when things like this happen, where is God in this picture? Beloved, He is in the same place he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Trust Him!
2Chron 30 As we have seen in our own country, it takes a lot of preparation to prepare for a party, especially when a new leader and a new regime are installed. It was no different when Hezekiah took the throne upon his father’s passing. As part of his new regime, Hezekiah invited the entire nation from N and S to celebrate the Passover, but his invitation was rejected. In fact, the people mocked and ridiculed the messengers he sent.
Back in Judah, the people united, and they removed the false altars and threw them in the Kidron valley. Hezekiah prayed for those who were “unclean,” and the Lord forgave them because although unclean ceremonially, they were determined to follow God.
The Israelites in Jerusalem observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy. They chose to be joyful even though others chose not to come. The Levites and priests were praising the Lord every day with all their might.
Some applications from this passage for today. Before we celebrate Communion, do we stop and ask if there are any idols we need to discard? Do we stop and “examine [ourselves] first,” [1Cor 11:28] Are we ready to observe and willing to consecrate ourselves to the Lord? Do we pray for those who are determined to follow God?