Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // Chapters 13-14: God's Anger and Wrath


Chapter 13
-       Shift back now to Isaiah foretelling the coming destruction of Babylon, or Assyria.
o   Assyria can be assumed as the subject when the text says Babylon. Assyria has been talked about previously in Isaiah and intermixed within this coming section about being the subject of the Lord’s anger 14:24-27. Also, the kings of Assyria commonly took the title, “king of Babylon.”
-       Verse 3: God uses armies, warriors, and warfare to accomplish His purposes.
-       Verse 6: God’s anger and wrath are terrifying. This is not something to be taken lightly.
-       Verse 8: We are helpless in response to God’s wrath.
-       Verse 11: God withholds the right and the power to punish the wicked for their sin. He has every right to be the just, righteous judge of the world.
-       Verse 16: Children killed, homes sacked, and wives raped. God’s wrath is rough.

Chapter 14
-       Chapter 14 is entitled ‘A taunt for Babylon’s King.’ Literally the whole chapter talks about the coming fall of Babylon, and that’s about it.
-       Verse 2: As God is calling his chosen nation of Israel back to Him; he is also bringing in many people of other nations to join them, so called Gentiles.
o   Bringing outsiders into the covenant community.
-       Verse 14: describes what selfish ambition looks like that leads one to this type of fall. The kings of Babylon/Assyria desired to be like God, they wanted power and control, and instead they were destroyed.
-       Verse 27: God is omnipotent. No one can stop Him. When He desires to do something, it will be done. 



It's chapters like these two that often aren't so fun to read. Here you see God taking his anger and frustration out on nations of people that have chosen not to follow Him and to ignore Him. You see God punishing people for their sin. You see Him bringing the justice for our sins down that we deserve, instead of the grace that He has shown for us through Jesus. In Chapter 14 you see God destroying the Kings of Babylon because of their desire for power and control and their will to follow after their own ambition. Ooooo Jesus that hurts. Thats me. Thats so many of us going after our own selfish ambitions. But you see God's response to that right here. It's not fun. It's not pretty to read. But it's God's word. It is how he dealt with those people in that time. God give me the humility and the selflessness to not chase after my own ambition. Help me chase after you instead. Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for my sins so that I could be seen as righteous in Your eyes, and not as the wicked who deserve your wrath and anger. Help me to look more and more like Him each day.





Sunday, July 22, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // Chapter 12: God came to save me

Chapter 12
-       Chapter 12 is a resulting song of praise from what Isaiah promised in the previous chapter, the coming servant of the Lord out of the line of King David that would come bearing the Spirit of the Lord in all wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Jesus the Christ. 
-       Verse 2: Jesus’ coming will be with the purpose of a personal salvation.
o   “God has come to save me.”
-       Verse 4: Our response from that is to rejoice, and tell the world what he has done.

Jesus came to save me. It's that simple. So often I forget that. So often I get caught up thinking about the world and how big it is. The billions of people in the world. Those who know Jesus, those who don't know Jesus, and those who have heard about Him and decidedly turned away from Him. The world is huge. I think about my own life, the place I grew up, the people I used to know, the people I meet each day. It's hard to for me to wrap my mind around the fact that God has made each and every person on this earth, that He loves each and every person on this earth, and that He desires each and every person on this earth to know Him and love Him in return. But what a reminder about those truths than what you find here in Isaiah chapter 12, than the fact that as it says in verse 2, Jesus came to save each and every person on this earth. If Isaiah could sit there 700 years before Jesus even came, and praise God for coming to save him personally, through Jesus, before it even happened, then I can sit here however many years after it happened and praise Jesus for coming to save me personally. And if I can sit here and say it, a man with a sinful heart that constantly struggles in his flesh every day, then you can sit there and say it, regardless of who you are, where you live, what you've done, or whatever other reason you can think of. Jesus came to save me. And He came to save you... Wow. I don't know what else you or I could need, want, or desire. I Praise You Jesus. I Praise You. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // Chapter 11: A Branch from David's Line

Chapter 11

-       Immediately following a string of writing foreshadowing all of the destruction that is to come from the Lord’s anger, chapter 11 serves as quite the contrast of hope for the future King.
-       Verse 1: A new Branch (Capitol B) will grow out of the stump of the line of Jesse, bearing new fruit.
-       Verse 2: The spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
-       Verses 3-5: He will be obedient, just, powerful, righteous, and true.
-       Verse 9: There will be no hurt or destruction in God’s creation on that day.
-       Verse 10: Jesus will bring a “banner of salvation.”
o   Ancient armies during warfare carried a banner with them to communicate with and rally troops. It announced their central message, why they were there. Jesus’ banner was that of salvation.
-       Verse 11: We see Isaiah again mention the remnant of His people, as he did in Chapter 10 verse 20-22. Last time he was talking about how only that remnant will return to God, even though everyone else goes the other way, and now he talks about how God will reach out his hand to that remnant that returns.
-       Verse 15: Isaiah makes reference to the Israelites initial exodus from bondage in Egypt to create an analogy to the coming exodus that will be from their sin and wickedness that will be through this new Branch of Jesse. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTERS 9-10: Hope in the Messiah


Chapters 9 and 10
-       Verses 2-7: Isaiah opens this chapter speaking of a future time to come where there will be a shift from darkness to light. During this time there will be:
o   Joy verse 3
o   Peace verse 5
o   That time will come when:
§  Verse 6: A Son is given to us, he will be a king and rule and he will come from the line of David.
§  Verse 6: also provides the names of Jesus
·      The name “Mighty God” literally translates as “God is a warrior.”
-       Verses 9:8-10:19: Isaiah begins now to shift back to talking about how God’s judgment will fall on Israel for their turning their backs to God.
o   They were arrogant towards God (verse 9-10)
o   Verse 13: even though God punished them and warned them, Israel still would not repent and change their foolish ways.
o   Four times Isaiah says that God’s anger will not be satisfied and he still has His fist ready to strike. Verse 12, 17, and 21, and in chapter 10 verse 4.
o   Chapter 10 Verse 1-4: In Israel there were Judges and lawmakers that were abusing the people and taking advantage of them.
§  God loves Justice. He desires for us to act justly.
-       Verses 5-19: Isaiah shifts now to talking about the judgment that will fall on Assyria.
o   Verse 5: God says that he will use Assyria to express His anger.
o   Verse 12: God says however that though he used Assyria to express His anger, they were acting unjustly, being proud and arrogant.  God will then punish Assyria for their arrogance just like Israel.
-       Verse 15: I love verse 15. Verse 15 speaks to me. Be humble. Give the glory in your life to the person who is worthy of all glory. You deserve nothing.
-       Verse 20: when the Lord’s anger is done destroying Israel, the only ones who will remain are those who put their trust in God.
-       Verse 22: Out of all of the people of Israel, only a small number will return to God; a remnant.
-       Verses 28-34: Isaiah basically predicts how the Assyrian army will advance upon Israel and destroy them. But then he closes by saying that God will then turn his anger on Assyria. 



Sunday, May 27, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 8: God's Word


Chapter 8
-       Verse 1-5: We see the first mention of God’s using of Isaiah’s children as prophecies, with the name of his son that foretold the fall of Israel and Aram to the Assyrian army.
-       Verses 11-17: Amidst the plundering of the nation from foreign invaders however, Isaiah gives this call that God gave him to trust in the Lord.
o   Verse 11: Not to think like everyone else, to be different.
o   Verse 13: Make God holy in your life, he is the one you should fear because He will keep you safe.
o   Verse 14: He will make those that turn away from Him stumble.
o   Verse 16: Preserve God’s word, and teach it to others.
-       Verse 19-22: Isaiah talks about people’s tendency to look to psychics and other forms for comfort and knowledge. Then he says so clearly to instead look to God’s instructions and teachings.
o   “Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict His word are completely in the dark.”




Isaiah is so to the point in this chapter. He begins by foretelling the coming invasion of Israel by Assyria, something that becomes a major topic of discussion in the early stages of Isaiah. Then he gives the call in verses 12-17 to trust in God through this invasion. That He would deliver the nation of Israel from this tragic war that was about to happen, that He had a purpose in it for them. And then immediately after that call to trust in the Lord, Isaiah answers the most logical question those affected by this invasion would have, that being, "Where do I turn to find God's instruction?" "How do I know what He wants me to do?" Isaiah said it in verse 16, and then he says it again in verse 20. "Look to God's word." Open the Bible dude! It's right there in front of you, its been written in every language you could imagine, its been recorded on audiotape for people who don't read. It's God's word. It's His instruction. It's what He has given us here on earth so that we can see what He says. It is the most important thing you will ever read. Isaiah says that people who contradict God's word are "completely in the dark." Read the word. Dissect it. Chew it over before you swallow it. Pick it apart. Search for what it means. Search for how it relates to your life. Challenge it. Question it. Build your Life around it.  And then (verse 16) preserve it, and teach it to others.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 7: A firm base


Chapter 7
-       Verses 1-2: Somewhere between 736-734 B.C, Israel and Syria have set out to make war against Judah, and the king of Judah, Ahaz, is freaking out.
-       Verse 3-9: God sends Isaiah out to meet Ahaz and deliver a message to him, telling him to stop worrying, and that he doesn’t need to fear, for regardless of what mere men say, the Lord says that he is safe, the invasion will not happen.
o   Verse 9: The last part of Isaiah’s message is the most important: “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”
§  God can’t/won’t physically make us do things. He can assure us that something is happen, and then depending on our level of faith in him we will react.
-       Verse 10: A second message goes out to Ahaz from God, this one challenging Ahaz to ask God to prove what He said is true so that Ahaz will believe. But he responds that he can’t test God like that. Ahaz puts his trust in his own armies and neglects God.
-       Verse 13: Isaiah gets frustrated with Ahaz’s disbelief.
-       Verse 14: Isaiah says there will be a sign anyways, and here is a prophecy about the coming Messiah:
o   Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and we will call him Immanuel.
-       Verse 17: Because of Ahaz’s choice, God is going to destroy Judah.



God is all powerful, ever present, ever in control, He's sovereign, He's running the show, He is the First and the Last, and Creator of all things, God does a lot.  But one thing God does not do, is He does not physically force us to do something. He says it right here in Isaiah, "Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm." We have to choose, we have that decision to make for ourselves. Are you going to stand firm and say "Yes" to Jesus, or are you going to waiver, as Ahaz does in this passage? I want to stand firm.

Later in this passage is a Messianic Prophecy concerning the coming birth of Jesus. In this prophecy Isaiah makes the claim that He will be called Immanuel, which means "God with us." That is one of my favorite names for Jesus, because that is literally what He was. He was God with us here on Earth.  One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite Christian bands talks about Immanuel and the meaning of that name, so I thought it would be a cool time to share it here. It's not their official video but its the best one I could find of the song.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

fallin




i don't really want it but it's callin my name, "David come and get me I can take away the pain, come a little closer you got everything to gain," but i got to much to lose i'm bout to go insane. I been here too many times got my head low. if i gave a dime for every time i'd be dead broke. i feel that battle in my soul the pressure closing in. my passions asking for a pass an i can't hold it in. there i go again. no self control again. i'm too good at giving in. feeling like throwing in the towel the guilt is closing in. sometimes i climb the heights, but i'm at my lowest sin. cloaked in deception and overlooking on potent sin. i'm so gone baby wanna be home again, wanna feel home again, come feel this hole again. now i'm doubled over with my face in my knees and decide its where i wanna be, but there i go again i'm falling.

face to the pavement, once again faced with the same sin, there i go again i'm falling, i don't think imma make it. don't know how much longer i can take it, there i go again i'm falling, so i'm caught up in this sin, i wonder if i see Your face again there i go again i'm falling, falling, falling.. there i go.

trying to keep it cool I don't wanna lead em playing. but its hard to block out everything that she be sayin, look like, "keep coming baby just reach out an take my hand, there's no need to fear me all i wanna do is dance." i believe the lie, now i'm headed for a door. they have finally got me locked and i'm bout to be the song. feeling like i'm watched by everybody in the room, cause they know imma fake and if not they will soon. have you ever felt like the walls finna close in, shackles on your hands and your feet and your dozing, sleep til the logic you possessed, before all of the mess, sound so be headed mess with the rest, whats left it's a schizophrenic shell where a man once was, now you get to see the damage your lust does, so now i'm doubled over with my face in my knees and decide it's where I wanna be, but there I go again I'm falling.

face to the pavement, once again faced with the same sin, there i go again i'm falling, i don't think imma make it. don't know how much longer i can take it, there i go again i'm falling, so i'm caught up in this sin, i wonder if i see Your face again there i go again i'm falling, falling, falling.. there i go.

every time i fall, He gone pick me up, the Lord is my sheperd homie He gone pick me up, I fell into the trap again but He gone pick me up, remind me of His promises in Him i put my trust. i don't never have to give in to the lies, i'm feastin on his word all my sin i do despise. so now i'm down here before His throne praying on my knees, asking Lord give me grace please, i don't wanna be falling. 

so i gotta face this but i kno theres nothing that He can't fix. i don't wanna be falling. looking to the corss where they placed Him cause I know His grace is amazing. i don't wanna be falling. He's covered all my sin. it's gone never to be seen again. so You're calling, calling calling... me to You. 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 6: Send Me


Chapter 6 –Tells the story of Isaiah’s call and his vision of God where he was commissioned as a prophet.
-       Verse 1-2: Isaiah saw God seated on his throne, with two seraphim on either side.
-       Verse 3: The seraphim repeated ‘Holy, holy, holy…’ In Hebrew, emphasis is achieved by repetition, meaning this was the way in the Hebrew language to ascribe the highest holiness to God.
-       Verse 5: Isaiah’s encounter with God and His holiness has revealed to Isaiah his own sinfulness, and he feels unworthy. Compared to God’s holiness, we are nothing.
-       Verse 6-7: Isaiah endures purification by fire, where the seraphim touch his mouth, where speech comes from, with burning coals from the altar of God.
-       Verse 8: Lecrae and 116: Send Me.
-       Verses 9-10: These two verses are Isaiah’s commissioning. He is essentially told by God to go to Judah and preach to the people there, but they will not hear what he says, understand what he says, because their hearts will be hardened so that they will not be able to turn to God and be healed. God has decided that he will purify them through His judgment.
o   This affirms to us that successful evangelism is not winning lives to Jesus Christ. It is taking he initiative, as Isaiah did, to go and submit yourself to sharing God to the people whom you feel He has sent you, and leaving the rest up to Him.



It's short but it's loaded. To start out with lets just look at the image of God that Isaiah presents in the first 4 verses. Imagine a seraphim, a six-winged creature whose voice shakes the Temple's foundations. Imagine the image of God seated on a throne with His robe so long it fills the room. Now imagine you're there before Him, a sinful being, who lives in a sinful world. and now after seeing the face of the Holy God, you are going to die. I love what Isaiah says haha, it's so funny to me. I can just see him throwing his hands up and saying, "That's it. It's been real and it's been fun but it ain't been real fun. I'm doomed." haha. I don't know why that is funny to me but it is. But it's so true. Isaiah knows he's sinful, and he knows that as sinful as he is laying his eyes on the Holy God will bring his death. But God says no, he purifies Isaiah by fire in the symbolic touching of a burning coal from the altar of the Lord to Isaiah's lips. Then Isaiah hears God asking whom shall I send, and Isaiah owns up and says simply, "Me. Send me." Isaiah doesn't know where he is going. He doesn't know who he is going to. He doesn't know what he is supposed to say, he just says, you are God, I am Isaiah, send Me. Thats incredible. I pray for that type of faith and obedience. To not want to know all the details of my life or God's plan, but to just simply say, 'OK God, you win, use me. In whatever way you need. Just use me.'


If you know me you know I couldn't pass up the chance to put a plug in for Lecrae and christian rap music. Not his video but I thought it was pretty cool to go with the song.


Monday, May 14, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 5: Darkness

Chapter 5
-       Verses 1-4: Isaiah describes Israel as the Lord’s vineyard, and even though He cared for it, it has produced bitter grapes instead of sweet.
-       Verse 5: God will be the one who destroys his vineyard.
-       Verses 8-30: Isaiah makes 6 claims of judgment against Judah, each beginning with ‘What sorrow…’
o   1. The first is against those who acquired their wealth via obtaining land at the expense of the poor.
o   2. The second is against drunkards, who embodied the corruption of society in general.
§  “They never think about the Lord or notice what He is doing.”
o   3. The third is against those who live in sin and mock God.
o   4. The fourth is against those who overturn the moral order established by God.
o   5. The fifth is against those who think they are wise or full of knowledge.
o   6. The sixth is again directed against those who over consume alcohol.
-       Verse 25: Because of the way God’s people have rejected His law and despised His word, God’s anger burns against them, and his fist is, “posed to strike!”
-       Verse 26-30: Basically is a description of the destruction that will happen when God’s wrath comes down. It can be summed up by the last sentence, ‘only darkness and distress will be seen; even the light will be darkened by clouds.’


Sometimes it takes a pretty graphic picture to get my attention. I would say that its a safe bet to say the same thing for a lot of people. Unless it has personal consequences on an individual's life, a lot of times it is pretty easy to see something or read something and just pass it off as applying more to someone else than yourselves. Thats one of the reasons that I like this passage, because it makes it hard for me to pass it off to someone else. In Chapter 5, Isaiah lists off a series of 6 oracles of judgement made against Judah, and then gives the reasons for why those judgements were made. When I look at the list of those sins above, I can't ignore them, because I'm guilty of every one of them at some point in my life. I constantly struggle with sin and thus mock God. I constantly think to highly and proudly of myself and think I'm smart and full of knowledge. There was a time in my life where I struggled with over consuming alcohol. Money and the acquisition of wealth is constantly in the back of my mind. I can keep going if you want me to, the point is Isaiah might as well be reading off my own list of sins instead of Judah's. And then after reading the reasons for judgement, he then goes on to say what will come as a result of those sins. Isaiah 5: 30: "Only darkness and distress will be seen; even the light will be darkened by clouds." He's speaking in a metaphor here about the land of Judah, but what I take that to mean is that ultimately our sins lead us into darkness, into an absence of the light, the light that is walking with God and being in His presence. Because of our sins, or rejection of God's law and His word, God's fist is poised to strike against us. We deserve to be put into a place of darkness. It's going to take awhile, but Isaiah is beginning to make the first main argument of his point throughout the whole book. That we are sinful, and we deserve the punishment and the wrath of God. We deserve darkness. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTERS 2-4: Pride and Arrogance


Chapters 2-4
Chapters 2-4 of Isaiah flow together like a short book. They have their own introduction, indicating that this text was once a separate text and has since been included with the rest of Isaiah’s work in the Book of Isaiah.
-       Verses 2-4: Isaiah provides a picture of the world as it was created to be. The House of the Lord would be the most important place on Earth, where people of all nations will come to worship God. He teaches us and we walk in His ways. There would be peace on Earth, as no nation would fight against another nation.
o   Verse 3: The word says that God’s teachings will go out FROM Zion and FROM Jerusalem, indicating that these two places were designed/chosen by God to be centers of His ministry here on Earth. But as we see in the text, that is not the case. That is not what has transpired.
-       Verses 2:5 – 3:26: Contrast how the world was created to be with how the world has become.
o   2:6 - The Lord rejects his people because they have turned from Him. They make alliances with pagans, they are obsessed with money, they are constantly at war, and they worship idols.
o   2:11 - One of two times that Isaiah makes this statement of how human pride will be brought down and arrogance will be humbled on the day of the Lord’s judgment.
o   **The Day of Judgment – this phrase is used frequently in the Old Testament and can mean two things: One, it can mean any day in which God acts as judge either against his enemies or against his people for their sins. Two, it can mean a great and final day of judgment when God permanently ends all evil in the world.**
o   2:12 – States that God will punish the proud and mighty, and then that is followed with several images depicting awe-inspiring marvels of the natural world that God will destroy, indicating there is nothing here on earth that will last.
o   2:17 – The second time that Isaiah makes the statement concerning Human pride’s destruction.
o   2:22: “Don’t put your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath.”
o   3:1: Isaiah now shifts to talk about Judah, saying that on that day God will take away everything they depend on.
o   3:8: Isaiah prophesies that Jerusalem will stumble and Judah will fall because they speak out against God.
o   3:9: They have brought destruction upon themselves. Isaiah is way ahead of himself, as Jesus taught that we were held responsible for our own actions before the Lord.
o   3:13-15: Isaiah presents the imagery of a courtroom and talks about how the Lord will bring judgment on Judah
o   3:16: Isaiah now shifts to talking about Jerusalem, describing it as a haughty woman who things she is more arrogant and superior than she is.
o   3:18-23: Isaiah overkills to make a point, describing 21 different items that a woman uses to make herself beautiful that God will strip away from Jerusalem.
o   3:26: Isaiah uses strong imagery here, comparing Jerusalem on that day to a ravaged woman huddling on the ground.
-       Chapter 4, Verses 2-6: Isaiah now transitions to a promise of restoration for those who remain in the Lord.
o   Verse 2: In that day the Branch of the Lord, those who remain in God and His righteousness, will be glorious.
§  Later in Isaiah, God will speak through Isaiah calling Jesus, who came to earth through the line of Jesse and David, as the “Branch” of Jesse.
o   Verse 5: After the storm, God will provide protection and shelter for those who have survived and remained in Him.



Stop and think about the world we live in for a second. Think about life in the United States, where we hustle and bustle along consumed in our own lives each and every day. Think about the rest of the world too. Think about the billions of people on this earth. Now think about God, who created all of it. Each person. Each place. Everything in it, He created it. Do you think that this is the way He intended for it to be when He created it? I don't. In the beginning of Chapter 2 it talks about how God intended for all the people of the earth to come together and worship Him, and that there would be peace on earth, and that the House of the Lord would be the most important place on earth. I think somewhere along the way we got off course and have ended up where we are today. Human beings, God's creations, the things that were made in His image, have turned our backs to God, and let our own pride and arrogance get in the way over and over again, leading us to where we are today. But God also promises restoration. He promises that 'the Branch of the Lord' will be beautiful and that it will come, and that it will restore His Kingdom. And we will again be united with God as he originally created us to be. I look forward to that day.

Isaiah 2: 11 and 17: "Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the Lord will be exalted on that day of Judgement."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH // CHAPTER 1: Wholehearted Love and Obedience

Chapter 1
-       Verse 1: Indication that these visions were given to Isaiah during the time of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, which dates the period from 792 to 686 BC.
-       Verse 3: Isaiah begins by accusing Israel, of which Judah is the southern Kingdom, of her rebellious nature and how she has turned from God. He likens Judah to two animals known for their stubbornness, the donkey and the ox.
-       Verse 4: Isaiah refers to God as, “The Holy One of Israel.” This reference occurs 26 times in the book of Isaiah, and is used to show God’s righteousness and purity, and transcendence.
-       Verse 11-13: In a vision from God Isaiah rants about how God is displeased with Judah’s worship practices.
o   God get’s no pleasure from the sacrificial blood of animals.
o   He has no desire for us to worship him with ‘ceremony.’
o   He doesn’t want our meaningless gifts.
§  God desires wholehearted love and obedience, and the worship that such a commitment would produce from the heart.
-       Verse 15: Because of Judah’s disobedience and rebellion, God declares that He will not look nor listen when they pray.
-       Verse 18: God makes it clear that there is a way to be cleansed of sin, and become right again with God, but it is only through God that it can happen.
o   “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”
-       Verses 21-23: Isaiah uses harsh words to describe Israel’s current condition, comparing them to prostitutes, murderers, slags, watered down wine, companions of thieves, and rebels.
-       Verse 29: Isaiah specifically refers to how Israel engaged in pagan fertility rituals in groves of oak trees.
-       Verse 31: Even the strongest among you will be destroyed. Burned like a field of wheat.



One thing that I feel that God has really laid on my heart as I've grown in my relationship with Him is that my relationship with Him is personal. It is unique. As far as I know, I am the only me God created, and because I am different than every other person in this world my relationship with God is going to be a little bit different than any one else's. Whether it be how I talk and communicate with God, how He communicates with me, how I like to spend time with Him, whatever aspect it may be, it is a unique relationship between me and My Heavenly Father. So, if my relationship with Him is unique, and it is personal between Him and I, why would I try to worship Him and spend time with Him and relate with Him through traditions and religious/ritualistic acts that I'm supposed to do because it is expected of me because I am a Christian or because I attend a certain church or am from a certain country and of a certain cultural background.  I'm going to quote here from Isaiah Chapter 1, verse 11-15: "What makes you think I want all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship Me who asked you to parade through My courts with all you ceremony? Stop bringing Me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts Me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting - they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to Me, I cannot stand them! When you lift your hands up in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer up many prayers, I will not listen..." I don't know if that cuts through to you like it does to me, but that really speaks volumes to me. I've been a lot of different places and seen God from a lot of different prespectives. I've seen people worship God by being completely still and silent and reverent before Him. I've seen people jump and scream and shout and yell until they couldn't stand up anymore. One is no better than the other, neither is right or wrong. True worship of God isn't standing up and singing a song in church on sunday. It's not Chris Tomlin or Hillsong or Kirk Franklin. True worship is wholehearted love and obedience to God, and portraying that in the way that you best relate to your Heavenly Father. God doesn't desire your rituals, your religion, your offerings, he desires your heart. He desires wholehearted love and obedience. Don't just do something to do it. Worship God in the way that you best know how and the way that is personal between you and God. Otherwise it is meaningless. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm Back // Something BIG is Coming

The last couple of weeks has been hard on a brotha. There was a time there where If I felt like all I did was study and do homework. I did it to myself though. I let the first 3 months of the semester go by without doing a thing. And I got my moneys worth in the last 3 weeks. For the first time in my life I read an entire textbook. It was rough, I think I'd rather not do that again. But anyways that is over, I'm back.

I missed blogging while I was on my journey. It has become a way that I get some things off my chest. Its a way that I process what is going on in my life. Its become a huge way that I work my way through what God is showing me in the Word and in my circumstances. But while I was away I realized that there is another way that I can use this blog, and I'm going to try it.

Something big is coming. In the town where I grew up in Goldsboro NC there was this summer where all of the billboards in town had that written on them. "Something big is coming." I often wondered what big thing exactly was coming to g-boro but I never exactly figured it out. I asked a couple of people and they didn't know, and I never really saw anything of any real size come ha, but it was cool while there was a little hype and mystery.

Something big is coming to this blog. My original desire for this was to be a huge way for me to share my faith with anyone and everyone who was willing to read this. And I think God's laying on my heart a way for me to do it in a little bit different way. One of the projects I'm working on that I hope to complete one day when I'm an old man is my own personal commentary book of the Bible in it's entirety. I'm taking it book by book, and in no necessary order other than what I feel like the next book God is drawing me to. But I was thinking about it the other day, and why not post it. Why keep it for just myself, why not just put it out there and see if someone else doesn't want to do a study with it or whatever. It wasn't my intent to share my stuff because I was really and still am doing it for my own self to have so that I will become a better student of God's Word. But I also believe in the Church and the Body of Christ and the community that we are called to live in and that this walk with Jesus wasn't meant to be done alone, and I appreciate a good ministry source. So who knows, I don't. Maybe this will help someone, maybe not. I'm going to try it out and post a book and see what happens. I will post a chapter a day from start to finish of my reading of the Book of Isaiah. I probably will miss a day here and there and I don't plan on doing it on Sundays, but I'm going to see where it goes and see what happens. I hope and pray that it helps somehow somewhere, even if it is just to help me learn it again by going back over it for a second time.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Times

I hear you say, "My love is over, it's underneath, it's inside, it's in between. The times that you doubt Me, the times that you question, is this for real? The times that you're broken, the times that you mend, the times you hate me and the times that you bend. Well My love is over, it's underneath, it's inside, it's in between. The times that you're healing, and when your heart breaks, the times that you feel like you've fallen from grace. The times you're hurting, the times that you heal, the times you go hungry and are tempted to steal. In times of confusion, in chaos and pain, I'm there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame. I'm there through your heart-ache, I'm there in the storm. My love I will keep you, by My power alone. I don't care where you've fallen, or where you have been, I'll never forsake you, My love never ends. It never ends.

I need to hear this everyday. I can listen to it on repeat and it still need it more. Sometimes I repeat it to myself when I'm down or feeling like I'm failing to be the man that God made me to be. I just need to hear those words. Mostly because it's hard for me to believe that they are true when I know myself all to well and I know what goes on in my heart and mind in places that others can't see.

"My love I will keep you, by My power alone."
"I don't care where you've fallen, or where you have been."
"I'll never forsake you, My love never ends."
"It never ends."




Sunday, April 15, 2012

I asked the Lord

Sitting in church this morning I heard one of the realest songs that I had ever heard in my life. I coudln't even sing it, I just wanted to read it. It wasn't the music or the lights or the guy singing it or anything else like that. It was the words, they were so true. I don't normally like really old school hyms, they don't really speak to me very much, but this one grabbed me, so I figured I would share it.

I Asked the Lord:
 
I asked the Lord that I might grow, In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know, and seek more earnestly His face.

Twas He who taught me thus to pray, and He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way, as almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour, at once He'd answer my request,
And by His love's constraining power, subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this He made me feel, the hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of Hell, assault my soul in every part.

Yea more with His own hand He seemed, intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, cast out my feelings laid me low.

'Lord why is this?' I trembling cried, wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
'Tis in this way,' the Lord replied, 'I answer prayer for grace and faith.'

These inward trials I employ, from self and pride to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may'st find thy all in me.