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Showing posts from March, 2019

(455) 1 April: Proverbs 22v1 / Isaiah 43v14-44v23 / Psalm 98v4-9

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 22:1

Understanding to grow in What grace. Despite Israel's continued rebellion, God promises judgment on Babylon, her oppressor, forgiveness of her sins, and renewal of her and her land. And he stresses he can do this as he is the true God as opposed to the idols of the nations. The section displaying the lunacy of idol worship may feel alien in our culture, where statues are rarely worshipped. But the shaping of gods with our minds according to the design we prefer, is just as ludicrous. As you read note the difference between God and idols.
Isaiah 43:14-44:23

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it teaches me about God or his purposes in Christ? Then praise him for this. 2) Wha…

(452) 29 March : Proverbs 21v30-31 / Isaiah 42v1-43v13 / Psalm 98v1-3

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:30

Understanding to grow in Israel was to be God's servant. But paid no attention to his will (42v18-25). Yet in this oracle, the LORD promises another servant whom he does delight in, and who will establish justice on the earth and be the light for the nations that Israel failed to be. And so at Jesus' baptism, the Father declares how pleased he is with him, and jesus himself alludes to Isaiah 42v7 (with 61v1, see Luk 4v18-19). As you read note what the Lord is going to do for Israel and for the nations that will be drawn to his servant. 
Isaiah 42:1-43:13

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it teaches me about God or his purposes in Christ? Then praise him for this. 2) …

(451) 28 March : Proverbs 21v29 / Isaiah 41 / Psalm 97v10-12

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:29

Understanding to grow in Those who have the Lord need not fear. Here Isaiah speaks of the coming of Cyprus (see 44v28), a Persian conquer. The encouragement to the tiny Israel is that he is a tool in God's hand, doing his will by judging the nations. Because Israel is God's servant she therefore need not fear. As for the idols of the nations that God's people might be tempted to look to, God challenged them to predict what is going to happen - something they cannot do, proving them impotent. It's all intended to move Israel to trust God and know he keeps them safe, rather than look to idols. And so we should, remaining with Christ and not turning to other spiritualities, knowing that he governs h…

(450) 27 March : Proverbs 21v28 / Isaiah 40 / Psalm 97v8-9

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:28

Understanding to grow in God never fails on his promises. Like grass, people and rulers whither. But his word endures forever. That's what Isaiah tells us. So, just as God promised his people would return from the exile in Babylon and be restored, so, Isaiah speaks of the way being made for God to come and fulfil his word in rescuing his people. When her time in Babylon is completed and the punishment due her for her sin paid, he will gather them like a shepherd gathers his flock. And it is this that proves him the one true and living God as opposed to the false idols of the nations. It finds ultimate fulfilment in God coming to his people in Christ, to rescue them from their exile from everlasting life by p…

(449) 26 March : Proverbs 21v27 / Isaiah 38-39 / Psalm 97v5-7

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:27

Understanding to grow in How might we act when struck down with illness? Again, Hezekiah is an example. He turns to the Lord in prayer, and the Lord is merciful. He grants him fifteen more years, promises to rescue him and the city from Assyria, and proves it with an astonishing miracle. Hezekiah's subsequent thanksgiving shows the importance of expressing gratitude when we receive an answer to prayer. But it also displays something of the anguish felt in serious illness, and the godly heart's response. He sees his affliction as being for his benefit in driving him to the Lord. And he delights to have more time not for himself, but so he can praise God and pass his truth to the next generation. But there…

(448) 25 March : Proverbs 21v25-26 / Isaiah 36-37 / Psalm 97v1-4

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:25-26

Understanding to grow in History records these events taking place in 701BC. Assyria had already destroyed the northern kingdom in 722BC, so what hope for the south? The king's confidence in God is mocked, and he is tempted by the commander offering him what the Lord had already promised (36v16). Just as the false gods of other nations had been shown to be powerless, so the Assyrian says Israel's God will be. They are words that could come straight from the mouth of Satan himself, tempting us away from Christ and undermining our confidence that he can save us. But Hezekiah is a godly king. And just as Christ would when facing his temptation in Gethsemane, he does what we can only do - he prays in fait…

(445) 22 March : Proverbs 21v24 / Isaiah 33-34 / Psalm 96v11-13

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:24

Understanding to grow in God's judgment is truly terrifying, which is why so much space is given to it by Isaiah. And who can stand? Those who through faith seek to act righteously (33v14-16). Because God is for them, beyond judgment they will be forgiven their sins (33v24) and enjoy blessing (ch. 35). Some of the particular blessings of chapter 35 were tasted in the miracles of Jesus to prove that he was the Lord finally come in judgment and salvation (35v4). As you read note the various things the faithful will enjoy and why.
Isaiah 33-35

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing it teaches me about God or his purposes in Christ? Then praise him for this. 2) What’s the main th…

(444) 21 March : Proverbs 21v23 / Isaiah 31-32 / Psalm 96v9-10

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:23

Understanding to grow in To reject God in order to side with mere men is utter foolishness - to choose Egypt and Assyria for security rather than the Lord. Likewise to trust in secular thinking or one's wealth or culture. There is no security there either, as ultimately the Lord will bring down all peoples. But there is security in God, for his purposes will be established and his king will reign in righteousness. This is Isaiah's message, and it is intended to knock us out of any complacency with regard to false security (32v11), so that we might trust wholly in Christ. As you read note teh security and hope God gives.
Isaiah 31-32

Finish this reading by pausing to ask yourself: 1) What’s the main thing …

(443) 20 March : Proverbs 21v22 / Isaiah 29-30 / Psalm 96v7-8

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:22

Understanding to grow in More words of judgment against Jerusalem. The city will be beseiged and brought low, then the LORD will act against its beseigers. But the reason for the attack is that the people's worship is mere lip service. They act in darkness as if the LORD can't see it. Rather than trusting him, they ally themselves with ungodly nations. And rather than listen to his word and repent, they tell his prophets to speak only what is "pleasant." Yet again, we read, that after judgment the LORD will bring the wayward to acknowledge him as holy. he stands ready to act in mercy and blessing. There is much here to challenge us as individuals, as well as the contemporary church as it contin…

(442) 19 March : Proverbs 21v21 / Isaiah 28 / Psalm 96v1-6

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:21

Understanding to grow in There's no place for complacency. Those ruling in Jerusalem no doubt took pride in doing so, and its prophets and priests no doubt assumed all was well between them and the LORD. Not so. They displayed a disrespect to their position with their drunkeness, clouding their judgment in communicating decisions and visions. The Lord therefore declares judgment on the city, but promises hope too: He will establish a cornerstone - the one all esle in a building is aligned to. And it will therefore ensure his people are aligned to justice and righteousness, and even somehow mean death itself is overcome. We know the cornerstone is Jesus (Acts 4v11). But Isaiah's point is that in him the L…

(441) 18 March : Proverbs 21v20 / Isaiah 25-27 / Psalm 95v8-11

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:20

Understanding to grow in When God's judgment comes people "learn righteousness" (26v9) in that they see that sin is sin and that it is serious. So we are told that God's judgment in destroying hostile and oppressive nations will cause strong and ruthless peoples to honour him, no doubt in seeing what wrong they have done and coming to fear the Lord. And to all who do, and especially his people who have trusted him when oppressed by those nations, God's salvation will bring joy in finally removing tyrants, disgrace, and death itself. In other words, judgment is a good thing. Chapter 27 pictures it as a destruction of a monster, symbolising Satan and the chaos and evil he brings. And what it …

(438) 15 March : Proverbs 21v19 / Isaiah 23-24 / Psalm 95v6-7

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:19

Understanding to grow in Tyre is now spoken against. It is much like our own society: "The market place of the nations," from where goods and services are exported. Hedonistic as "a city of revelry." And "proud" in her "splendour," considering herself above other cities and nations because of her financial prominence and the culture that goes with it. Yet we are told she will be brought down because of this pride. Her sin not to honour God for her success and to give herself to trade without scruples, like an attractive prostitute, seducing others with her corrupting culture (23v17). We are told however, that in the end her profits will benefit God's people - perhaps a…

(437) 14 March : Proverbs 21v18 / Isaiah 21-22 / Psalm 95v1-5

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:18

Understanding to grow in These four prophecies were likely given at different times before being compiled together. The one against Babylon predicts its fall under the Medes (Media) and Persians (Elam) over a century into the future (it took place in 539BC). The reason this was given, no doubt, was to encourage Judah on seeing this empire rise and oppress them, even though long after Isaiah's death - just as John's prediction of the fall of all oppressive society (for which he uses the image of "Babylon") encourages us (Rev 18). After oracles against Edom and Arabia, we also have one against Jerusalem. This would be a shock for those considering themselves the Lord's people. But his condemn…

(436) 13 March : Proverbs 21v17 / Isaiah 18-20 / Psalm 94v20-23

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:17

Understanding to grow in These oracles of judgment against Egypt and Cush declare that that the very nations Israel sort to ally with for help rather than trust the Lord, will be brought low by Assyria at the Lord's doing (20v3-6). It reminds us that all human powers are nothing compared to him. It is from him that we should seek the help we need. But with wrath also comes mercy. In the midst of these oracles of judgment, we read of a day when peoples from those nations will worship the Lord. Cush will bring gifts to the LORD at Mount Zion (17v7).  And he will bless Egypt and Assyria, saying, "'Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.'" These are astonish…

(435) 12 March : Proverbs 21v16 / Isaiah 14v28-17v14 / Psalm 94v18-19

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:16

Understanding to grow in Judgment is now declared against Israel's enemies. The dating of 14v28 implies the Philistines are seeking Judah's help in rebelling against Assyria when one of its rulers has died. God replies, that another will replace him who brings destruction. We're then told of the destruction that will come against Moab leading her refugees to seek shelter in Judah from where will come the promised Davidic king. Thirdly, the ruin of Damascus is predicted, leaving Israel no longer in need of defences in the north. Yet God speaks against Israel too. It will also fade, with only gleanings from God's people left behind, who will then look to him rather than the false god Asherah. 17v12…

(434) 11 March : Proverbs 21v15 / Isaiah 13v1-14v27 / Psalm 94v15-17

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:15

Understanding to grow in What Assyria did to the northern kingdom in the eight century BC, Babylon did to the southern kingdom between 586 and 605BC. Today's reading is a prophecy predicting how the Lord would use the Medo-Persian Empire to destroy Babylon (as recorded in Daniel 5). The emphasis is on how judgment brings down proud rulers, showing them to be mere men. The cosmic language of these prophecies points to the final judgment that all temporal judgments are a foretaste of. And so it should lead those of every generation to know their right place before the Lord of heaven and earth. Indeed, from looking ahead to Babylon in the sixth century, 14v24-27 then returns to Assyria in the eighth. Whatever c…

(431) 8 March : Proverbs 21v14 / Isaiah 10v20-12v6 / Psalm 94v11-14

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:14

Understanding to grow in The destruction of the northern kingdom predicted in yesterday's reading occurred in 722BC. And we are told that it will leave only a small "remnant" who will return to the LORD in repentance. But he will then limit Assyria's reach so that it can only shake a fist at Jerusalem in the south before being destroyed (the history of this is recorded in 2 Kings 18-19). Yet on its way to Jersualem God will use the Assyrian army to "fell" the various rulers of other nations. We are then told of a new tree that will grow from the "stump" of David's father Jesse - a king who will be anointed with the Spirit to reign in perfect wisdom and righteousness, who…

(430) 7 March : Proverbs 21v13 / Isaiah 9v8-10v19 / Psalm 94v3-10

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:13

Understanding to grow in Here God details that because those of the northern kingdom of Israel refuse to repent when first punished for their sin with oppression by foreign powers, that oppression will only continue and intensify. The worldwide Assyrian empire is to be God's tool - the "rod of his anger." This tells us that he so reigns over all things, that he uses even the mightiest of governments and their often evil actions as the means of working out his right and just purposes. But because their intent is evil and proud, God will the judge them for what they have done in fulfilment of his own plans (10v5-12)! For the axe (Assyria) cannot raise itself above the one (the Lord) who swings it (10…

(429) 6 March : Proverbs 21v12 / Isaiah 6v1-9v7 / Psalm 94v1-2

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:12

Understanding to grow in It's an awesome picture: a vision of the holy majesty of God that humbles Isaiah in knowledge of his sin, and the motivates him in response to grace. His task is to preach knowing the people will not respond and the future will mean a judgment that leaves only a few faithful in the land. What follows shows this need not be. Ahaz is urged to trust God when facing allied enemies. He fails to, and Isaiah predicts that in the next few years the Ahaz's enemies will be laid waste. Most likely the child that is to be the sign is Isaiah's coming son, born to a woman who at the time of the prophecy was a virgin. But 9v6 implies he foreshadows a far greater child, for Jesus' birth …

(428) 5 March : Proverbs 21v11 / Isaiah 5 / Psalm 93v3-5

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:11

Understanding to grow in This parable of the vineyard is the background to Jesus' parables of the tenants of the vineyard who don't care for it, and the people of the vineyard who don't bear fruit. As it was in the time of Isaiah, so in the time of Jesus. And there is much that resonates with our own day: the drunkenness, the calling of evil good and good evil, the spurning the word of the Lord. But we should remember this oracle was spoken to God's people and so is first a rebuke to those within the church who show so little desire to bear fruit to God. Such compromises by its leaders and its congregations couldn't be more serious. As you read note the particular challenges.
Isaiah 5:1-30

Fin…

(427) 4 March : Proverbs 21v10 / Isaiah 2-4 / Psalm 93v1-2

BEGIN WITH PRAYER "Lord open my eyes and my heart."

Read slowly so that you take in. And as you do, turn your heart to God, thanking him for the good you discover and praying his will home for you, your family, your church and the world.

Wisdom to chew on Proverbs 21:10

Understanding to grow in The entrance to the kingdom of God is a low one. Only those who stoop in humility can enter. Here God therefore pronounces judgment on the proud and arrogant. But it is bracketed by his promise that one day Zion will be exalted, the nations will come to his people in order to learn the way of the Lord, and those who survive judgment will enjoy the Lord's presence, just as Israel did in the pillar of cloud and fire after the Exodus. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when those from the nations sought God's truth from the apostles, as God manifested his presence by the coming of the Spirit. And it continues to be fulfilled as the nations seek God's truth in the church,…