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Before we move forward in Isaiah, I want to highlight an important point from a verse I saw this morning. It lines up with what we looked at yesterday. We saw that the name Jotham means Jehovah is perfect. Amen to that. 2 Chronicles 27:6 told us how the King named Jotham became mighty,

“So Jotham became mighty
because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”

So as I meditated on Psalm 103:20, I couldn’t miss the correlation,

“Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!”

So who are the mighty ones? Those who order their ways before the Lord; perform His word; obey Him. Our living well will never be in our own might, that’s for sure. Not if we want our lives to contribute to the only thing that matters – the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mighty living can happen in the weakest bodies as long as we are positioning ourselves to humbly hear God through Bible reading and prayer; sensitive to the whispers of His Spirit whether at work, rest, or play.

There is great joy, spiritual rest, and purpose in obedience to the Lord and His ways. The secret to mighty living is obeying, relying on, and enjoying close relationship with the Lord. His eyes go to and fro looking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Lord, help us to be loyal, obedient children revealing Your strength to a world in desperate need.  May You be known as the Father of obedient children who rejoice in all You accomplish.

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“Now it came about in the days of Ahaz,
the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah,
that Rezin the king of Aram
and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel,
went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it,
but could not conquer it.”
Isaiah 7:1

The vision in Isaiah 6 took place in the year Uzziah died. In Isaiah 7, Uzziah’s son Jotham had already passed away and his grandson was king. His name was Ahaz meaning “possessor” or “he has grasped.” Unfortunately Ahaz did not grasp and hold fast to the things of God.

“But he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel;
he also made molten images for the Baals.
Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom
and burned his sons in fire,
according to the abominations of the nations
whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel.”
2 Chronicles 28:2-3

The nations that Israel drove out, were somewhat like the evil of ISIS today. For God’s people to then begin behaving like them reveals His mercy in warning them. Today, rather than focusing on kings, nations, or circumstances, our focal point for this chapter will come from the meaning of Jotham’s name: Jehovah is perfect. We’ve seen throughout Isaiah that God’s ways are perfect; not ours. 2 Chronicles 27:6 says,

“So Jotham became mighty
because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.”

Oh, Lord, let that describe us in our service to You.

Let’s focus, not on the ways of man, but on the Lord. As we seek to maneuver this fallen world and the scary things in it, we need Christ. He is the Savior who leads us in joy and victory in a way that glorifies our perfect God.

Holiday Focus!

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Lord, keep us joyful and triumphant throughout the holiday season!

We are joyfully beginning to ship the December devotionals with a new binding that makes them more accessible to inmates, and also brings down the price. Whether for yourself or for gifts, these help us focus on the One whose birth we celebrate. You can click here to look more closely. All proceeds go back into the ministry of Abide in Him, Inc.​ allowing us to provide free Bible Study materials and retreats for those who can’t afford them.

Jesus came!  And He’s coming again.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thanks and blessings!

focus

With the joy that God’s grace affords, Isaiah was ready to serve. God’s assignments aren’t always easy, but, oh, to be part of His plan! Let’s look at the sober message Isaiah was given to take to his people in Isaiah 6:9-13. (Words in italics are my comments.)

He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
“Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Embrace truth! Those who reject it will harden toward it. It makes me think of Ezekiel 40:4 in which Ezekiel was told to, “…look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you…” Rather than doing that, some hear the gospel, but allow distractions to keep the seed from being planted.

Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,
“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate,
“The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
“Yet there will be a tenth portion in it,
And it will again be subject to burning,
Like a terebinth or an oak
Whose stump remains when it is felled.
The holy seed is its stump.”

Our God is love and, therefore, will not tolerate evil. We’ve already learned in Isaiah that what God calls evil, we ought not call good and then dabble in it. But we see that in His grace, He leaves a remnant for rebuilding. He is good and there is always hope for renewal in Christ!

confidence

Isaiah knew he was unfit to serve a Holy King. But once he heard, “…your sins are forgiven,” he was confident and ready to go.

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’
Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
Isaiah 6:8

The world promotes confidence in self, saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Self-focus keeps us stuck in the spiritual mud, or sets us up for a fall. It causes us to miss the whole point of our existence which is to bring glory to God and enjoy Him forever. Freedom comes as we believe that Jesus is the only way, and it is all about Him.

So what does this have to do with Isaiah 6, and where we place our confidence? When we realize Jesus took the penalty for our sin in order to clothe us in His righteousness, we gain confidence in Him, not us. Knowing our sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ, we can move forward to serve Him with joy, humility, and thanksgiving. We can accomplish His dreams for us in the truth of Philippians 4:13,

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Outward beauty, wealth, talent, and human accolades are fleeting. If our confidence is in the flesh, we will fall short and find ourselves planted in shifting, futile sand. But if our confidence is in the unchanging Christ and His work in our lives, we move forward with great purpose because He never changes and cannot fail. Glory to the Solid Rock!

“O Lord of hosts,
How blessed is the man who trusts in You!”
Psalm 84:12

Reformation Day

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“For I am not ashamed of the gospel,
for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,
to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,
as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17

Because I know so little about the history of the Reformation, I have been reading up on it as the 500th Anniversary has been approaching. What a reminder that without the Lord’s help, we can’t even guard and keep the greatest news ever proclaimed. Jesus came, died on the cross, and rose again for our redemption; the Gospel spread and souls were saved; and as the sands of time will do, it became predominantly buried under the traditions of men over the centuries.

The whole point of the Gospel is that sin made it impossible to approach a holy God. So because of His love for us, He came in the flesh as a Man to be the only perfect sacrifice that could save us. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, salvation was made secure for all who would believe and receive that precious gift by grace through faith. Jesus is the only way. He took on our sins, that He might put His righteousness on us. Soli Deo gloria – Glory to God alone! Both now and forevermore.

I love how our guest speaker, Eric Metaxas, explained it Sunday. If we all tried to swim to Hawaii, some would get farther than others, but we would all eventually drown. So it is with imagining we have something to do with lessening the gap between sinful us and the holy God. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who did the work necessary to bridge that gap. Understanding and receiving that most precious gift causes our hearts to soar with thanksgiving as we desire to do those good works He has for us to do. Not to gain our salvation, but out of love and appreciation for Him.

I praise God that by His grace, the dark ages were not allowed to bury the only message that saves. I’m so aware that my own heart needs reformation and revival daily from our Lord who is Life and the Light of Truth. Until we see Christ face to face, let’s fight the good fight of living, speaking, and guarding the truth found only in Him. Let’s allow every day to be reformation and renewal day! Let’s be always sure that we are proclaiming the true Gospel.

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2

P.S. I highly recommend all of Eric Metaxas’ books, but on this 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, don’t miss his latest Martin Luther!

Isaiah had a right response at seeing the King.

“Then I said,
‘Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.’

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand,
which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
He touched my mouth with it and said,
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
Isaiah 6:5-7

Comparing ourselves to each other, we might imagine we’re not all that bad. But the true pattern is Christ, and none of us come close. It’s in that reality that we come to Him for salvation and cling to Him for everything. He desires to cleanse us and bring us into right relationship with Him.

We don’t need help living any old way we want. That comes naturally. Yet Jesus invites us into holy living! As we see with Isiaah, if the King doesn’t do it, it won’t get done. It’s not our striving, but trusting Him to live through us, so that He can be seen. I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit is our Helper, and the One who convicts us when we sin, so we can repent, correct, and keep growing in Christ.

“And you,
who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works,
yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death,
to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—”
Colossians 1:21-22

Only Him. What a King! And as we’ll see in our next verses, He cleanses us for His service.  In Christ, our lives have eternal purpose.

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