5“Go and tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will add fifteen years to your life. 20 The Lord is about to deliver me, and we will celebrate with music for the rest of our lives in the Lord’s temple.” 21 Isaiah ordered, “Let them take a fig cake and apply it to the ulcerated sore and he will get well.” 22Hezekiah said, “What is the confirming sign that I will go up to the Lord’s temple?”
I love this passage in God’s word for several reasons. First, we see God’s mercy and healing in answering Hezekiah’s prayer when he was most certainly going to die. Second, we see Hezekiah responding in faith at just the word from Isaiah that God was…
“He said, ‘You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.'”
“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?”
Don’t worry, I won’t tell a cheesy knock knock joke. Had you wondering, though, huh?
Opportunity is a funny thing. We long for opportunities but often do not even recognize them. We hope to be used by God to do something amazing but miss astounding promise all around us, dubbed as “ordinary”.
We can feel it in the thump of our heartbeat. Hear it in the soul’s cry. Sense it with our Spirit. Somewhere within us is a sense of a calling. Opportunity is knocking on the door of our soul – wondering if we hear our Master’s call for us to see the longing around us.
The moment we are awakened to hear and to understand God’s word, we are on mission. Entrusted with secrets that God has revealed, do we pretend not to see the needs, the hurts, the deadness in their eyes? Maybe in our own?
Growing up, I always felt special when someone trusted me with a precious secret or a position of leadership. Those who Christ has revealed His Gospel are the most blessed people on the face of the earth. We hold the keys to salvation and the opportunity to share it with lost people who we once were identified with.
The resounding knock stirs our souls to act on the knowledge and insight we have been given. The world’s din can try to silence the relentless needs and opportunities, but if we listen carefully, we will hear the knocks and answer. The souls God has called us to reach around us are counting on it.
Lord, help us to hear the needs around us and to listen attentively to Your word so that we might share what is on Your heart.
His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.
Scriptures of the Day:
“For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song. We give thanks to you, O God! We give thanks! You reveal your presence; people tell about your amazing deeds.”
“God has revealed himself in Judah; in Israel his reputation is great.”
As a worship leader it makes me smile that this Psalm opens up with instructions to the musicians. “To the tune of Do Not Destroy” – I wonder what that tune sounded like.
Either way, God’s people had something to sing about, indeed. The fact that our Creator, the King of this universe, Holy and perfect, reveals Himself to imperfect man is beyond understanding; it is astounding. Overwhelming.
Those who violated His covenant and chose fake gods over His presence – those people – He chose to love and to show Himself to.
His revelation is an invitation; the imperfect enveloped by the perfect – filled to know Him and represent Him on the earth.
As we catch a glimpse of Who He is – just a part – we are overcome with His awesome presence and led to a deeper walk with Him.
Seeing part of His character motivates us to desire to be like Him. Seeing One so Holy, so far above us, Who would choose to stoop down and help us to see, causes us to act on that revelation and to be His ambassadors on this earth.
Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us, moment by moment. Help us to bask in Your presence and take what we know of You to the uttermost parts of the world.
And when the mountains ahead seem too high to overcome and our problems loom large and are not solved, He still says, “Trust me”.
Scripture of the Day:
22 Because they did not have faith in God, and did not trust his ability to deliver them. 23 He gave a command to the clouds above, and opened the doors in the sky. 24 He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Man ate the food of the mighty ones. He sent them more than enough to eat. 27 He caused meat to rain on them like dust and winged birds as the sand of the sea… 32 Despite all this, they continued to sin, and did not trust him to do amazing things.
The Israelites were so forgetful. One moment they would see the hand of God in mighty ways and the next they doubted Him completely. Despite the LORD moving and accomplishing amazing miracles, the Israelites soon forgot and whined about the next problem life sent their way. We could stand in judgment if we did not have the very same plank gouging our eyes.
In this capsule of time, we tend to live in the moment.
God knows this. He knows we are flesh and continues to pursue us in this cycle of failure, conviction, repentance and redemption. Thank God He does!
If we perceive God’s activity in our lives, we enjoy that moment until the next significant distraction comes our way.
Sorry to paint our condition so bluntly. It is not that I am trying to lack grace but instead to display this magnificent grace that is given for all.
We cannot deny it – we all have a short term memory when it comes to acknowledging all that God has done for us, and we tend to distrust Him when troubles come. But in that same moment when we forget who we are in Christ and Who He is, His grace is greater.
He moves through His word, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and in our circumstances to open our eyes to our blindness and draw us back to Himself. Revealing the counterfeit of the world’s promises that we are looking to, He is whispering all the while, “Trust Me”.
When we breathe a sigh of relief as a speeding car misses ours narrowly, He says, “trust me”. When a check arrives in the mail when we did not know where our next meal was coming from, he says, “trust me”. When our child recovers from a deadly illness, He says, “trust me”. And when the mountains ahead seem too high to overcome and our problems are not solved, He still says, “Trust me”.
We can tend to see our heroic God as the One to solve all of our problems, but He wants a deeper relationship with us than that. Instead of an immature faith that just wants to receive, He leads us to the revelation that we were made for His pleasure and He delights in us.
When the chips are down, He is our Comforter. When we lose something that He gave us in the first place, He is our Healer. In this chaotic fallen world, He is our strength and the One we run to.
We can trust the One who gave us our very breath and every single thing that we have, if we recognize this truth and see we don’t have a right to any of it. When we open our hands and offer it all in worship to Him, we are doing what we were created to do. Our very lives are His, whatever misadventure or adventure they contain – and He is walking through each moment with us.
Lord, help us to trust You more and more with each moment You have given. Grant us understanding and help us to deliver Your faithful message to others so they, too, can trust You!
The hope we have in Christ is sure and steady; a never failing, firm foundation.
Scripture of the Day:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
Sleepy eyes and Mondays go together like peanut butter and jelly. It can take awhile to get back into the swing of things, but reality and deadlines hit us square in the eyes whether we like it or not.
But here we have eyes of another sort being opened. A revelation of our souls to know the hope of the amazing salvation and eternal rewards that God has for His people. What an encouragement on a Monday, right?
Problem is that our work weeks and lives can be daunting, and hope is often deflated or crushed when challenges arise.
But this hope does not depend on any surrounding circumstances.
No, it is a fact predetermined in Heaven. A quiet stirring in our souls, reminding us that this is not our home. This stubborn hope looks out at the landscape of life and smiles inwardly at the promise within.
We are called to this hope. More than that, this hope is a certainty that God will use all things for our good. This hope is the knowledge that every wrong will be righted. This hope is that God sees and redeems. This hope is that our salvation has been achieved forever and cannot be stolen.
Our hearts can be strengthened to carry on if we will allow our hearts to focus on God’s hope instead of focusing on the hopes the world has, which are merely temporal.
Finding this hope might seem like an esoteric enigma, but it is so simple we often stumble over it. Searching for hope in people leaves us bankrupt, but searching in His living Word gives us a living hope that never fades, reserved for all who believe in Jesus.
Lord, thank You that You have not left us without hope. No matter what happens in this life, we have You, our treasure – both now and for all eternity – to guide us.
This week I am blessed to be attending the She Speaks Conference, so I am sharing some gems from the past couple years. Praise God He takes away every single one of our sins through His precious Son, Jesus Christ!
“When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”
“When an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned.”
“If a person sins and violates any of the LORD’s commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity.”
I love how reading passages over and over again there is always something to glean from God’s Word! Leviticus is often thought of as being dry and a lot of jargon about offerings and prescriptions for dealing with sin. It couldn’t apply to us today, could it? As a mother of five children, I have often heard the expression, “I didn’t know”, or “I forgot”, or “It was an accident”. What strikes me in the verses above is that there are no excuses given for the offender’s lack of knowledge of their own transgression. Instead, there is a prescribed solution, and the One to whom we are accountable paid it. We cannot take care of our sinour way, though. It must be in accordance with the One with Whom we will give an account. While it is difficult for our generation to understand the slaughtering of animals for the propitiation of our sins, both for known and unknown sin, we have the same sins going on today and the same excuses. Acknowledging our shortcomings is just as necessary and required by our Holy God.
We are good at making excuses for ourselves in this generation, but the idea of the scapegoat has been around a long time. In Hebrew, the word scapegoat is Saʿir La-ʿazaʾzel, (one interpretation is “a goat for Azazel”, which means strong God). This refers to a goat being used to bear the sins of Israel during the ritual of Yom Kippur. The scapegoat has been used in most cultures, ironically. Whether the goat was sacrificed or set free to bear all of the iniquities, it did not have a choice – it was chosen to take away the people’s sin.
Mankind recognizes it has a need to have sin dealt with, if we are honest with ourselves. But we often create our own solutions as to how to remedy our sinful status. We can also come up with excuses, rationalize or placate our guilt. Maybe the standards were to high, or maybe someone else is responsible or to blame. But not in God’s economy. No fig leaf is sufficient to cover our shame or guilt and redefining our guilt to make ourselves feel better really doesn’t. We still need covering for our hidden and known sins today, but we do not have a scapegoat – we have the Lamb – who chose to bear all of our sins.
Recently, I became aware of negligence in an area of my life. It was hidden from me in that I did not recognize it as sin, just an inability. Becoming aware of something as sin is not fun and we can easily dismiss it as maybe we are not talented in a certain area or lack understanding. It can be easier to avoid it rather than face accountability. Maybe it is not a sin, after all. But once I are aware, I am culpable. No more ignorance to hide behind. Although it is difficult to have to work on those areas of our character that are challenging for us, we cannot pretend any longer that we do not know. We must instead ask God to help and to strengthen us in our areas of weakness.
I am grateful that God exposes our sins. He does so to free us. The deeper we go, the more unrighteous we may appear, but cooperating with the Holy Spirit when He illumines our hidden sins, which we often couch as inabilities or habits that are a part of our personality, is ultimate victory. True, we each have our own unique challenges in our perspective walks with God, but He is sufficient to help each of us in our time of need.
Thank You, Lord, for lifting the veil so we could see and gain access to You. Thank You for Your grace and love, which always seeks to rid us of the cancer of sin and draw us nearer to You. Praise Your Name!
Reblogging this post from almost two years ago. How grateful I am that although we fall so very short of the glory of God, He redeems us from eternal death. When we compare ourselves to the perfect, righteous God as our plumb line, we see that we can never measure up; but in Christ we are considered righteous.
2 Corinthians 10:12, 18
“For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. :18 “For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the LORD commends.”
Comparing ourselves to others, both those considered greater and lesser than ourselves, is at once folly and wisdom. If the purpose is to think better of ourselves by demeaning another, the end result is false pride. If the purpose is to be more like Christ and looking to be like what we value as excellent or praiseworthy, the result can be something beautiful.
Defining the standard in a relativistic age is the challenge. The plumb line, the only standard, is the Perfect One, Christ. When we compare ourselves to God alone, we see that we will always fall far short. What is the purpose of it, then? In humility we recognize our dependency on God and our need to keep growing in Christ. With the standard set before us at the highest level, it keeps us on the right path. Accepting a lower standard so it will be easier or more comfortable will bear fruit similar to what you are ascribing to. We dare not accept man’s own opinion of himself or accept a standard that God condemns.
In examination of myself, it is only God and His Word Who can illuminate my sinfulness. I cannot examine myself – I lack the objectiveness to do so. Another person also cannot correctly examine me – they might do so out of bias from what another person told them, by their own perception, or by actions they witnessed in me which might or might not be consistent with my character. But that does not mean that another person should not speak into our lives – we need one another. It just means that we should not solely take one man’s opinion, but should run that counsel through the filter of God’s word and additional counsel.
In the end, we have an accuser, actually several of them. Our enemy, the devil, our own flesh, and others who just plain don’t like us. But accusations do not have to destroy us or define us. We can choose to rise above them and place our focus off of ourselves. We can choose to not accuse others, too, but to pray for them. Now that would be a beautiful way to bring God glory and get the enemy running! God help us to do so.
Lord, You alone are the Perfect One. You alone are worthy of praise. Anything good in us is because of You, not us. Help us to seek Your opinion of us before all else. Help us to cease comparing to others and instead to saturate our minds in your truth and build one another up.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for His people. 17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins. 28 They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.”
In light of a fantastic sermon on the prodigal son at our church yesterday, called, “God is Not Co-Dependent”, I wanted to reblog a post I wrote on October 8, 2014, called, “The Prodigal’s Father”. May God turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. (Malachi 4:6).
The image of the prodigal son’s father anticipating his son’s return with open arms is such a picture of God’s heart toward His children. But what is often missed is that the rebellious child must return. Parents can long for their children to return, but if the child is still rebellious, then it would not be a complete picture of sweet repentance and restoration. Instead, it would become a dysfunctional relationship of enablement and abuse.
God is loyally loving His children when he permits consequences for their rebellious actions, but the child does not often recognize such love. Discipline is viewed as unloving, when it is actually a kindness to not allow sin to go unchecked. Blame is cast on the parent who was unreasonable to expect basic obedience, whether doing chores, the expectation of telling the truth or not permitting the child to stay out all night. But when the child comes to his senses, as in the case of the prodigal son, it is a wonderful picture of repentance and the story of the Gospel – how God is willing to forgive all wayward children. Forgiveness hinges on that moment of confessing sins, though, and cannot be dished out just because the prodigal believes he or she deserves it.
Many in the next generation have revolted against authority and are embittered at the suggestion that they should be accountable to anyone. It is not just this generation that has bred prodigals, though – we are all prodigals in our own right. Forgiveness and acceptance are much more pleasurable than living in sin, so what hinders the prodigal from returning? Deception, pride and loving our victim status. Bearing the outward attitude of rejection, despite leaving being our choice, we receive attention and pity. The original deception becomes truth if we feed on the praises of the enablers surrounding and flattering us. The only way out? Cry out to God for understanding and admit our wrongdoings. Don’t seek sympathy for something we deserve. Take responsibility for our actions – only then can the mind of Christ illuminate and reveal our true condition. Lastly, if we could for a moment contemplate how our actions have hurt our loving father, instead of how our actions have hurt ourselves, we would begin to walk in freedom.
Let us give thanks that God shows us our rebellious ways and punishes us – though He does not give us what our sins deserve. Loyal love is a love that keeps the unconditional love “on”, but does not permit an abuse of that love. For a child to accuse a parent because of consequences they must bear due to their own behavior is folly. God does not fall for it, either – but He does offer the sweetest peace, joy and love for those who have truly repented and not made excuses for their sin.
Lord, thank you for Your loyal love, which endures forever! You did not leave us in our sins, but made a way out, praise Your Name! Help all of us prodigals to wake up and see we are blessed beyond measure because of Your faithful love!
“The wise person accepts instructions, but the one who speaks foolishness will come to ruin. 10 The one who winks his eye causes trouble, and the one who speaks foolishness will come to ruin.”
I’ve got writing deadlines and recording deadlines looming over me and yet I still want to take the time to write to you what God has impressed upon my heart.
As I contemplate each word He pours out through His Holy Spirit in His Word, I am undone. There is so much to say that could never be fully communicated. His principles are just, His ways are perfect. I am humbled in His presence.
To a culture where quick comebacks and flashy motions rule the day, this reminder from Proverbs stands as a testimony that a haughty spirit, popularity in the world and a fast-paced lifestyle are not near to the heart of God.
When we consider that speaking folly leads to ruin, it can give us pause to more carefully speak words that glorify God and communicate grace and truth.
My children and I enjoy watching movies depicting a time period a couple hundred years ago in which the characters spoke thoughtfully to one another. Their purpose in communicating was intentional and clear. No ambiguity. Today people tend to speak without thinking.
Perhaps it is easy to gloss over our vocabulary when so many words are spoken, but the Holy Spirit can help us to recognize when our speech is ungodly, flattering or foolish. The eloquence of earlier times may be a distant memory, but it is worth remembering.
Lord, may our speech be pleasing to Your ear and our words honor You.
Hiding things only complicates things and puts off the inevitable reality.
Scriptures of the Day:
For nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.
23 Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?” the LORD asks. 24 “Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the LORD asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the LORD asks.
Fully seen. Fully known. Fully accepted. The exuberant joy at such a statement cannot be fully understood unless one knows what they were saved and forgiven from.
Being found in our sin is shocking and destroys those around us, too. That’s what sin does – it is death. Yet somehow we get tempted and deceived into believing it can bring life.
The reality of our sin is devastating and separates us from God. The revealing of our sins is traumatizing despite our full knowledge of it, but covering it up will not bring healing and only serve to cause more pain. When we love one another in Christ, we will help one another to see when we are myopic to our sin – not to judge one another, but to provoke one another toward righteousness and forgiveness.
Our futile attempts to try and make ourselves righteous before a perfect, transcendent God fall far short, but God knew we would. He longs to expose our sin not to condemn us but to set us free.
He knew we were rebels, choosing lesser things and chases us down, anyway, to open our eyes to see the wonder of knowing Himself and walking in His ways, which far surpasses the foolish goals we had for ourselves.
Just like the nation of Israel in biblical times, we vacillate between delighting in sin, being deceived and then God mercifully revealing our heart attitudes and spiritually bankrupt status.
Oh what a good God to do so! He does not leave us in our sinful condition, but exposes our utter depravity so that we will recognize our need for mercy from our most gracious God!
Maybe you are at the moment of the discovery of sin, maybe you were sinned against or the one who sinned. We will all play each of those roles in our lives and God already knew our transgressions before we were created. In that knowledge, He chose in the Garden of Eden to sacrifice His only Son and still chose to create man, anyway.
Lord, I am humbled that You created us knowing we would rebel against You. You are Holy and our joy! You are perfect, merciful, all knowing and all merciful. Thank You for showing us our sin even though it hurts to see our own wickedness. Keep us from deception and help us to seek You and Your glory alone.