Isaiah 39:1-41:16 ~ Ephesians 1:1-23 ~ Psalm 66:1-20 ~ Proverbs 23:25-28
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Old Testament - Today in Isaiah chapter 39 we read about Hezekiah receiving envoys from Babylon. Unfortunately, he is a bit too hospitable with these envoys! He believes showing off his wealth will prove that he has worldly power and that the Babylonians will respect him and Judah. Isaiah sees that Hezekiah is relying on worldly wealth and not God, and Isaiah delivers a word from God that Judah will be exiled to Babylon Indeed, this comes true in 115 years in the future from when Isaiah delivers this word in this chapter. We will read more about the Babylonian exile later in this year’s One Year Bible readings. How about us, in our lives today – do we try to impress people with our worldly wealth or toys or stuff, like Hezekiah was trying to impress the Babylonians? And further, do we actually try to rely on this worldly stuff rather than rely on God?
You'll notice that our readings in Isaiah today take on a new tone in chapter 40. Isaiah chapters 1 through 35 were prophesies against Judah and Jerusalem, chapters 36 through 39 were prophesies against Assyria and a foretelling of the rise of Babylon, and now in chapters 40 through 66 we will be reading about Judah and Jerusalem as if the Babylonian exile was nearly over. This week in Isaiah chapters 40 & 42 we will read some amazing prophecies about Jesus. (I get chills reading some of the verses in these chapters realizing they were written in the 8th century B.C. . .) Do you see a foretelling of John the Baptist today in chapter 40 verses 3 through 5: "Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, "Make a highway for the LORD through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together."
Below is a great image for Isaiah 40:8 from today's readings!
New Testament - Today we begin Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus! The map below shows where Ephesus is located, as well as other churches Paul wrote epistles to:
~ Ephesians ~
Author: Paul the apostle
Date: A.D. 60 or 61
Content: Paul wrote this letter while a prisoner in Rome, his purpose being to comfort and encourage the believers in Asia Minor. He presents them with an overview of history, beginning in eternity past where God worked out his plans for the world, moving to the present where God is saving those who believe in Christ, and then to the future where all evil will be overcome. He points out that in the present there will be great conflict because our battle is with the forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12), but because we are members of Christ’s body, we have the power to withstand. Paul then deals with practical matters relating to living the Christian life: marriage, behavior, parents and children, and servants.
Theme: The basic idea in Ephesians is that God’s eternal plan is being worked out through Christ and his body, the church. When a man believes, he is in Christ and finds salvation and safety. God had planned for this from all eternity and has given to the believer everything that he needs for his Christian life, but it is for him to avail himself of the resources at his command. Paul closes the book by describing the provision that God has made for the believer so that he may withstand the worst of Satan’s attacks and when the battle is over, to be victorious. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 26) More great commentary on Ephesians is at this link.
There are so many amazing verses in Ephesians chapter 1 today! I love verse 18: "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people." How does this verse speak to you? Is your heart flooded with light today? Do you believe that your heart can indeed be flooded with light so that you can understand your wonderful future in Christ? I love this imagery of our hearts being flooded with light! Let Jesus' light flood us today!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Ephesians titled "The Hope of Glory" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 66 verses 1 & 2 are awesome! "Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is." Do you tell the world about how glorious God is? How do you do this? Think these kids below might be singing & shouting joyfully to God? Think there is anything we might be able to learn from these kids? :)
Proverbs - Proverbs 23 verse 26 today is fantastic - "O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes delight in my ways of wisdom." Can you imagine God saying this Proverb to you? What does it mean to give God your heart? How does one do this? Have you fully given God your heart? Are your eyes delighting in the ways of God's wisdom?
Worship God: The "flood" language in Ephesians 1:18 reminded me of the Jars of Clay song "Flood" that put them on the map many years ago! Lift Me Up!
Per Ephesians 1:18, has your heart been flooded by light? Click here for God's holy flood!
Please join me in memorizing 2 verses of Scripture today:
"Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of his name! Tell the world how glorious he is." Psalm 66:1-2 NLT
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you from today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Grace, love, peace, and joy!
Every time I read the 39th chapter of Isaiah I get upset. Hezekiah shows no understanding that God is a God of generations. There is no concern about his on off-spring. He is a I got mine, now you get yours. When his life was on the line, he turned his face to the wall and prayed for his life. When his children’s life is on the line he can only say, "This message you have given me from the LORD is good." But the king was thinking, "At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime." (39:8). When the Assyria was “knocking” at the door using intimidating words, the Lord your God, a statement made to Isaiah quickly become the Lord my God.
How much of this unconcern for the next generation is infused within our church’s. How many of us are sacrificing our children so we can say, “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime?
A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. (Pro 13:22)
The inheritance we leave for our children should never be a negative one it should be one that secures their spiritual future.
Posted by: R | September 21, 2007 at 08:40 PM
(Ephesians 1:17-20)"....I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also 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 the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms"
This verse really resonates with me today. That the power of Christ live in the believers...the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Great verse to meditate on! Something we tend to take for granted as christians. We are blessed with God's strength to empower us in our christian walk and give glory to His name. Today I praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit and for the free gift of Salvation.
Posted by: Oriane | September 21, 2007 at 08:40 PM
I like this comment about Hezekiah:
“He believes showing off his wealth will prove that he has worldly power and that the Babylonians will respect him and Judah.”
It is interesting that we have to always guard our steps. Hezekiah rested on God’s blessings (instead of God) and foolishly boasted AFTER God healed him. (SEE 2 CHRONICLES 20:1 – 19)
There are ONLY TWO (2) purposes that I see from God’s Word for blessing and prosperity. Neither of them include “keeping up with the Jonses” or trying to impress our neighbors with so-called “status”. The two (2) reasons are:
a. God loves us, and He wants to genuinely bless us
b. God blesses us so we can bless others, so we can establish His covenant—the Gospel of Righteousness in Jesus—in the world around us.
I like Deuteronomy 8:1 – 18. In these verses, God humbled and tested the people of Israel so they would know what was in their hearts. Then He told them that He would bless them and bring them into a land of abundance.
Then He strictly warned them to not get so comfortable with His blessings that they forgot the Loving Father and said that they, by themselves and by their hands, achieved this wealth and blessing.
However, even after all of these warnings, God still CLEARLY stated His will that He wants to bless His people (because He loves them) and because He wants people in the world to know and be established in His love in Jesus:
Deuteronomy 8 (Amplified)
And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know,
* that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man
lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
[God] Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.
And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.
But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
WE MUST ALWAYS GUARD OUR HEARTS!
People can have hearts that are hard against God whether we are poor or wealthy in the riches of this world.
Money or lack of money does not make a mature spiritual person.
Humbly yielding to the Lord, receiving His Spirit, and being established in His Word and His righteousness in worship and obedience do make a mature spiritual person.
Matthew 4 (Amplified)
And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry.
And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God's Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread.
But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
WHAT AM I HUNGRY FOR? What do I spend my time thinking about and meditating on? What is in my heart will overflow into my words and actions.
I MUST DELIBERATELY PLACE GOD’S WORD into my heart, and I must deliberately choose to obey it. OF COURSE, this is not always easy. We like to live based on feelings and circumstances instead of passing through feelings and circumstances with God’s Word planted in us.
John 15 (Amplified)
If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
I like this comment:
“God had planned for this from all eternity and has given to the believer everything that he needs for his Christian life, but it is for him to avail himself of the resources at his command.”
Do I—do we—meditate on who Jesus is in us… and on who I—who we—are in Jesus?
EPHESIANS 1 (Amplified)
And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,
Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places],
Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.
And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church],
Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].
You and I are “the fullness of Him Who fills all in all. For IN US lives the FULL MEASURE OF HIM Who makes everything complete.”
Do we know and believe this?
How did we get in this position? It is certainly not because we deserved it. It is NOT about our not being worthy. IT IS ABOUT Jesus IN US:
* And He has put all things under His – JESUS’—feet
* He has has appointed Him—JESUS—to be the universal and supreme Head of the church
* WE HAVE a headship WHICH IS TO BE exercised throughout the church.
Posted by: Vance | September 21, 2007 at 08:40 PM
Ephesians 1:1-23 - Part 1
I love Ephesians - apparently so do pastors as there are many sermons and commentaries on Ephesians. I am glad I am not missing this great book of the Bible - as I did last year. There are so many nuggets of information and truth here - it can really clarify what God is up to. Let's get to it.
Once again Paul states that he is an apostle - not one appointed by man, but by the will of God.
Blessed is God - He is worthy. God blesses us (the believer) in the heavenly realms...Why the heavens, and why not earth? As we will see later a believer already has a place in heaven - Gods blessing us in the heavenly realms would apply to the earth as well. A "believer" has dual citizenship - our home is heaven, and our temporary abode is earth.
What has he blessed us with - love, peace, joy, strength. 2Peter1:3 says,"His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness". We have everything we need - there are no missing ingredients. Why do some Christians seem to struggle so much - are they accessing the Holy Spirit? Are they trusting in, relying on, depending on God for their Christian walk, or are they trying to do it on their own????? Are they living in the Spirit? It makes a big difference, as I have found out this past summer.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will...
Tough verses for the non-election people. No wiggle room. Chose and predestined are completed actions. Chose means he "selected for Himself", and predestined means "appointed beforehand" (creation). Why? In accordance with his pleasure and will.
In the Greek tenses "to be holy and blameless in his sight" is now and forevermore.
Look - I do not know why he chose me or you. I certainly was not worthy of the choice - none of us are worthy. But it was said before to Moses in Ex 33:19b - "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." We will understand everything when we get to heaven - and it will make perfect sense.
This does not get us out of praying for people to be saved - we do not know who God intends to save. This does not get us out of sharing witness and the gospel - we are the personal touch for God that he has always had with people of earth. Instead of God coming down to a mountain - hundreds of millions of us, embedded with the Holy Spirit (God) and abiding in Christ (God) are to speak the truth and His Word. WE ARE the manifestation of God's personal touch here on earth - so don't you dare sit back and avoid sharing because it is all preordained.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
"mystery of His will" - Can you remember a time when you did not get it? When you did not understand Jesus, the cross, salvation? It may be harder for ones who came to Christ at an early age, but I became a Christian at 48, and I all to well remember that I had no clue before then what God's plan for salvation was for us. I remember earnestly praying for the truth to be revealed to me - then I picked up the Bible and read Gospel of John - and there it was - clear as a bell.
All things will have reached their fulfillment with Christ as the head of heaven in Earth - either at a certain time or with a certain number of believers (as Paul states in Romans). This made me think - how selfish to pray to God for Christ to come back sooner rather than later. If God answered that prayer - there would be people destroyed who were supposed to be believers, and believers not born yet left out of the kingdom of heaven. Of course it will not happen - because it is not God's will nor are we praying in God's will. How selfish of me - and I do not make that prayer anymore.
Posted by: John | September 22, 2007 at 06:19 PM
Ephesians 1:1-23 - Part 2
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
Seems repetitive, but when ideas are repeated so close together - I think it is wise to take seriously their importance. It is all done according to His plan by His will for the glory of God. It is not about us - it is about God.
"in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."
"to hope" - the Greek word means to hope with certainty, or "trust".
"for the praise of His glory" - before the beginning when just the Trinity existed God received praise and glory from the Trinity. What could be better than that perfect praise and glory? Well, in the end when evil is totally erased - there will be angels and hundreds of millions (or billions) of God's children conformed into the image of Christ - also giving Him praise and glory. Isn't that greater than it was before the beginning?
What is God up to? It is about His glory not us. All of his attributes magnified to the highest level beacause He is worthy. For anyone else this would sound egotistical and vain - but this is the Creator of the Universe - HE is WORTHY.
Just think if someone came to your country and started doing miracles, prospered the country to its greatest prosperity ever, fixed all the problems, etc. you do not think people of that country would be falling all over themselves praising this guy or woman, building statues to him/her, making them king for life, etc. How much more so is God worthy of praise and glory.
[Note: Makes one understand how the Anti-Christ will be so popular, doesn't it?]
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
believed and marked are completed actions - "is a deposit" is now and forevermore in the Greek tense.
We are marked with God's seal. It is a big thing to have a paper with a king's seal on it - how much more so God. The earnest or deposit is the spiritual blessings we have now until we receive our full inheritance in heaven. Same idea as depositing money on land - but God will never go back on his word - we are marked with a seal - His word and Spirit.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
We need to know God better. Jesus knew God. Through the power of the Spirit, prayer, and His Word we will get closer to knowing the revealed God just as Jesus did - to be completed in heaven, but begun while we are still here on earth.
We need to understabnd the greatness of his gift to us, and the power behind it.
Christ is the head of the church. Church in Greek "ekklesia" is not a building nor institution, but it literally means "assembly of people (believers) - the church is us. That is always the way it is defined in the Bible. Let no one tell you different.
Posted by: John | September 22, 2007 at 06:48 PM
I think the lesson in Hezekiah's actions here are that prosperity and ggod times or more threatening to our behavior before God then bad times.
Compare how many times we get down on our knees and pray to God when times are good and then when they are bad.
How many times when we are blessed do we think to ourselves that we did it and are worthy of the prosperity. When times are bad - believers and even some non-Christians are all too willing to lay it on God.
The truth is ALL things come from God - and we would do well to remember that in good and bad times.
"But you, O Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
When people read the Old Testament, or do not read it, and say it is about the old God, the New Testament is where it is at - I find it sad.
The thread in the Old Testament is the same as the New - we are to rely on, trust in, and depend on God - period.
Here is another one of the parallels between the Old and the New. God chose Israel - the nation had one (authorized) temple in Jerusalem.
We have just seen in Ephesians that God chose us (believers) and set us apart just like Israel.
Hey, Israel is one entity, a nation, and we are many different people. how is that similar? Well, Israel, the entity, had one temple, and God promised Israel, the nation, that he would fulfill promises. We (believers) each have a temple in us - the Holy Spirit. God will keep His promise to the nation of Israel (not each and every person ever born to Israel), but God will keep his promise to us - each one a unit with a temple endwelt.
Posted by: John | September 22, 2007 at 07:12 PM
So give your parents joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.
Posted by: S | September 22, 2008 at 01:04 PM