Isaiah 43:14-45:10 ~ Ephesians 3:1-21 ~ Psalm 68:1-18 ~ Proverbs 24:1-2
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Old Testament - Isaiah's word's in chapter 44 verses 18 & 19 today are classic Old Testament very direct words! "Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, "Why, it's just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?" I wonder about us in our lives today - do we create idols of our own today? Maybe our idols are not made out of chunks of wood these days. But do we create idols perhaps out of other people? Do we create idols out of material goods? Do we create idols out of our careers? Do we create idols out of how we spend our time? Are you bowing down and worshiping any "chunks of wood" in your life today? Please turn any idols you might have over to Jesus and allow him to heal you from worshiping those idols in your life!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Isaiah titled "Dead Idols or the Living God" is at this link and "The Knowledge of the Lord" is at this link. Below is a great image from Isaiah 44:3 from today's readings:
New Testament - Wow, Paul's opening verse 1 in chapter 3 of Ephesians today reminded me that Paul literally wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus while he was in prison in Rome! "I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ Jesus because of my preaching to you Gentiles." I think if we keep this fact in mind, Paul's words in this letter become all that more poignant and powerful. Could you ever imagine yourself being a prisoner of Jesus because of your preaching the Word to others? I think this is something we should really consider. Would you go to jail for Jesus? Why or why not? If you would go to jail for Jesus, then I challenge you to consider ways in your life that God may be asking to you indeed be like Paul "in chains for the Gospel" - even if you won't "literally" be going to jail any time soon. (I pray not!) Maybe those chains are that you don't spend as much time doing something that is counter-productive to the Gospel. Like watching TV, for example. In fact, (soap box alert... I posted this next block of text up last year and I got some grief for it! And I posted this up before I started putting YouTube videos on this blog... :) I'll let it stand for now. Overall, my anti-TV stance is softening up slightly - though I still don't watch it...) I'm not sure if everyone caught this news story, but people in the U.S. now have more TV's in their homes on average than people in their homes! The TV's outnumber us! :) This is scary to consider. There are now 2.73 TV sets in the typical U.S. home and 2.55 people. I am not kidding... check out the news story at this link. This story also says the average person watches 4 hours and 35 minutes of TV per day... which I honestly cannot believe, but it says they did research on all of this... This is one of my soapboxes I get on a couple of times each year - please don't watch TV. I mean, yes, I realize this is a bold statement to make in our world where TV's outnumber people in our homes. But I mean it. Don't watch it. I have not watched network TV (or certainly cable for that matter) since 1998 - other than seeing it in very brief passing at a friend's house or at a restaurant / airport / etc. - you can't avoid TV's these days! There were 5 years (1998 to 2003) where I didn't have a TV in my home at all. A few years ago I got a TV and DVD / VCR for some movies, but I question that decision. I almost never watch even DVD's these days. And you know what's amazing - once you unplug from the TV and cable world you truly do not miss it! And you're not being fed all the junk it preaches and sells to you. I'm even clueless on the movies out in the theaters these days. Maybe this seems like extremist religious kookiness to some...?? :) But I think if you met me in person you'd think I'm pretty normal. I just have no clue about American Idol or reality TV shows or the crazy sad stuff I hear that is on cable these days. I'm clueless about it! And it's an amazing blessing. I apologize for going off on this huge tangent here about TV. But if anyone reading this blog posting literally watches 4+ hours of TV a day, I beg you to at least cut that in half! (though 0.0 hours of TV a day would be my long term prescription for anyone reading this... :) The interesting thing to share with you here is that I got rid of having a TV in my place in 1998 - 2 years before I became a Christian in 2000! So it wasn't really even a religious decision at the time. It was the realization that I probably was watching 2 to 4 hours of TV before 1998 and I was rotting my brain with the ads and sexuality and violence on TV and I was literally wasting my life away. So, I guess I'll get off my soapbox here... :) And I'll say that if you think not watching TV at all would be like being in jail, well, then I'd say that's good! It's better than being a prisoner to your TV. So back to my question above - would you go to jail for Jesus? Would you turn off the TV for Jesus? For good? Feel free to let me know in the Comments below if I'm off my rocker on this one! Maybe this is just my little issue that I should keep to myself... I think that news article I link to above sent me over the edge... :)
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Ephesians titled "Paul's Imprisonment, his Prayers, and his Praise" is at this link. Below is a great image for Ephesians 3:18 from today's readings:
Psalms - I always like the idea and reminder to sing to God! Do you sing to God at places other than church? Maybe in your car? Maybe at home with the headphones on? Do you "sing" to God with the way you live your life? Here's verse 4 in Psalm 68 today which I love - "Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD-- rejoice in his presence!" How do you sing your praises to the Lord each day? Is it done as passionately as this fella below? :)
Below is a great image for Psalm 68 verse 9 from today's readings:
Proverbs - Proverbs 24 verses 1 & 2 today are powerful - "Don't envy evil people; don't desire their company. For they spend their days plotting violence, and their words are always stirring up trouble." Have you ever found yourself desiring the company of evil people? Have you ever found yourself envying them? The bottom line to both of these things are these three words: waste of time. Really. Spending your time with people who do evil - those whose words stir up trouble - is simply a waste of your time. Envying evil people? Waste of your time as well. Don't waste your time! Our life is short and precious. Spend your time loving and serving God and other people. I have to share with you here that being careful who you spend your time with can be very challenging in some ways. Obviously I think all of us can see the wisdom of staying away from people who are truly evil. But what about people who are somewhere in between being holy and being evil - which, oh, includes all of us... :) There are obviously people who are in different phases of life, or on different points on a spectrum between good and evil if you will. And this gets tough to know if you're "compromising" too much by spending time with folks who perhaps don't care about God at all, don't care about the poor at all, and don't really care about much of anything besides themselves - but yet they are not "evil" people per se. I will confess that I do purposely avoid spending time with people who I spent A LOT of time with in my past. This was my past where I drank too much. Stayed out way too late. Didn't care about God. Didn't care about the poor. Only cared about myself. And you know what, praise God that I was saved from that lifestyle by Jesus - and through a godly friend who still would spend some time with me back then and eventually brought me to the point where I could give my life over to the Lord. So, I guess what I'm saying is this - we do need to spend time investing in others who don't know the Lord. That is not a waste of time. But, it gets tricky to realize when we are "going back to our old ways / old self" and when we're really loving people where they are at. I don't have this fully figured out right now, as you may guess by this long post... :) But I'm cognizant of it. Our hours each and every day are so very precious... I do pray for wisdom and discernment in this area! How are you spending your time these days? Wisely? Please don't waste your very precious time that God has given you this side of heaven...
Worship God: Psalm 68:4 took my mind to many great worship songs. It seems like "Awesome God" by Rich Mullins, and performed here by Michael W. Smith is a great one to share with you today:
Do you know our awesome God? Click here to meet God!
Please join me in memorizing a verse of Scripture today:
"Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence!" Psalm 68:4 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!