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Is 58: True Fasting

It is not what we give up or deny ourselves that pleases God - it is what we do (proactively). It is very easy to fall into a rut and say - "I will give this up, not do that, etc. Very formulaic. One can look very pious, and as Isaiah says - 'seem to be seeking God and to know His ways'.

Through Isaiah God says - don't focus on a ritual to impress Me, but:
to loose the chains, untie, to set the oppressed free, break every yoke?

Do liberating things, things that exemplify the idea of loving Me with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The heart of God's redemptive plan for mankind was not to be restricted by the Law, but to be free in Christ. That is pleasing to God; then God will heed your entreaties.

Interesting to me that the Sabbath is brought into the chapter in the last two verses. What does the Sabbath have to do with "fasting"? Why bring it up????

For the Jews of Isaiah's time and unfortunately all too common today - Worship has become formulaic. It is "clock-punching" time with God for all too many. It is "time" we give up to God - instead of something we do proactively to worship and honor God.

Is 58:13b "if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the Lord's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words," NIV

Worship God in the spirit of the Sabbath, not as a ritual observance.

"then you will find your joy in the LORD" NIV

This is what Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees in the Gospels. Jesus delighted in the Sabbath and was doing God's work and "Will". Jesus worshiped in the Spirit of the Sabbath, while the Pharisees were caught up in rules and a formulaic procedure.

From Isaiah and Jesus it should be obvious what the right way to spend the day set aside for the Lord.

What do you do? Is your worship joyful? Do you run to the beach, the golf course, or the TV, the movies, and/or video games right after Church? Do you do things that you want to do - or things that honor the Lord?????

Like ritual fasting, if your worship is formulaic and shallow - if you go your own way after services - perhaps it is no wonder that some feel distanced from God. That some feel their prayers are not answered. That some do not get a true joy out of their faith.

The good news is: God is gracious. All it takes is a self-administered attitude check. Asking for forgiveness and a restoration of fellowship, and to change our actions (through the help of the Spirit)- then we can start anew in our efforts to do things pleasing to God - including worship.

29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.....
Discipline is part of making the flesh suffer.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.....
It's all too easy to complain when things go the wrong way,when dreams are shattered...when you are at cross roads.This is where the passage that we are also called to called to suffer for Christ....Not everyday's going to be one that you'd feel like saying God is good.For some,suffering for Christ may mean persecution,for some even death....for others it may mean conductiong yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel.Giving the other cheek isn't as easy as it sounds,doing things wothout complaining,no selfish ambitions....Thank God for His grace.Danger may come in an obvious way where you stand in front of a court/people where denying your faith may save your life....it may also come in subtle ways that eat away at your relationship with God and brethren while you are still convinced everything's just fine.My prayer for all christians today is that we be led and controlled by the Spirit of the Living God.
God bless you all

Is 59

"The Old Testament has 39 books, and the first division of Isaiah has 39 chapters. The New Testament has 27 books, and the second half of Isaiah has 27 chapters. The theme of the last of Isaiah is the theme of the last of the Bible: the end!"]
- Ray Stedman

This is how I see Isaiah. To me -most prophecies have a near term and a far term application. While it is certainly true that the writings reflect the time of Isaiah, the same could be said of the times today, and will be true in the end.

Stedman quotes Winston Churchill at close of WWII:

"Certain it is that while men are gathering knowledge and power with ever-increasing speed, their virtues and their wisdom have not shown any notable improvement as the centuries have rolled. Under sufficient stress: starvation, terror, warlike passion, or even cold intellectual frenzy, the modern man we know so well will do the most terrible deeds, and his modern woman will back him up."

And why not - there is nothing "new under the sun". Man has not changed. For all the talk of evolvement and growth of man - from a moral perspective mankind is still doing the "same old same old".

For a quick and easy read of a "review" of Ch 59, I would suggest the first 10 or so paragraphs at this link:

Basically it is Sin that separates us from God. God has a solution (CHRIST). Yet the real problem is man's reluctance to admit he sins and is turned from God. Yet there is a remnant (there always is) that will confess, and God acts. The wicked are taken care of and the remnant is saved. Physically in Isaiah's time, and Spiritually in the Second Coming to those who confess and believe IN Christ. (I believe the remnant will be the nation of Israel, as the Church will be gone (raptured)in the day of the Lord.)
Some things not covered by Ray:

1) "Why is the world in such a mess? Why doesn't God fix it? He is capable, but there is a problem - it is sin - sin separates us from God, and more importantly mankind refuses to admit that that is the problem.

Vs. 4: No one calls for justice;
no one pleads his case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

The KJV version uses "vanity" for empty arguments - the Hebrew word is "tohuw". The same word used in Genesis 1 to describe the "earth" - empty, void, without form.

Such is man's plight. How many times do we see people explain God in terms not revealed by Scripture, but based on their own perspective or how they want God to be. Such utterances are empty, void, without substance - they are "vanity".

All someone has to do is stand up and be convincing, and say he has a word from God or understands things in a spiritual way - and people will flock to him/her. People will believe a person that tickles their ears with things they want to hear, has an air of authority, or makes sense to them.

Yet they ignore the Word of God where He reveals Himself and His plan. A book that has stood the test of time. But to most it is not what they want to hear. God is too tough, don't like that hell thing, like the grace, mercy and love thing, but not the justice and righteousness thing.....so they search for a "nicer" message - one compatible to their way of thinking.
2) vs. 6 " Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make." NIV

Adam and Eve could not cover themselves in the garden with fig leaves. God had to show them that they could only be properly covered by the shedding of innocent blood (the "coats of skins" Gen 3:21) - foreshadowing Christ. They could not do it on their own - God did it for them!

If the spider's web represents lies and deceit - then certainly that is not proper covering here in Isaiah. Regardless, what man makes (brings to the table) will not provide the covering he needs in the presence of God.
3)vs. 9 "We look for light, but all is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows." NIV

I have read that the world's search for spirituality is at an all-time high. There is something innately in mankind, that wants to believe in something. The actual number of atheists is pretty low. (Think it is less than 10% of world's population???)

Yet, unless we turn to God - we will walk in darkness, the deep shadows Isaiah describes.
4) So what is the solution?

It is to turn to God, confess our status as sinners, and our inability to "save ourselves". To believe in His plan, to believe IN His Son - and seek Salvation.

Why is this so difficult? Mankind (through all this mankind refers to human race in general terms)digs in his heals and refuses to admit that he is a sinner. "I am a good person, I do good things, I don't need a God like you describe, etc...."

Yet there will be a remnant. There was in Isaiah's time, and there will be in the end - who will confess to God there sad state:

"For our offenses are many in your sight,
and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
and we acknowledge our iniquities:

rebellion and treachery against the LORD,
turning our backs on our God,
fomenting oppression and revolt,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived."
5) vs. 16 "He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him."

The KJ version is :
"And he saw that [there was] no man" (Heb. 'iysh = man)

Just as Paul says in Rom 3:10 - "There is none righteous, not even one."

So God does it - He takes it on himself. His own arm worked Salvation through Christ. (Salvation is of God - not man).
6) vs. 17 "He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak" NIV

Yes - Paul does seem to borrow from these verses when talking about the armor of God in Ephesians. But notice Paul does not mention garments of vengence.

In Ephesians we are told to stand fast. Why? Because it is God's battle. Vengence is of the Lord, justice will be administered by God.
7) Vs. 18
"According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.

This is the fate of those who reject God. The thing Job cried out for in his troubles.

James 4:4b
"...Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." NIV

So just as it was with the Amelakites, so it will be with the nations of the world, and all unrepentant mankind.
8)The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,"
declares the LORD.

I happen to believe that this is refering to the remnant of the nation of Israel at the Second coming. Mostly because of the use of Jacob instead of Abraham. Christians today are the spiritual seed of Abraham, but when "Jacob" is used I believe it is talking about the nation of Israel.

Why the Second Coming and not Christ's first coming? - because of the judgment and wrath in the prior verses.

And God's covenant will be fulfilled with Israel (the remnant of believers) forever and ever. Not just the millenium - but as Handel's "Messiah" says - FOREVER AND EVER.

Good morning one and all!

Yesterday I didn’t stop at Philippians 1:26 but instead went on and read the few verses completing that chapter. When I did, Philippians 1:27 jumped off the page to me, and this morning it still jumps out.

Philippians 1:27 (NIV) “Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” What a powerful and simple verse to commit to our heart! When we become angry, hurt or disappointed or even when we have reason to celebrate, we should conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

My mouth is my big problem! Sometimes I speak before I think about how my words will make someone else feel. Another problem I have is my tone of voice. I was hearing until age 50 and then became deaf overnight. For the past 14 years I have struggled with tone of voice when I speak, and I speak fluently as I had 50 years of practice before deafness! I’m a total communicator - God has blessed me with the abilities to lip read, sign and speak. I have to really work on speaking orally in the right tone, and when I’m upset or tired that is not easy to do. Since I no longer hear what I say, my tone of voice often betrays how I really feel, but it could even come out sounding totally different from how I feel. In sign language the tone is reflected by the speed and size of the signs so it is easier to control. I have to constantly struggle with the fact that people hear how I say something before they hear what I am saying.

I’m going to put Philippians 1:27 as part of my morning prayer, and while the Lord and I are talking I’m going to ask Him to help me conduct myself each day in a manner that is worthy of His gospel! What a wonderful way to start out each day knowing that Christ is there to assist me in conquering not only this problem and all other problems life hands me!

God Bless!

My husband and I had Phil 4:1-11 read at our wedding and I can't help but think of marriage when I read these verses. This chapter is always such a challenge and an encouragement to me.

Isaiah 60:1-62:5

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV)

Have we ever really stopped to think about these three verses, do we admire the prose more than its content? Jesus stood up in the Temple and proclaimed this about Himself (Luke 4:18-21). I copied in the King James because in the NLT, in this particular case, a lot is lost. It is not just the poor, meaning lack of resources, this preaching/good news, is directed too, but to those who are meek in the Hebrew states:
‛ânâv ‛ânâyv
aw-nawv', aw-nawv' depressed (figuratively), in mind (gentle) or circumstances (needy, especially saintly)

There are many who have an abundance of resources or at least enough to live on. In fact, God has given to each according to his abilities but we have not recognized either the value of what God has given us, or we like the servant who buried his talent, refuse to acknowledge that we are to do something with it. Poverty, or lack of financial resources, is relative based on the culture, climate and economic system you live in anyway. When I read the above verses I am reminded that my biggest job is to work with people in identifying the gifts God has given them and help them place a true value on that gift. The greatest poverty is spiritual poverty. When you are in “poverty,” you recognize neither the God who created you nor the God who gifted you with your gifts, talents and abilities.

Without seeing yourself as God sees you, without valuing yourself as God values you, you will never be able to get out of spiritual poverty. All of the stated bondage listed in Isaiah 61:1-3 are not physical conditions but spiritual conditions from which everything else flows.

"The children of your tormentors will come and bow before you. Those who despised you will kiss your feet. They will call you the City of the LORD, and Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

I am praying for the Peace (Shalom = Completeness in every area) of Jerusalem. I am praying that the spirit of terrorism be bound. I am also praying former terrorists will then come and willingly bow before the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and into the city of Jerusalem to bow down to honor Israel as the city of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities long ago destroyed. They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations.

May the ministry of Jesus – be real IN US and then THROUGH US

Because I love Zion, because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.

God’s love for the people of God, and the fulfillment of His covenant, is truly amazing!


COMMENT: I really like this in the NIV

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

We need each other! We need each other to support one another! We need each other to contend as one man for the faith of the Gospel!

Do we know and believe that “…it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him” ?

And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.
Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name

May we be humble like Jesus—truly in deed and word—so Jesus is seen in us.

We need to be like the Lord Jesus and the world needs to see the Lord Jesus!

I watched the new season opener of "Smallville" last night. In the episode, Jalel (Superman's father) tells Kalel (Clark Kent) that he must study hard and go through all of the training in order to save the earth. His father Jalel told Kalel (Clark Kent) that his emotions, not controlled, were his weakness.

Thus, his emotions humans must be guided by instruction provided by his father.

It made me think of how Jesus humbled himself before the Lord—which is the same way that we must be humble before the Lord:

[JESUS] Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Jesus, the Perfect human, had to learn obedience through what He suffered. Thus, He was made perfect (or, inherent perfection within came through).
We also need to feed on “the doctrine of righteousness—solid food—so our senses are trained by practice to see the difference between right and wrong—and then to obey the right, by the Spirit of Christ within!

Thus, OUR emotions humans must be guided by instruction provided by OUR FATHER through the Word of Righteousness.


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