Isaiah 8:1-9:21 ~ 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 ~ Psalm 55:1-23 ~ Proverbs 23:4-5
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Old Testament - I got chills today when reading Isaiah chapter 9 about the hope in our Messiah, Jesus Christ! Keep in mind that the book of the prophet Isaiah was written in the 8th century B.C.... 800 years before Jesus walked this earth! Verses 1 & 2 start off this chapter in such a beautiful way: "Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light--a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow." Compare these verses to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 12 through 17 at this link when Jesus begins his public ministry. Amazing eh? Jesus Christ is the great light! The light of the world! And indeed, a light to the Gentiles!
Verses 6 & 7 continued the chills for me as I read them - and reminded me of an incredibly beautiful song that is sung at my parent's church every Christmas: "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!" Do you believe that these verses were prophesying the coming of Jesus Christ 800 years later? Do you believe that Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor? Mighty God? Prince of Peace? Do you believe that Jesus rules forever with fairness and justice? Praise God for this prophecy in Isaiah that a child would be born to us! Though we are a few months out from Christmas, now feels like a good time for all of us to reflect upon these words below from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2 verses 8-14 (from the King James Version):
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Isaiah chapter 9 titled "The Glorious Messiah and the Messianic Age" is at this link. Below is a great image for Isaiah chapter 9 verse 2 from today's readings:
New Testament - Paul's words in Second Corinthians chapter 12 verses 7 through 10 about the thorn in Paul's flesh are so powerful for each of us to consider for our lives today as well! "But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Biblical commentaries can basically all agree that we do not know what Paul's "thorn" was. There is some interesting speculation out there. Some think that the thorn is Paul's flesh was perhaps something that literally affected his flesh - a health issue of some sort. Some think it could have been a disease of the eyes, epilepsy, or even malaria. Whatever the thorn was, it was something that affected him very seriously. And it kept Paul humble in the midst of his incredible ministry. Why do you suppose that Paul was given a thorn in his flesh? Do you suppose you or I might have thorns in our flesh today? What might those thorns be in your life today? And why might those thorns be there? Is there anything you can learn from Paul about your thorns? Can you learn to live with the thorn in your flesh realizing that God's power in your life actually works strongest when you are weak? Do you believe that God's power can actually work through the thorn in your flesh for God's glory? Will you accept where you are weak, so that in that area of your life God will be strong?
Continuing along this point about having a thorn in our flesh. I do think this is a powerful thing for each of us to really meditate upon. I believe that all of us have some sort of thorn in our flesh! (or we will...) All of us are human with various frailties. None of us are Superman or Wonderwoman. We will all grow older - God-willing - and will eventually have health issues that will eventually lead to our death. As Christians we have eternal life after death where all of our thorns will be removed forever! But this side of heaven we will have thorns in our flesh. Perhaps many thorns. But, this is the beauty of the thorns... if we will accept them and give them over to God, God's power will work in our weakness! If we will give all that we have over to God - the good, the bad, and the ugly, God will show up and move through it. It's tough I know to really put this into practice - if we lose a loved one, or get diagnosed with a serious illness, or are struggling with an addiction, we can often think "where is God in this??" Well, yes, where is He? Have you opened the door to let Him in the room of that weakness? Will you let his power in?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Second Corinthians titled "Boasting in our Weakness" is at this link. Below is a great image from Second Corinthians 12 verse 9 from today's readings:
Psalms - Today we read Psalm 55 verse 22, which is a beautiful reminder to all who believe in the risen Lord! "Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." Please do meditate on this verse a bit. Do you make it a habit of giving your burdens to the Lord? Or do you try to carry your burdens on your own strength? Is there a burden you are carrying today that you can give to the Lord? Will you? And do you trust that he will take care of you and not permit you to slip and fall?
Proverbs - Proverbs 23 verses 4 & 5 today are a great teaching on the futility of pursuing worldly wealth - "Don't weary yourself trying to get rich. Why waste your time? For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!" Have you ever tried to get rich? Did it ever seem like perhaps that goal in and of itself was perhaps a waste of time? What else in life do you miss out on when you pursue nothing but riches? Is it possible that you miss out on God when you wholeheartedly pursue riches? I do want to share with you a personal conversion of heart story here. When I graduated from college my one goal in life was "to make one million dollars by the age of 30." Seriously. And what a sad goal that turned out to be! I did go through a period of about 4 years of really pursuing that goal - and it led me into a job that was leading me down the path of being rich, but it was a job that I absolutely hated. The pursuit of that monetary goal was literally killing my soul. Fortunately God can redeem dumb goals like this and save us from our self-destructive habits. During that quest for riches God led me into a homeless shelter for teenagers where I finally had a conversion of heart experience to realize that there are people really struggling in our world - teenagers that have been physically, mentally, and sexually abused by their own parents in this case. And I realized in that homeless shelter that I was doing absolutely nothing for these hurting teens in my pursuit of cold hard cash. I was the one becoming cold! Well, praise God that he led me to eventually quit that high profile job and begin working for jobs that paid much less, but which have given me a great opportunity to have work / life balance. Jobs that have given me enough breathing room to grow in my relationship with God and others! So, back to you and your life today. Have you grown weary pursuing riches yet...? :)
Worship God: Today's readings in Psalm 55 reminded me of Britt Nicole's song "Walk on The Water:"
Do you want to walk on the water? Click here and Walk On!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint." Proverbs 23:4 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you are not pursuing riches. Pray that you don't love money. Pray that you are pursuing God. Pray that you are pursuing righteousness.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our One Year Bible readings at this link.
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