Isaiah

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The ministry of the prophet Isaiah was directed to all of God’s chosen people in Israel & Judah (16).  His long service for God overlapped the reigns of three significant kings of Judah – Uzziah, Jotham & Hezekiah.

During the reigns of Uzziah & Jotham, Isaiah was used to deliver prophetic messages concerning God’s judgment of Judah, God’s judgment of the surrounding nations, and God’s certain judgment of his chosen people.  The prophet’s ministry was greatly magnified in the year that King Uzziah died, in which he received an amazing vision of the holiness of God in heaven.

Four chapters then form an historical bridge between Isaiah’s prophecies of judgment & his prophecies of peace.  During the reign of Hezekiah, Isaiah was used both to judge & to encourage the king, as he contended with the invaders from Assyria.

The remainder of the book emphasizes three aspects of God’s promised peace: (1) God intends peace for his chosen people, and for all who will serve him as king. (2) God will send his Prince of Peace to help us understand & submit to God.  (3) God has a specific program in mind as to what this promised peace will look like in the lives of his people.

Among all God’s prophets included in the inspired Jewish scriptures, Isaiah best helps us understand the significance of Jesus as the Messiah (or Prince of Peace) whom God had determined to send to rescue his people from their sin.

LORD, please help us to love Your peace more than our distress.

(16) Isaiah

Meditations Of Peace

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Meditating on fundamental aspects of the Christian faith, such as those expressed in the Creeds, helps us grow closer to God.  For example, we can find great peace in contemplating the power & promises of Jesus.

  • Jesus is the Lord of all creation – a truth which is affirmed repeatedly in the inspired scriptures. He created us & he controls our destiny, whether we acknowledge that or not.
  • Jesus is alive & working in this world through his church, however imperfect that church necessarily must be.  Our human imperfections can never negate the perfections offered to us by the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus will return to this earth, as he promised his closest followers before he ascended to heaven.
  • When he returns, Jesus will judge, with perfect judgment, all people  — living & dead, believers & non-believers — as he promised.

  • In Jesus, and in Jesus alone, we find the fulfillment & the completion & the perfection of all things.

LORD, please help us to love finding & sharing peace in Jesus.

Paul Reminds Ephesian Friends Of God’s Expectations

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Paul then turns to how God expects his chosen people (his adopted children) to respond to his many blessings (340).

As to how we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit, Paul offers a couple of ideas.

  1. We have to start thinking of ourselves as one body, instead of as a bunch of unrelated people. God always gives us opportunity to get over ourselves.
  2. We have to let the Holy Spirit have his way, rather than trying to organize God’s church our way. The Holy Spirit can anoint & use whomever he chooses.  And the Spirit does not always choose to use the people we might think best-suited for leadership or service in the church.

Spirit-led living involves submitting to the rule of our spirit rather than the rule of our flesh.  If each member is being ruled by his spirit instead of his flesh, then the body as a whole is becoming more mature & Christ-like.

In this context, Paul emphasizes that God provides spiritual gifts to every believer, including normal everyday men & women & kids.  God has chosen to do his work in the world through everyday people, until Christ comes again.

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God uses people to build up His church.  God uses His church to serve people in need, regardless of their relationship with God — which shows that we love them, which shows that we love God.

Paul then considers what Spirit-led living looks like in a few everyday human relationships – specifically, marriage, family & work.  In each case, the main idea is that our relationships in the world are opportunities for us to deepen & demonstrate our devotion to Jesus.  We show our love for God by being godly marriage partners, godly family members & godly workers.

Paul concludes the letter with a warning: God’s enemy, Satan, works overtime to undermine God’s work in the world.  But God has given us spiritual armor to defend against Satan’s attacks.

Metaphorically, the armor includes a belt, a breastplate, shoes, a shield, a helmet & a sword.  Spiritually, what these represent are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation & the inspired scriptures – all to be enjoyed & employed prayerfully.

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LORD, please help us to love being led by Your Holy Spirit.

(340) Ephesians 4-6

Thomas

 

Thomas, one of the twelve chosen witnesses, was not there when Jesus came (242). When he joined them later the other witnesses told him, “We have seen Jesus!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I touch the scars on his hands & the wound in his side, I cannot believe that!”

A week later the witnesses were together again behind locked doors; this time Thomas was with them. Again, Jesus appeared suddenly among them & said, “Be filled with peace.”

Jesus turned to Thomas & said, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then put your hand in my side. Stop doubting & believe.” Then Thomas did believe & exclaimed, “My Master & my God!”

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Jesus replied with this promise: “Do you believe because you see me? Many people will believe without seeing me & they will be blessed by God for their faith.”

John the Witness wrote down many accounts of events in the life & ministry of Jesus.  He wanted his readers to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of God.  He wanted you to have new life by believing in Jesus.

At the end of his account of the life & ministry of Jesus, John also testified that Jesus did many other miracles which were not written down.

LORD, thank You for sending Jesus to give us new life.

(242) John 20:24-31

Living Ambassadors

 

After he had eaten the fish, Jesus began to teach his friends (241).  “All these things that have happened are the very things I told you about before I was executed.  Everything inspired by God to be written about me — in the law of Moses, the writings of the prophets & the psalms — had to be fulfilled.”

Jesus went on to open their minds to understand the inspired scriptures, saying, “This is what is written: the Messiah must suffer & must rise from death three days later.”

Then Jesus told them, “As my living ambassadors, you must preach the message of repentance & forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning here in Jerusalem. You are my chosen witnesses.

“I will send you the power promised by God so you can do this.  Wait here in Jerusalem until God’s power comes upon you.”

Holy Spirit

Finally, Jesus said to them again, “Be filled with peace.  As God sent me, so now I am sending you.”

Then Jesus breathed new life into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Let him fill your heart & take charge of your lives!

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“Tell people everywhere that God will forgive their sins against him!  And warn them of the danger of rejecting God’s forgiveness.”

Jesus, please help us to love being Your living ambassadors.

(241) Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23

Alarming Reunion

 

After Jesus had left them, the two friends began speaking excitedly to one another (240). “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in our hearts when he talked with us on the road & explained to us the inspired scriptures?”

They got up at once and hurried back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven chosen witnesses gathered together with other friends of Jesus.  Before they could say a word, the witnesses told them, “Jesus is risen indeed! Peter & John have seen the empty tomb!”

Then they told the witnesses what had happened on the road to Emmaus, and how they had recognized Jesus when he broke the bread.

While the two were telling their story, suddenly Jesus stood among them all!  He said simply, “Be filled with peace.”  But his friends were anything but peaceful, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

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Jesus said to them, “Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts arising in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s really me. Feel my body, and you will know.  A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like me!”

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He showed them his hands and his feet, but they still couldn’t believe their eyes; they were amazed!

So Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of cooked fish, which he then took & ate before their eyes.

At last, his friends began to calm down . . .

Jesus, please help us to love being amazed by You.

(240) Mark 16:13, Luke 24:32-43, John 20:19-20

The Way: Living With God

 

Jesus challenged his friends to embrace living with God (219).

“Up till now, I have often used figures of speech to tell you things about God. But the time has come for me to speak to you plainly about God.  It’s time for you to go on living with God.   It’s time for each of you to have your own very direct & very personal relationship with God.  God loves each one of you very much.

relationship 1

“God loves you  — because you love me & because you have believed that I came from God. I did come from God into the world, and now it’s time for me to leave the world & return to God.”

His friends replied to Jesus, “But now you are speaking plainly, without using figures of speech; now we understand you.  We really do believe that you came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Remember, the time has come for all of you to be scattered, and for me to be left alone. But I’m never really alone, because God is always with me.

“I have been telling you all these things so that, whenever you feel all alone, you can have the same powerful peace that God gives to me.  God will always be with you, too.

“In the tribulation of this world, you will experience suffering.

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“But you can be peaceful through it all, knowing that I have overcome the world.”

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God, please help us to love living all of life with You.

(219) John 16:25-33