God Wins; Don’t Fight Him

At the end of this age, God wins. Each of us must decide today. Do we take Him as our God or substitute something else, something earthly?

Today’s Reading

 Isaiah 45-47; Colossians 3

Selected Verses

Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
“To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.”   Isaiah 45:22-23

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

Reflections

Isaiah predicts with detail the deliverance of Judah by Cyrus, king of Persia, an event that remained some 150 years in the future. God will do what He wills with mighty Babylonia. Judah will be conquered and taken into captivity by that empire, but then Babylonia would succumb to Persia and Cyrus would become the deliverer of Judah. God, through the prophet, keeps telling them “besides me there is no God” (45:5, 22; 46:9). When are they going to get this?

Paul calls the Colossians to holiness of life, beginning with their mindset. In order to focus on things above where Christ is, they are certainly going to have to turn away from the things below, earthly things like “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness.” Sexual sin–for most of us men–is easy to spot. Guilt can be quickly detected and hard to ignore or suppress.

Covetousness, however, is more subtle. It is idolatry! We want things that others have because we love stuff. We rely on things to make us happy. Stuff seems to fill the emptiness in our hearts left by an earthly mindset. In reality, when we covet we replace the worship of God with material things. God’s wrath is going to be unleashed on those who practice that sin. It is not a harmless, little snake, all cute and cuddly. It is a deadly python whose venom can kill multiple humans. Put it to death, Paul tells them.

Think about it

The final victory of God over all evil and rebellion against Him is indisputable. He wins! What is not clear is whether we will bow before Him now, calling for His mercy and salvation, or later when we come kicking and screaming before His judgment. Don’t fight God. Seek to set your mind on Him, now and always.

Amazing grace, indeed!

God controls history including every large and small event, every good and bad situation. Those who trust Him can rest that His grace will get us home.

Today’s Reading

Isaiah 7-9; Galatians 4

Selected Verses

 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  Isaiah 9:6-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6

Reflections

King Ahaz was in a tizzy.  He saw Israel joining with Syria against his kingdom, Judah.  God sent Isaiah to him to reassure him that all would be well, that, in fact, Israel and Syria were the ones who would go down.  Ahaz resisted the message and even turned down the offer of a God-sent sign.  Isaiah gave him a sign from God anyway, and what a sign!  The sign was “the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”- God with us (7:14).

The sign had an immediate fulfillment, but it also pointed ultimately to the Incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary.  He would be Immanuel in every sense of the word.  While the immediate fulfillment of the sign of the birth of a son to Ahaz would show assurance of deliverance of a short term military threat, the ultimate fulfillment would bring deliverance from the guilt and curse of all those under the law.  But not only that, this Son and Redeemer would bring adoption as sons of God, who would send His Spirit into the hearts of His people.  Spirit-possessing sons would cry out “Abba, Father” and not live in fear of any army or any future legal process resulting in their conviction and sentencing.

Think about it

Let this truth sink deep in your heart.  God sent His Son, a sign of His grace for guilty sinners.  Amazing grace, indeed!

The Wisdom and Faithfulness of God

When current events are perplexing, bewildering, and maddening, we do well to stop and consider the wisdom and faithfulness of God. He always wins.

Today’s Reading

Psalms 88-89; Romans 10

Selected Verses

 If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my rules,
 if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
 then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
 but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
or be false to my faithfulness.           Psalm 89:30-33

Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”  But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”  Romans 10:20-21

Reflections

The Psalmist laments deeply the loss to Israel of God’s apparent abandonment of them.  He reasons that God’s covenant with David was to maintain his offspring on the throne forever, conditional on the obedience of his descendants.  Clearly the conditions were not met. David’s descendants were a sorry lot, for the most part.  After Solomon, the kingdom was divided and Rehoboam ruled over Judah alone.  Idolatry became the norm in both Judah and Israel.  Eventually foreign powers conquer those kingdoms and take the people into captivity.

But God promised to keep the Davidic line alive while punishing the rebellion of the kings in that line.  How would He do this? What did His promise really mean? We learn from the New Testament that God sent His Son through the Virgin Mary of the line of David to be the King forever.  Jesus was also called the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29).  He took away the sins of the world. He became the High Priest Whose offering was perfect and removed forever the need for further sacrifices (Hebrews 10:11-14).

Paul longs for Israel to recognize their Messiah as their King and High Priest.  In another move showing God’s wisdom, He sends the gospel to the Gentiles, and they believed it.  Yet this move was, in part, to make Israel jealous of the blessing they were missing. Paul says that Isaiah had foretold this strategy.  Ironically, those who sought to be righteous by their own efforts [the Jews] did not obtain it while those who did not seek God and His righteousness [the Gentiles] found justification before Him by faith in Jesus.

Think about it

In light of world events and apparent chaos, consider the wisdom and faithfulness of God.  Praise Him that His ways are not our ways and that He has triumphed over sin and Satan. He has won the battle.

When You Despair over the Lost

What believer has not felt some level of despair over his or her unsaved loved ones? What can we do?  Scripture gives us some positive steps to take.

Today’s Reading

Psalms 85-87; Romans 9

Selected Verses

Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?

 Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.  Psalm 85:6-7

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.  Romans 9:2-3

Reflections

The Psalmist calls out to God for Israel to again experience His blessing.  He remembers past days when they knew the Lord’s forgiveness and enjoyed His favor in the land.   Now, that favor has been withdrawn.  God is indignant with them.  What can be done?  The writer calls on the Lord for restoration.  Only He can bring revival to the people.  The Psalmist calls on God and he is confident in Him.  He recognizes their foolishness, but he knows that God’s love and faithfulness are greater than the waywardness of His people.

Paul also agonizes over Israel.  He sees them foolishly ignoring all that God had given them.  Look at the list of blessings they have uniquely received:

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.  Romans 9:4-5

What had they done with what they received?  They wasted it.  They turned away from their Messiah, who is God.  Indeed, they crucified Him!  Paul’s anguish is palpable.  So much so that he even states that he would give up his own salvation if that would bring them to Christ.  Of course, it would not, but we get the picture of the depth of his despair about the Jews.

Think about it

What believer has not felt at least some level of despair over his or her unsaved loved ones?   What can we do?  Paul prayed for Israel.  Psalm 85 gives us the right approach in our prayer.  Remember God’s blessings in the past.  Confess any sins that need confessing in the present.  Ask God for mercy and to give life to those who are dead in their sins.  Trust God to do what is right in His time.  Praise Him for His righteousness.  Wait on Him.  Repeat daily, as needed.

 

God’s Wisdom and Sovereignty

Today’s reading: I Kings 1-2; Luke 22:54-71

So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon. I Kings 2:46b

61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62

Human history is filled with foolishness and wickedness, but God rules over all and uses even the wrath of man to praise Him (Psalm 76:10).

Adonijah, yet another spoiled son of David, like his brother Absalom, attempted to grasp the throne of his elderly father. He had significant support from Joab and Abiathar. David acted quickly and successfully to thwart Adonijah and set up Solomon as the new king. Solomon did not immediately put Adonijah to death, but he did put him on probation.

It wasn’t long before Adonijah made his move. He asked permission to marry Abishag, the beautiful Shunnamite woman, who had cared for David on his death bed. Solomon saw where Adonijah was going with that request. He had him executed immediately.

Adonijah’s death led to Joab’s. Within three years, Solomon had cause to execute Shimei for his violation of probation. The result of all this: the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon. God used the evil of people to bring about His purpose for the kingdom.

In a similar way, God used Peter’s denial to contribute, in a small way, to the purpose of salvation through the offering of Jesus Christ on the cross. Perhaps even more importantly, God used Peter’s denial to teach him how great his need for mercy and salvation was. Peter was so sure of himself a few hours earlier (Luke 22:33), but he had to learn the depth of his sin and the greater depth of God’s grace toward him. God again used evil to bring about His good purposes both for Peter and for all His elect people.

Do you despair when confronted by sin in yourself and in the world? Remember that God is wise and sovereign. He will do all that He decrees. He will be glorified even in the evil that goes on day in and day out. His kingdom will be established  forever.  It will far exceed that of Solomon in every way.