Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Comfortable Home for All Seasons - Isaiah 18

“For thus the LORD has told me,
‘I will look from My dwelling place quietly
like dazzling heat in the sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” (vs4)

God gives His people assurance through the prophet Isaiah. At times it may appear that He is not concerned for us and that He sits way off in the heavens like the divine Watchmaker of the deists. But this is not the case!

At the proper time God will appear for the comfort of His people and for the conquering of His and their enemies. God will take care of His people! God is always taking care of His people (despite our doubts and our fuzzy vision).

Here God is said to be as the “dazzling heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.” The comforts of our God are to us as the warm sun when we need heat and as the cool dew when we need refreshment. He is our comfort!

“Great men have their winter house and their summer house; but those that are at home with God have both in Him.” (Henry)

Glad to have a home,


Disregarding Idols - Isaiah 17

“In that day man will have regard for his Maker,
and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel.
And he will not have regard for the altars,
the works of his hands,
nor will he look to that which his fingers have made…” (vs 7-8)

Here is a picture of true repentance – turning from the idols that they have made and turning to the Holy One who has made them. “He that looks to his Maker must not look to the altars which are the work of his hands. He must not retain the least respect for that which his fingers have made, but must break it to pieces.” (Henry)
As Calvin has said, “our hearts are idol factories.” While I have not built an asherim outwardly I have many inwardly. God help me to turn from that which is worthless solely to You Who are of the greatest worth!

In His glorious grace,

Friday, January 30, 2009

Moabite Pride - Isaiah 16

“We have heard of the pride of Moab, an excessive pride….
Therefore Moab shall wail; everyone of Moab shall wail.” (vs 6-7)

In Chapter 15 we saw the crying out of Isaiah’s heart regarding the destruction of the wicked people of Moab. Certainly God does not delight in the death of the wicked. In verses 1-4 of Chapter 16 God has been telling them, through the prophet Isaiah, what they must do in order to stop this just judgment from happening. “God has made it appear that he delights not in the ruin of sinners by telling them what they may do to prevent their ruin” (Henry).

God gives them fair warning, a way out, and time to turn. They care not to listen. They will not listen. They see no need to listen for they are proud and their wisdom, they think, is wiser than that of the God of Israel. What need have they to listen to anyone?! “Pride goeth before a fall.”

They are even given a clear 3 year open opportunity to repent. Isaiah tells them in verse 14 that these things will take place in 3 years. Here a final warning is given with plenty of time to repent and turn from their wicked ways. Like Ninevah had they heeded the warning God, who is rich in mercy, would have spared them. “He would have healed them, but they won’t be healed. Perhaps there are more precious souls ruined by pride than by any other one lust whatsoever” (Henry).

They would not listen, “therefore Moab shall wail.” "The way of the sinner is hard" (Pr 13:15) and stubborn pride will always lead to sorrow.

Lord – Keep my heart from pride lest it destroy me and I fall! Give me ears of humility to listen to the words of wisdom from Your Scripture and from the “prophets” who speak it’s truths to me.



Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Heart Cries Out For Moab - Isaiah 15

“My heart cries out for Moab….” (vs 5)

Isaiah 15 is a prophecy regarding the destruction of Moab. It would be fulfilled 3 years after Isaiah foretells it. Perhaps the quick fulfilling of this word would serve as a confirmation of the truth of his previous prophetic utterances. They needed to hear and heed God's Word - so do we!

Moab’s defeat would be a sound one. Their chief cities would be destroyed and they would flee to their dumb idols in vain. The entire country would find itself weeping and wailing, “dissolved in tears” because of the judgment that would fall. Even the soul of their mighty army would tremble.

Isaiah saw the vision and the reality of the devastation revealed in that vision made him ache and weep. “My soul cries out for Moab.”

Now keep in mind that Moab was no friend to God’s people. Isaiah surely knew this yet his heart grieved regarding what lay ahead for them. Hear Matthew Henry on this very point:

“The prophet himself has impressions made upon his spirit by the prediction of it. Though they are enemies to Israel, they are our fellow creatures. It becomes God’s ministers to be of a tender spirit, to be like their Master who wept over Jerusalem even when He gave her up for ruin.”

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and we should not either!

Praying for a heart full of mercy,


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hoping For a Question- Isaiah 14

“How then will one answer the messengers of the nation?
That the LORD has founded Zion,
and the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it.” (vs 32)

Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon and for Israel continues. Chapter 14 begins with the word “when” - "When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob, and again choose Israel..."
God’s redeeming mercy to His people was a certain thing. It was not an “if.” It was a “when!” It is still a "when."
“Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand….For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His outstretched hand, who can turn it back?” (vs 24, 27). God will do as He says. He said He would lift the yoke of bondage from His people and He did.
But what was the reason behind his lifting of this burdensom yoke? The reason was His compassion! “When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob, and again choose Israel….” (vs 1). Matthew Henry says “The ground of these coming favors to Jacob is the kindness of God.” Oh, and is not this the ground of all His favors to us?!

This chapter speaks not only of the crushing judgment that would fall upon Babylon but also of the judgment that would come to Assyria and Philistia. The enemies of God will be thrown down at the proper time. “Those that will not cease to sin God will make to cease” (Henry). We really should hate sin!

In the midst of these oracles of judgment, the compassion and faithfulness of God to His people (even in the midst of their discipline) continues to be a thread running throughout the prophecies of Isaiah. We need to remember these two attributes whenever we find ourselves in the midst of dark times. God is compassionate and God is faithful. "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness!" (Lam 3:22-23)

Chapter 14 ends with an interesting parallel to 1 Peter 3:15 which says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect.”
1 Peter is written to the scattered church of Christ. Times are hard. Persecution is strong. Yet, in the midst of suffering they are obviously to live their lives in such a way that people would ask them questions about the hope that lies within. Similarly, Isaiah 14 ends with this -“How then will one answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, and the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it.”

The question that is asked by the nation implies “that the great things God does for His people are noticed by their neighbors. Messengers will be sent to inquire concerning them. It concerns us always to be ready to give a reason of the hope that we have in the providence of God.” (Henry).

The answer to the question is that “God is and will be a faithful friend to His church and people. God, in all the revolutions of states and kingdoms is founding Zion! He is aiming at the advancement of His church’s interests.” (Henry)

So, I suppose the question is - am I responding to the providence of God in my own life in such a way that messengers are coming seeking answers for the hope that lies within me? Or am I grumbling and complaining in such a way that no one around me would care to know Him? God, grant me the grace to provoke the former question!

In His glorious grace,

Monday, January 26, 2009

HIStory - Isaiah 13

“I have commanded My consecrated ones,
I have even called My mighty warriors,
my proudly exulting ones,
to execute My anger.” (vs 3)

This chapter may not be as outwardly devotional as many of the others, yet several things are particularly striking to me this morning. Chapter 13 is a prophecy about Babylon – a wicked and pagan nation. The Sovereign God had used Babylon in the discipline of His people. (10:23). Here, in chapter 13, we have God sovereignly directing another pagan land to bring just vengeance upon Babylon. Truly "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes." (Pr 21:1)

Matthew Henry says:“The persons brought together to lay Babylon waste are here called God’s sanctified ones designed for this service and set apart to it by the purpose and providence of God. It intimates that in God’s intention, though not in theirs, it was a holy war; they designed the enlargement of their own empire, but God designed the release of His people.”

Over the past few months I’ve been studying Babylon, Media, and Persia with Joshua in Ancient History. The names of Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus are fresh in my mind. These are real people, real places and real events. These things actually happened. “The testimony of the LORD is sure” (Ps 19:7). This particular prophecy was fulfilled approximately 200 years after it was announced and it was fulfilled exactly as God declared it would be. God's Word is glorious!
The reality that these pagan kingdoms “designed the enlargement of their own empire, but God designed the release of His people”, makes my heart leap. History is His story and “His sovereignty rules over all.”

Our current history is His story as well. He remains the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords in 2009 AD just as He was in 732 BC. His sovereignty still rules and His design is still for His glory and for the good of His people. That encompasses things internationally, nationally, statewide, locally and personally. We have a firm foundation and we have a good foundation. How I pray He will increase our faith in His rule over us and how I trust that He is once again designing the release of His people in His perfect time. I need not fear the events of history I need to rest in the God of history!

Resting this day,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Savior and Salvation - Isaiah 12

“For although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou dost comfort me. Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (1-2)

Isaiah 12 is a hymn written in response to the gospel promise of the Root of Jesse in Chapter 11. “Here is a hymn that the scattered church, being united into one body, shall as one man praise God with.” (Matthew Henry)

How beautifully this hymn portrays the work Christ as the reconciler of God’s elect. God was justly angry with us. In our natural state we were His enemies (Ro 5:10) and we were justly deserving of His wrath and displeasure. Then up sprang the tender Root of Jesse and in atoning mercy, turned God's anger from us. “For while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Ro 5:10) How sweet and precious is that Root!

How great and glorious is the gospel! “For although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away…” But that's not all read on: “…AND Thou dost comfort me.”

We, who were by nature enemies of God and under His righteous wrath and displeasure are now, through the reconciling work of Christ, objects of His comfort!! Oh how marvelous! Shall we not then “cast all our anxiety upon Him, because He care for us”? (1 Pe 5:7)

As the redeemed Christ is not only our Savior by Whom we are saved but also our salvation by Whom we are kept safe!! “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (vs 2)

O Great God, you who are Jehovah Jah – the eternal and unchangeable One, help me to know you as my Savior and as my salvation. Help me to run with total abandonment into the strong tower of your salvation with all the cares of this life. Thank you for removing the enmity between us . Thank you for being my Savior and my salvation! AMEN.

In humble gratitude,


Friday, January 23, 2009

Enemies at Peace -Isaiah 11b

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the kid,
and the calf and the young lion and the fattling together;
and a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
for the earth will be full
of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.” (6-9)

I recognize that some of this refers to the glorious restoration of the earth at the end of the world as we know it. I can’t imagine what that will be like and long for it intensely. However, this morning I was struck by Matthew Henry's application of this passage to the remarkable change that converting grace makes in a life. He says: “Men of the most fierce and furious dispositions shall have their temper so strangely altered by the grace of Christ that they shall live in love even with the weakest and such as were formerly easy prey.”

The gospel changes people. “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation.” The mind is renewed. Sinful passions are calmed. The nature is changed. “It makes those that trampled on the meek of the earth, not only meek like them but affectionate towards them.” (Henry)

O God, you have saved me by your gospel. Please continue to sanctify me by it. Renew my mind that I may be meek and make me affectionate towards others and may Your kingdom come and Your will be done.

Waiting anxiously,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tall Trees and The Tender Shoot - Isaiah 11

“Then a root will spring from the stem of Jesse…” (vs 1)

You know, I’ve always known that this was one of the names of Christ but it was not until this morning that it hit me just how descriptive and meaningful that title really is. Christ as the “Son of David” is described in His kingly splendor and exaltation. He is our King and He subdues us and our enemies. Christ as the “Son of Jesse” is seen much more in His amazing humility. Henry says: “Jesse lived and died in meanness and obscurity.” Christ, in His humiliation on our behalf lived and died in even greater meanness and obscurity. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (Jn 1:10-11)

In the immediately preceding verses the army of Assyria was said to appear as tall trees and lofty forests. Christ, the “Son of Jesse” came as a “tender shoot” which was watered perfectly and fully with the dew of the Holy Spirit who rested upon Him. This tender shoot was, is and shall always be victorious over the seemingly towering forests of His church’s enemies. We need to remember that when the forest makes us fearful.

Thankful for the shelter of the Tender Shoot,


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Decreed Darkness - Isaiah 10

“For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, ‘O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction.’” (10:23-25)

The Israel of God is in dark times here in chapter 10. They are being disciplined by the rod of reproof. The Assyrians are being used by God to deal with the sin of God’s people. What great comfort there is to know that even the most wicked and boastful of rulers, like Senacherib, are instruments in the hands of a sovereign God. He will use them for His own glory and for the good of His church. Senacherib and his army are being used as the rod of God’s anger to bring about repentance and reform.

Notice that this dark and frowning providence that has fallen upon Israel is “one that is decreed.” God brought it about in His omniscient wisdom. Notice also that “in a very little while” God’s indignation will be spent. Henry says:“It is determined, not only that there shall be a consumption, but it is cut out; it is particularly appointed how far it shall extend and how long it shall continue. God will bring this consumption upon a provoking people, but He will wisely and graciously set bounds to it.”

I can’t help but think of 1 Peter and the reminder that “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1:6-7). Whatever struggles Christ’s church and Christ’s people are facing they are but for a little while – and they are necessary.

It is encouraging that in the midst of the dark times of Isaiah 10 that God reminds His people “do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you.” God knows how fearful we naturally are and He speaks to us in that fear. God is speaking comfort to His sincere people here. Stubborn sinners should fear God’s rod but His faithful sheep should not!

Thankful for the Sovereign Shepherd,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Titus, Romans and President Obama

Over the past few weeks I have received TONS of emails referring to our new president in rather disrespectful and sarcastic tones. For 8 years prior to that the same type of forwards crossed my in box in reference to President Bush. The 8 years before it was the same modus operandi only at that time the subject was President Clinton.

Years ago, I was one of the forwarders. I participated in much sarcasm regarding those in authority over me, particularly sarcasm toward those with whom I held disagreements. In the midst of that behavior I was convicted greatly by the words of Romans 13 and Titus 3. Here's what they say:
  • "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves." Romans 13:1-2
  • "Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be un contentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men." Titus 3:1-2

Regardless of what my political views are and regardless of whether they are right or wrong views, God's Word convicts me on this issue. Just as Isaiah realized a sobering truth about himself in Isaiah 6 so does Lori in her everyday life - I am a woman of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips. Too many times I have not used my tongue in ways that would glorify God regarding leaders with whom I may disagree. Too many times we all have.

Romans 13 is penned by Paul under the horrific dictatorship of Nero. Has America ever had a worse leader than Nero was to Rome? Yet, look at how Paul speaks of him. He is an authority who has been placed in that position by the sovereign hand of God. Some leaders are placed for our comfort and some for our discipline, but God's hand is in the midst of the establishing of every leader for His own divine purposes. I need to trust Him!

Now, let it be said that Paul certainly spoke out regarding various issues - as should we. He was not one to candy coat sin or to ignore it. He dealt clearly and plainly with issues that faced the people of God. However, Paul spoke out while still engaging in respect to the office and the office bearers.

We can disagree and even move for change while still being a respectful citizen. If Paul challenged the church at Rome to be respectful to Nero, then who am I to refuse to be respectful of President Bush, President Obama, or whoever will come next?

Titus 3 pierces me even more for it specifically reminds us to "show ourselves examples to those around us by our subjection and obedience to the government that is over us" (Matthew Henry). What example does my speech and do my emails portray regarding this application of the law?

We are to be subject and obedient (unless we are asked to sin - Acts 4:19-20). We are not to malign or be contentious. We are to be gentle and to show every consideration for all men. Are we doing this where our leaders are concerned? Am I doing this where our leaders are concerned?

Matthew Henry commenting on Titus says this: "If no good can be spoken, rather than speak evil unnecessarily say nothing. We must never take pleasure in speaking ill of others, nor make the worst of anything, but the best that we can. We must no go up and down as tale-bearers, carrying ill-natured stories. As this evil is too common, so it is of great malignancy. This is among the sins to be put off...."

How is our speech regarding our new president this day? Are we taking pleasure in speaking ill of him, tale bearing about him, or sharing ill-natured stories. If so, may God grant us the grace to put off this sin.

Regardless of our views, opinions, and convictions where our president's positions are concerned we are to be meek in heart, speech, and conduct. Truth should and must be spoken but there are right and wrong ways to speak. May we glorify our God in how we speak.

Finally, may I ask are we praying as much for our leaders as we are talking about them and joking about them? God's Word tells us "I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and for all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." As for me, I am covenanting with my God to pray for President Obama and all of those in authority over us.

In His glorious grace,


The "But" of the Gospel - Isaiah 9

“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish.” (9:1)

After the prophecy of distress and darkness, gloom and anguish in 8:22 how awesome it is that this chapter begins with a “but.” Matthew Henry says: “In the worst of times God’s people have a ‘but’ and a ‘nevertheless’ to allay and balance their troubles.” We see that truth in 2 Cor. 4:8-9. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

It is a matter of comfort to us when things are darkest that He Who forms the light and creates the darkness has appointed to both their bounds and set the one over against the other. (Gen 1:4).” -Henry

The light that will dawn and disperse the darkness is the LORD Jesus Christ who will “break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders” (vs 4). Once again I quote Mr. Henry: “The design of the gospel is to break the yoke of sin and Satan, to remove the burden of guilt and corruption, that we might be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

That light, that One Who will break the yoke of sin and Satan is the Child who will be born, the Son who will be given, the One on Who’s shoulders the government shall rest. “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (6-7)

The LORD of hosts DID accomplish this in the coming of our blessed Christ. The Mighty God became humble man. He emptied and humiliated Himself to exalt and fill us!! I am thankful for the hope of the gospel, for the light that has shown in my darkness. In the dark times of life in this fallen world may I be reminded of the “but” of the gospel and may I be found hoping expectantly in its certain promises!
In His glorious grace,

Monday, January 19, 2009

Consulting the Law and the Prophets - Isaiah 8b

“And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony!” (19-20)

Clearly, there is nothing new under the sun! Men still seek the answers to life from the consequences of death! How rarely do men in this fallen world seek their answers from the Living and True God, instead we turn to dumb, dead, worthless idols.

God tells us NOT to consult with mediums and spiritists. Psychics cannot help us. It is “to the law and to the testimony” that we should turn.
Matthew Henry says: “Isaiah directs them to the oracles of God. Those will never be drawn to consult wizards that know how to make good use of their Bibles. Make God’s statutes your counselors and you will be counseled aright.”

O Great law giving God, Thank You for your glorious Word. Thank You for that perfect law of the LORD which restores the soul. Thank You for Your testimony, O LORD, which makes wise the simple. Thank You for Your precepts, O LORD, which are right and rejoice the heart. Thank You for Your commandments which are pure and enlighten the eyes. Thank You that all your commandments are faithful and are forever settled in heaven. How comforting to know that all of your commandments are truth.

Holy God, Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Make me to walk diligently in your precepts. Help me to keep my way pure by keeping it according to Your Word. Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Help me to treasure Your Word in my heart that I may not sin against You.

O my God, Your testimonies are my delight and they will be my counselors. AMEN
Trembling at the Word,

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Remedy for Sinful Fear - Isaiah 8

“It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He shall become a sanctuary.” (13-14)

There were MANY outward things to make Israel fearful. God has promised that Assyria’s army would come upon them as a mighty flood (vs7). There is much to be afraid of. Yet, they are cautioned against sinful fear and told to set their minds and hearts on godly fear. “The believing fear of God is a special preservative against the disquieting fear of man.” (Matthew Henry)

Here is the solution for ungodly fear. Fear NOT man, nor what he can do to you. Fear God!
If we fear God then “He shall become a sanctuary” for us. “Make Him your fear and you shall find Him your hope, your help, your defense, and your mighty deliverer. He will be your sanctuary to which you may flee for safety and where you shall not need to fear any evil.” (Henry)

God, grant me the wisdom to fear You and as a result to be strong and courageous in this world! AMEN
In faithful fear,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Whom Shall I Send? - Isaiah 6b

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’
Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” ”(8)

Wow! I looked at this today and had to ask, "How lightly do we often take the call to the ministry? How often do men call themselves? How rarely do churches truly examine and send men out? "

Here is the God-head discussing who to send. If God is discussing this, should not His church? “The sending forth of ministers is a work not to be done without mature deliberation.” (Henry)

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Holy God and an Undone People - Isaiah 6

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted,with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.’” (vs 1-7)

Is there a more beautiful or clearer passage in all of Scripture that shows just how glorious our God is and just how desperately needful of mercy we are?

Here Isaiah witnesses the song of the Seraphim in heaven: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts….” Here is God called the LORD of hosts signifying His omnipotence. Our God is a God of infinite power! Here is God declared to be not just holy but thrice holy.

How thankful we should be that His attributes once again are united and ever intertwined. “Power without purity to guide it would be a terror to mankind!” (Matthew Henry)

The Seraphim are doing their work in heaven and it is a work of praise. They call out this anthem of praise “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts.” Can there be a more beautiful song? (And just think - one day I will hear it!)

Isaiah sees them singing in humility and in reverence. They stand above Him – who would dare to sit? They cover their faces – who would dare to look? They cover their feet for this is the holiest of holy ground!

When Isaiah encounters this Holy God he is undone. He is a sinner – "a man of unclean lips." He is a sinner – and so are we for Isaiah involves us all when he says "and I live among a people of unclean lips!"

“The disease of sin is hereditary and epidemic, which is so far from lessening our guilt that it should rather increase our grief. We have not done what we might have done for the cleansing of the pollution of other people’s lips. We have rather learned their way and spoken their language!” (Henry)

Isaiah is ruined in God’s presence – as are we apart from an act of Divine mercy. And here we have just that. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me…” Wow! I have never noticed this before and I am in absolute awe this morning. This seraphim who is doing the greatest of all works – praising the Holy, Holy, Holy God in the very presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy God- is momentarily sent from that task to carry grace to a ruined Isaiah. How great is God's care for ruined sinners!!

“Those that are struck down with the visions of God’s glory shall soon be raised up again with the visions of His grace. Here was one of the seraphim dismissed for a time from the throne of God’s glory, to be a messenger of His grace to a sinner.” (Henry)

God cared enough for Isaiah, the man of unclean lips, to send a seraphim from its high calling to bring cleansing grace and pardon to those unclean lips. “And he touched me mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.”

This thrice Holy and Omnipotent God did not leave Isaiah in his sin. Praise Him that He has not left me in mine as well. Just as the Seraphim came and brought the burning coal of cleansing to him, the Holy Spirit has applied the cleansing work of Christ to my unclean lips. Soli Deo Gloria! How can I not shout for joy!

As a side note I am struck with the fact that the seraphim obeyed -not that I would doubt that He would but I am struck by what he left in order to obey this command! He left this amazing place to be an instrument of amazing grace! I am shamed for I am selfish with my time. I am often reluctant to leave things of such insignificant worth to do eternally significant works.

Holy God – Please help me to not cling to guilded toys of dust but help me to be so awed by your holiness that I am willing to leave anything at anytime to do your bidding! AMEN!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Root Rot - Isaiah 5 Part 2

“Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble, and dry grass collapses into the flame, so their root will become like rot and their blossom will blow away as dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (vs

Verse 24 begins with a “therefore” and as always its important to see what the "therefore" is there for! Verses 8-23 have laid out the woes to the wicked and now here we have a description of the judgment that will consequently fall upon them for their wickedness.

"Their root will become rot" and their blossom as chaff that the wind drives away (Ps 1). What is the reason for this devastation? It is because they have rejected the law of the LORD. More than that it is because they have "despised" it!

These thoughts by Matthew Henry have pierced me this morning. “Sin weakens the strength (the root) of a people so that they are easily rooted up. It defaces the beauty (the blossoms) of a people and takes away the hopes of fruit. Sinners make themselves stubble and chaff.”

Oh My Gracious God – help me to hate sin and to reject it and to despise it. Make me to receive and love your law that I might be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” (Ps 1) AMEN.

In His glorious grace,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good Grapes - Isaiah 5

“Then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones.” (vs 2b)

Here is the parable of the vineyard and in it is portrayed all of the great things that God has done for Israel - His church.

It was planted on a “fertile hill” in good soil. God did the work of preparing this fertile soil by removing the stones from it. He built a tower in the middle of it for its defense. He took good care of this vineyard and what did he expect in return? “Then He expected it to produce good grapes….”

Henry says, “God expects vineyard fruit from those that enjoy vineyard privileges.” As well He should! Sadly, they did not produce good grapes but worthless wild grapes! “Wild grapes are the fruit of the corrupt nature. They are hypocritical performances that look like grapes.” (Henry)

What fruit am I producing? Is it good? Is it wild and worthless? How I need the Spirit of God to help me produce the fruit of God (Gal 6).

In need of His mercy,


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sanctified and Secure - Isaiah 4

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day…a flaming fire by night…. And there will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.” (vs 4-6)

Chapter 3 ended with a clear declaration of the judgment of God on the men and women of Judah. Chapter 4 begins with the continuing effect of that judgment. There was such a great slaughter of Judah’s men that seven women are after one man - yikes! Matthew Henry says, “By the foregoing threatening everything looks melancholy, but here in verse 2 the sun breaks out from behind the cloud.”

“In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious….” Things are ugly and dark but the Messiah is beautiful and glorious and His work is beautiful and glorious. He washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion. He purges the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst. To quote Henry again, “God will reform His church and will rectify and amend whatever is amiss in her.”

How does He wash and purge the filth and bloodshed? He does it by the work of the Spirit! Oh, how we need the Spirit of the Living God! Once again hear Henry's words, “The Spirit herein acts enlightening the mind, convincing the conscience, guiding us, separating between the precious and the vile, quickening and invigorating the affections, and making men zealous in good works.” This is the Spirit’s work of sanctification in the life of a believer.

Our faithful God promises to sanctify His people through His Spirit. But not only does God sanctify us, He also fortifies us. Look at the promises that are ours because of the cleansing work of the Sprit: “…then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day…a flaming fire by night…. And there will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

God will protect His church and all of those that belong to it. There is much here that is similar to the cloud of glory that accompanied Israel in the wilderness. That cloud was a refuge to God's people. God is still a refuge to His people and He is a refuge to them in all weather.

Whatever I am facing, be it the scorching heat or the torrential cloudburst, He is my refuge and strength and "an ever present help in trouble." He has saved me from my sin and He will certainly save me from my troubles! My Redeemer is faithful and true! Pacian said, “He will not allow him that is redeemed to be destroyed, nor will He cast away those whom He has redeemed with such a great price.”

In Him I am sanctified and I am secure!

In His glorious grace,


Monday, January 12, 2009

Boisterous Badness - Isaiah 3

“They display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it. Woe to them! Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, for what he deserves will be done to him.” (vs 9-11)

Isaiah 3 tells us that Israel has become boisterous in her sin. She wears it proudly. That boisterous pride of sin continues thousands of years later. Oh, how we love that which will destroy us. We must remember that actions have consequences and that every sin we commit has consequences. The "wages of sin is death" and woe to all of us who love our sin more than the Savior.

Christ’s covenant contains blessings and curses and here we see them plainly spelled out. Righteousness reaps that which is good - “It will go well for them.” Wickedness reaps destruction - “It will go badly with him.” Matthew Henry says, “There is a woe to wicked people.”

In that final day when judgment falls, the wicked will not cry out that God is unjust or unfair “for what he deserves will be done to him” (vs 11). The unrepentant will have only themselves to thank for the judgment that will come upon them. O how great and glorious is Christ’s mercy to us. I do not want what I deserve I cry out for mercy and praise my gracious Redeemer that He has granted it to me!

Humbled at the gift,

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Going Up the Mountain - Isaiah 2

“Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways,
and that we may walk in His paths.” (vs 2-3)

So often I hear people bemoaning the days that we live in. As I look at Isaiah 2 and the prophetic words about these days I have to shout "How great are the days that we live in!" How glorious are the days of the Messiah. We are living in the days of this testimony and are privileged to be a part of Christianity’s planting in the world! The church is the mountain of the house of the LORD and the Gentiles (the spiritual seed of Abraham) are streaming into it and are encouraging others to come with them. And for what purpose? “That He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.”

We need to come to the "mountain of the LORD" expecting Him to teach us His ways and we need to have full intensions of walking in those ways. While we may have to “go up to the mountain of the Lord” – in other words worship is work – our labor is never in vain!! We go, He teaches! It is worth every investment of time and effort.

God will teach us and we will walk in what we have learned. “If He will teach us His ways, we will walk in His paths. If He will let us know our duty, we will by His grace make conscience of doing it.” (Henry)

We are part of this glorious gospel church. The chief of mountains has been established and we are among those who have streamed into it. In light of that may we make every effort to “ go up to the mountain of the LORD.” May we be taught. May we walk. And may He be glorified in His church!
In His glorious grace,

Friday, January 9, 2009

Weighed Down and Washed Up - Isaiah 1

This morning I have before me the beginning of the book of Isaiah. Isaiah’s name means “the salvation of the LORD”. What “a proper name for this prophet who prophecies so much of Jesus the Savior and of the great salvation wrought out by Him.” (Matthew Henry)

This book is full of the gospel. It is overflowing with law and with grace. It's pages are dripping with glorious portrayals of the Messiah. His work for us and its result to us are everywhere. How I pray that as I study these pages that God would grant me a greater fear of Him and love for Him. How I pray that He would grant me a greater understanding of the wickedness of my heart and of my need for grace. How I pray that He would place in me a greater zeal to see those in stubborn rebellion brought to saving repentance and sanctifying reformation. LORD of Hosts, teach me through your Word.

The book begins with a description of what it simply is – “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, king of Judah.” Isaiah was around a long time and passed through a number of kings. He saw much and had cause to weep much. Isaiah speaks a great deal of hard truth to the OT church of God in the midst of her rebellion and he constantly points them to the hope of the coming Christ! His prophetic words speak much of that same hard truth to me. There is nothing new under the sun – the church is still full of stubborn and stiff necked people – I’m one of them. God is still a covenant keeping God – His promises and His curses fail not. His justice prevails, His mercy endures forever.

What particularly strikes me this morning comes from verses 4 and 16-17:

“Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity…. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan plead for the widow.” (vs 4, 16-17)

Here is what sin does. It weighs us down, much like Christian and his burden in "Pilgrims Progres." We are weighed down with iniquity and have such need for Someone to remove the burden from us. May I pray more fervently that God would let me sense the burden of sin more that I might hate it more. Where is the hope for this burden of sin? The hope is found in the gospel – it is by grace through faith and repentance that this weight of sin is taken away.

The call to repentance is heralded in verses 16-17: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.” We must put off our sin and put on the cleansing blood of Jesus which will wash us “white as snow” (vs 18). We must put off the evil – “Cease to do evil” and we must “learn to do good.”
May God grant me the grace to take every effort and every pain possible to learn from Him what good is and how to do it. O God, grant me a true knowledge of my duty and a sincere desire to walk in it.
Thankful for His blood,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Worshipping, Serving and Knowing - Psalm 100

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His loving-kindness is everlasting;
and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Ps 100)

At the start of this day I find myself in absolute awe over the beauty of the Word of God. As has been the case so much over the past 7 months my heart is leaping! Psalm 100 is a glorious invitation to come and worship the LORD. Here is the command to "shout joyfully to Him, to serve Him with gladness and to come into His presence with joyful singing!"

Now, I must admit that I have not always shouted joyfully to my God nor have I always served Him with gladness. Prior to coming to faith in Christ I was clearly a non-worshipper and non-server of God. Honestly, as an atheist I was a hater of God. I can remember those days clearly and thank Him that they are now days of the past.

I must also admit, sadly, that there have been periods in my walk with Christ where I have worshipped and served the LORD, but not necessarily with true joy and gladness. Recently that joy and gladness have been rekindled in a way that I am thankful for. So, what's been the difference?

It struck me just a few moments ago that the difference is verse 3. "Know that the LORD Himself is God...." What is the nursemaid for this type of joyful worship and glad service? It is the knowledge of God. “Know that the LORD Himself is God.”

While I was an atheist I knew Him not. I was "suppressing the truth in my unrighteousness" (Rom 1). I didn' t want to know Him because of what He said about me. Not desiring to know Him I had no conscious reason to worship Him (though I did have an ethical one as we all do).

Since coming to know Him in 1988 the times where my zeal in worship have waned have always been times where I was not seeking His face as I should. Currently, by nothing but His great grace, I am seeking to know Him with a passion and fervor that have been unmatched in my 20 something years of being a Christian. As many of you know, my recent prayer has been "One thing I ask of the LORD, this thing shall I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple." (Ps 27:4)

These past 7 months He has moved me to seek to truly know Him as He is revealed in His Word. I am purposeful about that task at the moment. I have prayed for the energy to listen hard under the preached Word, to meditate long under the read Word, to strive fervently in prayer, and to fellowship with the saints around the things pertaining to Him. I am consciensiously becoming a simple means of grace woman and God has been pleased to strengthen me through those means. My fire is kindled and my affections are warm toward my loving God and Savior!

Matthew Henry says “Knowledge is the mother of devotion and of all obedience.” If I am to worship Him with greater joy and serve Him with greater gladness then I must by all means possible seek to know Him with greater diligence!

Psalm 100 points out 6 things that are to be known of our God. These 6 things are truths that I am personally seeking to understand in a much fuller way as I study the Word this year.
  1. He is God! “Know that the LORD Himself is God….”
  2. He is Creator! “…it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves...”
  3. He is our rightful Owner! “…we are His people...”
  4. He is our Sovereign Ruler! “…and the sheep…”
  5. He is our bountiful Benefactor! “…of His pasture.”
  6. He is a God of infinite mercy and goodness! “For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting; and His faithfulness to all generations.”

This is the God that I worship! This is the God that I serve! This is the God of my praise! This is the God who’s glory is my chief end and my fullest enjoyment! May my knowledge of Him increase as I daily dig in the treasure field of His Word and may my worship of Him and my service to Him become ever increasingly full of joy! I pray yours does as well.

In His glorious grace,


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hating Sin - Psalm 97

"Hate evil, you who love the LORD." (vs 10)

I don't know about anyone else, but I am really recognizing my struggle with sin more and more. I find myself in such a love/hate relationship with it. I hate the effects I see of it on this world and in my friends and family (particularly in my kids when their sin embarrasses me - which just goes to show the depth of my own sin). I hate it in my own life, but not as I should because as much as I hate it I continue to embrace it over and over. There's nothing like hugging a rattlesnake!

How easy it is to excuse my own sin - which again just shows the continued corruption of even the redeemed heart. That which will damn and destroy me I seem to continue in an affair with. Oh how desperately we need Christ! Oh how desperately I need Christ! How easily we can all cry out with Paul - "For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing that which I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom 7)

A couple of days ago, while we were in Montgomery, I was studying in Psalm 97 and had to hit the pause button when I came to this verse: "Hate evil, you who love the Lord."

It's one of those incredibly simple and straightforward verses that just stopped me in my tracks and I've found myself meditating on it again and again these past few days. "Hate evil, you who love the Lord." A real, true, genuine love for God expresses itself in a real, true, genuine hatred of sin and evil. "Hate evil, you who love the Lord."

As we were driving back home I kept returning to this passage and thinking about what sin is, what it does, and what it costs. The catechism defines sin as "any want of conformity to the law of God, or transgression of it." 1 John calls it "lawlessness."

The Bible declares that the law of God is good and perfect - sin is the opposite of that and in all of its forms it strikes at the goodness and perfection of the divine decree. In all of my giving in to sin I am striking at the goodness and perfection of the divine decrees and by virtue of that I am striking out at the goodness and perfection of the great Law Giver - my God and my Savior.

There is rebellion in every sin and in every act of it we would murder our God if that were possible. Sin attempts to dethrone our King and to place our selfish lusts in His place. How foolish are we as sinners. How foolish to think that we are wiser than God - which is practically what we do each time we choose the lusts of our way over the wise counsel of His. How foolish we are, as Thomsas Watson has said, "for one drop of pleasure to drink a whole sea of wrath."

Our sin hurts us, it hurts those who love us, and it grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30). But more than all of that, the great vileness of sin is seen in what it cost. The price that was paid for our sin was the blood of Christ!
  • Augustine put it like this, "O man, consider the greatness of thy sin, by the greatness of the price paid for sin."
  • Thomas Watson said, "The evil of sin is not so much seen in that one thousand are damned for it, as that Christ died for it."

This year as I continue to beg of God to make seeking Him my "one thing" I am pleading with Him to make me a hater of sin and evil in order that it's degrading, disquieting, and damning effects would not hinder me from enjoying His presence. May we all do anything rather than sin. May His grace and Spirit enable us to hate it more than anything else and to flee from embracing it at all costs.

In this battle may we know the reality of the Great Physician's blood, which alone can cure this disease and remove it's power from our lives. "The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin." (1 Jn 1:7) "Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; BUT present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Rom 6:11-13)."Hate evil, you who love the Lord."

In continual need of His glorious grace,

Friday, January 2, 2009

Singing,Seeing, and Believing - Psalm 95

“They tried Me, though they had seen My work.” (vs 9)

In Psalm 95 the writer is stiring himself and others to worship God. He gives the command: “O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” We are to worship and we are to worship joyfully!

Within the Psalm the reason for the command is given: “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land.” First, God is to be praised because His is great. His greatness makes Him worthy of our praise.

“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Second, we are to worship our God because He is our Maker. There is a great difference between the worship of Jehovah and the worship of all other gods. We worship our Maker. “Idolaters kneel before gods which they themselves have made; we kneel before a God who has made us!” ( Matthew Henry)
“For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” Third, we are to worship God because of the covenant relationship He has made with us. He is not just the God, He is our God. He is our Shepherd and we are His sheep! The church is His flock and He is its Good Shepherd who is worthy of all our admiration! Oh, how we should worship before this Great, Creating, Shepherding God!
The first part of this Psalm is a stirring of us to sing joyful songs of praise. “The second half of this Psalm is an exhortation to those who sing gospel songs to live gospel lives” (Matthew Henry).

In the midst of these wonderful exhortations there is a sobering warning: “Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah…. They tried Me, though they had seen My work.” The last part of verse 9 stops me dead in my tracks. “They tried Me, though they had seen my work.” They saw but their seeing didn’t translate into believing.

“The aggravation of this sin was that they saw God’s work. They saw what He
had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt. They saw what He was doing for
them every day in the bread rained down from heaven and in the water He gave
from the rock. They could not have more unquestionable evidences of the presence of God!”

As an atheist one of my mantras was "seeing is believing." I wanted tangible, touchable proof - and I wanted to be the arbitor of what was truly tangible and touchable. But you know, seeing is not always believing! The noetic effect of sin causes us to view everything with sinful presuppositions. We always come up with excuses for that which we don't want to see in our naturally depraved state. The Israelites saw the reality of God in miraculously tangible and touchable ways and yet their hearts were hardened. Multitudes saw the miracles of Jesus occuring right before their eyes and yet their hearts were hardened. Every moment of every day creation screams out to us and yet many hearts are hardened.
"The heavens are tellling of the glory of God" (Ps 19) and "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Rom 1).
Tragically in our stubborn rebellion we "supress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom 1) because our sinful status "can't handle the truth." It is the Spirit of God using the Word of God that will give life to the dead souls of men and free them to see so as to believe. Seeing is not believing for we are blind and cannot see - like blind Bartimaeus - unless Someone gives us sight.

The rich man of Luke 16 thought that seeing should be believing and pleaded with Father Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead so that his loved ones could "see." But Abraham told him, “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.” The rich man responded, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Abraham resplied, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” How true, Jesus rose from the dead and multitudes saw Him, yet many hearts were still hardened - many hearts are still hardened.

In this Psalm we are commanded to sing with great joy and to live with great faith. God's works are clearly seen and we are without excuse. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. The clear focusing of that sight is found in the pages of this glorious Bible as the Spirit illumines it's words.

Oh God, let men hear Your voice as it is spoken in Your Word. Only then will they rightly view Your works and rightly know Your ways. Only then will they come and sing joyfully. Send Your Spirit to accompany Your Word to the ears of Your people!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Timely Word and An Unabandoned People - Psalm 94

“Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O LORD,
and dost teach out of Thy law;
that Thou mayest grant him relief
from the days of adversity,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not abandon His people,
nor will He forsake His inheritance.” (vs 12-14)

I am truly moved to tears this morning! How kind is this God of mine who is a Father to the fatherless! The end of 2008 was hard, very hard. Only a few weeks ago I found myself being disowned for the second time in under four years by my Mom and Dad. It has not been an easy thing (<---understatement) and my heart has been greatly grieved. In the providence of the Almighty, Psalm 94 is the first passage of God’s Word that I come to for 2009. Wow! What a timely comfort! Who but Providence could plan that I would be here this day! "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances." (Prov. 25:11)

Verse 12 begins with an acknowledgement that the LORD's chastening is a blessing. I must admit, I have been chastened in my life many times and I have been taught out of God’s law through that chastening. Chastening though painful is good -“The LORD disciplines those He loves”. Chastening though painful accomplishes much- “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes.” All my trials have had and all my trials will have a Divine purpose. “When we are chastened, we must pray to be taught, and look into the law as the best expositor of providence” (Matthew Henry).

So often my parent’s actions have been used to sanctify me. Many times through the years I have been forced to search my own soul regarding my relationship with them to see if there are any wicked ways in me. Sometimes there have been, sometimes there have not, but every time there have been spiritual lessons to learn.

In Psalm 94 the Psalmist goes on to speak of the relief that God grants in the midst of adversity. I have, over the past month particularly, felt the heavy weight of adversity. I have been abandoned by my earthly parents. But, God is a Father to the fatherless and here in Psalm 94 He so clearly has reminded me that He “will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance.”

While I have no earthly family preceding me and no earthly inheritance coming my way from them, I do have a faithful God Who will never leave me nor forsake me. I am His people and I am His inheritance. I am His inheritance and in Him I have an inheritance. 1 Peter points out that His is an inheritance that is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”

I may be abandoned by everyone and everything in this world but I will NEVER be abandoned by my God. “Though we may be cast down, we will never be cast off! Whatever my friends and family do, God will not cast me off nor throw me out of His covenant or care.” (Henry)

The relevant beauty of these Words from my Father are a relief to me in the midst of this current adversity. Ages ago when He had these words penned He knew that I would need them at the beginning of 2009. What a timely Word! What an amazing Word! May I tremble at His Word this day, this year, and always!!

Securely positioned in my Father's family,

One Thing (Psalm 27)

As 2009 begins I really want to challenge and hopefully encourage your hearts with one question. What is the one thing you desire from the Lord this year?

This week the kids are at Phillip's parents while we take care of some much needed home improvement "stuff". I have spent 3 1/2 days painting over the battle ship gray trim in this house that we're remodelling. ( I shared with some of you that if I were to put the strokes I painted in a one inch straight line I'd be in Iowa by now!) It is a monotonous task, but it has given me the blessed privilege of meditating on God's Word all week and of praying specifically for many of my friends.

The one verse that continually keeps coming to my mind is from Psalm 27. "One thing I have asked from the Lord, this thing I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple."

This week I am to asking myself, "What is the one thing I desire - honestly? Is it this - "to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold His beauty and to meditate in His temple"? Is my "one thing" an eternal desire or an earthly desire?

David's "one thing" was an earnest passion to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The "one thing" he would ask of God, the thing he sought after the most was this: "to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple."

I am, by nothing but the sheer grace of God, finding myself longing more and more for heaven. I am longing for and at times aching for it in the eternal reality of actually being there. I want to behold the face of my God and Savior. I want to truly worship in His presence. I long to fellowship with Him and with the saints - and all without any of the encumbrances of sin. Can we even fathom what that will be like? No sin to affect us and weigh us down! I anxiously await the true and tangible outworking of my salvation in heaven but I'm also longing for it more and more in this life - "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

This year, will you pray with me that God would so work in each of us that our "one thing" to ask of God and our "one thing" to seek would be to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of this life? This year, I am asking God to make seeking Him through the simple means of grace the one thing I seek above all else. For in this life, these are the things (the preached Word, the sacraments, prayer, and fellowship with believers) where I will "behold the beauty of the Lord."

The more we behold the beauty of the Lord, the more full we will be to serve our husbands, raise our children, be a true friend, and be the salt and light that this fallen world so desperately needs. Jesus echoes the thoughts of this one thing in Matthew 6 when He reminds us to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." Here again is the "one thing" we should seek!

David in all earnestness prays for constant communion with His Lord. Christ commands us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Is this the desire of our hearts? May God in His infinite mercy make it to be so and may we see a little more of heaven on earth in 2009! Happy New Year my friends - know that I love each of you dearly.

With one foot there and one here,