Isaiah 23-24 B

“Yes, after seventy years the Lord will revive Tyre. But she will be no different than she was before. She will again be a prostitute to all kingdoms around the world. But in the end her profits will be given to the Lord. Her wealth will not be hoarded but will provide good food and fine clothing for the Lord’s priests.” 23:17-18

These verses, sewn in neatly at the end of chapter 23, ministered to me today. I love when Scripture reminds me that God is sovereign over our sin and over evil.

God will take this dirty money, earned in a detestable way, and turn it into riches used to bless his people and grow his kingdom. God is in the business of turning things upside down and redeeming everything

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there something ugly in your life God has turned into something beautiful? For his kingdom? An addiction, a vice, a person, a trait or a choice? Pause and thank God for the way he turns evil into good. 

Is there something you’re hesitant to hand over to him, that you think is useless, or unable to be redeemed?

 

 

-Carly

Isaiah 21-22 B

“Behold, the LORD is about to hurl you headlong, O man. And He is about to grasp you firmly And roll you tightly like a ball, To be cast into a vast country; There you will die And there your splendid chariots will be, You shame of your master’s house.” (22:17-18‬)

This kind of made me laugh. In the middle of all this pride and overt disregard for the LORD, He paints this visual to remind Israel just how small they are.

Which reminds me of how small I am/we are. Something I constantly having to remind myself of, these days, is to stop taking myself so seriously.

I am human, often wrong and short sighted. I get my rage up and tear others down. It’s easy to slip into that “let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die!” mob mentality and it’s ridiculous.

It could be time for a little, “snap out of it! I’m about to crumple you up like a rough draft and Michael Jordan you into a waste basket!”

What areas of your life need humility? How can you move in that direction today?

-Bethany

Isaiah 19-20 B

Today we have a guest contributor! If you joined us our first time through the Bible, you are familiar with Tiffany’s writing. I love what God showed her in these chapters and I’m thankful for her insight!

My name is Tiffany Jensen. I was raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and have recently left that all behind to adventure with my husband in Sweden. Our God is big and so is the world he created, I’m grateful to get the chance to explore it.

Right away in verse 19 we see idols trembling and hearts melting at the mention of the presence of the Lord. There are all kinds of evils going on here; idol worship, witchcraft, family feuds, neighborhood fights, no one is escaping the discord in the land of Egypt. And what does Egypt do in verse 3 of chapter 19?
“The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists.” 
When disaster strikes, they go to their false gods, their “crutch.” They run to the very thing that has put them in this chaos. It’s easy when reading a story to want to say how blind they were. Clearly if they just cried out to God, they would be saved. But then I think about myself. How many times does an unhealthy habit put me off track and then I turn to that exact habit to distract myself from the discord I have created? Or more simply put, how often do I not run straight to Jesus when life seems to collapse?
“It will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them.” Is 19:20
 
I LOVE this verse! It shows God’s faithfulness. He wants us to be redeemed, he wants to bring us back into his loving arms. God brought turmoil to Egypt, which seems cruel, but what kind of ruin would they have landed in if they had continuing in their ways? If God hadn’t given them a wake up call?
What part of the story are you in? Still grasping to save yourself, crying out to the Father, or have you been rescued? If you find yourself in a dark place today, know that he sees you. He cannot wait to rescue you – let him. And if you find yourself already in his arms, cherish him as your savior and defender. I hope that you take encouragement from these verses, no matter which side of the story you currently inhabit.
Thanks, Tiff!
-Carly

Isaiah 17-18 B

“In that day man will have regard for his Maker And his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel. He will not have regard for the altars, the work of his hands, Nor will he look to that which his fingers have made, Even the Asherim and incense stands.” (17:7-8‬)

It’s amazing how crisis pushes us to faith. We tend to invent evils when we’re comfortable, and busy ourselves with idols. But as they say, there are no atheists in foxholes.

Storms have a way of pointing out how “sinking” our sand is.

I think a lot of the reasons white American Christians find themselves at a crisis point, lately, is because they’ve trusted the government for so long to keep them safe. Our military keeps terrorists at bay, our constitution protects our rights, but now those have been a little rattled and it’s had a big impact. (Some minorities have a more what’s new? attitude). The government push to keep us safe now, seems to be, more obviously, coming at the expense of others and that is uncomfortable for a group of folks whose religious leader directed the laying down of life for neighbors.

Israel had big plans to put their trust in Damascus to save them from Assyria. When Damascus fell, the sand became very obviously quick, and idols become increasingly good for nothing.

Where do you find yourself on this spectrum? Are you comfortable? Can you identify anything you may be hoping in outside the Lord? Are you holding tight to Him? Do you have any experience you’d like to share about that process?

-Bethany

Isaiah 15-16 B

“He will rule with mercy and truth, he will always do what is just and be eager to do what is right.” 16:5

I loved this piece from Bethany’s post on these chapters last time around:

“The ONLY hope in this world is the Kingdom of God. The established throne from the line of David: Jesus. One day He will physically be on the throne of the earth, but in the meantime He is enthroned on the hearts of His people.

I love that sentence, enthroned on our hearts. If Jesus reigns in my life and in my heart, shouldn’t I start to resemble his? Live a life that reflects mercy and truth, be eager to do what is just and right?

What does that look like, tangibly?

What are some specific, within-reach ways in our lives we can do what is just and right?

Take a minute to ask God to surface some opportunities for this in your day today.

-Carly

Isaiah 13-14 B

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’” (14:12-17‬)

It was a surprise, the first time I completed reading the whole Bible, to find there’s no such story as:

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful angel. He was the most beautiful of the angels, and probably a director of music, since heaven needs those. One day, he decided he wanted to be as important as God Himself! That did not go well, and he was cast to earth, along with his fans, which happened to be a third of all angels. He turned out to be Satan.

That narrative is no where to be found in the Bible. So where did it come from?!

In Bible college, there’s something called systemic theology, where someone (Wayne Grudem) went through the Bible and put all related topics together, to form an official “-ology” of them. You may be surprised to know, this passage is traditionally used as one of the chief descriptors of Satan!

When you read these chapters today, you were probably thinking about Babylon, specifically the king of Babylon, and not Satan’s origin story. Why would you? It’s not obvious in the context. In fact, we know from Daniel 4, that Nebuchadnezzar did fancy himself a bit higher than he ought (a pattern many kings follow) and was brought low because of it.

Something I have noticed, and probably part of Grudem’s point, is that throughout the Bible, Satan is involved in many rebellions against God, usually in the form of pride, power plays, false accusations and lies.

This verse could be referencing Satan, or it could just be about Nebuchadnezzar, who did, in fact, overthrow cities and not allow prisoners to go home (14:16-17).

Either way, it’s important to note the demonic nature of pride. Remember also, how often Babylon is used as an archetype for grandiose, prideful, powerful, oppressive, money-hungry nations. They embody what Satan looks like in the flesh.

It’s all too easy to see how America is a modern day Babylon is that way. I would encourage us, believers, to take a closer look at the differences between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Babylon, and watch where we swear our allegiances. Especially since the King of Babylon ends up in a pit and everyone says, where are you now, tough guy?

-Bethany

Isaiah 11-12 B

This is such a holy, soul-quenching chapter on the promises of God’s love and the hope he extends us through his son Jesus.

If you didn’t read today’s chapters and you’re skimming this post from your email, pause and read them. Nothing we can post on here will do God’s words justice!

“He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.” 11:3-4a

I love being reminded what godly character looks like. We read here that godliness is striving for obedience to what God asks of us and advocating for the vulnerable. Do not miss this: God regularly favors the poor and exploited. How can we not?

That second sentence really jumps out to me. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. I’m praying that God develops that ability in me too, and I learn to love others as limitless as he does.

What verses from these chapters moved your heart?

-Carly

Isaiah 9-10 B

I love Carly’s reminder from last time to journal along with reading. It’s our secret to success!

I’m also going to just leave this timely verse here, in light of current events:

“Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights, So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans.” (10:1-2)

—–

There is so much to discuss in these chapters.

First, let’s talk about the promise of Christ, who will grow up in “Galilee of the Gentiles”.

“The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” (9:2)

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (9:6‬)

It’s hard not to just copy-paste all of 9:1-7 for emphasis. He will break the yoke of burden! (4) There will be no end to His government of peace! (7) Oh glorious!!! Can you imagine a government of peace? That is eternal?!?!

Welcome to the Kingdom of God! Welcome to the Kingdom inaugurated in Christ! This Kingdom is NOW and will be fully realized at His return!

How is it now? It lives in us, His people, the citizens of the Kingdom, who demonstrate His love through grace, mercy, patience, unconditional love, hospitality, generosity, joy in the midst of affliction, kindness.

There has recently been released a documentary about Mister Rogers Neighborhood and I’m dying to see it. The trailer alone makes me weepy. This was a man, who didn’t go around preaching, but quietly, beautifully, demonstrated the love of Christ to people. And this documentary is touching peoples hearts like crazy. Because it is the true gospel of the kingdom which is great news for everyone.

We are all tools in the hands of God, as 10:15 implies. It is not by our own might or power, but by the Spirit of God.

We have the example of Christ (and the example of people like Mister Rogers), so let us press on to be the kingdom of Go for others. This government of Peace, led by the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

-Bethany

Isaiah 7-8 B

“…you will find [King Ahaz] at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. Tell him to stop worrying.” 7:3

I love how God not only knew the specific whereabouts of King Ahaz, but he also knew his heart.

If you have convinced yourself that God doesn’t care about the details in your life, you are believing a lie. He knows where you are during the day, what you’re doing and what you’re worried about. He loves you and sends you hope through a messenger.

I was deeply encouraged by the prophesy of Jesus we read in chapter 7. Did you notice it? I love when He pops up in the Old Testament.

How did God send you hope today? The more you look for it, the more often you’ll see it.

-Carly

Isaiah 5-6 B

At the beginning of chapter five, the LORD tells a story of a vineyard, perfectly tended and gardened in premier conditions. When only bad fruit is produced, an important observation is made, “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard.” (5:3)

I’m sure the people of Israel were looking around at their peers (as chapter five goes on to describe) and thinking they were doing a-okay. This comparison amongst them was merely from the perspective of one rotten person seeing another.

It isn’t until Isaiah sees the LORD, exalted on high, that he discovers his own rottenness, and also how far they’ve all fallen together.

“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.’” (6:5)

How often do I lose sight of God, on high, and get my foot caught in the straps of my high horse? I start comparing myself to those around me and settle for considering myself just a little better than them.

If I kept my eyes on the LORD, I think I would be less tempted to judge, gossip or slander.

If I kept my eyes on the LORD, I think I would remember the need for His Holy Purification, which only comes by His Amazing Grace and Mercy.

If I kept my eyes on the LORD, I think I would be humbled by His use of me and not consider it a personal accomplishment.

If I kept my eyes on the LORD, I think it would start to look like abiding, and the fruit would eventually be His through me, John 15 style.

What would it change in you?

-Bethany