What The Lord Says

WHAT THE LORD SAYS

“When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, ‘Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not
be afraid of what you have heard – those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me’”
Isi 36-37

Whenever you hear some message, some news, some instruction or some testimony, a crucial factor is always who the information came from. Was it some unknown, unnamed person whose reliability we cannot verify? Was it someone in authority whose credibility is unquestioned? Was it someone with a mischievous agenda who was trying to foment trouble?
The emissary of the Assyrian emperor had spoken to the people of Israel saying, “The king says …”. Now Isaiah, servant of the king of kings, sends a message to Hezekiah.
It begins “This is what the Lord says”. Through his faithful servant and spokesman Isaiah, God’s speaks into the situation and his word becomes a factor in the outworking of the future. It begins also to transform the situation.
Always God speaks, not just to give someone who hears him a nice spiritual experience. He speaks to create.
He speaks to confront. He speaks to command. He speaks to correct and to judge. He speaks to heal. He speaks to mend, to reconcile, to guide and make whole. He speaks to individuals. He speaks to communities, to nations, to churches, to families. He speaks to those who wait and listen for his voice. He breaks in sometimes to speak to someone who has never heard him before and who hardly knows of his existence. In speaking he brings life, creation,
order, meaning, movement, renewal, joy, peace and hope.

Are you listening for his word?

Prayer

PRAYER

“The Assyrian emperor has sent his chief official to insult the living God. May the Lord your God hear these insults
and punish those who spoke them. So pray to God for those of our people who survive”.
Isa 37:4 GNB

The world of politics, international affairs, economic forces and world trade is full of mysterious dealings, trade-offs, bargains, deals and quid-pro-quos. Some of it is murky. Much of it is secret. Sometimes third parties negotiate on behalf of two nations who don’t want to be seen to be talking to each other. Sometimes bluff and bluster are used. It is not normally a world where those taking part think of God having any role to play at all.
Hezekiah was in a position of weakness in terms of international relations. But he had the Lord God on his side. He also had the services of a man of God in Isaiah.
And Isaiah was a man of prayer. He communed with God. Because of this he sometimes came at things in a completely different way. Now Hezekiah asked Isaiah to pray that God would confound the insulting taunts of the enemy. He also wanted prayer to be offered for those who had already survived the attacks of the Assyrians on other parts of the country. Hezekiah knew that God, and not the Assyrian emperor, was in final and ultimate control on planet earth.
It is important that Christian believers and congregations include in their prayers of intercession the rulers, leaders, diplomats and trade representatives of the world. The Christian church is called to exercise a priestly ministry in a world that is largely oblivious of God and his sovereign authority. Pray for the peace of the world.

More Resources

MORE RESOURCES

“He sent Eliakim …, Shebna … and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz”.
Isi 37:2

Sometimes when Christian believers have been elected as public representatives they have been able to exercise a healing role in troubled situations. Those who elect them often say, “We need people with integrity in public affairs to keep an eye on what’s going on”. It is also true that some religious leaders have been so overwhelmed by the chronic nature of public affairs that they have ended up becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.
King Hezekiah in Jerusalem had more resources at his disposal than his enemy, the field commander of the Assyrian army, knew about. The Lord God was one. But the man who walked close to God in the turbulence of the times was another. He was Isaiah, the writer of the prophecy in the Bible. Not only had Isaiah been called to serve God in the dramatic vision he described in chapter six, he continued to receive the guidance of God about national affairs afterwards. Often, because of this, he took a completely different line to other people, frequently questioning the conventional wisdom of the day. Hezekiah knew that Isaiah was his own man – and more than that he was God’s man – and so in the height of the crisis he called Isaiah in to assist with insight, wisdom and faith.
Christian believers need to support those in public life who are Christian disciples. Their way is not easy. They are often surrounded by roguery and trickery. And they are subject to strong manipulation and various pressures.
Pray for them. Encourage them. Express gratitude for their efforts. And encourage other believers to join the fray.

Calm In God’s Love

Calm in God’s Love  

Zephanaiah 3:14-20

Once in a while we may become upset.  Perhaps we’ve been hurt and are feeling sad or angry.  Or maybe we’ve been working on a project that isn’t going well, and we become frustrated.  There are many reasons why we experience these uncomfortable feelings.
When you are upset what do you do to calm yourself?  Here is what I’ve learned from people. I’ve talked to in the past and I’m interested in your ideas as well:
Talk with someone you trust.  Tell that person how you feel and what happened that caused you to feel that way.  Talking about what has happened and bringing it out into the light may help.  The person you talk with may have some helpful suggestions and sometimes just being with that person will make you feel better.
Hug something.  It may be a parent, a friend, a favorite stuffed animal or even a pillow.
Take time to be alone and rest.  Be quiet with your thoughts and you may begin to feel more calm.
Do something you love.  It may be cooking, reading, playing a computer game, or scaling a climbing wall. 
Take a walk. Being out in nature is very calming.
Pray and ask for God’s help.  A verse in the Bible tells us this:  “He will calm you in his love” (3:17).  Remember that whatever has happened, God loves you unconditionally and God’s love is forever.

God’s Jealous Spirit

GOD’S JEALOUS SPIRIT

Shep, the newest member of our family, is a young Shetland sheepdog who openly displays his jealousy when I kiss my wife. He doesn’t snarl or bite, but in the language of barking he seems to be saying, “Hey, Master, you belong to me!” His jealousy gives me a good feeling. After all, don’t we all like someone to care that much about us?
There’s another kind of jealousy— a righteous jealousy—at work in the life of every Christian. It’s not the yearning of a subject for his master, like that of my dog Shep, but of the Master for His subject. Someone has rephrased James 4:5-6 to read, “Do you think that Scripture says without reason that the Holy Spirit, whom God caused to live in us, jealously wants us exclusively to Himself in order to pour out His grace on us generously?”
When we lust, covet, and create strife, we embrace the world’s values (vv.1-4), and this stirs up God’s jealousy. He continually longs to keep us near to Him. He corrects, rebukes, comforts, guides, and urges us to get to know Him better. This pure possessiveness doesn’t stifle or demean us, but uplifts and liberates because it is full of grace and truth. That’s why He wants us all to Himself.
Thank God for His jealous Spirit.
Action Suggestion
Since we are aware of God’s righteous jealousy,
what steps should we take so that He
can bless us? (James 4:7-10).
There’s no room for double occupancy in the Christian’s heart.

The New Covenant Is In His Blood

THE NEW COVENANT IN HIS BLOOD

Jer. 31:31-34; Ps. 50; Matt. 16:13-23

“Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31).
We have heard Jeremiah’s many warnings against Judah that if they do not repent and correct their errors, their city of Jerusalem and their temple will be destroyed and the nation will be deported to Babylon as a punishment from God. The people refused to heed his warnings and did not correct their errors and abuses, and so were indeed sent into exile and their city and temple were destroyed, as Jeremiah had prophesied.
But now Jeremiah preaches hope. He says that in the future, after all this destruction, God will renew Israel and Judah and will make a new covenant with them and will forgive their sins. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34).
The people will not be completely destroyed, Jeremiah tells them. God will punish them to purify them, but then afterward he will build them up again. “And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord” (Jer. 31:28). “Thus says the Lord: ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the descendents of Israel for all they have done, says the Lord’” (Jer. 31:37).
We are now living in the time of this new covenant. It is made in the blood of Jesus Christ, as he himself told us at the Last Supper, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). This new covenant is in Jesus Christ. In him we have at last the sacrifice in his blood that truly propitiates God our sins, for the sacrifices of the old covenant could not do this, but were only types or prefigurations of the future sacrifice of Christ, which is the only one that truly propitiates God for sins, for only his sacrifice averts the wrath of God against us for our sins by making just reparation for them that satisfies divine justice.
So it is, “for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). The Old Testament sacrifices were prefigurations of the one and only sacrifice capable of propitiating God for our sins, namely the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, who “has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).
In these Old Testament sacrifices one puts his hand on the head of the animal and then kills it to propitiate God for his sins, the animal suffering the punishment of the sinner by being killed in his place. “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord” (Lev. 1:4-5).
This is what Christ did for us, taking our sins upon himself and dying for them in our place, in punishment for them. This, then, is the new covenant in his blood for the forgiveness of our sins, as Jesus himself said at the Last Supper. “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). So it is, for Jesus is the one “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith” (Rom. 3:25 NKJV; see also 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Heb. 2:17).

The King’s Great Resource

THE KING’S GREAT RESOURCE

“As soon as King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes in grief, put on sackcloth, and went to the temple of the Lord”.
Isa 37:1 GNB

There is a well-known saying, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. It applies not only to kings, of course. Business heads, sports captains, and community leaders all have problems. Sometimes these can build up, cause trouble and lead to their demise. Leaders all have weaknesses. They also have rivals wanting to take over, mistakes that haunt them, and a thousand people giving them advice.
King Hezekiah was in a real mess. His big, powerful enemy was at his gates and his preferred ally, Egypt, wasn’t going to rescue him. The enemy was huffing and puffing. The people were holding their breath wondering what was going to happen. And they were looking to the king for leadership. But Hezekiah wasn’t without options. He had an ally in the Lord God Almighty.
Most leaders have only their brains and those of the people round about them to assist them. Hezekiah brought the Lord into his hopeless situation and that changed everything. Moreover he went to the temple in sackcloth – a sign of penitence. And in that he was acknowledging his dependence on God.
You too have God – and he’s on your side just as he was on Hezekiah’s side. You might, from time to time, have been in messes and wondered how you would ever get out. If you have called God when you have been in trouble, and found a way forward, you will know the great value of faith in a crisis. Whatever kind of jam you are in now, call on the Lord. You will find he is near and ready to help.