Friday, December 30, 2005

Verse 3 - Why has God grown cold: Is 63:15-19

“Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. Why, O Lord, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name.” (Isaiah 63:15, 17, 19)
Who is to blame for Israel’s condition? Has Israel slipped into apostasy due to the lack of God’s zeal and the concealment of His mighty deeds? Is God to blame for their hardness of heart? Has God caused them to stray from His own ways? Has God’s love for them grown cold? Was it not their own sin and the stubbornness of their own heart that lead them astray?

God is actively searching for those for whom He can show Himself strong. “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) God wants to be both God and Father to us and, if something is restraining Him toward us, it is not Him but we who are at fault. God stands ready to receive us, He longs to gather us in, but if we are left outside it is because of our own choosing. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34)

If we find ourselves distant from God, it is our responsibility to return to Him. Waiting for Him to come to us will not close the separation; we must choose to return to Him. “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you.” (Malachi 3:7) Returning to the Lord is something that is done with our heart. The issue is not where we are physically but where we are spiritually in our hearts. To return to the Lord we need to deal with our heart. “And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13) Here is some practical advice from the scriptures to help in returning to the Lord.

“Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.’” (Hosea 14:2) We need to talk to God about the condition of our heart. We need to confess our sins and the coldness of our heart. We need to allow ourselves to hear what God has to say about us and then choose to repent of those things. We cannot hide our sin; now is not the time to keep silent; we must go to the Lord and talk it over with Him.

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7) We must choose God’s ways over our own ways. Living with God often requires a change in our life style. When we choose to walk with God, we are also choosing to leave our own path and to walk in the path He has chosen for us. We cannot walk with God and at the same time walk after our own lusts and desires. We must leave our own ways and choose to walk in His.

“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the Lord with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the Lord and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’” (1 Samuel 7:3) We must worship God alone. We must be willing to forsake all other gods and serve only the Lord. It is interesting that Samuel refers to them as “foreign” gods. The world serves many things: money, power, pleasure, and possessions. The world may seek and serve these things, but we have been redeemed out of this world. We are to choose to seek the things of the Kingdom of God and to serve Him alone. We are not to be like the world but rather we are to be like His son Jesus.

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, and place your gold in the dust, and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, then the Almighty will be your gold and choice silver to you.” (Job 22:23-25) What is your treasure? What are the things you value? An easy way to tell is to consider what are the things that you could not afford to loose? Can you live without your riches, your relationships, your vocation, even your church? We can live without a lot of things but we cannot live with out the Lord. As Paul said, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8) We too need to be willing to surrender all for the privilege of knowing Jesus, for when we know Him, all other things pale in contrast. He is our Gold and He is our treasure.

David Robison

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Verse 2 - How far we have drifted: Is 63:11-14

“Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name?” (Isaiah 63:11-12)
Our journey away from God does not happen overnight, it is a long path composed of many individual decisions that lead us away from the presence of God. Sometimes the incremental loss is so unperceivable that it is only after time, when we look back over our lives, that we realize how far we have drifted. This is the story of Israel. Life went on year after year and one day they woke up to realize that God was no longer with. It is important to realize that what Isaiah laments the most is not the loss of the miraculous working of God, although that was most certainly missed, but the loss of the presence of God. God had placed His Holy Spirit in their midst, but that was then and this is now. They still were in the Promised Land, they still had the law and the priests, the temple had not yet been destroyed, but they did not have the presence of God.

Moses understood the importance of the presence of God to the nation of Israel. “And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:14-16) What distinguishes believers from the rest of the world? It’s not the blessings and the gifts but it’s the presence of the Lord. When people come into our churches, it’s not enough for them to feel blessed and experience the moving of the gifts of the Spirit, as important as they are, but above all they need to experience the presence of God.

How does one find his way back to God after he has drifted so far? The church of Ephesus found its self in just such a place. God awakened them to their condition with these words, “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:2-4) The church at Ephesus was doing many things right. They had deeds, toil, and perseverance, but they had lost hold of what was of chief importance, their love for God. How were they to return to their first love with the Father? “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5) God counsels them to do three things: remember what they had lost, repent for their own waywardness, and return to their first deeds. Do you remember your early days with the lord, when His presence was so near to you and you enjoyed your intimate times with Him? Have you since drifted away from that place with Him? If so, repent and do the deeds you first did when you first came to know Him. If you do this then, in short order, you will again find the blessings of His presence and the sweetness of His intimate fellowship.

David Robison

Friday, December 23, 2005

Verse 1- Love and betrayal: Is 63:8-10

“For He said, ‘Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.’ So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:8-9)
God chose Israel not because they were worthy, not because of their great righteousness, but because of His great love for them. God had placed His love upon Abraham and committed His love to Abraham’s descendents forever. “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 4:37-38) God loved Israel and, with great power, delivered them from the bondages of Egypt. That day He purchased Israel for Himself. They were to be His own people, a nation to show forth His glory. “Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them.” (Hosea 11:3-4) For a while, Israel reveled in God’s love but it didn’t take long for her to wander.
“But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them.” (Isaiah 63:10)
How could a nation that was so loved by their God turn away from Him? How is it that we often forget God though He is always with us, always loves us, and always cares for us? “‘Then your fame went forth among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of My splendor which I bestowed on you,’ declares the Lord God. But you trusted in your beauty and played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing.’” (Ezek 16:14-15) While Israel was small, despised, and needy, she needed God, but when she became beautiful and was filled with the splendor of the Lord, she forgot her God and turned to others. How easy it is to delight in the good things God has given us and yet forget where they came from. We can even deceive ourselves that all we have is because of our own goodness and strength. We can easily forget that all we have, every good gift, is from the Father above. God understands the heart of man and warned Israel from the very beginning. “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

What is the secret to not forgetting our Lord? The key is found in what we desire most from the Lord. Do we love the Lord because of the good things He gives us or do we love Him because He first loved us? Do we long for the blessings of the Lord more than we long for the Lord Himself? Do we worship Him because He has been good to us or do we worship Him because He is worthy? If we love the things of God more than God, then when we receive those things we will forget the one who gave them. If, however, we love God more than His gifts, then His gifts will be a blessing but will never detract from the pleasures we experience in His presence. Let us look past the blessings we have received to see the loving giver behind them.

David Robison

A ballade for Israel: 63:7

“I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.” (Isaiah 63:7)
Over the next two chapters, the prophet Isaiah recounts the history between Israel and God. It is a story that covers thousands of years. During that time, Israel had her high points and her low points, yet through it all, God’s love towards her never faded. At times He was blessed by her love for Him and at other times he was angry with her because of her sin, yet in all times He loved her. At the heart of this story are God’s amazing love, goodness, and compassion for Israel.

David Robison

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The day of God's vengenance: Is 63:1-4

“Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? ‘I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come.’” (Isaiah 63:1-4)
I am writing this during the Christmas system when we often romanticize about the cute baby Jesus lying in the manger. During this season we can easily forget that this baby Jesus grew up, became a man, and died for our sins. We can also forget that this grow baby Jesus will one day return to judge the living and the dead. We love the image of “Jesus, meek and mild” but turn away from the image of “Jesus, the concurring king.” Jesus came the first time in humility and weakness, but the next time He will come in strength. “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:28) Jesus work to provide forgiveness for all mankind is finished. When He returns, it will be to execute justice and judgment. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31) In that day, Jesus will not be weak, but will judge with righteous judgment and will compel all men to honor Him as Lord. For many, that day will not be a happy day, but a day to fear and of dread. “Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20)

The Day of Judgment is coming for all. The question is, “for what purpose will that day be for you?” For some, it will be a day they experience to the fullest degree the wrath of God. For others, for those who have become believers in Jesus Christ, it will be a day of inexpressible joy in the presence of God. “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8) For what purpose will that day be for you? That is up to us to decide. Our choices in this life will determine the effect of that day on our lives. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) Now is the time to choose for the Lord. Don’t miss your opportunity, some day it will be too late.

David Robison

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Go through the gates: Is 62:10-11

“Go through, go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway! Take out the stones, lift up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the world: ‘Say to the daughter of Zion, “Surely your salvation is coming; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.”’” (Isaiah 62:10-11 NKJV)
Jesus, when he was about to ascend into heaven, gave His disciples this command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Life inside the four walls of the church can be very comfortable. Inside the church we find comfort, support, fellowship, and camaraderie. So comfortable is it that we can forget that the “great commission” begins with the word “Go!” As we approach the end of the age, we cannot afford to be cloistered in our churches. We must get up and go out, go through the gates, to bring the message of reconciliation to the world. We are to go and prepare a way for the people to return to their God. There are four things that we must do.

Build up the highway. We are living in a time when people are rejecting the ways of God in favor of their own ways. This is not new to our time but a common habit of mankind. In the days of Jeremiah the nation of Israel was in a similar state. “For My people have forgotten Me, they burn incense to worthless gods and they have stumbled from their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, not on a highway.” (Jeremiah 18:15) Even in some churches the ideas of sin and repentance have become out-of-date, a concept for a time gone by. We may not prefer the ancient paths but that does not mean that they are out-of-date. The ways of God are just as relevant today as they were in bible times. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel nor the ways of God. We must be willing to boldly show forth the ways of God to the world that people might know that there is a new way to live, God’s way. They no longer need to walk in their own ways, God has established for them a highway and He is inviting them to “get on board.”

Take out the stones. Christians are like God’s advertisement and sometimes we don’t make Christianity look very appetizing. Our sinful lives can prove a hindrance to those trying to find God. When David sinned with Bathsheba, the prophet Nathan rebuked him saying, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” (2 Samuel 12:14) How many times have you heard people use the claims of hypocrisy in the church as an excuse to stay away? To the extent that it is true, we are to blame. In Antioch Paul rebuked Peter and the other Jews because, “They were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:14) They were saying one thing but living another. We need to get serious about our lives. We need to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. We need to begin to live the faith that we profess so that others can see the reality of the gospel lived out in our lives.

Lift up a banner. There are a lot of causes and ideologies around which people gather today. These causes and ideologies become like banners, or flags, that fly over the group and define the group. For example, politically, there are those who fly the conservative flag while others fly the liberal flag. Inside the church, there are those who fly the charismatic flag while others fly the evangelical flag. Jesus has a flag that He wants to fly over His people, “He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4) The banner that God is raising over His people is love. When we relate and interact with the world, the most important thing they should see is God’s love expressed through us. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of love. In fact, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) We must carry this message of God’s love to the world. We must help them to see, “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)

Say to the people. God’s message is a message of hope and of promise. The salvation of God is here now and is available to all. We do not have to wait and hope that some day we might be saved, after all, “Now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2) We can have hope that, in what ever moment we choose to turn to God, He is there waiting and ready to answer and save us. And for those who choose to walk with God, in the end, there will be the rewards of the kingdom. “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12) What ever is done for the pursuit of the Kingdom will not go unrewarded. We can freely give ourselves to the work of the Kingdom knowing that our labor will not be in vain. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) We must make clear this message of hope to the world. The good news of the Kingdom is not just for ourselves, we must share it with the world.

David Robison

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Go for your dreams: Is 62:8-9

“The Lord has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, ‘I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored.’ But those who garner it will eat it and praise the Lord; and those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary.” (Isaiah 62:8-9)
Webster defines “garner” as “to acquire by effort.” The things of the Kingdom of God do not always come easily. Sometimes it takes some effort to acquire what God has for us. Consider Jesus’ promise, “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” (Luke 11:10) In the Greek, the tense used for the verbs implies a continual effort. For example, the verse could easily be translated, “For everyone who asks, and keeps on asking, receives.” In the Kingdom, receiving, finding, and having doors opened for you takes the continual effort of asking, seeking, and knocking. The Kingdom of God is not apprehended by the passive, but by those who energetically pursue it. Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

In this verse, the Lord wants to encourage our hearts that our efforts in Him are not in vain. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) It is as if God is giving us permission to “go for it!” Now is not the time for timidness. Now is not the time to be fearful. Now is the time to press forward into all God has for us. God has given each one of us dreams and visions for our lives and now is the time to reach forward to lay hold of those dreams and visions. God wants to give us our dreams and He wants those dreams to produce praise for Him from our hearts. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12) What has God put in your heart? What ever it is, God says “go for it!”

David Robison

Friday, December 09, 2005

God rejoices over us: Is 62:4-5

“It will no longer be said to you, ‘Forsaken,’ nor to your land will it any longer be said, ‘Desolate’; but you will be called, ‘My delight is in her,’ and your land, ‘Married’; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:4-5)
We are often encourages in the scriptures to rejoice in God. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) We are also told that our affections should be turned heavenward and not set upon things on the earth. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2 KJV) We should find our delight in Him rather than in the things of this life. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4)

We often think about our obligation to live and cherish the Lord, but how often do we stop and think about how much He loves us? This scripture says that God delights in us and He rejoices over us in love. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17) It is quite something to imagine God in heaven shouting for joy over His people. When God thinks of us, He is moved to exuberant shouts of joy. God is not stoic in His emotions but freely expresses His love for us among those who are in heaven. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength because that is the way that God loves us. “The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.’” (Jeremiah 31:3)

I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude to the Lord for His love for me. My words of love, praise, and thanksgiving will always fall short of what He is worthy of. There is nothing I can offer Him in return for His kindness and love. But at least I will have all of eternity to try!

David Robison

Monday, December 05, 2005

A new name: Is 62:2

“The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate.” (Isaiah 62:2)
At the time of this prophesy “righteousness” and “glory” would not be what you would typically associated with the nation of Israel. Israel had already slid into apostasy and her younger sister Judah was following right behind her. By the time of Ezekiel, God had new names for Israel and Judah, “Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters.” (Ezekiel 16:46) How is it then that God prophesies of their righteousness and glory? God was declaring that, one day, He would give Israel a new name; a name of His own choosing. In the Hebrew understanding, a person’s name spoke of their nature. Remember the story of when Abigail fled to David to plead for the life of her husband and his men. “Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him.” (1 Samuel 25:25) As his name was, so was he.

God is into changing name, and not just names, but also natures. God not only wants to give us a new name but also a new nature. Our lives are not limited by our past. It does not matter who or what we were before we came to Jesus, in Christ we are made new. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Our future in God is not dependent on our past. It does not matter what kind of sinner we were. It doesn’t matter what background we came from. In Christ we are made new and our potential in His is unlimited. It’s good to be new!

David Robison

Friday, December 02, 2005

A call for intercessors: Is 62:1, 6-7

“For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning… On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isaiah 62:1, 6-7)
God’s admonition is clear; we are not to cease praying for the church. We are not to pray our own desires, but pray that God’s purposes would be fulfilled. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God’s will and purpose are already established in heaven. God wants us to pray it out of heaven and onto the earth. We are to pray that God’s will and kingdom would be established on Earth as it is already established in heaven. Our prayers are not done until we all are fully established in God’s will and purpose.

Intersession means sacrifice. A heart of intersession will not be found by those who pursue personal comfort. Intercessors are not found among those given over to a life of ease. Intersession takes sacrifice. Jesus often spent many hours alone in prayer and intersession. Jesus was often up early and up late spending time with His Father. Those who desire pleasures will never know the joy, or the burden, of intersession. “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12) Epaphras was committed to the welfare of his brethren back home. He labored unceasingly in praying for them, asking God to strengthen them that they might stand squarely in the perfect will of God. The church still needs intercessors like Epaphras.

Intersession means watching. Intersession is more than delivering our “prayer list” to God. Intersession is not an attempt to pray our will into existence. Intersession is watching, listening, and responding in the Holy Spirit. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18) Intersession begins by listening to hear and watching to see what God desires to reveal to us. We bring God’s people before Him and ask what He wants to show us concerning them. Once God reveals His heart, mind, and will for His people, then we can begin to pray into those things. This is the progression of the Lord: God shows us what He wants to do, we pray and intercede that God’s will would be done, and God responds to our prayers and accomplishes His will on Earth. Intersession is participating in what God wants to accomplish. We cannot intercede if we never spend the time to first hear God and to know His will and His mind.

David Robison

Monday, November 28, 2005

Clothed in Salvation: Is 61:10-11

“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:10-11)
In the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, they became aware that they were naked and sought to hide their nakedness by sowing together some fig leaves. Unimpressed, God made for them a more suitable covering; garments of skins. The animal that paid with its life that they might cover their nakedness was the first animal to die in God’s new creation. An animal that Adam and Eve were given responsibility to care for was killed to cover their sins. Today, many still remain naked, but our nakedness is not physical but spiritual. Jesus writing to the church at Laodicea said, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17) God has provided a covering for our spiritual nakedness, not the flesh of a dead animal, but the salvation of His own son. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

God has clothed us with salvation and wrapped us with His righteousness. He has hidden our nakedness with His provision. Though God is still at work on the inside, to the rest of the world, and even the demonic world, we are seen dressed in the garments of God. Outwardly we appear as the children of God, “among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:15) while inwardly God is working to bring about the salvation of our soul. God is working on the inside. One of the distractions of the enemy is to become overly introspective. Even though God has robed us in His righteousness, it is tempting to try and peek inside the garment to see who we are and to root around in our past. We can become so preoccupied with trying to understand why we are the way we are and to discover what in our past has lead us to be the people we are, that we loose site of who God has called us to be and the life He has called us to live. Unless God chooses to reveal these things to us, we should leave that which is on the inside to God.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were unaware of their nakedness. They lived with God in perfect innocence. God wants to restore this innocence to us. He wants us to learn to walk with Him without worrying about what He is doing on the inside. It is of no use trying to find the problems hidden on the inside when God has not chosen to reveal them. When God is ready (and we are ready) He will show us what we need to know and give us the opportunity to repent and be healed of our sins and our past. Isaiah compares our growth in God to plants growing in the ground. The ground provides nourishment for the plant, but the plant cannot grow if we keep digging it up to look at its roots. We must entrust the seed to the ground and believe for an increase. In the same way we must commit our lives to God and trust in Him for our increase. This is not to say that we should never evaluate our lives, but we judge our lives by the fruit we have produced. If, after such an examination, we find our fruit lacking, we must resist the temptation to figure it out on our own. We must go before the Lord and ask Him to show us why we are the way we are. With His revelation will come His conviction that will lead to our repentance. Doing our own digging around in our lives will lead to sorrow, but allowing God to reveal our lives will produce a sorrow leading to life. “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

David Robison

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The blessing of a double portion: Is 61:7-9

“Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs… Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.” (Isaiah 61:7, 9 NKJV)
God wants to bless His people. He wants to demonstrate His love and kindness through His blessings bestowed upon His people. Jesus came that He might open up the blessing of God to those who believe. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV) God wants us to have not life, but life abundantly. Jesus came that we might have a life that is superabundant and more than enough; a double portion of life. God is not stingy with His blessings, but He gives more than what is needed. Anyone who lives in want is not living in the abundant life of the Lord.

This does not mean that our every lustful desire will be met, but it does mean that God will give us double of what we need to live in “everlasting joy.” The secret to living in this superabundant life is to learn to see it and to rejoice in our portion. This scripture says that when we fail to embrace our portion with a thankful heart, we yield confusion, dishonor, and disgrace in our lives. Many Christians today are living substandard lives because they have rejected the provision of the Lord. God has given us life, yet we have wanted something else. We lust for money, power, relationships, and other worldly things, and have turned up our noses to the bountiful blessing of God. King David understood what it meant to receive with thanksgiving the provision of the Lord. “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” (Psalms 16:6) When we are consumed with other desires, nothing satisfies, but when we delight ourselves in the Lord, then we find a life full of beauty and pleasant places. If we will turn our lives from our own desires then we will find in the Lord all we truly want and need.

This scripture goes on to say that the people of the Lord will be recognized by the nations because of the blessings God has poured out upon them. God wants to bless us not only for our own sake, but also to demonstrate to the world that He is God. “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16) God wants to show His kindness and love to the world by poring it out upon us. We are like a canvas upon which God wants to paint a picture of His love and care for mankind. The life that Jesus came to give us is not solely for our own benefit, but it is also meant to provide evidence to the world of who Jesus was. “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (1 John 5:9-11) This life we have is the evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. We need to live this life not unto ourselves, but that the world might see the superabundance of the blessings of God. We need to let our light shine that the world may know and that all may believe.

David Robison

Friday, November 25, 2005

Rebuilders of the ruins: Is 61:4

“Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” (Isaiah 61:4)
When people come to the Lord, they often come as broken, damaged, people. They may look whole on the outside, but inside, there is brokenness, dysfunction, and open wounds. While the level of brokenness may vary, no one is perfect before they come to the Lord. Before coming to the Lord, our lives are shaped by many factors, and not all for the better. We can experience brokenness from participating in our own personal sins. We can also experience damage from the effects of the sins of those close to us. For example, many people have received deep hurts and wounds as a result of growing up with an alcoholic parent. Sometimes, the devastation in our lives is the direct result of generations of sin and their resulting curses. Many people today live with the results of generational curses passed down from their ancestors. We are all broken and we are all in need of repair.

Jesus tells a story of a man that “was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30) Many passed by the dieing man without rendering aid. Some did not want to get involved while others were too busy to offer help, but one, a Samaritan saw the man and had pity on him. “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:33-34) Not only did the Samaritan provide for the wounded man’s immediate need, but he also gave provision for his long term care. “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’” (Luke 10:35)

Individually, Jesus wants us to be like that good Samaritan. He wants us to bind up and heal the wounds of the hurting people around us. Corporately, we are to be like the inn. Jesus wants His church to be a place where He can bring the broken and the hurting that they may be cared for and healed. For some people, their healing is a process that may take many years. For some, their healing will only be complete when they finally stand before Jesus. A pastor friend of mine once said that, when we come to Jesus, our lives are like a mixed up jigsaw puzzle, and many of the key pieces are missing. As His church, we are the ones whom Jesus has called to help people to rebuild their lives, to help them make sense out of the jigsaw that is their life, to help them move from brokenness to wholeness. Such a church will not be “neat” but it will be full of joy. We are the re-builders of the ruins, the restorers of that that was devastated, the repairer of the cities and the desolations of many generations. This is both a privilege, an honor, and a duty.

David Robison

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Beauty for ashes: Is 61:2-3

“To comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:2-3)
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Who are those who mourn in Zion? They are those who realize that, even though Israel was birthed with such potential, she fell way short of the glory that God had appointed to her. Israel was birthed by God and God blessed her with great promises. All that was required was that Israel abide by the covenant God established with her. Had they, Israel would have been the glory of the whole earth, yet they were unable to keep God’s commandments. Try as they might, they were unable, in their own strength, to keep the law of God and to fulfill their end of the covenant. In the end, Israel was sent into captivity and her land left to strangers. Instead of glory, she found humiliation. “Judah mourns and her gates languish; they sit on the ground in mourning, and the cry of Jerusalem has ascended.” (Jeremiah 14:2)

What about your own life? We each are born into this world full of potential and promise. We receive our life from God and we are formed in His image. As men and women, we have been created in His image; created to reflect His glory. Unfortunately, none of us ever live up to our full potential. Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We may try to encourage ourselves that at least we are better than some, but when compared to God, we fall far short. When faced with their own failures, some choose to simply ignore them, but for those who long to “be all they can be,” God has a plan. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good… 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 7:18-19, 21, 24-25) For all those who mourn over their sinfulness and their failure to live up to the glory of God, God has provided comfort, the hope of righteousness, and the power to become the person that God has made us to be.

Jesus did not come to simply release us of our sins, but to also release our hearts from mourning. When we come to Jesus we are immediately forgiven for our past, present, and future sins. Our forgiveness is instantaneous and complete, but the restoration of our soul takes time. We may not immediately be who we were meant to be, but neither are we who we used to be. While the process of sanctification is a process, we have hope and comfort in Jesus. We may not be perfect, but we will always be loved. The secret is to learn to draw near to God that we may receive of His comfort. Beating ourselves up over our sins is of no benefit. It is only by drawing close to Him and receiving His comfort that we will grow to become oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.

David Robison

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The work of an evangelist: Is 61:1-2

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Paul tells his disciple Timothy to, “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) Timothy was not an evangelist, but he was to do the work of an evangelist. We may not have a title in God’s kingdom, such as Pastor, Teacher, Prophet, Evangelist, and Apostle, but we are all called to care for people, share God’s good news with others, speak the prophetic word of God, preach the Gospel to the poor, and go to the world with the ministry of reconciliation. We do not have to be called something to do the work. So what is the work of an evangelist? I believe that this scripture clearly shows. The work of the evangelist includes:

Preaching the Gospel. The Gospel latterly translates in the original Greek as “good news” or “glad tidings”. God has good news for the poor, afflicted, and the needy. God’s good news was not just for the religious elite, but it reached down to even the lowest of men and women. Jesus said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) Those who think they are righteous do not find any good news in the Gospel, but those who know they are sinners find life, joy, and peace with God. We are to take the Gospel to all mankind. It is not ours to decide who is worthy or who is “ready”. We are to preach the Gospel and leave the results up to the Lord.

Healing the body, soul, and spirit. When Jesus quoted this verse, He added that He was to bring “recovery of sight to the blind.” (Luke 4:18) Healing is part and parcel with the Gospel. Jesus, during His time on this earth, healed may people (even some who did not deserve to be healed). When the apostles were sent out, they too went about healing those who were sick. When Jesus healed, He healed more than just the body; He also healed the soul and spirit. Consider the Gerasene demoniac, after Jesus delivered him and healed him it says that, “The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened.” (Luke 8:35) Jesus not only delivered him, He also healed his mind. Jesus heals the whole man and, as part of the work of the evangelist, He has called us to do the same.

Delivering from bondages. Bondages come in many forms. We can become addicted to drugs, alcohol, and other substances. We can develop patterns of sin, such as a habit of lying. We can also give place to demonic strongholds in our lives. Even if we are not demonically “possessed” we can still be “demonized” or oppressed by demonic spirits. When we give ourselves to addictive substances, sinful patterns, or yield to demonic influences, we become prisoners of those things. Jesus came to set us free from all our bondages. Part of the work of an evangelist is not only to preach freedom, but also to minister freedom to the captives and to the prisoners. When Jesus sent out the seventy, he told them, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:19) We should not be fearful of the enemy for we have been given power over him. Jesus wants us to use that power and authority to set others free.

Calling men and women to salvation. Paul, quoting from Isaiah said, “for He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is ‘The acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘The day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Now is the time to be saved! We are to call people to respond to the Gospel. The Gospel is good news, but we must respond to it. Jesus has paid for the forgiveness of all mankind, but unless we repent and place our trust in Him, we will not benefit from His forgiveness. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) It is not enough to simple tell others of the good news; we must also call them to respond to the good news. We must make clear, in our words and deeds, the path God is calling us to walk. People should be able to see in us and example of repentance and faith. They should see in us the response they themselves need to make.

David Robison

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dripping with the anointing: Is 61:1

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…” (Isaiah 61:1)
What does it mean to be anointed? The Hebrew word means to be “rub, smear, or paint.” This scripture, which Jesus applied directly to himself, says that Jesus was smeared and painted with the Holy Spirit. In most churches, including mine, anointing has been refined to be something very neat. When we anoint someone today it is a dab of oil on the finger that is rubbed on the forehead. In the days of the priests of Israel, anointing was a horn of oil poured onto the head of a priest or other minister. It was messy, but it was powerful, for only those who were anointed could approach the presence of God to minister to Him. David describes the anointing of the priest of Israel, “It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.” (Psalms 133:2)

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. He was dripping with the presence of God. Everywhere He went the Holy Spirit went. When people drew near to Him they could detect the presence of God. When the religious elite doubted the means by which Jesus did His miracles, Jesus reminded them, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Luke 11:20) Jesus was the interface of the kingdom of heaven with the world we live in.

As Christians, we are the anointed ones of God. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) We are the ones who are to carry the presence of God to the world. We are to be dripping with the presence of God. When people draw near us, they should be able to sense the presence of God and His kingdom. Paul refers to the detectable presence of God as a fragrance. “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16) Because of the anointing we have received, we are to be a fragrance of life to everyone around us. The world is full of the fragrance of death and there is sin and decay everywhere, but God has sent us to be a fragrance of life in the midst of so much death.

What is the secret to being drenched with the sweet perfume of His presence? The Song of Solomon gives us a clue, “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices.” (Song of Solomon 8:14) If we want to smell like the mountains of spices then we must first visit the mountains of spices. If we are to give off the fragrance of the presence of God then we must first be in His presence. We cannot fake the presence of God with some fancy perfume. There is no substitute for being in His presence. We must be like the beloved in the Song of Solomon, “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.” (Song of Solomon 4:6) We have been anointed with the Holy Spirit, but we must never let that anointing grow stale. We must regularly come into His presence and let the Holy Spirit pour over us and drip anew with the presence of God.

David Robison

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A reversal of fortunes: Is 60:10-22

Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you; for in My wrath I struck you, and in My favor I have had compassion on you… Whereas you have been forsaken and hated with no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, a joy from generation to generation… The smallest one will become a clan, and the least one a mighty nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.” (Isaiah 60:10, 15, 22)
Life for the people of God had not always been milk and honey. While there were times of great blessing for the nation of Israel, there were also times of great sorrow and suffering. Not long after Isaiah’s prophesies, the people of Israel were to go into exile into a foreign land, among a people who spoke a foreign tongue, and who served foreign gods. God was about to punish the nation of Israel out of His wrath, but He would again turn to them with compassion and restore them to glory.

Because we are mortal it is hard for us to look beyond this mortal life. It is easy for us to become consumed with our current state in this life. We judge ourselves, and others, by the quality of life we live now and often forget about the life that is to come. When Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives, He taught them that life was more than what we have in the here and now, but life also has eternal rewards. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10) What Jesus is trying to show us is that our blessedness is not based on what we currently have but rather on what we will have later on. The blessing on those who morn is not because they morn but because they shall be comforted. In each case, Jesus shows us that a person’s blessings are determined by what they shall receive in the life to come. This is the same lesson Jesus teaches us in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’” (Luke 16:25) Consider some of the future blessings outlined in this scripture.

“Foreigners will build up your walls, and their kings will minister to you.” (Isaiah 60:10) God will appoint and send us those who will build up the Body of Christ and not destroy it. God will give to His Body everything it needs to grow up into the full stature of Christ.

“Your gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night.” (Isaiah 60:11) There will be no fear of the destroyer or for loss. We will not need to hide out and “wait for the Lord to return.” God will protect us as we go about and do His business.

“The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, and all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; and they will call you the city of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 60:14) As Christians, we often live incognito. Who we are in the spirit is hidden from those in the world, but there will come a day when God will reveal us for who we really are, the children of God. “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4)

“Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, and instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron.” (Isaiah 60:17) In every area of our lives there will be increase. We may beset with weaknesses but we shall inherit strength. We are mortal but we shall put on immortality. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

“Your sun will no longer set, nor will your moon wane; for you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning will be over.” (Isaiah 60:20) While God never changes there are times when He seems very far away. There are times when it is hard to find God, to know His will, and to hear His voice. Often our flesh acts as an attenuator for the presence of God, but there will come a day when we will always see His face. In that time we will remain in His presence and bask in His glory.

“Then all your people will be righteous.” (Isaiah 60:21) In this life, sin is the order of the day. As we grow closer to the day of His return, Jesus warned us that sin would only increase, but there is coming a day when sin will be expunged and righteousness will reign. “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)

David Robison

Friday, November 04, 2005

A reason to sparkle: Is 60:4-9

“Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.” (Isaiah 60:4-5)
The Hebrew word used here for “radiant” can also be translated to “sparkle” or “shimmer.” The word picture is of the sun shinning off of a flowing stream. Most of us have seen the sun sparkling and shimmering off of a river or lake and, if the sun is just right, the shine can be so bright that you’re not able to look at it directly. The river reflects the sun’s light with such brilliance that it can almost be blinding. God speaks of a future time of restoration when the hearts of His people would rejoice with such glory that their lives will sparkle and shimmer with the light of the glory of God. God’s people were to pass through a time of great suffering, but on the other side there would be glory.

What is it that God promises that would cause His people to shine like the sun? It is the promise that “the abundance of the sea will be turned to you and the wealth of the nations will come to you.” God promises to enrich the people of God with a great ingathering of wealth from the nations. What is this great wealth? “Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in their arms.” While this has a direct application to the gathering of Jews to Israel, it also has application for the church that Jesus came to establish. The wealth of the nations is not the money and riches, but it is the precious souls of their men and women. This great ingathering is not going to be of money but rather of those whom the Lord has saved. “I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory.” (Haggai 2:7)

God make it very clear who will be those whom He will draw into relationship with Himself and His kingdom. Midian, Ephah, and Sheba were descendents from Abraham’s second wife Keturah. Kedar and Nebaioth were descendents of Ishmael. Tarshish was a descendent of Noah, but not in the lineage of the sons of Israel. In other words, God is going to draw and add to the people of God from those who are currently outside the covenants of God. God’s call is not limited to those of the nation of Israel, but God is going to draw all men. “And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Romans 9:23-24)

Why is God going to draw all mankind into His kingdom? “All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; they will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house.” (Isaiah 60:7) This verse can also be translated to “beautify My ornate house.” God wants to beautify His beautiful house by decorating it with the ornate jewels of the nations, and these jewels are the souls that His own blood has saved. The beauty of God’s house will be seen in the lives of those whom He has saved. God is going to beautify His house and, as part of that house, He is going to beautify us as well. “Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you.” (Isaiah 60:9) Now this is reason to rejoice!

David Robison

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A reflected glory: Is 60:1-3

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)
When I was a child, my family used to camp a lot. I can remember some nights when the only light was the light of a full moon. Though there were no other lights, the moon shown bright enough that you could walk around without stumbling. It was bright enough that you didn’t even need a flashlight to get around. What is amazing about the moon is that it has no light of its own; rather it shines brightly because of the reflected light of the sun. The light of the sun reflects off the moon to light our night.

The same is true for us when it comes to the light of the glory of God. In the midst of the darkness all around us God wants us to shine forth His glory for all the world to see. The world does not need to see our own glory, after all, its really not all that bright anyway, but the world need to see the glory of the Lord. Our glory is too dim but God’s glory is bright enough to give light to those walking in darkness. Our lives are to be as a mirror, reflecting the glory of God. It is like Moses when He came down from his meeting with God on Mount Sinai, the scripture says, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:29-30) Even Jesus when He came to the Earth did not seek to express His own glory but the glory of His father in heaven. “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus was the reflection of the Father in bodily form.

God wants us to reflect His glory. Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) God wanted to shine His light into the darkness, so He poured that light into our hearts that we might then let it shine forth to those around us. We need to remove from our lives all hindrances to that light shinning forth. We need to become less concerned about people seeing us and more concerned about them seeing Christ in us. God is glorious and He has done glorious things in us. Let us not hide that from the world. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)

David Robison

Saturday, October 29, 2005

My Spirit shall remain: Is 59:21

‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring,’ says the LORD, ‘from now and forever.’” (Isaiah 59:21)
When studying the Old Testament, one must determine weather the scripture is speaking to those under God’s old covenant with the nation of Israel, to those who would live under the new covenant initiated through Jesus Christ, or to both. For example, there was a worship song that was popular in some Christian churches during the 1990’s. It was taken from Psalm 51. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalms 51:10-12) While it was a beautiful song and expressed our desire to be holy before the Lord, it wasn’t accurate for the covenant we live in now. This scripture from Isaiah reminds us that God has promised not to take His Holy Spirit, or His word, away from us. David cried out to God not to take His sprit away from Him because he had seen God do such a thing. He saw what happened when God removed His spirit from King Saul. “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.” (1 Samuel 16:14) Under the old covenant, God’s Holy Spirit was given to an individual for a specific purpose and with no guarantee that His Spirit would remain forever. This, however, is not the case under the new covenant. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17) God has also given us a new heart, a clean heart. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

We need to be careful not to confess who we were before we were accepted into the new covenant. We need to confess the promises of the new covenant and not the judgments of the old covenant. Even when Christians say that they are sinners saved by grace, they neglect the fact that the scriptures testify of then that they are a new creation. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) We used to be sinners, but not any more, we have been created anew. We need to learn to confess who Jesus says we are and not who we feel like we are.

David Robison

Friday, October 28, 2005

Jesus Puts on the Armor of God: Is 59:17

He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.” (Isaiah 59:17)
The armor of God is not something that Christians alone wear. Jesus Himself wore such armor when he came to set mankind free. Where we are told to put on the armor of God, we are to don the very armor that Jesus Himself wears. Paul describes the armor of God, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

I have heard teaching on the armor of God that encourages us to put the armor on each morning before we start our day. I have heard others say that during their devotional time with the Lord they pray over the armor and “put it on” one piece at a time. However, the armor of God is not some mystical piece of hardware that we put on in the morning and take off at night. We put on the armor of God when we allow the things of the Kingdom to become part of our life. As we live the Kingdom life, the fruit that it bears in our life becomes armor to protect us from the wiles of the enemy. Notice that this scripture says that Jesus, “put on righteousness like a breastplate.” He did not put on a spiritual breastplate, rather His righteousness was like a breastplate over His heart and protected His heart from the darts of the enemy.

Do you need a breastplate? Then learn to live righteously. Do you need a belt to hold up your robe so that you can be unencumbered in life’s race? Then let truth be the guide and rule in all you do. Do you need a helmet to protect you from the lies and temptations of the enemy? Then allow His spirit to renew you in the spirit of your mind, let the hope of His salvation be the foundation of all your understanding. The armor of God takes more than prayer to put on, it requires us to live the Kingdom life. It requires that we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us body, soul, and spirit. Putting on God’s armor requires that we become like Him. Therefore, let us lay aside our old self and our old ways and take up the life and ways of the Kingdom of God. In doing so, we will find that we have armor that is able to withstand any attack of our enemy.

David Robison

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Jesus to the rescue: Is 59:9-20

Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.” (Isaiah 59:9-10)
Isaiah, prophesying the Word of the Lord, gives a fitting summary to man’s experience on the earth. For sure, there have been some shinning moments, yet mankind’s six thousand year history has left much to be desired. Despite his high platitudes of peace on earth and the universal brotherhood of man, mankind has failed to produce any lasting peace and any real unity among the nations. We may have technology and wealth, yet morally and ethically, man is still the same sinner he was some six thousand years ago. Mankind is on a spiritual journey downward. Jesus, speaking of the later days, describes an age when the sins of man would increase to the detriment of all. Jesus said, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

To make matters worse, not only is man on a downward spiral, but he is unable to stop his downward progress. “Now the LORD saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede.” (Isaiah 59:15-16) Mankind had become a slave to the sinful nature within him, and try as he may, he himself was unable to break free from his bondage. God looked to see if there was anyone who could bring about the salvation of mankind, anyone who could intercede on their behalf, yet He found no one.

Therefore, God decided to come Himself, to deliver mankind from their sins. “Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle… ‘A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 59:16-17, 20) God accomplished what we could not, He came and paid the price for our sins and rose from the dead to secure our freedom from slavery. The name “Jesus” means, “Jehovah saves”. Jesus has saved us from our sin and has set us free from our sinful nature. What we could not do, Jesus has done.

David Robison

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The least common denominator: Is 59:3-8

““No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquityÂ… Their feet run to evil, and they hasten to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, devastation and destruction are in their highways. They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.” (Isaiah 59:4, 6-8)
We are all very different in many ways. Our personalities, our abilities, our upbringing, and our experiences are all a part of what makes us unique. God has created each one of us different, even down to our fingerprints. No two fingerprints, or two people, are the same. When we consider all the ways we are different, there is one way, however, that we are very much the same, we are all sinners. Paul quotes the psalmist David saying, ““There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) Paul concludes, ““There is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22-23)

This truth should come as no surprise, it is testified to throughout all the scriptures, but how often we forget this simple fact. We tend to gravitate to one of two deceptions when it comes to the truth of our sinful natures. One deception says that man is basically good, although he occasionally does bad things. His sins are usually a result of conditioning by his environment or a result of oppression by institutions and authorities in his life. The second deception separates good people from bad people and, when it comes to us, we are the good people. Even among Christian circles, we tend to distinguish between the righteous (those in the church) from the unrighteous (those outside the church). Neither of these deceptions is accurate. The truth is that we are all sinners. This one fact unites all mankind as one. None of us is better than anyone else, none of us is born more righteous than anyone else, we are all sinners in need of salvation. Wreckont recon with the fact that the sinner is our brother.

While our sinfulness unites us, it also qualifies us for the greatest gift ever offered. ““It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners , among whom I am foremost of all.” (1 Timothy 1:15) We may be sinners, but being sinners qualifies us for GodÂ’s salvation. All have sinned therefore all are qualified. Thanks be to God!

David Robison

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Separated from God: Is 59:2

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)
When God first created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden He gave them this simple command, “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17) How could Adam and Eve have understood what it meant to die? Until then, nothing had ever died. In their understanding, death was not annihilation, but rather, death was separation. Joshua told the people, “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth.” (Joshua 23:14) Joshua was not going to cease to exist, but he was going to Sheol, the place of departed souls. Joshua was going to be separated, or cut off, from the land of the living, but his soul was to remain very much alive. James makes this even more clear when he said, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead.” (James 2:26)

On the day that Adam and Eve took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they died, not physically but they died spiritually. They were separated from God because of their sin. Once they enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God and the next moment they were afraid of God and hid themselves from Him. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:7-8)

All of us have sinned, and our sins have separated us from God. Our sins have become a wall between God and us, keeping us from God and keeping His blessings from us. We cannot be reconciled to God without first dealing with our sins. But how can we atone for our many sins? Thankfully, we don’t have to, Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:13-16) The law testifies against us of our sins and condemns us to death. Jesus came and, by His life, fulfilled all the law. Jesus was perfect and sinless. Then, after living a perfect life, He died to atone for our sins. He died so that all who would put their faith and trust in Him would be forgiven of their sins and reunited with God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The good news of the Gospel is that we no longer need to be separated from God. We can be reunited with the Father. This reconciliation is not based on any good works that we might do but is a free gift from God to all who may choose to accept it. “For if 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.” (Romans 5:10)

David Robison

Thursday, October 13, 2005

If because of the sabbath: Is 58:13-14

If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14)
I have often wondered about the role of the sabbath day in the life of a Christian. Some people believe that it is essential for Christians to keep the sabbath, while some are not that strict. Some believe that a Christian should celebrate the sabbath on Saturday, while others prefer Sunday. This scripture clearly promises a blessing on those who keep the sabbath. So, how does a Christian keep the sabbath?

Paul, in the Book of Hebrews clearly identifies that, under the old covenant, God set aside the seventh day and declared it holy. “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘and God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’” (Hebrews 4:4) For six days God worked and created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, He rested. God therefore declared the seventh day to be holy and a day of rest. God had rested and, on the seventh day of each week, He invited men to share in His rest. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Geneses 2:3) God had given the Israelites a day of rest that they may rest from their labors just as God had rested from His labors. God had given a promise of rest, yet because of their unbelief, the children of Israel failed to enter into His rest. “For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘as I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3) The Israelites, living under the old covenant, were unable to enter into God’s rest. Therefore, when God established the new covenant, He once again made a promise of rest. “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Hebrews 4:6-7) What Paul is saying is that, under the new covenant, God has established a new day as the day of rest, and that day is “Today”.

For the Christian believer, their sabbath is “Today”. Each day we live with God by faith we are living in the sabbath rest of God. So what is a sabbath rest? “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10) When Jesus died on the cross, He cried out, “It is finished!” On the cross, Jesus brought and end to the power of sin in our lives. He brought an end to the demands of the law in our life. He brought and end to our own labors to live righteously. When we enter into God’s sabbath rest, we cease from our own works. This is in essence what this scripture in Isaiah is saying. The true sabbath rest of God is when we turn from our own pleasures to receive the joy and blessings of the Lord, when we turn from our own ways to live according to the ways of God, and when we cease from speaking our own words and fill our mouths and ears with the word of God. It is time to cease from our own labors and by faith enter into the rest of God. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9, 11)

David Robison

Monday, October 10, 2005

Then your light will break out: Is 58:8-12

Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’… Then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:8-11)
All of us want to abide in this place of abundance with God, and it is God’s desire to bring us into this place of blessing. Jesus came that we might experience abundant life and it is this abundant life to which we have been destined. “The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground… The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand… The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath.” (Deuteronomy 28:11-13)

While God desires to bless us, some of His promises are conditional; they are dependent upon our response to His grace in our life. Our attitudes, beliefs, and actions can actually keep the blessings of God from coming our way. After Israel’s captivity in Babylon, God restored them to their land. Over time, however, they became more and more self-centered. Each one looked to the repairs of their own house while the house of the Lord remained in ruins. To get their attention, God withdrew His blessings from them and challenged them, “‘You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.” (Haggai 1:6-8) Their life of selfish pursuits limited the blessings of God. In this passage in Isaiah, God counsels the Israelites to do three things:

“Remove the yoke from your midst” (vs. 9): The yoke speaks of oppression. Sometimes oppression is overt, for example, the use of verbal and physical abuse as a means to control others. Other times, however, oppression is more subtle, it is more implied than direct, for example, we can place a yolk on one another by our unreasonable expectations of each other. I have seen this in the case of pastors where members of the church hold them in bondage to their unreasonable expectations of how perfect they believe he should be. Pastors are not gods, they are just men like us. They are not perfect but rather they share in our imperfections and weaknesses. We need to release people from our expectations of them. We need to let them grow to be the people God has called them to be, not the people we want them to be.

“Remove the pointing of the finger and the speaking of wickedness” (vs. 9): This scripture refers to our judgment of others. God has not called us to be our brother’s judge. It is not our job to bring accusations against our brothers and sisters. There is one who accuses, but he is not on God’s side. “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10) When we stand to accuse our brother, we are engaging in the work of the devil, we are partnering with him for the destruction of the kingdom. May it never be that we should partner with the devil in our words and actions. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

“Give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted” (vs. 10): This scripture speaks to our self-centeredness. It is so easy to become wrapped up in our own problems and circumstances that we loose sight of everyone else around us. We can become so self-absorbed and so focused on our self that we do not see the suffering of others. In speaking of the Body of Christ, Paul says, “But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) From the original Greek, this scripture could be translated to say that we should have the “same distraction” for one another. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to distract us from ourselves that we may see the needs of others. A funny thing happens when we begin to minister to other people, our problems seem to grow smaller. When we focus on our problems, our problems are magnified in our eyes. When we focus on others, the Lord becomes magnified in our eyes.

This scripture in Isaiah begins with a wonderful word, “Then.” If we give ourselves to the kingdom of God, if we set our hearts to live a life worthy of the calling we have received, then God will truly open a window in heaven and pour out a blessing that we will not be able to contain.

David Robison

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Is this not the fast I have chosen? Is 58:1-7

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
The people of Israel asked God this question, “Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?” (Isaiah 58:3) The Israelites were in an interesting predicament, they were practicing their religion yet God was not responding. They would fast and pray, yet God was not answering or taking notice of their situation. Why was God not answering them? It was because of their hypocrisy. “Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, as a nation that has done righteousness and has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, they delight in the nearness of God.” (Isaiah 58:2) God acknowledged that they were seeking Him, but they were seeking Him as a pretense to hide their sins. They sought the Lord, but not with their whole heart. God’s judgment of the people was “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13) The people fasted but it wasn’t from the heart, they were merely fulfilling their religious duty. It is possible to live a religious life and still be hard of heart. For the Israelites, their fasting had become all about themselves and they cared little for God or their fellow man. “Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, and drive hard all your workers. Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.” (Isaiah 58:3-4) Even in their times of fasting, their thoughts were on themselves and what they wanted rather than on God.

While fasting is a valuable spiritual discipline for the Christian life, fasting in itself is not what God is seeking. God is more concerned with our heart then how many times we fast a week. If we fast simply as a religious obligation, then all we are doing is skipping meals. That is why God asked, “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one's head like a reed and for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?” (Isaiah 58:5) Fasting is not about what we do. Just because you fast three days does not mean that God is three times more likely to answer your prayers than someone who fasts only one day. God does not judge our fasting based on how much we suffer, rather He judges based on the condition of our heart. If our heart is wicked, God will not hear us regardless of how long we fast.

So, what kind of fast does God want? What is it that God wants from us? “Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:6-7) In God’s eyes, He would much rather see us live a godly life than a religious life. God would rather that we did the things of the kingdom that to do religious things, such as fasting. To do religious things, yet continue to live an unchanged life, is hypocrisy. When the Pharisees came to be baptized by John, he rebuked them and said to them, “So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.’” (Luke 3:7-8) If you are not living a Christian life, don’t bother fasting. First, begin to live a life that gives demonstration to a heart that has been changed by the power and love of God. Then God will hear you and He will notice you when you fast.

David Robison

Monday, October 03, 2005

The wicked are like the tossing sea: Is 57:20-21

But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” (Isaiah 57:20-21)
Have you ever known someone whose life was in continual turmoil? They stumble through life from one disaster to another. They look for good but find only mud and refuse. In their life there is no peace, only trouble, confusion, and despair. This is the life of the wicked, those living without God and following a path after their own making.

How can such a storm tossed person find safe harbor for their life? There was a time when the disciples of Jesus were sailing across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had stayed on the other side to spend the night praying. As the sailed, a great storm came up and tossed them violently. As they rowed hard against the storm, Jesus came to them walking on the water. The disciples were first afraid, but soon they were glad to have Jesus aboard with them. “Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished.” (Mark 6:51) As soon as they received Jesus into the boat with them, the wind and the storm ceased and the sea was calm.

When our lives are turbulent and storm tossed, we need to invite Jesus into our “boat”. The presence of Jesus in the boat with the disciples was enough to calm the storm, and the same is true in our lives. When we allow Jesus to come in, and when we surrender our lives to Him, He calms our storms and restores peace to our lives. Jesus becomes our rock of strength and our tower of refuge. “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:17-20) The hope Paul is talking about is our hope in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. When we place our hope in Him, our hope becomes an anchor to our souls, an anchor to hold our life steady and firm, regardless of the storms that may come our way. Is your life like the storm tossed of the waves of the sea? If so, invite Jesus into your boat and let Him calm the storm.

David Robison

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Comfort to his mourners: Is 57:17-19

‘Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of the lips. Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will heal him.’” (Isaiah 57:17-19)
Most of us have seen a movie or read a book where the moral of the story is that we should “follow our heart.” If our hearts were pure and completely sanctified, this would not be bad advice, but unfortunately, none of us has reached the place of complete sanctification. God is still in the process of renewing our minds and our hearts, a process that will last until we shed this flesh and ascend into the presence of God in heaven. Jeremiah reminds us that, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Sometimes the deceit is so deep that we are not always aware of the reasons and motivations behind our behaviors. This is why we need the Word of the Lord to judge our hearts, because “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Do you know anyone who, due to their following after their own heart and desires, have begun a process of turning away from the Lord? Sometimes we become unsatisfied with the way that God has chosen for us, so we turn from that way and begin to pursue our own way. In our own mind we may justify ourselves saying that we still love the Lord, but our walk and our pursuits are not after Him but after other things. For a time, God may be willing to let us wander after our own way, like the father of the prodigal son, but in the end, He will move with compassion and mercy to draw us back to Himself. We may wander from God’s ways, but we can never wander from His love.

This scripture gives encouragement not only for our own lives but also for the lives of those we love. Most of us know at least one person who is dear to us who is at a place in the life where they are pursuing things other than the Lord. To watch someone wander can be very painful, especially for parents. Many children go though phases in their life when they test the boundaries of their parent’s faith. It is a time when they are deciding if their parent’s faith will become their own faith. As a parent, this can be very painful to watch, yet God gives all parents great hope. In speaking of the wandering one, God gives these promises.

I am watching: God says, “I have seen his ways.” Even when our children are out of our sight, God is still watching over them. Our children may fool us, but they cannot fool God. God sees what they are doing, He knows and understands their hearts, and He is orchestrating a plan to draw them back.

I will heal him: There comes a time when you have said all you can say. Our words can become the foundation upon which God may build in their lives, but our words can never replace power of a personal touch from God. It can be hard watching God work in our children’s lives, knowing there is little else we can contribute, but when God works, His work will stand forever. God is committed to the healing and restoration of those we have entrusted to Him. God promises, “I” will heal!

I will lead him: God has a way of leading us back to Himself. He has a way of turning the desires of our hearts to be more in agreement with His heart. God will use other people and even difficult circumstances to lead us back to Him. Jesus said this of the Holy Spirit, “He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13) God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and not only us, but all those whom He has chosen.

I will comfort him: In the Psalms, David said to, “Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.” (Psalms 149:1) The “new song” that David is talking about is our praise to God for all He has brought us through. When God brings us through difficult situations, or when He corrects us and restores us, our heart’s natural response to God is praise. Praise for His loving kindness towards us. Praise for His ever lasting love and care for our lives. We find that we are able to praise God in a new way because of the new things God has done for us.

I will comfort his mourners: King David said, “He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalms 126:6) Parenting is not always easy, in fact, sometimes it hurts. We sow seeds into our children, sometimes with weeping, and hope for a bountiful harvest. We sow our seed and trust the Lord for the harvest. Our hope is that, in the end, we will have joy with the Lord in the work He has done in the lives of our children. John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3 John 4) When God restores the wayward ones, what great joy will be ours.

I have written this primarily in regard to a parent and a wandering child, but the promises of God are not limited to this relationship. Anyone who is longing for someone dear to them to return to the Lord can take great hope in His promises. What God has said He will do, He will do!

David Robison