Friday, April 29, 2005

I! Is 43:1

"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!' " (Isaiah 43:1)
Isaiah chapter 43 causes me to take stock of my relationship with God, especially in terms of what I bring to the relationship verses what God brings. Here is a partial list of what God contributes to the relationship as enumerated in chapter 43:
  • I formed you, I redeemed you, I called you by name (vs 1)
  • In hard times, I will be with you (vs 2)
  • I am the Lord your God, your savior (vs 3)
  • I love and honor you, since you are precious in My site (vs 4)
  • In fearful times, I am with you (vs 5)
  • I have made you, formed you, and created you for My glory (vs 7)
  • I have chosen you (vs 10)
  • I have declared, saved, and proclaimed. There is none besides Me (v 12)
  • None can deliver you out of My hand, I act and no one can stop Me (vs 13)
  • I will make for you a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert (vs 19)
  • I will give you water in your wilderness and streams in your desert (vs 20)
  • I have formed you for Myself (vs 21)
  • I have wiped out your transgressions for My own sake and I will not remember your sins any more (vs 25)
When you stop and think about it, there is really very little we add to this relationship. God initiated the relationship, He paid for the relationship, and He sustains the relationship. The Apostle John reminds us, "We love, because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) So what do we have to offer? What is it that God desires from us?
"Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him , and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 10:12)
What can we offer back to God for His relationship with us? Simply to love Him.

David Robison

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The seeing blind: Is 42:18-20

"Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of the LORD? You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; your ears are open, but none hears." (Isaiah 42:18-20)
At times it is difficult to know who the Lord is referring to when He speaks of "My servant". Sometimes He is referring to the nation of Israel, sometimes it is King Cyrus, and at other times it is King Jesus. In this case, I believe that the Lord is referring to the nation of Israel. God is speaking of those who, though having eyes, are still blind; not physically blind, but spiritually blind. There is none so blind as those who are blind, yet claim to see. This is because, those who know they are blind can be healed, but those who are blind, yet think they see, cannot be healed. This is why Jesus said to the Pharisees, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains." (John 9:41)

There is a desire in the heart of every man and woman to see; to be able to see and understand both the physical and spiritual world around them. And there are many people who claim to be enlightened. One has only to go into a bookstore and look at all the "self help" books to see how many self-proclaimed experts there are. Each author claiming to have found the key to life, happiness, and success. Yet, with so many voices claiming to have truth, how do you know which voice to listen to? To follow the wrong voice could even lead you into greater darkness. Jesus warns, "If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:23) What Jesus means is that, if we think we have light, but what we have is really darkness, then we truly are in a great darkness! How then does one then find light?
"I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone." (Isaiah 42:16)
Light is only found with the Father. To find light, we must come to Jesus and let Him reveal it to us. Jesus is the light of the world, there is no other. We cannot reason ourselves into the light. The wisdom and philosophy of others cannot show us the light. Light is given by God as revelation to His children. To find light, we must first find Jesus. Notice that in this scripture, God promises to turn the darkness of those who are blind into light before them, and He ends this with His promise, "These things I will not leave undone!" God is ready to turn your darkness into light, but we must stop seeking light from others or from philosophy and even from religion. We must seek light from the Father of lights. If we do, He promises to shine His light upon us.

David Robison

Monday, April 25, 2005

A new style of ministry: Is 42:1-3

"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice." (Isaiah 42:1-3)
There is a danger in patterning your ministry "style" after old testament models. Ministry under the old covenant was not only different in its content, but also in its "style". Consider the ministry allotted to Jeremiah. "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) Contrast that with the prophetic ministry as prescribed under the new covenant. "But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation." (1 Corinthians 14:3) Jeremiah plucked up, broke down, destroyed, and overthrew while the new testament prophets built up, exhorted, and consoled. Before Jesus, the prophets were for ever reminding Israel of their sin before God. But when Jesus came, He revealed to us God's provision for our sins. Jesus' ministry style was humble and mild, not harsh and brash. The hallmark of His ministry was not condemnation, but His intense love for all of mankind.

I once read a flyer about an evangelist that was coming to town. The flyer announced that the evangelist was going to preach against all the things that were contrary to the scriptures. The flyer even enumerated over 20 "sins" that the evangelist was going to preach against. Things such as, drunkenness, gluttony, and television. This kind of ministry may in some way resemble the ministry of the prophets of old, but it does not reflect the true nature of Christ. All too often, what gets expressed is our own anger over the deeds of others, rather than the redeeming love of God. People will hear how God is angry at their sins, but will they ever hear about His love and His sacrifice for them? Who do you pattern your ministry after? For the sake of the lost, as well as for the believer, let us learn to imitate Jesus in our ministry. Let us learn to express the unfathomable love and grace of God to all that we minister to.

David Robison

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Is anyone listening? Is 41:27-29

"Formerly I said to Zion, 'Behold, here they are.' and to Jerusalem, 'I will give a messenger of good news.' But when I look, there is no one, and there is no counselor among them who, if I ask, can give an answer. Behold, all of them are false; their works are worthless, their molten images are wind and emptiness." (Isaiah 41:27-29)
It was God's heart and desire to reveal Himself to His people Israel. He wanted to share His message of good news with them. But when He looked around for someone to relay that message to His people, there was no one who was either qualified or available. They has all gone after their own way; they were busy with their own lives; no one was listening. Could it be today that, once again, God is wanting to share His good news with His people and, once again, He is not finding anyone who can carry that message to them? Could it be that God wants to speak to our churches, our schools, our places of work, and our nations, but He is having trouble finding those who are available and willing to be His vessels? And what about us? Are we available to God? Are we qualified to be vessels of God's good news to the world? What does it take to become vessels fit for God's use?

First of all, we must become clean vessels. Paul reminded Timothy that, "in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21) If we are going to become vessels fit for the Master's use, then we must deal with the issues of sin in our lives. We must allow the light of God to shine in our lives, revealing the areas of darkness that still exist there, and them be willing to turn from the darkness and to learn to walk in a new light. We must be given over to the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. We can no longer afford to excuse our sins or to minimize our moral failures, but we must be willing to confront them head on and to overcome them. We must be willing to, as Paul said, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)

Secondly, we must be willing to tarry in God's presence. In the days of Jeremiah, God asked this question of the people of Israel, "But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word?" (Jeremiah 23:17) There are many people who want to speak the words of God, but few who are willing to spend the time in His presence that they may hear His words. We cannot ignore God all week and then expect to be used by God as a messenger for His good news. There are no short cuts. To know what God is presently saying we must spend time presently listening to Him. We must make time to be with Him and to hear Him.

If we apply ourselves to these two things, the soon enough we will find ourselves fit for the Master's use; ready and available for what ever He should ask of us. Oh, what an exciting life that would be!

David Robison

Friday, April 22, 2005

Is your God real? Is 41:22-24

"Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; as for the former events, declare what they were, that we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming; declare the things that are going to come afterward, that we may know that you are gods; indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together. Behold, you are of no account, and your work amounts to nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination." (Isaiah 41:22-24)
There was once a time in American society when the Word of God was revered. Even people who were not believers still understood the importance and the value of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs, ethics, and morals. Even if God was not worshiped, He was still feared. Yet today, to a large extent, we have become a society that has grown up without God. Many of our young people today are not only ignorant of the Word of God, but they are also indifferent to it as well. To judge someone's behavior as being against the word of God is meaningless to many in this generation. For many people today, the Word of God has ceased to be a foundation for building one's life upon. Even in our churches, there are many people who, while saying they believe the Bible, are not willing to change their life to live according to the Bible. The Bible may be important for religion, but has no relevance for living.

So how can God reach out to a world that no longer believes His word? I remember a pastor relating a story of how he was praying and God spoke to him and said, "a wicked and perverse generation seeks a sign." To which the pastor replied, "I know God, isn't it awful!" Yet God replied, "no, you don't understand, a wicked and perverse generation seeks a sign." Again the pastor said, "I know, it's just awful." But God replied again, "a wicked and perverse generation seeks a sign, so give them a sign." What God was trying to say is that we live in a time when its not enough just to tell people that Jesus is real, they need to see that He is real. They need to see the proof that God is still alive and is still on the throne.

The world's problems are not due to a lack of information, but they are spiritual in nature. The world does not need an intellectual God, they need a God of power and might. I believe that the closer we get to the end times, the more God wants to reveal Himself through miraculous signs and wonders. Micah, prophesying of the end times, said "in the days when you came out from the land of Egypt, I will show you miracles." (Micah 7:15) Even in the days of the early church, as the preaching went forth, "God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will." (Hebrews 2:4) People may not believe the message of God simply because it is in His Word, but many will believe because of the confirming testimonies of the signs and wonders that accompany His message.

The question we must ask ourselves is, "is our God real?" Is our religion merely intellectual? Have we believed some statement of faith that has no real effect upon our daily lives? Or have we encountered the living God who is able to change us and bring us into conformance with His nature? Can people look at your life and see the work of God? Do they see changes in you that can only be attributed to God's mighty power? The world needs to see that God is still alive; that He still works in the lives of people; and that He still performs miracles and wonders on earth. I think that the church today needs to rise up in the boldness of Elijah, when he confronted the 400 prophets of Baal, and say to the world, "and the God who answers by fire, He is God." (1 Kings 18:24)

David Robison

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mission Impossible: Is 41:17-20

"The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it." (Isaiah 41:17-20)

Have you ever heard the saying, "God helps those who help themselves"? While this saying can be very motivational, it is none the less false. God does not help those who help themselves, God helps those who cannot help themselves. The power of God is seen, not in those things we can do for ourselves, but in those things we are unable to do for ourselves. God's power begins when were we reach the end of our own power. Paul put it this way,
"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak , then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

When I am weak, then I am strong. The world has it 180 degrees backwards. We celebrate strength. We admire the self-made man. And we all try to hide our weakness so that others will think us strong. But Jesus looks for the weak, so that He may show Himself strong. Remember the story of the man who was born blind? The disciples ask, "who sinned that he was born this way?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." (John 9:3) I think that, sometimes, God allows impossible circumstances to come into our lives so that He might remind people that, with Him, nothing is impossible. God wants to use our lives to demonstrate to the world that He is still capable of doing what no man can do. He wants to do in our lives that for which no man can claim the glory.

Are you willing to become weak, so that God's strength may be demonstrated through you? Are there circumstances in your life that seem impossible? Is there a sickness or a financial need or some other thing that is beyond yourself? If so, then rejoice! For it is there that God will meet you with His provision and His strength. When we reach a point where only a miracle will do, that's the place where miracles begin. Don't fear your weakness, but let God be God in your life, and give glory to Him.

David Robison

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Keep looking ahead: Is 41:8-10

"But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend, you whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' " (Isaiah 41:8-10)
Life with God does not mean life without problems. There will be times when life's storms will invade our tranquil lives, trying to unsettle our hearts and minds in Christ. God has not promised us a life of unending ease, but rather, just the opposite. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Jesus has warned us in advance that there will be difficult days, that when they come, we should not be quickly shaken. Difficult days will come, but we must remember that God is always with us.

These verses remind me of the time when Peter walked on water. The disciples were on the sea of Galilee when a terrible storm arose. There were fearing for their life when they saw Jesus coming to the on the water. Seeing Jesus, Peter said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." (Matthew 14:28) At Jesus' command, Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water. Peter almost made it, "but seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?' " (Matthew 14:30-31) Sometimes, in my own life, I am like Peter. When God first speaks to me I'm bold and confident. But when the wind begins to kick up, I quickly lose my composure and fear and anxiety take over.

The truth is that Peter was never in any danger. No mater how scary his circumstances appeared, the Lord was right there with him, to help him and to lift him up. That is how life is. Sometimes life is a walk in the park. Other times, life can be quite scary. But no mater what circumstances we may find ourselves in, God is always there with us. Look again at the promises of God, "I will strengthen you, I will help you, and I will uphold you." The key is to not get distracted by the circumstances around us, but to keep looking forward, toward Jesus. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, then even during tumultuous times, we will have the peace of God in our hearts.

David Robison

Monday, April 18, 2005

A time for surrender: Is 41:4-7

"The coastlands have seen and are afraid; the ends of the earth tremble; they have drawn near and have come. Each one helps his neighbor and says to his brother, 'Be strong!' So the craftsman encourages the smelter, and he who smooths metal with the hammer encourages him who beats the anvil, saying of the soldering, 'It is good'; and he fastens it with nails, so that it will not totter." (Isaiah 41:5-7)
Isaiah was prophesying of one who would come from the east (King Cyrus) and would execute God's judgment upon the nations. God was announcing judgment, and no one was exempt. Yet, even in light of the coming judgment, the people continued in their own deception. Choosing denial instead of truth, refusing to believe in the judgment that was coming. They refused to believe that God would judge them; that God would judge their sin. And they even encouraged one another, saying, "It's all good! Everyone is doing it. It's not a big deal to God. God doesn't care." But God does care.

Why is it that, when God seeks to gain an entrance into our life, that we tend to resist Him? At times even pressing harder into our sin in order to shut Him out? Like those in Isaiah's day, we instinctively know what's right, but we refuse to accept it and yield to God's will. So we wrestle and strive to maintain our own way and to avoid God.

The Apostle Paul was such a man. The more God pursued Paul, the harder he persecuted the church. God was seeking to reveal His Son to Paul, but Paul kept running harder and harder away from God. When God did finally catch up with Paul, He spoke to him and said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." (Acts 26:14) Paul was striving against God when he should have been surrendering to Him.

There is a time to persevere, and there is a time to surrender. This scripture makes me ask myself two questions. What is God seeking to do in my life, and how am I resisting Him? Has God been pursuing you? Do you know in your heart of hearts that God is drawing you; that He is wanting to lead you away from your own life and into a life with Him? Perhaps its time to surrender. Its hard to kick against the goads, but when we finally surrender to Jesus, we find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

David Robison

Friday, April 15, 2005

Those who wait for the Lord: Is 40:29-31

"He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (Isaiah 40:29-31)
Have you ever become weary in your Christian walk? There have been times that I have. There have been times when I felt that I just couldn't go on any further. As I reflect back on those times, I realize that the reason for my weariness was that I was operating in my own strength. I was trying to live a Christian life by my own strength, not the strength that God gives. This scripture clearly teaches that, no matter how strong and vigorous we are in the natural, if we rely upon our own strength, we will get weary. Remember the time when Elijah was running away from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He fled to the desert and collapsed under a Juniper tree. Twice, as he lay there, an angel came and awoke him and provided food and water for the weary prophet. There the Angel of the Lord spoke to him, "Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you." (1 Kings 19:7) After eating the food that the Lord had provided, he "went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God." (1 Kings 19:8)

I have come to understand that the journey that God has called me to is too great for me. I have realized that I am not strong enough, brave enough, or wise enough to accomplish the work that God has appointed for me. If left to me, I would certainly fail and fall short of all that God has called me to be and to do. My only hope is to receive strength and nourishment from the Lord. Only by exchanging my weakness for His strength can I walk this Christian life.

What, then, is the secret to receiving the Lord's strength? We must "wait for the Lord." God is not talking about some kind of passive resignation. We are not just to sit back idly hoping that, some day, God may decide to answer our prayers. But it is an active watching, hoping, and expecting for God to answer us. The Hebrew word for wait literally means "to bind together." We must bind our hope and expectation to the Lord. The Lord is not just our plan "A", while we keep plan "B" just in case He does not answer us. God is our only hope and expectation. Without Him, we have no other option. We have no plan "B". We need Him and His strength.

We need to become people who watch, hope, and expect for the Lord. We need to move beyond just going through the motions to become people who know how to actively wait for the Lord. For example, when you study God's word, do you just plow through so that you can check off another day in your daily reading plan, or do you read with a listening heart to hear what God may say to you? When you worship, do you rush from song to song so that you can move on to some other activities, or do you worship with an expectancy of God moving in your midst? When you pray, is it just a list of requests that you send up to God, or do you pray with watching, that you might hear the Lord? We must come to see that our strength does not come from these spiritual disciplines, rather, our strength comes from finding the Lord in these disciplines. It is not enough to study, pray, and worship. These things alone will not strengthen our soul. But we must learn to "wait for the Lord" in these disciplines. To actively look for and pursue Him in them. It is this kind of "waiting" that will gain us "new strength".

David Robison

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Creating God in our own image: Is 40:18-20

"To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, a goldsmith plates it with gold, and a silversmith fashions chains of silver. He who is too impoverished for such an offering selects a tree that does not rot; he seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman to prepare an idol that will not totter." (Isaiah 40:18-20)
What is the difference between God and an idol? An idol is created by man, but God is the creator of everything. When I was in college, there was an architect major that had a banner on his drawing board that read, "And man made God in his own image." While being blasphemous, it is often all too true. Far too often we tend to reduce God in our own estimation and imagine Him to be something of our own creation. Instead of letting God be God, we want to put Him in a box. We want to reduce Him to what we can comprehend and understand. When we do this, our "image" of God can become a idol that we worship. For example, we worship an image of God that is all love, but reject the truth of God that He is also just and will return one day to judge the quick and the dead. We worship a God that always answers prayer and believe that God will always cause our way to prosper, but we ignore the fact that it is the purposes of God that will stand forever, not our own purposes. We want God to be what is convenient to us; to meet all our needs and wants; but this is not the God who is the creator of the heavens and the earth. How do you know if you are worshiping a God who is created in your own image? Consider the following:
  1. Is your God moody? Does He have "bad days". Is He irritable, touchy, always ready to criticize?
  2. Does your God look the other way when it comes to sin? When you sin, does He say, "that's OK, don't worry about it"? For you, repentance is not necessary, after all, God understands.
  3. Does your God always agree with you? Does His will always seem to line up with your own?
  4. Is your God so predictable that you're never surprised by what He does? Is your worship of God dictated by your own agendas, schedules, and protocols?
  5. Is your God a God that never imposes His own wishes, will, and purpose upon your life? Is your God tolerant of your own plans even when they differ from His own?
  6. Is your conversation with God primarily one way? Is He a God who is to be directed and commanded? Do you go to Him to tell Him what you want rather than listening to what He wants?
  7. Is your God a God that is limited by the physical world? Can He only perform "miracles" as long as He invokes physical laws and processes to accomplish them? Is He a God that is limited to the natural rather than the supernatural?
I suppose that there are many other things we could add to this list, but these are just a few indicators that we are worshiping an image of God that is of our own creation rather than worshiping the true God who dwells in unapproachable light. God strictly forbid the making of any graven images of Himself to worship. The reason is because He wants us to always remember that God is not like anything of this creation. He is not like an animal or object that we can see, touch, and handle. In fact, God is not even of this creation. God always existed and is the creator of all we see. God never wants to be reduced in the eyes of His people to just another part of His creation; like a tree, rock, or animal. Consider some of the following attributes of God:
  • God is the "I Am". He is who He says He is. We cannot put Him "in a box" since He himself is the creator of the box.
  • God's purposes and plans are established forever. It is our schedules and agendas that must yield to His plans and purposes. It is not up to us to dictate to God when and how He shows up. We must let God do what He chooses to do.
  • God is to be feared. We must never let our familiarity with God to cause us to be casual with Him. He holds our very life in His hand and in a moment, if He so desired, He could bring an end to that life.
  • God never changes. If there are times when we feel distant from God, its not God who moved. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is us who go through changes, not God.
  • God defines the supernatural. When God moves supernaturally, He is doing what is natural to Him. It is only supernatural to us. All that He does is supernatural.
God is awesome! Dear God, open our eyes that we may see You as You truly are. Help our knowledge of You not to be limited by our preconceived ideas or our limited understanding. We ask that you will reveal Yourself to us, that we might know You, and that we might be changed into that self-same image. Lord, our knowledge and our study is not enough, we need to see You. O Lord, show us Your glory!

David Robison

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Bearer of good news: Is 40:9-10

"Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God!' Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 40:9-10)
I have meat many Christians who seem to believe that God has called them to be the bearers of bad news. They are not happy themselves and they seem to feel that no one else should be happy as well. When they speak to someone about the "gospel", it is always in an effort to show them their faults; how they have sinned and offended God. To them, the "gospel" is that we are "Bad, Bad, Bad!" And even when someone does get saved, they are always right there to remind them that they aren't praying hard enough, there not reading their Bibles long enough, and there not witnessing to the lost enough. Yes, you too can spot them in your own church, they are the ones who confess that they have the joy of the Lord, but their faces look like they have been sucking on lemons far too long. Where is the "good news" of the gospel today?

Jesus didn't live His life this way. Jesus was a man who constantly was offering the good news of the Father to everyone around Him. In fact, one of the greatest criticism levied against Him by the religious elite was that He was a "friend of sinners." People enjoyed being around Jesus. And, when it came to their sin, Jesus was quick to forgive them. Conceder the case of the lame man who sat by the pool of Bethesda. After healing the man, Jesus said unto him, "Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you." (John 5:14) Notice that Jesus didn't stand there and berate the man for his sins. He didn't lecture the man about all his evil ways, He just forgave him. There was, however, one group of people that Jesus did confront concerning their sins; the self righteous. The Pharisees questioned Jesus about their supposed sins, " 'We are not blind too, are we?'Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin ; but since you say, "We see," your sin remains.' " (John 9:40-41) Jesus, loved by sinners and hated by the religious.

I've come to find that most people know their a sinner. Remember that when Peter say his first miracle, his response to Jesus was, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8) When confronted with the glory of God, Peter instinctively knew with in him self of his own sins. Most people know about their sin, but what they don't know about is the provision that God has made for their sin. That's the good news. Not that we have sinned, we know that already, but that God has paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. We are sinners, but we can be forgiven. That is really good news.

I find it interesting that we tend to be much more charitable towards those inside the church than those outside. We are quite willing to overlook each others sins, even to accommodate the sins of other church members. While at the same time, ever eager to expose the sins of those outside the church. I think that if Jesus were here, His response would be just the opposite. Judgment must first begin in the house of God. We are the ones who must move beyond self righteousness to find true righteousness; the righteousness that comes by faith. And once we come to understand the free gift of forgiveness that comes from the Father, then we will once again understand the good news that needs to be shared with the lost.

David Robison

Friday, April 08, 2005

Prepare the way of the LORD: Is 40:3-5

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.' "(Isaiah 40:3-5)
It seems today there are many people who are sitting idle, doing nothing, just waiting for the Lord. Their not doing anything, their just waiting, and most of them are not even sure of what they're waiting for. Let me give you a few examples. There was a person who confided in me that they knew that what they were doing was wrong, but that they were waiting for God to convict them before they repented. They knew what they should do, but they were waiting for God to come and do something first, then they would get right with God. I knew another person who was working at a very low paying job that they hated very much. They were convinced that, one day, God would release them into full time ministry, so they kept working at the job they hated, barely getting by on what they made. Their approach to their job was to do nothing, but wait until God came by and dropped full time ministry into their lap. And finally, I new someone who had been hurt greatly by another Christian with whom they were in relationship with. Their pain had caused them to stop walking with the Lord. When asked, they would say that they were to hurt to even come to church and, once Jesus heals them, then they would be able to walk with the Lord again.

For those of us who are sitting back and waiting for God to move, there is a voice crying out, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" Sometimes, if we want God to move in our lives, we must prepare the way for Him. Could it be that while were are waiting on God to move, He is waiting for us? There are some blessings that God showers down upon us just because we are His children. But there are other blessings that must be obtained.
"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isaiah 35:10)
The Hebrew literally says that they will "overtake" gladness and joy. Sometimes we sit by waiting for God to bring gladness and joy to us when, if we would only get up and start walking, we would find that it has always been right there all the time, just ahead of us. It has often been said that God cannot steer a ship that is dead in the water, and the same is true with our lives. We must often press forward in faith, believing that God will direct and establish our way.
"Make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed." (Hebrews 12:13)
The prerequisite to healing is to make straight paths for our feet. If our lives are void of godliness then, even if God does heal us, it is only a matter of time before something worse befalls us. For example, if we are involved in an unhealthy relationships then, even if God heals our broken heart, the relationship will only serve to break it again. Sometimes God is waiting for us to first respond to His word, for example, to break off the relationship, so that He may heal us and His healing may remain.

There is a lot I would like God to do in my life, yet the counsel of God is to prepare the way for Him to come in. I must begin to walk with God by faith, making straight paths for my feet, and moving forward in the things of God. And as I walk with God, I will find that He has all the healing, joy, and peace that I could ever need in my life. And not only will I find the healing I desire so much, but God will also be glorified in the process. For the result of preparing the way of the Lord is that the "glory of the Lord shall be revealed".

David Robison

Where do we go from here?

Many people have asked me what I have planned next since I have finished blogging the Book of Job. Well, for starters, I am working on turning my posts on Job into a book. I am looking to self publish and the process should take about 4 to 6 months. If you would like to know when the book is published, just send me an e-mail and I'll let you know when it is available.

My next project for this blog is to share some of my thoughts on the last half of the Book of Isaiah (chapter 40 to the end). I do not plan on doing a verse-by-verse exposition, but rather on bring out some of the "jewels" found in the book. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts on Isaiah. I also want to thank everyone who has taken time to read my posts on the Book of Job. I appreciate your readership and pray for God's blessings in your life.

David Robison

Monday, April 04, 2005

God restores Job: Job 42:10-17

"The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold." (Job 42:10)
Here the story ends, "The LORD restored Job". Job had endured much from the Lord, yet in the end, God restored it all to Job, even twofold. James puts it like this, "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful." (James 5:11) God never promises that our lives would be void of difficulty, suffering, and trials. But God does promise that, in everything, He is working for our good. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) A few months ago, someone asked me, "what's the meaning of the Book of Job?" To me, the Book of Job tells us that, even though we may experience times of great difficulty in our lives, in the end, God will make all things right. In the end we will see that, God is just and God is good.

One final thought, notice that it says that God restored Job's fortunes "when he prayed for his friends." Life is too short to hold onto grudges and hurts from the past. While there have been times when, during my own times of trouble, I have been hurt by the words of a friend, I've found that to hold onto ill will and unforgiveness towards them accomplishes nothing and only makes matters worse. The truth is that, at times, I myself have been just as insensitive and hurtful as they have. It reminds me of what King Solomon said, "Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others."(Ecclesiastes 7:21-22) No one is perfect, save God. Its time for us to forgive those who have hurt us. By forgiving others, we open the door to God to move in our lives and to restore what the enemy has taken. In the end, God will make all things right, not man. Let us hope in God, forgive each other, and live by faith.

David Robison

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Job's friends repent: Job 42:7-9

"It came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.' " (Job 42:7-8)
God rebukes Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad because they had "not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."
This scripture has always amazed me. After all, Job was the one who had condemned God saying, "God has wronged me!" The truth is that much of what Job said came out of his own hurt and distress, and, while God called him to account because them, Job was quick to repent and God was quick to forgive him. But Job's friend's words came out of their own impatience and contempt for Job and his situation. They couldn't understand why Job couldn't just repent and go on. And they were indignant when Job did not stand up and applaud their great wisdom and counsel. They did not speak what was "right" about God. In the Hebrew, "right" means that which is up right, or erect. They were not standing upright for the truth of God and were, instead, just sharing their own observations and opinions. This reminds me of when Paul rebuked Peter when he withdrew from the Gentiles because of the men who had come from James. "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, 'If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?' " (Galatians 2:14) Paul said that Peter and the others were not being "straightforward" about the truth. They were not walking and acting in a manner that was upright and erect in regards to the truth. Their lives, instead of giving testimony to the truth, were obscuring the truth of the Gospel. God was wanting to express Himself through their lives to others, but they were clouding the view of God by their behavior and attitudes.

Our good intentions are not enough. It is not enough to want to help others, but we must also be able to present Jesus to them. People do not need us, they need Jesus. They need the deposit of God that has been entrusted to us and that is expressed through our lives. We must walk circumspectly and uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, so that others may clearly see the love and kindness of God, both in and through us.

Job's friends went and repented to Job. Not only did they repent before God, but they also went and repented before Job. And it says that, "and the LORD accepted Job." (Job 42:9) The word "accepted" literally means to "lift up". Job was already loved and accepted by God, but with his friends, there had been a breach in their relationship. Job's distress and driven a wedge between Job and his friends. After Job's friends repented, God "lifted up" Job. I think what is being implied here is that, it was in the eyes of his friends that he was lifted up. After repenting, Job's friends began to see him in a new light. He was no longer the one condemned by God, but he was the one loved and esteemed by God. In that moment, God healed their friendship and restored the relationship between Job and his friends. Sin divides relationship, and that beach is one that time will not always heal. If we want to see our relationships fully restored, we must be willing to repent of our own sins and the hurts we have caused in the relationship. The pathway to restoration always passes through the doorway of repentance.

David Robison

Job repents in dust and ashes: Job 42:1-6

Job has been properly rebuked by the Lord. The Lord has called him back to his senses. Job's confrontation with God has caused him to divert his attention from his own problems to the matchless glory of God. Once again, God has become magnified in Job's sight, and his own problems and afflictions, have begun to grow dim. Job is beginning to understand what Paul said, "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Job's eyes are off the natural and he is seeing God by faith and his faith is reminding him that our "momentary, light afflictions" are producing something in us of great eternal value. As Job considers his behavior during his time of affliction, he is brought to repentance before God.
" 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know." (Job 42:3)
Job realizes that many of the ways of God are to wonderful for us to know. We have finite minds and can never, at least while in our bodies, understand the fullness of God. No mater how wise and understanding we think we are, the infiniteness of God still lies beyond our ability to comprehend. "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29) God will always have His secrets and we must always allow room in our understanding for the things that are unknown. Just because we cannot make heads or tails of the difficulties we are going though does not mean that God does not have a purpose and plan in their midst. It may just be possible that God is doing something we can not perceive or understand. Bless the Lord!
" 'Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.' I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You." (Job 42:4-5)
It is not enough to know about God, but we must know God. God was not whom Job thought He was. Job had heard about God, but once he meet Him, he came to understand Him more completely. Much of Job's complaining against God was the direct result of Job misunderstanding God. We can never come to know God through study and philosophy alone. Even diligent study of the scriptures is not enough to gain an accurate understanding of God. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees as ones who studied the scriptures but never came to know the Son. "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39-40) Knowledge of God comes only by being in His presence, by coming to know and experience Him. We study the scriptures, but unless we are willing to draw close to Him with the faith we have found in the scriptures, than our study is for naught. Let us be people who know God and people who are taught by Him.

David Robison