“Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty”
The greatness of God causes the psalmist to break forth in praise. He writes of the majesty of the Lord who is clothed in light, stretches the heavens open like a curtain and is surrounded by a host of heavenly angels who do His bidding day and night. He speaks of God as the one who rides the clouds as a chariot and has set boundaries around the oceans but he spends the majority of his time celebrating how God cares for His creation. He sings of how the splendor of our King is seen in providing for the needs of those who are His. He has not only filled the earth with the basic staples to provide life but has gone beyond so that His people can enjoy life.
What peace is found when we realize the true nature of God. John explains that the reason Jesus came was so that we could see what God is really like.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
We can find comfort, hope, help and provision from the God who created us and loves us. Whatever you may be facing keep in mind that the majesty of God is often most clearly seen in providing for the needs of those He loves.
2 Kings 23:3
“Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.”
The stories recorded in the Bible are designed to impact our lives and affect out behaviors. Here we find Josiah the king making a public commitment to follow the Lord. While his actions were public they were in no way political. This was not an attempt to raise his approval rating or get in good with the special interest groups. He was choosing to stand against what was popular, accepted and even politically correct and choose to commit himself and his reign to the Lord. Two things stand out to me regarding his decision.
First, it took place while standing by a pillar. I think if we were writing the story we would have Josiah at the altar or kneeling before the veil but it simply did not happen that way. Standing next to a pillar he devoted himself to His God. Wherever you are is the right place to commit yourself to Christ. I have heard testimonies of believers who pulled their car off the road while listening to Christian radio and devoted themselves to Christ, others who were in hotel rooms where they found a strategically placed Bible in the nightstand. I even met a woman who in the middle of the night, alone at her home prayed to devote herself to the Lord, then went down the hall and baptized herself in the bath tub. Wherever you are it is the right time and place to commit yourself and your ways to the Lord. Don’t wait for it to become popular or acceptable. Give yourself completely to Christ today.
Secondly, I notice that Josiah’s commitment had a tremendous affect on others. When he devoted himself to the Lord others followed and eventually the nation was impacted. Often we neglect to be committed because we don’t want to stand out or be the only one. It is not uncommon in marriages that one person desires a deeper walk with Christ but holds back because they are uncertain how their spouse will respond. I think we should keep in mind the fact that others are looking for an example to follow. Your home will be transformed when you devote yourself more completely to Christ. Your decision will impact your spouse, your children and ultimately your world.
“ Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?”
Jeremiah’s question interests me because it seem to be the opposite of what God is accused of today. How many times have we heard someone ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The inference is that good, innocent even righteous people are being mistreated by a vengeful and unfair God. Jeremiah had a different perspective, he saw God as a righteous judge and realized that men were sinners. This led him to wonder why it was that wicked people were prospering.
In any situation in life, if we are going to effectively problem solve we have to accuratly diagnose the problem. If a doctor misdiagnosis a person he will also fail to prescribe the proper treatment. If a mechanic misdiagnosis the problem with the engine he will replace the wrong part and if we continue to place blame on God for the wicked actions of men we will never really find a cure. When we backslide and get involved in things God specifically tells us to avoid we cannot then turn and ask why God has allowed this to happen to us. We must take responsibility for wandering from the Lord and into harmful things. The way of escape will be found when we turn from our wanderings and begin again to follow closely after Christ.
Sometimes it is difficult to trust the Lord because we see others who have chosen not to follow Christ going through life without many of the difficulties we are struggling through. If you feel that way, you are not alone. The psalmist wrote that it was the carefree lifestyle of the wicked that caused him to question the value of trusting in the Lord. All that changed for him when he looked passed the immediate and considered their end. Jesus explained that there are only two roads in life. One leads to eternal life, the other to judgment. The question is not how difficult the roads might be, but where they are ultimately taking us. Instead of being discouraged by the hardships you are currently facing, look to the end of the road and the glory that awaits all who trust in Christ.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?”
In one of His longest recorded sermons, Jesus spoke of 3 spiritual exercises that every believer should be practicing. He spoke of giving, praying and fasting. Fasting is the practice of giving up food for a period of time in order to learn to deny ourselves and to devote more attention to the things of God. Sadly, instead of viewing fasting as a way to draw near to God the people in Isaiah’s day were treating it as a religious responsibility. It was almost as though it was part of their checklist. They felt that fasting itself made them spiritual and they saw little need for their lives to be affected by their professed relationship with God. Isaiah declares that a real fast will will give evidence of a transformed life.
William Booth was the man behind the Salvation Army. About one hundred years ago he was asked what he thought were the greatest dangers the church was facing in the years ahead. His response is quite intriguing. He said:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
In other words he spoke of a form of Christianity that has little impact upon the way a person lives their life. He foresaw churches filled with people who raise their hands in worship, drop checks in the offering box and perhaps even sign up for ministry opportunities yet they fail to allow the Spirit of God and the Word of God to transform their lives.
Instead of emphasizing religious duties we should be seeking to become like Jesus in every possible way. A real commitment to Christ will show itself in a life that is changed.
“For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
Isaiah foresaw a day when people from all nations would be adopted into the family of God. He saw salvation reaching beyond the borders of Israel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Seven hundred years later Jesus entered into the temple and saw the outer courts turned into a marketplace. Instead of people being encouraged to to come to God they were being hindered. The religious leaders for the sake of financial gain and status among the people were actually keeping people from the Lord. At some point a sign was placed on the entrance of the temple warning Gentiles not to enter under the threat of death. When Jesus saw the actions of the leaders He was outraged. He began to overturn the tables and drive out those who were buying and selling. It was at that point that He quoted from this passage,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
It is worth noting that Jesus was enraged when people stood in the way of others coming to God. We know it is the desire of God for all men everywhere to be saved. We know that a person is saved when they put trust in Christ as their savior and we know that people come to trust Christ through the witness of others. We should be seeking to live lives that properly represent Christ so that others will be drawn to Him rather than repelled from Him.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
It seems as though people have always had “bucket lists.” In ancient times a man put together a list of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was like a travel guide for the wealthy, of things needed to be seen before they died. Things have not changed much. People still have their wish lists of the sites they hope to see before they are too old to enjoy them. Of all the beautiful things we could see I don’t imagine anything more amazing than seeing a person who has come to our rescue. Imagine being abandoned on a remote island and seeing a Helicopter, or being held captive by an assailant and seeing the prison doors burst open and police have come or being under siege by an enemy and the cavalry has appeared. Of all the beautiful sites their are to see none can compare to seeing the one who has come to set us free.
Isaiah speaks of the beauty of one who will go forth with the message of hope for a lost world. The person who will risk their own comfort in order to bring the message of salvation to others. Think back to the one who shared Christ with you. How thankful are you that they were willing to risk relationship to bring you the message of Christ. Paul spoke of being in debt to the whole world because of what Christ had done for him. He felt the only way to pay the debt was to tell everyone he could about the salvation that was found in Jesus.
I think it is time we saw ourselves as those who have been given the key to rescue men and women from captivity. We need to be willing to take risks and bring the message of Christ to others. Once a person receives Christ they will see the beauty in the message we declare.
“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.”
We use filters every day to keep things pure. A coffee filter keeps the grinds out of the cup, an air filter helps to eliminate dirt and pollens from the air and a water filter keeps harmful impurities out of our drinking water. Isaiah suggests that it is a good idea for us to have a filter for our eyes. He declares that we should look up at the heavens and down upon the earth. The purpose of his “eye filter” is to help us see the difference between the temporal and the eternal. Too often we get fixated upon things that will not last while ignoring the eternal. Jesus echoed the words of Isaiah when He said; “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will by no means pass away.” Peter wrote that the heavens will melt with a fervent heat and John spoke of a new heaven and earth replacing the one we live in.
I wonder how are decision making might change if we kept in mind that much of what we are living for will not last. So much energy is spent trying to gain things that are passing while we neglect the things that are eternal. Jesus exhorted us not to waste our lives storing up treasures on earth but to live for His kingdom and store up treasures in heaven. The Bible explains that when we use our time, talents and treasures to invest in the spreading of the gospel or assisting others in growing in Christ, we are in fact investing in the eternal.
As you go about your day look for ways to invest in the kingdom of God.