Where is your focus today? Is it based on what you want or what you need? Have you ever asked for what you have need of? Have you ever looked for what you have need of?
Would you consider your path in order to make sure you are heading in the right direction? Would you consider the schemes you are pursuing and their outcomes or consequences?
Would you consider your words and their meanings? Would you consider the words you use and the impact they have? Words have the power to build up and to tear down!
Would you ask for something that is real? Would you ask for something that is beneficial? Would you ask for something that is good? Would you ask for something that will help?
Consider your asks…consider your direction…
consider your words…consider your acts…
How will they be judged? Will they lead you to salvation?
Would you consider turning back to God?
He knows the desires of our heart, even before we ask!
Will you have the faith to ask?
Today’s reading we find ourselves in Isaiah 65…
Judgment and Final Salvation
1The lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. 2All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. 3All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars. 4At night they go out among the graves, worshiping the dead. They eat the flesh of pigs and make stews with other forbidden foods. 5Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away. 6“Look, my decree is written out in front of me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them— 7both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors,” says the lord. “For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted me on the hills. I will pay them back in full! 8“But I will not destroy them all,” says the lord. “For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away— some of those grapes are good!’), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there. 9I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess my land. Those I choose will inherit it, and my servants will live there. 10The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me, and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds. 11“But because the rest of you have forsaken the lord and have forgotten his Temple, and because you have prepared feasts to honor the god of Fate and have offered mixed wine to the god of Destiny, 12now I will ‘destine’ you for the sword. All of you will bow down before the executioner. For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned—before my very eyes— and chose to do what you know I despise.” 13Therefore, this is what the Sovereign lord says: “My servants will eat, but you will starve. My servants will drink, but you will be thirsty. My servants will rejoice, but you will be sad and ashamed. 14My servants will sing for joy, but you will cry in sorrow and despair. 15Your name will be a curse word among my people, for the Sovereign lord will destroy you and will call his true servants by another name. 16All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days. 17“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. 18Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people. And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more. 20“No longer will babies die when only a few days old. No longer will adults die before they have lived a full life. No longer will people be considered old at one hundred! Only the cursed will die that young! 21In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat the fruit of their own vineyards. 22Unlike the past, invaders will not take their houses and confiscate their vineyards. For my people will live as long as trees, and my chosen ones will have time to enjoy their hard-won gains. 23They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the lord, and their children, too, will be blessed. 24I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! 25The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the lord, have spoken!”
–from Isaiah 65
Let’s walk in humility! Let’s walk with a repentant heart towards God! Let’s walk with an apologetical heart! Let’s consider God’s plans and ways and walk in them! Let’s live lives that take on the top two priorities – to Love God and to Love people! Let’s consecrate our lives to God! Let’s purify our lives to God!
1This is what the lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? 2My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. 3But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol. 4I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.” 5Hear this message from the lord, all you who tremble at his words: “Your own people hate you and throw you out for being loyal to my name. ‘Let the lord be honored!’ they scoff. ‘Be joyful in him!’ But they will be put to shame. 6What is all the commotion in the city? What is that terrible noise from the Temple? It is the voice of the lord taking vengeance against his enemies. 7“Before the birth pains even begin, Jerusalem gives birth to a son. 8Who has ever seen anything as strange as this? Who ever heard of such a thing? Has a nation ever been born in a single day? Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment? But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born. 9Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?” asks the lord. “No! I would never keep this nation from being born,” says your God. 10“Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and all you who mourn for her. 11Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breasts.” 12This is what the lord says: “I will give Jerusalem a river of peace and prosperity. The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and held on her lap. 13I will comfort you there in Jerusalem as a mother comforts her child.” 14When you see these things, your heart will rejoice. You will flourish like the grass! Everyone will see the lord’s hand of blessing on his servants— and his anger against his enemies. 15See, the lord is coming with fire, and his swift chariots roar like a whirlwind. He will bring punishment with the fury of his anger and the flaming fire of his hot rebuke. 16The lord will punish the world by fire and by his sword. He will judge the earth, and many will be killed by him. 17“Those who ‘consecrate’ and ‘purify’ themselves in a sacred garden with its idol in the center—feasting on pork and rats and other detestable meats—will come to a terrible end,” says the lord. 18“I can see what they are doing, and I know what they are thinking. So I will gather all nations and peoples together, and they will see my glory. 19I will perform a sign among them. And I will send those who survive to be messengers to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (who are famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to all the lands beyond the sea that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. There they will declare my glory to the nations. 20They will bring the remnant of your people back from every nation. They will bring them to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the lord. They will ride on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the lord. 21“And I will appoint some of them to be my priests and Levites. I, the lord, have spoken! 22“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain, so will you always be my people, with a name that will never disappear,” says the lord. 23“All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. 24And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter horror.”
–from Isaiah 66
Let’s give God the glory! Let’s give God the praise! Let’s turn to Him daily!
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
1What if the lord had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: 2What if the lord had not been on our side when people attacked us? 3They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. 4The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us. 5Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives. 6Praise the lord, who did not let their teeth tear us apart! 7We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free! 8Our help is from the lord, who made heaven and earth.
–from Psalms 124
Jesus came to save the lost! He didn’t limit it to any specific nation or tribe! Salvation is available to Jews and non Jews (gentiles). Have you received this gift? Will you ask Jesus into your heart? What would it take if you haven’t? Would it have to get really bad? Could you receive it without hitting rock bottom? Is today your day?
Let’s not get in the way or become stumbling blocks to people turning to Jesus! Let’s live out our lives as lights of love!
Peter Explains His Actions
1Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. 2But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. 3“You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. 4Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. 5“I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. 6When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. 7And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’ 8“‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’ 9“But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ 10This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. 11“Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. 13He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. 14He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’ 15“As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. 16Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” 18When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
The Church in Antioch of Syria
19Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. 20However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. 22When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.) 27During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) 29So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could. 30This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.
–from Acts 11
So what is your focus? Where are you spending your time? Does it sound selfless or selfish?
Why not grab a hold of the new agreement with God that came through Jesus?
1Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! 2The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
4We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. 6He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
The Glory of the New Covenant
7The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!
12Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
16But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
–from 2 Corinthians 3