Friday finally got here (one of these days, I might leave my misspellings in here instead of backspacing and typing over them…it would be funny), and boy, am I glad! But, oddly, the week seems to have gone by fairly quickly. Especially the parts where I was sleeping.
Yesterday, some really dark clouds passed over where I work. For about two hours. Nothing. Not a drop. Someone said it “drizzled,” but I never saw it. I walked outside and smelled rain, but didn’t see any. Maybe I forgot what it looks like and it was really there. It did, apparently rain in some places in Fort Worth, though, so that’s good. The best part? It didn’t hit 100 yesterday! Funny, though…the projected highs for the next ten days are all over 100. There are slight chances of thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. We’ll keep praying.
Today’s Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
Jesus is pronouncing judgment on cities where he did miracles, yet they refused to repent. Perhaps, Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon would still remain had such miracles been displayed in them.
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
There are some important words here. First, Jesus is thankful that those who suppose themselves to be wise are not given the truths that Jesus is giving to “little children.” Then he declares that he has the authority of the Father. Then notice: “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” This is very important. There are many people who believe that there are many roads to God. Jesus declares that to be false right here. Jesus Christ is the only way to God. This falls within the concept that either Jesus was exactly who he declared himself to be, or he was a blatant liar, or he was a madman. I choose to believe he was exactly who he claimed to be.
Jesus extends his invitation, not to the strong, but to the weak and weary. He will give us rest for our souls. Who among us is not “heavy laden?” We all labor with something. I am not self-sufficient. I cannot bear the burdens of this life on my own. I need Jesus, and his burden is light. Why is his burden light? Because he is God, and has infinite strength!
When Ahaz was king, Pekah king of Israel partnered with Syria to attack Jerusalem. When Ahaz found out, he was afraid. But the Lord sent Isaiah to him to reassure him.
7 thus says the Lord GOD: “‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.
8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'”
Then the Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign, “let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz was not willing to put the Lord to the test. So the Lord said he would give a sign anyway. And here was the sign:
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.
16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.
17 The LORD will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah–the king of Assyria.”
Between the time of Ahaz and the time the prophecy of Christ comes to pass, the land will be devastated. The remainder of the chapter describes the desolation that will come. All which is a foreshadowing of the last judgment. There is much other speculation about this prophecy, which I have neither the time nor the understanding to get into.
There is admonition to remember the teachings that are being taught here, with the reward being a long life of peace. There are a couple of verses in this chapter that have been very popular memory verses over the years:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Pretty good advice. From my experience, when we lean on our own understanding, it usually gets us in trouble. But I think we shouldn’t stop at verse 6. For verses 7-8 continue the thought: Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Then finally, there is promise that if we honor God with our wealth, we will never lack for anything.
In Grace For the Moment, Max Lucado writes about God’s patience. “God is often more patient with us than we are with ourselves.” Well, that pretty much goes without saying, doesn’t it? But as he elaborates, the truth becomes evident. Which of us doesn’t wonder about our salvation when we stumble? When we sin, don’t we begin to doubt our security, wondering if we were truly converted? “If we have the old desires, then we must not be a new creation.” But Max would have us remember Philippians 1:6. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. You see, we are not finished, yet.
Then, right across the page, in the evening reading, Max speaks of God’s forgetfulness. I believe these two go hand in hand. Jeremiah 31:34 says, And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” You see that last phrase? “I will remember their sin no more!” And this is not the only place in Scripture that tells us that fact. God is the God of perfect grace. He forgets sin. Period. “He who is perfect love cannot hold grudges.” God has what Lucado calls “loving forgetfulness.” Talk about good news…
Father, I cannot utter enough words to tell you how grateful I am that you have forgotten all of my sins. It is a beautiful and terrifying thing, all at once, to ponder your nature. It is truly unbelievable that you can do this, but you say you can, and I believe it. Thank you, Father!
I pray that I will follow the advice of Proverbs 3:5-8, and trust you totally, with my whole heart and my whole being, rather than leaning on my own understanding. I pray that I will live my life fearing you and turning away from evil.
Lord, I believe with all my heart that Jesus is the only way to you. Therefore, I have given my life to him. I pray that I can live a life worthy of Jesus. Let the power of the Holy Spirit flow through me and make me grow closer to you day by day.
Lord, we thank you for the break in temperature yesterday, along with the rain that fell in some places. We pray that more will come soon, to replenish our water supplies and refresh the earth. We also pray for more relief from the heat as we, hopefully, get close to the end of summer.
I pray for this day, Lord, that it will be a good work day for Christi and for me. I pray for the bowling party tomorrow, that it will be well-attended, and that everyone will have a great time.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Grace and peace, friends.