Isaiah was dirty and full of sin. He was unworthy to see God’s holiness. Then the heavenly being took a hot coal from God’s alter. He put it on Isaiah lips and his sins were taken away and cleansed. Similarly, Jesus cleanses us who have faith in Him. He cleanses us and He makes us pure. Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation from our wickedness. He is the only way to the Father and to heaven. Do you have faith in Jesus to remove your sins? If you cannot confidently answer, think and pray about it. It is always better to be sure. It is okay to not be sure; there is no shame in that. Get on your knees and ask God to reveal Himself to You. Proclaim your faith in Him and give Him your life. This is the way to salvation from your wickedness, sin, and the punishment you deserve – that we all deserve, but Jesus bore.
Moses had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and now they were wondering if they were any better off! They had reached the Red Sea, and couldn’t see any way around this barrier that had been placed before them. But God knew what he was doing and Moses followed his instructions and the sea parted so that the Israelites could pass through on dry ground. A question sometimes asked at a job interview is, “What do you do when you face an obstacle?” How would you answer? Would you try to go around it, through it, or perhaps over it? Moses could not go around his obstacle and knew that without help, he could never bring all the people, animals and supplies through it. So, he asked God for help. Was that the first thing you thought of? There is a saying, “If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” The key here is to ask God to bring us through it.
We often face challenges in our lives, especially when we are trying to live as Jesus wants us to live. Have you ever been asked why you believe? If not you probably will be. It can be hard to find the right words at times, but God will give us the words if we ask. Just as he promised Samuel, Isaiah and the other prophets, he will not leave us on our own and will give us the words we need when we need them. The next time you meet an obstacle, let God lead you over, under, around or through it. He will guide us in the right way to go.
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, He was prophesied about. That He would restore and bring life not break and ruin. That he would bring forth judgment on the Earth, and people everywhere across the oceans would listen to what He had to say. Now thousands of years later, people all over the Earth still listen to what Jesus has to say. Jesus is glorified through all history. People on every continent and in every country listen for His voice and read His Word.
Jesus, thank You for bearing the burden and punishment of my sins and wrongdoings. You are the only way to come to the Father and to everlasting life. I place my faith in You and You only. I believe that You, Jesus, are the Son of God. I believe in the Father and Holy Spirit also. I believe in the trinity and that the Trinity is one. I put no one else before You in my priorities. If You are not at my center, remove idols from my life. I place my life, faith, and trust in You. I repent from my wrongdoing, and I come before You in faith. My life is in Your hands. I come to You because You are gracious and let me call on Your name. Amen.
The first thing Andrew did when He found out Jesus was the Christ was to go tell his brother. Andrew went and got Peter and brought him to Jesus. Andrew could have been scoffed at or rejected by Peter if Peter did not believe Jesus was the Christ; yet, Andrew took him to Jesus anyways, and I’m sure he was glad he did. You have Jesus, and you love Him. Have you tried to bring your family to Him? Knowing Jesus is the only way to eternal life, wouldn’t you want to try your best to introduce Him to your grandparents, mother, father, brothers, sisters, and cousins?
Heavenly Father, give me strength and courage to introduce You to my family. They need You. I want to speak to them about You. Help me to tell them about You well. Help me to answer questions they have and to try to find them the answers I don’t know. Soften their hearts. Only You can bring them to You, so please do so. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Sometimes we grow weary as believers. Walking the road of faith gets hard. Other times it gets mundane. Sometimes doubt creeps in. We may even allow sin to fester in our lives and lead us to complacency and ceasing to listen to the Holy Spirit. But as believers, we can encourage our brothers and sisters to continue in the faith. Sometimes all someone needs is a reminder, encouragement, and support.
Heavenly Father, help my brothers and sisters. Give them strength and endurance to continue in the faith You called them to. Place people in their lives to encourage them. Bring them to a deeper love for You. Make them to feel Your presence this week. Let them remember why they first loved You. You are our great love. You are the worthiest of our love. You are worthy of more than we can give. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Father God, You sent Your son to the world to save us. He was with you in the beginning. People everywhere listen to His words. Jesus is amazing and true. Thank You for Your goodness, and that You build up and care for the weak. Help Your Church that is scattered all over the Earth. Unite us, Your Bride. Help us to glorify you and to proclaim Your gospel to the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
When we reach a point of contentment, we are not moved by what another person does or does not have. Contentment prevents us from defining ourselves according to the world’s values. We become content through God, in whom we know we have everything we need. Eternal life, being the most important of it all.
Dear God, I thank you that I can be totally content in you. You have filled all the gaps and voids in my life. I know that I will never find contentment in this world; only in you and you alone. I pray that more and more of your children will come to realize this too, Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Sometimes people tend to take God’s love and everlasting mercy as a way for them to continue living irresponsibly. When they are confronted about their actions, their response is “God loves me for who I am. ” Yes, he does, but our love for Him should compel us to be convicted of our sins and confess them to him. God won’t hold our sins against us; he is quick to forgive and swift to restore.
Dear God, once again I would like to thank you for your endless love and everlasting mercy. Father, I am sorry for any time I have taken you or your love for granted. If there has ever been a time where I tried to use the grace you have given so freely as an excuse to live irresponsibly, I humbly confess where I have erred, and I receive your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Dear God, I pray for those who have chosen to turn from you. Lord, I pray that something in their hearts will make them change their minds about you. May they experience your love, Lord, in all its fullness and may they be compelled by this to know you more. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Someone once said that there are no u-hauls behind hearses. The implication is that you can’t take it with you when you die. There’s a story of a man who tried. When the doctors told him he had a short time to live, he converts some of this cash into gold bricks, puts them in a suitcase and instructs that this suitcase should be buried with him. When he approaches the pearly gates carrying the suitcase, St. Peter stops him and asks to look inside the suitcase. The angel Gabriel asks, “What’s in the suitcase?” “Pavement,” replies St. Peter. The story illustrates that in heaven what we consider to be wealth on this earth is really nothing. Heaven’s streets are paved with gold. That would be the equivalent of us finding some kind of value in asphalt or concrete chunks here on earth. We spent a lot of time trying to get things on this earth. We spend a lot of time working to get more and more and more stuff that we just don’t need. If you don’t believe it, take a look at what happens when a person dies without an heir. A lawyer has to come in, open up the house, and sell off all the belongs to settle the estate. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of stuff–sometimes still in boxes–is sold for pennies on the dollar. An entire lifetime of obtaining things and the only thing that happens is that strangers come in to pick over the possessions a giant yard sale. This passage tells us that we are to be content with what we have. We should be content with food and clothing. As long as our needs are met on a daily basis, that’s really all we should ask for. Everything else is just bonus stuff and if we are spending time away from our families, if we’re spending time focusing on getting rather than focusing on living, then we’re being very foolish because we can’t take it with us. When the end comes, all the stuff that we bought stay right here our closets or our garages. While we’re on this earth we need to make the right choices and be sure that we are able to be content with what we have. Then we may end up with few things that we want.
Childbirth can be a painful experience. Even with the best pain killers available, the stress and trauma of childbirth cannot be lessened greatly. A mother giving birth may travail in labor for hours. Her contractions may be painful and the birth process may be grueling. In that period of labor, she suffers greatly. But as soon as she sees the face of that newborn child, all of that passes away. The suffering, the pain, disappears and is replaced by joy. Here Paul gives us a similar situation. Paul explains here that the Gospel has great power to sustain us in times of trouble. He was not talking only about the trials that Christians in his time had to endure, but the sickness, pain, and trouble that all Christians, throughout time would have to endure. He says that no matter how difficult the suffering in this world is, it does not even compare to the glory that awaits us in heaven. The glory that will be revealed to us is so great in comparison to the suffering that preceded it. We will forget our former trials when we get a glimpse of that glory.
We are children of God. Think about that for a minute. The God of the universe sent his son to be born of a woman on earth living under the law – a woman like us. He sent his son so that we might be free from this law – the law of sin and death. We are free because of his sacrifice, and we have been made sons and daughters of God through him. How amazing!
Paul cries out here in anguish over indwelling sin that remained in him. He longs for the day when he will be free fully from the power of sin. While we live, a conflict is in us between the old and the new natures. It is a daily battle. It does not end until we leave this world, but God can help us subdue the flesh and live increasingly out of the new nature.
Father, I thank You for being with me in my trials. I know that I will have to suffer some in this world and I know I will have to go through trials. I also know, however, that what will be revealed to me when I finally see You face to face will make it all worthwhile. My suffering will fade to nothing as I see the glory of Your face. Amen.
If we hate that which is evil, we will love that which is good. The two go together hand in hand. You cannot love God and love Satan; you cannot love God’s Law and also love the paths of unrighteousness. At least, your heart of hearts and your new nature from the new birth will seek what is truly good; the old nature will seek sin, but the Christian must subdue and overcome it. The age old question of who’s right! There’s a commercial for an automobile company that uses the slogan of “either/or, or both/and” that I kind of like. Not that I’m supporting the company, but because I believe we sometimes think in an either/or way when it’s really important to be a both/and kind of person. In today’s gospel, Martha is busy about hospitality and Mary extends hospitality in a quieter manner. We need both, and we need to be both. There are times when we need to be about doing what Jesus tells us to do, but if all we do is “do” and we don’t take the time to listen, we just might get it wrong. Mary sits and listens to Jesus while Martha feels overwhelmed with her tasks. When Martha complains, Jesus tells her not to be anxious and worried, and I think that here is the key. When we take the time to sit and listen to Jesus and then move on to follow the will of God, we don’t have to be anxious and worried; we can relax in the knowledge that we are doing our best, and that is what is required of us. Jesus doesn’t say that what Martha is doing is unimportant; he just seems to imply that she shouldn’t be so focused on her work, that she neglects her need for being present and listening. We, too, can be so busy doing that we forget to take the time to pray, to reflect on Scripture, to sit and listen to Jesus. During the sometimes lazy days of summer, let us take advantage of the laziness and just sit in God’s presence and reflect on who we are and who we are called to be, so that when the time comes to be busy again, we’ll be ready.
Micah is a prophet at around the same time as Isaiah and has come to prophesy punishment to those who are behaving in an unjust manner. Just because a person has the power or authority to act unjustly, doesn’t mean that he should. One might think that harassment or schemes to defraud people of their property or their inheritance, are something new, but Micah lets us know that these things have been going on since antiquity. God isn’t any happier today about these practices than he was then. Micah made known God’s displeasure to the kings and leaders of the day. He warns that their unjust practices need to stop and that the people need to repent or else they are leaving themselves open to attack by armies greater than theirs.
As we know, Assyria and Babylon both decimated Judah and Israel. Think about the Roman Empire, they too had fallen into such a moral decay that they were open to being overcome by Constantine. What about today? We have become lax in our time as well. Corporate takeovers that have little respect for the rights of the workers have become common. Even companies that have not been taken over have been known to change their policies and limit the benefits that their employees enjoy. Communities can take property away from individuals for schools, highways, shopping centers, by eminent domain and those who live on the properties are forced to move. Although owners are reimbursed, renters need to fend for themselves. Looking out for number one, whether personally, communally or nationally can lead to ignoring the essentials and there is nothing to stop others from overcoming us. As Micah says, we need to work for justice if we want peace. And so still today, the Jewish people celebrate Passover and one of the traditions is for someone to ask why we celebrate this feast, and the youngest child answers with the story of the Passover. Jesus was celebrating Passover with his friends on the night before he died. I know this reading comes up during the summer, so it’s not the time for Passover, or the Passion of Jesus, but I have a question. What are our traditions surrounding the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus? Do we celebrate the end of Lent on Holy Thursday? Do we spend time with Jesus on Good Friday remembering his sacrifice? Is Easter all about candy and the Easter bunny? Today, many of our churches are practically empty on Easter Sunday and the children think more about an Easter egg hunt than God. Would the youngest member of the family be able to tell the story of why we celebrate? God brought the Israelites from slavery to freedom at the original Passover, but Jesus brought us from the slavery of sin and the freedom to celebrate eternity with him in heaven. One was temporary, the other is permanent. Why is it that we take this celebration so lightly? Even though it’s summer, let’s take a moment to think about how the story of our faith is being passed on to our youth.
God’s name as it is written in Scripture is either Jehovah or Yahweh, or just YHWH. All are translations of He is Who He is. Because the Jewish people did not call God by the name he gave Moses. It is for this reason that the Jewish people were so angry when Jesus said that before Abraham came to be I AM. To say God’s name was to blaspheme. For the people of Moses’ time, names had power. They felt that to use the name of God was to say that they had power over God, and so the name was sacred. I can remember an uncle of mine who would often take not just the Lord’s name in vain when he was angry, but would also use it to curse whoever he was angry with. I’m sure you know many people who do the same without even blinking an eye.
Good Christians, all, who would be horrified if they were called on it. We are offended when people use foul language, why are we not offended when the Lord’s name is taken in vain? A friend of mine used to work in the office of a major manufacturing company and the man who sat behind her was continually cursing the company and its managers. One day she had had enough and turned to him and said, “No wonder the company is going to pot, you keep asking God to damn it.” He had never considered that he was both swearing and cursing, but he stopped. What about us? Do we need to clean up our speech, or ask other to do so? How do I praise God? God doesn’t want an animal sacrifice he wants a sacrifice of the heart. He wants a joyous heart, a heart that bursts into song because it can’t help itself. A heart so full of gratitude that song is the only way a body can express it. I love music; I love to sing the songs of praise in church. I might not have the best voice but it’s the one God gave me so he must think it’s good enough. There is something about music that lifts the soul. It’s no wonder that the psalms are music. In fact, this psalm even tells us which piece of music to sing it to – “Lilies!” When we think about it, some of the most glorious music was written for religious reasons: Handel’s Messiah is but one example. When we listen to the anthems of many nations, we see how they give thanks and praise to God. Whether we raise our voices in song or not, what is important is that we raise our voices in thanks and praise to God. Our prayers acknowledge that we know who is in charge, to whom we owe everything and who deserves our praise.
Lord, I pray for the older people who do not know You. I pray they will find Your love and joy. Let them lean on You for strength and understanding. Help them to smile and live out the remainder of their days for You. Get them the word if they don’t have access to it. Bring Christians into their lives to speak life into them. You are the God who cares for the young and old, weak and strong, rich and poor. Bless our elderly and help us honor them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The writer of this Psalm desperately wanted God to show His strength through him, an old man. He wanted everyone to know God’s power. As we grow old, we can still show God’s strength. As we become weaker, we can proclaim how strong He is. Do not lose heart as you grow old. The retired missionary now goes door to door to preach even though he’s walking slowly. The woman who started doing jail ministry long ago is often decades later faithfully visiting the jail. Whatever God is calling you to, God is greater than your age.
Lord, as I grow old, let me still serve You faithfully. When I’m weak, help me to show others Your strength. Through wrinkles, let others see the joy on my face that comes only from You. Even if I’m moving slowly, let me still move for You. I will gladly do Your will until my last breath. If I’m on this earth, You have me here for a reason. I will continue to live for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We were all introduced to our savior, Jesus Christ, through someone else. When we truly understand salvation, it is not enough for us to simply receive it. In our excitement, we will gladly go tell others about this miraculous savior. The prophet describes how when a city came to know the Lord, they rushed to pray and seek God so that they could go to another city to share this good news. The Word tells us we are commissioned to tell others the good news – let us go quickly!