Short Thoughts: Week 10: Days 64-70

Day 64 – EARS TO HEAR

Day 64_Hear

 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:7

Seven times in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, the message to seven local churches is the same: if you have ears, listen to what God’s Spirit says to your church.

God wants churches to listen to Him. By “churches”, I take it to mean the collective body of believers that meet in a given location. What does it mean to listen to God and what does it mean to listen as a group, not just as individuals?

Let’s reflect on the following verses.

Faith is a sign that we have listened to God. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Individually, we must listen to God when He says that to be saved from our sinful condition we are to believe (have faith) in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 1:9). We are given eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:14-16). Then, we trust Him for provision and guidance daily. And this works for churches, too – communicating the basis for salvation and a relationship with God through Christ, and trusting Him for provision and guidance in the ministries of the body to its community and the world.

Having a vital relationship to Christ shows we are listening to God. John 10:2-4, “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” These verses describe an intimate and dependent relationship of sheep to shepherd. If we have such a deep and daily walk with Jesus, its shows we are listening.

Obedience to what God says indicates we have listened. Luke 11:28, “But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” Hebrews 13:17 says we are to obey those in the church who have authority over us. But this is not obedience to a tyrannical pastor or elder. These leaders are to be examples of faith and are to shepherd the flock not in a domineering way (I Peter 5:1-4). The Bible sets the example of elders, not just one elder (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and also of discussion as part of decision-making (Acts 15). And all of us, leaders and congregants, are to serve one another selflessly (Philippians 2:3-8; Luke 22:26).

Christ-focused worship and decision-making shows we are listening. John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Is the practice and message of the church Christ-focused? If it is not, it is not of the Spirit.

Prayer is part of hearing. Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Paul’s letters to churches and church leaders are full of examples of and requests for prayer (II Thessalonians 1:11; Colossians 1:9-10; Ephesians 1:16-17; etc.).

Public reading of the scripture is essential to being a hearer. I Timothy 4”!3, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” We can’t go wrong when we include lots of scripture in our services.

Discernment of which teachers to listen to is necessary to be a hearer. Proverbs 22:17-19, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even to you.” See also I John 4:1. The teacher herself or himself is also to ask God for discernment: “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this people of yours?” (I Kings 3:9) We are to listen to God.

There are many ways we listen – or fail to listen! Pray that your church will be a church that hears what God says to it.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
  2. Of the seven qualities faith, relationship to Jesus, obedience, being Christ-focused, prayer, reading the Scripture, and discernment discussed above, where does your church shine?
  3. How can you personally practice listening to God at your next worship service, church committee meeting, or church social activity?

 

Day 65 – The Day the World Forgets about Jesus

Day 65 Forgets

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.” II Timothy 2:8

There is a radio station in Columbus, GA that plays Christmas music all year long. “This might strike some as being risky in this environment of new media, but I’ve looked at the numbers and they don’t lie,” local market president Jennifer Newman said in the release. “There’s literally a clamoring for Christmas music 24/7/365/52.” [https://www.heraldsun.com/news/nationworld/national/article194734859.html#storylink=cpy]

An internet station, “Christmas Canada Radio” also supplies Christmas music year round [http://christmascanada.ca]. And scores of stations convert their programming to Christmas music each year – beginning somewhere around American Thanksgiving or early December. Through December 25, you can enjoy songs about winter, Santa Claus, and, yes, even about the birth of Jesus. News reports add a short feature on what’s happening in Bethlehem on Christmas eve, then, other than the couple of all-year stations, when Boxing Day (December 26) arrives, the Christmas music stops. The day after Christmas is the day the world forgets about Jesus.

Once King Herod’s purge of newborn baby boys ended (Matthew 2:16-19), the Roman world paid little attention to the carpenter’s son as He grew in Nazareth. At 12 years of age, his probing questions of the religious teachers in the Temple (Luke 2:46-47) amazed those religious scholars – but we have no record of any concern or interest in Jesus again until His appearance was announced by John the Baptist (Luke 3:15-17).

Interest in Jesus by the populace as a whole seems to ebb and wane pretty quickly after some temporary attention. I’m always glad to hear secular radio stations playing the great Christmas carols and contemporary Christmas songs about the coming of the Christ Child. I’m extra pleased to hear passages from Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 quoted by popular media sources, and to attend performances of Handel’s Messiah and other great choral music about Christ’s first coming. My prayer is always that God’s Word will not return to Him void or empty of results but will, instead accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11). Thus, I pray that people who may otherwise not take advantage throughout the year of hearing God speak, will pause to listen to the Word about Jesus at least in December.

What about after December? If you would like someone pay attention to who Jesus Christ is, what might you do?

  • 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they_may see your good works and give glory to  your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16.  Followers of Christ have a responsibility to live as He taught and lived Himself. People will take notice of the “light” of their obedience, love, and care for others and will see that this is the Father’s good work in them.
  • 13 “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.  Have no fear of them,  nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts  honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and  respect, 16 having a good conscience, so  that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”    I Peter 5:13-16. How we react to difficulty in life – even to unjust suffering – makes observers wonder where we obtained the strength and self-control displayed in that difficulty. We are to be “ready” with a humble, respectful answer that points to the inner work of God’s Spirit and the cleansing, life-changing work of Christ on us.

Perhaps I should add something else:  believers may forget Jesus, too. Sounds strange, but Paul wrote to Timothy, a faithful pastor, “Remember Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:8). It is possible to allow our attention to drift away from Jesus, and to allow our message to become self-centred rather than Christ-centred, or to become a social reformation message rather than a Christ-Centered message. This is a word of caution, not to let that happen.

Your Turn:

  1. Read II Timothy 2:8-13.
  2. Take stock of today. What in your thoughts, words, or actions is a reflection of the Light of the World, Jesus?
  3. How would the Lord Jesus respond to the difficult circumstances you are facing in your life? What answer would you give to someone who asked, ‘Where do you get the courage to go on in the face of your problems? Why do you believe in God when life is so hard?’
  4. Examine your testimony, or whatever teaching you do to see how much draws people to consider Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.

 

 

Day 66 – Believe It Or Not

Day 66

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother_Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”  Matthew 2:18

The Bible calls upon us to believe certain things, among them two of its most controversial teachings: creation and the virgin birth of Jesus.

Let’s begin with the beginning – creation. The world has widely accepted Darwinian evolution as the explanation for the origins of life. Polls indicate that 98% of American scientists accept evolution; a 2009 Gallup survey found 49% of Americans believed in evolution while a 2012 poll said 61% of Canadians accepted evolution. Many religious leaders and organizations join in such acceptance. The 2014 Gallup poll found that 32% of respondents believed in God-guided evolution. Some of these see God as having started the evolutionary process (theistic evolution), a process that then followed a naturalistic path. The acceptance of evolution profoundly influences modern life. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled in 1968 that teaching creation while banning the teaching of evolution violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution by advancing a religion. In Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) issued a statement in 2006, as follows, “The theory of evolution is not in doubt. SSHRC recognizes the theory of evolution as one of the cornerstones of modern science and of our understanding of the world.” As Ernst Msyrd, upon accepting the Crayfoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, said,   “…This is perhaps Darwin’s greatest contribution—he developed a set of new principles that influence the thinking of every person: the living world, through evolution, can be explained without recourse to supernaturalism…” (Scientific American, November 24, 2009). Yet, the Bible says this:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was_without form and void, and    darkness was over the face of the deep. And_the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.And God said, … Genesis 1:1-3a

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and theWord was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were_made through him, and without him was not any thing made that  was made. John 1:1-3

This teaching is one meant to be accepted by faith:

 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. Hebrews 11:3

Then, there is the account of the birth of Jesus. Matthew reports that Mary was with child of the holy Spirit (Mathew 2:18). Luke explains further:

 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for_you have found favor with God. 31 And behold,    you will conceive in your_womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great andwill be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him_the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob_forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and_the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be_born  will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:30-35

In Luke’s account, Mary raises the modern objection that such a pregnancy is impossible. The angel explains how it will happen and concludes,“ For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

This last statement, I think, is the key to how we view these two events. Jeremiah 32:17 says the same thing: “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

It is impossible for human beings to create something out of nothing. We can use materials and scientific processes to enable a machine to make a product in response to our push of a button or our voice command, but we cannot make that product out of nothing. But God can. This requires there to be a God, and for God to be omnipotent and omniscient. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, then it is no big deal for Him to speak and the universe comes into existence and it is altogether possible for Him to choose that Mary become pregnant without Joseph or any other man. The key factor in whether or not we believe this is what we believe about God.

So, here we have two of the biggest stumbling blocks to a person’s belief system – creation and the virgin birth. The problem for those who do not accept these events as truly having taken place is not the events themselves; it is whether or not there is an unlimited God.

There are some biblical arguments for the existence of God.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Ponder those statements. Yes, there are evidences that God exists. But, for the most part, the Bible simply declares this to be the case – many, many times.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28

“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

And, then, God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” I John 5:20

We are called to believe – have faith – in this God and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a matter of faith.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Genesis 1-2 and John 1:1-14.
  2. God’s power and nature and known by the things He has made and the sky above displays His handiwork. What do you make of these words? Do they require you to exercise faith to accept them as true?
  3. God challenged Job to consider His greatness and Job’s own smallness:                           “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? …Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?” (Job 38:4-5). Read on in Job chapter 38 and take up God’s challenge to think about the creation.
  1. Are you equal to the challenges you face today? Or, do you need a God who can do the impossible?

 

 

Day 67 – Whom Do You Trust?

 

DSC07235 2

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

The scene that Isaiah paints for us in chapter 7 of his book took place in the Middle East around 735 BC. It was a time of uncertainty, a threatening time.  The Kings of Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria) came to Jerusalem to wage war against the southern kingdom of Judah, and verse 2 says the heart of the people shook. What could Judah do? Would they trust their military to meet this threat? Or perhaps make an alliance with another country like Assyria or Egypt to help defend them? Would they trust their political philosophy, their progressive social ideas, their financial deficits to buy a bigger army?

In our day, the times are uncertain for people in many parts of the world. The times are threatening. There is a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, people starving after four years of war. In Afghanistan, 40,000 people were killed in 2018 and in South Sedan 400,000 have died in their five-year civil war. The Venezuelan economy is shreds. Tensions exist between Russia and Ukraine. Other areas of ongoing concern and loss include Syria, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Israel and Palestine. Trade tensions are rising between China and the West. These threatening events may make our hearts shake.

And what about our personal crises? We may have things that make us more than a little uneasy: relationships that have gone sour, financial pressure, addictions, and more. Also, what about our churches? Churches often face big challenges – financial worries, internal divisions, quandaries over how to effectively reach their communities. How will we personally and collectively meet these challenges? Will we trust in our own resources – skills, training, savings accounts, previous success?

In Isaiah 7 the prophet told King Ahaz to stand firm in faith: “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (v. 9). He told the King to go ahead and ask God for a sign, a big sign, that would help him to be firm in faith (v. 11). Ahaz gave a lofty response, ‘Oh, no, I wouldn’t presume to ask God for a sign, to put him to the test.’ (v. 12) God replies, ‘OK, if you won’t ask for a sign, I’ll give you one: “Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ (v. 14) He goes on to say that God can control and use flies and bees (used here, probably, of the terrifying invading forces of Assyria) and bring great loss to Judah (verses 18-25).

Like many other Old Testament prophecies, this one no doubt has applications to both the time in which it was given and to the coming of Messiah some seven centuries later. In Isaiah’s day, a woman currently unmarried would marry and have a boy child. Before he was old enough to eat solid food, the Assyrians would come and lay waste to Syria and Samaria. Thus, King Ahaz should have trusted in the Sovereign Lord; He already had this situation in hand. Then, at a later date, God would send His Son, born of a virgin, and He would offer and provide salvation from sin (Matthew 1:21) to all who will trust Him. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this promise found in Isaiah 7:14.

Ahaz was challenged to rely only on God. We are told to do likewise. The God may use our skills, creative thinking, or resources, but there are always situations when these are not enough, or when they are misused. And never should they be our focus. Ultimately, He wants us to lean on Him and allow Him to would above and beyond what we may ask or think possible (Ephesians 3:20). He can handle the present disturbances we face and the future threats we cannot see quite clearly as yet.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Isaiah 7 and Ephesians 3:14-21.
  2. Think of a time in the past when you felt threatened and tried to resolve the trouble on your own. What consequences followed?
  3. Think of a time in the past when you did trust God to resolve a threatening problem. What followed?
  4. What disturbs you right now? Whom will you trust?

 

Day 68 – What God Says Is Enough

 

IMG_2680 

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

God has an expectation that we will pay attention to what He has already communicated to us. For example, in Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells the story of two men who die. One is rich and the other poor. The rich man ends up in Hades and the poor man in “Abraham’s side” (i.e., heaven). The rich man asks Abraham to send the poor man (Lazarus) to his brothers and warn them about the terrible place that awaits them if they do not repent. To this Abraham replies, “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.” (v. 29). In other words, God has given them much revelation through the writings of Moses and the Old Testament prophets, enough for them to know what God requires. In II Timothy 3:14-17, the Apostle Paul adds that the sacred writings are able “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” and then to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness the person who desires to know and follow God. Peter also says that God has given us all we need to live full, godly lives (II Peter 1:3). And Romans 1:20 tells us that even nature instructs us in God’s eternal and powerful nature.

An interesting passage along these lines is Acts 10:9-33. This is the place where we learn about the Roman centurion, Cornelius, who longed to learn more about being a follower of God, so God prepared Peter to go and explain the good news about Jesus to him. God gave Peter a vision of a sheet of animals and birds descending to earth, with the instruction to “kill and eat”, to which Peter replied that he had never eaten any creature that the Mosaic Law called ceremonially unclean. God says, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (v. 15). Then we read, “Now, while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean”, Cornelius’ delegation arrived. Verses 19-20 continue, “And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.’”

In this passage the Lord communicates brief instructions and leaves Peter to ponder the meaning of it all. And Peter did catch on to the message God wanted him to understand and accept. Later, Peter reports this to Cornelius and those around him: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (verses 34, 35, 43)

There are bound to be times when we are “inwardly perplexed” about some part of the Bible. We wish God would explain it more clearly. We feel it is not enough for us to go on and that we need more. But God says He has given us enough and we are not to add to or subtract anything from His already revealed Word .

“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you       may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.”     Deuteronomy 4:2

“I warn everyone who hears the  words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone     adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

 Instead, we are to ponder, meditate, learn from, seek understanding, listen and obey what we read.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Acts 10:9-33.
  2. Think of a passage of the Bible, or a teaching, that you find difficult to understand or to accept. Will you “ponder” this teaching or passage, comparing it to other sections of the Bible and to what you already know about God? Will you pray and wait as Cornelius did, for further understanding?
  3. Do you believe that “all scripture” is given by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16)?

 

 

Day 69 – Perfect Peace

69_Peace

 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you. Isaiah 26:3

 Hope, trust, peace, protection – all these words speak to something desirable. Who wouldn’t want them?

These four conditions are found in the opening verses of Isaiah 26. Hope is needed because there is disappointment, even despair, in life. Regardless of the good health we may enjoy, or the material comforts we have, or the personal relationships that are working well, or any other ‘good’ thing, there is always something that is threatening such tranquility, or another piece of our lives that is unsettled. I have a fulfilling marriage and a great, supportive family, but there is that doctor’s appointment that’s coming up next week – a referral from my family physician to a specialist because of something worrisome my doctor found in a recent blood test. Others have a clear health report but lack the family support, or they may face financial stress or loneliness or any number of other undesirable troubles.

Isaiah was able to look ahead: “in that day this song will be sung” (26:1)/ Threats existed to the peace of Jerusalem but someday the people would sing of a strong city, protective walls, and prosperity. God had a message of hope. Look for such messages in the Bible as you read this week. The last page, after all, anticipates the Lord’s return! “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”(Revelation 22:20)

Trust is the second word. Isaiah 26:2 points to a nation that “keeps faith” in God. The peace that verse 3 speaks of is for those who trust in God, and verse 4 assures us that if we trust in the Lord we will find Him to be a “rock” – an “everlasting rock”. Trust has to have something or someone that/who can be counted on. We’ve all had the experience of putting our weight on an object that failed to hold us, and, down we went. Our confidence in that thing (or person) was misplaced; there was some weakness there that we did not anticipate. No so with the Lord.

If trust is placed in the right source, peace follows: “you will keep him in perfect peace” (verse 3 – note: in Hebrew, it is “Shalom, Shalom” – “Peace, Peace”). It seems to me that this peace is something that is present as we go through a process that requires trust. It is not the end outcome, where we look back at a preceding danger. It is what we experience through the danger. I recall the great peace I had in the midst of the sorrow of my father’s passing, a peace I knew in a time of sadness. It made me smile back to God, the One who gave me that unique strength needed for a particular moment. It is the result of allowing Christ to rule in our heart (Colossians 3:15), of yielding to God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), of letting God bear our anxieties for us (I Peter 5:7). It is a peace that goes beyond what we can understand to be possible (Philippians 4:7). It comes from loving and submitting to God’s Word (Psalm 119:165; Psalm 85:8).

Finally, God is the provider of protection. Isaiah 26:5-6 pictures the people of faith containing and defeating the enemy. Even the feet of the poor and needy trample on the enemy, who formerly were haughty but are now humbled. Frequently, in the news of the day we hear of prominent people who are demoted to ignominy in the eyes of the public because of some offence that arose from their arrogance and is now exposed for all to see. This assures me that someday all such haughtiness will be brought low – and that includes my own selfish pride.

Thank God for these words of hope, trust, protection, and peace.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Isaiah 26:1-6.
  2. What in your circumstances right now seems hopeless? What has God said and done that can replace the “less” with “ful” in the word that begins with “hope”?
  3. In what area of life do you need to trust God to work?
  4. Where do you need protection? How has God protected you from a threat in the past? How might He protect you now?
  5. Meditate on times and circumstance when God has infused your soul with peace.

 

Day 70 – Is God Your Earnest Desire?

 

Day 70_Earnest Desire 

“O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of my soul.” Isaiah 26:7

Is God the earnest desire of your heart? According to Isaiah 26:7-12, such desire is one of two things that make for a “level path” of righteousness and peace.

The objectives of a level path and peace are stated in verse 7 and 12:

“The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous.”

“O Lord, you will obtain peace for us; for you have indeed done for us all our works.”

But how do we get there?

First, there is our own heart and the focus and drive of our life. Notice the way the prophet expresses his longing for God in verses 8-9. Isaiah talks about waiting for the Lord, about desiring Him, yearning for Him, and earnestly seeking Him. The soul’s desire is to be for God’s name to be held in honour (not just for a better world). This desire for God should occupy us in the night and in the daytime. It is not only and inner longing, but also an active enterprise. The soul may “yearn” in the night, but, come daylight, the spirit earnestly seeks.  I think that includes seeking through conscious effort, such as in intense Bible study and prayer. If we are so engaged, we will reap a “level” or smooth path. Psalm 27:11 says the same thing: “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.” If you are seeking God, you are also committed to righteousness, that is, to living in agreement with a righteous God.

Secondly, we gain such a life through the mighty work of God in judging evil and those who perform it. Verse 9b, says that the only way the people of this world learn righteousness is through the judgments of God on evil – including the evil within us. Some things are learned only through correction. If God did not judge wickedness, we would not learn what righteousness is. (v. 10). God’s actions point to His majesty (v. 10b). God also shows those who follow an evil way the shame of their ways by enabling them to see His zealous work on behalf of those who follow Him (v. 11). The Lord will give peace to His people (v. 12).

Thus, through God’s judging of the wicked and through the earnest desire of those who seek to know and follow Him, there comes the level path of right living and the benefit of peace.

Your Turn:

  1. Read Isaiah 26:7-12.
  2. The topic of God’s judgement of the wicked is often hard for people to accept. If that is the case for you, give some thought to Isaiah 26:10 which says, “If favour is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness.”
  3. Also, on the topic of judgment, often we may grow discouraged and say that the wicked seem to be prospering in their unjust treatment of others. Is God really judging them? We don’t see it. In times when we think like that, read Psalm 37. There, it says that judgment is coming, just wait.
  4. A level or smooth path is easier to walk on than a steep or rough one. How does living righteously make life ‘easier’?
  5. Thank God that His desire for us is always for our good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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