My Helper

Isaiah 41-42

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Friday, February 17

 

God gave us all eyes to see and ears to hear. If we are using our eyes and not seeing, and using are ears without hearing, how can we be a proper messenger of God (Isaiah 42:19)? Maybe you’ve read the whole Bible before. So what? If you saw it, but paid no attention and your ears were open, yet you heard nothing, then what good is that? The first step is reading the message, but the most important part is actually understanding it. In order for you to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14), you need to understand the message that you’re meant to bring to people.

 

If you used to be on fire with the Holy Spirit, but now you’re feeling like you’re running on empty, you aren’t alone. But just because your wick is smoldering (42:3), don’t let it burn out! These winter months can be tough to stay positive but we aren’t called to be a light to the world for just three months out of the year. God is our helper and he will take you by the hand as you grow into a better servant (41:13). Get in touch with your brothers and sisters in Christ, reignite your flame, and bring forth justice to the world!

-Nathaniel Johnson

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/02262013/)

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He Knows Me

Isaiah 38-40

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Thursday, February 16

Isaiah 40:14 sounds like the questioning of a young child: “But if God created the world, then who created God?” Even though we know that God exists and that he created this world that we live in, we still can’t even begin to understand how that works (40:28). Even more unfathomable is that all the nations of the earth are nothing to God (40:1), yet he still knows me and you as individuals. God knows exactly how many hairs are on your head (Matt 10:30). God sees everything you do, the good and bad (Job 28:24, Hebrews 4:13), yet he loves you anyway (Romans 8:39). God even knows so much that he knew you well before he crafted you by hand in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:4). God knows more about you than you know about yourself. He knows your hopes and dreams, what motivates you (Psalm 139:13). Honestly, it’s a little scary to have someone know you this deeply, but there is no one I would rather have know everything about me than the compassionate and gracious God, YHWH (Exodus 34:6-7).

-Nathaniel Johnson

(Photo credit: http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/2012/08/isaiah-40-31)

 

God Will Come

Isaiah 35-37

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Wednesday, February 15

Today’s reading is split into two sections. The first is carrying over from what we’ve been reading earlier this week and the second is the start of a war story (chapter 36). I want to leave the war story for tomorrow once we’ve read more of it so for now let’s look at the cheerful words in chapter 35!

 

The words in verses 3-7 are just beautiful. Every problem you’ve ever had, every disease will be cured because “God will come” (35:4). When God comes to save us, even the most barren of places will have reason to be happy. It says that the desert will be glad. Even if you’re in a place where you feel like there’s nothing going right, your burning sands will become a pool of refreshing water.

 

It seems like these days, there’s always someone or something trying to trip us up. Those things are the lions. The day is coming when those beasts won’t be found anymore. They won’t be able to get on the path that we choose to take. No more running, only joy and laughter.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

(Photo credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/isaiah-34-and-35/)

The Key to the Treasure!

Isaiah 32-34

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Tuesday, February 14

Today we are pirates. Isaiah gave us a treasure map! What’s the treasure you ask? Well, look no further than Isaiah 33:5-6. Locked up somewhere is a sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. Huh? No cash? If none other than the creator of the heavens and the earth holds the key to this treasure, then I think it’s safe to assume that these things are better than anything that you could find in a pirates treasure chest. The most valuable things you can ever obtain in this life are listed right here: a sure foundation, wisdom, knowledge and salvation. Thankfully we know exactly how to get the key to those treasures. Fear the Lord. After all the things we’ve read in Isaiah, it’s easy to see the power that God holds. But don’t just fear God with your mouth, fear him in your heart. Then, you will get the key to these treasures.

-Nathaniel Johnson

(photo credit: http://wiirocku.tumblr.com/post/139549150857/isaiah-335-6-niv-the-lord-is-exalted-for-he)

Keep Studying

Isaiah 29-31

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Monday, February 13

Isaiah prophesied about The Little Mermaid! Not really. I didn’t think Ariel’s voice was very ghostlike (29:4). Anyway…

We got a nice little reminder today of why it’s so important to do devotions like this and to study the meaning of the Bible rather than just read it. Isaiah 29:11 warns that “this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll.” Don’t let the Bible be just words sealed in a scroll. Dig deep into the word that God gave to us so that “the deaf will hear the words of the scroll (29:11).”

It can be easy to think that the passages we’ve been reading have been distinctly separated by chapter numbers and they don’t really connect, but yesterday we talked about the role that rules play in our lives. Again today, we see another warning of letting rules be our moving force (28:13). This verse is another that you would do well to keep close to your heart. Don’t let your worship be just the words you sing. Don’t let your worship just be the words you say. Have you ever been in church singing a song and thought to yourself, “Do I really mean this?” If you haven’t, you probably should. Just because it’s coming out of your mouth, doesn’t mean it’s coming out of your heart.

-Nathaniel Johnson

(photo credit by Bob Smerecki – https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapnpiks0304/9729996902)

GOOD News!

Isaiah 26-28

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Sunday, February 12

 

Amidst the talk of incense altars and Ashera Poles (what even are those?), there is good advice and great news to be gleaned from today’s reading! I know it can be kind of hard to get through these prophecies that are written in a different time for a different people, but the cool thing about our God is that he can fulfill the same prophecies over and over again, throughout the ages.

 

The first advice that we see is in 26:13. It would do you well to keep this verse close to your heart. We all have different lords ruling over us in these days: our president, money, school and maybe even friends. This is okay! A problem only rises when you start to honor these other lords in your life. God alone is worthy of your honor.

“O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,

but your name alone do we honor.”

Isaiah 26:13

Second, be careful how you view rules in your life. Do you believe that by following the rules that you’ll be saved? In 28:13, it says “a rule for this, a rule for that… so that as they go they will fall backward.” All rules can do for you is make you fall. You will only ever be able to break rules if that is what you hold as your moral reference point. Jesus is our moral role model and we should be looking to him to see what is right and what is wrong, not the rulebook.

 

Now let’s finish off with some good news: the dead will live, they will wake up and shout for joy! The Lord’s dead, those we have loved and lost, will rise! (26:19)

“But  your dead will live;

their bodies will rise.

You who dwell in the dust,

wake up and shout for joy.

Your dew is like the dew of the morning;

the earth will give birth to her dead.”

Isaiah 26:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

Death Swallowed Up

Isaiah 22-25

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Saturday, February 11

I am writing to you guys now, after I took a 6 hour class with Sir Anthony Buzzard on the Kingdom of God as the Gospel.  Therefore, I can’t help but write about the Kingdom today.  One thing that has really shed light for me is that the gospel of the Kingdom is throughout the whole Bible.  It is not just a New Testament idea.  In fact, the gospel was even preached to Abraham from God (Gal 3:8).  It is evident that the gospel of the Kingdom was important to Jesus as he preached about the Kingdom his whole ministry (Matt 4:17).  I knew that Jesus did not come up with the idea of the Kingdom on his own, but I was not aware of how prevalent it was in the Old Testament.  The Kingdom is found all throughout the Old and New Testament.  In our reading today in Isaiah, there indeed is scripture on the coming Kingdom.

Isaiah 24:23 is prophecy about the Kingdom.  The talk about the moon and the sun is similar to the passage in Matthew 24:29 when it talks about signs of the second coming.  Then actually in the Kingdom, the LORD along with Jesus will reign.  There is some dispute as to whether this verse is referring to God reigning on Mount Zion or Jesus.  In my opinion, it does not matter too much.  What matters is that God through Jesus will reign.

Isaiah 25:6-12 is then a beautiful passage on the Kingdom.  One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is Revelation 21:4.  Isaiah 25:8 is very similar to that verse in Revelation.  In the Kingdom, there will be no more death or tears.  What a comfort that is.  This idea helped comfort me through the loss of my grandpa.  I was devastated to lose him as he was my biggest role model in my life.  I greatly looked up to him.  He inspired (and continues to inspire) me to pursue pastoral ministry like him.  We all experience similar losses to this.  Let Isaiah 25:8 and Revelation 21:4 be a comfort to you.

The Kingdom should be the focus of our lives.  It was surely the focus of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Most people perceive the gospel to be the death and resurrection of Christ.  That is only a part of it.  Christ didn’t even speak of his death and resurrection until Matthew 16:21.  That is about two thirds of his way through his ministry.  What was Jesus preaching before then?  That answer is found in Matthew 4:17, the Kingdom.

-Kyle McClain

(photo credit: http://www.spiritradio.ie/word-for-advent-isaiah-258/)