Friday, April 29, 2011

Carpenter's Class

Today's passage:  Isaiah 54/John 6
     "And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children."  Jesus quoted this verse in John 6:45 to a crowd the day following the feeding of the five thousand.
       I can imagine my own children gathered at Jesus' feet, sitting on His lap.  He would have been a master storyteller, keeping even the littlest ones attention.  This was not just a carpenter moonlighting as a prophet.  This was no ordinary rabbi.  This was the Son of God.  And He was teaching them.  What an experience that must have been! Years after the book of Isaiah was written, Christ is quoting this verse and fulfilling it at the same time.  They were being taught of the Lord. 
     The sixth chapter of John is the "bread of life" passage.  How appropriate after they had just been fed the day before with loaves and fishes.  What a perfect illustration for the little ones.  I am reminded that God knows exactly how we learn.  When Christ was here on earth, He used many different methods because He knew we all have different learning styles.  Sometimes He would use an object lesson (the fig tree; the mustard seed), sometimes He would use nature (the calming of the storm), sometimes He would use parables (the lost sheep, the prodigal son).  All of these methods would appeal to different people in the crowd.  The message never changed.  I am not advocating that churches should start entertaining the crowd.  Christ did not do that either.  He used different approaches to get his point across. 
     Teachers need to be aware that not everyone learns the exact same way.  Parents know this.  All of our children have different ways of learning. My oldest son learns by reading and listening.  My second son takes a more hands-on approach.  My youngest son watches the older two.  If Jesus were to teach the story of the wise man and the foolish man to my three boys, I can imagine Him explaining and diagramming the best way to build a house with my oldest son.  With my middle son, He might bring out the carpenter's tools and let him hammer and nail away to get the feel of what building a house was like, while my youngest would stand quietly close by and observe.
Jesus Grew Up as a Carpenter's Son--Taken from Standard Bible Story Reader, Book Three
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
The Standard Publishing Company, 1926
 I don't really know how Christ taught the people because I was not there.  But I can imagine that he may have gotten the children a little involved, because He knows how children learn.  Do I take these things into account when I am trying to teach my own children a lesson? When I teach my Sunday School lesson, do I try to help the child who is more active and wants to do rather than just listen to my voice?  All children need to be trained to sit and listen. It is an important skill they will need for life. But when Mommy or Daddy ask them, "What did you learn in Sunday School today?", will they be able to answer?  If I make my lesson memorable for each learner, hopefully they will.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Today's passage:  Isaiah 53
     I don't enjoy correcting my children.  It is probably the least favorite thing I like to do in life.  If I had my way, my children would never fight, they would always respond with the right attitude, they would always obey immediately.  That is not usually what happens, without a little persuasion.
     Speaking of Christ's suffering, verse 10 says, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him..."  It pleased God that His Son was suffering?  That seems contrary to God's nature.  Why would He be pleased with the torment of His Child?  Perhaps, when the bruising brings about a result.  When I have disciplined my children, I find no pleasure in it, but when their fighting has ceased, when their attitude has sweetened, when they do what they are told, I am pleased.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes unpleasantness to accomplish the goal.  When Jesus Christ's body was badly beaten, when it was nailed to the cross, when it had no life left in it, it accomplished it's purpose.  It redeemed me.  The result of the bruising was pleasing to the Lord.  In verse 11 it says, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied..."  God knew what the end result would be, and that was to purchase the salvation of all the people He loved.
The Suffering Savior--Taken from The Bible in Pictures:The New Bible Symbols
By M. Bihn and J. Bealings
The John A. Hertel Company, 1922

     It doesn't please God to bruise me.  Sometimes it is necessary to achieve what is necessary in my life.  He doesn't enjoy the process, but He likes the product He gets. If I try to live a life where I don't fight, I keep the right attitude, I obey God immediately, He will have fewer reasons to give me bruises.  If He can get the result without the persuasion, wouldn't that makes things pleasant for both of us?  For Christ, there was no choice but to offer His body.  There was no other way.  He satisfied and pleased the Lord with His sacrifice.  He took my lumps so that I can live without bruises.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Today's passage:  Isaiah 52
     In military movies, when a group of soldiers has to cross an open field, they often assign one or two men to go out front and draw out the enemy and station one or two men in the back of the group to "watch their back".  I would not volunteer for either of these jobs.  I would prefer to stay in the middle.  That is because I am a chicken and am not brave like the men and women who fight for us every day.  God volunteers for both positions.  He tells Israel, "...for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward."  My Bible defines that last word as a being a rear guard. 
Persian nobleman w soldier
Persian nobleman with soldier
Courtesy<a href=""><img src=""></a> of
     If I were a soldier, it would be very important to be able to trust the men I fight with. If I am putting someone out ahead of me, I would hope he would be giving his all to protect me.  If I have soldiers behind me, I would hope they weren't trying to sneak out ahead of me, leaving me exposed.  There is nobody I could trust more than God.  If He sent His own Son to die for me, I'm certain that He cares enough to protect me in dangerous situations.  It's not like I have done anything to deserve it.  Neither had Israel.  The Lord also tells Israel at the start of this verse, "For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight..."  They would not have to throw their belongings together in the middle of the night and try to creep past the enemy in order to escape.  They would leave boldly and confidently because God would be their leader and their last defense.  When I am fearful, I need to remember that God is already ahead of me in the situation.  He has already assessed what needs to be done, and He can give me the strength to carry out the operation.  He also will be the last man on the field and will not leave me behind.  He is my Commander and I can trust every order that He gives.  A good soldier will say "Yes, sir."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I've Got It

Today's passage: Isaiah 51
     "Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head:  They shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away."  I am singing this song in my head right now.  In Bible college, we were always taught that if a verse starts with "therefore" to see what it is there for.  So, looking at the previous verses in this passage, the Lord is reminding Israel how He blessed Abraham and Sarah.  He tells them that He will turn all their wastelands and deserts into beautiful places.  (God can even use my weaknesses, and with His help, He can make them strengths).  He warns that He will judge Israel's enemies.  Most importantly, He tells them that salvation has been provided. 
     Who is doing the singing in this verse?  The redeemed of the LORD.  Those who have accepted His Son for their salvation.  Now, I have always known that there is a difference between happiness and joy.  It has been said that happiness depends on circumstances, joy does not.  This verse says "they shall obtain gladness and joy".  These are not things I automatically have.  If I obtain them, I have to get them somehow.   How do I get them?  I have to be redeemed.  Gladness and joy only come through salvation.  If I do not know Christ as my Savior, I can have happiness,  but I will never have gladness, and I will never know joy.  The latter part of this verse says that "sorrow and mourning shall flee away".  For unbelievers, they will have an eternity of sorrow and mourning.  For those who know Him, this life will pass and there will be no sadness in Heaven. I am so thankful today that I am redeemed and I can claim these precious promises.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Today's passage: Isaiah 50
     As a child, my parents always told me (as thousands of parents have told their children), "If we go somewhere, and you get lost, stay where you are, and let us find you."  Sometimes I am lost in a crowd of enemies.  Sometimes I look around me and it feels like I have nobody on my side.  "Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God."  When I think about staying upon God, I think about being lost somewhere and letting my parents find me.  If I listen to what they told me, they will rescue me.  Whether in trouble or not, if I stay upon God, He will deliver me.  He already has delivered me.  But how do I stay?  The most obvious answer would be to stay upon His Word.  When I read it and study it, I am close to Him, and He doesn't have to go very far to find me.  When I read His Word, it keeps me from straying very far from what is right for me and makes it harder for me to get lost.  Prayer also helps me to stay upon God.  When I have neglected my prayer time, it seems that when I resume, my prayers "hit the ceiling".  God doesn't feel close, although He hasn't gone anywhere.  When I have been consistent in my prayer life, I feel His presence.  Hard to get lost when He is so near.
     I guess my parents were right again.  If I listened to their advice, they would eventually find me, although the farther away I went, the longer it would take.  I need to take my Heavenly Father's advice as well.  The closer I stay to His Word and in prayer, the less time it will take to bring me home again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What He Knew

Today's passage: Isaiah 49
     I am not a quick decision maker.  Sometimes, it is my downfall.  I like to mull things over.  I do not like to fail, so I tend to examine every angle to be sure that I will succeed.  In the first few verses of this passage, the Lord Jesus tells about His future coming.  He says, "....I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain..."  In people's eyes, He was going on a doomed mission.  This was not going to end well and would appear to be a failure.  We know differently.  How Satan must have been celebrating when Christ died on the cross.  How he must have made plans for what he thought was his triumph.  He would soon find out that Christ succeeded for all eternity. 
     From a human perspective, I would not want to go where I was not wanted, I would not want to woo those who had no love or need for me.  I would not want to expend precious time and energy on a project that seemed hopeless and futile.  From a spiritual perspective, every tract I give out that is thrown to the ground is a soul that needs Christ.  Every person I invest emotion in, who may betray my trust, is a potential servant for the Lord.  Every hour I spend teaching rowdy, sometimes ungrateful, children is time training future teachers, preachers or missionaries.  Do I always view it this way?  No.  Not always.  Sometimes I don't give out the tract, take someone under my wing, throw myself into my lesson the way I should, to my shame.  Sometimes I want to see the bottom of the pool before I decide to dive in.  I'm so thankful that my Lord Jesus Christ did see the end of His earthly life beforehand and decided to go through with it anyway.  He knew about the scorn, the rejection, the hatred He would face.  He knew about the scourging, the crown of thorns, the crucifixion.  He knew about His Father turning away from Him when He needed Him most.  He knew.  And He did it anyway.  Because He also knew about the empty tomb, the sinner who believes, the reunion with His Father.  It was not in vain.  It was not for nought.  It was not wasted.  That is what He knew.
From the Manger to the Cross--Taken from The Children's Friend (Part One)
By Mrs. Adelaide Bee Evans
Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1911, 1928
     Thank you, Lord Jesus for what you knew and for coming anyway. I am not worth it.  You know that too.  But thank you for making me feel as though I am worth something to go to all the trouble of saving my worthless soul.  I am humbled and amazed (every day and in every way.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rivers of Peace, Waves of Righteousness

Today's passage: Isaiah 48
"...I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go."(I have bolded the words for emphasis).  I have sung the song, "He Leadeth Me" from our hymn book numerous times.  But I'm fairly certain that I have never sang "He Profiteth Me".  God helps us in all of our endeavors. If I am living righteously, seeking Him, whatever I put my hand to will be successful.  Why?  Because he teaches me how to do things the right way.  He teaches me how to do things for His glory, and not my own. What a promise!  If I have consulted Him about something, and follow Him all the way through it, then He will give me success in it, because if I have done these things, He will get the glory.  So chef: open that restaurant (if God wills), carpenter: build that house (if God wills), musician: play that recital (if God wills), administrator: hire those workers (if God wills).  Just be sure to consult Him first and every day.
The Sea of Galilee becomes calm--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Two
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
Standard Publishing Company, 1925
  The following verse tells us that if Israel had followed God's commandments their peace would have been like a river and their righteousness like the waves of the sea.  I was thinking about this.  I don't think of rivers as being particularly peaceful.  If there is little rain, they lower, if it is a particularly rainy season, they rise and sometimes flood.  Some rivers that wind through mountains move rapidly.  Hardly peaceful.  But then there are places in rivers that make great fishing spots, they move quietly and slowly.  Isn't my life like that? I have high points, low points, hurried bends, quiet bends.  Isn't God telling me that when I stay close to Him, I will have peace in whatever situation I find myself? If I am going through something tough, I will have peace.  If I am having victories, I will have peace.  What about the waves of the sea part of this verse?  How can righteousness be like the waves of the sea?  What do waves do?  Well, they bring water onto the shore.  They move things along.  They have the ability to topple anything in their path.  How can my righteousness accomplish this?  If I am living righteously, I can bring others to Him.  If I am living righteously, I can help influence others (move them) to live Godly lives.  I hope I am doing that for my children.  If I am living righteously, I can topple any evil.  Any ungodly thing that stands in my way, can be swept away, if I am living righteously.
    Lord, allow me to trust in you for my successes, follow Your Word so that I may have peace and righteousness in my life.  Thank you for all you allow me to do, help me to topple anything wicked that comes across my path today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hearing but not Heeding

Today's passage:  Isaiah 47
At last, judgement comes upon Babylon.  At least, Isaiah warns of the impending judgement.  God used Babylon as a tool to bring Israel back to Him, but they will still be judged as a nation, because they never acknowledged the true God.  In the many years that the Israelites were in captivity there, the Babylonians failed to notice the God they were still serving.  Granted, I'm sure there were Israelites who chose the Babylonian way of worship, but Daniel and others chose to live for Jehovah God.  Nebuchadnezzar at one point recognizes their Lord, but children and grandchildren departed from his Jehovah worship (probably thinking he was still insane from his days in the wilderness.)  So now God tells them of the judgement that will come.  Shouldn't this cause them to repent and recognize Him?  It hasn't happened yet, Isaiah is warning them.  It seems to me, that God always gives us fair warning.  Isn't there something that God points out to us, maybe in a message, maybe from reading His Word, maybe while we are taking action, and the Holy Spirit points out to us, "Hey, you need to fix that."  How many times have those without Christ heard a Gospel message and the Holy Spirit convicts them, saying "You need to listen to this.  You need to come to Christ."  Too often, we hear the warning but do not heed the warning.  Still God is merciful to us time after tired time.  God tells Babylon ahead of time what will happen, what will take place, but they do not listen.  Many times in the Bible, God gives plenty of warning about something that will take place.  Why?  Because He wants to spare us the judgement by allowing us to repent and make it right first.
Jonah under the vine--Taken from Treasures of the Bible (Divided Kingdom)
By Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D.
International Publishing Company, 1894
Think about Jonah and the Assyrians.  Jonah went to warn them, and the people repented (to Jonah's dismay).  Because of this, God staved off His judgement.  There are some obvious consequences to our behavior which God points out to us.  Anger issues lead to fighting and possibly murder.  Substance abuse leads to disease, theft, driving accidents.  Adultery leads to broken families.  Bitterness leads to anxiety attacks and other health issues.  God shows us these things ahead of time. If we repent and ask for His help, He can take these things away.  But it takes acknowledging Him first.  That is what Babylon refused to do.  Do I?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sin Stinks

Today's passage: I Kings 5
This week we have been having 8 day revival at our church.  We are only the second day in, and God has enriched my spirit.  Sunday night's message dealt with Elisha and Naaman.  The message was tremendous.  While the speaker was preaching, God brought a different thought for this passage to my mind.  Although, I'm sure it has been taught as such many times before, this was the first time God had impressed it on my heart.  As the preacher was describing the horrors of leprosy, I was reminded that leprosy in the Bible many times symbolizes sin.  The speaker described the bandages to wrap the affected leprous parts and referred to the verse in Isaiah 64:6, "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...".  He suggested that the filthy rags were as those of a leprous person.  Not a pleasant picture, of course, but that certainly gives us a better view of how God sees our attempt to cover our sin.  I was thinking about the unpleasantness of leprosy.  Once a person has the disease, there is no cure.  The disease begins to isolate the carrier from loved ones.  It smells, it erodes, it destroys.  Isn't this indeed the picture of sin?  We cannot be rid of our sin.  We carry it with us wherever we go.  It does awful things to us and other people.  Basically, sin stinks.  Too many of us, like Naaman think we can do something about our sin.  Like Naaman, we succumb to our pride and want to do it our own way.
Naaman goes to Israel for healing from leprosy--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book  Three
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
Standard Publishing Company, 1926
 Naaman learned if he truly wanted to be rid of this dreaded disease, he would need to do things God's way.  Why couldn't he cleanse himself in the rivers of Damascus?  Because God said he must do it this way.  Why should he dip himself seven times when once should suffice?  Because God said this is the way it must be done.  Why shouldn't I trust in the good things I have done to get to Heaven?  Because God says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."  Some may say, "That's too easy. " It isn't too easy.  It is the hardest thing to do.  Why? I must recognize that I am an awful sinner (and not one of us wants to admit that we are no good, even though we know it is true).  I must recognize that the good things  I have used to try and disguise or cover up my sin are like the smelly, disgusting, leprous rags Naaman would have worn, and why would anyone, let alone a Holy God accept them as atonement? Would any of us want somebody's used Band-Aid?  Like Naaman, I must humble myself before a holy, loving God, admit I can't do it myself, that my righteousness isn't enough (because I have none) and trust only in the righteousness that God provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. And what will transpire when I do this?  Just as Naaman finally humbled himself and dipped the seventh time in the Jordan River, he came up with skin that was not just clean, but as the preacher pointed out, "like unto the flesh of a little child".  The preacher reminded us that Naaman was a soldier,  his skin was undoubtedly covered not only with leprosy, but with war scars.  His skin was probably leathery from the elements.  God didn't just heal Naaman, he miraculously changed him.  What God could do for us, if we just let Him!  God can heal us from the stench of leprosy, he can take away the stink of our sin.
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