Isaiah 51. God Will Turn Deserts into a Lush Garden.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 51.

Again, words of comfort and the assurance that God will set things right for those who obey Him. The people of Israel, and us by way of Jesus, are chips off the block of Abraham. Just like the great Jewish patriarch, we can also be called a “friend of God” as we remember our roots (see Isaiah 41:8).

“Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think about it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, A place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.” (v1-3, MSG).

Who wants a home filled with exuberance, laughter, thankful voices and singing? I do! Isaiah reminds us, that we can be transformed! If you’ve traveled to Israel you might recall the moonscape of the lands around Masada. Those will be reborn into lush gardens. He did it. He does it. He will continue to do it.

“My salvation will last forever, my setting things right will never be obsolete… Pay no attention to insults and when mocked don’t let it get you down. Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten, from brains that are termite-ridden. But my setting things right lasts! My salvation goes on and on and on!” (v6-8, MSG).

This echoes what the Psalmist says: “When I was really hurting, I prayed to the Lord. He answered my prayer and took my worries away. The Lord is on my side, and I am not afraid of what others can do to me.” (Psalm 118:5‭-‬6, CEV).

We can trust completely in the delight of God. This is a promise the people of Israel hold on to every day. It is a promise we can cling to as well!

Be comforted today in the beautiful transformational work God is doing in you, in each of us! You may feel like a wasteland or a desert. But God sees you as the Garden of Eden! Hear the singing and laughter. Experience His joy!

I love the word picture described here: “On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”(Zephaniah 3:16-17, NLT).

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 49. Our Light. Our Hope in the Darkness.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah. Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 49.

We often played games with our children that involved flashlights in the dark. We hunted for wild (stuffed) animals hidden in the recesses of the Family Room furniture. We played flashlight tag. They performed skits using flashlights for stage lights.

It is always amazing to me the way a tiny beam of light, or the flicker of a candle, radically changes a dark place. The darkness can never overtake even the smallest of lights. When light breaks into the darkness it often evokes feelings of great joy and relief.

God has a specific calling for His people. “I have placed you here as a light for other nations; you must take my saving power to everyone on earth.” (v6, CEV). The Jewish people will be that luminescence. Sometimes it is just a glowing ember. Other times it will be a beacon that shines so bright it causes us to squint. Either way, the light of God illuminates our path so we can walk in safety.

I believe Isaiah is foretelling the coming of the Messiah. Look at this:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, NIV).

Jesus is the One who is the light for the Gentiles and the Jews! He alone provides a light in the darkest night. He alone is our salvation. He alone is our hope.

Again, Isaiah shares a direct thought from God. The Lord will send His son, who will save us all:

“Israel, I am the holy Lord God, the one who rescues you… You can trust me! I am your Lord, the holy God of Israel, and you are my chosen ones. This is what the Lord says: I will answer your prayers because I have set a time when I will help by coming to save you. I have chosen you to take my promise of hope to other nations.” (V7‭-‬8, CEV).

Jesus is our promise of hope! The light from Jerusalem will shine throughout the four corners of the world! The brightness from the tomb on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection still shines in every dark corner of the world!

You may be going through a challenging time. You may feel surrounded by the darkness. Take courage. God knows our seasons of suffering. You can trust Him. The LORD asks the prophet: “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.” (v 15, CEV).

God will never forget you or your situation. Jesus is our hope! Let His light shine in the dark places of your life to bring comfort, safety, and joy.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 40. Those Who Trust the LORD Will Find New Strength.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 40.

“There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can from the highest mountain. Don’t be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, “Your God is here!” Look! The powerful Lord God is coming to rule with his mighty arm. He brings with him what he has taken in war, and he rewards his people. The Lord cares for his nation, just as shepherds care for their flocks. He carries the lambs in his arms, while gently leading the mother sheep.”” (v9-11, CEV).

Your God is here! He rewards His people.  Listen up, everyone! God knows you. He knows that you get exhausted in this life. He knows your struggles and daily challenges. He knows that we slog along through the daily grind and sometimes we fall. Sometimes we fail.  But, here is good news worth shouting from the rooftops:

“The Lord gives strength to those who are weary.  Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” (v29‭-‬31, CEV).

Think of the eagle. It is created to soar high above the cliffs on its strong wings. Its eight-foot wingspan keeps it aloft for hours as it takes advantage of thermal updrafts from the surrounding terrain. Think of how you were created. Each one of us has various strengths and abilities that help us function daily. We even have a “sweet spot” that energizes and fills us up when we are doing it. What is that for you? I believe, like an eagle, whether you are a mom or a dad or an accountant or an artist or a construction worker or a pastor, if you are operating in that place where you flourish,  you will walk and run and thrive.

Yes, we will have the occasional struggle and set back. Paul addresses that in the New Testament:

“We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, CEV).

The real power comes from God. May we all find new strength today as we trust in Yahweh! God is with you!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 33. Blessings Follow Obedience.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 33.

There is doom again in today’s chapter. But this time it is reserved for the Destroyer, likely Sennacherib, the king of Assyria.

Look at those, however, who will speak to God in this humble and honoring way: “You are the foundation on which we stand today. You always save us and give true wisdom and knowledge. Nothing means more to us than obeying you.” (v6, CEV).

You. Always save. True wisdom. Obeying you.

Nothing means more than obeying God. We want to obey, right? May His Holy Spirit lead us and give us the strength to do so. May we hear and obey His still quiet voice and His promptings deep within our souls.

I believe as we obey, we are assured His blessings.

“But there will be rewards for those who live right and tell the truth, for those who refuse to take money by force or accept bribes, for all who hate murder and violent crimes.  They will live in a fortress high on a rocky cliff, where they will have food and plenty of water.” (v15-16, CEV).

Later: “The Lord is our judge and our ruler; the Lord is our king and will keep us safe.  The Lord will forgive your sins, and none of you will say, “I feel sick.”” (v22, 24, CEV).

He will provide! He has forgiven us through the grace of Jesus. Paul says often in the New Testament “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” What does this mean? Our pastor recently said it means something like this: “Everything that God is like be upon you.” God is Love.  So let love be upon you. God is Joy. So let joy be upon you. Peace. Comfort. Care. Protection. Health. Wellness. Everything that is God. Let every amazing and divine thing that is, be upon you. This is the culture of the Kingdom of God.

I love that as we read the Old Testament it points to Jesus! He forgives. He gives grace. We follow. We trust. We obey. We have life! We have His life and every spiritual blessing that goes with it.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3, NIV).

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

 

Isaiah 31. Our Help Comes From the LORD.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 31.

Isaiah 31 begins with the admonition to put our trust in God alone. Don’t trust in Egyptians or Americans or your boss or your favorite sports team. They will fail you. They are mere humans.

“You are in for trouble if you go to Egypt for help, or if you depend on an army of chariots or a powerful cavalry. Instead you should depend on and trust the holy Lord God of Israel.” (v1, CEV).

We’ve seen throughout Isaiah the encouragement to trust God! Why? Because as verse 2 reminds us: God does what He says. He keeps His promises.

And then there’s this:

“I, the Lord All-Powerful, will protect Jerusalem like a mother bird circling over her nest.” (v5, CEV). One translation says “like a huge eagle…”

God has a special place in His heart for Jerusalem and its people. He also has great fondness and love for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah. Believers in Yeshua are like those who live in Jerusalem. We are included in that group, thanks to His “grafting us in” via the cross and the empty tomb! So, we can say that God has a special place in His heart for you and me. And like an eagle or a mother bird, He will watch over us and protect us!

I’m reminded of this beautiful Psalm:

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalms 121:1‭-‬8, NIV).

He is watching over you today! He sees your hopes, dreams, challenges and struggles. He will lead you to straight paths, meadows of rest and streams of living water.

He loves you and is proud of you, dear child of God. You can trust Him.

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 30. Trust God. Be Blessed.

God blesses everyone who Trusts in Him.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 30.

More warnings and doom for those who continue to sin and turn their back on the Almighty. These words might be found anywhere in today’s media: “Don’t tell us what God has shown you and don’t preach the truth. Just say what we want to hear, even if it’s false. Stop telling us what God has said! We don’t want to hear any more about the holy God of Israel.” (v10-11, CEV). Sounds like a spoiled child with their hands over their ears, right?

Yet for those who will put their trust in God: “The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, “I will keep you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong if you quietly trust me.” (v15, CEV).

Another promise to those who trust Him: “The Lord God is waiting to show how kind he is and to have pity on you. The Lord always does right; he blesses those who trust him.” (v18, CEV).

He blesses us when we trust Him! King Solomon echoes these words: “God blesses everyone who trusts him.” (Proverbs 16:20, CEV).

Can I tell you from firsthand experience: I have trusted God and He has blessed me. Many others can repeat those words, too.

Blessings come through trust.  Blessings come through the truth, if we are open to hear it and receive it. The Lord always does right.

 

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 22

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 22.

Verse 11 brings us wisdom and caution: “You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city.” (v11, MSG).

I’m reminded of Proverbs 16:9: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

We must always, always consult, pray, ask and seek God’s counsel as we make decisions. And trust Him as He leads. How do we know it’s Him leading versus us following our own ways? That’s a great question! I wrestle with it daily, especially in seasons of uncertainty. His ways will always line up with Scripture. And, we are to seek the counsel of those who know us, who may be able to see another angle, and who might be able to affirm or offer other thoughts — also through the lens of Scripture.

Another favorite Proverb: “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, CEV).

So, whenever you have a big decision to make, or even daily as you seek to walk where God leads, consult Him. Follow His ways. Discover His best for your life!

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.