Sunday, April 26, 2015

GIVING GOD NO OTHER CHOICE



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In Christ, Mark
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** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth or righteousness—you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and claim to rely on the God of Israel—the Lord Almighty is His name:”

“I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. For I knew how stubborn you were; your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze. Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’ You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them?”

“From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, ‘Yes, I knew of them.’ You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ears have not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth. For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

Isaiah 48:1-11

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

As we study the Book of Isaiah, the writing is on the proverbial wall. Judgment is coming on the southern kingdom of Judah just as it had come on the northern kingdom prior. Jerusalem, the holy city of the Lord where His temple was located, would be laid to waste. The people of Judah and Jerusalem would be taken away, hauled off to a foreign land where they would remain for seventy years under the rule and oppression of the Babylonians. Such was their punishment for the sins they had committed against God, especially the worship of idols and false gods.

The message from God is clear. He said He was a jealous God and would not tolerate any other gods placed before Him and He meant it (Exodus 20:3-4). We would be well served in our lives to not allow anything of this world to draw our worship and adoration away from the Lord who deserves all of it.

The sad part of this is that the Israelites were just aware of God’s commandments and expectations as we are today. And yet, they still chose to disregard and disrespect the God who made them and blessed them so richly.

In other words, they gave the Lord no other choice than to discipline them.

Unfortunately, as we read the opening eleven verses from the 48th chapter of Isaiah, we find that the Lord knew His people all too well. After all, He knows everything about us and is able to peer into our hearts and minds so that nothing is ever concealed from His sight. Nothing is hidden. In the case of the Israelites, the Lord knew their tendency for stubbornly chasing after their own desires, opting for disobedient sinfulness over the righteousness He expected. They took oaths in the name of the Lord but were not committed to fulfilling them. Their lives were built on a foundation of falsehood and abandonment when it came to following the principles of God. They left God with no other choice than to invoke His discipline.

Unfortunately, the Lord had foretold what was to come long before they happened. Don’t think that when He issues His commandments through Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20) that He didn’t already know His people would break them. Judgment would come and He would be the architect of that judgment, not an idol or wooden image or metal god. He said it but His people had not listened. They had closed their ears to God because they were more interested in hearing the things they wanted to hear, things that dragged them away into the kind of evil that spawned God’s anger and consequences. They had a choice between sin and righteousness. They chose sin and thus gave God no other choice than to respond with punishment.

Are our ears open today? Are we listening to the Lord as He speaks to us through this devotion? Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the people of Israel and give God no other choice than to send His reprimand and retribution upon us? Or are we going to honor Him with everything we do, hungering and thirsting for His righteousness in our lives as we turn away from the sinful temptations of this world?

Friends, we have a choice. We can opt to live in God’s favor, pleasing Him with all that we think, say, and do. Or we can consciously defame and violate Him, His will, and His way, giving Him no other choice than to rebuke and judge us.

God on the other hand, only looks at one option and that is our absolute surrendering to Him. He is not going to compromise nor should He. He is God, the Maker and Master of all. All creation is to submit to Him. Period.

Let’s do what is right always by allowing the Lord to lead us there and give Him no other choice but to rejoice in the beauty of our respect, reverence, and obedience.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

THE FALL



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, queen city of the Babylonians. No more will you be called tender or delicate. Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil. Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams. Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.”

Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—is the Holy One of Israel.

“Sit in silence, go into darkness, queen city of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms. I was angry with My people and desecrated My inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke. You said, ‘I am forever—the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.”

“Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.”

“Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by. That is all they are to you—these you have dealt with and labored with since childhood. All of them go on in their error; there is not one that can save you.”

Isaiah 47

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Have you ever been around anyone who was so full of pride that they always looked down on everyone else as being lesser than they were?

No matter how well someone is doing they will always come up with something to either downplay another’s achievement or bring up something they have done or are doing that is better. These people are not satisfied with believing that someone else might be better than they are. Rather, they arrogantly see themselves as always superior and more significant. Humility is not in their behavioral repertoire.

With this, it’s little wonder that the scriptures cry out against a prideful heart and the haughty attitude it gives birth to. Look at this series of excerpts from the word of God against a conceited approach toward life and others:

In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Proverbs 8:12-13

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.  1 John 2:15-17

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

It’s this last verse from Proverbs that we maybe hear used most often and as we will see in our scripture passage from the 47th chapter of Isaiah, God’s word comes to life in the way of His consternation against the Babylonians who abused the blessing of power and authority given them by God by adopting wicked, sinful ways. Those sinful ways included relying on magic spells and sorceries instead of God. Their evil, puffed-up actions would be their downfall as the Lord would bring them into disgrace. Look again at these verses:

“Go down, sit in the dust, Virgin Daughter Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, queen city of the Babylonians. No more will you be called tender or delicate. Take millstones and grind flour; take off your veil. Lift up your skirts, bare your legs, and wade through the streams. Your nakedness will be exposed and your shame uncovered. I will take vengeance; I will spare no one.”

Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—is the Holy One of Israel.

“Sit in silence, go into darkness, queen city of the Babylonians; no more will you be called queen of kingdoms. I was angry with My people and desecrated My inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke. You said, ‘I am forever—the eternal queen!’ But you did not consider these things or reflect on what might happen.”

“Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood. They will come upon you in full measure, in spite of your many sorceries and all your potent spells. You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.’ Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.”

“Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror. All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by. That is all they are to you—these you have dealt with and labored with since childhood. All of them go on in their error; there is not one that can save you.”  Isaiah 47

The Babylonians had been on the top of the mountain. They were able to become the mightiest empire in existence, all because of God who had enlisted them to carry out His judgment on Judah and Jerusalem. But they did not receive this gift from God in humility and their definitely did not worship and praise Him for all He had done for them. Instead, they worshipped themselves and touted themselves as the ones who would rule and reign forever. Further, they abused His people during the time of oppression, placing a heavy yoke upon them.

They would soon realize that God was in control and the One who brought nations to their knees as easily as He brought them to power.

Regarded as the queen of the kingdoms, the mighty Babylonian empire who once sat high on a throne would be brought into the dust, humiliated and brought to shame by the Lord God Almighty, the One they disrespected and disregarded. In the vengeance of His wrath and judgment, no one would be spared and there would be no one who could save Babylon from the disaster and calamity the Lord was bringing, especially the astrologers and star gazers who the Babylonians relied on to advise them. These false messengers did not represent God and so their advice was unfounded and useless. They would be just as easily consumed by the fire of God’s consequences as the rest of Babylon who placed their faith in all the wrong places.

Friends, we need to learn from this account of the fall of Babylon. We may never ascend to the kind of power that this mighty empire had but rule, reign, and might are not the main things the Lord wants us to take away from this message today. Rather, we are being warned that pridefully placing our faith in ourselves or anything else outside of God is asking for trouble. Arrogance and haughtiness will only lead to the Lord’s anger and the associated discipline and punishment doled out in response to our sinful wickedness.

Choose pride, lift yourself up as if you are greater than anything else, including God, and you can expect a fall. This is the warning the Lord sends to us loud and clear today.

Do yourself a favor and opt for humility instead. You’ll be much better off, trust me.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

DRAW NEAR



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.”

Isaiah 46:11-13

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

I don’t know about you but one of the greatest comforts I have in my life is knowing that the Lord is always near me. No matter what life might bring my way, I can ever count on Him to be there with me, celebrating my victories, sharing my sorrows and offering me comfort, embracing me when I need loved, giving me guidance and direction when I need it, and placing His covering of protection over me. There is nowhere I can go where I am out of His sight and care. Nowhere.

Just in case anyone might question this assertion of mine, I offer the word of the Lord from the 145th Psalm and the 4th chapter of James:

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:8a

Call on the Lord, seek His presence in your life, and He will draw near to you and become your refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). This is a promise from God’s holy word and there is not one of His promises that He fails to keep.  

Asaph, a Levite and leader in King David’s choirs, put this truth into practice in his life in the midst of many who refused to believe in God. He shared his testimony based on that experience in the 73rd Psalm:

Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. Psalm 73:27-28a

As we look at today’s scripture passage and the closing verses of Isaiah 46, we find the Lord Himself with something to say about the impact of His nearness to us. Look at His words

“From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.”  Isaiah 46:11-13

The prior verse from James assures us that if we come near to God, He will come near to us and when He does He brings His righteousness and salvation our way. We find the Lord’s richest blessings in our communion with Him and the riches found in the outflow and overflow of that relationship. Draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you, saving you and showing you the right way to live. He will also bring you a peace and comfort that cannot be found anywhere else but in Him. Look at these words from Philippians:

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:5b-7

Righteousness. Refuge. Peace. Salvation.

All of these things and so much more become ours when we simply draw near to a God who longs to be near us. When we do and experience the fullness of the Lord’s bountiful grace, love, and mercy, then we can be in full agreement with the words of the Apostle Paul and these words He wrote to the Hebrew Christians:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:19-24

Living near to the Lord is akin to living in hope, now and forever, for the One we draw near to is faithful and good and true in all His ways. Will you join me in celebrating this today?

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

REMEMBER



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
** Become a Follower of The Christian Walk at http://the-christian-walk.blogspot.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

“Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”

Isaiah 46:8-10

This ends this reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

Remember.

It’s a command we could apply universally to anything that has to do with the Lord God Almighty.

We are to remember the things the Lord has said. All His promises. All His commands. All His warnings. All His guidance and directives.

We are to remember all He has done. All His creative works. All His miracles. All His acts of power. All His judgments. All of His healings.

We are to remember that there is nothing beyond the work of His hands. Nothing is impossible with Him.

We are to remember how much He loves us and how He gives us His grace and mercy and forgiveness and pardon.

We are to remember His salvation promise through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.

So much to remember and as you will see in our scripture passage today, the Lord gives us a few more things to commit to memory. Look at these verses:

“Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”  Isaiah 46:8-10

The Lord is ordering His people and us as well to remember what He is about to say, to keep His word sin mind, to take them to heart. We’re not to let His words go in one ear and out the other. No, we’re to write His words upon our hearts, minds, and souls, cherishing and treasuring them. Specifically, He tells us to receive and retain the following:

1. Remember the past things I have done.  

“Remember the former things, those of long ago.”

Think about all that the Lord has done since the dawn of creation. Keep in mind all that He did for His people as documented in the scriptures. Never forget the sacrifice Jesus made to bring us salvation.

These and other things happened long before our present day lives but they are not to be forgotten. Rather the Lord wants for us to always remember what He has done, past and present.

2. Remember that I am the One true God.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”

Unrivaled. Unmatched. Incomparable to anything we know in life. This is the Lord God Almighty, the One we should allow to slip from our mind.

3. Remember I hold the future in My hands.

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”

We need not worry about the future because the Lord has it all under control. And when we place our faith, hope, and trust in Jesus, our future becomes sealed through His salvation promise. Death is not the end but only the glorious entry into a life eternal, a chapter filled with nothing but light and love, a chapter free from all the world’s afflictions and difficulties. The Lord has made it known already.

4. Remember that I purpose all things and my purposes will stand.

“My purpose will stand.”

The Lord has a purpose for all of our lives. He has purposed things since the dawn of creation and He will continue to purpose things until all things are fulfilled that He has promised. Nothing can change or alter what the Lord purposes. Only He can do that. We need only to fully believe and trust that He is always working things for our good.

5. Remember that I will do what I deem necessary.

“I will do all that I please.”

The Lord’s will is going to be done, whether we like it or not. He will do all that He pleases to do and there is no one or nothing who is going to stop Him.

Friends, the Lord speaks to us constantly through His word and Spirit, and He expects for us to listen and remember everything He says. It’s really that simple. Never forget that.

Amen.

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com