Re: Verse reading–Isaiah 52:13-15, Isaiah 53 (day six)
“…yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God.”-The People, Isaiah 53:4b
In the ancient Hebrew mind (and even now with the prosperity gospel) suffering comes to the unfaithful. The verse above is a confession; the people believed that the suffering servant was receiving what He deserved, that He was being punished by God. The irony is, they were exactly right but for all the wrong reasons. God did punish Him (Isaiah 53 says so more than once.) but not because of His unfaithfulness, but rather for theirs. Their sin (and ours) required justice and God would provide it through the suffering of His righteous servant. That’s Good News.
Re: Verse reading–Isaiah 52:13-15, Isaiah 53 (day four)
Appearances are not always as they seem. The Messiah appeared despised and forsaken. He looked to be stricken and smitten of God. But He was high and lifted up. He was greatly exalted. Jesus was the only substitute for us…the only one acceptable to God to take on the sins of the world and atone for them.
“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God sees beyond the circumstances and sees His perfect will. Often we get bogged down in the circumstances of life. Jesus was able to remain faithful and obedient to God through all of the persecution, torture and death, because He did not lose sight of His call. Don’t allow the circumstances of your life to distract you from the work that God has called you to do. Isaiah identified the Messiah as a suffering servant. To be a servant, keep your eyes and heart on your call.
Re: Verse reading–Isaiah 52:13-15, Isaiah 53 (day three)
“He was numbered with the transgressors.” First, consider humanity’s rogues gallery—those unsavory individuals who represent all that’s wrong with the human race: History’s most notorious megalomaniacs make the list, plus domestic terrorists, plus all murderers, predators, thieves, thugs, and general riff-raff. But surely the world owes its difficulties to more than state-recognized criminals. Have you been on the receiving end of a lie? Have you cheated on your spouse? Have you used a friendship to further your own social position? We’re all rogues now. And if you look closely at that list, you’ll see a shocking face: that of Jesus Christ, counted among the sinners. Now consider: The King of kings willingly became the rogue of rogues, taking the blame for the sin of mankind. And now all of us must answer for this innocent man’s execution. What will you say?
Re: Verse reading–Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (day two) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth…53:7a
He kept quiet. Our first reaction when we see injustice is to shout, rage against the machine, cry out for right. Jesus kept silent. Does this mean that we are to sit idly by and watch people endure cruelty or oppression? Certainly not, but Jesus had the long game in mind as he endured his affliction. If he would have called out or spoken up what would that have meant for me or you? His refusal to defend himself sealed our opportunity for salvation. If, when you witness injustice, you are filled with a righteous indignation stop and think of what Christ endured and how he allowed it to take place. For you.
Re: Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day seven) “They were all trying to frighten us.”–v 9.
It is a familiar strategy. Our enemy (Satan) uses it against us (Christians) with great regularity. Step 1–Create fear (cancer, job loss, abandonment, a new pastor. . .you fill in the blank). Step 2–Seep this fear into the center of the heart (where faith belongs). Step 3–Allow/encourage decisions to be made, attitudes to be set from this anxious heart. Step 4–Dismiss all protests against such action as “I am just being realistic”. Step 5–Rest satisfied (Satan does) that no power or progress will come to this neutralized-by-fear-life. No progress. Just constant positioning against the thing feared.
Nehemiah knew. “Whatever is not from faith is sin”–Romans 14:23.
Re:Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day six)
Faith moves mountains, but most often it uses a shovel. There was nothing magical about Nehemiah’s faith in God’s promises to his people. He repented, prayed, strategized, stayed the course; he used a shovel to put his faith into action. For Nehemiah faith was not merely an intellectual exercise, but it was action, decisive steps to move forward the promises of God. But that is how faith works, it never stays in one place, it moves according to the rhythms of the promises of God.
Does your faith move? Does it carry a shovel?
Re:Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day four)
It was the social media of the day. Sanballat and Tobiah were not having any success with deterring Nehemiah from his task. They sent an open letter to try to get public opinion against him so he would relent in fear. Nehemiah maintained his focus on God’s directions rather than political correctness.
Have you ever allowed the ‘fear of man’ to keep you from doing what you know God has instructed you to do? Nehemiah had obviously spent time alone with God. He recognized His voice and he maintained his obedience. The world will offer options that appear to be the judicious choice, but fail to be exactly what God has prescribed. Verse 12 says, “Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him…” The servant leader must allow Scripture to interpret circumstances, not circumstances to determine Scripture! Know the voice of the One who calls you…and follow Him. After all, whose opinion has eternal significance?
Re:Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day three)
“Each time I gave them the same answer.” Nehemiah kept guarding himself against mission creep. He understood the alternative. Pretty soon, you’re building a wall—and crafting diplomacy toward unfriendly nations. And strengthening alliances with friendly nations to stand with you against unfriendly nations. And sharing military strategy and resources and personnel with those allies as the initiative to build a front against unfriendly nations progresses. On it goes. The Bible reveals that when all things occupy equal importance, your energies become diluted. Those who need serving don’t get served well. Those who need leading don’t get led well. And eventually, you can’t tell a good idea from a bad one because you’ve set them all on equal footing from the start. Nehemiah said, “Now strengthen my hands.” That prayer says, “Help me do this task well. Not that thing. This thing.”
Re:Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day two) So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” vs. 4
You have your assignment. It feels good to know that you are where God wants you to be. You have a purpose and a plan, and then…kids, sickness, distractions, and detractors. Is it supposed to be like this? Don’t we all assume that when we find ourselves in the pocket of God’s plan that it should go off without a hitch? Sounds reasonable, but we were never promised a distraction-free work environment. Moses had a clear assignment, but the Pharaoh didn’t exactly cooperate. Even Jesus had to deal with stubborn, sleepy disciples.
This, however, does not change our assignment. They are distractions, but not derailment. Stay the course. God chose you.
Re:Verse reading–Nehemiah 6:1-16 (day one)
“Should a man like me run away?. . .I will not go!” v 11.
It is powerful moral logic. It can sound prideful, but isn’t necessarily. Who did God make me to be? What is my identity in Christ, and how should it be expressed in daily choice and action?
Nehemiah employs this logic as he responds to the daily attacks of Tobiah and Sanballat. Using intimidation and distraction, they are opposing the “wall project”. Nehemiah finds his direction by asking Himself, “how should a man like me (i. e. a person who knows God, with a commission from God) respond?”
“I, therefore. . .entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”–Ephesians 4:1. “As children of light. . .do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.”–Ephesians 5:8-9
Who is a larger question than how. HOW I respond to life should come from WHO He made me to be.