There are moments in life when we recognize what is right but we do not always do what we should in response. We like to call it our sin nature. In Isaiah 42, it spoke of those who understood what was right but they did nothing. The people heard what they were to do, but they did not act.
James said we are to be doers of the word. True faith requires action. The people Isaiah was referring to knew what was right but did not act on it. We do the same thing today. It is easier to refuse to act. It is easier to ignore. It is easier to accept what the world accepts.
Today let us challenge ourselves to listen. Let us recognize what is right and act. Let us stand firm in Christ. Knowing and refusing to act is worse than not knowing at all.
“You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.” – Isaiah 42:20 [NLT]
Most people have had a time when something was rubbed in their face. Think back to when you made a mistake or a poor choice. Many people will not hesitate to remind you of the bad decision. People find pleasure in bringing up your failure. To many people, you are defined by your sin. The guy on the front page of the paper is a “thief.” Your neighbor is a “drunk.” The one word description sticks like glue.
God has promised that he will blot out your sins and then he won’t think of them again. He doesn’t bring up what you have done or what you will do next. He doesn’t say, “Hey, remember when you stole that pack of gum when you were five” or “Remember when you lied to your boss,” nor does he remind you of any other shortcomings and failures.
He does remind us of something though. He promised us he “will never think of them again.” He promised that he makes all things new. He promised that we will all be white as snow. We simply need to believe him. Whenever you are reminded of your sins, remember that it is the devil trying to incapacitate you from your true calling.
“I–yes, I alone–will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” – Isaiah 43:25 [NLT]
If you take a rock and cut a piece off, it has great similarities to the rock from which it was cut. If you take a piece off of a chocolate chip cookie, it tastes just the same as the cookie from which it came. As a parent, I can look at my children and see similarities that they share with me. My daughter talks a lot just like me. My son likes to joke around a lot just like me. Many similarities.
In Isaiah 51, it says to “consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.” So let us consider it. From where do you come? You were created by our Creator. Not only were you created by God, but you were created in His image. Consider the rock from which you were cut.
When you look in the mirror, remember you were created in the image of God. When you see others, remember also, that each person you meet was created in the image of God. Everyone is created in the image of God. When you consider the Rock from which each was cut, you see things much differently.
“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance–all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.” – Isaiah 51:1 [NLT]
When I worked in the area of childcare, I remember how we would walk with the children. There would always be an adult leading the way and there would always be an adult at the end of the line. Having an adult at the front of the line would not only provide leadership but also protection. The leading adult could be sure to watch out for danger lurking ahead. The adult at the back of the line had the job of making sure all the children were in the line and no one was left behind. The adult in the back also provided protection for the children because he or she had a different perspective.
Isaiah wrote that the Lord went ahead of the people and that the Lord protected the people from behind. There was protection all around, almost as if the people were in a giant protective bubble. But this bubble is real. God goes before us and he goes behind us. We are always under his protection.
Knowing that the Lord is with us always, that he is always before us and behind us and with us, can help us all to press forward with confidence. We can walk in faith, knowing that he is in control and that we are always under his protection.
“You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.” – Isaiah 52:12 [NLT]
Do you have different clothing you wear to different places? Perhaps you have “work clothes” or a work uniform to wear when on the job. Maybe you have gym clothing to use when working out. I even have “laundry clothing,” which is clothing I wear when doing the laundry.
In Isaiah 52, it speaks about putting on “beautiful clothes.” There is the command to “clothe yourself with strength” and to “put on your beautiful clothes.” So how do you clothe yourself with strength? It’s more than just eating your whole grain cereal in the morning. And what exactly are beautiful clothes?
Strength—clothing yourself with the armor of God. Your strength comes from Christ. Beautiful clothes—clothing yourself with holy, royal garments. Remember you are a child of God. Remember you are the bride of Christ. Today when you walk out the door, be sure to clothe yourself with strength and wear your beautiful clothes.
“Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourself with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will enter your gates no longer.” – Isaiah 52:1 [NLT]
I always like to hear about good things. I do not want to hear bad news. I do not want to hear about bad things. I am sure you don’t like to hear anything bad either. In Isaiah we read that the people wanted to hear nice things. Not only nice things, but lies.
Would you rather hear the truth or a lie? What if the truth doesn’t sound so sweet? What if the lie sounds better? What if the lie sounds easier or more fun? Isaiah was referring to the people not wanting to hear about what was right, but what was nice to them. Today we can see evidence of this in our own lives.
Look around. Many people want to hear what is nice, what feels good or right to them. Some of the people are content with lies. The lies are better to them. Easier. Sweeter. Nicer. But the lies aren’t right. The lies aren’t the truth. Today, are you asking for nice things or do you desire the truth? Do you want what is comfortable or what is right?
“They tell the seers, ‘Stop seeing visions!’ They tell the prophets, ‘Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.’” – Isaiah 30:10 [NLT]
There are questions that are so large yet so simple. In Psalm 106, it is asked, “Who can ever praise him enough?” We all know the answer is no one. No one can ever praise God enough for who he is or for what he has done. If we ask ourselves if we praise God enough, we get into compartmentalizing our lives and we will admit we fall short. But when we ask who could ever praise him enough, it considers the vastness of people—every person out there in the world. No one, not I or anyone else, can ever praise him enough. Wow.
No matter how much praise you give to the Lord, it is never enough. He always deserves more. The only thing we can do is live a life of praise and worship to him. We do away with compartmentalizing. We do away with thinking things out so meticulously. We simply do everything for Jesus. As Paul said, in everything we do, we do it as if doing it for the Lord. Start that and little by little it’ll be more prevalent in your life. You won’t even realize it because it will slowly be changing you into who you were meant to be in life.
You don’t have to complicate your relationship with Christ. Just sit back and ask yourself, “Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?” The great I AM. Our Abba Father. Lord of Lord. King of Kings. Our Savior. Point to Him. Lift your hands to Him.
“Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him enough?” – Psalm 106:2 [NLT]
The word “full” means complete. Being full means you lack nothing. The Psalmist wrote that the “full ransom” was paid. The complete ransom. There is nothing that could be added because it lacks nothing. It is finished. That’s what Jesus said at the cross. It is finished.
Not everyone can wrap their minds (and hearts) around this statement. Some people feel that their sins are so bad that they need to do more to “fix” the situation. They still are dirty. They still aren’t fully paid up. The ransom has been paid—the full price. Jesus paid the penalty for each one of us, each one of our sins, no matter how bad or how big you think they are compared to others. He paid for all.
Embrace this completeness. Accept that it is finished. Move forward with a different attitude. You are forgiven. You are loved. You are free. The price has been paid. Now move forward. Don’t let the devil keep you down when Jesus has already provided the victory.
“He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” – Psalm 111:9 [NLT]
The Bible says that we are not to put God to the test. When Jesus is tempted three times, He even responds with the Deuteronomy 6 verse when He is told to throw himself down. In today’s passage, Ahaz responds that he “will not put the LORD to the test.” There is a difference though.
Ahaz was asked by the Lord to ask for a sign or confirmation. God was saying, “Go ahead Ahaz, seek me. Ask me.” Ahaz did not want to know the truth. Ahaz did not want to seek the advice of God. He responds by attempting to make himself look as if he is following the Law. He proclaims that he didn’t want a sign because he didn’t want to test God. But he was simply pretending to have reverence for God, though it was more of a refusal to accept what God had for him.
Jesus and Ahaz had the same response but their hearts were different—their true motives were different. Reverence for God is something we all should have, but there is true reverence, what Jesus displayed, and a false reverence, which is the display put on by Ahaz. Today consider the reverence you show for God. Do you have a deep respect for the Lord?
“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want–as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.’” – Isaiah 7:10-12 [NLT]