Tag Archives: faith

Isaiah 57:11-21

Scripture: from verse 15

I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit…

Observation:  God dwells in the heavens, and on top of the mountains, and in my house, and in the shacks of His poorest believers, and inside me.  None of these places are too small, and none are too large.

I don’t think God sees space the way we see space.

And really, that’s just as well.  A God who made sense to us would be woefully inadequate for the job.  So it’s rather a relief to learn that He doesn’t see things the way I do.  What we see is not all that is.

Application:  Know that God is with you

Prayer:  Lord, I praise you because you are bigger and more complicated than I could ever imagine.  Thank you for choosing to be with me.  Amen.

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Isaiah 56

Scripture: from verses four and five:

To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths and…hold fast my covenant…I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

Observation:  God is speaking to people who may feel that they are outside of God’s blessing: eunuchs and foreigners and outcasts.  God says that their circumstances will not block His blessing.  If they choose to follow Him, God will gather them close, and bring them into His unity.  The eunuchs should not describe themselves as “dry trees,” even though that is exactly what they are, because God is not stopped by their physical limitations.

There is no human limitation that can stop God’s blessing.  He can give an everlasting legacy to a eunuch.  He can give us righteousness, no matter what our past decisions have been.  He can make us whole, no matter how hurt we are.  He can give us health, no matter our genetics or condition or age.

Application:  Speak the truth: that God has made you righteous and whole and strong.  Don’t describe yourself as a dry tree.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I praise you because there is nothing that limits you.  There is nothing that the powers of this world can do to stop you from blessing me.  Thank you for restoring me.  Help me to see your truth.  Amen.

Isaiah 54:11-17

Scripture: from verse 14

In righteousness you shall be established…

Observation:  God is talking about the heritage of His people, which includes peace and wealth and stability and knowledge and righteousness.

This week God and I have been talking about faith some more, and some of my thoughts seemed to really click into place in a way that works for me.  The following day, I kept getting these thoughts about how the earlier revelations were stupid and not as powerful as I thought and it couldn’t be that simple and and and….  Eventually I caught it and realized that Satan was attempting to steal what I’d learned.  He’s a liar and a thief and it’s only to be expected.

I know that I can get things wrong.  I know that I can be misled by my own pride or fear or desire for life to be easy.  But God promises to establish me in righteousness.  He promises to correct me when I get it wrong.  I don’t have to let the fear of missing the mark prevent me from taking a shot in the first place.

All I have to do is keep asking for the truth.  And kick Satan out of my head, because he’s not allowed to be there.

Application:  Keep asking for the truth

Prayer:  Lord, I praise you because you are the Source of Truth.  Thank you for keeping me safe, for keeping my feet from slipping and establishing me in righteousness.  Help me to keep asking for truth.  Amen.

Isaiah 51:12-23

Scripture: from verses 16 and 17

I have put my words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of my hand…Wake yourself, stand up!

Observation:  The passage is God pointing out that His people spend all their time being afraid of and focused on humans and human might, which is rather pointless given that humans die quickly and God is eternal.  Whether God is punishing or blessing, His actions are considerably more impactful than human ones.

God says that He has already given His people words to speak and shelter and provision and everything they need for life.  They face their attackers from a place of strength, not weakness.  They just don’t know it.

I’ve been thinking lately about the need to “fail fast,” an idea that comes from the Freakonomics podcast, The Upside of Quitting.  The Freakonomics people meant it in terms of business and life decisions: we should try lots of new things, but identify which ones aren’t working or aren’t useful early on, so that we can quit them.  Try new things, and fail fast at the ones that are wrong.

For me, failing fast has been more about choosing to have faith in God instead of faith in myself.  When I try to do things on my own strength, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  If I fail fast – if I realize early on that God can handle this and I can’t – then I rely on God and He always works.  He is abundantly efficacious.  Boundlessly potent.  Me failing fast just means that He wins sooner.

I’m trying to wake up.  I hope that I don’t have to wait until my words give out to start speaking His.  I’d like to walk in the safety of His shadow.  I don’t know how that happens, but that’s what I want.  I want to fail fast.

Application: I’m hesitant to give an application in an area where I’m still feeling out what I’m supposed to do.  But I have found that He gives answers when we ask questions.

Prayer: God, thank you for making me a superconqueror (Romans 8).  I praise you because you have already won the battles I am fighting.  Help me to enter your victorious rest.  Amen.

Isaiah 51:1-11

Scripture: from verse 2

[Abraham] was but one when I called him…

Observation:  The passage says that if we are seeking the Lord, we should look to Abraham, who was only one person when God called him, but God called him and blessed him and multiplied him to create a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9).

Genesis 15 says that Abraham believed God, and God counted it as righteousness.  This is quoted in Galatians 3 and Romans 4, so it’s pretty important.  That word “believed” is aman, which is the root of “amen.”  It means to support, to confirm, to trust in, to be established.

So if we are seeking God, we are to look at Abraham’s example.  And Abraham’s example is one of very simple faith: if God told him to do something, he did it.  If God made him a promise, he believed it.

Application:  What has God told you?  What promises should you be believing?

Prayer:  God, I praise you because you are the Faithful One, who never fails and never changes.  I praise you because your word is good.  Help me to believe in it the way you want me to.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:14-26

Scripture: from verse 18

As I live, declares the Lordyou shall put them all on as an ornament; you shall bind them on as a bride does.

Observation:  God’s people are convinced that God has forgotten them.  They feel they are left alone to face their enemies and oppressors and the indifferent giants of the world.  God says that He has not forgotten them and never could, and that the very things that they look at with fear will be their ornaments.

2 Corinthians 3 talks about the veil that we wear, so that we cannot see the truth of our situation.  We wear a veil that keeps us from realizing that what we see is not all that is, that the rules we follow and the circumstances we see are limited and finite.  It isn’t until we turn to the Spirit that the veil comes undone.

Our faith is limited to what we see, and we see very little.  We can’t force ourselves to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has an answer to every problem confronting us.  We can’t force ourselves to honestly expect rescue and restoration and glory.

All we can do is take it on faith that our own perceptions are limited.  We can turn to the Spirit of God and ask Him to explain to us.  Like a student who asks for help from an expert when the book is unclear, we can ask what we’re missing.

I also notice that Israel is apparently having difficulties with perspective.  Their enemies look huge, but God says they will be used as jewelry, which means that they will fit in the palm of Israel’s hand, and be easily carried.  Something that Israel sees as a huge boulder that could crush them flat, God sees as a smallish gemstone that could be comfortably worn as a necklace.  We’re not seeing things right when we see our circumstances as big.  I’m not sure how that works (possibly the veil is made of a Fresnel lens?) but it’s worth knowing that it happens.

Application:  Ask what you’re missing.

Prayer:  Spirit of God, I praise you because you can see the true size of every element and every person.  I praise you because my worries and mountains are just jewelry and knick-knacks to you.  Thank you for showing me God’s plan for me.  Please show me what I’ve been missing, and teach me what it means.  Amen.

Isaiah 45:14-25

Scripture: from verse 14

“The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours; they shall follow you…saying: ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other, no god besides him.’”

Observation:  There’s a few places where God promises that the wealth of those who do not follow God will be given to those who do.  It’s a bit of an odd promise, because it has to be held so lightly to be safe: we’re warned against the love of money and commanded not to covet what others have.  We’re also reminded again and again to be generous to the poor and not to judge others by what they have.  And yet we’re also promised wealth.

The problem, of course, is that we don’t really believe these promises.  If we did, we wouldn’t worry nearly as much about money.  We may read these promises and acknowledge that they are truth, but when we picture the future, we rarely incorporate these promises.  Our heart trusts the evidence of our eyes and our experience much more than it trusts God’s promises.  We can’t quite really picture them.

But God is in us, and there is no god besides Him.  God is categorically different from what we can see and what we have experienced.  God is the overriding factor in all our calculations.

Application: I wish it were as simple as saying “believe in His promises.”  But it isn’t.  I don’t really believe them either.  So we’ll work on that together.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me faith, even if I haven’t figured out how to access it yet.  I praise you for knowing truth beyond everything I understand.  Please help me believe your promises.  Amen.

Isaiah 45:1-13

Scripture: from verse 4

I name you, though you do not know me.

Observation:  God is speaking to Cyrus (probably the king of Persia) here, saying that God has chosen to bless and enrich Cyrus because by doing so He will bless Israel.

I’ve noticed lately (or rather, God pointed out) that I lack faith in certain areas.  So I’ve been praying for more faith, but without really believing that I’ll receive what I ask for, because that’s part of the faith I’m lacking.  Logic and scripture both indicate that my prayer will be answered, mind you.  I just don’t believe it yet.  (In other news, brains are not nearly as rational as we might wish.)

So I’m asking God to move unilaterally, because I can’t move to meet Him.  And part of me worries that it doesn’t work like that: that nothing will happen unless I do something to increase my own faith.  That God has better things to do with His time.

But the truth is that God has nothing better to do with His time.  The truth is that He delights to bless me.  The truth is that He named me before I knew Him, and He will continue to pull me close.  And if I don’t believe those things, that’s my problem.  My worries don’t change who God is.

Application:  Ignore your worries and let Him work.

Prayer:  God, thank you for naming me before I knew you.  I praise you because you are not limited by your nature, but can move and work to do your will.  Please bless me and teach me about yourself.  Amen.

Colossians 1:21-25

Scripture: from verse 25

Yes, I [Paul] am completing in my own flesh what has been lacking of the Messiah’s afflictions, on behalf of his Body, the Messianic Community.

Observation:  This doesn’t make any sense.  I mean, it does – he’s saying that he is continuing Messiah’s sacrifice to further God’s goal of restoring harmony between humans and God.  The problem is that that’s impossible.

Nothing was lacking in Yeshua’s afflictions.  He finished it.  He paid the debt for us, completely and in full.

But I guess, if we are joined with Messiah in doing His work, and joined with Him in His suffering in the form of whatever persecution or deprivation or sacrifice God calls us to, then we are helping complete what Messiah has already done.  He did the work.  We’re helping.

Perhaps it makes more sense if I remember that, from God’s point of view, we’re only children.  If I comb my daughter’s hair, and then she combs her own hair, I did the work and she helped.  Admittedly I usually need to give it a quick re-comb before inserting the barrette, but that’s okay.  Because she needs to try doing it herself.

I don’t know how it works.  I don’t know how we could be contributing anything meaningful to Yeshua’s work and sacrifice.  But apparently we can.  Because He lets us help.

Application:  What you do has value.  God has a plan and a calling and a purpose for everything He has you do, even if it seems meaningless and random.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I don’t get this one.  I don’t even know whether to be comforted or humbled or inspired to greater effort.  But I know you have a plan for it.  I know you have a plan for me.  Please help me follow it.  Thank you for helping me grow and letting me help.  Amen.

Leviticus 19:19-37

Scripture: verses 23-25

When you enter the land and plant various kinds of fruit trees, you are to regard its fruit as forbidden — for three years it will be forbidden to you and not eaten.  In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, for praising Adonai.  But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, so that it will produce even more for you; I am Adonai your God.

Observation:  Leviticus has some weird rules, you know that?  If you plant a tree, you have to wait five years to eat the fruit.  Even longer if it takes a year or two to start producing fruit at all, I would imagine.

I’m not sure why God did this.  It’s probably better for the tree or the land or both.  It’s also an act of faith: giving the first fruits to God and trusting Him to make sure that the tree keeps producing in the future.  It also encourages long-term thinking and planning, which generally leads people to make better decisions.

Happy Money says that we’re happier when we have to wait for things.  Not while we’re waiting, obviously, but once everyone gets their treat the person who had to wait is significantly happier than the person who got what they wanted right away.  Waiting isn’t a bad thing.

God wants us to put down roots.  He wants us to settle down in Him, not harvest His blessings and move on.  He wants us to take the time to make eye contact.

Those things take time, but God is the Master of Time in the first place.  He knows whether we have enough time to talk to Him.  He knows whether our plans and ministries and investments will bear fruit.  We can afford to stop and spend time with Him instead of chasing after the wind.

Application:  Spend time with God instead of worrying about the results you’re getting.  Don’t rush the harvest.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for having plans for me.  I’m sorry I worry about results too much.  Help me to stay focused on you and your provision.  Amen.