Tag Archives: living on the spiritual plane

Isaiah 64

Scripture: verse 1

Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at Your presence

Observation: Seth Godin recently blogged about the difference between confidence and certainty.  He concludes that insisting on certainty – in yourself or in others – is a mistake.  It tends to be a way of drowning out fear by ignoring possible negative outcomes.  He’s primarily talking about business situations, but at the moment it rings true for faith as well.

I’d like to be certain.  I’d like to know exactly what God is going to do next.  I’d like Him to rend the heavens and come down so that I don’t have to think anymore.

God doesn’t seem to work like that, though.  He wants us to be confident in Him, but He rarely gives us certainty.  He might promise to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) but He doesn’t say how long that will take or how He will do it.  He promised to be with Jeremiah and rescue him (Jeremiah 1), but that doesn’t mean nothing bad happened.  At one point Jeremiah got thrown into a cistern to die (starvation, dehydration, blood poisoning from standing in muck – take your pick) and God sent a sponsor to plead with the king and get Jeremiah out.  There was rescue, but not certainty.

God says that He will be found by those who seek Him (Jer 29:13).  But I’m not at all sure that we ever stop seeking.  There is always more of God to find.

Application: Act on confidence.  Don’t be discouraged when things are not certain.

Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you are God.  I praise you because you are the only certainty.  Thank you for blessing me.  Help me to be confident in the future you have planned for me.  Amen.

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Isaiah 59:1-10

Scripture: from verse 6

Their webs will not serve as clothing…

Observation:  Humans are just spectacular at producing things that aren’t as useful or as important as we think they are, aren’t we?  Admittedly in this case I think the webs are meant to ensnare others rather than clothe the person spinning them, but it doesn’t sound like that will work out very well either.

Sometimes I get discouraged and impatient, feeling that I need to be doing something to make things happen, not just waiting for God to tell me what to do.  And then I get reminded that we’re terrible at doing things.  I could spin all sorts of webs for all sorts of purposes, but I wouldn’t accomplish anything besides making myself dizzy.  Much better (though not easier) to wait for the true path.

Application: Talk to God.  Every day.

Prayer: Lord, I praise you because you are able to provide real covering and real food.  Thank you for being my hiding place.  Help me to trust you.  Amen.

Isaiah 50

Scripture: verses 10 and 11

Let him who walks in darkness and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.

Observation:  I was praying with my someone this weekend, and we came to the conclusion that we had created a false yardstick by which to measure ourselves, and we needed to lay it down.  I commented that humans like to think we are good at measuring, but we never take into account the nonlinearity of everything.

We have this notion that we can help ourselves. We think that we can strive towards our goals and measure our own progress and accomplish things and that will please God.  The problem is that we are uniquely bad at measuring things, and our whole purpose is to build castles in the air (whether they are art or stories or songs or logic or discoveries or engineered structures) that reflect God’s glory.  We have inverted our purpose.

And when things look difficult, we rush around in circles, determined to fix the problem ourselves.  But we can’t even see the whole problem – not properly – and we can’t fix it.  That’s not our purpose.  Our purpose is to trust in the name of the Lord.

Application:  What problems are you determined to fix?  Are you lighting your own torches when you should be praying for light?

Prayer:  Father of lights, I praise you because you will always have a way out of the darkness.  I praise you because you have a plan and a purpose for every darkness that I go through.  Thank you for walking with me.  Help me to rely on your light.  Help me to value my castles in the air the way you do.  Amen.

Isaiah 36

Scripture: verse 7

If you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not He whose high places and altars King Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”?

Observation:  “Me” in this quote is an officer of Assyria, sent to demand Israel’s surrender.  This is a very crafty piece of gaslighting (making false or misleading statements in order to make the audience doubt their own knowledge.)  The high places and altars Hezekiah destroyed were for the worship of other gods, and it was the Lord who commanded his people to worship at His altar in Jerusalem.  But most people (being only human) did not have the clear understanding of God’s law that would combat this deception, and as a result I am sure that many of them did begin to doubt in God’s support.

Satan played the same trick in the Garden of Eden, twisting God’s law to pull Adam and Eve away from the truth.  (Admittedly Adam and/or Eve helped out in that case.)  He played the same trick when he tempted Yeshua.  He plays the same trick today.

So what do we do?  We stay close to the truth.  Experts dealing with gaslighting sociopaths take notes or recordings of their conversations, and keep a record of what has happened, so that they can clearly see the contradictions that present themselves.  We can do the same thing, by keeping God’s word and God’s truth in front of us, so we can see clearly.

Application:  Keep reading His Word.  Recognize lies for what they are.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I thank you that your are the Source of Truth.  I thank you that you will never lie to me and you will always defeat lies that try to hurt me.  Please help me to remember your truth and not be confused.  Amen.

Isaiah 30:1-13

Scripture: from verse 1

The rebellious children…make plans, but the plans are not Mine.

Observation:  The more fool them.  Jeremiah 29 says that God has plans for us and that His plans are for good, to give us a future and a hope.  The problem with making our own plans is that they are much less likely to lead to a future and a hope.

It isn’t impossible, of course, since there are infinite plans to be made and infinite futures to reach.  But life is a chaotic system, and the more we ignore the elements of God’s plan, the less likely our plan is to work out well.  Astonishingly enough, we aren’t as good at planning as He is.

The plans God was speaking of involved alliance (very expensive alliance) with Egypt, which had wealth and power and might and wasn’t actually willing or able to do much in the way of supporting Israel.  We have a bad habit of running around trying to find people who can help us (or who we think we can manipulate into helping us) when God has help already planned out.

In Israel’s case, if they turned back to God He’d stop sending the attacks and troubles that they needed help with in the first place.  God can address the root of our problems when we can’t even see it.  We treat the symptoms, but usually only God can go in and cure the disease.

Application:  Make His plans yours, instead of the other way around.

Prayer:  Father, I praise you because you can see all the strands of time.  You are the only one who can reliably chart a course through life.  Thank you for planning a good future for me.  Help me to follow your plan instead of my own.  Amen.

Isaiah 10:1-17

Scripture: from verses 6 and 7

I am sending [Assyria] against a hypocritical nation,
ordering him to march against a people who enrage me…
That is not what Assyria intends…
they mean to destroy nation after nation.

Observation:  Israel was proud and corrupt, so God was sending the Assyrians to attack them and destroy much of their wealth.  Assyria, however, thought they were using their own power and planned to conquer all of the known world.

Humans are constantly trying to get more control over our lives.  We try to control ourselves and our bodies, we try to control the people around us, we try to control our circumstances.  None of it works terribly well.

We make decisions and form plans and take action, but the results are rarely what we predict they will be.  The possibilities that we choose from are limited by our data.  There’s always one variable we had failed to consider (or never knew about).  The future is a chaotic system, and there is no was to predict it.  We have far less agency than we realize.

At the age of sixteen, Hero knew that he would grow up to marry me and work in computer hardware design and live in our area.  So he went to college for computer hardware design and kept dating me and here we are, ten years later.

But for most of us, life isn’t that simple.  Our colleges and our jobs and our homes and our families are influenced by hundreds of tiny decisions and thousands of factors and influences and variables.  We may think we chose our school or our career, but in reality it was heavily influenced by chance.

But God controls chance.  God knows how the thousands of influences will converge.

So we have a choice.  We can keep pretending we know what we’re doing, keep assuming that every trend we see now will continue forever.  Or we can let God do what He does best: teach us the truth.

Application:  Talk to God before making plans.  He’s better at it.

Prayer:  Yeshua, thank you for having a plan for me.  I praise you, because you understand how the world works, and how every piece of it interacts with every other piece.  Help me to know when I think I know more than I do.  Amen.

Leviticus 17

Scripture: from verse 3 and 4

When someone from the community of Israel slaughters an ox, lamb or goat inside or outside the camp without [presenting] it as an offering to Adonai…he has shed blood, and that person is to be cut off from his people.

Observation:  So ANY time you slaughtered an animal – for food, for sale, whatever – you had to bring it to the tent of meeting to do it, and pour out the blood and burn the fat as an offering to the Lord.  (I’m guessing this didn’t apply to animals that were euthanized when they got sick – but I could be wrong.)  If you didn’t, you weren’t part of the community.

From the rest of the chapter, it looks like this was at least in part a way to keep people from offering sacrifices to other deities (“goat-demons,” according to verse 7).  If idolatry is the human baseline state, God had to make them make conscious choice after conscious choice to worship Him instead.

But I think it goes beyond just mandating fidelity.  It’s about allowing God to permeate every decision.  It’s about acknowledging that all our wealth is from God and belongs to God.  It’s about reminding ourselves that all life is precious (“the life of the flesh is in the blood” according to verse 11) and it is only because of sin that death has to happen.  Every mundane meal became a reminder of our spiritual state.

And what about us?  We no longer bring blood sacrifices, but creation is not yet healed.  Our identity has changed, but we still sin.  And God is still the One who provides everything we have.  That’s worth remembering.

Maybe that’s why we say grace before meals: to attach a reminder of our spiritual state to mundane actions.  To remember our Creator as we fill the needs of the body He created.  To make a conscious choice to worship instead of drifting back to the human baseline of apathy.

Application:  Choose to worship.  Remember that what we see is not all there is.  Give credit to the One who deserves it.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for providing everything my family has.  Help us to use it for your glory.  Thank you for bringing me out of darkness and into your glorious light.  Amen.