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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 13

Understanding the Bible

Isaiah 1: 28-31

28 ¶And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.

29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

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Isn’t fire fascinating?

It gives light and warmth, we use it to cook and have some good time at the fire place too.

And that’s what we talked about in the last class. That the Lord has that fire coming on his Saints and his city of Zion and that his going to purify it and cleanse it. So, he is coming with this promise that he is going to cleanse. So whatever could stand the fire, would survive the judgment.

The distinct object of this was to bring back Jerusalem to the pure metal of its own true nature.

Under such God given leaders, Jerusalem would become what it had once been and what it ought to be. And that leads us right to verse 27.

In one version it reads: Zion will be redeemed through judgment and her returning ones through righteousness.

The king James Version reads: Zion shall be redeemed with judgment,

And her converts with righteousness.

It reads: To compensate for the faults, or bad aspects of something, to do something that compensates for poor fast performance or behavior.

Next one says: To atone or make amends for error or evil.

Next one: To save someone from same error or evil.

To gain or regain position of something in exchange for payment. All those fit and add insight to what we are talking about.

So, Zion that city of holiness is a great place where there;s happiness, peace, and freedom. So, when he comes in and cleanses and makes things right, he does it with justice. And her converts with righteousness are going to be redeemed and going to make up for those past experiences. There are going to make things right. So Zion as a city will be purified and come back to her original medal, and the converts individually with righteousness. And righteousness has the power to compensate for faults to repent and to become new. No more desire to do evil but to do good continually.

Morally right or justifiable virtuous perfectly wonderful and fine. So by being morally clean and pure striving for a form of perfection. Not that we are going to be perfect,  we are going to make mistakes and we are going fall down. But we are seeking to become Crise like. And to live every day in a way that is pleasing to Him. And by doing so according to the definition of the dictionary, we can do something, which is the righteousness, that compensates for poor past performance or behavior.

And so we seek to be like Him, we seek to be redeemed on an individual basis and as a group.

So Israel and Zion through judgment and justice can be redeemed.

Now, that judgment will come in two types.

  1. On the part of the righteousness. It comes in Zion itself and those who are converted or going to be redeemed.
  2. Will be upon the centers and Saints. And that bondage of wickedness is going to be broken.

In the consequence of which those who turn to Jehova, would be incorporated into his true church. So those who are weak would be taken away and those who are righteous will be incorporated into his true church.

So, it will be great for the righteous, it’ll be great for those who want to repent, change and to become purified.  And it’ll be terrible for those who refuse to acknowledge and repent.

In his version, verse 28 reads:

And breaking up of the rebellious and centers together and those who forsake Jehovah will parish.

In King James version it reads:

Under the destruction of the transgressors and of the centers shall be together and they forsake the lord shall be consumed.

I prefer the word rebellious because I think from the context of the chapter it is the rebellion that’s more than just a transgressor.

Often in the scripters, the threat is with the sword, with famine, with fire, and with natural disasters uses many methods and ways to bring justice.

Now, verse 29 is very powerful, so let’s dig into it.

Isiah 1:29 reads:

For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

Let’s talk about that desire for a second, Dallin Oak said:

“Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.The desires we act on determine our changing, our achieving, and our becoming.”

So what we desire in our hearts is what we bring about in our lives. It is important to remember that God has said He granteth unto men according to their desires. He also said that he will judge us according to our work. Our actions reveal our desires.

Neal Maxwell said:

“Therefore what we insistently desire over time is what we will eventually become.”

What we desire will come about in our lives and it’ll determine who we become. So, we’ve got to make sure that our desires are righteous because they dictate our priorities, they shape or choices, they determine our actions and who eventually will we become.

Where is our time, tension and energy focused? When you wake up int the morning what you think about first? When you go throughout the day where are your thoughts focused? Is it in doing the Lords will? Fulfilling the major of your creation and doing the things you were born to do? Are you seeking to be truly Christ-like?

It is all about what’s in our hearts and what’s in our desires!

Let’s turn now to Alma 36:14-15. It reads:

14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. 15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

Let’s look at a great example in Malachi 3:13-14.

13 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? 14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?

What a horrible attitude! These are the people who find it so hard to be Christien. And it is pathetic and very sad to see this kind of people.

I would like to share some quotes from Neal Maxwell from in book All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (Click HERE to get the book).

“Let us not be drawn of the straight narrow path of survice, as have some new converst to the religion of selfishness, by misplaced envy of those traveling in other directions whose happiness is the mock happiness of selfish lifestyles. How ironic it is to envy someone who has a pretty figure but who is a spiritual cripple. The fleeing and transitory ‘advantages’ such individuals seem to have dissolve even as the multitude drools over them. Sophisticated selfishness is still selfishness, even when cleverness tries to pose as substance. Glibness by someone who leads a flawed life cannot cover, except cosmetically, the spiritual speechlessness that afflicts that person. Nor can large bank accounts fill the empty vault of the soul.”

That’s so good! The sophisticated selfishness is still selfishness. So where are the great souls, the ones that should be honored?

“In this respect, the young will live to see a certain madness in some majorities in the world . heretofore thought impossible. Pilate yielded Barabbas instead of Jesus to just such a crowd. Someone has recently coined what is called the Gadarene Swine Law, which is, simply put, that just because a group is in formation does not mean that it is ing in the right direction.”

Isaiah 1:30 reads:

For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

It is all about the mind. The mind is a garden and what you put in is what you get out, what you plant is what you harvest. And our whole lives are gardens. The garden doesn’t care what you put in it, it just returns to you what you put it in. Thus, life is exactly what you and I make of it. Your life and my life is a garden, and if our gardens have no living water, because of our choices, the gardens will drys up and be unproductive.

Isaiah 1:31 reads:

And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

So the idol becomes the spark that sets this mass of fiber in flames so that they are both irretrievably consumed.

By strong, he is not referring to the spiritually strong but perhaps he refers to the one who is politically powerful, who is popular and wealthy. So those who are strong among men but weak among the lord. And yes it is possible to be strong among men and strong with God. You become strong with God and he will make you strong among men.

We need to follow great leaders and lead out ourselves. We need to lead away from this wickedness and this neglect of God and this ridiculous consuming monopoly type care of the world! We must flee out of Babylon and leave her things behind.

Put your heart and mind right. Focus, think about, and care about the things that really matter most. Let’s make sure that our hearts and mind are in the right place and that we are concerned about helping and loving others. That we are not filled with the desires for those oaks.

Let us turn our lives over to the Lord!

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding The Bible: Incomparable Isaiah Part 10

Understanding the Bible

Isaiah 1:24

Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.

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I want to start this class and share my experiences and my study. Isaiah 1:24, my initial reaction was like there’s not a whole thing out there, we will just cover it and then keep going. And that’s a huge mistake! Often, our expectations prevent us from learning a lot. And as I started to look deep, I discovered some serious treasures and thus I wanted to share them all with you. And that’s why we will spend the entire class just on verse 24.

So, let’s begin!

Isaiah 1:24  

Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

There is judgment and vengeance coming.

This class is going to be a little hardcore, and you’ll see why. We need to understand very clearly God will not be mocked, He is kind, He is long suffering and He is merciful. But when His children cross the line, when they continue in their hardiness and their rebelliousness finally he drops the hammer so to speak.  Judgment will come to the rebellious and to the wicked. And in this class, we are going to see the harsh consequences that fall on those who do not listen.

So, let’s go back and look at these titles.

‘the Lord’  he is our Lord, our God and He is the God of everyone and everything. He is God over everything and He is the mighty one all powerful.

‘Omnipotent’ He knows all things and  He has the power to do all things.  

‘Ah’ it is described as pity mingled with wrath.

I wrote a bunch of scriptures about verse 24.

  • Ezekiel 5 verses 12-17.
  • Second Chronicles chapter 20.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 105 verses 14-15.
  • Exodes 23 verses 20-23.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 1: 13-16 and 97: 21-26.

So let’s go first to Ezekiel 5:12-17 and we read:

12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.  13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.

There is  a reference here in 13 to Ezekiel 24: 9-14. But let’s finish up here and then will go there.

14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.  15 So it shall be a reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it.  16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread: 17 So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.

This is judgment that’s coming on Jerusalem and will later come on Babylon. He is promising as a consequence famine, sword, pestilence and a lot of suffering.

Let’s turn now to that reference in Ezekiel 24:9-14. And it reads:

9 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Woe to the bloody city! I also will make the pile of fire great. 10 Heap on the logs, kindle the fire, boil the meat well, mix in the spices, and let the bones be burned up. 11 Then set it empty upon the coals, that it may become hot, and its copper may burn,that its uncleanness may be melted in it, its corrosion consumed. 12 She has wearied herself with toil; its abundant corrosion does not go out of it. Into the fire with its corrosion! 13 On account of your unclean lewdness, because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed from your uncleanness, you shall not be cleansed anymore till I have satisfied my fury upon you. 14I am the Lord. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God.”

Let’s look now at Exodus 23:20-23. It reads:

20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

There is a fantastic lesson there. The Lord will find our battles if we are on his side. Otherwise, who are his enemies? Well, it is those who turn against God. So are we on the Lord side? That’s an important question that we need to frequently ask ourselves.

23 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

Let’s go now to second Chronicles chapter 20. Near the heading of chapter 20 I have three scripture references if you like to jot them down.

D&C 98:37 which reads:

And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.

Another verse is Joel chapter 3:2 and Zechariah 40:30 let’s take a quick look at both of those.

Joel 3:2 reads:

 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

Jehosaphat means Jehovah judges.

Zechariah 40:30 reads:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.

Let’s go back to second Chronicles now. I really love this chapter because it teaches us so many great principles about doing the right things at the right time for the right reason.

2 Chronicles 20 reads:

 1 Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat. 2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi).” 3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.

Isn’t that fantastic?

And now what you and I do as a family when trials come along? Do we turn ourselves to seek the Lord and then turn our children to do the same? Or do we rely on ourselves and on other resources?

 

5Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court, 6and he said, “O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. 7 “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?  8“They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying,  9‘Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.

What a great principle! When any challenge or problem comes against us, we need to turn to the Lord.

In Helaman 3:27 we read:  

Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.

D&C 101:7-8 we read:  

7 They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. 8 In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.

Too many forget the Lord when things are going well!

In Helaman 12:3 we read:

And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.

God will have a humble people. We can either choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.

2nd Chronicles 20:10-12 reads:  

And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not; 11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit. 12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

Let not our hearts to be troubled.  We’ve got to keep our eyes on Christ and keep focused on him all the time. Keep your eyes on Christ.

2 Chronicles 20:13 reads:

And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

What a wonderful verse! That’s how we approach the Lord as a family!

14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; 15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Please mark that! He will fight our battles especially if they are his.

16 Tomorrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

I want you to think about that for a minute. One of the times in our lives when we need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. We often get so cut up and so worked up in our lives but we need to stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord and he will step in and he will work miracles in our lives if we are but faithful.

When the winds of adversity are blowing our lives, let us stand still and let’s turn and seek the Lord.

18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high. 20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.

Man I hope you marked that please! We want to be established and have that foundation on the rock of Christ. Believe in his prophets, his teaching and his acts. And ye shall prosper.

21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. 24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. 25 And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.

The Lord fought their battle, every one of them died, none of them escaped and then Israel was able to walk in there and take all their abundance and riches.

Trust the Lord and lean not unto your understandings.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day.

The fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel. And that will be the same in the last days. When there is war all over the earth, there will be fear of the Lord. Because they’ll trust in him and allow him to fight their battles.

30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about.

Let’s go back now to Isaiah 1:24

Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

D&C 97:21-26

21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.  22 For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it?  23 The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come; 24 For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works. 25 Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her. 26 But if she observe not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire.

Our actions will determine what side we are on.

Let’s now turn to DC 105:14-15  

14 For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will fight your battles. 15 Behold, the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints.

And last let’s turn to DC 1:13-16

13 And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. 14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; 15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; 16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

We need to look at some scriptures that need to go with this verse.

John 6:60-66

60  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 66  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

So many people try to turn to the world and to materialism but this is not the right way to do it. You need to turn to the Lord and to prayers.

We’ve got to seek after the Lord no matter what happens. We’ve got to always turn to the Lord.

You’ll have every blessing you want if you just observe and do the Lord’s commitments. But on the other hand, if you don’t you’ll get the consequences.

We’ll wrap up with a quote from SC Lewis:

‘It is the business of these great masters [viz., spirits of the Lowerarchy] to produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called sexual “taste”. This they do by working through the small circle of popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers who determine the fashionable type. The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriages are most likely.’

That’s from Screwtape Letters page 91.

I want to testify how absolutely important it is that we follow and worship God and Him only. That we turn our lives over to him, we submit to his will, and we observe and His commitments. And I promise that the blessings will be abundant and wonderful.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Finding God

I just listened to this great song by Kari Jobe about finding God and I wanted to share it with you.

The most oft repeated scripture in the Bible is:

“Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

The Lord does not merely want us to seek him…He wants us to find  Him, and know Him better.

How to find God is the most critical question in mortality.  Finding Him is the greatest reward in mortality.

What are you doing to seek Him?

Listen to my Isaiah classes for beginners to understand the Bible better and find God through His word.

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 1

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 2

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 3

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 4

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 5

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 6

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 7

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 8

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 9

Understanding The Bible: Incomparable Isaiah Part 10

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah For Beginners Part 11

Understanding The Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 12

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 13

Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 8

bibleUnderstanding the Bible.

Isaiah 1:18

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.

 

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Today I want to begin with a story from World War ll. An exert from a book called “Return From Tomorrow“.

“When the war in Europe ended in May of 1945, the 123 Evac entered Germany with the occupying troops. I was part of a group assigned to a concentration camp near Wuppertal. Charged with getting medical help to the newly liberated prisoners, many of them Jews from Holand, France and Eastern Europ. This was the most shattering experience I had yet had. I have been exposed many times by then to sudden death and injury, but to see the effects of slow starvation, to walk through those barracks where thousands of men had died a little bit at a time over a period of years, was a new kind of horror. For many, it was an irreversible process; we lost scores each day in spite of all the medicine and food we could rush to them.

Now I needed my new insight indeed. When the ugliness became too great to handle, I did what I had learned to do. I went from one to the other of that barbed wire enclosure looking into men’s faces  until I saw looking back at me the face of Christ.

And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody. That was not his real name. His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish. But he had a long drooping handlebar mustache like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he had not been there long: his posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable. Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.

We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have disappeared. But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength. ‘We have time for this old fellow’ he’d say. ‘He’s been waiting to see us all day’. His compassion for his fellow-prisoners glowed on his face, and it was in this glow that I came when my own spirits were low.

So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939! For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.

Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked on him as a friend. He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration. Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.

As for Germans, feelings against them ran so high that in some camps liberated earlier former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw. Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again, Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness.

‘It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,’ I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the processing center. ‘So many of them have lost members of their own families.’

Wild Bill leaned back in the upright chair and sipped at his drink. ‘We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,’ he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, ‘my wife, our two daughters, our three little boys. When the Germans reached our street they lined everybody against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.’

He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and five children. ‘I had to decide right then,’ he continued, ‘whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice, I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.”

And then the author writes: LOVING EACH PERSON…THIS WAS THE POWER THAT HAD KEPT A MAN WELL IN THE FACE OF EVERY PRIVATION.

What a fantastic example of love and forgiveness to a man who has every right to be filled with hate and bitterness. And that’s what we are going to talk about today in Isaiah1:18.

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”

Says the Lord,

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

They shall be as white as snow;

Though they are red like crimson,

They shall be as wool.

We see here that the love of the lord begins to shine.

There has been an investigation and Israel has been found guilty. And the lord has all the right to punish them, but through his mercy, his grace, his kindness and his love, he forgave them.

The representation here of the power of his grace and his forgiveness, is found on the symbolism of colors.

Let’s look at Revelations chapter 17 starting from verse 1.

1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:

2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.

Babylon and her people are symbolically supposed to be the bride and the wedding ceremony, but instead, the kings of the earth; with multiple meanings; are committed fornication and the people are following.

Let’s jump into Isaiah 28

1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

The one thing we don’t want to be is being out of the way. We want to be in the way, we want to be walking in Christ steps and following his way.

8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

What is that drunkness with the wine of Babylon? It’s a blurry vision, it’s instability and it’s poor judgment. It is the inability to walk straight, it is the lack of self-control and the inability o reason.

Did you notice that beautiful symbolism there?  

So let’s go back to Revelation 17. They are drunk, which means they are lost.

3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

Babylon and the horn of the earth is that dark, deep scarlet and purpule color.

Let’s jump into Revelation 19 looking at verse 7:

7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

The white there is the purity and so it is that perfect contrast, that deep scarlet which is fornication and abomination of filthiness. And then the bride in white ready for the lord to come and symbolic of the righteousness of the saints.

Moses 8:29-30 speaking of the days of Noah in the flood.

29 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.

30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.

This gives us a great understanding of how the lord feels about violence. And so we go and try to see through his eyes and try to understand how he understands. And that was a great image there that we’ve got to put away violence and rath and we’ve got to control our passions.

Let’s take a look at Isaiah 40 the last verse and 41 verse 1:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Hebrew for the word wait is to hope for or anticipate.

1 Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

We are not alone in this, he is with us all the time. If we are humble, he will take us by the hand and lead us and give us answers to our prayers.

Let’s go to Mathew 11

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When we work together with him, we can do so much with him than we could ever do with just ourselves. Because anything the lord touches lives. Thus, we’ve got to invite him to our lives and to our personal progress.

Who can be against us if the Lord with us? Right!

Let us draw near to the lord and let us reason together with him.

Let’s repent

Let’s be humble

Let’s be better

Let’s recognize the stains we have and seek the lord’s help to remove them.

And I sincerely hope and pray that we will all go to him and receive the blessings that he has ready for us and make our lives clean and all the joy and the happiness that come from being clean.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 7

Understanding the Bible.bible

Isaiah 1:17

17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;[a]
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

 

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During the last few days of the savior’s life, perhaps on the fourth or even the third day before passover, shortly before he went into Gethsemane and shed great drops of blood for us. He thought; what I think some of his most powerful doctrine; and one of my absolute favorite topics.

You have to keep this in mind, that he has very little time to live and he knows that he is sharing his last powerful messages.

We look at Matthew 25 beginning with verse 31 he is just given the parable of the talents and ends with a scalding rebuke of the unprofitable servant; who did not use his talents to do good.

Matthew 25:31

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

We are all looking for that day when he comes. When he comes with all his glory to reward his servants.

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

Now, we all want to be on the right side. He is going to come and going to divide them, and we want to be on the right side.

Remember, he is giving us this course to his followers and he is surrounded by people who are strictly following the law; but not living it. Inside it is not changing them, it is purely informational and not transformational. So the savior is going to come and divide the sheep and the goats, and you and I certainly want to be among the sheep; we want to be on his right hand.

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

What’s the determining factor? What’s going to separate the sheep and the goats?

The determining factor, I believe, will be charity and service to the needy; and not pretense, emotions nor performances. It won’t be your callings, it won’t be the great speeches or talks you give nor the knowledge you have. The dividing factor will be how you have helped, served and took care of the poor and the needy. God will not tolerate the neglect of the oppressed.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

That’s what we all want right? We all want that from the lord to say ‘well done. Come into my kingdom’  

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

When was the last time you did one of those things? When you fed someone that was hungred, a thirsty a man you helped, a stranger you took in..?

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

He specifically mentions one of the least of these. When we help and serve, we are only in the service of our God.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

This is referring to sins of omission.

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

The point is, when we serve people around us we are serving God, and when we neglect them; He takes it personally.

  • Is service a part of who you are?
  • Do we see Christ in others?
  • Do we think of serving and making a difference?
  • Is serving a major purpose in your life?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

That’s where we want to be! We want to be on the right hand, going into life eternal and having the blessings of the Lord. Having him so to us ‘well done!’

Jacob 2:13

13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.

We see that a lot in our society, this comparison and compete.

14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.

Again, the problem with selfishness.

15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust!

16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!

And then here’s the solution.

17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.

18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

Isn’t that beautiful? You will seek riches for the intent to do good, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to liberate the captive and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

We go back to Isaiah 1:17

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

The first place we need to look is ourselves. Are we keeping others in hardship by our behavior? Perhaps the unjust exercise of authority? Are we keeping others down by an unjust exercise of authority? These are important questions to ask.

Just because we are the parent doesn’t mean we can exercise unjust authority. Just because you are the boss, the owner or the president doesn’t mean you can boss people around and tell people what to do.

Are you and I causing anyone to feel stressed, anxious or uncomfortable?

Let’s go to Psalm 72 which reads:

2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. 3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. 4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

This is where God feels so strongly, He does not mess around with this, He mentioned many times in the scriptures the absolute need and necessity to care for the widows and the orphans or the fatherless. He has great love and concerned for the widows and for the fatherless and he is going to hold us accountable for that.

I want to share a story that I heard recently and that is very powerful which   took place in Africa.

africa-A good brother who’s name is Robert was in Africa serving and helping the people. And he was on his way to a meeting and he saw a young boy alone crying hysterically on the side of the road. A voice within me said ‘stop and help that boy’ as quickly as I heard this voice I rationalized ‘you can’t stop, you’ll be late. You are the presiding officer and can’t walk in late’. When I arrived at the meeting house I heard the same voice again ‘go help that boy’. I then gave my car keys to a church member named Affassi and asked him to bring the boy to me. About 20 minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder, the young boy was outside. He was about 10 years of age, we found out his father was dead and his mother was in jail. He lived with a caretaker who gave him food and a place to sleep. To earn his board, he sold dried fish on the streets but after this day of hawking when he reached in his pocket he found a hole in it. He had lost all his earnings. Affassi and I knew immediately that if he returned without money, he would be called a liar, most likely beaten then cast out into the street. It was in that moment of alarm when I first saw him, we calmed his fears, we  replaced his loss and took him back home to his caretaker. As I went home that evening, I realized two great truths. First, I knew as never before that God is mindful of each of us and will never forsake us. Second, I knew that we must always harken to the voice of the spirit within us and go straight way wherever it takes us; regardless of our fears or any inconvenience.

What a fantastic story! God is going to hold us responsible, we’ve got to be very cognizant of what we are doing. We can’t just pass by and do nothing, he will hold us accountable. We have to protect the defenseless, the weak, the vulnerable and the widows.

“Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.”

Matthew 18:5-6

5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Fam wrestleWe’ve got to protect and love; first our own children and raise them up unto God, and then reach out other children.

We’ve got to do more and be more.

And if you allow me to be a little more personal, we need to reach out to the children who are suffering the negative effects of divorce. The divorce rate in the US is over 60% and that’s a tragedy itself. In many of these divorces, children are negatively affected. And I was one of those children actually! And I feel so grateful and so blessed that they were good men and women in the neighborhoods when I was younger that reached out to me and were very kind. Thus, I feel that we need to do the same. We need to be conscious enough to reach out to the youth around us.

At the end of this, we know how God feels about the widows and the orphans.

I heard a story not long ago where a father would come home every evening and ask his children what good they have done for someone else that day.

What a great thing to do!

What have you done today that mattered?

Who have you helped?

Who have you served?

So, set some goals, be conscious of it, put up some reminders and wherever you need to do to serve people and follow the Lord.

Let’s get out and so some good in the world!

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 6

bibleUnderstanding the Bible.

Isaiah 1:16

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,

 

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Can any of you remember a time when you were just filthy, I mean just nasty! A time when you played football in the mud or you went on a ride in some muddy mountains and you end up disgusting. But, how nice to get a warm shower after that and you come out so clean? Right? The stains are washed away, all the filth is gone and you get this fresh smell like you are all new again. It’s awesome!

Well, that’s what we will see in Isaiah 1:16. The Lord invites a filthy and disgusting Israel to wash themselves, to be clean and to put it all away.

Isaiah 1:16

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;

Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.

Cease to do evil,

What we started to find now in verse 16 is that there are 8 admonitions totals. Three of them are to remove evil from their lives, and five of them are to perform good acts.

Now, in order for Israel to wash, they have to seek forgiveness and obtain it.

And we have a promise from the Lord, he will not hide from us if we are seeking to do his will.

So let’s take a look at these two synonyms: to wash and to make clean.

To wash is to be understood as one great act of repentance on the part of a person, a man or woman, turning their lives over to God.

To cleanse yourself, that’s to make yourself clean, that is a reference to a daily repentance of the one who has turned to themselves.

Now, Israel had already been baptised, they were part of the kingdom. And perhaps ‘to wash’ here refers to a big step along that process. And we see that in Exodus chapter 40:12-15 where they are going to the temple of the lord and this is the washing that takes place before that.

12 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.

13 And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

14 And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:

15 And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.

This leads us to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 7:

2 Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.

3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.

Amend means to put things right. Israel and Judah are sick from head to toe and things are not going well.

If you straightened up, if you washed yourself and made it clean and if you put away evil from your eyes, then the Lord will cause you to dwell in the most sacred place on earth.

4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.

5 For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour;

6 If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt:

7 Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.

What a fantastic promise!

Let’s go back now to ‘to wash’ and see a couple of references. One of those is in Revelations 14

9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:

So that’s the consequence for those who are worshiping the beast and his image who receive the beast mark and his forehead in their hands.

Can you imagine being filthy and disgusting; just like what we talked about earlier; and standing in the presence of the Lord? Not literally but spiritually, being spiritually filthy because you haven’t repented and standing in his holy presence where the light and illumination from his glory is so bright you can see every little speck of dirt and filth in your life. Can you imagine what would you feel like that the torment there is going to be the disappointment in the mind of men.

Someone has said:

“Hell is when the person you are meets the person you might have been”

And what a torment that would be to really perceive and know your potential and realize how short you came up.

Let’s go back to that idea when we meet the lord. Here we are standing before him and giving him accounting of our lives and all of our actions, our thoughts, our words, our deeds and everything we’ve done and how we will feel in his presence.

Listen carefully to the words of Mormon says:

Behold, will ye believe in the day of your visitation—behold, when the Lord shall come, yea, even that great day when the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, yea, in that great day when ye shall be brought to stand before the Lamb of God—then will ye say that there is no God?

In other words, he is asking the non-believers.

Here’s a great quote from CS Lewis:

For this time it will God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.  Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.”

We must choose to wash ourselves now before it is too late. Every day we have to be a little better. Like I continue to say and will always say, we have no business whatever being the same people today that we were last year. We’ve got to be improving and cleansing and become more and more Christ-like. We’ve got to decide and choose now to be true Christians because it will be too late when the Lord comes.

Back to Mormon:

3 Then will ye longer deny the Christ, or can ye behold the Lamb of God? Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with him under a consciousness of your guilt? Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?

4 Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.

5 For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.

That disappointment and suffering in the mind and the soul of men for their own guilt.

6 O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

Let’s go back to Isaiah verse 16

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;

Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.

Cease to do evil,

Stop messing around, make yourself clean, turn your life around and turn to the Lord. As we get closer to God, he will shed more light on our lives and we will begin to see more clearly.  And again, we’ve got to put anything away in our lives that are intolerable to his pure.

Choose right now, today, at this moment to wash and make a change in your life.

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

In 17 we get the five admonitions. The first one, learn to do well and this includes your thoughts, your actions and your habits. Create the habit of doing good, of doing well, of serving and of making a difference. You and I ought to spend time studying the best ways to make a difference in the world, studying the best ways to live a meaningful life and to live a life that matters.

Let’s take a look at some references.

From Doctrine and Covenants 58:26

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

From 107:99-100 reads:

99 Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

100 He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

We continue in verse 27

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

We need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause of our own free well doing many things because we decide to as a family and as an individual.

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

We’ve got to learn to do well, we have to spend our time seeking ways to make a more influential and positive difference in the world.

The second admonition is to seek judgment. The lord is commanding us to seek attention and caution to justice and to make sure that we are stopping so much of the injustice that’s going on around us.

What are the injustices going on around you in your circle of influence? And what are you going to do about them?

Let’s open our eyes, our minds and be conscious of the injustice going around us that we can make a difference in.

Let’s give our best efforts to wash and make ourselves clean, to put away evil from our lives and from before the Lord’s eyes and let’s learn to do well.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 5

Understanding the Bible.

Isaiah 1:11-15

11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.

12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,bible
To trample My courts?

13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.

14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.

 

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I want to start this class with some questions: Why do you do what you do? What’s the motive behind your actions? Do you obey God’s words because of fear?

So we begin with Isaiah 1:11 which reads:

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

Whenever there is a question in the scripture we’ve got to answer it. The Lord always has a purpose for what he asks us to do.

By multitude, he means that they do a lot of things, but why? And that’s what we need to ask ourselves. Why are we doing what we do? Is it out of a pure desire or out of fear?

You and I have to be reachable, we have to be teachable, we have to be touchable and we have to allow God’s words to affect us and change us.

You and I have no business whatever being the same people today that we were last year. We’ve got to be growing and improving.

The purpose of the sacrifice was to draw the individual to Christ. It wasn’t about the animals nor their blood, it was to point them to Christ as is all things. All things in the gospel of Jesus Christ are to point us to Christ and bring us to repentance so that we accept the atonement in our lives and let it change us.

There is a reference here to first Samuel 15 and I love this story. This is when Saul is commanded to smite and destroy the Amalekites and all that they have. He is to go in there and kill everything.

3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

His commitment is just to smite and destroy all that they have.

13 And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord.

He thinks he had done it but he didn’t fulfill the commandment of the Lord with exactness. He kind did it in his own variations.

14 And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?

Saul saw himself as the big man on campus and so he started to make his own decisions against the will of the Lord.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

You answer this, does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he delights in obeying the voice of the Lord? Of course the answer is that the Lord wants us to be obedient.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Saul admits here which is so often the motive behind so many people’s actions.

24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

He feared the people and their opinions more than the will of God. He directly went against the commitment of God because of the fear of the people.

The Lord continues through Isaiah verse 12:

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

Another great question! Who asked them to come up and go through the motions? Jehovah certainly didn’t!

So because they did not perform what Jehovah had commanded as he commanded it, he expressly forbids them to continue doing it, as we see in verse 13:

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

The action was designed about those feelings toward God, but there are no feeling they are empty. And oblations means gifts and offerings.

All these actions and celebrations were so empty! He wants RESULTS people!!

Let’s look at few scriptures:

Matthew 15:7-9

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Their motives and motions are all mixed up and they worship with the philosophies of men.

Let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 8:18 which reads:

18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

If you don’t listen to Him, He won’t listen to you either.

In another place, the Lord has said: they were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God, therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble. In the day of their peace, they esteemed likely my counsel but in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.

When things are going well we forget God and when things get hard we keep asking help from Him. And he is loving, kind and merciful but he is going to draw the line there where if we ignore and forget him and then only run to Him when we in dying need, He is going to be slow to hear our cries because we were slow to listen to his counsels. And ironically, many will blame God in that day. There is a great reference from Isaiah 59:2-3 which read:

2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

We have to take responsibility for our own mistakes and we need to repent.

3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

We’ve got to be clean and pure.

There is a hypocrisy of acting like something you are not in the sense of acting righteous and not being righteous.

Let’s be real, let’s be true, let’s do always those things that please Him whether alone or private, whether day or night, whether you are in church or in the grocery store, wherever you are; be a true Christian at all times.

We can’t deceive God, we can’t fool him, we can’t put on the show and act like everything is good. Instead, let’s be sincere, let’s be real, let’s put for some serious effort to become better every day.

Let’s be true Christians all the way through the whole soul, mind, body, spirit and every bit of us.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 4

Understanding the Bible.

Isaiah 1:7-10

Your country is desolate,bible
Your cities are burned with fire;
Strangers devour your land in your presence;
And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard,
As a hut in a garden of cucumbers,
As a besieged city.

Unless the Lord of hosts
Had left to us a very small remnant,
We would have become like Sodom,
We would have been made like Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah:

 

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[powerpress]

Welcome to Isaiah part 4.

I have seen in some countries that people destroy the beauty of their countries by themselves. What was once so beautiful, the people chopped out all the trees, through their trash everywhere, pollute the rivers and the waterfalls..etc something that could have been so beautiful; and was; and it is ruined because of choices and behavior.

When we look at Isaiah 1:7, we found a shift. We’ve seen Israel’s actions are so ridiculous and their behavior is so poor that now the consequences come. And what’s fascinating about verse 7 is the words used, they are so very nearly correspond with the curses that were threatened earlier in the old testament. The Lord was constantly saying through the prophets ‘look if you don’t repent, this is what’s coming.’ And of course that’s what they get because they were not penitent at all.

And so 7 begins:

7 Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

Another translation: your land is a desert, your cities burned with fire, your field foreigners consuming it before your eyes  and a desert like overthrowing by strangers .

israelNow, you have to understand something about Israel and the geography there. You have the sea of Galilee and the Gordan river flowing dow into the dead sea. And Israel is surrounded by strange nations and the unbelieving. (Take a look at the map).

Let’s take a closer look at verse 7:

For country there, we are going to look at Deuteronomy 28:47-53.

47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with igladness of heart, kfor the abundance of all things; 48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he lshall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

What a contrast! Here God gives us every opportunity to serve him joyfully and to enjoy all the blessings he has for us and yet what do we do? We are arrogant and so he takes that away.

49 mThe Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, nas swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50 A nation of fierce countenance, owhich shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: 51 And he shall peat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee. 52 And he shall qbesiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee. 53 And rthou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, sin the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

Back in Isaiah 7 now, a country is desolate, and for ‘desolate’ we are going to look at Micah 3:9-12 and it reads:

9  Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. 10  They build up Zion with blood, [1] and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11  The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say,[2] Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. 12  Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

Let’s go back to Micah and this time with Micah 6:13-16 and it reads:

13 Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.

We can’t blame others for our own actions and the consequences that come. You and I are free to choose but we are not free to choose the consequences that come with our actions.

14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Everything they are gaining is going to be taken away by the enemies.

15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

They are going to lose everything, it is going to be taken from them. All these great blessings, all the abundance in their lives is gone and verse 16 gives the reasons.

16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Let’s go back now to Isaiah. Let’s look at the end of 7 which says ‘as overthrown by strangers’. In the Hebrew there, strangers is foreign or barbarian. And there is a little literally work there that it could be overthrown as upon strangers or barbarians.

Isaiah 1:8

8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

There is a comparison and I think that there are levels of meaning here. The children who were born and grow up in Zion grow up under the blessings of the Lord.

9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

The Lord in his tender mercies, he had every right to just wipe out Israel because they were sick from head to toe. But he is so patient with us; as we stumble and fall down and make mistakes He has always been so forgiving and so kind.

I want to share a special paragraph from the fantastic book “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo.

les-miserables“Ecclesiastes names thee Almighty, the Maccabees names thee Creator, the Epistle to the Ephesians names thee Liberty, Baruch names thee Immensity, the Psalms names thee Wisdom and Truth, John names thee Light, the Book of Kings names thee Lord, Exodus names thee Providence, Leviticus Sanctity, Esdras Justice, creation names thee God, man names thee Father; but Solomon names thee Compassion, which is the most beautiful of all thy names.”

Compassion is the most beautiful names of God! And that’s true, he is kind, merciful and he is good.

What and who are we going to follow?

Are we going to listen and hear the word of the Lord or are we going to follow the rulers of Sodom?

Now, let’s turn to Ezekiel 16 starting with verse 44 which reads:

44 Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.

45 Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that lotheth her husband and her children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which lothed their husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your father an Amorite.

46 And thine elder sister is Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters.

47 Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways.

48 As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

You and I know how the Lord feels about caring for the widows, the orphans, the poor and the needy. And in verse 49 we see that she had a fulness of bread and she was wealthy but with her wealth instead of caring for the poor and the needy; they put it toward idleness.

Is that happening in our lives?

50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

Let’s turn to Matthew 10:14-15, which reads:

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

When the Lord sends in blessings, servants, prophets and leaders to teach you the word and you have access to the word, if you don’t change it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you.

Let’s jump to Matthew 11:23-24 which reads:

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

This is a warning to us, to follow the Lord and to be clean and pure in all we do and avoid that filth like Sodom and Gomorrah.

We also want to look at a quick reference to Jeremiah 23:14 and it reads:

14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants there of as Gomorrah.

And also Jeremiah 23:21-23

21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.

23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?

These people have come in and they are creating all these superstitions and they are leading the people and the people are following. For example, they leave Isaiah who is one of the best prophets and follow the others whom the Lord says ‘I didn’t call them’.

Let’s follow the Lord

Let’s hear the word of the Lord

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 3

bibleUnderstanding the Bible.

Isaiah 1:4-6

Alas, sinful nation,
A people laden with iniquity,
A brood of evildoers,
Children who are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
They have provoked to anger
The Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away backward.

Why should you be stricken again?
You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick,
And the whole heart faints.

From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
They have not been closed or bound up,
Or soothed with ointment.

 

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[powerpress]

Have you ever experienced something where you had such high hopes and expectations and then you are disappointed? Maybe you had plans and expectations for a great trip and you weren’t able to go. Maybe a relationship didn’t work out and after all your expectations, it simply failed. Maybe you wanted something to work out and you had this dream and this aspiration but it just doesn’t happen.

I remember when Rachel and I were first married we were so excited to have a child right away but we just couldn’t get pregnant! And it was a huge disappointment for us. Thus, we went to the adoption process and put all our emotions and feelings into that. And hopefully, we got a call one night, it was in the afternoon and they said –Hey! There is a mother who just had a baby a couple days ago, she is choosing today, you are on the list and she is leaning toward you and she will choose tonight.– Well, that’s of course set all our thoughts and emotions and we were super excited about getting that baby. So we canceled everything and sat by the phone hour after hour waiting for them to call. The clock hit 12:00AM and no one called! We tried to sleep but couldn’t. So, I remember I got very early the other day and just went to work completely disappointed! All the excitement we had turned into a massive disappointment.

And that leads into what we are going to talk about today. But wait! I know that you want to know what happened with the story. You want the ending right? That’s what in the following lines.

We ended up with a call later on that day, they told us they had some problems with their flights and phone access… And fortunately, we were chosen and we did get the baby (Kyah).

Here are some photos of Kyah

Kyah 13 years old.

kayah

Baby Kyah.
Baby Kyah.

kyah-4

 

Let’s visit Isaiah 1:4 and see that hope and those expectations just shattered and see how father have those feelings and that disappointment of such high expectations for this chosen Israel.

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

Our habits are what separate and make us. The key to success is to make great habits and then let the habits make us. Too often, as the natural man does, allows the habits to be formed then becomes a slave driver. Furthermore, some habits become so strong that we can never break away from them.

There is a great quote says:

“The chains of habits are often too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

So, Israel had become a habitually sinful nation. And what a glaring contrast from a holy nation to s sinful nation. Instead of being those chosen people who are carried on the wings of grace, they are bound down to earth and laden with iniquity and becoming the very opposite of what they could have become.

So, this verse is really powerful for us to take a good look at our lives. What are our thoughts, feelings, and actions? What are we doing each day? Are we doing things that are harming us spiritually or things that are good? Are we moving farther away from God or we are drawing closer to him? What are you doing with the most valuable thing we have, your time?

You and I are precious children of our father in heaven, and we are born to follow him and do his work. Are we doing so?

Let’s move now to verse 5, which reads:

5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Why should ye be stricken any more: Why do you keep beating yourself up?

Revolt: to refuse to acknowledge something/someone that’s having an authority.

So who are we submitting our wills to? And who are we giving authority in our lives?

Verse 6 reads:

6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

So Isaiah is giving us this image to explain it more to us. The whole group of Israel is really sick and diseased and they need treatment, but they are refusing the treatment because of their behavior and actions. So we see that from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness. In other words, that’s from our steps to our thoughts.

The choices we make today, are going to determine the kind of life we have. Therefore, we have got to make good choices today and every day. Decisions determine destiny.

When you choose your path, you have chosen your destination.

So the choices Israel made to walk down back that hill and to turn away from God brought them all these wounds and putrefying sores. And so what do they do? They blame life, they blame God, they blame others, they blame whoever and it is always somebody else’s fault but them.

They neither bound up nor mollified with ointment: they are either refusing treatment or they are seeking help in the wrong places from the wrong people.

Let’s have the wisdom and the sense to stop! When we wound ourselves with rebellion, let’s seek the proper help from God and get those wounds healed.

I testify that Isaiah is a prophet if we will put in practice what’s he is teaching, if we’ll take this personally and apply it to our lives and say –okay where am I sick, where do I need to improve my thoughts and feelings, where do I need to improve my actions and how can I be better– then things will change.

There is healing power in the atonement of Jesus Christ, so let’s allow him, the master physician, to heal us.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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Understanding the Bible. Incomparable Isaiah Part 2

Understanding the Bible.

The Kings of Israel and the power and influence of leadership.bible

Isaiah 1:1-3

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I have nourished and brought up children,
And they have rebelled against Me;
The ox knows its owner
And the donkey its master’s crib;
But Israel does not know,
My people do not consider.”

 

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[powerpress]

Have you ever considered the effect a leader has? Perhaps a president on a nation, a CEO on a company, a pastor on a congregation or a principle or a teacher in a classroom…etc  

Leaders have a tremendous effect on the group they lead. And that’s what we will talk about in Isaiah 1.

Isaiah 1:1

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

His work as a prophet was under the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah the kings of Judah.

Beginning with Uzziah, he did what was pleasing in the side of God, he wasn’t fantastic but he was one of the better kings. He did a pretty good job as a king and so he was blessed and he prospered. So God made him to prosper. But unfortunately and tragically, prosperity degenerated into luxury. And the worship of Jehovah became stiffened into idolatry.  

Uzziah became stronger and stronger and then he fail under the pride of his heart and it led him to perform a very ruinous act.

Because of what he had done, he was so enraged against the priest. Leprosy broke upon his forehead in the sight of the priest, in the house of Jehovah, at the altar of in sins. Jehovah had smitten him and he lost all his greatness. He had such an opportunity to be great but he lost it. And so he remained a leper until the day of his death and he lived in a sick house without interestingly and; so important; without ever being able to visit the temple again. He lost his privileges and his opportunity and let pride get to him and made some big foolish mistakes.

Jotham succeeded Uzziah after having been acted as regent, he lived in a way that pleased God though he still tolerated the worship in the high places. Again, this was a consequence of following a leader. Jotham was doing the same thing his father done and so what happens? Well, the people continue in their distractive course and they get more inequity.

Next, the king Ahaz comes in. They’ve had a little bit of tolerance here of idolatry worship  and apostasy and then a little bit more with the next king.

So with those first three kings, many years past and then people were laid in sin, idolatry and turned their back on Jehovah.

Fortunately, Hezekiah comes in and cleanses everything. He is a pretty solid guy, he reigned for 29 years, he was a king after the model of David, he removed the high places, he broke in pieces the status and became an abject of idolatrous worship. He was unequaled by any of his followers or predisaster.

What a great way to be bold and to stand up and to do what’s right and do it boldly!  

Leaders have such a tremendous effect, so let’s be very cautious who we follow and who we support.

 

Isaiah 1:4

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

  • Ah: shame on you
  • Sinful nation: a nation of people who are following the desires and passions of their bodies instead of their spirits.
  • A people laden with iniquity: laden means way down and iniquity means grossly immoral or unfair behavior.
  • A seed of evildoers: a seed means a start which will grow and fruit and then spread again its own seeds into the grown.
  • Children that are corrupters: they are not just corrupted, they are corrupters. The children will grow and have their children as well and then they will spread filth, sins and iniquity.
  • They have provoked the Holy one of Israel unto anger: they’ve called down his divine wrath. His arm of mercy has extended and he is so merciful but when the cup of his wrath overflows, it will come down with judgment and justice upon that sinful iniquities nation.
  • They are gone away backward: they’ve turned their back on him.

This isn’t just any old nation. This isn’t just some people. This is God’s people! And here they are just walking away!

Let’s make sure in our lives that we are not casting away are blessings, our privileges and our opportunities. That we are not walking away from God.

Let’s become seeds of righteousness.

Let’s spread goodness around the world.

REACH UPWARD!

Greg

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