November 25, 2014

Today you should read: Isaiah 8

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. ~Rosa Parks

Most of us are very fortunate to live pretty comfortable lives. Very few of us in this day and age have ever had to face trial the likes of Rosa Parks. In the heart of segregation and racism taking place in the 1950’s in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa was faced with a choice that would change history. She was asked to move to the back of the bus so a white passenger could have her seat. In that moment the choice to stay seated was not one of rebellion, but of conviction. She knew that if she went to the back of the bus nothing would change but if she stood up for what was right then she could create change. Her belief in a free future is what gave her courage.

Today’s passage gives us another example of choice. God was sending the nation of Assyria to destroy the nations that were oppressing Israel which would lead to the ultimate deliverance of His people. Yet, this deliverance was not going to be without pain. War was coming but Isaiah reassures the remnant of God that He will become their sanctuary (v.14). So who was the remnant that He was encouraging? They were those who had true faith in God and preserved God’s word (v.16-22). They were still facing hardship but their belief in God and His promises gave them courage.

I am not sure if you or I will ever have to make a history-defining choice like Rosa Parks or if we will face the oppression of another nation on us. However, I do know that all of us are faced with hard choices when the right thing to do is the scary thing to do. The question we will need to answer is “what do we believe to be most important?” Our belief will determine our actions and our actions will reveal our belief.

“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:13-17

Posted by: Chad Wiles

November 24, 2014

Today you should read: Isaiah 7

Datable-Events-Isaiah

The Word of God is trustworthy, reliable, sufficient, and powerful. If there is one thing I have been reminded of time and time again as we’ve been on this Jumpstart journey, it’s that. As I prepared for today’s passage, I saw this chart that reminded me of the veracity of scripture. The dates, people, places — they are real. I’ve read Psalm 119 countless times. The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I can resonate with those 176 verses on the life-giving truth of the Bible.

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word! Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart! (Psalm 119:28-32 ESV)

Today’s passage is one rich in prophecy concerning the coming Messiah. It is a Christmas-pointing scripture that should have given hope to a nation facing God’s judgment. It’s a reminder to us of John 1:14 (Word became flesh) as it tells us, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (v.14).

Immanuel is one of the most hopeful words in the Bible, since it literally means God with us. God in heaven came down to meet us on our turf so that we could be with him again. In other words, God came down so that we could go up. But when He came down in the form of a man — Jesus Christ — He did what we could not do in that “he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good” (v.15). And while he himself refused evil, He bore it on our behalf when He WILLINGLY went to the cross that each of us deserved. God mercifully with us.

Today, whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going, whatever you’re facing, take a moment to thank Jesus for being with us. Don’t stop there though. Ask Him to show you how He is with you throughout your day. Be surprised, once again, with the wonder of Immanuel.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

November 22, 2014

Today you should read: Isaiah 6:1-13

Isaiah’s Call To Ministry …

This is a popular one! Isaiah chapter 6 is one of the most popular chapters in the Bible. If you’ve been in church for any short amount of time, you’ve probably heard someone discuss it, and there is good reason.

This chapter is packed with prophetic thought about the messiah (Jesus) who “takes away the sins of the world,” as well as the commission that Christians are to be on mission after having been cleansed from their sins. This chapter is rich with truth.

Today, I want us to notice the progression of Isaiah’s call to do God’s work, as well as what the results were expected to be. I think we can learn to respond to God properly, regardless of the outcome of what He calls us to do.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

6 Steps to Isaiah’s Call:

1. Proper Perspective: In verses 1-4, we see Isaiah get a proper perspective of the Lord. He sees the Lord so plainly that it is disconcerting. The Lord is high and lifted up and He is not merely Holy; but He is Holy, Holy, Holy. The Lord is so set-apart that Isaiah’s response to this is none other than full surrender and confession.

2. Proper Response: In verse 5, we see Isaiah respond with his first words of the entire book. Those words are a confession of his ungodliness. Not only is he unclean, but all of the people of the land are unclean. Isaiah doesn’t try to cover his unworthiness or try to stand up a little straighter before the Lord. Instead Isaiah confesses his sin.

3. Proper Cleansing: In verses 6-8, we see the Lord give grace to Isaiah. After confession and through atonement, God declares Isaiah’s unworthy worship to be instantly made right. His sin is covered.

4. Proper Qualification: Only after being cleansed is Isaiah approved to do the Lord’s work and tell the truth about Him.

5. Proper Submission: In verse 8 we see Isaiah submit his life to the Lord. When the Lord asks who will go for Him to do His work, Isaiah willingly volunteers his life for the Lord’s will.

6. Proper Expectations: In verses 9-13 we see some of the most interesting verses in this passage. Even though the Lord has called Isaiah to tell of Him throughout the land, this task will not be easy. Hearts will be hardened, people will not turn, eyes will not see the truth, ears will not hear the truth, and this message will do damage. But, even though success doesn’t look like we expect it to look, God will still be succeeding, through Isaiah, to bring people back to Himself.

For the rest of the book we see the ministry of the prophet Isaiah. This chapter recounts his calling to do it.

After seeing this progression, in some detail, I think we can learn that we are all called to ministry. God allows us to go through the same progression. We see Him and what He has done, He expects us to respond with confession in order to be cleansed and qualified through what Christ has done for us, and He wants us to submit to His plans for our lives. We are to expect persecution, and trials, and pain, but through it all, the Lord will be accomplishing His work, even if it doesn’t look like “success.”

So, my question to you today is: Are you properly responding to God’s work in your life? Are you properly submitting to what God is calling you to? What about when the results look different than you thought? God has called us all into ministry, wherever we are and in whatever we do, and He desires us to respond properly. Ask yourself, what would be the “proper” response to what God is doing in my life and heart?

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

November 21, 2014

Today you should read: Isaiah 5

What an amazing and sobering visual for the people of Israel and for us in today’s passage! God tells the people of Israel that He gave them everything they needed to be successful and to be a great people for Him. God gave them guidance, direction, land, gifts, protection and, His word, among other things. All they needed to do was trust in Him and follow His lead. But, as we know, they didn’t do what they needed to do. God planted Israel in a good place and expected them to thrive and flourish. So when they didn’t he said this, and it is what we need to ask ourselves:

“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” Isaiah5:4

So how about you and me? God has given us salvation, the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us, his word to light our path and the church to encourage and hold us accountable. God has given us so much to make us successful and to grow in our walk with Him. So our question to ask is this:

If God reaches down for good grapes from us what will He find?

As you go about your day today ask yourself this question and examine yourself to see where you are at with this.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd