Is This Idol I’m Holding In My Hand A Lie?

31st August

I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. Who is like Me? Let him step forward and prove to you his power. Let him do as I have done since the ancient times when I established a people and explained its future.

Isaiah 44:6b-7

Why do we put our hopes in things that cannot satisfy or even answer? As humans, we are always searching for hope, appreciation, support, guidance, provision and protection. We cry out to our Facebook friends, for appreciation, likes and adoration. We look to our social media networks to hear our cries for help as we pour out our hearts. We idolise singers and artists, as if they can fill the empty holes in our hearts. Yet all this, is simply false hope and trust in ‘idols’ that cannot help us. Perhaps we may feel a temporary peace, but it will not last.

The Israelites too, were battling with placing their hope in false idol worship, and their trust in images carved from human hands. God, through Isaiah’s words, challenged the people of Israel, as their Redeemer and King. ‘Who is like Me?’ God says. ‘Come forward to prove your power.’1 This was not an arrogant statement, but the words of truth and confidence. There is no one like our God.

The passage continues (well worth a read), from verses 9 – 20, highlighting just how ridiculous it is to place your trust in anything other than God Himself. The writer breaks down the process of how an idol is made. First the wood-carver cuts down the wood, selecting the wood for the idol he is going to make. With the rest of the wood, he starts a fire to keep himself warm, to bake his bread and to roast his meat. Yet “the person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”2 Although this is a highly comical section of scripture, there is a hard hitting truth; isn’t it ridiculous when we place our hope in anything other than the ONE TRUE GOD?

Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”

1Isaiah 44:7 (paraphrased)

2Isaiah 44:19

Behold I Am Doing A New Thing

30th August

But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland..

Isaiah 43:18-19

As Isaiah continues to prophecy God’s words to the people held in captivity by the Babylonians, he takes a turn in his message, reminding them of God’s faithfulness and His mighty hand to deliver. He encourages them, that although they are feeling alone and abandoned, God had not forgotten about them. Although their sins are the reason for their wasteland wandering and captivity, He will forgive and restore His beloved people.

God, through Isaiah’s words reminds them in Chapter 43 of the time when He set them free from the hand of slavery in Egypt. He reminds them how He “opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea” after Pharaoh had let them go from captivity. Not only did He make a way for them to cross, but snuffed out the threat of the following Egyptian army. He reminds them that He is their Saviour.

But, when we reach verse 18, there is a dramatic twist in the narrative…. God says to His people, ‘BUT FORGET ALL THAT…IT IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT I AM GOING TO DO. FOR I AM ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING NEW….!!’ It’s like God was saying, ‘yes, you have experienced My hand of salvation from above, but now, I will send you a Saviour and Messiah, who will physically show you My salvation, and lead you into eternal freedom from sin’s bondage.

Friends, that salvation was Jesus Christ. The King of Kings. God did do something new and greater, because not only did He save the Israelites but He came to save all people, that includes us. He became humanities salvation. God made a way, in the wastelands of our lives, to shine His glory and set us free. He became our light and salvation. He freed us from sin’s prison. He has taken us by our hands and led us to freedom. Praise His Name forever.

The Dry Valley

29th August

When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus, and I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

Isaiah 41:10

Friends, are you walking in what seems like a valley? Does your spiritual life seem like it is dried up? Do you feel like you are far from the source of spiritual saturation? Well, be encouraged. God promises us that He will renew us. He said of Himself, that ‘I, the Lord, will answer them (YOU)’! His promises are forever and His word is eternal.

Notice the places from which the Lord will satisfy; from the high plateaus, the valleys and the desert. It can be assumed that in each of the places, although probably originally formed by water, water was not in abundance, particularly in the Middle Eastern Biblical setting. Dry valleys and deserts are a constant picture throughout the Bible, representing hard and spiritually dry times in our lives (see Ezekiel 37). Much is the same with high plateaus, far from the sea or water source. What Isaiah’s prophetic words are saying, is that despite of and even in these situations and terrains, God will cause water to come out and refresh His people.

Receiving His fullness and refreshment is conditional on our confession; that we are completely dependant on His source of refreshment and are inadequate without Him. If we try and refresh ourselves, the temporary satisfaction will eventually run dry and we will be left wanting again. True refreshment and renewal comes completely from the Lord. Yet His promise, if we are searching for water to satisfy our parched tongues and thirst, then HE will answer and renew us, even in the midst of the dry land we may find ourselves in.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4:14

You Are In God’s Hands And Plans

28th August

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you with My victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Kelloggs and other leading Cereal brands, often write on their packaging that eating a portion of their breakfast cereal ‘is the best way to start your day’! Undeniably, eating a good hearty breakfast is a great way to start your day, however, there is no better way to start your day, than filling yourself with truths from God’s word, such as today’s key verse; Knowing that God is with us, loves us, and strengthens us! What could be a better way to start your day than that?!

The Israelites too, would have been equally encouraged hearing these prophetic words from Isaiah. Despite of their suffering and persecution, they could take courage in the knowledge that not only was God with them, they were in His victorious hands. Where better to find safety, comfort and strength. The same hands that flung stars into space, that took the nails for us on the cross, is the same hands that uphold us when we fall or don’t have the strength to carry on.

Yet there is even better news. God didn’t only want the Israelites to survive, but also to thrive. It is no use to be safe and in a place of comfort, yet be stagnant. God saves us with His victorious right hand, because He called us to serve Him with our lives. It is not something we should be fearful about, because we approach our callings from a standpoint of victory, already won through the cross. Moreover, God already knows the plans He has for us, and is equipping us, daily, to live in the fullness of all He has for us.

Behold… The Lamb Of God: Re-Visited

26th – 27th August

Weekend Edition

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward Him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’”

John 1:29-30

John’s two fold prophetic statement are words which echo throughout eternity. John’s statement not only implied that somehow Jesus would forgive the sins of the world, but also that Jesus was greater than John because He existed long before him. We know both to be true and both are foundational in our belief and our salvation.

Firstly, Jesus truly was the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world. He humbly went to the cross, knowing what awaited Him, knowing the pain and suffering, and gladly became the unblemished sacrifice for us, taking our sins upon Him, forgiving us and showering His love upon us. That is foundational to our re-connection with God, as it is through Jesus, that we can commune and have fellowship with the Father. He is the bond that sets us free.

Secondly, is the knowledge that Jesus existed long before humanity. John’s terminology may have simply been to imply that Jesus’ ministry started before his, yet the underlying truth is that Jesus truly was around longer than John. In fact Jesus was around longer than the earth itself. He created the world. He was there from the beginning and will be there at the end. He is beyond time. It was through His words that the earth was made. It is this fact that shows us that Jesus and God are ONE; an absolute truth that cannot be compromised on. It too is foundational for our faith and salvation.

This is why John’s words still ring true today. They are a prophetic picture of salvation in the King of Kings and the Creator of all things. Do you echo John’s words in your heart? Can you stand in agreement with John and welcome the Lamb of God into your life?

It’s Ok To Ask

25th August

O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?

Psalm 13:1-2a

Over the last few days we have been looking at Job’s Godly response to trouble and affliction and his attitude of worshipping through the storm. Yet if we are honest, although that is the standard and reaction that we should be pursuing, it is not always our first instinct. Many times, when we are going through struggles and hard times, we cry out to God as David does in this vulnerable and honest Psalm. ‘God where are You?’ ‘Why do I feel alone?’ ‘I can’t do this without YOU!!’ Friends, it is ok to ask these questions. If David did, whom God called a man after His own heart, then surely even he, as close as he was with God, felt alone sometimes.

When we look back over the book of Job, we see too, influenced by his friends and feeling alone and abandoned, Job crying out to God, ‘I cry to You, O God, but You don’t answer. I stand before You, but You don’t even look.’(Job 30:20) If we are honest, how many of us have asked these questions too? Yet, and that is a big yet, that is not where the story finishes. Friends we are not alone. We might feel it for a time, but we are not alone, YOU are not alone. God really is with you.

David in Psalm 13 concludes with this wonderful truth, ‘But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because He is good to me.’ Suffering, pain and sorrow will not last. Our heads will be lifted up above our enemies, above our circumstances and above the silence and we will see the Lord’s goodness. We will shout with joy and sing praises to God. We will sing new songs to Him. Our suffering, our pain won’t last. God is at hand.

Job too, finally came to this same conclusion, that God is far greater than all other things. ‘I know that you can do anything and no one can stop you. . I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes.’ Moreover, God restored everything that had been taken away from Job, ‘in fact’, as the Bible says, ‘the Lord gave him twice and much as he had before!’ Friends, God is going to bless you. Yes, cry out to God, be honest before Him, but know you are not alone.

Hallelujah Anyway: Re-Visited

24th August

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them!”

Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Today’s key verse completely sums up the “Hallelujah Anyway” statement. For if we know that God is in control then what is the need to worry. Worrying puts us in the position of God and takes away the trust we have in God to help us through our situations. Interestingly the NLT version of this verse varies slightly from others. More often than not we hear the version that says “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…..”, however this version claims that “God causes everything to work together…”. The focus varies from things changing to God working. The emphasis is not on our circumstances but on God, the author of life. It is God who is working in our lives to resolves all things for His glory.

Sometimes it might not be that the situation or problem changes as YOU might like, but what is guaranteed is the fact, that whatever the problem, God will make good from a challenging situation in accordance with His perfect will for your life. It takes faith to trust Him but the benefit is we allow God to work and don’t try to fix things in our strength! Moreover, whatever the result, if we know God is in control, we can say with full assurance, “Hallelujah Anyway”!

Whatever you face today, take courage that God is at work in your situation if you allow Him in. Shout out that no matter what happens in your day “Hallelujah Anyway!!!”

Sharing In The Pain

23rd August

When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and travelled from their homes to comfort him and console him…they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

Job 2:11,13

Why as Christians do we always think we need to give an answer to someone that is suffering? Although our intentions may be well meaning, sometimes, reeling off a long list of Bible verses and words of encouragement, aren’t always the best way to show support. Perhaps, as Job’s friends initially did, say nothing.

Sometimes, when we are going through heartache that is too great for words, all we need is an arm around us, silent prayer warriors supporting us, and the comfort of friends grieving and sharing in our pain. That is not to say that we should not try to help our friends out of the sorrow they face, but rather it is in asking God for wisdom, when to speak and when to remain silent.

If you see a friend suffering, get alongside them and support them. Don’t feel you need to shower them with words, but let your solidarity and support in standing with them, be more powerful than the most eloquent words you can speak. Moreover, pray, for them, and pray for the right timing to speak and the right timing to be silent. We all need Godly friends.

Should We Praise God Only When Good Things Happen?

22nd August

His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.

Job 2:9-10

When our world around us crumbles, can we still stand firm and praise God through the storm? What if your life and health were affected? Well, this is exactly what happens to Job in today’s passage. In chapter one, the enemy asks God (notice that all authority was and is God’s!!) if he can destroy everything around Job, in order than Job might curse God! he wanted to prove that mankind is not loyal to God, that when tough times come, people are quick to turn the backs on God! Yet satan was proved wrong. Job did the opposite and praised God despite everything around him being destroyed. In chapter two, satan once again goes to God and asks for permission to bring physical pain and ill health to Job. Yet once again, Job refuses to curse God, but rather praise His name, despite His physical afflictions.

One can only imagine how Job must have felt. His family dead, everything he once owned gone, and now here in chapter two, even his own wife is encouraging him to curse God and die. Yet Job knew that all he had, was all from God. If so, then when it all was taken away from him, he had no right to curse God. Job’s life and attitudes teaches us a valuable lesson, about how much we value our things, even our own bodies. All we have is God’s anyway. If we understand this, then when we are in lack, even if what we have is taken away unjustly, we can still praise God, because all good things are from God. We can trust Him, that He is with us. We must be able to learn to praise God, even when our own lives are in peril. Sadly, Job’s wife, who equally lost all she had, including her own children, couldn’t come to the same conclusion, and her words were even counted as ‘foolishness’ by her husband.

Let us too, not be ‘foolish’, but wholly and completely trust God, that even in the storm, even in lack, His steady hand is with us, and all that we lack, He will provide! Praise Him!

A Man Called Job

21st August

There was once a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.

Job 1:1

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Bad things always happen to good people’? Well, this could be said of the character in today’s story, Job. He was a good, righteous man. He pleased the Lord, feared Him and stayed away from evil. Not only that, but he was blessed with sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys and a big family. He was blessed beyond measure. Why wouldn’t anyone want to bless the Lord, when they have been so blessed themselves.

In fact, satan, uttered the same words before God. “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (9b-11).

Sure enough, everything Job owned, his home, his children, his livestock and his land were completely destroyed. This was definitely a case of ‘bad things’ happening to a ‘good person’. Yet instead of cursing God for his misfortune, as satan expected, Job got down on his knees (fell to the ground in worship), and praised God for all His blessings, in plenty and without. Verse 22 tells us, that “JOB DID NOT SIN BY BLAMING GOD.”

Isn’t this such a wonderful encouragement for us. We may feel that we have been dealt a hard hand by God, that everything is going against us. We may have just lost everything just as Job did. Yet a Godly reaction to suffering, is to follow the example of Job; get on our knees and praise God! Of course it is not easy to do that but if we say that God is a good God, then that can’t change when our circumstances change. He is a good God, period! Always! Yes, cry out to Him in your need, but praise Him too, for all His blessings.