Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

He Will Hide Me

July 15 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 46-48 and Psalms 15

Isaiah 49: reads, “But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

The same theme is found in Psalms 27:5; “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

Finally, Psalm 46:1 reads, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

In a time of trouble it is so easy to forget how close the Lord is to us. We seem to immediately lose focus because our emotions make us lose perspective! Think for a moment about the Isaiah illustration of the mother forgetting her nursing baby – how absurd. This mother would have to be mentally ill, on some mind-numbing drug or demon possessed.

Now imagine getting a tattoo on the palm of your hand (ouch) with the name of your loved one on it – then forgetting they exist! It’s not going to happen – yet, as soon as our emotions don’t FEEL God, we assume that He has left us. Do we really think He is so “mentally deficient” or heartless as to forget us? – Or is the problem that we are so immature in our faith that we think because we don’t have super “tingly” feelings – God is absent. We get to feeling sorry for ourselves – we wallow in depression – we lose perspective and faith – we get snippy with people – we act in downright childish ways. Mature faith means that we begin to trust in The Word more than our emotions – that we begin to trust the promises of the One who is faithful more than our unfaithful feelings. Imagine a man who has been married for a few months, then one day wakes up and does not “feel” love for (or from) his wife. Does this mean he should stop believing that she loves him or that he loves her? Of course not! We are keenly aware that mature married love is present and active whether or not we have goose bumps on our goose bumps emotionally. So it should be with the Lord. I encourage you to meditate on the fact that even in times of trouble or when you don’t feel God, He is your ever-present help. He is the one who will never forget you or forsake you. He is the one who sets “me high upon a rock”.

Do you want to hear ‘real truth’? The truth is that God is as present with you in the day of trouble as a mother is with her young child when he is in bed with the flu. He probably is doing more for you in your time of distress than when you are capable of doing it all for yourself. You may not feel it, but rest assured – He walks with you in the valley.

Questions:

1. Tell of another example from Scripture where God was an ever-present help in trouble.
2. Tell of an example from your life where God looked after you in a special way.

You Are Mine- Do Not Fear

July 14 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 43 – 45 and Psalms 14

Isaiah’s style of writing is at times incredibly poetic and contains powerful revelations of God’s heart and desires.

Here is a sample of his poetry from Isaiah 43:1-3 – “But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

What incredible comfort and security we find when we belong to Jesus. He created me – formed me – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;” (Jeremiah 1:5) He redeemed me – summoned me by name – and I am His! Through tough times – the water or the fire – He is with me. He is my God and this is what brings peace into my life. This revelation brings us to a place of understanding that God does not come only for a while only to abandon us and leave us without hope. He is ever present – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1)

Christians often get a very wrong impression of God and of the ways He deals with His people. They somehow believe that the Devil is a very present tormentor and that God is only an occasional visitor to give us respite or deliverance from all the attacks of the enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is the Holy Spirit who is ever present and though we do have to face spiritual evil, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) He does not leave us or forsake us. Jesus said, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) – and His name is Jesus.

Therefore “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”(Colossians 3:15)

Questions:

1. How is it that God, who manages the affairs of an infinite universe, also personally looks after each one of His children?
2. Give a personal example of how God has been “an ever-present help in trouble” for you.

A Voice

July 13 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 40-42 and Psalms 13

Aside from the great encouragement found in verses 20-31 of Chapter 40 – aside from the wonderful messianic prophecy found in verse 11 of the same chapter – we also find a prophecy about John the Baptist in verses 3-5; “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

I find it amazing that Isaiah could be so specific in describing John’s ministry of ushering in the Messiah. I find it even more fascinating that this prophecy can be directly applied to OUR lives as we “prepare the way” for God to move in our cities and in the lives of people we are encouraging. More importantly we are preparing the way for the Lord’s second coming to Earth. So then, what is this “John the Baptist Ministry” we are suppose to have?

First we have to possess an “expectancy” that we are indeed preparing “a way” for God.
Second, we need to demonstrate a “straight way” in the middle of “a wilderness” of immorality.
Next, our hearts and the hearts of others need to be prepared (re-engineered) – the “valleys” in our lives (the low self esteem and the lack of confidence) have to be brought up and the “mountains” in our lives (the pride and cockiness) have to be brought low. The “rough ground” and “rugged attributes” too need to be worked on.
What does this mean exactly? I believe that we need to seriously submit to the Holy Spirit as He works in our lives. It is the Spirit who empowers us to “prepare the way” for the coming of the Lord. It will no doubt require that we “speak up” concerning the plan of God in this world and in the lives of those we come in contact with.

My prayer is that we let this Scripture become part of our personal sense of mission – that we see it as our task to usher in the presence of God wherever we go. The ministry of John the Baptist was very specific, but the spirit of that ministry is lived out constantly in our lives.

Questions:

1. Are we preparing the way of the Lord at work – at school – in our families – with our neighbors? In which ways are we doing this?
2. Is there anything we can specifically do to prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming?

The Attack Pt. 2

July 12 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 37-39 and Psalms 12

In Isaiah 36:18-20, Sennacherib’s field commander makes one final verbal and mental attack on the people – trying to win the battle for their minds;

“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

In comparing God Almighty with all the phony gods of this world, Sennacherib king of Assyria has finally shown his hand and his heart. He has no respect for The “I AM” and tries to portray The Lord as one of the many gods of this world – gods who have no qualities except those that are assigned them by man. It’s remarkable how many people still believe the enemy’s lie – that our Lord is a man-made fabrication.

Here then is the end of the story; Hezekiah does the right thing! He first tears his clothes and puts on sackcloth. Then he goes into the house of the Lord to seek God and pour out his heart. At the same time he is also sending word to the man of God to intercede and enquire of the Lord for him and to pray for Jerusalem. What a wonderful response to an attack from the Devil. It’s inevitable that we will encounter perilous situations in this life but when you take these problems to God and get spiritual encouragement and prayer, you will find the support you need. As soon as Hezekiah prayed, the enemy backed off briefly but soon was back in full force, along with more messages of demoralization. Hezekiah once again ran to the Lord and spread out the enemy’s communication before God – again came a response from the Lord! We must talk to the Father about what the Devil is saying to us. Imagine the outcome if Adam and Eve would have told God about the Devil’s conversation with them instead of acting alone! God not only had a response for Hezekiah but a solution – He fought Hezekiah’s battle for him – God Himself attacked the enemy. THIS IS HOW IT HAS TO BE WITH SPIRITUAL WARFARE.

Ephesians 6:12 reads, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” God Himself will fight for you if you go to Him for support and help.

Questions:

1. Has the devil ever told you that God is just a figment of your imagination?
2. How did Jesus respond to the enemy when He was lied to?

The Attack

July 11 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 34-36 and Psalms 11

Isaiah 36 is the beginning of a fascinating account of an attack and siege on Jerusalem by the Assyrian king (Sennacherib) and his field commander – their target was not just the city of Jerusalem but the entire region of Judea. The other cities of Judah had already fallen and only Jerusalem was left to fend off this attack. Here is where this story gets interesting – instead of attacking physically, the commander launched a psychological (or spiritual) attack.What follows is a perfect example of how the Devil attacks us as believers. First he told the citizens of the city that there was nothing in “the natural” that would save them – “Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.” (Vs.6) This line of thinking was true enough. Battles with the Devil cannot be won by natural means and when we try to use the world’s methods to battle a spiritual enemy, we are doomed. The general then proceeded to try to demoralize the people by launching a personal attack on King Hezekiah – even the zeal with which he worshiped God was challenged – “And if you say to me, ‘We are depending on the LORD our God!’ – isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar”? (Vs.7) Hezekiah had done the right thing in God’s sight by removing the high places but the people were probably not altogether convinced of this.

So what did the Devil do next? – He began to prey on the inner doubts of the people – questioning the righteous king.He added to his “mind assault” by trying to get the people to compromise and make a deal with him. (Hint – never make a deal with the devil) – “Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them!! … Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.” (Vs. 15-17) It all sounds so good doesn’t it – until you’re trapped and captive – until you are a slave once again – full of condemnation and under the Devil’s influence. Check out the next, but not the final tactic; “Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” What does the enemy do? He tries to confuse the mediocre Christian concerning the will and plans of God. There is nothing like deception to confuse, divide and sidetrack the Church. Tell them a lie concerning the heart and intentions of God and watch the person who doesn’t read and apply Scripture. I’ve known young men to tell young women “God told me you were going to be my wife!” – Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? – Until you realize that God never told the young woman the same thing and that the young man was not particularly marriageable at that point in his life. Thank God – up to this point the people were wise enough to not answer the devil – they didn’t engage him. This probably would be a wise approach for us too. Stay tuned for the next instalment of the story tomorrow!

Questions:

1. Tell of another Biblical account of the enemy attacking the minds of believers.
2. Tell of a time when you felt attacked in this way.

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