Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

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In The Spirit or In The Flesh

July 10 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 31-33 and Psalms 10

Isaiah 3:1 reads, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.”

Mankind tends to worship “mankind” and man-made things instead of God. We trust in what we can see, ignoring the unseen spiritual world – and yet the unseen spirit-world is indeed far more “real” than what we can see, taste or feel. The problem with only trusting what you can see – [trusting in Egypt, its horses and chariots] – is that God wants us to trust Him. He is the one who wants to be our provider, our protector, our salvation, our health, our strength, and our closest companion. We have such problems seeing beyond the natural but this is absolutely essential if we are to live as Children of the Eternal King.

Can you “see” the Lord in the things you do? Can you see Him in your job – your relationships – your investments – your everyday dealings? We need open spiritual eyes and ears so that the unseen world becomes alive to us – so that we spend more time “in the Spirit” and less time “in the flesh”.

2 Kings 6:8-12 reads, “Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, ‘I will set up my camp in such and such a place.’ The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: ‘Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.’ So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, ‘Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?’ ‘None of us, my lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

Here was a man who listened to the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit not only warned and protected him but also his entire nation. How did Elijah hear the voice of the Spirit? – The same way you and I do. He actively listened for God’s voice. – He “engaged” spiritually and had great spiritual adventures because of it. If all we ever do is see in the natural and hear in the natural and do in the natural, then we will never learn how to be spiritually minded people who are in relationship with Almighty God – seeing in the Spirit and hearing God’s voice. There are so many voices – so much noise – so much bombardment of our senses – we live in the midst of what seems to be a purely physical world. Only those who actively seek to walk in the Spirit will experience the pure joy of hearing His voice throughout the day.

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5 KJV)

Questions:

1. What can you do to be more attuned to the Spirit of God?
2. Give another Scriptural example where someone was “hearing” God.

“I Don’t Want to Talk About It!”

July 9 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 28-30 and Psalms 9

Chapter 30:9-15 of Isaiah reads; “These are rebellious people, deceitful children, – children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’- and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! – Tell us pleasant things, – Prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!’ Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: ‘Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant.’ This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

Isn’t this passage a perfect description of how the majority of our society feels about Jesus? They really don’t want to hear any more about it. They far prefer secular humanism, which blindly declares that man is a god and there is no other. They don’t want God in school – they don’t want God in the government – they certainly don’t want God in the world of business and some don’t even want God in Church anymore. A minister I know was holding a “Christian” church service the other day and because there was a Jew present he was very careful to not mention the Name of Jesus. Now this could be considered “sensitive” if the minister in question was having coffee with said Jew – but in Christ’s Church? – So, now you can’t even have Christ in a Christian service?

No, these people call the Message that saves our soul “an illusion” and they embrace “deceit”. When the Lord returns to the earth, the people who rejected the message of the gospel will be wailing and gnashing their teeth. I believe that a good part of this emotion will not be grief but anger at God for being God – for so long they have fiercely rejected Him and His people.

Chapter 28:16 says, “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” Believe the Word of the Lord when it tells you, – “You and your family will never be dismayed” because you have put your trust in the Holy One and not trusted in man or bought into the religion of the age.

Questions:

1. Give an example from your personal experience when you observed all other faiths and ideologies being “embraced” – except for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Can you think of another example from Scripture where Christ was rejected and in His place some form of paganism adopted.

Under HIS Feet

July 8 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 25-27 and Psalms 8

I would like to make a short comment concerning the difficult sections in Isaiah that we have been reading. There is plenty of evidence in these passages confirming the fact that God is going to indeed judge the world – that God is at work redeeming a group of people to Himself – that God is sovereign over all the earth and Earth, as we know it, will certainly be destroyed! Many Christians have therefore adopted an “I don’t care” stance when it comes to protecting and caring for the present world that God has entrusted to us. “It’s all going to be destroyed anyway, so why should I care?” – “We are meant for eternal matters, so why focus on the temporal?”

Let’s look in on Psalms 8:3-6 for the answer to this issue; “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:”

The God-given responsibility and order of our present world is clearly outlined here – God has set US over His creation. We have a job to do concerning the world we live in. We should be “rulers” or “stewards” of creation. Surely this should include the care of created things as well as the responsible use of natural resources. Without getting too political about all this, there is a Biblical case to be made for Christians “managing” God’s creation. Does this mean that we should get on the “bandwagon” and declare ourselves to be “hard-core environmentalists”? Hardly. Many of these movements are designed to be purely political or moneymaking enterprises cloaked in political correctness. Let it never be said of Christians, however that we are abusers of the earth or the environment. I’m thinking of the simple things of life – not polluting whenever possible – recycling when feasible – not throwing our garbage all over the place and being careful about the kinds of garbage we create – considering long-term impact before making decisions – etc. These are not complicated things; just common sense issues and we have an obligation as God’s ambassadors to look after His world the best we can until the end of time as we know it.

Let’s never forget that we are the “good guys” and whenever possible, we do the right thing – We align ourselves with all “morally right” decisions. Does this mean that we will always have easy choices to make concerning these complicated matters? No – of course not. But, when the choices are simple, lets chose for good stewardship and good citizenship.

Questions:

1. If you were put in charge of looking after the earth, what would you do to be a good manager of the people – the lands – the waters – the resources – the economy?
2. What small things can you do to make this world a better place?

Earth is in Trouble

July 7 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 22-24 and Psalms 7

Isaiah 24:19-23 reads, “The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again. In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed, for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.”

Compare these words to those found in Revelation 6:12-17 where it reads, – “the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

How remarkable, that the New Testament prophetic book of Revelation sounds so much like Isaiah. Indeed, most students of the Book of Revelation acknowledge that much of this book it is a collection of prophetic Old Testament thoughts, repeated in a slightly modified or expanded manner. It confirms, amongst other themes, that this present physical world and it’s governments will come to an end and that Christ will indeed return to the Earth as Ruler and Judge. The judgment of God and the catastrophes coming to the Earth are confirmed, but should our attitude be fearful? “The Lord is my Shepherd”, but He is also the “Judge of the whole earth”. The only people who should live in fear are those whose hearts are not right with God. The Shepherd will not smite “the sheep”, but “the wolves” and “the goats” will be judged, as not belonging to God.

As disaster hits the Earth, we will be found in Christ – completely within His will. He is a rock – a very present help in trouble – a shield from the arrows of the enemy – a strong tower where we can take shelter – He is like a hen that gathers her chicks under her wings. The only people in the universe who will have no fear at the time of disaster will be those whose hope is in Christ. We know that even death cannot separate us from the love of the Father. As we read the judgmental prophecies in Isaiah as well as other prophetic books, we must realize that the reason so much is said about disaster and judgment is that it is a sure thing. We are presently living in the age of grace, but there will soon come a day when Christ will return and the world, as we know it, will come to an end – it is our job, as ambassadors of Christ, to introduce the world to the amazing grace of God before the end.

Questions:

1. According to the words of Christ, do you see “signs” in our world that the end of the Earth, as we know it, is at hand?
2. Why is it that Christians are the only group of people who can avoid the terror that will grip the world as it comes to an end?

Everyone

July 6 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 19-21 and Psalms 6

In Isaiah 19:19-25 there is a strange but marvelous passage which reads, “In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”

Here – right in the middle of all these prophecies concerning the destruction of godless nations, we find this passage of God’s vision and love for the whole world – that all nations would be invited to be His people – that judgment would cease. It is sin that causes judgment – and justice demands judgment. If a judge does not administer justice in a righteous fashion; we have no patience for him. Criminals deserve the sentence due for the crime committed – and crime is just another word for sin. When we read chapter after chapter of God’s judgment on the earth, we must realize that He is the judge of the whole earth – and when nations commit crimes, there will be judgment and punishment fitting the crimes committed.

Being a Judge is definitely part of the make-up of God but being a Father is His true heart’s desire. If nations turn from sin and run to Father-God will He not heal their wounds? When God speaks of Egypt, Assyria and Israel all serving The Lord together, we see His true design for the Earth.

Is judgment coming to the Earth? Indeed it is. Every nation – every people group – every individual who has rejected what is right and committed “crime” against God’s Holy design will be cast from His sight. Those who have turned from this rebellion and surrendered their hearts to God will be spared this judgment. How can this be? Its because Someone already paid the full price for the crime. Those who accept these terms are free to live in God’s kingdom – no expulsion – no punishment. What a deal!

I find it fascinating that at times, God seems to focus on entire people-groups at once – “the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians”. May this be true for this nation – may the nation you live in be visited by a national revelation of the Almighty – let there once again be national revivals that draw the world’s attention to the goodness and mercy of God.

Questions:

1. Give an example from Scripture that depicts the mercy and judgment of God.
2. Give another example from Scripture which clearly depicts the heart of God towards the nations of the Earth.

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