Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Isaiah 19:19

Isaiah 19:19 

"In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border."

It wasn't until recently that I even tried to read any book in the Old Testament. I thought that they were all completely irrelevant and too hard to understand. And while I still think parts of it are hard to fully understand, I now see how the Old Testament is relevant in today's world even though it was written thousands of years ago. The books that I've read recently have been about how faithful God is despite the Israelites regular relapses into complete rebellion. Through those stories the Lord showed me a little bit more of how deeply He loves His people. My own tendencies to stray were revealed each time the Israelites walked away from God. He never let them down or broke His promises and yet again and again they tried to do things their own way. In Isaiah 14 it says that God "will still choose Israel." Still. Despite their failure and sin, even though they don't always choose Him... He chooses to call the Israelites His people. But even more than choosing the ones He has already chosen, He loves to rescue the lost. God loves to redeem those who seem completely out of His reach. In Isaiah 19:19 we are told that there will be an altar to the Lord in Egypt. If you don't slow down and really consider the gravity of this statement, you'll miss out on something beautiful. A land that was never, by human standards, supposed to love the Lord now has both an altar and a pillar dedicated to Him. The altar showed their hearts attitude towards God. They were devoted to the point of spending something in their worship. The Egyptians understood that the cost of worship isn't free and built an altar to worship the Lord. But their devotion didn't stop there. Often as American christians we play a game where we say we love Jesus at church on Sunday's and Wednesday nights but nothing in our life actually changes. None of our co-workers or friends see any genuine devotion in our lives. The Egyptians in this verse understood something that thousands of years later we still have a hard time grasping. If your love for Jesus is real, if He really is your Savior then the world will know. Before anyone crosses the border to settle into your life they'll see the pillar and know that there's something different about you. This pillar proclaims that you have a purpose. It shows that there is genuine worship in your heart that isn't ashamed of Who it's devoted to. As the Egyptians turned to the Lord in worship, it affected both the public and private aspects of their lives. Reading this while in Ignite is both encouraging and convicting. It shows that the Lord is able to soften the hardest hearts but also that my life needs to be lived for Him in every single part of my life, not just the public and not just the private. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Isaiah 5:2

Isaiah 5:2 
"He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes."

It's common in our culture for people to say that we just need to find ourselves, to discover who we are and then we can be happy. Once you love yourself you find a god who fits into the mold of what you want him to be to satisfy your needs. Really, this is a completely self centered way to live and does not lead to true life. Living that way is missing out on mind blowing realities of who God is. In Isaiah 5:2, and the verses just before and just after it, the heart of the Lord towards His people is revealed. Isaiah uses the picture of a vineyard to show the Israelites how God cares for them. They were planted on a hill that was known for being fruitful. The Gardener cleared out all the stones that could choke out the roots of the vines. His heart is for them to thrive, not to wither away slowly. He didn't choose just any vine to plant in this carefully prepared land, He planted the "choicest vine." Nothing the vine did was deserving of this care and yet the Gardener sees this vine and calls it His own. Then the Gardener builds a tower to keep His vineyard safe and a winepress so that the good fruit that is grown doesn't go to waste but can be made into something lasting. Everything God could do to set up this vineyard to succeed was done. There is no reason why this vineyard shouldn't produce good fruit. And yet the last line of this verse tells us that the vineyard produced wild grapes. It's clear that the Gardener is not at fault, He did everything on His side to ensure that the vineyard would thrive. So, the responsibility falls on the vineyard that failed to produce good fruit. On one hand, this verse shows the beauty of the Lord's care for His people. On the flip side is our failure to live a life worthy of that. Our works don't save, so the fruit produced is not to earn a spot in the vineyard but to reflect the mercy that allows us to be there.