E-Message Bible/Commentary

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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ISAIAH
Power Washed
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

You have heard of power washing the outside of a house to remove the dirt that has accumulated over the years. You have heard of steam cleaning carpet to get out the packed down dirt. But what about the dirt in our lives? Is there anything like steam cleaning or power washing?

YES, THERE IS!

When Jesus died on the cross, He did more than cleanse us from present sins. He cleansed us from future sins. And He power washed our lives of past sins. No matter how much dirt has been in our lives (past), is in our lives (present) and has the propensity to be in our lives (future), the blood of Jesus power washed us from those sins.

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Make a declaration right now by saying, "I have been POWER WASHED!"
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What's Wrong With Bragging?
The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted and they will be humbled. (Isaiah 2:12)

Okay, you have done a good thing. So what's wrong with bragging about it? The major prophet Isaiah tells us that there will come a day when God will punish the proud and those who brag. God says if you exalt yourself, He will humble you.

God explains in Isaiah 2:12-17 how He will bring down those who lift themselves up. God uses the tall and lofty cedars of Lebanon and the solid oaks of Bashan as examples of how He can bring low what once was high and mighty. God says He will destroy all the tall mountains and the high hills. He will knock down every tall tower and every high, strong wall. He will sink all the trading ships. At that time proud people will stop being proud. They will bow low with shame.

If you exalt yourself today by boasting and bragging, expect to be brought low and put to shame very soon by the God who alone deserves the glory.
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What More Could I Have Done?
What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? (Isaiah 5:4)

Have you ever done what you thought was best and you were rejected for doing it? Have you ever tried to help people and they became angry with you? It is much like biting the hand that feeds you. If you have experienced this reaction from people you have tried to help, you are not alone. God Himself has experienced the same rejection from Israel, His chosen people.

Isaiah 5:1-7 is a song to God's people about a special vineyard He designed. The vineyard was carefully dug out on a fertile hillside. It was cleared of stones and planted with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well in high expectation of a bountiful harvest of grapes. When he looked for a crop of good grapes, nothing could be found except bad fruit. Then God displayed His painful emotions by this heartfelt question: "What more could I have done?"

God is waiting to see if we will produce grapes or bad fruit. The winepress is ready for the harvesting of grapes, but if we produce bad fruit, God has no problem destroying the vineyard. Out of the pain of rejection, God said what He would do to His carefully planned vineyard that produced nothing but bad fruit. He said, "Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it." (Isaiah 5:4-6)

We, the people of God, are God's vineyard. We are the garden of His delight. God has given us all we need to produce grapes, but we are producing bad fruit. God has done His best in creating us, providing for us, protecting us and what He expects is a good harvest that shows up in our obedience, thanksgiving, love, worship and service. Instead He is rewarded with disobedience, rebellion, wickedness and constant complaints. Is it any wonder God asks: "What more could I have done?"
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What Else Could God Have Done?
What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? (Isaiah 5:4)
 
The "Song of the Unfruitful Vineyard" in Isaiah 5:1-7 summarizes God's message to the nation. God planted a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He had dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines. He built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it. Then he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. What more could God have done? The vineyard had been given the best care by God's own hands; yet it did not produce what God expected. The "vineyard" is a metaphor for the nation. God had done everything possible to care for His nation. He expected justice and righteousness, but the nation had produced only destruction and bloodshed.
 
And since the vineyard did not produce what it was supposed to produce, God removed its hedge; its protection so it could be destroyed. He broke down the wall and left the vineyard vulnerable to prey. The vineyard was made a waste; not pruned or hoed and overgrown with briers and thorns, and the clouds were commanded not to rain upon it.
 
What else could God have done? He planted a vineyard and expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes instead. God has made every provision for us. Are we giving Him what He is expecting? Is our production in proportion to the care He has given us? What else could God have done?
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What God Expects
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)
 
God is not content with our doing what is right some of the time. He wants us to do what is right ALL the time. We are under His orders to eliminate any thoughts, practices, or possessions that hinder our devotion to Him.

God has given us standards. He has not left our conduct up to us and our opinions to do what is right in our own minds. We can avoid conforming to society's low standards by taking God's commands seriously and applying them to our lives. God reveals to us what is right. Therefore, we can make a distinction between good and evil because God has put His laws in our minds and written them on our hearts.
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Hearing From God
And I said, "Here am I. Send me! (Isaiah 6:8)
 
Before you can respond to God and say as Isaiah said, "Here am I. Send me!" you must confess all sins, be purged from your sins and then you will be able to hear God and respond. A careful reading of Isaiah 6:1-8 reveals that Isaiah did not hear from God until he confessed that he was a sinner. God purified him and then he was ready to serve.
 
In response to the painful purifying by hot coals on his lips, Isaiah submitted himself totally to God's service. Before we accept God's call to speak for him, we must confess our sins, be cleansed and submit to God's control. Allowing God to purify us may be painful, but we must be purified so that we can truly represent God, who is pure and holy.
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 "Here Am I" vs. "Here I Am"
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)
 
Today' message is both inspirational and educational. At first glance, one might think Isaiah accepted his calling by saying, "Here I am. Send me!" He said no such thing. He said "Here am I. Send me!" And there is a difference. It is not just a matter of semantics. It is a matter of syntax. The way in which words are put together to form a sentence has a lot to do with a deeper meaning. I believe such was the case with Isaiah's emphatic statement. His eagerness to go is indicated by the way he responded.
 
To say, "Here I am" is to answer the question, "Where are you?" God didn't ask Isaiah that. He asked, "Whom shall I send?" Isaiah raised his hand and said, "Here am I. Send me!" He placed emphasis on the fact that there might be a million people available, but I want to be sure God knows that I want to be sent. Whenever the verb comes before the subject, more emphasis is given to the sentence. Under normal circumstances, one would say, "Here I am" placing the verb after the subject. Isaiah had experienced a definite change while in God's presence. He didn't hesitate to answer God by saying, "Here am I. Send me!" The way he responded indicated his openness and his willingness. How would you have answered?
 
Feel free to check this reference in your own Bible to confirm the correct arrangement of words in Isaiah's answer to God's question.
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 "Here I Am" vs. "Here Am I"
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

When we read the Bible, we should be very careful to read the scriptures as they are written. If we change the order of just one word, we change the meaning of the whole verse. Two examples are given to warn us not to change the word order.

"Noah was a just man." (Genesis 6:9) If you use the same five words in a different order, surely it makes a complete sentence, but the entire meaning is changed. There is a big difference between "Noah was a just man" and "Noah was just a man."

Isaiah acknowledged his commission by saying, "Here am I." (Isaiah 6:8b) This meant he was available; look no further. The same three words should not be rearranged to read, "Here I am." This merely indicates location or being present in one place such as when a teacher calls the roll or when you ask someone, "Where are you?" Then the answer might be, "Here I am." This was not what Isaiah said. He emphatically said, "Here am I." He exclaimed his availability; not his location.

Be also warned about reading scriptures without putting the necessary pauses where they should be. For example as you read this verse, pause where the comma is: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, (pause) the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him." (Isaiah 59:19 KJV) Now read it placing the comma and pause in a different location: "When the enemy shall come in, (pause) like a flood the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him." Both of these make sense, but they have a different meaning depending on where you pause. However, it is the former one that's in the Bible.

We change the meaning when we rearrange the words and when we fail to adhere to the punctuation marks. Let's be more mindful of these two things when we study God's word.
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Your Call and Your Commission
Then I heard the voice of God saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" He said, "Go and tell this people..." (Isaiah 6:8-9a)

God NEVER calls without commissioning.

God NEVER calls a person into ministry just to be calling. God summons or invites a person for a particular task or service in the kingdom of God. Did He call Abram just to be calling him? Did He call Moses just to be calling him? How about Isaiah? Jeremiah? Ezekiel, etc.? When God called these people in the Bible, He also gave them something to do.

It is no difference with us. Since God has called you, what has He commissioned you to do? Unless you are doing what God commissioned you to do, three groups are being cheated: God, the people who are waiting for you to serve them, and you!

You can't effectively operate in your call unless you are effectively operating in your commission.
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Jesus' Humanity . . . Jesus' Divinity
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. (Isaiah 9:6a)
 
The first clause speaks of Jesus' humanity, the second of His deity. In a time of great darkness, God promised to send a light who would shine on everyone in the shadow of death. God came into the word as a human in the person of Jesus because God is a spirit. God wrapped Himself in flesh and came as a Child and as a Son.

Jesus, the human God came that we might be able to relate to Him and to follow His example. Jesus came into the world as a human to be among us to save all of us. Jesus, fully human; yet fully divine came into the world as the Son of God to live a sinless life to be our perfect lamb without a spot or blemish. Let's be true to the Lamb of God during this holy season.
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Wonderful Counselor
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
 
During the time of great darkness, God promised to send a light who would shine on everyone living in the shadow of death. Jesus came as the "Wonderful Counselor" to deliver all people from their slavery to sin and offer hope and guidance for a sin-sick world.
 
Everthing about Jesus is 'wonderful': His birth, His life, His deeds, and His death. Wonder is important. That's why his name "Wonderful" leads the list. The wonder of Jesus leads to the worship of Jesus, and worship to spiritual growth, and spiritual growth to character and service. Wonder begins with receiving Jesus into your heart and experiencing the forgiveness of sins by allowing Jesus to live in you (Galatians 2:20). Wonder comes into our lives when we walk by faith.

Ordinary people experience extraordinary things because of the wonder of Christ. These wonders are not understood by those outside the family of God, but they are appreciated by those who are sold out for Jesus. The riches of their lives are based not on the having material possessions but on how they enrich the lives of others by their Christian example. Wonderful things happened when we live by the guidance from the Wonderful Counselor.
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His Name is Counselor
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful COUNSELOR, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
 
To the Christian, Jesus Christ is the supreme Counselor. Jesus has the answer for every question, and every situation, and every problem. Jesus, Himself is the answer. Jesus is called "Counselor" because He above all others is qualified to counsel us. He is eternal God in whom "dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Jesus knows all. In Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Jesus is a wonderful Counselor because he encourages and comforts us by saying, "Let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:1).

Unlike earthly counselors, Jesus does not charge a fee for his counseling services. His guidance only requires obedience. And finally, this wonderful Counselor does something else earthly counselors might fail to do. Jesus prays and intercedes for us (John 17:20; Hebrews 7:25). All of us need spiritual counseling, and Jesus Christ comes highly recommended to be our Counselor of Counselors.
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Mighty God
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, MIGHTY GOD, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
 
His name is "Mighty God" because there is none like Him. "For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name" (Luke 1:49). Jesus Christ is God. In all His power, He is God. In His humanity and in His deity, Jesus Christ is the Mighty God.
 
What a paradox that a little baby in a manger should be called mighty! Even as a baby, He changed the course of human history. His birth affected the entire universe including kings and kingdoms, shepherds, wise men, creation, animals, you and me. Nothing has been the same since His birth. Whatever your situation today, know that Jesus Christ is the Mighty God, and His power is available to all. For He is also Emmanuel, "God With Us."
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Christmas Reminders
For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)

If you were to think about your fondest Christmas memory, what would it be? Would it be the smell of your mother's Christmas dinner? Would it be the sight of the Christmas tree your father cut himself from the woods? Would it be the sound of the Christmas music you heard as you help prepare for the celebration?
 
Christmas evokes powerful memories because Christmas is the time that shakes us up and wakes us up to bring us back to fond memories of the past. Sometimes we try to duplicate those Christmases because of our pleasant memories.
 
Some Christmases cannot be duplicated because of the death of loved ones and other circumstances. However, we can always be reminded of the reason we celebrate Christmas. God loved us so much that He gave us a constant reminder. As we celebrate this Christmas, let's be reminded of three things:
 
1. We need a Savior.
2. We have a Savior.
3. We can share the Savior.

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Everlasting Father
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, EVERLASTING FATHER, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
 
Everlasting means "always" and "forever." Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be. He came into the world to reveal the eternal because He is eternal. Jesus Christ is the Everlasting Father because He is the originator of that which is everlasting. He died that we might share eternal life.
 
At this time of year we think of Jesus as a little baby in a manger. Let's remember that was no ordinary baby. Don't let the birth of Jesus have been in vain. Become part of that birth by letting him give birth to the eternal in your life. "For what will it profit you this Christmas to gain the whole material world and not have eternal salvation? (Paraphrased from Mark 8:36) There was no room in the inn for Jesus. Is there room in your heart for Him?
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Prince of Peace
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.  (Isaiah 9:6)
 
How Godlike for Him to allow this E-Message to coincide with the eve of the birth of His only begotten Son. Only God could have orchestrated such timing because He IS the Prince of Peace.
 
That's why we can rejoice and celebrate peacefully the birth of our Savior and Lord. Tonight as you remember "Silent Night, Holy Night" also remember that there is "Joy to the World" because "Away in a Manger" a baby was born in "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that we can "Come All Ye Faithful and "Go Tell It On the Mountain" proclaiming like the "Three Kings of Orient" that Jesus Christ is born. There might not have been room for Him in the inn. Please let Him bring peace to you by letting there be room in your heart for Him to dwell.
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What To Do About Busy Schedules
The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them. (Isaiah 17:13)

Some people think having a busy schedule gives them importance. However, having a busy schedule is an indication of poor planning.
 
A person who plans well will not fill every hour with "something to do." A person who plans well will take time to ask God which assignments to take and which appointments to make. A person who plans well will not cram as much into his day as possible. A person who plans well will certainly include God in each day.
 
We live in a fast-pace age where everybody rushes just to keep up. It is easy to get caught up in what others are doing. In your schedule, give full attention to God and allow Him to be the center of your attention even if it means stepping away from the crowd.
 
In your schedule, remember that every moment is a gift from God. If you knew today would be your last day, what activity would you eliminate? How would you rearrange your schedule? Would you spend an extra hour with a friend? Would you play with a child? Would you linger longer on the telephone with a family member?
 
In your schedule, savor the things you are doing when you do them. Some people don't enjoy what they are doing because they are thinking about the next thing they plan to do. Then when they begin doing that next thing, they don't enjoy it because they are thinking of still another thing to do. And at the end of the day, nothing has been done well because the focus wasn't on each thing, and certainly there has been no enjoyment.
 
Change your busy schedule by setting priorities. Look at your list of things to do. With proper planning, you could probably cut that list in half especially if you put God at the top.
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Perfect Peace
Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

 
Perfect peace is a gift from God. Perfect peace is the ultimate peace. Perfect peace is the direct outcome of faith in God. Perfect peace is the result of an intimate relationship with God. We are the recipients of the promise of perfect peace when we keep our eyes stayed on God.

When we keep our eyes, our thoughts, our imaginations, our desires, and our whole heart fixed on God. We go through needless pain and worry when we take our eyes off God. But if we would but only keep focused on God at all times, He will keep us in perfect peace. That is the only way we will receive perfect peace.
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How to Have Perfect Peace

Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace --- in peace because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NRSV)

Experiencing perfect peace should be everybody's desire. Having peace of mind makes everything else go a lot easier. That's why David in the psalms asked God to confuse the minds of his enemies because a confused mind would be punishment for them. The above scripture tells us how to have perfect peace in the midst of trials and tribulations.

We need to focus on a greater reality than the troubles at hand. We need to keep our minds steadfastly on God and not on the problem. When we keep our minds on God, our problem seems to diminish. However, if we focus on the problem, it will seem insurmountable and God will seem small. Reverse your thinking for inner peace. Know that God is bigger than any problem you might have. Know that God is the giver of perfect peace.

If your mind is unsettled and confused about an issue, take your mind off the issue and turn it over to God. Release it to His handling. Then you will have perfect peace while God is working out the details of your situation!
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A Clean Bill of Health
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

 
There is satisfaction in having gone to the doctor for a physical examination and then hearing the doctor say, "I'm giving you a clean bill of health." Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could go for an examination for your soul? The doctor would check your love temperature and your forgiveness pressure. The doctor could probably give you a shot of obedience and pills to enhance your relationship with God and your neighbor. Wouldn't it be wonderful for a doctor to say, "I'm giving you a clean bill of health for your soul"?
 
Well, actually we do have God Himself. God is the Great Physician who gives us healing power for our bodies and soul. God gives us perfect peace as an indicator that all is well with our souls.
 
Have you visited the Soul Doctor lately for a checkup?
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 How to Cope with Problems
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace . . . in peace because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
 
Isaiah, who live in a time of tremendous turmoil, predicted more turmoil and chaotic conditions. He predicted that God's people would suffer along with everybody else. The just as well as the unjust would experience hard times. But then Isaiah gave God's people the answer that would help them cope with the turmoil and the unrest that was happening. We should follow that same advice.

Isaiah urged them to focus on a reality greater than their current trouble to keep their minds steadfast on God who never loses control over situations. When we keep our minds focused on God, there is absolutely no way we can worry about our problem at the same time. Got problems? Focus on God! It's as simple as that!
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 How to Stay Focused on God
Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. (Isaiah 26:3)
 
There are three main things that cause us NOT to stay focused on God.
  1. fear
  2. distractions; and
  3. destructive instruction 
Do not allow FEAR to shift the focus from God. When facing a difficult situation, focus on God who can handle the situation instead of focusing on the situation itself. Don't let the fear of failure blind you to God's power to lead you out of the fiery furnace.
 
Keeping God first in our lives is difficult when we allow so many DISTRACTIONS to threaten our faith. Just as Eve lost her focus by listening to the serpent, we too can lose our focus by letting our lives become distracted by what others say. Minimize those distractions that hinder you from focusing on God.
 
Be mindful of DESTRUCTIVE INSTRUCTION. Know God's word for yourself and do not fall for smooth talk and messages that sound good and seem to make sense. Today there are many false teachings among us. The Bible is the Christian's authoritative guide. Avoid any destructive instruction that contradicts God's word.
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Gravitational Pulls and Euphoria
Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. (Isaiah 28:23)

The Number 1 question most people ask is: "What is God's purpose for my life?" And God answers, "Haven't I given you clues along the way? Haven't you noticed a gravitational pull toward what I want you to do?"

What is a "gravitational pull"? A gravitational pull is a strong force that pulls you toward something. And once you are in that particular place, you are most comfortable. You are at peace. You are actually euphoric.

Begin to pay attention to what gets your attention. Do you stop when you see a group of children playing? Your destiny might have something to do with starting a day care center? Do you feel a gravitational pull when you pass a bookstore? Perhaps you are to become a librarian, writer, or own a bookstore? Do you visit people in the hospitals or prisons because you often feel led to do so? Perhaps God is calling you to become a chaplain. Whatever is drawing you is an indication of what you are to do.

Two sure ways to determine your purpose:
  1. Chart your gravitational pulls. Notice the patterns and the commonalties.
  2. Monitor your euphoria. Does this thing excite you and give you a burst of energy?
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Why God Treats Us Differently
Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a stick. (Isaiah 28:27)

Do you ever wonder why God's treatment for you is different from that of your friends, neighbors or co-workers? While God created all of us, provides for all of us, and loves all of us, His treatment of us is different.

Isaiah uses farming metaphors to explain how God treats us. First, He declares that our fallow ground must be broken up. But He doesn't continue breaking up the fallow ground forever. For us, this means that our trials are brought to an end as soon as they accomplish their purpose. This takes longer for some people.

The next step is to sow the seed with discernment. Notice the prophet says the cummin was scattered, but the wheat was put in rows (Isaiah 28:25-26).  God carefully selects the discipline especially suited for our particular needs.

Finally, Isaiah explains how the farmer harvests his crop. With extreme care, he beats out the caraway with a light stick, and strikes the cummin with a heavier blow. For the wheat the farmer uses a wheel just heavy enough to avoid crushing the grain (Isaiah 28:27-28).

The farmer uses special tools to plant and harvest his tender plants without destroying them. In the same way, God takes into account how frail and fragile we are. And He treats us differently. God uses the gentlest possible touch for our condition, never allowing an affliction to be greater than we can bear.

Let us also be sensitive when dealing with different people. Some are like the caraway seed that should not be threshed with a sledge. Some are like the cummin that should not be rolled over with a cartwheel. Some are tougher and can be driven over with a wheel and threshed like wheat.

God uses different tools for dealing with different people. We should do the same.
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Write the Vision
Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come forever and ever. (Isaiah 30:8)
 
Isaiah, one of the four major prophets, was instructed to go and write the message he had received from God on a tablet and put it in a pubic place for all to be warned. Habakkuk, one of the twelve minor prophets, was given the same instruction. He was told to write the vision and make it plain on tablets so that a town crier could run and shout it to the public (Habakkuk 2:2).
 
Something remarkable happens when we write down our visions, our dreams, and our goals for the future. It appears as though we are announcing to the universe what we desire. Underneath the pictures of seniors in most high school yearbooks is a visionary statement or prophecy of what is believed to be someone's goal. It is utterly amazing how closely that vision comes to reality for most people. (Do you remember what was written about you?) There is an important reason why your supervisor insists that you write down your goals each year. Even those who write a budget seem to have more money or at least they know where it is going. It helps to keep a diary or a journal. Something phenomenon happens when we write down the vision.
 
If you are undecided about how you want to spend the rest of your life, go get a tablet and start writing down your vision. You might have a dream for your future, but it is less likely to come to pass if it all balled up in your mind. Try formulating it on paper and watch what happens!
 
I wrote down my visions, and most of them have come to pass! The others are in the process of becoming realities!
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Worth the Wait
For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)

No one likes to wait. Look around at the people in the "Waiting Room" in doctors' offices. Some people constantly look at their watches to see that only a few minutes have passed since the last time they checked. Look at people tapping their feet and being fidgety while waiting in a checkout line at a department store. People wait at bus stations, airports, and traffic lights. Waiting is a way of life. Whether we like it or not, we all have to wait for things to happen.

Waiting is often necessary. Children are told to wait until it stops raining before they go outside. Women know what will happen if they don't wait until the polish on their nails dry before they attempt to put their hands in their purse for keys to drive away from the nail technician. Farmers have to wait until their crops are ready for harvest. We all have to wait.

When God asks us to wait, many times He has greater things in store for us. A friend of mine says she definitely heard God say He was going to move her from her current position. She cleaned out her desk, took pictures off the wall and waited. Shortly thereafter, God did move her . . .  across the hall. This was not what she expected. She concluded that God had a sense of humor by merely moving her across the hall when she thought she would be moved out of the building entirely. However, she learned all she could learn in her new position . . .  across the hall. A few years later, God told her, "Daughter, you have been diligent and have done all I assigned for you to do here. You did not complain in your waiting. Now is the time to make your wait worthwhile. I moved you across the hall to prepare you for a greater move." God moved my friend, Rose from Richmond, Virginia to San Antonio, Texas (23 hours and 27 minutes; 1544.74 miles away). God moved her from across the hall, across a time zone, across a region, across at least four states to a prominent position in her field.

The life application here is that God tests us sometimes with small moves to see if we can handle those before He moves us farther. David moved from the pasture to the palace because he waited. After he was anointed king, he did not reign on the throne until after Saul's death. Joseph moved from the pit and prison to second in command of all Egypt because he waited patiently.

We can see it was worth the wait in all three situations with David, Joseph and Rose. God is not a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34)  Therefore, if you are waiting for something to happen, monitor the small moves in your life. God is waiting to see if He can trust you with bigger moves.  It might be just across the hall at first, but if you end up in San Antonio, Texas, look up my friend Rose.
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 Right Brain - Left Brain
And whenever you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: "This is the way. Walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

We hear so much talk about "right brain" and "left brain" as if we have two brains. Actually, our brain like the rest of our anatomy, has two halves; a right side and a left side. A picture of our brain shows a big fold that goes from front to back separating our brain into two distinct parts. For some unknown reason, nature did a criss-cross and the left side of our body is wired to the right side of the brain, and vice versa. These two sides of the brain control two different styles of thinking, learning styles and patterns of goal setting and decision making. Each person favors one side and operates from that side. The choices we make depend on which side of the brain is in control.

Researchers have discovered that our personality is based on whether we are a right brain or a left brain. How we get along with others is also based on the side of the brain we prefer. This might explain why we don't all see things the same way.

How do you determine if you are right brain or left brain? A right brain is one who sees the BIG picture while the left brains deals in details. The right brain bases decisions on feelings while the left brain bases decisions on facts. A right brain looks at life from the present and future, and the left brain looks at life and set goals based on the present and the past. Right brainers are risk takers, but left brainers play it safe.

Does a right brain person have an advantage over a left brain person when it comes to serving God? Absolutely not! Methods might differ, but we are all commanded to serve God because of our spirit and not necessarily because of the different sides of our brain.
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Soaring or Wallowing?
They will soar on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31b)
Take a look at the mighty hippopotamus. I made it, just as I made you.
It eats grass like an ox. (Job 40:15 NLT)

Carl Sandburg, an American poet (1878-1967) captured the human condition when he said, "There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." Some of us know just what he meant. Sometimes we may feel steady and strong. Sometimes we may feel worried and weak. Sometimes we want to soar in the air. Sometimes we want to do nothing but wallow in the mud.  It all depends on our circumstances at that particular time.

An eagle and a hippopotamus are two different species. The eagle flies high in the sky overseeing what's below while the hippopotamus spends most of the day resting and emerges from the water only at night to eat grass.

Some of us want to soar like the eagle in Isaiah 40:31 while others are content wallowing in the mud just letting life happen. Some of us care about what happens around us and take wings to get things done. Others are lazy and/or complacent. Their greatest pleasure is wallowing in the mud like the hippopotamus.

Which will win the battle for your life? The eagle in you or the hippopotamus? Will you soar? Or will you wallow in the mud for the rest of your life?
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Fifteen More Years
Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: "Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. " (Isaiah 38:4-5)
 
When the doctor pronounces a terminal illness, sometimes people accept it and give up. Hezekiah was faced with a fatal disease, but he did NOT give up. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord. In his prayer, Hezekiah asked God to remember how he had walked faithfully before Him and had done what was good in His sight.
 
God answered Hezekiah's prayer. So often God does answer prayers based on our faithful to Him and our reminding Him of it. God remembered Hezekiah's faithful and answered his prayer by adding fifteen more years to his life.
 
Have you been faithful enough to remind God about it when you are seeking a longer life or the answer to other prayers?
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The Value of Heritage
The living, only the living, can praise you as I do today. One generation makes known your faithfulness to the next. (Isaiah 38:19)
 
God believes in families and ancestors and generations. The Bible is filled with genealogies because God wants to keep our heritage before us at all times. Unless we know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob we cannot worship the only true and living God today. God makes it crystal clear that our spiritual heritage is to be passed on. We are to teach our children about God. They are to teach their children and their children's children so that the joy of the Lord can be passed on from father to child, from generation to generation.
 
In the above scripture, Hezekiah spoke of the significance of passing on the faithfulness of one generation to another. We, too, are to share the excitement and joy of the Lord with those who come after us. Do you share with your children or other young children the excitement of your relationship with God? If not, start doing so today!
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Comfort: God's Plan For Us
Comfort, yes, comfort my people!" says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.  (Isaiah 40:1-2)
 
God is a sovereign God. He is in control of the earth even if we tend to forget that. God not only rules the earth, but He is the One who judges all people. The above verses from Isaiah remind us that God wants to comfort us in our times of sorrows, sadness, grief and loneliness. God wants to restore us back to wholeness in our time of brokenness. God tells Isaiah to speak tenderly and to comfort Jerusalem.
 
At times we need to be comforted. Even in the times of adversity, the seeds of comfort can take root and help us change our perspective on life. We still might have to go through the waters, but with God by our side holding our hand, we can be comforted knowing that He controls the depths of the waters. When we go through the fire, we can be comforted knowing the One who is holding our hand is the One who controls the temperature of the fire. We can walk through the fire without even smelling like smoke.
 
Embrace the comfort God is extending to us through His Word, His presence and through the Christian friends He has given us.
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Knowing Better Should Mean Doing Better
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)

Dr. Maya Angelou, noted poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director is known to have said, "When you know better you do better!" Would people do better if they knew better? Maybe so. Maybe not. Some will and some won't. Some people don't want to know better because with learning come responsibility and accountability.

Would those who crucified Jesus have done so if they had only known the truth that He really was the Messiah?

What we know should be paralleled to what we do. Does your lifestyle demonstrate what you know?
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Who Is Strong? . . . Who Is Weak?
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. (Isaiah 40:29)
 
Who is strong in faith? Who is weak in faith? We are all strong in some areas and weak in others. It is important to take a self-inventory in order to find out where we are strong and where we are weak. Strengths and weaknesses are not permanent conditions. Strengths may diminish if they are not put to the test, and weaknesses may develop by God's power into strengths.
 
If you are being tested, it may be because God wants to strengthen you in that particular area. Don't kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5) but go through the testing knowing that "testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:3-4)
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While You Wait
But they that wait upon the Lord.... (Isaiah 40:31)

What do you do when you have to wait for something or someone? What do you do while waiting at a red light? in the doctor's office? in the check-out line? in the drive through? or while someone has put you on hold on the telephone? Waiting is part of our day, so we might as well factor it in when we make plans. You can use waiting to your advantage depending on the length of the wait and the place of your wait.

Fill every minute with something positive. While waiting you can pray silently, meditate on a favorite scripture, or just enjoy the silence and solitude. Always remember that you should take along a short book or a small Bible if you know you have to wait a considerable length of time in the doctor's office or at the auto repair shop.

Waiting doesn't have to be a bad thing. It all depends on what you do while you wait. Isaiah gives us the results of waiting: "For they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Let your waiting be worthwhile.

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Eagles Fly Alone
For those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
 
The eagle is one of the largest birds. It has long been used as a sign of power, courage, and freedom. The eagle is the poet's "bird of the broad and sweeping wings." The eagle soars high above the earth.
 
The eagle is such a powerful bird that the United States, under the Congress of the Confederation, took as its emblem in 1782 a bald eagle with outspread wings, a shield on its breast, an olive branch in one foot, and a sheaf of arrows in the other. The eagle on the U.S. coat of arms carries a scroll in its beak bearing the Latin words, E Pluribus Unum, meaning "one out of many."
 
We need to learn a great lesson from the eagle. We, too, can fly high above the clouds even if we have to do so alone. Like a pyramid, the higher we go, the narrower the path and fewer people will travel with us. But that's all right. The higher you go, the closer you will be to God in your spiritual relationship.
 
It is amazing how people do not allow God to take them to a higher level because they want to stay with the crowd. If the crowd won't go with you as you soar upward in the kingdom of God, be like the eagle. Soar HIGH and soar ALONE!
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I Believe I Can Fly
But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
 
Do you want to soar high like an eagle? A soaring eagle doesn't flap its wings frantically in a struggle to stay aloft. It sweeps effortlessly and enjoys the wind as it glides through the sky. The eagle is majestic in its appearance as it spreads its wings and soars without difficulty. The eagle stays focused and it is not distracted by trying to please or keep track of the barnyard birds below. When it approaches a storm, the eagle flies above it.
 
Soaring is what God has in mind for us. God assures us that we can "soar on wings like eagles." When we trust in His promises and in His timing, we can soar above our difficulties. The Holy Spirit gives us wings to fly and to soar farther than we can imagine, but we must believe it. To say, "I believe I can fly" is an affirmation of trust. Have you ever noticed how big the belly is of a bumble bee? The bumble bee was not designed to fly and will never fly as high as an eagle because of its big belly and unequipped wings. But since the bumble bee purposed in its heart that it could fly, it does fly. Not far and not high, but it flies nevertheless.
 
Believe you can fly and you will. Believe you can't fly and you won't. Whether an eagle or a bumble bee, the height and distance of your flying depend on your belief. I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.
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Lessons From the Eagle
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

The life and behavior of the eagle can be compared and contrasted to Christians who desire to soar in faith. If it is not your desire to fly high like the eagle, then this message is not for you. If you want to rise higher in life, to grow spiritually, and to develop a stronger relationship with God, then this message is for you.

God created birds before He created man. Birds were created on the fifth day and God said that it was good. Man was created on the sixth day, and God said it was very good. We can learn a lot from birds, especially from the eagle.
  • Birds are beautiful to look at. Some people have a hobby of bird watching. There are bird watching clubs. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived collected peacocks for their exotic beauty.
  • Birds have been inspirations for poets. Percy Shelley wrote a poem entitled “Ode to a Skylark.” John Keats wrote a poem entitled, “To a Nightingale.” Edgar Allen Poe wrote the familiar poem entitled, “The Raven.”
  • Artists find birds to be great subjects for paintings. Naturalist photographers take pictures of birds as their life work.
  • Many songs are written about birds. “Mockingbird...have you heard...? In that children's song Daddy's going to buy you a mockingbird!” Ethel Waters sang the familiar gospel, “His Eye is On the Sparrow” and I know He watches me. That became the name of her autobiography.
  • How about those sports team bearing the name of a bird? . . . The Orioles, the Ravens, the Cardinals, and the Eagles.
  • Cars are named after birds. One of my first cars was a Skylark.
  • Every state has a state bird. Virginia's state bird is the cardinal.
  • Birds are used as pets: canary for its singing and the talking parrot and parakeet.
  • Birds are useful for many things. Before the post office existed, pigeons delivered messages. Some countries still train pigeons to carry messages. The eagle is the symbol for the US Post Office.
  • When a person eats a little food, we say, “He or she eats like a bird.” We might say that, but it is impossible to eat like a bird. A bird can eat up to the amount of its weight per day. A 180-lb. man cannot eat the amount of his weight per day.
  • Popular expressions concerning birds:
    "Birds of a feather flock together."
    "A bird in the hand is worth two in a bush."
    "Killing two birds with one stone."
Now let's talk about lessons from a particular bird: . LESSONS FROM THE EAGLE.
With over 9,000 species of birds throughout the world, why are there specific lessons from the eagle?
  • The eagle is NOT the first bird mentioned in the Bible. In Genesis, after the flood, it was the raven that went out first and then the dove. The eagle was never sent.
  • It was the dove that descended on Jesus at His baptism, NOT the eagle.
  • While wandering in the desert, God fed the Israelites quail, NOT eagle.
  • Our bird of choice to eat is NOT the eagle. It is chicken.
How, then can we learn lessons from the eagle?
  • The eagle is NOT the fastest bird. It is the duck hawk.
  • The eagle is NOT the most intelligent bird. It is the crow.
  • The eagle is NOT the longest living bird. It is the raven that could live to age 69.
  • The eagle is NOT the fastest running bird. It's the ostrich that can run as fast as some folks drive... 50 mph.
  • The eagle is NOT the highest flying bird. A goose has been known to fly 29,000 feet. The candor bird in South America once collided with an airplane at 20,000 feet. Most birds seldom fly more than 3,000 feet. They fly under the clouds.
That brings us to the first lesson we learn from the eagle. The eagle flies above the clouds. As Christians, we should rise above our circumstances. We should fly higher than that which bothers us. We should rise above the clouds and storms in our lives.
  1. The eagle is a large SOLITARY bird. At times the eagle is with its friends on the ground, but most of the time the eagle flies solo.  Our second lesson is that while birds of a feather may flock together, there are times when the sincere, devoted Christian needs to be solitary. There are things God wants us to do together as a body of believers, but then there are times when God calls us by names and gives us individual assignments. We must do some things solo. And we must get so low on our knees and pray for God's guidance. That you can do as a solitary Christian.
  2. There are approximately 60 species of eagles even though most of us think there is only the bald eagle. By the way, the bald eagle is not bald. Its head is covered with white feathers.
  3. Do not categorize all Christians the same way. Even though we are all believers, there are variations to our beliefs. And there is nothing wrong with it. We do have free will not to  be robots or copy cats. As long as we believe the same Christian doctrines, and follow God's commandments, we have the right to make individual choices when it comes to the type of house we live in, the type of cars we drive, or the type of job to have. Christians can be Christians; yet different like eagles.
  4. Eagles are good stewards of what they have. They don't waste anything. Instead, they conserve and add upon what they already have. For example, the eagle uses the same nest over and over again for years adding to it each year. One nest in Ohio was used for 36 years, and it weighed almost one ton. Some nest! An average nest could take up to 2 wagonloads of material to build. The eagle builds its nest little by little wasting nothing. The eagle is a good steward.
  5. Eagles take care of their young. Both parents share in the incubation and the feeding of the young ones.  They remain in the nest until they are trained by their parents. The male and the female share in all the responsibilities of the feeding and training of the young ones. 
  6. Eagles are careful to avoid danger. They don't attack except when cornered. When danger comes, they are prepared to handle it because of the way God created them to protect themselves. God made the eagle to use its beak to handle dangerous prey.  We, as Christians shouldn't invite Satan into our lives. But when he comes, we should be prepared to fight him with the word of God. Jesus, when tempted, said, “It is written...” If you don't know what is written in the Bible, you have no weapon to fight with. Learn this lesson from the eagle to use your mouth as a weapon to combat the devil.
  7. The eagle is known for its keen eyesight because it has eyes on both sides of its head to see what is going on around it at all times. Christians need to be aware of their surrounding. There is nothing more boring than a Christian who can't relate to life and what is going on around him. He or she can only quote scriptures and say, "Be blessed." The eagle can look straight ahead; yet see what is happening in the world around him.  It has a panoramic vision. It is aware of its surroundings at all times.
  8. God made the eagle with strong legs and strong feet as a foundation. God also made the eagle with wings and a tail to support its heavy body when it flies. God made the eagle to have a firm foundation on the ground and to fly gracefully in the air. God made us with a firm foundation to survive in our low times and with the ability to soar during our high times like the eagle.
  9. The eagle is best known for its ability to fly and to fly gracefully. The eagle in flight indicates a journey. Christians soaring in faith are like eagles. We, too are on a journey. We should know where we are going and let nothing stop us from getting there. We should soar high. We should touch the sky. Like Jesus we should keep our faces set like a flint toward Jerusalem and let nothing stop us from completing our journey. 
  10. The eagle mates only once in a lifetime. That means there is no Eagle Divorce Court. The eagle is selective since it will have only one mate. The female eagle goes to the top of the highest mountain and drops a twig or pebble equivalent to her weight. The male eagle who can swoop down and catch it in its beak before it reaches the ground is the one to be her mate. Males are to be able to "carry" the female. Males are to be the strong ones in the household. They should be responsible for "carrying" the household through prayers and through the things of God.
  11. When eagles grow old and weary, they go to the tallest mountain and lay out before the sun. The rays from the sun energizes them and gives them a new burst of strength. Like the eagle, when we become weary and heavy laden, we should lay out before the SON, the Son of God. He will give us rest and a new refreshing.
  12. Mount up with wings as eagles and soar gracefully on this spiritual journey called Life. We must follow Jesus as our example. Like Jesus, we must be lifted up from the ground. Jesus was lifted up on a cross and crucified by men. He was buried, but God lifted him up from the grave. After 40 days of walking the face of the earth following His resurrection, He was lifted up into heaven. Like the eagle, Jesus soared above the clouds. He made us a promise before He left. He said, "If I be lifted up, I'll draw all men unto me." One day Jesus will return through the clouds, and we will be lifted up with Him. We will soar because He will be the wind beneath our wings.
We can be lifted up today. God made the eagle to soar in the sky. He made us to soar wherever we are.  He made the eagle to fly above the clouds. He made us to rise above our circumstances. He made the eagle to fly in the eye of the storm. He made us to face our adversaries.

In order for these lessons to be helpful, we must do what God says in Isaiah 40:31 . . .
  1. wait upon the Lord;
  2. renew our strength;
  3. mount up with wings as eagles;
  4. run and not be weary; and
  5. walk and not faint.
Lessons from the Eagle. Glory be to God.  Lessons from the Eagle.
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Human Patience
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Yesterday we discussed God's patience.  Today, let's discuss human patience to determine how our patience can be strengthened.

Human patience is strengthened by difficulties, hardships and setbacks. Nobody enjoys problems, but they are bound to happen. And when they happen, James tells us to count it all joy. (James 1:2-4)   Problems help develop our character by teaching us to trust God.

Human patience is developed through waiting. If you never have to wait, you will never know if you have patience. Throughout the Bible, we find many who admit that things worth having are things worth waiting for:  Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Elizabeth and others.

Human patience is magnified when combined with God's patience.   Since you know "Patience is golden" don't be willing to settle for silver or bronze. On your own it is extremely difficult, but waiting together with God makes it so much easier.

Human patience grows through the study of God's word. Knowing  what you are waiting for makes the wait seem so much shorter. Study the Bible to learn that waiting is a process that perfects you to handle what God has in store for you. God will step in only when it will do the most good. He does it in HIS time; not yours.

To summarize, human patience is strengthened through difficulties and hardships while we wait. Combining our patience with God's patience as we study the word of God is bound to have a great impact on our lives.

God has given us the capability to be patient. Let's not put it off. Become patient NOW rather than later!

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Mating Lessons From the Eagle
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Did you know the eagle mates only once in a life time? Therefore, eagles take mating very seriously. They wait because they know when they mate, it is for keeps. You will never hear of an eagle divorce court because divorce is not an option for eagles.

The eagle is best known for its ability to fly and to fly gracefully. So when an eagle looks for a mate, mounting up is part of the test. The female makes it known that she will accept only an eagle that can support her in every way and protect her from danger. So the eagles that had being waiting for a mate, renew their strength by going to the sun like we should go to the Son for strength. The female takes the male to the top of the tallest mountain and as the male eagle mounts up, she takes a twig in proportion to her weight, flies high and drops the twig. If the male can fly below and catch the twig before it hits the ground, he passes that part of the test. Before she accepts him as her mate, they both run. If he grows weary, he loses. She takes another perspective mate to the mountain and the process is repeated until she finds a mate that has waited, has renewed his strength, can mount up, catch the twig, run and and not be weary, walk and not faith. It is only after the male eagle has performed these tasks will she accept him as her mate. She does this to find out if her mate can support her, if he knows where to go for strength, and if he can carry his weight in the household. She wants to be sure he can cover her with his pinions and if under his wings she will find refuge and if his faithfulness will be her shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4)
 
Let's learn from the eagle and accept nothing less. Let your first criteria for a mate be the same as the eagle's. Get your twigs ready and accept only the one who (1) wait upon the Lord; (2) renew one's strength; (3) mount up with wings as eagles; (4) run and not be weary; (5) walk and not faith.
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Soaring or Wallowing?
They will soar on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31b)
Take a look at the mighty hippopotamus. I made it, just as I made you.
It eats grass like an ox. (Job 40:15 NLT)

Carl Sandburg, an American poet (1878-1967) captured the human condition when he said, "There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud." Some of us know just what he meant. Sometimes we may feel steady and strong. Sometimes we may feel worried and weak. Sometimes we want to soar in the air. Sometimes we want to do nothing but wallow in the mud.  It all depends on our circumstances at that particular time.

An eagle and a hippopotamus are two different species. The eagle flies high in the sky overseeing what's below while the hippopotamus spends most of the day resting and emerges from the water only at night to eat grass.

Some of us want to soar like the eagle in Isaiah 40:31 while others are content wallowing in the mud just letting life happen. Some of us care about what happens around us and take wings to get things done. Others are lazy and/or complacent. Their greatest pleasure is wallowing in the mud like the hippopotamus.

Which will win the battle for your life? The eagle in you or the hippopotamus? Will you soar? Or will you wallow in the mud for the rest of your life?
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God Knows The Future
Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? (Isaiah 41:4)
 
Each generation gets caught up in its own problems, but God's plan embraces all generations. When our great-grandparents lived, God worked personally in their lives. When our great-grandchildren live, God will still work personally in their lives. In other words, God is the only One who can see just as clearly now as He saw a hundred years ago.

When you are concerned about the future, trust God who knows the generations of the future as well as He knows the generations of the past. He may not reveal the future to you, but He will walk with you as the future unfolds before your eyes.
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Clap and Cheer
I have chosen you, and not cast you away.  (Isaiah 41:10)
 
If you ask 100 people the purpose of their lives, you would get 100 different responses including "I don't know" and "I haven't found out what God wants me to do." God chose all of us for a specific work to please Him. Our natural talents, skills, experience, and passion all work together to prepare us to handle the task God has called us to do. Everyone has not been chosen to do the same thing. God was creative. He gave us diversity. And yes, He did choose everyone to do SOMETHING.
 
This reminds me of a story of a little boy who had his heart set on being selected for a major part in a play. On the day the parts were awarded, the little boy rushed home and excitedly told his mother, "I've been chosen. I've been chosen to do something important. I've been chosen to clap and cheer." All of us have not been chosen to be in the spotlight. Some of us have been chosen to "clap and cheer." This is an important lesson to learn.
 
Thanks for "clapping and cheering" for me.
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Fear Not, Fret Not, Faint Not
"FEAR NOT, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." (Isaiah 41:10)
"FRET NOT yourself in any wise to do evil." (Psalm 37:8)
"Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you FAINT NOT." (Galatians 6:9)

If you want to grow spiritually, there are three (3) things the Bible tells you not to do.
  1. Fear Not. The expression "fear not" is in the Bible about 365 times. This means we are not to fear any day of our lives. Notice whenever "fear not" is used, it is almost always followed by a promise or a word of comfort. In Isaiah 41:10 God says, "Fear not ... then the  promise...for I am with you." Exchange fear for faith because God is with you.
  2. Fret Not. Because of so much evil in the world, we tend to fret. Psalm 37 tells us three times to fret not. Psalm 37:1 says, "Fret not because of evil doers." Psalm 37:8 tells us that we need not do evil just because others are doing evil, "Fret not yourself in any wise to do evil."
  3. Faint Not. It is easy to give up when the going gets tough, but you will get nothing to compensate for your efforts; not even for the time spent while you were hanging in there. Galatians 6:9 tells us that if we continue to stand and not faint, in due season we will reap a harvest. So if you want to have something to show for your labor, continue to press on until harvest time.
Our Christian maturity is based on these three biblical principles to fear not, fret not, and faint not. Renounce fear and replace it with faith. Renounce fretting and replace it with faith. Renounce any period of fainting and replace it with faith. Faith is the catalyst that will keep us from fearing, fretting and fainting! Glory to God!
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In a Dry Place
I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. (Isaiah 41:18)
 
No matter how rich one might be; no matter how spiritual one might be, sometimes we all end up in a "dry place." What is a dry place? A dry place is that space in our lives when nothing, absolutely nothing is happening. We go from day to day in the same old routine just marking time. Nothing exciting or productive is happening. We do not produce the fruit of the Spirit. The only evident of our being alive is our breathing.
 
No one likes being in a dry place. The quickest way out of a dry place is to pray that prayer of relinquishment. Surrender all to God . . . even the dry situation that you are in. Do this and you will shorten your time of barrenness from months or weeks to mere minutes.
 
Your dry place will be plentiful with pools of water. Your wilderness will have water in abundance. Your Sahara Desert will be a well irrigated garden. Your grounds will be so fertile that your crops will grow by leaps and bounds. They will be so plenteous that you will not only be blessed, but you will be a blessing to others.
 
God can change your barren land into a land flowing with milk and honey. There will be rivers of waters springing up on grounds that were once barren and parched. Your dry place can become springs within the valleys. Your dry place can become pools of water. But, it is all up to you. If you don't like your "dry place," do those things that will put you in right relationship with God. And He will reverse the process from barrenness to fruitfulness.
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Called By Your Name
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
 
Names in the Bible often represented a person's character or their mission in life. After having an encounter with God, God gave people new names to symbolize how their lives would be changed. For example, while Abram was old, God changed his name to Abraham symbolizing he would be "father of many nations." After Saul had his Demascus Road conversion experience, his name was changed to Paul. Paul went on to have a passion for God and ended up writing 13 books of the New Testament. It was only after Simon bar Jonah acknowledged who the Messiah was that his name was changed to Peter meaning "Rock."
 
My name "Margaret" means "PEARL of great price." God has called me for a mission. There have been many sacrifices and difficulties to become what I am today. A pearl is perfected only after it has been in an oyster in the water for a period of time. A pearl is formed by grits and grains of sands or other uncomfortable parasites. After layers and layers are formed, the pearl emerges with beauty and splendor...ready to become what God had intended all the time. Thus says the Lord, "Since you are precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you." (Isaiah 43:4)
 
Research the meaning of your name. Does it have anything to do with your mission in life?
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God Will Make A Way
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, I will be with you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1-2)
 
God made a way for His people from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21. So why would you think you situation is so unique and different that God would not make a way for you as well? The Bible overflows with promises that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Bible scholars record over 37,000 places where God gave His word that He would be present and active in the things we care about: relationships, finances, futures, dreams, ministries, vocations, physical being, spiritual growth and every other facets of our lives.
 
When we know the promises of God, we have assurety that He will be with us no matter what we are going through. When you are troubled in mind about something that's going on in your life, simply find someone in the Bible who had similar situation. Read and study how God helped that person. Since God is no respector of persons, you will be with you as well.
 
Know what God promises are, and then you will be able to say emphatically, "God will make a way."
 
God made a way for His people from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21. So why would you think you situation is so unique and different that God would not make a way for you as well? The Bible overflows with promises that God will never leave us nor forsake us. Bible scholars record over 37,000 places where God gave His word that He would be present and active in the things we care about: relationships, finances, futures, dreams, ministries, vocations, physical being, spiritual growth and every other facets of our lives.
 
When we know the promises of God, we have assurety that He will be with us no matter what we are going through. When you are troubled in mind about something that's going on in your life, simply find someone in the Bible who had similar situation. Read and study how God helped that person. Since God is no respector of persons, you will be with you as well.
 
Know what God promises are, and then you will be able to say emphatically, "God will make a way."
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Precious, Honored and Loved
You have been precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you. (Isaiah 43:4)

Here is good news for those who sometimes feel worthless, not recognized and unloved.  God assures us that all along we have been precious in His sight. Even when other don't recognize us, God says we have value in His eyes. God says there has never been a time when we were not treasured. In the above scripture, God tells us in three ways how he feels about us. To God, we are . . .
  1. Precious. God regards us as His treasure. We are of great value to God.
  2. Honored. God looks upon us as ones who deserve great respect.
  3. Loved. God looks at us with heartfelt tenderness and  great admiration.
If you are ever concerned  about how valuable you are, know that in God's eyes you are precious, you are honored, and you are loved.
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Spiritual Blind Spots
Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. ((Isaiah 43:8)

We have blind spots when driving a car, but we can adjust the mirror to get a better view.  Blind spots exist in every area of our lives when we can't see hidden danger. You could have an intellectual blind spot where you can't comprehend some important information that others seem to understand with ease. You could have a physical blind spot where you can't see the benefits of presenting your body as a living sacrifice. You could have a social blind spot when you reject the value of having good friends and getting along with people. However, the worst blind spot one could have is a spiritual blind spot. A spiritual blind spot is that tiny area where Satan can enter and work havoc in our lives because we are unaware of that vulnerable area.  
 
We must use spiritual mirrors to adjust our spiritual blind spots.  Spiritual mirrors are available to all who immerse themselves in God's word. God's word will show us what we can't see. God's word will warn us when we are approaching a blind spot.  Therefore, we need to follow God's guidance. When we focus on the Word instead of on the world, we will have a panoramic view of the kingdom of God without worrying about spiritual blind spots.
 
Adjust your spiritual mirrors by reading the Word of God to prevent spiritual blind spots.

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Why Are There So Many Names For God In the Bible?
"This is what the Lord says---the Holy One of Israel and its Maker..." (Isaiah 45:11)

The short part of the above scripture contains three (3) names for God. Hmm!  It has been asked: "Why are there so many name for God in the Bible?" The answer is really quite simple and easy to understand. The titles or designations given to God throughout the Bible reveal His character and attributes. Embedded within God's name is who He is and what He does. On many occasions, God favored His people by revealing Himself by what would help them and their situations at that particular time. By referring to Himself by different names, God offered special insight into His love, righteousness, power and holiness. These are just some of the names used for God in the Old Testament: Yahweh, Jehovah, El, Elohim, King, Almighty, and God Almighty. In the New Testament God is known as Father, Abba, and Shepherd.

Not only did God refer to Himself by special names; others did as well. For example, Isaiah referred to God as "the Holy One of Israel." Jesus referred to God as "Father." We, too, call on God by the name that fits our situation at a given time.

What is your favorite name for God?
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When God Swears (or Does He?)
By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked. (Isaiah 45:22)

The question is often asked, "Is it all right for Christians to swear?" The word "swear" means two different things. Christians should refrain from swearing by cursing and using profane or obscene language. However, it is all right for Christians to swear when they take an oath. Abraham made his servant swear to find Isaac a wife from among Abraham's own kindred. (Genesis 24:37-41) Joseph made his descendants swear they would not leave his bones in Egypt. (Genesis 50:25)

Whatever comes from our mouths should be the equivalent of an oath. Since that is not always the case, some people swear on the Bible to confirm they are telling the truth. Swearing on the Bible simply means we are appealing to a higher authority to confirm our answers. Even little children say, "I swear before God" to get people to believe them.

If we swear by God, who does God swear by? Himself, of course!  Why would God swear by Himself? For two reasons...first to emphasize the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Secondly, God swears by Himself to illustrate His greatness. "When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself. (Hebrews 6:13)

Unlike us, God does not change from one day to the next and is not going to break a promise He has made whether He swears or not. It is for our benefit ONLY that He confirms His promise with an oath. It is the way we are used to hearing a promise validated.

Amen?
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I Told You So!
The former things I declared long ago, they went out from my mouth and I made them known; then suddenly I did them and they came to pass. (Isaiah 48:3)
 
When you end up in trouble, the worst thing someone can say to you is: "I told you so!" When a person gives you sound advice and you do not adhere to it, sometimes that person gets great pleasure in saying: "I told you so!" The last thing you want to hear when you have failed is: "I told you so! But that is exactly what God says to Israel in Isaiah 48:3. He had warned them that their sins would bring judgment. They continued in serving idol gods and rejecting the one and only true living God. Instead of seeking forgiveness, they persisted in their wicked ways.
 
The saving power of Jesus Christ is continually proclaimed through different media. Some people refuse to listen and turn from evil. Jesus is coming back to gather His people unto Himself. Those who have not listened and obeyed will experience judgment.
 
Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior so that God will not say to you: "I told you so!
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We Are All Like Sheep
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53-6-7)
 
Sheep are mentioned more frequently than any other animal in the Bible; about 750 times. This is because the Hebrew people were known as a race of wandering herdsmen. Kings and mighty men of the Bible (David, Moses, Amos, etc.) got their start by having the lowly job of tending sheep. The Bible makes many comparisons between the ways of sheep and humans.
 
By nature, sheep are the most ignorant animal. Sheep are helpless creatures. They depend on the shepherds to lead them to water and pasture, to fight off wild beasts, and to anoint their faces with oil when a snake nips them from the grass because they didn't have sense enough to get out of the way. Sheep are social animals that gather in flocks, but they tend to wander off and fall into a crevice or get caught in a thorn bush. Then the shepherd must leave the rest of his flock to search for the stray. Jesus told a parable about a shepherd who left the 99 sheep in search for the one that had wandered off (Matthew 18:12). David clearly describes how the shepherd protects his sheep in Psalm 23.
 
How are we like sheep? We go astray. We do wander into dangerous situations. How are we like sheep? We have a Good Shepherd who brings us back to the sheepfold and takes care of us (John 10:1-18). If you know Psalm 23, why not repeat it now for the comfort and peace of God throughout this day!
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Silence IS Golden
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
 
Jesus had every right to complain and to explain His situation; for He was falsely accused. Yet, he said nothing. He could have called on His Father for help or a legion of angels to come to His rescue, but He did not open His mouth. Jesus was silent and uncomplaining like a sheep before His shearers.
How many times have we messed up God's plan for us by opening our mouths at the wrong time? Silence IS golden. When we are confronted with situations and we have an urge to complain, explain, or talk back, let's remember that Jesus said nothing on Friday, but He said it all the following Sunday when God raised Him from the dead. Therefore, when you want to tell someone off, hold it for three days. By then, you won't have to.

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One Reason We Have So Little
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. (Isaiah 54:2)

Do you know the main reason you have so little? Do you have any idea why you do not possess all God wants you to have? You will be surprised to know that you do not have all that you could have is because you yourself have limited the space to receive your blessings. Little space, little and fewer blessings. Large space, larger and more blessings.

Churches are built to house the current members, but there is not much space for expansion. Churches should be built to house the people who have not yet shown up. Schools are crowded because no one saw beyond the current enrollment. Build extra classrooms even though they might be temporarily empty. Buy that house with extra rooms even though you have no children to occupy them. Perhaps someday you will.

The above scripture tells you to enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. Why? So that the space will be ready to house all the blessings God wants to give you. When you go to the river of life, don't take a thimble; take a bucket. When you go to God's altar, leave your teaspoon behind; take a wheelbarrow. When you ask God for something; stop thinking huts; think mansions instead. God gives us in proportion to the space we have designated to receive it. If you want more love, open your heart as wide as you can. Before long, every crevice of your heart will be filled.

You have so little because the space you have prepared for it is little and limited. God will fill the space you have set aside for your blessings. If you want bigger blessings, enlarge your tent to accommodate them.
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Enlarge Your Tent
Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. (Isaiah 54:2-3)

Isaiah used the metaphor of a tent being expanded to illustrate what God says to the Israelites in reference to going from poverty to wealth, humiliation to respect, weakness to power, captivity to freedom. A typical tent had nine poles in three rows and was divided into two rooms by a curtain. One room was for all the men and boys of the extended family, and one room was for all the women and girls. When more people needed shelter, another tent was out of the question. They enlarged the existing one by adding another row of poles to make another room. However, this meant straightening the poles and stretching the fabric.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez cried out to God to enlarge his tent while he was in a helpless and hopeless situation. Thousands of years later, God tells His people to enlarge their own tents because they are now able to do so. The point is this: It is all right to pray the Jabez prayer when you can't help yourself. However, there comes a time when God says, "Enlarge your own tents." That's because God knows you are able. God will do those things that you cannot do, but God wants you to do what you can. He wants you to participate in your own blessings.

If you have prayed that Prayer of Jabez months ago, now it's time to "enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."
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Covenant of Peace
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
 
God made and kept covenants with several patriarchs in the Bible. He made a covenant with Noah that He would never destroy the world by water again (Genesis 9:8-17). He has kept that promise. Likewise, He made a covenant with Abraham that he would have many descendants and those descendants would be blessed. We are seeds of Abraham, and we are continually being blessed. God also made a covenant of peace with Israel, His chosen people. He promised them and He promises us today that though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet His unfailing love for us will not be shaken nor His covenant of peace be removed.
 
That is good news because peace is "completeness, wholeness, soundness and well being of the total person." Peace is the inner tranquility and serenity of the Christian whose trust is in God through Jesus Christ. How many of you can honestly say that you have inner peace? Peace is something you cannot buy, beg, borrow or steal. Only God can give us total peace. Are you standing on that promise of peace?
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God Allows Certain Things to Happen
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing . . . (Isaiah 54:14)
 
Does God allow things to happen to Christians that He doesn't like? Yes, he does! God is all-powerful and certainly in control of everything that happens in His world. However, He has given us freedom to decide some things for ourselves. When we do wrong and get into a mess, it is not God's fault. It is because of our own free will. God shouldn't be blamed for our wrong choices.
 
Yes, God CAN prevent bad things from happening to good people including the attacks from enemies. But having given us free will, God often allows us to make our own choices. Sometimes these choices have devastating consequences including attacks from enemies.
 
We should pray that God will allow us to make godly and wise choices so that our lives will be pleasing to Him. Solomon asked for a wise and discerning heart and God answered his prayer (I Kings 3:12). He will answer ours as well.
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An Invitation
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (Isaiah 55:1)

Who doesn't like to be invited to an event? Who doesn't like to be included when others are invited? During this holiday season, you will probably get invited to many festivities. Some you will accept, and some you will decline. Here is one invitation you should accept.

All the information you need is included in the verse above.

WHAT:  Invitation to come

WHO:  All of you who are thirsty

WHERE:  Come to the waters

WHY:  Come, buy and eat

MENU: wine and milk

ADMISSION: Without money and without cost
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What Do You Value?
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2)

What do you value in life?  What would you spend your last dollar to buy?  What things would leave a void in your heart if they were taken away? Isaiah asked those questions to the people of his day. Those same questions are worthy enough to be asked of us as well.

What do you value in life? If you know don't what you really value, here is a simple way to find out.  Look at your check book for the last month. How are you spending your money? How many entries do you have for the music store because you have purchased the latest rap CD's? How many entries for the video store because of the X-rated movies you have rented? How about those checks made out to "Cash" to get money to go to Atlantic City to gamble or to have those extra dollars for lottery tickets?

What do you value in life? For the last month do you see four entries made out to your church for your tithes? How many entries did you make out to the Christian Book Store for a Bible for a new Christian in your church? How many entries do you have for other Christian charities? How many entries do you have that in some way indicate that you have helped to build the Kingdom of God here on earth?

What do you value? Why spend money on what does not satisfy and have lasting value? Why spend money on temporary pleasures? Spend your money on something of sustenance. Use your labor on what has long lasting satisfaction. What do YOU value?
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 Being Satisfied
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:2)

Last Saturday night I was the keynote speaker at the Sunday School Teachers' Appreciation Banquet at Gravel Hill Baptist Church, Richmond, VA. The china, silverware, long stem glasses and table decorations were elegant. The food consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, string beans, and carrot souffle tasted like it had been seasoned with a distinct ingredient that I could not pinpoint. It was so satisfying that I did not desire seconds. That led me to have a profound revelation.
 
God revealed to me that if our food is prepared properly and seasoned just right, the first helping will satisfy us so much that there will be no need for seconds. We usually go for seconds not because we are still hungry but because we have not been satiated. Like food, people seek many idol gods trying to find that which will satisfy the craving within. Idols are incomplete, imperfect, substandard and make us crave more. When people aren't satisfied, they turn to excessive food, drinks, drugs, alcohol, sex, and shopping. People over indulge because they can't get satisfaction from the first helping of the imperfects, the incompletes, and the substandards. These things keep us wanting more and more; yet none of it gives us the satisfaction we strongly desire.
 
God put a craving within our soul that only He can satisfy. He created us with a longing that substitutes can't replace Him. He deliberately gave us a strong desire for Him that nothing else can fill that space... not food, not drink, not drugs, not alcohol, not sex and not shopping.
 
Hungry? Try Jesus Christ. He is the bread of life. Thirsty? Jesus is the living water.
 
By the way, I did find out what that special ingredient was that made the food taste so good and satisfying. The gravy was made with apple juice. Because I put the gravy on the mashed potatoes and turkey, the taste permeated throughout the entire meal.

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The Art of Listening
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me, that your soul may live. (Isaiah 55:2-3)
 
It is no doubt that some people do not listen wholeheartedly. This is evident by what they do. The true test of listening is obedience. It is no doubt that people hear. But hearing and listening are two different things. We hear with our ears, but we listen with our entire being.

 Listening is an art. It is an important spiritual skill. Listening is paying close attention to what is said and then responding to what has been heard. Hearing and listening are both essential for a more intimate relationship with God. What you do with what you have heard is the proof that you have heard. And we must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away into a lifestyle of sin (Hebrews 2:1).
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Endowed With Splendor
Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. (Isaiah 55:5)
 
What is splendor? Splendor is defined as "magnificence" and "grandeur." It is magnificent richness or glory. How does God give His people splendor? This scripture in Isaiah refers to the fact that when nations were conquered and taken into captivity they lost their national identity forever. They would just blend in with other people and simply disappear as a distinct people. God gave splendor to Israel by (1) preserving its national and religious identity while in exile, and (2) returning them to Jerusalem after humiliation at the hands of the Babylonians. God's people would AGAIN be able to hold their heads high because of the splendor of God.
 
Even when other nations were losing everything including their identity, God promised His people splendor. The life application for us is that while others are experiencing hardship and humiliation, as people of God we need not fear. No matter what problem we face today, God has promised to endow us with splendor!
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Unknown Nations
Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you because of the Lord your God. (Isaiah 55:5)

I'm sure everyone has a biblical passage that brings hope to their soul each time they read it. One such passage for me is Isaiah 55. I can't remember ever reading it without being blessed in some miraculous way. No matter what is going on in my life, Isaiah 55 brings me face to face with God.

What's so special about Isaiah 55 as far as my soul is concerned? First of all, Isaiah 55 begins with an invitation with no strings attached. God invites everyone to come to the waters and drink; even people without money. In fact, God tells us to leave our money at home because what He has to offer is without price.

Although the entire chapter speaks to me, certain verses speak louder at different times. Which verse resounds from the mountaintop at this particular writing? "Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you because of the Lord your God." (Isaiah 55:5) I am embracing this as a promise, and I am seeing its fulfillment through 2,104 E-Messages that have gone to places unknown and to people unseen.

I thank God for the people I summon through these E-Messages even though I do not know them. I thank God for the people who communicate with me even though they do not know me. Why are YOU so important to me and the ministry God has entrusted into my care? Because of the Lord our God!

I might eventually meet some of you while we are here on earth; however, many of you I will never see until we get to heaven.  And oh, what a time that will be!
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Only A Breath Away
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
 
While God dwells far above us, he is still reachable. Even though His dwelling place is higher than the earth, we can still enjoy His presence. So what does the above verse mean? Although God reveals Himself to us, we can't understand all there is about Him. We can't understand His ways. God is the master of the universe; the Creator. We are His subjects; His creation. Therefore, we can't understand the One who was so powerful enough to create us. Because of His great love for us we can trust Him even though we don't understand Him.
 
Do you understand all the mechanics of how this message reached your computer miles away from the one it was originally typed on; yet you can enjoy it? Do you understand how you can go into a room, turn on a switch and the light comes on? You might not understand it, but what's keeping you from enjoying the light and the television and other electric appliances connected to that light switch? How about your telephone? Do you fully understand how you can press a combination of numbers and a telephone rings in another part of the world and you can talk to someone miles away? Simply amazing; yet we can enjoy these things without understanding how they work. The God we serve has ways much higher than we could ever imagine, and our thoughts are puny in comparison to His.
 
We can enjoy God and call on Him because even though the heavens are far above the earth, God is still only a breath away!
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Why Do Things Go Wrong?
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

All of us have asked the question, "If God is in control, why do things go wrong?" We ask that question when young people die and old people remain sick and airplane crashes cause hundreds to die and tornadoes, hurricanes and floods take the lives of so many. So, if God is in control, why do things go wrong?

God IS in control. What we see as going wrong is only wrong according to our limited understanding. We cannot see the big picture as God can. While God NEVER causes bad things to happen, He does allow them to happen. So, why would a loving God allow bad things to happen?

We will all wrestle with that question as long as we live because we can never see the things God sees or know the things God knows. However, we can trust God and believe that whatever He does, He does it so that He will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He allows it. (Isaiah 55:11)

There is no 12-Step Program to understand why things go wrong. There is no quick fix to guarantee that we will never have trouble. What we can do is to serve God when things are going right so that when things go wrong we will already have established a relationship with God so that He will not seem far away and not caring.

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Seed to the Sower
For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater . . . (Isaiah 55:10)

God does not waste anything. There is a purpose for everything God does. The rain and snow have a purpose to water the earth to make it bring forth buds and sprouts in order to provide seed to those who choose to sow back into the earth. It is interesting that God provides the resource (seed) for the sower to give back to Him so He can give back to the sower a harvest in the form he can use (bread). That is why those who give to the Kingdom of God keep getting back that which they sow. However, those who do not sow should not expect to reap.

Those who know anything about farming know that if you have seeds and keep them in a jar to look at, you will always have that same amount of seeds in a jar to look at. They will produce nothing. They will always remain seeds. On the other hand, if you plant your seeds during seed time, you are bound to reap a crop during harvest time.

Whatever you want to gain, you must plant seeds toward that thing. If you want more friends, than sow the seeds of friendship. If you want a better relationship with your spouse, then plant some seeds toward that end. If you want a bumper crop (no matter what it is) you MUST plant the appropriate seeds for it.

It would be foolish to look for cucumbers in your backyard when you know you haven’t planted any cucumber seeds. So, why do you expect God to send you a harvest of whatever you desire when you know you haven’t planted any seeds to produce that harvest?

If you sow nothing, you will reap nothing. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). You reap in the direct proportion to what you sow. If you don’t believe me, ask any farmer. If you don’t believe the farmer, try it yourself!
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God's Promise
So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
 
Many believe God up to a point, and then say "Maybe God's promises are not for me but for someone else." God is no repecter of persons. God shows no partiality. (Acts 10:34).
 
Some say, "Look at Moses, God promised him he would go into the Promised Land, and then God reneged." Yes, it is true that Moses only viewed the Promised Land from Mount Nebo. Did you know that 1400 years later Moses did enter the Promised Land along with Elijah and Jesus atop Mount Transfiguration (Matthew17:3)? So you see, no matter how long it takes, God does keep promises. Every one of God's promises is a "Yes" (2 Corinthians 1:20).
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God's Word Will Not Return Void
So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
 
Whatever God says does come to pass. His word will not return to Him void or empty. Whatever God says will be. In Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." That's our purpose spoken by God. Isaiah 55:11 says God's word will not return to him void, but it shall prosper in the thing for which He sent it.
 
Are you working in your purpose? Are you doing what God designed you to do?
Assess what your purpose is. Celebrate if you are already doing what God created you to do. If not, remember that eventually God's word shall come to pass.
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Non-Negotiables
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Some things in life are negotiable. For instance, it doesn't matter to God if you wear a blue or brown suit to work. It doesn't matter to God if you drive a Ford or Chevrolet. It doesn't matter to God if you live in Richmond, VA or Richmond, CA unless however, He has instructed you otherwise in each of these cases. The above situations are negotiable and can be done according to your own free will without violating God's laws or disobeying His commandments.
 
Some things in life are non-negotiable. There are some things God has commanded without any ifs, ands, and buts about them. God says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39) Non-negotiable! God says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12) Non-negotiable! God says, "Forgive others so you might be forgiven." (Matthew 6:15) Non-negotiable!
 
The Bible is full of non-negotiables. No matter how much you say you don't have to do them, God will remind you in some way that His word will not return unto Him void. (Isaiah 55:11) If God said it is non-negotiable, guess what? It is non-negotiable!

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Making The Right Choice
And choose what pleases me, and hold fast my covenant. (Isaiah 56:4)

 
We have to make choices all the time. God gives us the freedom of choice. There are certain criteria to help us to make positive choices; choices that we will not likely regret.
 
Right choices are sometimes difficult to make. When Matthew got up from the tax collector's booth in the middle of the road to follow Jesus, he had to leave behind all his IRS paperwork. Once he left, he could never go back (Matthew 9:9). The fishermen who followed Jesus did not have the same difficulty because they could always go back to a fish pond. Even though the decision could have been difficult for Matthew, he made the right choice.
 
Right choices are those with God at the center. We can make the same kinds of choices Jesus made. All of His choices were right because He did only what His Father told Him to do. He did what pleased His Father. Because of our identification with Jesus, we can make the type of choices that Jesus made. The questions: "What would Jesus do?" and "What would Jesus have me do?" will help us make right choices.
 
Are you having difficulty making the right choice about your job, home, car, family, relationships, education, or career? In order to make the right choice about anything, you must include God and do what pleases Him.
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What Is Fasting?
Isn't this the fast that I want: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)

asure. Most people think fasting is only from food. However, there are many different types of fasts. The purpose of a fast is to purify your temple so you can hear from God. This is best done by giving up food, drink, intimate marital relationships, television or whatever you consider to be a sacrifice. This way, you are letting God know you are serious. In other words, you are mortifying the flesh so that you will be in a better position spiritually.

If you have never fasted before, start with something simple. Fast from television for a set period of time. Or fast from snacks, sweets, or sodas, etc. Let it be a sacrifice. If you don't already eat spinach and you say you are giving it up, then that's neither a sacrifice nor a fast. Fasting is more than skipping a meal. A true fast ALWAYS occurs along with praying. You can pray without fasting, but you cannot fast without praying!

If you want to fast from food, do so, but still drink water. An excellent and most rewarding fast is to fast from all solid foods for three days and eat nothing but soups and broths. At first you will feel lightheaded, but after the third day your desire for food will decrease.

To be effective, do not be like the Pharisees who boasted about fasting. Do not attempt a fast to lose weight. Go on a fast to get closer to God, to hear from God and to let God know you are serious about your relationship with Him.

Remember, fasting is renouncing the natural to invoke the supernatural!
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On the Road to Recovery
Then your light will appear like the dawn, and your recovery will come quickly. (Isaiah 58:8)

Our church does not have a "Sick and Shut-In" List printed in our bulletin. We do however announce and let the congregation know those who are "on the road to recovery." What's the difference? It is a big difference between labeling someone as sick and shut-in and someone on the road to recovery. Which label would you prefer if you were sick?

This morning I e-mailed a student to inquire about her husband who has the flu. Her response was, "He is on the road to recovery!" She is calling forth healing and wholeness before it is manifested in the body. She is accepting good health in the spirit instead of acknowledging sickness in the natural. Even though healing has not completely taken place, she is not giving power to the illness.

We keep people sick and shut in by constantly saying they are sick and shut in. Speak forth life over those people instead of confining them to a bed of affliction. Yes, a child of God can be sick, but a child of God should never be shut in. We need to change what we say about the sick among us. If I am ever sick, please say I am on the road to recovery. Don't prolong my illness by saying I am sick and shut in.

If you are sick and people ask you: "How are you feeling?" simply say, "I am on the road to recovery!" If you have to report on the well being of another, it is always better and it has a spiritual implication to say, "He/She is on the road to recovery!"
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Knowing When to Say "So What?" and "Whatever!"
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

We interpret the words "So what?" and "Whatever" as expressions of one's attitude. We usually hear these expressions from teenagers. For instance, a father might say, "Jane, you stayed out past your curfew." Jane replies with an attitude, "So what?" Then the father says, "I am taking the car keys from you, and you cannot go out again for a month." Then Jane retorts with an attitude, "Whatever!"

Teenagers are not the only ones who respond with "So what?" and "Whatever!" to express frustration, irritability, rebellion and down right disgust. I have heard it said by preachers, teachers, deacons, store clerks, friends and family members. On occasions, I have used those terms myself. So what?

Since "So what?" and "Whatever" are attitudinal expressions denoting disgust, let's know when they can be used more appropriately. Let's try not to display our attitude by saying those things to each other but to the enemy. When the enemy comes in like a flood, say "So what?" and know that the spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19). When you are afflicted with pain throughout your body, say, "So what?" and know that by Jesus' death on the cross you are healed. When you look at your dwindling bank statement, say "So what?" My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) When people mistreat you, say "So what?" Then forgive them and treat them with kindness anyway.

When the enemy tries to get you to compare yourself with others, say, "Whatever!" When the enemy puts the idea in your mind that you are spending too much time with God, say to the devil, "Whatever!" And when the enemy tells you that you are about to go into the lion's den, look the devil square in the face and say, "Whatever!" Be so anchored in God that on any given occasion, you can say, "Whatever!" and let the devil take his best shot with his fiery darts. (Ephesians 6:16)

Let's say,  "So what?" and "Whatever!" appropriately; not to each other but to the devil who comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)
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Is God Your Pilot or Co-Pilot?
The Lord will guide you always. (Isaiah 58:11)

Is God your pilot or co-pilot? If you said, "Pilot," then God is in the right seat. If you said, "Co-Pilot," then you need to change seats. If God is your co-pilot, you are in the driver's seat with limited visibility and capability.  And you are not experiencing all that God has in store for you because you are in the way.

When God is your pilot, He will enable you to soar above the storms. When you are the pilot and God is your co-pilot, you will barely get off the runway. When God is your pilot, you can relax and leave the driving to Him.  You don't have to worry about the turbulence or the bumpy ride or ever getting lost for He can see the end of the journey from the beginning. He can remove any obstacles along the way.

If you have tried to control your own life and circumstances, let go and let God become your pilot. Of course, you do have a choice.  But look at your track record . . . the accidents, the faulty takeoffs and landings, the near misses with others, etc. You have tried to control your own life long enough. Now let God take over and guide you along the way for a smooth ride and a successful landing. God knows the way, and He will guide you through the unseen and dangerous territories with ease. Let God be your "pillar of cloud by day and your pillar of fire by night" for a safe and prosperous journey. (Exodus 13:21)

Let God be your pilot and not your co-pilot. This is the only way you will receive ALL that God has in store for you. Now go ahead and change seats!
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Our Problem; God's Solution
Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
 
According to the above scripture, sin is the cause of our separation from God. God is perfect, righteous and holy. Since a holy God cannot look on sin, we break fellowship with God when we have habitual sin in our lives. When we live a lifestyle of sin, God turns his face from us. In order to be accepted by God, we must renew our relationship with Him. Without God we are naked, helpless, and hopeless. That's the problem.
 
God is not only perfect holiness, but God is also perfect love and full of grace, mercy and compassion. Because of these perfect characteristics, God has not left us without a solution. The solution is, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." That's the solution. Jesus himself said, "No man comes into the father but by me." John 14:6
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Oaks of Righteousness
" . . . that they may be called oaks of righteousness. . . " (Isaiah 61:3 NRSV)
 
Some versions of the Bible say "trees of righteousness." The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is more specific. Isaiah referred to certain people as "oaks of righteousness."
 
An oak is a very large tree with a massive trunk that was an important historical landmark for the Hebrews. The oak tree symbolizes sturdiness and strength. Unlike some trees, oaks can grow almost any place. No other tree grows the size of the oak which could measure nearly 48 feet around. Oaks grow slowly and usually do not bear acorns until they are about 20 years old. But oaks live a long time - about 200 or 300 years.
 
Isaiah referred to God's people as "oaks of righteousness" for the same reason as David did in Psalm 1. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). Righteous people are like oak trees. They grow by the word of God and when the time is right, they bring forth acorns which in turn become sturdy oak trees, which in turn bring forth acorns, which in turn bring forth sturdy oak trees . . . as the cycle continues.
 
What kind of tree can you be compared to . . . pine, palm, spruce, balsam, poplar, willow, evergreen, sycamore or the sturdy and strong oak?
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How Are You Clothed?
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10)
 
Have you paid attention recently to the way people dress...Christains included? They advertise what they are wearing with the designer's name on it from hats and sunglasses, down to their socks and shoes. Even purses and umbrellas have some type of advertisement promoting the company's products. And the most common piece of clothing with advertisement on it is the t-shirt.
 
People become walking billboards when they wear logos and slogans. In other words, they are saying to the public: "I have tried this; it works and I want to endorse it so that you can buy it and try it also." People, especially Christians, should be careful about what they are advertising on their clothing. They could be sending mixed messages. Some say they are sold out for Jesus, but they advertise what Jesus Himself wouldn't endorse. Be clothed with garments of salvation and covered with the robe of righteousness.
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Why Lift Up Holy Hands To Worship God?
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Isaiah 63:4)
 
From ancient times, upraised hands have revealed both praise and petition. The Hebrews used their hands to express both their dependence on God and their respect for him. Lifting their hands symbolized an expectant attitude and trust in God -- that He would fill their empty hands with His blessings.
 
Many bodily movements are associated with worship. So as you worship God, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit to STAND, KNEEL, BOW, DANCE, LIE ON FACE, CLAP HANDS or LIFT HANDS to the Lord. These forms of praise and worship are scriptural when done by the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit and when done decently and in order with reverence and adoration for God. The psalmist commands: "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord." (Psalm 134:2)
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