Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:1-26;
Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 24:9-10
God is interested in people who mourn over their sins. He is willing to heal those who mourn and He brings peace into their lives. There is no peace for the wicked, however.
We learn through Isaiah's writings that God is not impressed with hypocrisy and outward signs of faith. He is interested in obedient behavior born out of dedication to God. He prefers that a person not oppress other people, rather than offer a sacrifice at the Temple. Here are some behaviors God specifies:
- Free those who are wrongly imprisoned.
- Stop oppressing those who work for you.
- Share your food with the hungry.
- Welcome the poor wanderer into your home.
- Stop making false accusations.
- Stop vicious rumors.
- Help those who are in trouble.
Israel's separation from God is a result of her sin. She has oppressed people and loved herself more than God.
Chapter 59 describes Christ putting on spiritual armor to fight for Israel. This includes righteousness and the helmet of salvation. This is part of Jesus' first coming to earth. Perhaps the Apostle Paul got some of his wording for his armor of God passage in Ephesians chapter 6 from Isaiah. The Messiah clothes himself with the robes of vengeance and godly fury. This will be evident in the Great Tribulation and at Christ's second coming. He wears this armor to fight the enemies of Israel and the enemies of God. Again, we see the promise of a Redeemer in Israel who buys back his people who will finally turn from their sins. The words of God will be on the lips of the Israelites and their children forever.
Do you realize that God still desires righteous behavior from those who love Him? Have you helped others in need? How?
The Epistle to the Philppians is one of four epistles written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Philippi is one of the churches founded on the continent of Europe. Lydia, the woman who was a seller of purple cloth, was the first Christian convert in Europe. She is a member of the church of Philippi, as well as the Phillipian jailer, his family, and the girl who was demon-possessed from whom Paul cast out a spirit of divination.
Paul has deep love and affection for the church in Philippi. We see in Paul's introduction that he names Timothy as a co-author and fellow slave to Jesus Christ. Paul loves and prays for this group as he considers them partners in spreading the Good News of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul encourages them to continue in their love for one another, staying focused on what really matters. He explains that his imprisonment is serving a good purpose for Christ. People are aware that Paul is in chains because of his witness to the truth about Jesus. Paul knows that his behavior matters. He prays that his life will always honor Christ. He wants to have fruitful service for his Master.
Notice that Paul does not fear death. Quite the contrary, he looks forward to being with Jesus forever. For now it is better that he stay alive on earth to keep spreading the Good News.
Do you fear death? Does your behavior reflect dedication to Christ?
Verse 7 says, "My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection." This is what the Apostle Paul is talking about. This is how Jesus conducted Himself on earth. This is our example.
Fools and mockers are sinful and to be despised.
What did you notice today?