Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30- Arise, Jerusalem!

September 30, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 60:1-62:5; Philippians 1:27-2:18;
Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 24:11-12

If they had connived a scheme, and Christ had not been raised from the dead, where would have been the hardest place on the face of the earth to convince anyone?  Jerusalem. 
 ~Josh McDowell

Isaiah 60:1-62:5

People who go to modern day Jerusalem have mixed reactions to the city.  Although it is a city of ancient Biblical history, the present day city is not a glorious place.  It is filled with strife, commercialism, and worldliness.  Rather than a place of peace and serenity, it is a bustle of problems.

Today Isaiah gives us a glimpse of Jerusalem in the future.  One day Jerusalem will be a light that shines out to the whole world. It will be God's capital city. All nations will come to Jerusalem to worship her King. Chapter 60 portrays the Jewish people flocking back to Jerusalem from the far corners of the earth. Gentiles come to see King Jesus and this time verse 6 tells us that they come bearing gifts of gold and incense.  Notice that they do not bring myrrh this time, because myrrh is associated with death.  Jesus has died and risen.  This time there is no need for myrrh!

The city that was virtually destroyed during the Great Tribulation will be restored, using the nations of the earth to restore Jerusalem.  During Christ's millennial reign on earth, the earth is transformed to a place of peace and prosperity.  The desert blossoms and unity prevails.  Jerusalem is a crown jewel of the earth. Salvation will be on everyone's lips and praise will flow from each person.  Many children will be born during Christ's earthly reign (vs. 22). 

Chapter 61 begins with a verse that Jesus partially read to start his earthly ministry in Nazareth.  You may remember in the book of Luke 4:16-19 that Jesus went to his local synagogue and read this first part of Isaiah 61 to his congregation.  When he closed the Bible, he declared that this Scripture had been fulfilled in their hearing that day.  It should be noted that Jesus stopped reading before he got to the section that describes him bringing God's wrath upon the earth.  Jesus interpreted Isaiah by closing the Bible at a certain point in the passage.  He was only interested in speaking of his first coming to earth at that time.

Jesus' interpretation of Isaiah shows us that his first coming had one purpose and his second coming will have a different purpose.  In Christ's first coming, Jesus brings good news to those who are poor in spirit (humble), he comforts the brokenhearted, and he sets the captives free from sin and death.  In his second coming, Jesus judges the earth.  Before his final judgment, he reigns on earth in peace.

Chapter 61 shows us Jesus reigning as King with the nation of Israel finally fulfilling their role of being a nation of priests on earth. As the teachers of truth, the nations will finally love and admire the Jews.  They will be righteous lovers of  God and will enjoy prosperity and everlasting joy.  The nations will support their efforts as priests by giving them gifts. It will be Springtime on earth as Jesus makes everything blossom.  He will be the bridegroom and the city will be the bride.

Chapter 62 shows Jesus' heart for Jerusalem and the important part that praying for the renewal of Jerusalem plays in bringing about this future reality.  We saw in Jesus' final days on earth that he mourned over Jerusalem and her lack of faith, which would ultimately bring about her destruction.  Jesus is invested in Jerusalem's revival during the Millennium.  He wants all believers to pray for this to come about.  When the new heaven and the new earth are created after the final judgment on earth, a New Jerusalem will come out of heaven and represent the eternal place of peace for all who love God. In the mean time during Jesus' earthly reign, Jerusalem will be called the City of God's Delight and the Bride of God.  God will rejoice over Jerusalem and care for her like a husband cares for his bride.  No more crying, now.  Jerusalem will finally live up to the meaning of her name which is "the new city of peace"!

Do you pray for the peace of Jerusalem?  Christ wants you to.

Philippians 1:27-2:18

Paul reminds the Philippians that it is their duty to act like citizens of heaven.  This is projecting into the future when we will exist in the new heavens and the new earth with Jesus. This perspective helps the believer to endure suffering on this earth.  Because there is a glorious future, these present trials do not overwhelm.

Because Paul is suffering at this time, he is asking the Philippians to make his suffering worthwhile by living out the truth of the message for which he is suffering.  Their love of one another and working together with one heart and purpose will accomplish this.

Humility is an important part of being able to do this. Jesus is our example of humility in that he was willing to come down from heaven, make himself nothing, and die a criminal's death on the cross. This obedience and humility caused God to raise him from the dead and exalt him above every other name on earth.

The Philippians can experience the same victory through the power of the Holy Spirit.  They, too, can be humble and obedient, able to endure suffering, and worthy to obtain eternal victory over death through their faith in Christ. Paul is hoping that his teaching has not been in vain.  Their lives lived obediently will be proof of this.  Paul describes himself as being poured out like a drink offering.  This is really losing yourself for others.

Have you ever been completely poured out for another person?  Have you ever given all that you have to someone else in order to build them up?  This is Christ-like behavior.  That is what Jesus did for us.

Psalm 72:1-10

Please picture Christ as the King when you read this psalm.

Proverbs 24:11-12

Here is another portion of Scripture that indicates that God will judge.  This is a constant theme in the Bible.

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29- Behavior Matters

September 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:1-26;
Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 24:9-10

Isaiah 57:15-59:21

If our salvation was dependant upon our behavior, we would all be in deep trouble.  Today God speaks of his mercy and desire to help those who are humble before Him.  A contrite spirit goes a long way with God. God reminds us that He will not always stay angry about sin.  If He did, all people would pass away and all of our souls that He made would be destroyed.  This is not God's plan.

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.
The Israelites were to keep the Sabbath.  This was a sign of resting in the Messiah.  This practice foreshadowed the day when Christ would die on the cross and provide eternal rest for our souls. The Church is no longer required to keep special holy days or the Sabbath because Jesus is our Sabbath rest who we rest in continually. Our desire to worship together and fellowship on the Lord's day should not be confused with the required Sabbath that the Jews kept.  Christians are compelled by their love of God to worship daily. We also worship God by keeping the sabbath rest of relying on Christ to cleanse us from our sins perpetually, not resting in our own works to save us (See Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1; Galatians 5; Hebrews 10:9).  The Sabbath practice will be reinstated during Jesus' millennial reign on earth and is reestablished during the Great Tribulation when the Church is no longer on earth. This will be studied more as we go through the books of the major and minor prophets and the book of Revelation.

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?

Philippians 1:1-26

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?

Psalm 71:1-24

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.

Proverbs 24:9-10

Fools and mockers are sinful and to be despised.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28- Is Anyone Thirsty?

September 28, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 54:1-57:14; Ephesians 6:1-24;
Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 24:8

Isaiah 54:1-57:14

Today, we see God's relationship with Israel through the lens of His being her husband.  Israel is portrayed as a divorced, adulterous woman who has been unable to have children.  God is the angry husband who has had to endure her rebellion.  In spite of this negative situation, God (the husband) has made a promise long ago that He intends to fulfill.  The woman, who had lived in only 30,000 acres of land (this is the amount of the Promised Land that the Jews actually occupied), will need to extend her borders, one day.  In the Millennial Kingdom Israel will be restored as a faithful wife who has had many descendants.  Even more descendants than anyone else on earth.  Israel will live in all 300,000 acres of the Promised Land. The shame of Israel's adultery with many idols will be forgiven and God will have redeemed His ransomed bride.

God promises to never pour out His anger on Israel again.  Just as He promised Noah to never destroy the earth by flood again, Israel will no longer be a scorned and punished people. With compassion God will fulfill his covenant of blessing to Israel.

Jerusalem is described as being rebuilt with a foundation of sapphires and walls of precious jewels.  This picture is seen again in Revelation 21.  This jumps forward to the New Jerusalem that is part of the new heaven and the new earth.

In chapter 55 God asks if anyone is thirsty?  God is our source of life giving water.  Through God alone the soul can be quenched and last forever. The coming Messiah must be called upon while He is near.  He will pardon sins abundantly, but acceptance of the Messiah is available only to those who are upon the earth.  During our lifetimes we must follow truth in order to claim God's promises.

Chapter 56 reveals that God's promises also extend to the Gentiles and to the handicapped.  In the Mosaic Law the eunuch and the Gentile could not participate in the priesthood of the Temple.  In God's coming Kingdom God's Temple is open to all.  The unbelieving Jewish leaders, who led people astray and wasted their time in greed and drunkenness, will not be part of God's kingdom.

Chapter 57 contrasts the righteous believers with condemned unbelievers. The godly can die in peace. The idol worshipers who have adulterated themselves with Baal, Molech, and Asherah will be found wanting.  What they thought were good works will be actions that condemn them.

What do you think about God declaring His faithfulness to the unfaithful Israel?  God keeps His promises.

Ephesians 6:1-24

Paul continues to write about how the Christian family should operate.  The wife and husband should be in harmony because the wife allows her husband to be the head of the household and the husband sacrificially puts the wife ahead of his own needs. Each one puts the other first. The children are to obey their mother and father.  Paul points out that this is the first of the Ten Commandments that comes with a promise of a  long life, full of blessing.  That should be a motivator!!  Fathers are encouraged to not exasperate their children by harshness and hard demands.

Slaves are to obey their masters and masters are to treat slaves fairly, remembering that they are all slaves to Jesus, who is their kind Master.

Paul concludes this section with the teaching that the Holy Spirit gives the Christian mighty power in all of this.  A Christian must put on armor to fight the spiritual battles that will arise against our foe, the Devil.  Paul reminds us that we are not fighting flesh and blood, but powers and principalities, evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.  If we use God's weaponry, we will be found standing at the end of the battle. Here is the famous passage,
"Stand firm then, with the belt of Truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and your feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace.  In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."  Ephesians 6:14-18 NIV
Do you rely on truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer to get you through temptations and trials?  These are our weapons to fight.  Do you know the truth?  Do you know God's word?  Are you experienced in prayer?  This is the only way to stand in the face of adversity.

Psalm 70:1-5

Here is an example of using prayer and truth to fight off the devil.  This psalm is an example of using God's armor.

Proverbs 24:8

If you are a person who plans evil, you will get a reputation as a troublemaker.

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27- Your Salvation Is Coming

September 27, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 51:1-53:12; Ephesians 5:1-33;
Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 24:7

Isaiah 51:1-53:12

Today, the Lord is simultaneously warning the nation of Israel that they are going to endure generations of suffering because of their rebellion against God and encouraging the nation of Israel because through them God intends to bring salvation not only to the Israelites, but to the whole world.

God starts by reminding Israel that they are mined from a good rock.  That rock's name was Abraham, and God promised to bless Abraham to become a great nation. God promises that one day He will bless Israel, too.  You see, Israel is that great nation that came from Abraham. The barren days of suffering will be over and she (Israel) will bloom like a flower in the desert.

God literally tells Israel that her salvation is coming!  God's salvation lasts forever, unlike the heavens and earth, which are described as the skies disappearing like smoke and the earth wearing out like a piece of clothing (vs. 5-6). One theme stressed in the Bible is that only God's Spirit is what lasts forever.  This is why it is crucial for believers that God's Holy Spirit come to earth and indwell believers.  This is the key to why we can live forever.  The only way we can live forever is to have God's Spirit inside of us.  His Spirit is the key to living forever.  We receive His Spirit through faith in Christ.

Beautiful language is used to encourage Israel that she will not always live in fear of human oppression. She will not always drink of the cup of God's wrath.  The cup of wrath will be taken from Israel's hands and put into the hands of her oppressors.  In the book of Revelation we see the imagery of the cup of God's wrath poured out on the enemies of God in the Great Tribulation.  This ties back to these prophesies in Isaiah.

Israel was subjected to slavery in Egypt. Next, Assyria takes the Northern Kingdom captive.  Babylon will take the Southern Kingdom captive.  Persia, Greece, and Rome will oppress Israel.  Even in modern times the Jews have endured the Holocaust.  In the future Israel will continue to fear oppressors.  Why?  God is orchestrating history.  We see this explained in Isaiah.  God's story is the story of Israel's suffering and redemption.  Israel is a representation of  man.  Mankind fell in the Garden, but God chooses to love, overcome sin, and save mankind.  This is why Israel has endured all of this suffering.  They are a living illustration.  We learned in the book of Job that God controls all things and we are to trust His power, love, goodness, and sovereignty.  Remember that we are unable to even create one flower.  The pot must not dare to challenge the potter.  This is also a constant theme in the Bible.  We have two choices...get on board with God's plan and experience eternity with Him or rebel against the Creator and be doomed. 

In chapter 52 God declares that people who bring good news have beautiful feet.  The news that the God of Israel reigns and will one day bring peace and salvation to the earth is certainly good news. All the ends of the earth will see the redemption of Israel and will experience God's grace.

At the end of chapter 52 and beginning in chapter 53 we come to a section that gives detailed information on what Israel's Messiah/Redeemer will be like.  Here are some of the details:
  • He will be beaten and bloodied and so disfigured that he is unrecognizable as a person. Vs. 13-14
  • He will startle many nations, and kings will stand speechless in his presence (with his resurrection, I presume). Vs. 15
  • He grows up like a tender shoot in the dry and sterile ground (a reference to no children of God until the Messiah accomplishes his mission). Vs. 2
  • He was not beautiful or majestic and nothing would physically attract us to him. Vs. 2
  • He was despised and rejected,-a man of sorrows who is acquainted with bitter grief. People will turn their backs on him in his grief and look the other way. Vs. 3
  • It is the world's weaknesses that he is carrying and it is our sorrows that are weighing him down.  His troubles are misinterpreted as being because God is punishing him for his own sins. Vs. 4
  • He is wounded for our sins and bruised for our iniquities. He is beaten so we will have peace. He is whipped and we are healed. Vs. 5
  • God lays the guilt of all of us on him. Even though we are the sheep that have strayed, yet he is the lamb that takes away the sin. Vs. 6
  • He was oppressed and treated harshly, but does not say a word (like a lamb being led to slaughter). Vs. 7
  • Sheep are silent when they are sheared and the Messiah is silent when led to his death. Vs. 8
  • The people will not realize that he is dying for their sins. Vs. 9
  • He will die having never sinned.  He will be buried like a criminal in a rich man's grave. Vs. 9
  • It is God's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief because this offering for sin produces many children and heirs. Vs. 10 (No longer a dry and infertile ground)
  • He will live a long life (resurrected) and will prosper. Vs. 10
  • His anguish will have accomplished God's will and this will satisfy the Messiah. He will be happy after his suffering. Vs. 11
  • His actions will make it possible for many to become righteous, because he will bear all of their sins. Vs. 11
  • He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners, so he will be given the place of great honor. Vs. 12
Wow.  Any Old Testament believer is able to see Jesus' life and mission on earth before the first day of his birth by reading the book of Isaiah.  We can see why Jesus is scolding the religious leaders for not knowing their Scriptures.  Jesus claimed that the Scriptures spoke of him.  Now you and I can see that Jesus was correct in this claim.

What do you think of this?  God is proving that idols are worthless and that He has always controlled history.  Do you believe this?  How does this change things for you?

Ephesians 5:1-33

Paul is entreating the Ephesians to behave in such a way as to imitate Christ.  Isaiah just gave us a view of the Messiah as self-sacrificing, humble, and meek.  Paul is asking the Ephesians to be this way also.

Obscene stories, foolish talk, course language, and immorality are to have no place in the Christian's life.  Greed is really idolatry.  We are not to fool ourselves into thinking that the love of money is not idolatry.  It is. We are to figure out what is pleasing to the Lord and do those things.  That would not be getting drunk all the time. We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

This will lead to transformed marital relations with the wife submitting to her husband and allowing him to lead in the family.  It will cause the husband to love his wife like she is his own body.  Giving sacrificially to her and putting her first.  Paul refers to marriage as an illustration of Christ and his Church.  They are one in intimacy.  Christ is sacrificial towards the Church and puts her first in his death.  The Church is to love and follow Christ.  Allowing him to lead.  Marriage is to be a living illustration of this.

What do you think of Paul's admonitions?

Psalm 69:19-36

Here is a psalm that describes David's dealing with enemies, but could also represent Israel's problems with enemies and Jesus' problems with enemies.

Proverbs 24:7

Fools are overwhelmed by wisdom.  Have you ever noticed this.  It's true.

What did you see, today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26- Peace Like A River

September 26, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 48:12-50:11; Ephesians 4:17-32;
Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 24:5-6

Isaiah 48:12-50:11

God is stating His case to Israel.  He is the First and the Last.  The Alpha and the Omega.  He is the one who laid the foundations of the earth.  With His palm He filled the heavens with millions of stars.  He deserves to be worshiped and obeyed.

He is the Redeemer.  Part of God's plan, as revealed in Isaiah's prophecy, is that God is the one who required justice and He, Himself, is the justifier.  He is the one who redeems and pays the debt for all of mankind.  He is also a teacher who leads us down paths that should be followed.  In verses 18 we get this beautiful promise,
"Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling like waves."
Does this describe your life?  It can if you will listen to the teachings in this book and follow them with humility.

Chapter 49 brings us another beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here is a list of predictions about the Messiah:
  • This is a message to the whole world, even people in far off lands. Vs. 1
  • Jesus was called even before he was born. Vs. 1
  • He was called by name in the womb. Vs. 1
  • His words are sharp swords of judgment. Vs. 2
  • Jesus is an arrow in God's quiver. Vs. 2  (This is a biblical reference to children.)
  • Jesus is called God's servant, Israel. Vs. 3
  • Jesus has the human emotion of feeling like his work is pointless. He decides to trust God for the outcome and his reward. Vs. 4
  • Jesus is told by God that he was chosen not just to bring Israel back into fellowship with God, but also to be a light to the Gentiles.  He will bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Vs. 5-6
  • Jesus will be despised and rejected by the nations, but one day, all of the princes of the earth will bow low before him because His is chosen by God for this position. Vs. 7
  • God will help Christ on the day of salvation at just the right time. Jesus is a pledge that Israel will be restored to her land one day. It will be reassigned to her. Vs. 8
  • In the millennial kingdom, Israel will once again return to God, as will people from across the globe. Vs. 8-12
  • The purpose of God's victory is for the world to know that He is God. Vs. 26
Chapter 50 explains that Israel is going to be led into captivity because of her sin of idolatry.  But Jesus is sent to release Israel from her captivity to sin.  Verses 6-11 are the voice of Christ.  He explains that he offers his cheek to be struck by his enemies. He gives his back to be beaten and his beard to be plucked out. He is not dismayed in this suffering because the Sovereign Lord helps him. He sets his face like a stone, determined to accomplish God's will. He knows He will triumph. This is faith, my friends!  God who gives justice is near him.  This gives him the ability to not worry about those who declare him guilty.

Jesus calls out for people to walk in God's light and rely on Him.  He gives warning to those people who walk in their own light and warm themselves by their own fire that their reward in the end will be to lay down in torment.  This is a description of the torment of Hades/Sheol, the place of death, where unbelievers wait for the final judgment of God.

Ephesians 4:17-32

Paul describes the ungodly as living in darkness and given over to immoral ways.  Believers are to throw off their old evil natures. These would include tendencies to be lustful and deceitful. We are to display a new nature because we really are new persons in Christ. These new persons are created in God's likeness with righteousness, holiness, and truth.

We are to be truthful and not given to anger, because anger gives a foothold to the devil. We are to control our tongues and not use foul or abusive language. We are to have our words be helpful and encouraging to others.

We are to avoid making God sad by our behavior.  Have your children ever made you sad by the choices that they have made?  God feels the same way about us.  Determine to not make Him sad.

Here is a challenge...get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander, and malicious behavior.  Instead, work on being kind to others, tender hearted towards what others are going though, and forgiving. Remember that through Christ God has forgiven you of many things.

List ten examples of how you can begin to practice this. 

Why don't we all try this?  It'll be fun. : )

Psalm 69:1-18

Have you ever been in deep waters?  This Spring many in the Mid South region of America were under the threat of terrible flooding.  Sometimes our lives feel like we are going to drown in the waters of our troubles.  This psalm is for all of us who have ever felt like that. Our Lord felt this way.  This is what we learned in the book of Isaiah today. 

Rely on Christ's example.  Trust in God.

Proverbs 24:5-6

Wisdom is key to winning victories.  When contemplating a fight, wise counselors are necessary.  This also applies to a spiritual fight!

What did you learn today? Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25- Publicly Proclaiming Bold Promises

September 25, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 45:11-48:11; Ephesians 4:1-16;
Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 24:3-4

Isaiah 45:11-48:11

God has a bold and authoritative voice in the book of Isaiah.  This is not a meek and bruised reed.  This is the God of the Universe who controls all things. He is not impressed with man-made idols.  He boldly proclaims that He is in control of the future and will make bold promises to prove who He is.

One promise God makes is that He is the one who will raise up King Cyrus of Persia to defeat Babylon.  Remember that Babylon is the earthly representation of rebellion against God.  It started with the Tower of Babel and will end with the one world government led by the Antichrist.  Babylon is represented as being loaded down with idols.  But one day, the pomp, glory and honor of Babylon will end.  She is pictured as a woman whose shame is revealed.  Public humiliation is her future.  This promise is fulfilled when Babylon is conquered by Persia, but this is also a future promise for that last world empire. She will no longer be considered the queen of kingdoms.

Babylon is a tool to punish the Israelites for their rejection of God. But the Babylonian pleasure-seeking rebels will not always flourish.  They will be used and then judged by God.  Isaiah reveals that these idols they have worshiped are really demon hordes (vs. 12).

In Chapter 48 God rebukes Israel for their stubbornness and rebellion. God explains that the reason He will not wipe out Israel for their obstinance is for Himself. He is going to rescue and forgive them for His own sake. The pagan nations will not be able to say that they defeated Israel and Israel's God.  He will not allow the unbelievers this satisfaction.

How do you like God's story?  Human beings are flawed.  He is in control.  He reveals that He is just and righteous.  He forgives and controls all things.  This is our God. 

Ephesians 4:1-16

Since the Gentiles have been put into the wonderful position in the story of being chosen by God to come into His family, Paul entreats the Gentiles to walk worthy of their calling.  Instead of being obstinate and stubborn, Paul calls believers to be humble and gentle. Patience with others is a sign of God's love.

Here is a call to unity...There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.  Do you believe this?

People are unique within the family of God by the unique gifts that each person in the Body has been given.   This is explained when the Apostle Paul quotes the psalm that we read yesterday.  It is about Jesus ascending into heaven and leading the captives from death and giving gifts to people.  The gifts are special abilities that we are to use in the body of Christ on earth.

As we become more and more like Christ, our unique gifts are used to help the whole body stay healthy and grow.  Using our gifts also promotes love.  Remember, God is love.

What are the gifts that God has given you?  How are you using them to help other believers?

Psalm 68:19-35

Do you feel carried in the Savior's arms each day?  You are. This psalm shows us a picture of Jesus' millennial reign where all of the nations are bringing Him tribute. Even Egypt and Ethiopia, who have long been Israel's nemesis, are coming to worship the King.  Praise God!

Proverbs 24:3-4

The house being built here is an eternal home built by the Lord.  Our future rests on wisdom and knowledge.  It is God's wisdom that keeps the universe operating.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24- God's Secret Plan Reveals His Wisdom

September 24, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 43:14-45:10; Ephesians 3:1-21;
Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 24:1-2

Isaiah 43:14-45:10

Are you surprised as you read the Bible how much focus God has on the nation of Israel?  We are spending many chapters reading about the ups and downs of the tenuous relationship between this chosen people group and their God.  The book of Isaiah is a mini-bible that sums up the broader story that we see in the larger Bible.  Isaiah helps us to realize that God's story for mankind is centered around this small people group who are a representation of mankind.  They are the group through which God makes Himself known in the Scriptures.  They are the people group who bring us the man-child Messiah who will redeem the world through his death. And yet, they are a people group who endure more suffering than any other group on earth.  They bring this judgment onto themselves because of their rebellion against their Creator. 

It is easy to shake your head as you watch the Jews turn to stone and wooden idols for worship.  It seems so idiotic, but they are merely an illustration of what all people on this earth do in their lives.  Today, I am going to list the actions that God promises to take in this world and with regards to Israel.  Notice that mankind is only capable of a fallen and imperfect existence.  It is God that makes all things right and redeems the fallen nature found on our planet.  Here is a list of the "I will's" that God speaks of in our reading today:
  • I will make a path for my people to come home.  (Israel will return in unity to God one day.) Vs. 19
  • I will make springs in the desert to refresh my people.  (This is spiritual and physical promise) Vs. 20
  • I made Israel for myself, and someday, they will honor me before the whole world. (This happens in the end times). Vs. 21
  • I will blot out sins for my own sake and I will never think of them again.  (This is why God forgives sins). Vs. 25
  • I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children. (This was accomplished at Pentecost and will also be seen in the end times). Chapter 44:3
  • God reminds everyone that He is able to tell what will happen in the future. He is the First and the Last.  May I add that He is everything in between, too! Vs. 6-8
  • I will not forget to help Israel. Vs. 21
  • I have paid the price to set you free. (This was done on the cross by Jesus Christ). Vs. 22
  • The Lord has redeemed Israel and has been glorified. (Accomplished by Jesus). Vs. 23
  • I am the Lord who made all things. Vs. 24
  • I alone stretched out the heavens. Vs. 24
  • By myself, I made the earth and everything in it. Vs. 24
The next portion of our reading contains a prophecy of King Cyrus of Persia.  It is amazing that Isaiah is able to name this great leader and world conqueror of the future.  It is Cyrus who will overthrow the Babylonian Empire, which will hold Judah in captivity, and it is Cyrus who is inspired by God to send a remnant of Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple.

In chapter 45, God calls Cyrus his chosen instrument.  God shows us that He has chosen Cyrus for the sake of Jacob/Israel, His chosen people.  It is Cyrus who will be used by God to send the Jews back to their homeland. God declares that calling Cyrus, even though Cyrus did not previously know God, was a means through which God could glorify Himself throughout the earth. God is the author of salvation and righteousness.  This passage implies that God intends to spread salvation and righteousness widely throughout the earth.  Israel must exist for this to happen because God intends to send the Messiah to earth through this group of people. Cyrus is a tool in the hands of a purposeful God.

There is a warning that people who argue with their Creator will be destroyed.  Complete destruction is their fate.  We once again have the illustration of the potter and the clay.  God is the potter and we are the clay.  We are not to argue with the one who is shaping us.  We are not to question why we are made this way.  God is sovereign.  We are to acknowledge this.

Do you argue in your heart with the way God is running this universe?  How do you feel about the truths that are being revealed in Scripture?  How do you fit in this story?

Ephesians 3:1-21

Now we see God's story unfold further as the Apostle Paul is called to preach the truth about God to the Gentile nations and bring God's chosen individuals to salvation from the Gentiles into God's family.  Here is what Paul has to say about this in vs. 5-7,
"God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now he has revealed it by the Holy Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is the secret plan: The Gentiles have an equal share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God's children. Both groups have believed the Good News, and both are part of the same body and enjoy together the promise of blessings through Christ Jesus. By God's special favor and mighty power, I have been given the wonderful privilege of serving him by spreading the Good News."
Paul is humbled and amazed that he was chosen to explain this secret plan to the whole world.  He explains that he was chosen by God to share something that was kept secret since the foundation of the world.  Jesus has made it possible for the whole world to be reconciled to each other through His Church.  We can also approach God without fear.  This means that Jesus has also reconciled us to God the Father.

Paul is amazed at the wisdom and scope of God's plan.  Isaiah was revealing it through a mist. The Apostle Paul, through the work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is able to more fully explain God's plan, which was partially revealed in Isaiah. Progressive revelation is what we are seeing here.

God's love, which is so deep and wide, has accomplished this.  Do you acknowledge that it was always God's will to draw all men to Himself?  Do you acknowledge that God has used the Jewish nation in a special role as part of this plan?  Do you feel the potter is doing a fine job?  Do you trust Him?

Psalm 68:1-18

Arise, O God, and let your enemies be scattered!  This psalm predicts Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, which also led the captive believers who were in the grave at the time of Jesus' death and resurrection out of the grave and into God's presence.  Vs. 18 says, "When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives."  Praise God!

Proverbs 24:1-2

Don't envy evil people.  They just stir up trouble.

What did you notice as you read today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23- There Is No Other God

September 23, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 41:17-43:13; Ephesians 2:1-22;
Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 23:29-35

Isaiah 41:17-43:13

God is continuing his explanation to the nation of Israel about their future, His character, His secret plans for human history, and His superiority over idols.

The prophesies of Isaiah are given to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the generation prior to them being taken into captivity by Babylon.  The Southern Kingdom follows the despicable practices of the Northern Kingdom of idol worship.  Although the Southern Kingdom had a number of good kings of which Hezekiah is one, most of their leaders worshiped Baal and Asherah.  The people as a whole did not acknowledge the God of Israel.

Today, as our reading begins, God is telling the future to Israel and challenging them as to whether or not any of the idol gods that they follow are able to do the same.  We see in Isaiah's prophesies many references to God as the Creator of all things in heaven and in earth.  This position places Him above idols and gives Him authority to sovereignly rule all people on earth.  He will also justifiably judge the earth.  The description in verse 25 is that a leader from the north will be stirred up to trample on Israel.  This occurs when Babylon overtakes Judah.  It is also a foreshadowing of end times when an invasion from the north will create peril for the regathered nation of Israel.  Chapter 41 ends with God declaring that idols are unable to predict these things and are as empty as the wind. 

Chapter 42- The Chosen Servant

God's intention since the Garden of Eden has been to reconcile mankind to Himself through a chosen servant.  This prophesy in Isaiah speaks of the nature of Christ.  Here are some highlights:
  • God is pleased with Him. Think back to the baptism of Jesus.  God declares "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased."  Vs. 1
  • He will reveal justice to the nations. Vs. 1
  • He will be gentle in that he will not raise his voice in public. Vs. 2
  • He will not crush the lowly. Vs. 3
  • He will not stop until righteousness and justice prevail on earth. Vs. 4  This will occur completely during his millennial reign.
  • Even distant lands will be instructed by Him. Vs. 4
  • He will be a light that guides all people to God the Father, the Creator of all things. Vs. 6
  • He will open the eyes of the blind and free the captives from prison (of death). Vs. 7
  • The Lord is His name. Vs. 8
  • He is able to tell the world the future before it happens. Vs. 9
Isaiah breaks forth in song to prophesy to the greatness of our God. Verses 10-17 are this beautiful song. After the song, there is a lament that the nation of Israel, although chosen as God's special people, refuses to listen and obey God.  We get an explanation that the Lord gave the Law in order to show the world His righteousness. God also reveals that it is He who is going to allow Israel to suffer.

Chapter 43- God with Israel in the midst of suffering

This chapter begins with the amazing statement that God has ransomed Israel.  This means that their sins have caused a debt to God, but He has graciously paid off their debt.  He promises to be with them when they go through deep waters and are in great trouble.  They will not drown in rivers of difficulty.  They will not be burned up in fires of oppression.  At least they will not be consumed by the fires. Why?  Because the Lord is their God, the Holy One of Israel.  They are to be confident and not afraid in their trials.


Do you feel confident in the midst of trials because you are a follower of the God who controls the whole universe?

Gather the nations together!  This is God's call for all people groups on earth to be reconciled to Himself.  Israel is His witness of these things to come.  You and I are reading this book because of the faithful witness of the nation of Israel.  God gave this chosen group His Story.  God is from eternity to eternity. No one can oppose what He does.  No one can reverse His actions.

Have you listened to the truth in these passages?  Do you glory in God's awesome power and wisdom revealed?  Are you thankful that the Jewish people have recorded and preserved God's plan for humanity in the Scriptures?  Have you thanked God for His plan and for using the nation of Israel?

Ephesians 2:1-22

Paul is ready to explain the ways of the world to the Ephesians.  Part of God's plan has been for Satan to have an impact on this world. Paul describes Satan as the prince of the power of the air.  He is the spirit at work in the lives of those who refuse to obey God.

Paul establishes that all of mankind is born with an evil nature and are therefore under God's wrath.  This is why God's rich mercy and love raised us from the position of being spiritually dead.  Just as Jesus is in the heavenly realm after being raised from the dead, we are positionally already in the heavenly realm by being saved by God. God saved each person who believes in Him by His special favor.  It is not something that we can take credit for. It is not a reward for good behavior.

Believers are God's masterpieces.  He is an artist at work in our souls. Our purpose is to do good works that were planned for us long ago.  Gentiles who were once unaware of the One True God and were apart from Him have now been brought close to God.  Jesus Christ is who has made peace between the Jews and the Gentiles.  Jesus' death ended the whole Jewish system of the law according to Ephesians 2:15.  Both the Jews and the Gentiles now draw near to God through the same Holy Spirit.  Both Jews and Gentiles are God's house built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. We are a holy temple of the Lord.

Did you know that the good works that you do were planned by God before the foundations of the world were formed?  How does that change your perspective on the importance of your life?  You matter to God. Do you feel like a masterpiece? Are you thankful to be saved?

Psalm 67:1-7

What a beautiful psalm of praise.  It is appropriate with what we have been studying.

Proverbs 23:29-35

This is a proverb about avoiding being a person who relies heavily on alcohol. It is a picture of a person who is out of control.

What did you notice as you read?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22- God's Secret Plans Revealed

September 22, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 39:1-41:16; Ephesians 1:1-23;
Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 23:25-28

Isaiah 39:1-41:16

During the Civil War, a Union soldier stumbled upon the secret discarded battle plans of the Confederate Army.   Knowing the plans of the enemy in advance would allow planning to stop an offensive and give advantages to the Union army in how to arrange their attack.  Unfortunately, the Union general, McClellan, was not a good enough leader to take full advantage of the revelation of this plan.  The resulting Battle of Anteitam recorded some of the greatest losses of life to occur during the Civil War, resulting in a draw for both sides.

In our reading today we see that in God's economy, He is in control of everything that happens on this earth.  For God there are no surprises. In His graciousness, He has revealed His secret plans for the universe to mankind through the Bible.  As we read today, Isaiah is given information on some things that had not occurred in Isaiah's day, but have already happened in our day.  God also tells Isaiah information on future events that have not happened yet on earth.  Without trickery or deceit, we are able to learn God's secret plans for this universe.

Chapter 39:  Hezekiah's Bragging Has Consequences


Hezekiah has had quite a life so far.  He has been a good king in Israel.  He has shunned idolatry and promoted reconciling the people back to the One True God.  With wisdom and prayer, he avoided an alliance with Egypt and relied on God to defeat the Assyrians.  His fervent prayers to God even resulted in his healing from a deathly illness.  It is with sadness that we see Hezekiah give into pride and haughtiness at the end of his life.  Having recently been healed by God, Hezekiah receives a congratulatory visit from representatives from the king of Babylon.  Hezekiah enthusiastically greets his visitors and proceeds to show them all of the riches acquired during the reigns of David and Solomon.  The wealth of Israel is at its zenith.  Hezekiah is filled with pride as he shows off his possessions.

Shortly after his brag-fest, Isaiah comes to Hezekiah with a gloomy prophecy from God. Here it is,
"The time is coming when everything you have-all the treasures stored up by your ancestors will be carried off to Babylon.  Nothing will be left, says the Lord.  Some of your own descendants will be taken away into exile.  They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon's king."  (Isaiah 39:6-7)
Amazingly, we see that Hezekiah is not only prideful, he is also self-centered.  His reaction is to be glad that this exile will not happen during his lifetime!  Once again, we see that the Bible is a book that shows us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Chapter 40:  A Word of Comfort After A Hard Prophecy- God is in control of Creation

After the terrible news that the Southern Kingdom will be exiled to Babylon, the Lord gives Isaiah a beautiful prophecy about God's care and concern for His people.  Here we have a prediction of Christ's first coming to earth.  God assures Israel that He intends to fulfill His promises to her.  One day her sad days will be over and her sins will be forgiven. 

Verses 3-5 are some of the most famous verses in the Bible.  These verses are quoted in all four gospel accounts as a description of what John the Baptist was saying as he ministered in Israel.  Here are the verses,
"Listen! I hear a voice shouting in the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. Fill the valleys and level the hills.  Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots.  Then, the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.  The Lord has spoken!"
You may remember that this is a description of creating a king's highway.  When a king travelled throughout his kingdom, the roads were leveled and made smooth for his journey.  John the Baptist is encouraging people to repent of their sins as a means of making a straight path for King Jesus.

Isaiah is then told to shout.  When he asks what he should shout, he is given a beautiful prophetic teaching about the nature of God and His relationship to His creation. Verses 6-31 have beautiful jewels of truth in them.  We will review some of the wonderful revelations in this section.
  • People fade like grass, but the word of the Lord lasts forever.  Remember, God is His Logos or word, essence.  Jesus is also the Logos.  God lasts forever. Vs. 7-8
  • The good news to Israel is...your God is coming.  Vs. 9
  • He will feed his flock like a shepherd and carry the lambs in his arms, close to his heart.  This is a picture of protection and intimacy. Vs. 10-11
  • He is able to accomplish this and know this will happen because He is creator of the earth. Vs. 12-17
  • He has the oceans in His hands.  He measures the heavens with His fingers.  He knows the weight of the earth and the weight of the mountains.
  • Isaiah reminds the Jews that no image on earth can sufficiently represent God's character or power. Idolatry is pointless.  Vs. 18-20
  • Isaiah indicates that the earth is a circle.  This is a divine revelation to Isaiah about the shape of the earth, which was undiscovered at the time of this writing. Vs. 22
  • God does not get tired or worn out, and no one can measure the depths of His understanding.  Vs. 27
  • But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on the wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.  Vs. 31
Certainly, this is good news!

Chapter 41- Good News-God is in control of human history

The beginning of this chapter is a picture of Christ as a righteous king who has victory over all of his enemies.  God is in control of history and all of mankind are moving towards a final day of judgment. We are reminded in verse 4 that the Lord directs the affairs of each new generation.  He is the First and the Last.  God is the only constant in the universe.

God entreats Israel to not carve images to pray to, but trust Him alone with their future.  He has chosen them and is with them.  Here is a beautiful verse,
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
What a wonderful promise for all who have been chosen by God and trust in His power.

Do you find comfort in the idea that God controls the affairs of mankind?

Ephesians 1:1-23

Paul had a wonderful relationship with the church that he founded in Ephesus.  Their devotion and maturity provide the background for a deep and intimate epistle.  Paul is able to share his heart and the heart of God with the knowledge that his audience can absorb the truth.

Unlike the Corinthians, Paul is able to share the meat of spirituality and not just the mother's milk of God's truths.  The spiritual maturity of the Ephesians allows for them to chew on harder concepts.

Paul begins with the idea that God's secret plan was designed long ago before the foundations of the world.  One of those plans was to choose who would belong to Christ.  His plan was to adopt chosen humans into his family by bringing them to God through Jesus Christ.  This is a mystery and includes God choosing us and then we, in turn, choose God.  This process gives God great pleasure.

Paul reminds the Ephesians that in God's great kindness, He purchases believers' freedom through the blood of his Son so that our sins are forgiven.

The secret plan is now revealed.  Here it is according to verse 10-11, at the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ-everything in heaven and on earth. The other part of the plan is that those who are chosen will praise God.

So God's plan for this universe has always been that He would give authority to Christ as ruler of the universe.  His creation would praise Him eternally for His power and love. The Westminster Confession of Faith states that the chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever. This is our purpose and why we were created.

We know we are part of God's family when we receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit acts as our guarantee and deposit on our future inheritance of eternal life with God.  This is another reason to praise God.

Paul prays that the Ephesian church will grow in their knowledge of God. When their hearts are filled with light, they will have the capacity to understand the future that God has promised to those He has called.  They will also begin to understand the incredible power available to them.  It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  It is God's love.

Paul reminds the Ephesians that God has given Christ all authority.  This confirms Isaiah's prophecy that we read today!!  Paul emphasizes that Christ fills everything everywhere with His presence.

Do you believe these words?  How can you conduct your life in a manner that reflects belief in these truths?  Does it change any of your attitudes?

Psalm 66:1-20

Verse 2 says, "Sing about the glory of His name. Tell the world how glorious he is!"  This is what the Apostle Paul was saying was part of God's secret plan!

Proverbs 23:25-28

Make your parents proud by avoiding prostitutes.  Good advice.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21- You Alone Are God

September 21, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 37:1-38:22; Galatians 6:1-18;
Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 23:24

Isaiah 37:1-38:22

How do you react when something really bad happens to you?  Do you whine and complain?  Is your faith in God shaken?  Do you question God's goodness and justice?  These are all temptations for anyone who is suffering.  Today, Hezekiah is the leader of a people who are about to be attacked by the fiercest and most ruthless empire on earth at the time.  He is facing destruction.  On top of that, Hezekiah gets deathly ill and is told to get his affairs in order because he is going to die of his illness.  In the face of these trials, Hezekiah proves to be a man who is humble and reliant upon God.  Hezekiah is a good king.

As our story begins, King Sennacherib of Assyria has sent a mocking and threatening letter to Hezekiah.  Sennacherib has taunted and humiliated King Hezekiah and the God of Israel.  When Hezekiah reads the letter his reaction is to tear his robe and go to the Lord's Temple.  Hezekiah asks his advisers to pray to the Lord for the people in this day of trouble, insult, and disgrace.  Hezekiah is not worried about his own reputation.  He is worried about the fact that Sennacherib is misrepresenting God. 

Isaiah plays a wonderful role as the prophet who is able to give Hezekiah answers from God. God assures Hezekiah that He, Himself, will lure Sennacherib back to his own country and kill him.

Verses 14-20 show us Hezekiah's prayer to God.  Hezekiah acknowledges God as creator of the universe. He entreats the Lord to listen to his pleas.  He asks God to defeat His enemies. He shows faith that idols are not gods at all. He proposes that God prove to Sennacherib that God alone is God.

Isaiah returns to Hezekiah with a word from the Lord and what a word it is! We see in verses 22-29 that although God has allowed Assyria to become so powerful, it is God who directs the course of nations and history.  It is God who each person must humble themselves before.  Sennacherib is in line to be punished for his arrogance and pride.  Isaiah brings a detailed prediction of how the Assyrian king will come to his demise. God reminds Hezekiah that He will protect the city of David for the sake of David. God will defend the city.

That night, the angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Christ) kills 185,000 Assyrians in their camp.  The next morning the rest of them flee.  Sennacherib is killed by his sons.

Next, we see that Hezekiah is given another great trial.  This time, he has an illness from which he will not recover.  He is devastated to have this occur while he is in the prime of his life.  Once again, Hezekiah shows humility in his trial.  He prays to God for healing through bitter weeping.  God decides to answer Hezekiah in the affirmative and give him fifteen more years of life.  Does God's response surprise you? 

In chapter 38:9-20, Hezekiah writes an amazing poem of thanksgiving to the Lord.  It reflects his heart in the midst of suffering, his desperate cries for God's help and deliverance, and his realization that discipline from the Lord is good.  Hezekiah learns that suffering is good.  Have you learned that in your life?

Hezekiah shows us that we can rely on God in our trials.  God is in control of the universe.  He is aware of every trial and predicament.  He is personally interested in each of His created ones. We can trust God in all of our circumstances.  Do you believe this?  Do you act upon that faith?

Galatians 6:1-18

Today, the Apostle Paul instructs on how to deal with a fellow Christian who is sinning.  We are to gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.  The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous was a Christian man who attempted to do this very thing.  When we share each others problems and temptations we are obeying the law of Christ.  Each of us is no better than anyone else.  Each of us sins and needs community to help us.  This is an important part of the Christian life.

Paul encourages us to not compare ourselves and our good works to other people.  He also asks that we pay our religious teachers so that they can continue to teach.  If you work to please the Spirit of God, you will reap a harvest of eternal life. Don't get tired of doing good, especially to other Christians.  They are your eternal family.  Do you find ways to help other Christians in need?

Paul mentions that the people who are preaching that everyone must be circumcised are just afraid of only preaching about the cross of Christ because they will be ridiculed if that is how they teach.  Paul does not care if he is ridiculed for truth.  Are you worried about appearing idiotic to other people because of your faith in Christ?  Paul tells us that it is the cross that has caused him to not care so much about what the world thinks anymore.  What really counts is whether or not we have become different people because of Jesus.

Have you become different because of what Christ did on the cross for you?

Psalm 65:1-13

Read each sentence of this psalm that starts with "You."  Look at all the works of God through these statements.

Proverbs 23:24

It is a joy to have godly children.  Their wisdom is a blessing.

What did you notice today as you read?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20- The Highway of Holiness

September 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 33:10-36:22; Galatians 5:13-26;
Psalm 64:1-10; Proverbs 23:23

Isaiah 33:10-36:22

Have you ever been on a long road trip out West?  As you look down the road into the desert, you wonder where the highway is leading you and how long it will be until you see civilization.  It can be a lonely and desperate feeling.  Sometimes this world and this life feel like a long road trip.  Sometimes, we wonder where are we going and when will we get there.  The Bible provides answers to what is really in the future for all people on this planet, whether you are dead or alive.  There is a future that God is going to unfold and God has given Isaiah a glimpse into that future.  The future includes a highway of holiness.

Chapter 34- The Battle of Armageddon

Before we experience this highway of holiness, God once again explains that there will be a day in the future when God's judgment against the evils of mankind will once again come upon the earth.  Noah's flood and the decimation of Sodom and Gomorrah are Biblical examples of God's judgment against wickedness, but Isaiah chapter 34 describes the final earthly judgment of God.  We call it the Battle of Armageddon. The words in this chapter explaining God's emotions and actions include enraged, fury, completely destroy, slaughter, rotting bodies, flowing blood.  We see that God's wrath even includes altering the heavenly bodies in the sky.  God is a consuming fire that even causes the stars to fall like withered fruit from a tree.  God's wrath will be poured out during this final confrontation with the enemies of God in the end times.

Edom is used as the symbol of all those who hate God.  Remember that Edom is Israel's enemy in the Old Testament.  The name is used prophetically here to describe all the nations who come against Israel and God in the end. The Bible describes the strong men coming against God, but God treating them as a sacrifice resulting in the land being soaked in their blood. This is the day of the Lord's vengeance.  This is pay back. The world will be covered in smoking pitch and smouldering fire. We get a glimpse into the final destination of the wicked. These are the people who spent their time on earth traveling the Highway to Hell.  They are consumed and an eternal smoke rises to signify their destruction.  Destination achieved.

The Bible describes the conditions on earth after this battle as the Land of Nothing (Vs. 12).

Chapter 35- The Millennial Kingdom on Earth

Chapter 35 brings restoration and renewal to the earth after this final battle.  With God's wrath satisfied by judgment upon the wicked, God's Spirit sweeps across the earth to create a Highway of Holiness. The desert will blossom. It will be as green as the mountains that are covered in trees. We are to find strength in this promise.  God's promise is that He will destroy evil.  The evil-hearted will not be part of this kingdom on earth.  Fools will not walk on these paths. Only the redeemed of the Lord will enjoy His reign on earth.  Who are the redeemed?  Those who have been ransomed by His death and resurrection. Sorrow and mourning will disappear. They will be replaced by joy and singing.

These are God's beautiful promises to those who love Him.  Do you claim His promises?

Chapter 36- The Southern Kingdom with King Hezekiah

Chapter 36 begins Isaiah's historical look at the reign of King Hezekiah in the Southern Kingdom. We see that King Sennacherib is miffed that Hezekiah is resisting Assyria's advance upon Jerusalem.  Sennacherib sends a message to be read aloud to the people of Jerusalem challenging Hezekiah.  We see Sennacherib's lack of knowledge about the One True God in Israel as the Assyrian king claims that God must have been offended by Hezekiah tearing down his altars and shrines.  Sennacherib does not realize that the God of Israel wanted those pagan shrines torn down.  King Hezekiah had done a good thing when he rid the land of idols.

Hezekiah commands his people to not respond to the message of these potential invaders.  The people obey and are silent in the face of Sennacherib's taunts.  Hezekiah's advisers come before him with the message and tear their clothes in despair.  It is a desperate situation as they face invasion by the Great Assyrian Empire.

Have you ever had a situation that seemed insurmountable?  This is what the Southern Kingdom is facing.  We will see how good King Hezekiah handles it, tomorrow.

Galatians 5:13-26

We have been discussing how Christians are free from the Law.  Today, the Apostle Paul explains that this freedom is not freedom to be licentious.  It is freedom to serve one another in love. This is accomplished by living a new life in the Holy Spirit and rejecting what the old sin nature craves.

Paul explains that the old nature and the Spirit nature are in constant conflict within us. We can know if our old nature is dominating if our behavior includes: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participating in demonic activity, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, divisions by group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins. If your life is consumed by these behaviors and there is no repentance from sin evidenced in your life, you are not truly saved and will not inherit eternal life.

The Holy Spirit produces a nature within us that includes: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  These are the fruits of the Spirit.   There is no law against these behaviors.   If you belong to Jesus, you have nailed worldly passions to His cross.  They are to die with Him.

Are you living a life that reflects the fruit of the Spirit in you?  If you have habitual sins that must be conquered, consider picturing those behaviors being crucified and dying to you.

Psalm 64:1-10

God is the one who can protect us against our enemies.  The godly will stand in awe at His deliverance.

Proverbs 23:23

The truth is worth purchasing and keeping.

What did you learn today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19- Waiting...

September 19, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 30:12-33:9; Galatians 5:1-12;
Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 23:22

Blessed are those who wait for Him to help them.  
~Isaiah 30:18

Isaiah 30:12-33:9

One thing that a pregnant lady learns as her belly grows and her body changes is that no matter how much she may want to rush the process of bringing her child into the world, she has no control over when she will go into labor. New mommas learn early the virtue of patiently waiting.  As the baby develops, the mother must trust in the process and wait for the birth.  This is a good illustration of what believers in God must do as we wait for God to bring about justice on the earth.  One day God will make all things right.  He will punish the wicked and rule with righteousness on this planet.  For now, we must wait.  Waiting is part of what Isaiah is told to talk about in our reading.

Chapter 30:

As the Israelites and all believers wait for this time, God promises some wonderful things in the future during Christ's millennial reign:
  • He will come and be your teacher.  You will see him with your own eyes. Vs. 20-21
  • Bountiful food supply. Vs. 23-24
  • Enemies will be slaughtered and there will be a great water supply for the land. Vs. 25
  • Sun and moon even more bright. Vs. 26
  • Judgment upon the proud nations of the earth will occur prior to the millennial reign. Vs. 27-28
  • Joy and rejoicing by believers as God justly judges the earth. Vs. 29-31
  • The Antichrist (symbolized by the Assyrian King) will be put in the lake of fire (symbolized by Topheth-the place of burning). This is the final destruction of the greatest enemy of Israel.  Vs. 32-33
Chapter 31:

The Southern Kingdom is warned against making an alliance with Egypt in order to prevent being overtaken by Assyria.  The Southern Kingdom heeds God's warning and does avoid being taken captive by Assyria.

Mixed into this prophecy and warning are images of a future day when Israel will no longer be tempted to follow idols.  This is a future time when Israel is gathered back to her God and is drawn by Him to be faithful.

The lesson for us today as believers is that we are not to trust in the world to solve our problems.  Egypt in Scripture represents the world.  Do you trust in the stock market for your future well-being?  Do you rely on politicians to secure your safety?  This portion of the Bible teaches us to rely on God for our security.  This world cannot promise us safety or peace.

Chapter 32:

We are once again introduced to the future righteous king who will rule on this earth in righteousness.  Jesus Christ has taken the "heat" of judgment on the cross and is now a shelter for Israel and a cool shadow for believers. This is a day when everyone will be able to see God with their own eyes.

Verses 5-8 describe an earth where ungodly fools will not be considered heroes.  Don't we in our day elevate these silly ungodly celebrities to hero status?  That will not be the case during the millennial reign of Christ.  Wealthy cheaters will not be considered upstanding citizens.  Nice. The smooth tricks of evil people will be exposed. But good people who help others will flourish and will be blessed.

There is great warning to lazy women who live in luxury and are wrapped up in themselves. Their time of self indulgence will be over.  Their prosperity will turn to poverty. But, the Lord will cause the wildernesses to become fertile and the land will be at peace.  When God's Spirit is poured out upon the earth, quietness and confidence will replace fear.  People will be at rest and will be comfortable in their homes.   Can you imagine an earth like this?  God is promising this to you and me!!

Chapter 33:1-9

This chapter begins the idea that God will not be mocked.  Those who try to destroy Israel will be destroyed.  Although Assyria is singled out, this prophecy also looks forward to the enemies of Israel in the end times. Listen to verse 5, "Though the Lord is very great and lives in heaven, He will make Jerusalem His home of justice and righteousness."

Isaiah warns the ambassadors of the Israel that Assyria cannot be trusted. This is also a look into the future when the nation of Israel will make a peace agreement with the Antichrist, but this peace agreement will be broken by the Antichrist and will result in great persecution that will be stopped only by the return of Christ.

How do Isaiah's prophesies affect you?  What do God's promises of a future earthly reign mean for you?  Do you long for justice on earth?  Would you like to live in peace without fear?  This is a promise that you can look forward to if you fear the Lord and have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Are you waiting?

Galatians 5:1-12

Paul is teaching about being free in Christ.  The early Christians had to learn that they could throw off the shackles of the Law.  Jesus had fulfilled the Law and taken our punishment for breaking the Law. 

Paul is fighting against the Jews who are trying to keep people trapped in traditions that were representations of Jesus.  With His death and resurrection, many practices that pictured his role on earth are not needed anymore.  The picture is complete and the practice is obsolete.  Circumcision is one of those representations. It was designed to show that Christ would circumcise our hearts by cutting away sin.  He would create a clean heart.

The fact that these Jews want to make Gentile Christians be circumcised angers Paul to the point of him suggesting that these false teachers should just mutilate their own private parts and leave everyone else alone.  Paul is fighting for people to understand that faith, alone, saves us.  We must be vigilant to follow this teaching.

Verse 6 states,
"For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, it makes no difference to God whether  we are circumcised or not circumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love."
Are you experiencing freedom in Christ or are you dreaming up rules that everyone must follow in order to prove they are Christians?

Psalm 63:1-11

David really "gets it" in this psalm.  The parched and weary land that David is so thirsty in will one day be a lush and fertile place.  God takes our dry deserts and makes them spill with life-giving water.  He does this spiritually in our lives, but also promises to do this physically one day on the earth.

Proverbs 23:22

Here is a good reason to honor your parents.

What did you learn today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18- A Deep Sleep

September 18, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 28:14-30:11; Galatians 3:23-4:31;
Psalm 62:1-12; Proverbs 23:19-21

I'm not asleep, but that doesn't mean I'm awake. 
 ~Author Unknown

Isaiah 28:14-30:11

Have you ever fallen into a deep sleep where you hear no noise and almost nothing can wake you?  Sometimes that kind of sleep can be achieved when there is a light rain falling outside of your window. Although this type of sleep is nice for the one who is sleeping, it is a bad thing if you are so sleepy you are unaware of impending danger.  Let's say a tornado is heading towards your house.  Being in a deep sleep is a bad thing in that circumstance. Today, the people of Jerusalem are in a deep sleep.  God is warning them through Isaiah of impending judgment.

The imagery used in chapter 28 is that the people have built their faith on lies and deception.  The Lord pronounces that He is sending a foundation stone that can be built upon.  This building can be measured with a measuring line of justice and a plumb line of righteousness.  Do you realize that Jesus Christ is how you and I can measure justice and righteousness on earth and in our lives?  His teachings and His life are the proper measurements for justice and righteousness. It is only through Christ that we avoid the second death, the eternal death.  The leaders of Jerusalem had bargained to avoid capture by the Assyrians, but God is using this situation to picture a future bargaining that the leaders of Jerusalem will do.  In the end times the leaders of Jerusalem will bargain with the Antichrist to avoid death.  This bargain will only insure the death of many.  This portion of Scripture warns of two incidents that show the the people of Jerusalem being crushed.  One is in their near future and the other is in the far future.

Chapter 29 begins with calling Jerusalem "Ariel."  Ariel means lion-like. It also means "altar." God is going to punish the fact that Israel worships God with their mouths, but not their hearts. After bringing disaster upon them, God will then go after Israel's enemies.  This is a picture of the end of time.  When all of the nations of the world will turn on Israel.  God, Himself, will rescue her.  God describes putting the people into a deep sleep, so that they are unable to discern the prophesies of what is to happen.  Because of their deep sleep, they sleep walk right into their judgment.  Are you getting the message that God controls the future?  He describes Himself as the Potter.  He is the creator/artist who forms the peoples of the earth and controls their destinies.  Isaiah admonishes the people to realize that our only proper place in the story as the pot is to be in a place of humility and have reverence for God and His power.  Verse 19 states, "The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.  The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."  One day, all of the evil oppressors and and people who pervert justice will be defeated.  This will be during Christ's earthly reign.

The final section is a warning against creating an alliance with Egypt.  Egypt is called a Harmless Dragon.  Egypt will be a witness in the end times to Israel's stubborn rebellion against her God.

Do you heed God's warning to build your life on a firm foundation?  Do you build your life around the teachings of Jesus Christ?  Do you believe that these future events will occur?

Galatians 3:23-4:31

Paul begins this section by clarifying that until it was made clear that faith in Christ was what made a person right with God, the Israelites were guarded by the Law.  The Law was a guardian and teacher to lead the people until Christ came. Now that Christ has come, they no longer need to lean on the Law.  This new era no longer allows for the divisions of Jew and Gentile because everyone is unified in Christ.

Christ was born of a woman, subject to the Law and able to purchase everyone's freedom from the Law for us through His death. We are now adopted children who are able to inherit eternity.

Paul provides a very interesting teaching about how Abraham and his two wives provide a spiritual illustration to mankind.  Hagar was Abraham's slave wife whose son was Ishmael.  He was the first born son.  She represents all who are slaves to the Law.  The Law comes before the promise of grace.  Anyone who is an unbeliever is a slave to the requirements and penalties of breaking the Law.  Sarah is the free wife.  She is the barren woman, who now has more children descended from her than any other. She is the mother of Isaac, who is the child of promise. We are to get rid of the slave woman and her son.  They represent the Law and a life of trying to please God by living under the Law.  We are to embrace the free woman and her son.  This is the idea of embracing Jesus Christ and through faith in His work, embracing the freedom of living in His grace. We please God by our faith in Christ.  This is one of the spiritual truths that Abraham's life teaches us.

Do you feel freedom through Jesus?

Psalm 62:1-12

This psalm speaks of God being the rock and foundation that we can rely upon.  Wait quietly for His strength.

Proverbs 23:19-21

Drunkards and gluttons will lead you astray.  It is wise to avoid them.

What did you notice today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17- A Wonderful Feast

September 17, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Isaiah 25:1-28:13; Galatians 3:10-22;
Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 23:17-18


Isaiah 25:1-28:13

Some of my best memories throughout the years are the various family feasts we have had during the holidays.  Whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter, celebrations center around good food and eating and drinking together.  These are the times that bond people together in fellowship and fun.  Today, Isaiah predicts a future day when God will be done with His judgments on the earth and will provide a wonderful feast for everyone around the world. 

Christ's millennial kingdom is a time for God to fulfill His promise of an earthly ruler for Israel, who will rule throughout eternity.  Chapter 25 of Isaiah gives us a glimpse into what that earthly reign will entail.  It is a picture of abundance, fellowship, good food, provision, and gladness.  With the ruthless leaders of the earth conquered and bound for future destruction, Christ wipes away every tear (Vs. 8) and swallows up death.  Can you imagine?  Does your hope rest on these promises? Finally, all mockery and insults against Israel will cease.  In that day, all the children of Abraham (including those who are spiritual children by belief in Christ), will enjoy the presence of Jesus and relax in His righteous reign on earth.


Chapter 26 provides a Song of Praise that is sung by the inhabitants of the earth during this time of peace and prosperity on earth.  The song recounts God's works, His destruction of ruthless rulers and oppressors, and the promise of resurrection life (Vs. 19) for those who love God.  We know that Christ fulfilled the promise of God's light of life coming to those who were in the grave when He rose from the dead after His crucifixion.  Christ set the captives free from the grave when He rose from Sheol after His death.  All those who had died in faith prior to His resurrection where set free from Hades (the holding place of death) when He rose.  They are now seated with Christ in heaven. 


In Chapter 27, we see Satan described as a sea serpent Leviathan.  He is the dragon of the sea.  This imagery is used throughout the Bible.  We see it in the books of Job and Revelation.  While Satan is punished, Israel takes root in the land and flourishes throughout the earth.  God's ways will overcome the earth and defeat the ways of evil. Israel is God's chosen instrument to demonstrate His power and goodness. Although Israel is a foolish and stupid people, who have a tendency to turn from God, He takes these lifeless branches and brings them to life, making them fruitful and productive. Verse 12 provides the narrative for God bringing the nation of Israel back to the land and to true worship of Him.

Chapter 28 is a prediction of Samaria's captivity.  These are the 10 Northern tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  They are described as being led by drunks. We see that the Northern Kingdom was prosperous and licentious.  But, Assyria is sent to punish the North by taking it into captivity.  Eventually, the Lord will be Israel's crowning glory in the future. The drunkeness of the priests and prophets will be judged by God.  They refused to listen to God, so God sends a foreign oppressor, who does not speak their language, to speak judgment upon them.  Verse 12 reveals God patiently giving His message of truth to Israel repeatedly.

Do you listen to God?  Does God have to bring suffering upon you before you become open to the truth of who He is?  Obedience is a better way!

Galatians 3:10-22

Paul is continuting to teach a very important truth to the church in Galatia.  That truth is that Christ rescues us from the curse pronounced by the law.  The Old Testament is a heavy weight of judgment against sin.  The New Testament has the lightness of forgiveness in it.  Jesus provided this lightness by hanging on a cross and absorbing the curse of sin for us. Gentiles get to receive the same blessings that Abraham received, and in addition, they get the Holy Spirit who will live inside of them and work to sanctifiy them each day.

Paul explains that the promise to Abraham of this future child who would save the world was not negated by Moses when God gave Moses the Law.   The promise is to Abraham and it is an irrevocable agreement.  The Law was given to show us our sin and how guilty we all are before God.  The Law shows us the need for the child from Abraham that was promised.  The Law and the Promise are not in conflict.  We receive the promise of Christ through belief. 

Do you understand Paul's teachings?  We are not bound by the Law any longer.  We are bound by love to be obedient through the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ.

Think and meditate about what this means in your life.

Psalm 61:1-8

God is the one to whom we must cry for help.  He is our eternal king who will rule with righteousness.

Proverbs 23:17-18

Don't envy sinners.  It's easy to do, but it is unwise.  Fear the Lord.  He controls the earth.

What did you see today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton