My Shepherd

Psalm 23, a modern translation: When God is my boss, I don’t need a thing. He makes a way for me to rest in the middle of all the chaos. I can picture Him walking with me by the river. He asks me how I am and He fills my soul with His unfailing love. God knows where he’s going, so for his glory I am going to follow him. That’s the best place to be.

Yes, life is tough. Heaven knows it is. But Jesus took the nails and went through the darkest valley for me. That’s why when things get scary–when I don’t know what to do or even how to pray–I will trust Jesus and not be afraid because He is always right beside me. He is my protector and best friend.

God is setting a place for me at the heavenly banquet table. He understands. He knows. In the middle of the storm, He blesses me so much I will never understand. Every day I can breathe, I know God’s love and goodness cover me. And when my days here are done, God promises me a place with him in heaven. Forever, I will join believers and angels in praising our loving Savior! What a glorious day. Thank you Jesus for being my great shepherd.

Depending on Love

The third chapter of Isaiah holds a powerful message. The prophet calls out to us, across the miles and years and memories to search our hearts and take inventory of what’s inside. If we have the courage to obey, here’s what we’ll find: some of the things we need, some of the things we want, and all the things we worship.

After making the heart list, we need to pause and recall why Isaiah asks God’s children to do this exercise. He said that there comes a time when we “refuse to obey” the Lord. (3:8) However, if we’re bold enough to take down pride’s high wall and live life God’s way, we will not only give Him glory but enjoy a much richer reward (3:10) than anything this world has to offer.

Isaiah ends the chapter with God stripping away all the things that make his people “beautiful” by the world’s standard. I think this is a great picture of the work God wants to do in us today. Lord, strip away all the things that keep our eyes on us instead of You! Help us do a deep heart inventory and walk away from things that keep us from depending on Your love.

Quiet Time

“They bow down to the work of their hands. The prophet Isaiah made this statement about people who did not want to do what God said. They were comfortable with all of life’s trappings and even became arrogant. The things they pursued and the dreams they turned into reality made them prideful and blind.

There was a second group of people Isaiah talked about in the second chapter of his book. They were the ones who made time with God their priority. “People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’” (2:3) They knew that time with God was the only way to live.

One way or another, “the idols will disappear.” (2:18) Isaiah ends the chapter by reminding us not to trust mere humans. I’m human. Left to my own devices I’ll find myself bowing down to what I think is important. And that’s the kind of worship that fills my heart with defensiveness and pride. Daily quiet time with Jesus is how we are taught His ways. When we do that, the Bible guarantees that we will be where He wants us. And that is a place where pride can’t go; the most beautiful place of all.

Pay Attention, Earth!

The prophet Isaiah wasted no time uttering those words. If fact, his dramatic call comes in chapter one, verse two. He wasn’t worried what people thought. His job was to tell the people God was about to speak and they should soften their prideful hearts to listen.

People were making it all about themselves. From their worship service to who they decided didn’t matter in society, the whole system was upside down. Their pride had grown so tall, they were blind to what God wanted them to be doing. But still, God in His infinite mercy cared enough to tell them what He wanted: “Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (1:16,17)

Isaiah let God’s words soak in. Then he had the courage to speak the hard truth: “Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness. But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed, and those who desert the Lord will be consumed.” (1:27,28)

Justice. Repentance. Revival. Righteousness restored. These are the words that bring healing in a broken world. Lord, help us cut our pride down and burn it down. Let a strong wind carry the ashes far away, so all that remains is a tender heart, longing for Your will.

Truth in the Trial

Everyone knows Jonah. God said, “Go!” Jonah said, “No!” The prophet meant it and ran away from where God had wanted him. The tough part is that Jonah knew Who was calling him, but decided to let fear call the shots.

You know what happens next. Jonah got on a boat and headed for a port that was on the opposite side of the map from Nineveh. God sent a great wind and the ship “threatened to break up.” (1:4) The sailors asked Jonah who was responsible for the storm. But they also asked, “What do you do?” (1:8) Jonah’s reply is powerful.

“I worship the Lord, the God of heaven.” (1:9) Right there, in the middle of the storm, Jonah remembered what’s true! He didn’t let the size of the waves determine what mattered. Jonah let the truth of who God is and what He wants matter most. Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Lord, help us live today with a bigger understanding of who You are. Help us not be afraid to let your love be what we stand for in the middle of the storms.

In the Potter’s House

Jeremiah 18 begins with a very powerful story. God had a message for his prophet, but instead of telling Jeremiah up front, He instructed him to go to the local potter’s house. Jeremiah obeyed and when he got there, he found the potter working on a creation at the wheel.

Jeremiah noticed that the pot on the wheel was “marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” (18:4) God then said to Jeremiah, “Can I not do with you as this potter does? Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” (18:6)

It’s easy to think we’re the potter and material things the clay. Too quickly, God becomes the wheel turned by prayer. O Lord, put our lives back where they belong because you want to shape us into the best versions of ‘us’ possible. Please put us back in your hand and may our prayers be the sound of praise-background music-while you work at making us look more like Jesus!