Thursday, March 23, 2017, 6:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 28 (Select vv. NASB, ESV and NIV).
The Proud Crown (v. 1 NASB)
Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,
And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley
Of those who are overcome with wine!
As humans, what makes us proud? In what do we take pride? Perhaps we take pride in our nation or in our capital city, or in our military force. Maybe we are proud of our own accomplishments, our gifts and talents, and our own natural abilities. As well, we may boast of our possessions or of our favorite sports teams or their superstars. Or, we may pride ourselves in our own intellect, in our own spirituality and/or in our church (religious) fellowships (gatherings). As well, we may be pompous with regard to our own abilities to make our own decisions and to have control over our own lives, and we may resent any outside interference, even from God himself.
Yet, these are all destined to perish. Not only will they one day perish, but such pride is useless and is an offense to God, because it focuses on self and on the flesh and not on God. As well, it often resists God, because it chooses its own course of life rather than submitting to our creator and God, Jesus Christ. Pride in such as these is misdirected, too, because what we should value (highly esteem) is godliness, holiness, truth, integrity, righteousness, and purity, and not self, other humans, the things of this world, or who we might consider to be the “heroes” in this world. Also, we should not be putting our trust or confidence in what is of this earth, what is worldly, or is of the flesh, because the world and the flesh will fail us, but God will never fail us. He is the only one to whom we should give such high regard.
A Beautiful Crown (vv. 5-6 ESV)
In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory,
and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people,
and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
In contrast to priding ourselves in what is of the flesh and is of this sinful world, we should give honor, praise, respect, admiration, loyalty, devotion, reverence and worship to our Lord and God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the one we should be giving “shout outs” to. He is the one we should be talking about with our friends and neighbors, and writing about on Facebook and Twitter, instead of talking about what is often pure junk.
Why is it so many Christians will talk about the things of this world (what is fleshly) with great enthusiasm and passion with all who will listen, and yet will shy away from talking with anyone about Jesus Christ and His Word and what it teaches us about godliness, holiness and purity? Why do so many so-called Christians spend hours upon hours on social media, on the internet, watching TV, playing games, and entertaining themselves while they spend little to no time a day with God in his Word, in prayer and in obedience to what his Word teaches? Why is it so many professing Christians want their Christianity light and fluffy, and so they avoid digging deep into God’s Word? It is because they want to be accepted by people, they want to live “normal” lives, and they don’t want to hear what might convict them to change.
Yet, Jesus Christ is to be our crown and glory, not the flesh of man. Jesus should be the one to whom we desire to conform our lives. He is the strength of “those who turn back the battle at the gate.” In other words, he is our strength when we daily put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, including when he tempts us to sin. God is our strength when we resist Satan’s lies and deceptions, and we put on the truth of God’s Holy Word. Turning back the battle at the gate also involves sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. The gate represents human hearts, and the battle is Satan’s warfare against us. So, when people hear and respond to the gospel of our salvation, they turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Satan no longer has control over their lives, but now Jesus is their Lord (owner-master).
A Precious Cornerstone (vv. 16-17 ESV)
Therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
Instead of trusting in what is of this world, and in human flesh, and/or in lies and deceptions, while resisting God and His Word, because it doesn’t fit our chosen lifestyles, we should put our trust in Jesus Christ. He is our solid foundation for our walks of faith in HIM. He is the only one we can count on. He is our only security for this life. All else will fail us. All else will one day disappear. If we put our trust in what is only going to fade away, then what do we have left to show for how we lived our lives? What eternal value is there in the things which are temporary? Why live our lives with a focus on self and on entertainment, only to perish in our sins? What a waste!
We need to realize that we are all sinners at birth, and without God we have no hope and no security. So, Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on a cross so that through him we might die to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. Through his death on a cross he made the way possible for us to be delivered out of bondage (addiction) to sin, and to be freed to walk with him daily in his holiness. He died, not just to free us from the punishment of sin and to promise us the hope of eternal life with him, but he died that he might put sin to death in our lives that we might live for him and walk in his ways and in his truth.
The Right Way (vv. 23-26 NIV)
Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.
So, God is calling out to the people of this world, and he is calling out to his wayward people (the adulterous church), as well as he is speaking to his faithful servants. And, he is saying to all of us, “Listen and hear my voice, and pay attention and hear what I say.” He has something he wants to say to each and every one of us, but the central theme is still the same. He wants us to honor him as the holy God that he is, and to give him all our worship and praise. And, by worship he means that we give our lives fully to him, as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds.
Initially, we come to that place of humility before him, recognizing our own sinfulness in contrast to his absolute holiness. He convicts our hearts of sin, and he convinces us of his divine will and purpose for our lives, which is that we forsake our lives of sin and we turn to follow Jesus Christ with our lives.
So, in sorrow over our sins, and in true humility before him, we confess our sins, we turn away from them, in the power of the Spirit of God at work in our lives, and we turn to follow Jesus Christ in submission and in surrender, and in obedience to him and to his Word. Then, we walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God and we no longer walk (conduct our lives) according to our own sinful passions and evil desires. By the Spirit we daily put to death the deeds of the flesh so we may live with him for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24).
Yet, we should not remain in a continual state of sin, confess, sin, confess, sin, confess. As we grow in Christ and in his Word, we should be moving on to maturity in him, and we should be walking in his love, grace, holiness and righteousness. The Word of God should be bearing good fruit in our lives for God’s eternal kingdom, as well as we should be planting seeds of hope and salvation from sin in the lives of others. We shouldn’t be repeating the same sinful patterns of behavior over and over again, but we should be walking in freedom and in victory, living lifestyles of purity, godliness and holiness. And, daily we should be listening to and following our Lord wherever he leads us, and doing whatever he has called us to do, and all for his glory.
Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011
Jesus, lead me all the way.
Be my hope and be my stay.
Gently lead me where I should go,
So Your Spirit, I want to know.
Open up my heart to You.
Fill me with Your love and truth.
Make my heart want to obey.
Be my Lord today. Gently lead always.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Cleanse my heart, and make me whole;
Be transformed in my heart today,
As I turn from my sin and pray.
Make Your will known to my heart.
May I not from You depart.
How I long to hear You now,
As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.