April 30, 2007

I do not know best.

Last year I read a booklet on divorce by Elizabeth Elliot. It was interesting how much I, as an unmarried person, got out of the booklet as Elliot rightly divided the Word of Truth. Sometimes (often?!) truth is painful...but obedience to the Lord is always possible, and is always the best way. I could use that reminder daily, almost hourly. Here are Elliot quotes (emphasis mine):

How excruciating it is for me to submit to the Word
that never permits the least indulgence of
self-pity, self-vindication, self-agrandizement, self-justification,
or any other form of the self whatsoever.

Love is no pleasing sentiment but a fiery law: thou shalt love.

Refusal to obey when the choice is clear is the end of blessing...
obedience leads to some unimagined solution.
...to rescue us out of [our troubles], Christ relinquished His rights.

There are some simple answers but they are not easy.

It is always possible to do what He tells us.

April 26, 2007

Isaiah: What I'm studying and what I'm learning

BIBLE STUDY
I heard it recommended that to really study a passage of God's Word it is good to photocopy those pages from your Bible and mark them all up as you study. Well, I've modified the method a bit but I get the text of the passage or book from Biblegateway.com, put it in two columns and number the pages and then print it off. I'm excited as I'm starting to study Isaiah in this way. I formatted the first 23 chapters of Isaiah and later I plan to add more sheets to my binder. I also like to use different coloured pencil crayons as well as pens or pencils to mark up the passages.
I consulted a Bible survey book to see what others say are the main themes and divisions of the book. A big thing I try to observe are patterns in the text: reoccurring characters, words and themes.

WHAT I'VE BEEN LEARNING
As I've started to observe the text one huge thing I'm seeing is that the people of Judah remind me of the people in Alberta, Canada. Actually, if I think carefully, maybe they would remind me of my carnal self. I see parallels in the actions of the people of Isaiah's day and the actions of people "in the last days" (2 Tim 3:2).
When people hear that I read my Bible or believe in a Creator, they automatically categorize me as "religious". If I get a chance, I like to tell them that religion isn't what the God of the Bible is after. Sometimes they'll agree with me, but I don't think they quite know yet what I am saying. Maybe I should start telling them that in a way, religion is easy compared to what the true God seeks.
What God wants from us is not empty religious motions, whether the futile, abominable sacrifices of the people of Judah (1:13) or my co-worker's belief that she can sin and continue in sin and be OK as long as she "asks Jesus for forgiveness" for those sins which she isn't trying to quit!
He wants a relationship where we humbly and willingly obey. There is a giant contrast between what God said about Judah at that time "they have rebelled against Me...they have turned away backward" (Is 1:2,4) and that future day where people from all nations will say "Come, and let us go up to the...Lord....He will teach us His ways and we shall walk in His paths" (Is 2:2).
Like Adam and Eve who walked with God in the cool of the day in the Garden, God wants to walk with us, talk with us, and have a friendship with us. Adam and Eve had nothing to hide until they sinned.
It is so much easier for us* (in the flesh) to perform religious motions
than to consistently walk in fellowship with a holy Creator God.
It is easier to make my pastor or parents happy
than to be in true fellowship with the Lord.
It would be far simpler to confess to a priest
than to stand always "naked" (Hebrews 4) in God's sight.
If a person told me how I should act and what I should do, I might even feel like I'd succeeded...
but when my standard is the holy character of my Creator, I know I would never make it on my own.

What does he see in our hearts when we come to Him? Are we "proud and lofty" (2:12), "against the Lord" (3:8), refusing and rebelling (1:20)? Or are we willling and obedient (1:19)?
WHAT I'D LIKE TO KNOW
If anyone knows of a good commentary on the book of Isaiah I'd like to know what a good resource would be.

*I'm talking about believers...talking about fellowship with God (which can be broken), not relationship (we can't lose our adoption into His family).

April 22, 2007

Beauty

At the art show (see previous post) we saw various 3-D exhibits done by college students. Some I didn't really understand very well but one was very effective because right away I understood the artist's premise. From far away you see all these glass slippers, like Cinderella's slippers resting on bright red cushions that are suspended on nearly invisible threads. It looks feminine and pretty. But when you approach the art you see that the 'shine' on the shoes comes from push pins that are stuck in the shoe. The artist was trying to illustrate that what looks like a fairytale lifestyle comes through pain and hurt.

This is partly my interpretation, but many girls who look beautiful on the outside are broken and hurting inside. They thought that fitting into that smaller skirt or having the money for the nice clothes would get a nice boy at their side and fix their problems, but really they are still hurting...a deep ache that no human can fix.

Christ, knowing You has been transforming for me.
Thank you for defining beauty for me rather than leaving me to depend on my culture's ideas.
True beauty doesn't depend on my genetics or money. Your life and death make real beauty attainable for any woman who puts her trust in You as Saviour and Lord Yahweh.

April 14, 2007

Last night I told the children I was teaching that Jesus never sinned. One boy who often interrupts and tries to be difficult yelled out "Jesus did sin! I saw in the movie, when he knocked over the tables [in the temple]". We briefly explained to him that that was not a sin, and that when we hate something that God hates that is not a sin. But if my student had been right, though, that Jesus did sin, then our faith in Jesus would be meaningless because he would have his own sin to die for and would not be able to die for our sin. How important it is that we study the Word and be certain & clearly communicate that truly Christ was a Lamb without blemish.

examine my Messiah
find you in Him any blot?
for to be my substitution
on Him can there be no spot

take home that living Lamb
let him live a while within
see if on that herd-found male
you find the mark of sin

has no spot been found?
therein lies our own joy
for in the death of one last Lamb
we're saved from sin's dark ploy


9-24-2006

"...on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household...The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect...Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight." (Ex. 12:3, 5-6)

April 04, 2007

My Feet Fitted

During the forty years that I led you through the desert, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Deuteronomy 29:5

This evening, studying about the Israelites in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan, I was remembering that the Bible mentions that in those 40 years of wandering the shoes on the feet of the people of Israel did not wear out. That is an amazing feat (no pun intended) for any footwear. The Lord brought to mind a little blessing I experienced lately. Over a year ago I found a nice pair of shoes at a second-hand store and purchased them. But the first day I wore them, they hurt the backs of my feet so badly that I was almost limping in them by the end of the day. They were nice looking shoes, and I wished I could wear them, but I rarely tried because it was not worth the discomfort.
In recent weeks I noticed that my everyday shoes were getting a bit worn, and thought that I might be needing to find replacements soon. But I decided to try wearing my 'uncomfortable' shoes again one day. They were OK--leaving me only little sore. I tried them again, and they were OK again. Now I've been wearing them daily and somehow they don't hurt my feet anymore at all. God let me wear the shoes I didn't like as much for a while, and now has given to me the shoes I liked even better.
It gives me joy to see that the Lord cares for even the tiniest details of my life, seeing that my feet are properly fitted... now may they be fitted "with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15)