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The Gospel According To Isaiah

Lent is a time of washing ourselves so that we

might be clean vessels filled for Christ,

experiencing more of Him!

Whenever I asked theologians I respect

about the best commentary on Isaiah,

every single one said “Alec Motyer.”

He spent 30 years writing his massive volume for IVP,

and he has his own translation of Isaiah.

A few years ago, after he finished, he went to be with the Lord.

There are three sections in Isaiah:

The King, The Suffering Servant, and The Anointed Conqueror.

This is what Motyer writes:

 

I love everything about Isaiah — the way he writes, his mastery of words,

the rhythmic beauty of his Hebrew and, above all,

the magnificent sweep of his messianic vision,

taking in the glory of Jesus as God and King,

the wonder and fullness of the salvation he accomplished,

and the shining hope of his coming again….

Isaiah is as much the crown of the Old Testament

as Hebrews is of the New Testament —and for the same reason.

Isaiah saw the coming King, Saviour, and Conqueror.

 

This week and next we will be in the first section,

particularly the 5 chapter preface

which occurs in a courtroom.

You will also get your bearings with a wonderful sermon

from a preacher from Scotland.

You might have heard about last month’s stirring courtroom testimony

from Rachael Denhollander, a former olympic gymnast,

who was the first to come forward to accuse the renowned physician,

Larry Nassar, of sexual molestation.

After Rachael came forward, 200 other former gymnasts,

some who had been as young as six years old, also came forward.

Rachael was the first to accuse and the last to testify at Nassar’s trial.

Her testimony was so stirring it was broadcast around the world.

Rachael not only accused Nassar of grievous sin,

but beautifully and articulately shared the gospel,

a gospel of “costly grace.”

This is what Isaiah communicates as well.

Our sins are grievous, and we must see this,

and then we see how great is His forgiveness.

Here is an excerpt from Rachael’s testimony: both written and in video.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love     this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if       good deeds can erase what you have seen in this courtroom today.

 The Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you thrown into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak of carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me — though I extend that to you as well.

Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C. S. Lewis, where he says, my argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?

 Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists.[1]

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/24/us/rachael-denhollander-full-statement/index.html

 

You can also see and hear Rachael in the following – if you begin at 26:46 you will hear the above and can listen as long as you like. In the first 26 minutes she describes his crime and also the refusal of authorities to believe her and help her when she came to them long ago. Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison. 

Sunday:

I want to welcome our many new sisters who have come for Lent — most seem to be silent followers, but we welcome you anytime you want to make a comment or have a question!

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday: The Straight Line and The Rebellious Children

2. Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? 

 

Isaiah’s first section (The King: Chapters 1-38) begins in a courtroom. The gospel has both bad news and good news, but we begin with the bad news. For the scene is a courtroom.

1st Charge: Iniquity

3. Read Isaiah 1:1-3

A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses?

B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2b)

C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? 

D. What do you see in verses 2-3?

Motyer: “There is a war on, but Isaiah says, in this war it is strictly unnatural for the Christian to choose the way of sin and leave the path of privilege. Look at the beasts. The ox naturally turns to its owner, and the donkey naturally eats its owner’s food. It is living according to its true nature. So what about us? What nature do we choose to make dominant?” 

4. The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you?

 

5. When your own child rebels against you or reveals a cold heart, what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart?

6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?

7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?

Tuesday: 2nd Charge: Insincerity

Larry Nassar put on a caring persona to the parents of his victims to gain access to their children. Then, when he was brought into court, he carried his Bible, as if he were a man who did what was right. Likewise, God’s people are still going to temple, still sacrificing lambs, but their hearts are far from God.

 

8. Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there?

 

9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15

A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give?

B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?

 

10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want?

11. It is so easy for any of us to go through the motions of any of the spiritual disciplines without our heart really engaged. Ask God here to help you and be conscious of engaging your heart with Him today in whatever you do. Then report back.

 

Wednesday: 3rd Charge: Injustice and Cultural Breakdown

12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23?

Motyer: “Isaiah’s final topic in his review is social breakdown. Leadership is corrupt and care for the vulnerable has disappeared.” 

It is almost as if we are reading today’s newspaper! 

But we are to be a city on a hill!

Some of the best moments in my life have to do with being obedient to God’s call for justice. There is such an excitement in seeing light come to dark places, and there are so many who are lost, hurting, imprisoned, or without a voice. But God cares so much about justice, if you ask Him to show you what you could do, and then be alert, He will show you. Here are some of my favorite pictures from Discipleship Unlimited, the prison ministry, where they are washing the women’s hands as an outward sign of an inward heart for God. Look at the joy!

13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!

 

14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord!

 

 

 

Thursday-Friday: Get Your Bearings in Isaiah with this Free Sermon from Eric Alexander.

      7129

If the above doesn’t open easily, try this:

      ttp://tapesfromscotland.org/Audio7/7129.mp3

15. Share your notes and comments. 

Saturday:

16. What is your take-a-way and why?

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108 comments

  1. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

     

    You will probably think I live under a rock, but I have such a full plate these days that I rarely have time for anything in the news. I heard inklings of this trial, but don’t know much about it. I also wonder about all the accusations across the country (not only this trial); it’s seems that people are tried in the news these days instead of in a court of law, which is the basis of our system. Innocent until proven guilty, right? After awhile I stopped listening last year because it seemed absurd. People losing career jobs because someone made a claim that may or may not have been truthful, or was misrepresented. That is unfortunate, because I’m sure many were truthful allegations. Believe me, our family has been attacked recently, and the way situations were misrepresented made us look like we are beasts. It wasn’t true the way it was presented.

     

    To be honest, as I read her testimony I teared up, but I am not sure I “get it” reading the first time through. I hesitate in watching because I don’t know if I want to experience her pain right now.  I have so much pain in my life I’m not sure I can handle much more. We live in  a horrible world. I will think about this today and decide if I can handle watching it later.

     

    I never knew Isaiah had three sections, and I’m not knowledgeable about the Hebrews (NT) reference compared to Isaiah in the OT. I am looking forward to learning.

      1. Thanks for this post Dee. I understand now. 20 years?! Oh my gosh that’s awful. She is a strong person; her faith, wow.

  2. 1.  What stands out to you from the above and why?

    I listened to Rachel’s final victim statement several days ago.   It was compelling, believable and so passionately articulated.

    Like Laura, I also wondered how many of the others who came forward after Rachel were truly molested by this doctor.    How many were getting  on a band wagon and how many were truly living in shame and pain caused by this man.   My response is colored by the fact that my own doctor and baby-deliverer and neighbor was accused of horrible sexual misconduct thirty-two years ago and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes I still believe he did not commit.   (I knew some of the “accusers”.   And I also knew that certain incriminating evidence against the accusers was not allowed in the courtroom.   Evidence that would have exonerated my doctor.)    His case was aired on 20/20 in the early ’80s.   There were at least two books written about it . (One pro the doctor, one con.)    All this to say,  whenever I hear of sexual allegations coming out publicly, I always ask myself who might be getting on a band wagon or who might be giving  way to the imaginations of the enemy of our soul.          My doctor friend was released from prison after his 20 year sentence.    He is living with his wife.   They are in their 90’s and they walk in forgiveness of their accusers.  (When he was finally released and moved back to his home right next door to my parents home, I asked his wife to tell me what forgiveness was.   I will never forget her response:   “It is the aroma a violet emits when it is crushed.”)

    Rachel’s testimony was riveting and her thorough explanation and application of the gospel to these circumstances  was both painful and beautiful.   Her courage was remarkable.    Genuine, costly forgiveness always has such a sweet aroma.

    1. Oh Nila!  Tears! I will never forget this:

        “It is the aroma a violet emits when it is crushed.”

      What a vivid picture for my mind. I know this forgiveness.

       

    2.  
      2. Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? 
       

      My mom always said we needed to know what evil was to understand good. God gives us Jesus who is perfection. He is good, kind, joyful, forgiving, etc. We read about the fruits of the spirit. This is how we are to be.

      3. Read Isaiah 1:1-3
      A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses? 
       

      Heaven and earth are witnesses.

       
      B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2a) 
      He sees His children.

       
      C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? 
       

      Oh wow, this question at this time! It’s AWFUL when your children sin against you. You put so much love and care into these blood related people and then get stomped on. Oh the hurt to your heart! You think there might be some connection between you and them; some loyalty. But alas! The world prevails. It is sad and the most difficult thing I have had to deal with in my life.

       
      D. What do you see in verses 2-3?
       

      God is lamenting that His children are rebelling against Him. He states that nature knows it’s lineage, but not His children.

       

      4. The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you?

       

      He keeps calling for His people and they keep worshiping idols and running from Him. This is what I have had to endure with my two middle children! He describes how He took great care of them.

       

      I guess the worshiping idols bit is speaking to me this morning. My children have run away and done this very thing to us. We try to help, to teach them, but they seem to think a better life exists in their world.

       
      5. When your own child rebels against you or reveals a cold heart, what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart? 
       

      He he has felt our pain too.

       
      6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?
       

      Not sure I’m following this scripture with this question, but maybe it means that being in fellowship with Christ then they are walking the straight line?

       

       
      7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?
       

      I will admit that I am struggling just even figuring out what I want to give up (so many); I am having a hard time choosing. I started off with food and drink, but then chose to focus on feeling down/depressed (approval I think). I decided to read or listen to worship music instead of focusing on my self pity. I have been dancing again and that is definitely a good thing. When I start to feel sad I am trying to turn to Him.

       

  3. Oh my, the extent of evil is crushing. It is shameful and it causes so much shame to those who are innocent. I would never want to have to listen or to judge the actions that have caused this pain on young girls.

    When I was a nursing provider I listened to stories of girls and my heart ached for them, as I knew they were true, as they suffered long and often were not listened to or believed.

    I am awed by this testimony that speaks to the gospel so clearly. Thank you for sharing this.

    I have just read a chapter on shame, Shedding Shame, written by Elisa Morgan. In it Elisa shares her own journey to overcoming childhood shame. Here is the danger: “Shame poisons our ability to receive God’s love and see ourselves the way he sees us.”

    And,yes, “Godly sorrow brings  repentance.”

  4.  Shirley, I appreciate your comments and especially the quote  

    “Shame poisons our ability to receive God’s love and see ourselves the way he sees us.”

    That was my experience living with shame from childhood and feeling like God didn’t love me as much as others.  I doubted God’s love and the enemy kept me from seeing myself the way God saw me “in Christ”.  Thankfully through reading “Idol Lies” and following the blog through “He Calls You Beautiful” I have come to appreciate God’s perfect love for me.

    1. Bev–so good to see you pop in! I relate to much of your last paragraph. I can still struggle with lies of feeling I am “less than”. And yet, He continually floors me with showers of love from His Word and from others who I know He has “nudged” them to speak truth and show me His love. So thankful for how He used Dee’s studies in your life–that’s a powerful testimony! I know He has truly transformed me through Dee’s ministry the last 7 years here. We are so blessed by her humble, faithful, servant’s heart and teaching.

      1. Bev-Me too! The lies of feeling like I am “less than” can really be ridiculous at times but through Idol Lies and He Calls God has done a miracle in my heart when I had been walking in those lies really my whole life-He gave me confidence in Him. So yes they do come back but I am more able now to catch the foxes-and if I miss it I can ask myself why I am down cast and ultimately that tends to be the reason!

  5. I kind of hated the fact I need to be more of a silent follower during this time of Lent but with leading a bible study at my church and a fairly full schedule through February & March and some travel I couldn’t commit to the extra study time. But I am blessed by what I read here and pray as led for needs presented here.  Interestingly the study I am leading parallels somewhat the plan of forsaking an idol in our lives and replacing it with the Lord.  I really appreciate it when God reinforces His teaching in my life from several different corners. I am a slow learner 😝 But I do want to always be teachable.

    1. Bev, We miss you but we love it when you can be here. 🙂 🙂 I can relate for because of my boys activities I have been going to bed later at night and getting up later than normal.

  6. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    I am excited to hear more from Motyer on Isaiah. I have heard of him, but not read his commentary.

    I had also heard Rachel’s story and re-reading it now made my eyes fill. So many emotions, but inspired by her strength and how well she articulated the Gospel. And I love this: “And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists”.

    And yes, welcome to all our newcomers!

    2. Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? 

    There is something about this truth, of the existence of the straight line, that settles my soul–brings peace. I love that our God is a God of truth and fair justice.

    We see the straight line through Christ’s example, His life. We see it in His Word. We see it modeled in the lives of those who follow Him, not perfectly for any of us, but it is our desire…and as I type that I realize it is ONLY our desire because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us to give us a new heart. He gives us both the desire to walk the straight line and the power to do it. As Paul says, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” Romans 7:18

    3. A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses?

    The heavens.

    B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2a)

    The earth.

    C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? 

    I have invested my whole heart, it seems, into teaching, training, discipling. When you can see the fruit of it, particularly for me, when I see true repentance after sin, my heart honestly could not be more full. But where there has been sin against me, with no remorse, no repentance, this has been the hardest trial of my life.Even without giving birth to my children, they are my own. They are entrusted to me by the Father and when the seeds that I have tried to plant, water, encourage to grow…do nothing…it is a battle to not give in to despair, to hold on to hope.

    D. What do you see in verses 2-3

    The animals know their owner. God’s design for children–both our own on earth, and ourselves in relation to Him, is submission. When we rebel against Him, we show we do not understand Him or know Him.

  7. 4. The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you?

    Vs. 3a “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk”–the patience this speaks of, and the other-centeredness. God desires for us to walk, to move and have life and freedom, explore.

    And 3b “I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.” His tender care, holding, healing…but they did not recognize Him, did not give Him the glory for their healing.

    Vs.4a He led with “cords of kindness”, “bands of love”–He is protective, careful, patient, loving.

    I especially right now like 4b-He eases my yoke.

    5. When your own child rebels against you or reveals a cold heart, what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart?

    I know my rebellion grieves Him more than I can possibly comprehend. I am a terribly flawed parent and yet my heart aches when my children rebel. Our Father is perfect, pure, holy. I think of how heavy my heart feels when my child sins against me. I can’t get it off my mind and I am weighed down. Jesus, in His complete innocence took on the weight of ALL sin. The spiritual weight of the sin of the world upon Him, compounded by His physical suffering and then, the turning away of His Father’s face…all to pay my penalty, and yet, I continue to sin. Oh Lord, thank You for Your mercy.

     

  8. 1.  The whole thing with Rachel stands out. Our church has been going through a really tough time. Someone in leadership was confronted over inappropriate behavior. Eventually they agreed it was wrong, but also blamed (and continue to blame) others for the situation. They downplay their own role and attitude, and now cover themselves with “I repented and now let’s move on”. What makes it especially hard is that the congregation doesn’t know the full story, and for privacy concerns never will. The person is winsome, and getting plenty of sympathy and support. I have no desire to punish the person, but I see a falseness there that grieves my heart. It seems that is where Rachel is at as well.

     

    2.  The quote from CS Lewis is so obvious, and yet we are oblivious to it. Where does conscience come from? Evolution could never explain it. God has planted it in our hearts, along with eternity. And then He gave us His law. Every single culture on earth has rules on what is right and what is wrong. Ours is the only one arrogant and foolish enough to think you can discard them all and still keep standing.

  9. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
    Similar to Lizzy, I am not familiar with Alec Motyer.  I googled him and found his commentary on Isaiah available at: http://www.scribd.com/document/329984755/Alec-Motyer-The-Prophecy-of-Isaiah-pdf.  I look forward to delving into Isaiah.

    Rachael Denhollander is a courageous young woman…praise God for her and others’ strength and perseverance.  My heart aches for the suffering endured at the hands of Larry Nassar, and then even more suffering from the inaction of those who should have been their protectors…what a sad commentary that this could have gone one for 20 years despite numerous girls coming forward.  I remember you/Nila mentioning your/her neighbor/friend who was convicted of a crime he did not commit and his wife’s telling you that forgiveness is “the aroma a violet emits when it is crushed.”  I realize how accusations can be made and many are deemed guilty before having the opportunity to defend themselves.  It is difficult to balance…some seem impregnable, similar accusations made by numerous women, the accusations delayed due to fear (e.g., will they believe me? will my career be ruined?)…oh what a tangled web.   Ultimately, it is evil…Satan’s ugly work.  I don’t excuse any actions with “the devil made me do it,” but admittedly, the devil is at root of this evil, having a “heyday” with today’s culture.  This morning our pastor spoke on the importance of prayer.  He stated that we will always be in a fight, life being a spiritual battleground…the evil one works through people, tempting, trapping, twisting, spinning…you name it.  In this instance, Rachael didn’t allow the evil one to have the “last word”…her rendering of the gospel was wonderful.

  10. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    Because I live in Canada, I really am unaware of Rachel and her testimony. I gather that this Larry person abused her and many others. I haven’t listened to her speech but it is heartening to know that someone articulates so well the biblical ideas of repentance and forgiveness. I am aware of the “Me Too” movement in the US and some of that is happening here too, but I haven’t followed it too closely. I’ll try to follow what is said here about this.

  11. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? Rachael “called out” the doctor on the difference between what carrying his bible looks like as opposed to what it is supposed to mean. How eloquently she worded how while she can forgive him for what he did to her, the forgiveness that he needs will only come from feeling the the guilt and turning in repentance for what he did. Sometimes sincerity is something that only God can discern.

  12. 1.   What stands out to you from the above and why?
    I read Rachel’s full testimony online and I had goosebumps from reading the gravity of the abuse and for way too long- 20 years! It must have been awful. I read that after her going forward with her testimony, she lost the support of her church and some of her closest friends. At a time, when the body of Christ is most needed, it was not there. How sad.
    Our sins are grievous to God. I need to acknowledge its gravity and then and there only can I appreciate the forgiveness I have received.
    Costly grace-Lord, grant that I would truly plumb the depth of the Cross and what Jesus did there for me, so I may also extend costly grace to those who have offended me.
    Rachel was very courageous and her testimony powerful. I pray she and her family holds up after this momentous event.
    175 years in prison for Nassar? I pray he will come to truly repent.

  13. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why? – The very first line stood out. Lent is a time of washing ourselves so that we might be clean vessels filled for Christ, experiencing more of Him!” As soon as I started reading it I got a picture in my head of a sport water bottle, filling up and overflowing where the warm tepid water that was in the bottom is now pouring out of the top and new fresh water is being put in.

     

     

  14. 3.  What I see is that animals respond to kindness and care, but God’s special people do not. When you have done so much and sacrificed so deeply for someone and they sin against you, it really hurts.  God’s witnesses are heaven and earth.

     

    4.  Hosea shows the broken heart of God. Verse 2 especially speaks to me because of a footnote in my Bible. Instead of reading ‘the more I called Israel the further they went from Me’, it could read ‘the more they called the further they went from me’. I am convicted that I do this. I call to Him for help but then do not stay close. Or worse, take my gift from Him and go consume it alone or with my idol.

  15. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

    Rachael’s testimony. When she said she knows what he did was evil because the straight line exists. Also, she could have focused on herself I mean this was her victim impact statement, and she did when she said what was done to her was evil and shared her story, but instead through her pain the core of her statement points to Him and she pointed her molester to Him. He is her life. That kind of heart and message could have only been shaped by Him. Wow.

     

    2. Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? 

    He is the straight line..He is perfect and so He makes me aware of His straight line when I sin. He does now via His word and His Spirit in me and before I knew Him via His spirit that was wooing me.

    Also, He makes me aware not only when I sin but when others sin against me. It is that unjust feeling I feel, and when I see oppression, and injustice in the world.

  16. 1.   Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? 
    His Word is the straight line and often the narrow way, the seemingly hard way, the unpopular.
    The conviction of the Holy Spirit through our conscience or through admonition from those who love us or from somebody God will use
     
    Isaiah’s first section (The King: Chapters 1-38) begins in a courtroom. The gospel has both bad news and good news, but we begin with the bad news. For the scene is a courtroom.
    1st Charge: Iniquity
    3. Read Isaiah 1:1-3
    A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses?
    The heavens
    B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2a)
    Rebellious children on earth
    C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? 
    They are our own flesh and blood and we reared and brought them up. I looked up the meaning of “reared” which means to bring up and care for (a child) until they are fully grown, especially in a particular manner or place. In a manner I perceive is the best for my own child.
    D. What do you see in verses 2-3?
     
    That we do not even know who we belong to-we do not understand that we are of God. Instead we let our sinful nature dominate us.

  17. 3. Read Isaiah 1:1-3
    A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses?
    The heavens (This was kind of hard so I looked for help from others here because it looks like both heaven and earth are his witnesses, but it makes sense that the heavens see with Him, and that when he looks down he sees the earth.)
    B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2a)
    The Earth (I am thinking this could be His children also but that is in 2b)
    C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? 
    Because they are part of us whether our own flesh and blood or adopted. They are our heart, we would die for them. Yes my boys pain is mine, but when they sin against me or continue to walk in foolishness it is like this huge knife that sticks in my heart. Like all those years of building up in them His wisdom from His Word and life on life. I feel a holy anger, betrayed, concerned but also this crazy passion builds up to rescue them-and I can be quite passionate in my plea for them to listen. I find that even if they reject or hate me because I take a privilege away or set boundaries with a friend or girlfriend, I am willing to sacrifice that in order to discipline them but it is because I love them-and they know that.

    When there is true repentance and turning it is like His sweet oil poured over my head and this love inside gushes out. 🙂 In this I can relate to God’s passion for me, for us, but God’s passion for us is so so so much more deeper.
    D. What do you see in verses 2-3?
    God reared His children and brought them up but they rebelled and don’t know or understand Him.  I love the metaphor of the Ox knowing his master and the Donkey his owner’s manager. This stood out. The Ox metaphor reminds me of the yolk metaphor of yielding to Jesus letting Him lead and He is tied to Him via that bar thing-the Yolk- but he knows Him, and the Donkey I haven’t thought through yet but I think they are wild or stubborn? Yet God is saying that even the Donkey knows his manager’s master.

    OH..I just saw Motyer’s paragraph underneath! So good…It SO sheds light on the Ox and Donkey metaphor. it is strictly unnatural for the Christian to choose the way of sin and leave the path of privilege. Look at the beasts. The ox naturally turns to its owner, and the donkey naturally eats its owner’s food. It is living according to its true nature. So what about us? What nature do we choose to make dominant?” 

      1. A thought hit me just now..After reading Hosea 11: 1-4 and then coming back to this question and Motyer’s insight..my heart lept thinking that the Isralites didn’t have the Holy Spirit residing in them. They were so stubborn and rebellious like me..like I am as I sit here typing..they had the same dark heart that I do..the difference is, “it is strictly unnatural for the Christian to choose the way of sin and leave the path of privilege” Why? Because Jesus gave up everything so He could tie us in deeper and keep us from falling covering us with his blood and putting His spirit inside us. Yes, I can still break God’s heart but there is this flag or prompting inside via His Spirit that convicts and alerts me to my sin and in His great kindness He gives me counsel in His word and through other believers to help. What love is this!!

  18. 6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?

    God is light, pure and perfect. There is no darkness, no sin, in Him at all. We cannot claim to have feelowship with Him and yet continue to walk in darkness. We are either walking with Him in truth, or we are walking in sin. I know this is true and yet it is hard for me to read that sentence, “we sin because we want to”. My nature wants to put blame anywhere else rather than take responsibility.

    7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?

    When I run to this idol, I am believing the lie that I do not have a Sovereign Defender. I am believing that I am on my own left to defend myself, and must protect myself. The lie of trying to be self-reliant. But the beautiful truth is that I have a Redeemer, a Rescuer, a Defender, and when I remember that, speaking truth to my soul as Dee has taught me–there is such a covering, a peace that fills me, and I think–why do I ever choose to live as though I do not have Him as my Husband?

    8. Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there?

    They seek Him but in self-righteousness rather than humility. They fasted but sought their own pleasure, and and oppressed their workers, “you fast only to quarrel and to fight”

     9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15 A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give?

    He has had enough of their vain offerings and sacrifices,”burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts”…the blood of bulls,lambs,goats and incense.  “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates”.

    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?

    It is vain, self-centered, empty. It does not glorify Him.

     10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want?

    He hates empty worship–going through the motions while our hearts are far from Him.

    Isaiah 58:13 tells us He wants us to keep the Sabbath to honor Him–turn from doing our own pleasure on His holy day, not going our own ways, seeking our own pleasure;rather, take delight in the LORD.

    And Isaiah 58:6 tells us what pleases Him is to bring freedom for the oppressed: “the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke”

  19. 12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23?

    It is frightening how easily we can go from being “full of justice” and where righteousness dwelt, to an adulteress who takes bribes to benefit self and does not care for the widow or fatherless, the needy and oppressed.

    13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!

    One of the last times we were taking meals to people in a “project” neighborhood, one man stood out from all the others. All were grateful and appreciative, but this man cried, sincere tears. When we asked how we could pray for him, with speech that was difficult to understand do to his disability, he simply said he only wanted to give thanks to Jesus,no other need.

    14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord!

    Removing the idol has gone better than other times I’ve tried with this same idol! Still, my default is to try to defend and protect myself from further harm. But now I need to do the next, even harder, step, which is to replace it with something (words) that please Him. Remembering Chalmers’  “expulsive power of a new affection” –time for that! To “put on” kindness. May His kindness in me lead her to repentance.

     

  20. Grrr… Rachel’s testimony was so powerful — and it also makes me angry.  This is a pattern in many organizations or systems (though not usually as horrendous as this one).  But I certainly can see how it can continue within a university context.  Typically, it’s not that people in power haven’t heard or aren’t aware of (whatever wrong thing) but that they either don’t want change, at least not badly enough to take the risk to do anything.  Yesterday, I had a long conversation with someone (in the supermarket) related to situations that had troubled us.  We were among several people who came forward — and it’s still not any better.

    And yet, we don’t have anywhere close to as much “skin in the game” as God does with His children.  The images in Hosea that stand out to me are “I took them up by their arms” and “I bent down and fed them.”  I can’t even imagine his pain — because of the extent of His love.

    6.  Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?   Ugh!  The first John verses help me see the darkness in my own heart and that I often rebel — just like those in Isaiah 1.  “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  I am wincing when I read this verse.  Maybe I should delete what I just wrote above — so I don’t sound so self-righteous.  Then again, when I get angry at others, I often become self-righteous.

    7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?  Control — I want to FIX the world.  The lie I believe is that God has somehow lost control and that for situations to be made right, I have to stew about it.  And of course, my stewing will fix stuff!!

    I will be in and out of computer Internet access this week so may be semi 😀  silent much of this week.  Just glanced ahead — #11 describes me, although I’m often even not bothering with the motions.  So, I’m ready to dig in, even if from a distance.

     

    1. Renee, 

      Loved the way you put this:   And yet, we don’t have anywhere close to as much “skin in the game” as God does with His children.

      And your answer for #7 –  I truly identify with.    So good to have you here in this discussion, Renee.  You just have a way of bringing me to tears as well as making me laugh.   Maybe its because when you share a little piece of your own brokenness,  I remember that I am not alone and that its really in those broken places that we have authentic friendship/relationship.    Thank you.

      If I don’t fully share my own brokenness….. there’s never full communion…..   The more we seek Christ’s broken heart in others, maybe the more we will find it, and the safer we’ll find we are to share our own broken hearts with them.     
      Ann Voskamp ~ The Broken Way

      1. 🙂

  21. 2. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line?
    The Lord gave us His ten commandments as a guide for living, a guide for a good life.  The Lord gave us a conscious that knows right from wrong.  The Lord gave us His holy word that is filled with guidance and wisdom.  Christian family/friends that hold us accountable.

    3.A. Who, according to v. 2a are God’s witnesses?
    those in heaven

    B. When He looks down from His bench, what does He see?
    rebellion and disregard

    C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you?
    You love them so deeply, you only want the best for them; you display your love time and time again, and they just don’t get it, there is nothing in their heart for you…pain.

    D. what do you see in v. 2-3?
    The people turned away, they drifted far from the Lord, they had no regard for the Lord.

    4. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4? What word pictures speak to you?
    The Lord loved and cared for His children, Israel, but they took it all for granted and disregarded Him.
    The word picture that spoke to me was “taught israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand”…this speaks to the loving patience and encouragement a parent gives to their child when they are learning new things, risking new experiences.

     

  22. Lewis’ “straight line” is so well described. Yes, God’s word, and our conscience when we have crossed it are clearly shown.

    5.When my own child rebels, this is a real heart-breaker. After pouring out love and grace and teaching, to have rebellion is a painful experience.

    Hosea 11:1-4 is God’s own description, “I led Israel with love and kindness. I fed him, yet he doesn’t know or care.”

    6. If we claim to have fellowship with him, yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

    7. I am endeavoring to forsake control and run to God. I am already being tested and this is hard. Yet God knows my heart and my pain and will be my comfort. I am working on scripture memory and especially on God’s promises.

    This study from Isaiah 1 is wonderful for me, as my Bible study group has just started Isaiah. I am thankful for the entries! They are reenforcing the lesson.

      1. The study is from the LifeChange series, NavPress, doing the 1st chapter this week, The Rebels.

  23. 2. Rachael Denhollander quotes the above from Lewis. Comment on it. What are some of the ways God makes us aware of His straight line? – I believe that when we see someone be held to justice we are seeing God at work. There are so many little things that, if we just open our eyes we can see His straight line. When we find favor on a priced item, when someone gives us a compliment for our job well done. These may be little unimportant things to some, but they are a glimpse that God is seeing our job well done and is putting someone in our lives to make us aware of it.
    3. Read Isaiah 1:1-3
     
    A. Who, according to verse 2a, are God’s witnesses? – All those who have gone before us and are in heaven and all of us still here on earth.
     
    B. And who, when He looks down from His bench, does He see? (2b) – It seems like he see the rebellious children that he reared.
     
    C. Why is it so grievous when it is your own children who are sinning against you? – I know how this feels. You bend over backwards for them and do whatever you can for them, and they sometimes treat you like crap and don’t appreciate anything you do for them. It’s hard to continue to do for someone when you see nothing but rebellion. I know God feels the same way and yet he continues to give, but I’m willing to give up. Eye opener right here.
     
    D. What do you see in verses 2-3? – I can sense sadness, aggravation, weariness
     
    Motyer: “There is a war on, but Isaiah says, in this war it is strictly unnatural for the Christian to choose the way of sin and leave the path of privilege. Look at the beasts. The ox naturally turns to its owner, and the donkey naturally eats its owner’s food. It is living according to its true nature. So what about us? What nature do we choose to make dominant?” 
     
    4. The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you? – “But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.” This makes me feel like the closer we get to the Lord, the stronger we become as a Christian the harder this life may become and because most people don’t like pain or suffering, we walk away from the good life we have with Christ and live our own lives again. We turn away from the One and Only Father that has saved us and given us everything we ever needed. We hurt him when we rebel, how awful of me to do that. 
     

  24. 5. When your own child rebels against you or reveals a cold heart, what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart? – It brings great insight on how he must feel, that a child he loves has turned his back on Him or rebels against him and he just doesn’t know why or what he did to be treated this way.
     
    6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures? – There is joy in knowing the Lord, but we can’t say we have joy if we are living away from Him. When we are not with the Lord we are living in darkness, a place that the Lord cannot come into because he is light. 
     
    7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol? – Control/acceptance, I need to worry about what God sees in me and know that he is the one in control and I don’t need to bother myself with it. He accepts me and loves me and will help me grow if I run to Him. When I don’t, and I hold on to these idols, the lie I believe is that it’s their fault we have this problem, I did nothing wrong. They should come to me and ask for forgiveness. But what is unspoken in my life that I need to ask for forgiveness? It is an issue to both parties.

     

  25. 8. Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there?
     

    It seems that they are doing good things to get something out of God; not because they really want to be good, but rather to receive blessings because of their behaviors.

    9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15
    A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give?
     

    He says they are bringing sacrifices to Him and He doesn’t want them; they are false and their hearts aren’t in the right place. They are doing it for show.

     
    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?

    He doesn’t want to waste a his time on people who really don’t care. They look good on the outside but are still sinning and aren’t sincere.

     
    10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want? 
     

    He hates being honored with our lips (lip service) with no substance (heart) behind it.

     

     
    11. It is so easy for any of us to go through the motions of any of the spiritual disciplines without our heart really engaged. Ask God here to help you and be conscious of engaging your heart with Him today in whatever you do. Then report back.
     

    Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be authentic to You. I don’t want to just appear to love You and want to do right for outward show. I want You in my heart. Thank You for showing us the way we should live. It is not an easy path, but it is solid when we obey. I am being attacked on all sides; both spiritually and earthly. You are the straight way and I need to remember this. Please help me remember the way I need to behave towards others when enduring these attacks. You have taught through Jesus, the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, patience, kindness, peace, goodness, and faithfulness. Help me put these qualities on in each situation today. One day at a time. Thanks be to God. Amen.

     

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    http://bible.com/59/gal.5.22.esv

  26. 4. The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you?
     “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts  a little child to the cheek”  
    It seems in the beginning God is reminiscing out of heartache for their coldness toward Him-how He rescued, protected, provided for and loved them. What stood out was verse 4- His kindness. I am not sure if  human kindness means who he appointed to lead them-Moses, or just Him. Regardless Moses was kind and meek and God lavished them with His kindness. With ties of love stood out as well. Ties seem more intimate and stronger to me.  When God loves it is over the top-overflowing. He isn’t kind-of, or half way but full on, overflowing kindness and tying them up in His love and favor that are deeper than the deepest oceans. Israel didn’t respond in love, rather they responded by rebelling..going against the commandments or straight lines he lovingly set for them to protect them.

  27. 10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want?

    This verse talks about attempting to draw  to God with mere words, simultaneously removing my heart from it all.   Empty motions ~  hollow.    Those times when I don’t want to stop and admit and confess my sin ~ first.    To come to Him with my messy heart first, and then to find His sure embrace can mean that my heart is engaged and not trying to side-step.    Sometimes attempting to draw near to God with mere words might mean trying to make myself right in God’s sight, rather than being solely covered by his mercy   ~  again.

    Made me think of  these two passages:

    I John 3:18  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

    James 2:14 -16   What use is it brethren, if someone says he has faith but has no works?   Can that faith save him?    If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

    Both yesterday and today I have been struck by the correlation between sincerity and caring for the poor and homeless.  Yesterday I re-read chapter 58 of Isaiah talking about a true and acceptable fast and in Isaiah 58:6,7 it describes that kind of fast.   Verse 7 says, Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house.      And then today I read in James 2 (above)  and the example given for true faith is once again in reference to how I treat the poor and homeless.

    Sobering.  Challenging.

     

     

  28. 5.  Being a parent and suffering through “the outrageous slings and arrows” from children was a huge eye opener for me. Realizing that whatever pain I felt was a drop in the bucket to what God feels. I have failed my children many times, but God has never failed me.

     

    6.  Your line, Dee, that we sin because we want to, is shown in 1 John 1:3-6. God makes sure we always have a choice.

     

    7.  My idol is food. It has a very complicated network of roots I’ve not been able to sort out and understand. I am really seeking God’s face, not so much for my weight at this point, but to change my insanity. I keep doing the same thing but looking for different results. I want my first and only thought to be God.

  29. 4.   The prophets often show us the broken heart of God, our Father. How do you see it in Hosea 11:1-4. What word pictures speak to you?
    A father teaching his children to walk, caring for them as a loving father would.
    5.   When your own child rebels against you or reveals a cold heart, what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart?
    God is as brokenhearted as I when my own daughter is rebelling against me.
    6.   Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?
    That we choose to walk in darkness instead of light who is God.
    7.   So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?
     
    I go back between control and approval and lately like some of you, security. It seems like attacks from without makes me feel rattled and I start feeling insecure. I am forgetting who my God is and I am believing that if I do this(seek the internet for ways to solve my issue) or call somebody, I will have relief and feel more secure. Wrong! I need to seek God because He is always with me and He wants me to talk to Him about everything and enjoy His company and the wisdom He gives.

  30. 4.   Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there?
    They were fasting and clothing in ashes but doing as they please, exploiting the poor, having strife among themselves.
     
    9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15
    A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give?
    Insincerity   
    Their assemblies and festivals- New Moon, Sabbath, convocations-just going through the motion
    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?
    Meaningless to God; their hands are full of blood v. 15
     
    5.   According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want?
    Mouths and lips honoring Him but still living by the rules when their hearts are far away from Him.
    6.   It is so easy for any of us to go through the motions of any of the spiritual disciplines without our heart really engaged. Ask God here to help you and be conscious of engaging your heart with Him today in whatever you do. Then report back.
    Looked up the word “engaged” and found this insightful article. The author talked about transformative engagement-finding God in the pages of Scripture and engaging in a relational process with Him.
    https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/scripture-engagement/main/what-is-scripture-engagement
     
    Today was one of those days where I went back and forth with God about something I am struggling with. He pointed me to several promises of His Word, through the wise advice of a friend, coming to this blog and finding meaningful exchanges of similar struggles yet showing confidence in the overarching sovereignty of God. And feeling His love all through out the process. And the beautiful thing about it is that my circumstances haven’t changed, I still need to deal with same students but the fact that I have had God’s company today made all the difference!

    1. Bing–your last paragraph is so encouraging. “the beautiful thing about it is that my circumstances haven’t changed…but the fact that I have had God’s company today made all the difference!”

      thankful you felt His presence

  31. 5. When your own child rebels … what insight does this give you into God’s broken heart?
    It helps me to see the hurt the Lord suffers at our sinful rebellion, the heartache of love.

    6. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?
    Our heart needs to be authentically turned to God, being motivated from a genuine heart of love and obedience to the Lord.  Anything short of this is pretension, living a lie.

    7. what idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?
    The idol I am endeavoring to forsake is one of approval.  I am replacing my penchant for comparison and judgment with prayer.  I have also had the opportunity to watch videos that have introduced me to a concept that will help in living from my core values.  God-incidentally, a podcast I routinely listen to has had some very applicable interviews.   The lie believed is that comparison will build me up or give me the “kick in the butt” needed…in short, it will benefit me; the reality is that it just makes me feel sad and often inept.

    8. How did you see insincerity there?
    People were acting pious and righteous, pretending they wanted relationship with the Lord, going through the motions of penance.

  32. 8.  Insincerity. The people eagerly seek for God, yet do their own thing.

     

    9.  Second charge. They have blood on their hands. They are unclean, but pretend otherwise. God talks of them being willing to offer sacrifice and to celebrate the church calendar, but there is no change in their behavior.

    God always attends to us as we draw near, hoping that this time we are sincere. When He finds no sincerity, it is another crushing blow, a burden and disappointment.

     

    10.  God hates hypocrisy. He desires our honest repentance and brokenness.

     

  33. 12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23?

     

    The city has changed. It sells itself when it used to be a just place. It is full of murderers. The wealthy run after money, and do not protect the fatherless or widows. Instead they are rebels and hang out with thieves.

     

     
    13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!
     

    The post today reminds me of a story. I’m not sure it was a “joyous” occasion though?

     

    I spent the last few summers of my mothers life visiting her, knowing in the back of my mind that she was getting up there in years and potentially not with us for a long time. One summer I decided to wash moms feet. It was such an uncomfortable idea, but I knew she would appreciate it. It was such an intimate gesture and awkward feeling to me! But, mom did enjoy it throughly and that made me happy. She passed a couple years later. I’m glad I did it for her (and me!).

    14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord!
     

    I am spending time in the Word by reading Ann   Voskamps mini-Lenten cards throughout the day. I have her sons Lenten wreath on the kitchen table. Last night my daughter (?! long story; not necessarily a good thing but what’s new?) said it was “in the way.” I told her it was important to me and I wished I could light all the candles. I am afraid the children would get hurt! I am also sharing my own written prayers with my husband and two sons because one son is traveling to France next week and I get fearful of family going overseas. The last time my youngest went I wrote a prayer for the family each day prior to his trip. I am using those for this son now. These actions take up time which means I am focusing more on God than my own self pity of the awful situation we have with my daughter. The weather was so nice yesterday that I went running and listened to 2 podcasts from Nancy Demoss Wolglemuth. Good stuff!

    1. Laura–love this about writing prayers for your family. You truly inspire me how you are continuing to draw near to Him while under such attack. Praying His protection and blessing over you, may He give you strength for all you are facing.

    2. Laura, you are frequently on my mind. I pray for you often. I love the pictures of Cooper and Grace that you share on Facebook. You are such a great example of a Godly woman in difficult circumstances. I love hearing of your times of encouragement.

    3. Laura, (and others shouldering heavy loads)  I thought of you when I read Spurgeon’s devotional one morning. “afflictions are often the black foils in which God sets the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine brighter…He trains his soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through the  streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs.”

      Honestly, I don’t relish the “knapsack” but if I can shine brighter, (smile) I will take it. Knowing as well that the Lord will be on my side.

    4. Laura,

      Your answer to #14 provides such practical advice.  Inspiring.  Thank you.

    5. Continuing to pray for you and your family, Laura. You are doing such a good job turning to God instead of  your idols! One step at a time! You go, girl!

  34. 6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?
     Compared to God, I am a complete wreck..OH MY…talk about falling short. He is pure-no darkness and no sin in Him. Yet still, I sin because I want to. I am, as Paul said, the chief of all sinners and what I want to do I don’t and what I don’t want to do I do. 🙁  So if there is any repentance or any good in me it is Him in me compelling me to turn, and sometimes He compels me and I don’t want to turn but when I do, even though I don’t feel like it, it is because of Him.
    7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavoring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?
    I believe that God isn’t in control when I run to my control idol, that He won’t protect me so I must endeavor to control it. All kinds of fallout can happen such as a resentful spirit toward someone who continues to walk in foolishness-which can turn into anger and then bitterness and that is scary! I have been replacing it via remembering the Gospel-it is like this wave of confidence and peace inside turns the worry upside down. I start by asking Him to draw out what is inside to help me stop clinging to this idol and then I ask myself questions and replace it with truth.  Usually the lie answers me like this,  “if  this happens then you will be in the same boat and all this work to restore this area in your life will go to waste, so why even try? things will never change.” The truth,  “For your steadfast love is before my eyes and I walk in your faithfulness”.  “Walk in obedience to God-don’t worry about the future,  just do what is right. ”

    I can’t help but think, what is my underlying motive? To have everything work out by doing what is right, or just to walk in His faithfulness because of His steadfast love, to obey Him because I love Him and want that deeper level of relationship with Him. I want the latter to be true about me but only He knows my heart!!

    1. Rebecca-yes. “Just do what is right. Don’t worry about the future”. I find this very applicable this week.

  35. 9. What is the second charge that God makes? Examples?
    Their worship and sacrifices are not genuine, they are playing the role of dutiful, obedient believer/follower, but it is all pretense, acts with no heart for the Lord.  Examples include parading through the temple to be noticed by others, bringing offerings not really for the Lord, but for appearance-sake, celebrations and fasting that are false.

    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?
    Because He loves them and knows what they are losing out in and to in acting in this misguided manner.

    10.  What does God hate and what does He want?
    God hates worship and such for the wrong reasons, e.g., out of obligation, for appearances.  He wants genuine hearts with actions flowing out that are motivated by love and respect for Him.

  36. 12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23? They are no longer righteous and faithful. They are harlots, thieves, murders, people who take bribes, rebels. They don’t fight the cause for the widows and orphans.

    13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!

    I had one opportunity in 2005 to go to the Dominican and serve with a medical team. I took donations and brought an entire double sized suitcase full of clothes and toys to pass out to the children at an orphanage that we visited. It was so joyful to see how happy the kids were with the simplest of things. And to be there to help people who had no access to medical care.

  37. 14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord!

    The idol that I have been lifting my soul up to (or refraining from) is comfort and security. I have been spending far too much time after work having a drink or two and watching videos, movies, Netflix etc. I’ve skipped bible study at times because I’d rather be home with my dogs, doing my own thing than interacting with people. I tell myself that I am on my feet at work 8 hours a day dealing with people and I have spent the last decades doing things that I don’t want to do, like Boy Scouts, homeschool co-ops, Awana leader, Sunday School leader, etc.. I know it sounds horrible, but I’ve had to force myself to do those things for the good of my sons. Now I desire ME time and don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to do.

    I went to bible study today, even though I am not fond of the author that they have chosen for this session and I feel really disconnected from the ladies there. This turned out to be such an important evening. There are such hurting women there and we had a time of sharing and praying that I am so glad that I did not miss. I know that sporadic attendance throws off the comfort level of the group as a whole and I don’t want to be the cause of it. I am praying that I will be able to speak up and be more involved.

     

    1. Dawn,

      Love what you shared here about “sporadic attendance” and “throwing off the comfort level”.    I have been in your position of feeling like I changed the dynamic of a women’s bible study by my sporadic attendance.   My mama always reminded me to “look out for the underdog” in any situation.   To be the one to speak to a stranger or newcomer in any situation.  I am still not very good at that but I have been the recipient of that kind of welcoming. And your post here is so encouraging to leave those comfort zones I am so easily drawn to.

       

    2. Dawn, I can relate so much to your post. I don’t work full time, but on the days I do work, I’m tired after dinner and often “zone out” on my phone, surfing the internet or watching videos when I could be reading my Bible or a helpful Christian book. Not that it’s bad to ever watch Netflix, etc….but I can waste so much time doing nothing. I’m glad you decided to go to your Bible study and that you have a heart for hurting women there! I believe that Satan can feed into our wanting to isolate ourselves because he knows that when we are alone we are more vulnerable to his attacks.

  38. 1.   Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!
    A few weeks ago, our beloved elderly friend and member of our church passed away. She was 94. Deana was a saint who walked the earth-she loved her family, her church, me and my husband and God. At 94, she kept her inquiring mind and such joy for being a widow and has had health challenges including cancer. My husband-pastor did her funeral and I helped welcome her families from different parts of the US. Some I have not met before. Many friends and relatives came as well. I was still reeling from the aftermath of the challenges at school, tired but glad to be able to minister to Deana’s family. As I mingled among the guests or looked around, I sense God’s smile at the sweet fellowship that was going around amidst our loss. And I for one, experienced the joy of serving. My own struggles became molehills instead of mountains as I reminded myself of what really counts in this life.
     
    14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord!
     
    I find myself truly thankful for the accomplishments of others and not comparing myself to them. Philippians 4:8 keeps my thoughts as God would desire them for me.

  39. 8. Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there? – They were fasting and doing what they thought God wanted them to do, but they were doing it to get a reward, a pat on the back and job well done. They weren’t fasting or keeping the Sabbath Holy from their heart, they were doing it in hopes they got something in return.
     
    9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15
     
    A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give? – Is the 2nd charge to hear the word of the Lord and to listen to His instruction? They are bringing the Lord worthless assemblies and meaningless offerings. This reminds of when people buy a gift for someone just to buy something, but have put no effort at all into and end up buying something that person doesn’t even use.
     
    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him? – Is it because they are just assembling to check the box and not to really worship the Lord or have a relationship with him?
     
     10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want? – He hates lip service and people that do things and their hearts are not in it. He wants his people to come to him with open hearts and to grow close with him in an actual relationship and for their hearts to be all in when they do something.
     
    11. It is so easy for any of us to go through the motions of any of the spiritual disciplines without our heart really engaged. Ask God here to help you and be conscious of engaging your heart with Him today in whatever you do. Then report back. – More to come on this one.
     

  40. 12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23? – They have perverted their city with their wicked ways and have gone against all that God stands for. They care for no one but themselves and will do what it takes to get ahead no matter how it may hurt the Lord.
    13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small! – For me the time I had the most joy was when I was on a mission trip in Greece. We went into Athens to help another group called the Oasis, which is an organization that helps Afghan refugees who have escaped from their country into Turkey and then into Greece. They have come with nothing, don’t speak English and don’t know Jesus. The stipulation with this group is that in order to get small tokens of a bag of food, clothing or help with medicine, they have to come in to the building, sit and learn about Jesus, learn to speak and understand English. These Afghan refugees are so thankful for the little that they get that they gladly come in and accept the rules. They come with the kids who have nothing but these kids have more smiles on their faces then any other kid from the Western World. It was such a joy to be a small spoke in this huge wheel to see the delight on their faces when they learn about Jesus. They are so thankful for those that help them.
     

     
    14. Give us a progress report on how you are doing in not lifting up your soul to an idol but running to the Lord! – I unfortunately have not made to much progress, I am praying to hear the Lord and what he wants me to do. I’m trying to not dwell or complain to others about the issue, but instead ask them to pray for us in regards to the issue and what we are to do.
     

    1. Julie, You are in my prayers.

  41. 11.  Are you only going through the motions? I have really been pondering this. It is easy for the disciplines to be a routine. One that keeps you so busy you don’t even notice God’s presence or lack of it. I think I am in grave danger of this. Every day I have my ten chapters, review of memory verses, the Spanish I am trying to learn, finding a joke to send my grandkids, prayer list, and this blog. I really want each of them. Yet I get to the end of the day and wonder if I listened to Him or not.

     

     

    1. Mary B. such an honest post that resonates with all of us. All those things are good but I love your last statement, “Yet I get to the end of the day and wonder if I listened to Him or not?”

  42. 8. Last week we looked at Isaiah 58. How did you see insincerity there?
     The people were saying they desired what God desired loving His ways and fasting yet in the same breath they were oppressing their workers and at enmity with those around them.
    9. Read Isaiah 1:10-15
    A. What is the second charge that God makes? What examples does He give?
    God considers their offerings trampling in his courts and it disgusts Him. He takes no pleasure with their “dutiful” offerings for their hearts are far from Him. They make offerings yet have blood on their hands.
    B. Why is their religion a burden to Him?
    God hates injustice and oppression and that is exactly what they practiced while offering sacrifices. There was no desire for repentance- no turning. It was a burden to God for them to keep sacrificing for I think it was a form of belittling God and basically spitting on Him. I am thinking they did it to look good before others. It had nothing to do with desiring God.

  43. 10. According to Isaiah 29:13, what does God hate – and what does He want?
    People who honor Him with their mouth and lips but their hearts are far from Him. He wants us to desire Him. The kind of sacrificial love where we are willing to turn and repent from sin-to give up comfort,  control, approval and embrace His, or have the heart where our affections have grown to be so on Him having tasted His comfort, approval and control that we lose our desire to have it from anywhere else. Growing closer to Him is a process for our hearts are naturally bent away. The more we taste Him the more we desire to let go of our idols.
    11. It is so easy for any of us to go through the motions of any of the spiritual disciplines without our heart really engaged. Ask God here to help you and be conscious of engaging your heart with Him today in whatever you do. Then report back.
    Oh can I do this! I did this with my read through the Bible in 90 days. I was doing great and was absorbing it but when I got into a women’s  Bible study at church (a non-fluff one which is hard to find) and desired to memorize in 1 Peter I had to back off on something because I didn’t want to not do Dee’s blog, so I dropped my 90 day reading. I started berating myself for dropping it but then I thought-where does God say it brings Him pleasure if I can read through the Bible in 90 days and be done by that certain date? What is important? Meeting with Him or dutiful reading and memorization? This is one of the control-sin issues of being Administratively inclined!! Anyway, yes..I am asking God to help me to engage my heart with Him today in whatever I do! I LOVE THAT DEE.

  44. 12. We are to be like a city on a hill, shining light to a dark world. God charges His people with failing to be just. What does He say in Isaiah 1:21-23?

    That the city that was supposed to be a shining light to a dark world has become like the dark world. Once full of justice now full of injustice not really caring about the needs of widows, and the fatherless and not really defending them. I think they have turned to worship their idols loving bribes and chasing after gifts.

    13. Can you share a time when God filled you with joy when you were ministering to those in need? No story too small!

    I have a few in the past, but will pick two current stories in the public school I work at. 🙂 A homeless, single mom with 5 children all pretty much 7 years and under, came into my school to enroll her two oldest in K and 1st grade. They were living in a motel at the time but were transient. All of them had pants that didn’t fit and one of them had no belt and his pants kept falling down. I offered to watch three of them and take them to the bathroom while my clerical aide processed their paperwork. When I took them to the bathroom, they had no underwear, and one needed a belt so badly. That totally broke my heart. The nurse and I grabbed some underwear and gave it to them to put on. What brought me joy was the innocence and happiness God put in their hearts even though they had nothing and no real place to call home, and just sensing His compassionate heart in the moment was so fulfilling.

     

    So there is a student who used to get in trouble pretty regularly and was sent to the office. This kindergartner would refused to comply when I asked her to keep her chair against the wall. She would look at me, smile and move it forward. Then would talk and sing loudly because she knew she wasn’t supposed to in the office. As time went on she wasn’t in the office much anymore which is good but she got in trouble again and had to come in the office. While she was talking  to herself she said loudly, “We are learning about Jesus in Sunday School!” God had no one in the office where I could get in trouble. I responded, “Really? That’s great! What are you learning?” She said,  “That Jesus loves me!” I said, “Yes, He does.” She said, “Say Jesus. Say his name!” So I said His name.  This is SO of God to speak through a child who tends to get in trouble all the time and SO of Him that no one was in the office, and so my heart filled with joy. 🙂 🙂 SO upside down. I knew it was Him.

    1. Tears for both of these precious stories Rebecca! How sweet ♥️

  45. 15. Share your notes and comments. 

    I will share later from Eric Alexander’s sermon. Let me just first say that his exposition of Isaiah 1 cut to my heart and made me deeply aware once more of the depravity of my sins and of our sins as a nation. How he pointed to the Messiah at the end, though is a sure hope and anchor to my soul.

    1. Bing, you are whetting my appetite for Eric’s sermon!

       

      1. Rebecca, I almost feel like I don’t want to put my notes here-I felt like I was standing (sitting and crying at the same time) on holy ground when I was listening. When Eric read the word of God (his voice was so strong and authoritative)-it was almost like God was talking to me!

        So I think I will leave it up to all to listen (Smile). You will not regret it! Thank you, Dee for sharing this sermon with us!

  46. 6. Iniquity is falling short of the holiness of God, knowing the straight line, but rebelling against it. We sin because we want to. What light does 1 John 1:3-6 give to Isaiah’s pictures?

    God is light. Everything else is darkness. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6)

    7. So often it is that we run to our idols instead of Him. What idol are you endeavouring to forsake and how are you replacing it with the Lord? What lie do you believe when you run to this idol?

    I am trying to trust God by being relationship-oriented instead of task-oriented. For me, this means to patiently listen when someone wants to chat about something that seems trivial to me, even when I have something I think is more important to do. Really listening.

    How am I doing? This takes conscious effort and sometimes I am doing better, but sometimes I forget and find myself slowly edging away physically while someone is talking away, or trying to find an excuse to finish a phone call to get on to my “list”. What lie am I believing? The lie I am believing perhaps it is that my agenda is more important (or I am more important or my feelings of insecurity/shyness)  than the person God has placed in my way just then. I know this is a long process.

     

    1. Diane, I so relate. There are people that I consciously edge away from. For some, it is because they are emotionally draining to me. But for the most part, I am like you-I have my agenda and they are getting in the way. God has place them there so they are in my way so I can get out of my way of  selfishness, busyness and indifference.

  47. 8. False worship was the insincerity ;  they were fighting and  quareling with one another.

    9.God charges them, Why do you parade through my courts with your worthless sacrifices? Your most pious meetings are sinful and false.

    10.What does God hate? Insincere hearts and empty worship.

    What does He want? He wants people to truly love and worship him.

    11. I want to truly reflect my love for God by loving others well. I am praying that God will keep me accountable in all my words and actions.

    My progress is like a yoyo, doing well, then falling back to feeling insecure in my responsibility.

    I will pray to ponder the word that I am meditating on. Trusting God : Psalm 56:3,4

  48. 12. Be like a city on a hill, a shining light to a dark world. What does God say?

    Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. They take bribes and refuse to defend orphans and widows.

    13.The time recently that God filled me with joy was when I accompanied a singing group to a nursing home. These elderly folk are often lonely and neglected. Two of the residents responded to me. One I was sitting beside and when I shared a song, she smiled so sweetly, yet was nonverbal. The other was reaching out to me verbally, calling my name as she remembered me first!. I felt God  calling me to continue this outreach. Yet I have delayed in doing so. This assignment has triggered this calling, and I need to make a plan to visit again.

    1. Shirley, thanks for sharing about visiting a nursing home. This is a ministry that I feel drawn to also.

  49. 13.  Last week, being down in Mexico, was a tremendous blessing for me. The leadership there emphasizes that more than the house build, relationships are what matter. I got to connect with four different people there, each one very different than the others, but all family. I have a hard time choosing what to share.

    Juvia is 27 years old, married for six years. Her husband knew when he married her that she has epilepsy, but did so anyway because he loved her. She has not been able to conceive. Sometime in the last six years, during a seizure, she fell and broke off her front teeth. She is in constant pain and embarrassed about her appearance. They have no money for dentist or medicine. She just poured out her heart to me. She knows Jesus. As a team we committed to at least starting her dental process. Tues of this week was her first appt.

    Then Alejandro. He is somewhere close to 10 years old. We spent hours together over a bilingual children’s Bible. He would read the Spanish and then me the English. We got all the way through David and Goliath in three days. We were able to make a gift of the book to him, and tell him to remember that God is looking not at his circumstances, but at his heart.

    1. Love this, Mary. I take so much for granted here in America. Eric Alexander has much to say about prosperity being a way the enemy lures us away from God. Trips like what you have had open our eyes to the vastness of need for a Savior. And we as ambassadors for Him can be His visible hands and feet. You and your team just did that!