Isaiah 23-27

God makes a way in spite of our brokenness.

Isaiah was a prophet in Israel during some very difficult times due to the fact that Israel had to a great extent departed from the true worship of God and were not keeping the commandments as God instructed.  Due to rebellion Israel was divided into two kingdoms.  The Northern Kingdom was known as the Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom was referred to as Judah in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah.  These two divisions were adversarial toward each other.  Isaiah was a prophet in Judah over 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  It might be mentioned that Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah later over 600 years before Jesus.  The sinful departure from serving God continued during the times of both prophets.  Perhaps the sinful conditions then were much like and to the degree of the sinfulness that is prevalent in today’s world.  God through these prophets warned Israel that there would be serious consequences of their sin, but they would be greatly blessed if they returned to faithful service to God.  Unfortunately, Israel did not heed the words of the prophets and made bad choices by continuing in their sinful ways.  Indeed, there were serious consequences resulting from their sinful behaviors.  We also have to make similar choices almost daily.  There are blessings when we make choices pleasing to God.  As previously stated, the sinfulness of Judah continued until about 600 years before Jesus.  God withdrew his protection and they were attacked by the Babylonians.  About 606 BC the Babylonians conquered and took the entire population of Judah from their homeland to the land of the Babylonians where they were to be servants of the Babylonians for 70 years.  After the fall of the Babylonian Empire they were permitted to return to their original homeland and to restore their worship of God.

In spite of all the sins of Judah, God never ceased to love them.  In Isaiah 27 God promises a brighter day for Israel when they will no longer be divided and when they are turned from their sinful ways to serve and obey God.  These blessings will happen after Jesus returns and establishes the Kingdom of God.

We can learn much from the experiences of Israel.  We all have sinned and that includes everyone.  Yet, God loves mankind so much that He gave his only begotten son as a sacrifice for our sins, John 3:16.  Today we live in a world with many problems and challenges.  This week we are not at FUEL because of a very serious and deadly virus.  There is strife and unrest in our nation often leading to violence. There are a number of wars in the world.  Although we live in difficult times, we like Israel are confronted with choices.  God has something better ahead for us if we choose to serve him today and accept his son Jesus – The Wonderful Kingdom of God is promised for us!

~ Joe James

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in 2 Kings 18:1-8 & 2 Chronicles 29-31 & Psalm 48 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Broken

my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever-4

When suiting up for battle, the biggest lie the enemy tells you is that you’re too broken to be loved by God. The whispers in your head that you are damaged goods, scuffed and bruised, attempt to overpower the innate value that you have because you are God’s child. By trying to hide your brokenness, you fight for the wrong side. Brokenness isn’t meant to be hidden, but embraced.

Scars become stories. Think of the physical scars you have—all those little gashes and scratches tell of what you have been healed from. Scars no longer hurt; instead, they are signs of victory. Just like your body repairs your physical wounds, God has healed you from your brokenness and sin. He has picked up your shattered pieces, brushed off the dust, and glued you back together. Your brokenness is a sign of victory. Jesus conquered death, and in doing so conquered your sin. When you weep and wallow in your brokenness, you send Jesus right back to the grave.

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. When a piece of pottery is dropped, it isn’t thrown out. Instead, it is restored and made even more valuable. This, in essence, is the gospel. You were crushed under the weight of your sin, but God, through the sacrifice of His son, pieced you back together. Where you see your life shattered to pieces on the ground, He sees restoration. If the Creator of the entire universe embraces your brokenness, you should, too.

Moses killed a man. David had an affair. Jonah ran away. Rahab was a prostitute. Noah got drunk. Paul murdered Christians. God could have left these details out, but He didn’t; He transforms broken people and puts them on pedestals to bring glory and honor to His name.

Let’s take a closer look at the story of Rahab, which is found in the second chapter of Joshua. Rahab had lived a promiscuous life as a prostitute, yet God redeems her. Joshua, the leader of the Israelites searching for the Promised Land, sent two spies to the city of Jericho, hoping to conquer the land of Canaan. When the officials of Jericho tried to hunt down the spies, they found safety in the home of Rahab. When the officials come knocking at Rahab’s door, she hides the spies on her rooftop under stalks of flax. This same woman who used to live a life of sin and shame helped save God’s chosen people. This same woman who used to live a life of sin and shame is an ancestor of Jesus, God’s own precious son (Matthew 1:5).

When the enemy stares into your eyes and tells you that you are broken, embrace it, knowing that your brokenness doesn’t define you; your Savior does.

~Mackenzie McClain

Flawed – Intro by Lacey Dunn

Ro3

Happy Monday everyone! Today, you are getting two awesome posts from Lacey Dunn!

Sometimes, we don’t know why God uses characters in the Bible. But, when we look at the people’s lives in the Bible, as well as our own, we can recognize how God can work in the flawed lives of everyone to make them into something beautiful and glorifying to him. Check out Lacey’s introduction in the video below:

 

The memory verse for this week is Romans 3:23-24.

For our email followers, click through this link to view the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxaNnsSsNlI&feature=youtu.be

 

The Day God Needed a U-Haul Truck!

Ezra 1-4

ezra

Monday, November 5

God could have used a U-Haul truck when His people were allowed to go back to Jerusalem after being taken captive into Babylon for 70 years.  God moved King Cyrus of Persia to allow the repatriation of the Jews back to their home in Jerusalem.  There were a lot of people who went , especially those who were from priestly lineage.  To find out just how many people went on this journey back to Jerusalem take a calculator and add up the number of people listed in chapter 2 verses 2-65!  They also had to pack up all the dishes that were to be used in the house of God that had been previously ransacked from God’s temple in Jerusalem some 70 years before.  That’s a lot of people, and things, to move all at once.

When the Jews did return to Jerusalem they began to re-instate the priestly duties of sacrifices even though the foundation of the new temple had not yet been poured.   They also began to celebrate their festivals as was their religious custom.  Cyrus had agreed to help them build the temple so orders for the cedar wood from Lebanon which was to be used, were issued.  The main contractor of this building project was a man by the name of Zerubbabel.  His job was to take this pile of rubble and figure out how to help make it into a beautiful place for God’s temple once again.  The people were overjoyed when the foundation of the new temple was laid and a celebration was held.  Things seemed to be looking up for God’s people but then some of their jealous neighbors in the land began to complain.  They sent complaints to Cyrus and the following kings of Persia making up all sorts of claims about the Jews who had returned which were not necessarily true.  So, with the distractions of unhappy neighbors in the land, and many hassles and arguments about the rebuilding that the Jews were doing, soon they became discouraged and left the project of rebuilding God’s house undone.  Not until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia did the completion of the temple happen.

Having been through a recent cross country move myself what caught my eye was all those dishes that were to be used in God’s temple that had to be transported.  5,400 to be exact!  They were made of gold and silver so they would have to be packed very carefully as not to be scratched or broken.  This gives dish duty a whole new meaning.  In my move a few of my dishes broke.  Thinking about this it makes me think of how broken the city was and the temple of God was when the people returned to their beloved city.  They must have been excited at first at the prospect of going back, but once there I’m sure that seeing all the brokenness of the city must have been very discouraging.

Think about one of the greatest things God can do — He can fix what is broken.  Sometimes we may feel broken , or tossed about by the circumstances in our lives.  So did the Jews.  The good news is that God can fix what is broken.  He helped the Jews to rebuild the temple to Him, and their lives after being exiled for so long – He made them beautiful again.  He can help us too by fixing the broken parts of our lives and shaping it into something beautiful.  Key thought:  Think about how God has helped to fix the broken parts of your life and think about how He chooses to make it beautiful.

-Merry Peterson