"On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6–7, ESV)
Watchmen on the walls are intercessors, prayer warriors, and those who look after others in the place of prayer. Watchmen stand guard over the city—night and day. They sound the alarm of approaching danger. They keep watch over all enemy activity around the city.
In Isaiah 62, the watchmen are placed by God to guard the city. Isaiah says that they will never be silent! Their uniqueness in Isaiah is they will continually remind the Lord of His promises and word to Jerusalem.
Does God need reminding? No, but this passage reminds us that he will never forget what He has promised. The days may become incredibly dark, but God has appointed watchmen to remind Him of what He has spoken. Will He forget? Absolutely not! But these 'Reminders' cry out night and day, saying, "Remember what you said about Jerusalem!"
This passage should remind us of the high calling of the place of prayer in our lives. John Wesley once said, "God does nothing but through prayer." This passage is calling believers to remind God of what He has spoken over Jerusalem, and it is reminding us to remind God of what He has said over us! Never underestimate the power of prayer to shape nations and lives...according to His Word!
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you!" (Psalm 122:6, ESV)
Jerusalem is God's city. Isn't it fascinating that such a little nation and such an insignificant city could be the center of so much attention today? Jerusalem means the ‘city of peace’. Yet it seems that every country in the world wants to destroy it. I believe this is because God has such big plans for it. After all, scripture is quite clear that Messiah will return one day and rule from Jerusalem. If I were the devil, I would want to destroy it too, so that Messiah cannot reign from there when He comes.
Because of such threats of violence through the ages up to today against Jerusalem, King David encourages us to, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." As believers, we have been joined to Jesus and grafted into God's chosen people. Therefore it should be upon our hearts to pray for Jerusalem. The city where Christ will return and reign over the nations of the earth.
The promise that comes with our prayers for Jerusalem is that we would be at rest. As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the peace we pray for is simultaneously directed by God to us. If you desire to live in peace, make it a point to pray for peace for the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel
"Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This "letter" is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3, NLT)
What a compliment Paul gives to the church in Corinth, "You are a letter showing..." The word 'showing' comes from a word often translated as 'manifest,' to make visible. What is being made visible is the inward work of the Spirit in the human heart that is clearly visible outwardly. It is the life-giving activity of the Spirit of God living in the hearts of the Corinthian church.
This change did not occur because of some forced morality or behavior modification. It came from the life-giving preaching of Jesus Christ through Paul's ministry among them. This work done within the heart transforms the person so radically that it is visible for all to see.
The goal of the Gospel is to make dead men live! This change is so drastic everyone can see it. All who inquire as to what happened hear the Gospel themselves. Paul's boast is that the Gospel, the message of Christ, is written on the human heart by the Holy Spirit. We must ask ourselves: What are men reading when they look at our lives? What are we manifesting or showing forth having encountered Christ personally? What message is your life sending as people around you read it?
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." (Isaiah 1:18, ESV)
At first, this verse seems like an invitation to sit with God and discuss the sinful patterns that occupy Judah's life. But the word translated as 'reason' really means "let us debate our case in court."*** God wants to bring the case public so that all of Judah knows He has the evidence to convict them fully. This is true of all of our lives. We have no righteousness that could stand before God.
Only Isaiah the prophet can give such hope as he does at the start of this trial of Judah before God. He calls out Judah's sin as crimson and scarlet, easily seen. The sin of the nation stands out. But all our sin before a Holy God plainly stands out. There is no hiding it. All we can do is confess it, declare ourselves guilty, and cry out to God for mercy.
He renders the sentence as He tries us. We know we are guilty. Yet, amid our scarlet guilt, He declares, "I will make you white as snow!" Only a loving merciful God can do that! Though our sin makes us guilty as crimson, He offers to make us white like wool! A wise person would quickly receive what God offers and then be eternally grateful for the rest of his life!
***(TWBOT; Harris, Archer. Moody Press.)
"And what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?" (Zechariah 4:12, NLT)
In Zechariah 4, Zechariah is having an encounter with the revelatory realm of God. In it, he sees two olive trees dripping fresh oil into a bowl with seven lamps. The angel proceeds to speak those famous words to Zechariah, "This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies." (Zechariah 4:6, NLT)
That amazing revelation is for all believers to walk in. So often, as we are doing life, we do it out of our own strength. God is speaking to Zechariah and telling him plainly, "Life is to be lived out in the power of the Spirit." Even mountains will not stand before you when you walk in the Spirit. We have been given God's Spirit not so we can have 'goose bumps’, but to have the power to impact earthly kingdoms.
I am captivated by the fresh oil that drips from the olive trees by the lampstand. Can you imagine the size of that drop of oil falling to the earth? Can you dream of the possibilities that one single drop of fresh oil could do to a person, family, city, or nation? That stirs my faith and causes me to say, "Lord! Please hit me with one of those great golden globs of liquid light!
"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying… the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God." (Revelation 12:10, ESV)
Webster's Dictionary defines accusation as to charge with a fault, to blame. It is found throughout the scriptures but becomes most notable when Satan is in the picture. In Job 1, we see Satan accusing God of keeping Job hedged in. He accuses Job of not being able to walk morally with God. In Zechariah, Satan accuses Joshua, the priest, of being in dirty garments.
The nature of accusations is to separate and divide. Accusations do not bring people together. Accusations in a marriage always disconnect and divide husband and wife. Accusations in the family always separate and divide. Accusations in a local church only serve to separate and divide people from one another.
Satan is called the accuser of the brothers. His nature is to bring accusations so that we would be separated from each other. Separation leads to isolation and opens us up to even more demonic attacks. Separation also leads to division. The more divided a church, family, or marriage becomes, the weaker and more vulnerable they become.
Knowing that this is one way the enemy of our soul operates, let us shut down accusations that divide and let us speak words of life that edify, strengthen and build up. Let us be aware of our words when we talk to each other so as not to accuse.
March 15, 2023: Come Up Here
"After this, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." (Revelation 4:1, ESV)
What a sight to behold! An open door to heaven! Can you imagine what John must have felt at that moment? "Am I allowed to look?" "I want to look." "Is it safe to look?" Would brilliant light be pouring forth from the open door? Or would it just appear to be open? And what about that voice? It sounded like a trumpet, loud and piercing. It makes one's soul tremble at its hearing. And yet the invitation: "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
God is always giving His people the opportunity to encounter Him. Like a good Father, he wants to surprise us often with 'snap shots' of His goodness. Jesus calls us friends (Jn 15:15) because He wants us to know what the Father is doing. Jesus encourages us to ask, seek and knock (Mt 7:7) so that we might find Him and His ways.
Jesus tore the temple curtain from top to bottom with His own flesh. The door could not be any more open than it is right now. He looks for those who are spiritually hungry and willing to come to Him so that they might see more clearly. Having a "Yes!" in our hearts takes us into the Spirit. And it is in the Spirit that we can see what He sees!
"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away." (Psalm 1:3–4, ESV)
The 'one man' from verse one, why is he happy? He is happy because he delights in the instruction of the Lord. He does not gather opinions from the masses but life-giving instruction from God. Because he seeks wisdom from God, and not the world, the Psalmist says that 'one man,’ in the whole big desert of humanity, is full of life.
The 'one man' living from the counsel of God is like a tree in the desert planted by streams of water. He yields fruit in season, and his leaves never wither. This tree is a picture of a life grounded in the counsel of the Lord. We must understand that this 'one man' was intentional about where he planted himself. What sustains the tree is hidden. It is out of sight. But the tree knows where it’s life comes from. It’s roots reach for the living water! What are your roots reaching for?
The powerful product of his location, (the instruction of the Lord) causes him to prosper in everything! The wicked, as numerous as they are, do not have the right environment to stay green and productive. They are destined to dry up and be driven away by the wind.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2, ESV)
In Psalm 1, one man is compared to three groups: the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers. This one man is set against the masses. One against three is not so bad. One against three groups is vast. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate the gap between the way of the righteous man and the way of the wicked. Not only are the two ways distinguished by who travels down them, but by how many!
It should not surprise us that the road the one man is on appears to be less traveled. And the road that the groups are on by nature must be broader. Hmmm...narrow the way that leads to life, and few find it. The narrow way may seem less traveled and more challenging, but it is the way of happiness. The one man chooses not to walk with the wicked, stand with sinners, or sit with scoffers. Because of this, he is happy.
On a positive note, the man delights in the instruction of the Lord. When you contrast this to the first verse, here is what we understand: the way to happiness is not in following the advice of the questionable people but rather the instruction of the Lord.
"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (Ephesians 5:5, ESV)
This scripture carries a severe warning! And we must pay attention to what Paul is saying.
To be sexually immoral refers to any sexual activity outside God's design for marriage. The word 'sexually immoral' comes from the Greek word 'porneia.' Porneia, from which we get the word pornography, includes pornography, pre-marital, extramarital, and adultery. It consists of all sexual activity that does not honor Christ. Paul says that we are followers of Christ and part of His body. Therefore when I sin sexually, it is as though I am bringing Christ into my sin. The sin of sexual immorality can potentially destroy the relationship God created to reflect his love for his bride, the church.
The word impure comes from a Greek word meaning clean or pure. When a simple preposition is connected to it, it means unclean or impure. What is clean is made for fellowship with God. What is not clean is shut out from God.
The last word that Paul includes in his list of three is a word that means greedy. To be driven by a power that is not of God.
There is no room for these three sins in God's kingdom. Let there be found no room for them in you as well.
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