Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 41:17-43:13; Ephesians 2:1-22; Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 23:29-35
Today is the 266th day of the year. We now have less 100 days until we complete reading the Bible in 2013!
Isaiah’s prophecy of future blessing from God for Israel continues in our reading today. God can do what seems impossible (Isaiah 41:19). He is more than willing to do these things in our lives. I think God enjoys surprising us with blessings that we would never even think of. When He does He gets all the glory and He also gets to enjoy watching how amazed we are.
Isaiah 42 records prophecy about the coming Messiah, who was Jesus. Jesus came as a servant (Isaiah 42:1) who treated weak people with gentleness and concern (Isaiah 42:3). Jesus has no intention of harming us. We are already broken and flickering, trying to get through this difficult life. His goal is not to inflict more pain, but to rescue us (Isaiah 42:7, 16).
No matter what happens in life God is right there with us (Isaiah 42:2). Life is full of problems. No one is immune. We can expect to have difficulty on this earth. We can also expect God to go through it with us because He has promised He would. We are never alone.
Everyone is born spiritually dead and grows up living a life of sin, which is an inherent part of our nature (Ephesians 2-3). But that did not stop God from loving us and giving us new life through Jesus’ resurrection (Ephesians 2:4-5). As verse 4 states, God did this because it is in His nature to do so. God doesn’t love us begrudgingly or because He pities us. He is a God who is full of mercy, wanting to help us out of our dreadful condition.
After all, this is the only way we can be saved (Ephesians 2:5). There is no other way. There is no other God. There is nothing good or good-enough about us to warrant our being with God forever. The only way for us to escape an eternity separated from God (we call that “hell”) is by God’s grace. Only by God taking the initiative and creating a salvation plan can anyone get to heaven.
And, in fact, that is where believers already are. Not physically, of course. But our position is already secured in heaven (Ephesians 2:6). Even though we still live on this earth, we have a reservation waiting for us — we are citizens of heaven at this very moment. We just happen to be living here on earth for a while longer. This should be of great comfort when we go through difficult situations. Not only is God with us as we read in Isaiah today but we know, without a doubt, that our home is in heaven and we will be there at the end of this life.
This heavenly citizenship is a gift from God. No one is saved from the penalty of their sins of their own accord. Otherwise, we’d be able to boast about being “better” than others. Salvation is not a reward for our behavior. It is a gift that God has offered us by His own will (Ephesians 2:8-9). Just like any gift, it can be accepted or refused. God will not force you to take this gift. Love does not force itself. God offers it to everyone and He lets everyone decide for themselves if they want it.
Ephesians 2:10 is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. In this verse God calls believers His “masterpiece”. God considers us to be something beautiful that He made. The original Greek word that is translated “masterpiece” is poiema from which we get our English word “poem”. It was the word the Greeks used to describe a beautiful work of art (in fact, some translations use this phrase).
In Psalm 67 David expresses his desire for all nations and all peoples to know God and praise Him (Psalm 67:2-6). The only way this is going to happen is for those of us who believe in Him and who experience His grace and mercy to tell others about Him. We should also look for and accept God’s mercy in our lives (Psalm 67:1). When we are blessed others will see it and they will want to be blessed too. They will want what we have – a relationship with the only and only living God.
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