Do you know that person who always offers to help after the work is done or always “wishes” they could help? Those sentiments are pretty meaningless – about as productive as a dog chasing his tail. That is how God feels about sacrifices to Him when people go on sinning and worshipping other gods. The sacrifices don’t mean anything. They’re empty. It sure makes you think, are our offerings of worship and service, at times, pretty meaningless?
- 1-8 – This is a prophecy promising to return Jerusalem to what it was intended to be.
- 9-11 – A call to arms to prepare to bring the Israelites back from exile.
- 17-2 – Jerusalem is being urged to wake up and prepare for restoration.
- 6 – So often, including the prophet Isaiah, biblical characters have responded with “here I am”. Here God explains that he will answer in this same way when it’s time for Israel to be restored.
- 7-12 – The “good news” this passage refers to is the salvation of Jerusalem. This beautiful, poetic explanation is a great reflection of the beauty of salvation.
- 1-12 – Now read this again recognizing that it is foretelling Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- 1-5 – Following Christ is an act of allowing ourselves to be transformed to look more and more like him. We cannot continue on sinning and say that we are being transformed.
- 6-14 – There are lots of folks who will try to steer us off our pursuit of following Christ. This is easiest when our sins are hidden. When we bring them to the light they are far easier to deal with.
- 22-33 – This passage is often disliked and/or ignored in modern society. But if both spouses choose to love and respect one another as Scripture calls us to, both parties get a really good deal.
- 19-28 – David asks God to punish his enemies.
- 30-36 – Several times in Scripture God asks for humility or obedience instead of a bunch of meaningless sacrifices. David promises to do just that.
Isaiah becomes one of the most bold, confident mouthpieces for God in his years as a prophet, but in his calling, which we’ll read today, he’s timid. He, like so many others in Scripture, feels unworthy of what God is calling him to do. When God calls us, he also gives us the ability to fulfill that calling.
- 1-4 – This sets the scene for Isaiah’s calling to be God’s prophet. God is described as vast and powerful.
- 5 – It is very common for folks in the Bible to be hesitant to accept their callings. They often have excuses.
- 6-7 – God always has a solution for people’s excuses.
- 8 – Yet another example of a person in Scripture who answers, “Here I am”.
- 9-13 – God is fed up with the Israelites unfaithfulness. He sends Isaiah to speak a message of repentance but knows the people won’t listen.
- 1-9 – Syria and Israel are in cahoots to attack Jerusalem, which is part of Judah. Isaiah is to assure Judah that Syria and Israel will not prevail.
- 14 – This is a clear prophecy of Jesus’ birth, which wouldn’t happen for over 400 years, but is also specifically talking about Isaiah’s son, Immanuel.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33:
- 19-21 – Apparently the Corinthians were very patient with those who wronged them. Paul admits he did not have that kind of strength.
- 22-29 – These are Paul’s credentials. This is what he’s been willing to endure for the sake of Christ.
- David writes this Psalm after being ratted out. He has been betrayed but his hope is still in the Lord because he knows God has taken care of him before and will continue to do so.
How do you respond when God calls you? You may think, “Umm…I’m not sure He has”.
In this week’s reading, we read Isaiah’s call, his immediate response, and then his ultimate response. Isaiah is called to be God’s prophet and, specifically, to tell his own people that God will destroy them and send them into exile if they don’t shape up and repent.
Like many others called in Scripture, Isaiah offers the response, “Here I am”, offering himself as willing to follow God. Also like many others, he then offers an excuse of why he cannot do what God is calling him to.
I, too, am an excuse maker. Are you? Do you continually think up reasons why God’s plan for you isn’t the right one? Are you always able to come up with reasons why you can’t serve, commit fully to God, tithe, or whatever else he’s calling you to?
This week, and in the weeks to come, we can also learn from Isaiah what it looks like to jump onboard God’s plan full steam ahead. Read on. It’s worth it.
Today’s reading from 1 Samuel says, “the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” We see with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others, God has conversations and advice for these people throughout their lives. But for a time, whether by God’s choice or because the Israelites had strayed so far from him, God was silent. God’s voice was so absent that Samuel didn’t recognize it when he called. Is it possible that we too have strayed far from God and don’t recognize his voice when he calls?
1 Samuel 2:22-4:22:
- 25 – Eli’s sons had sinned continually against God, choosing to sin directly against his laws, against the women who served God, and against the offerings given to God. Their hearts were hardened through their vast sins and then God chooses to harden them completely.
- 27-36 – God cuts off Eli’s family from the priesthood because of his son’s great sins. Though Eli didn’t sin to the extent of his sons, he also didn’t make a great effort to stop them.
- 1 – This means God was not speaking directly to people much at this time. This could be a choice by God or it could be because of Israel’s distance from God.
- 4 – Yet another biblical character who responds to God’s call with the faithful response, “Here I am.”
- 7 – Samuel was still young and hadn’t had a direct encounter with God so he was unable to recognize his voice. In John’s gospel Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd and because of that, the sheep know his voice.
- 9-10 – A beautiful, willing response.
- 11-15 – Eli raised Samuel so hearing such a negative report about Eli from God would be quite troubling to the young man. It is not surprising that he was scared to tell Eli.
- 19 – Samuel was eager to learn all he could from the Lord.
- 3-11 – The Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, represented the presence of God. God could have caused the Israelites to defeat the Philistines but decided not to because of the sins of Hophni and Phinehas.
- 22 – The Ark of the Covenant being captured would be like Washington D.C. being taken over by our enemies. But it was even worse than that because it represented God no longer being in their presence.
- 25-29 – This passage tells us that there will be a resurrection for the dead and both believers and non-believers will be judged by Christ.
- 45-47 – The Jews based their holiness and worthiness on Moses’ law. When Jesus says it is Moses that will accuse them before God and not him, he is expressing that none of them have succeeded in meeting Moses’ standards and thus none can be justified before God.
- 4-5 – God was extremely gracious to his people, the Israelites and the psalmist is asking for inclusion on this treatment.
- 7-12 – Of all the great works God did for the Israelites, clearly the most significant to them was being rescued from Egypt. It is, far and away, the most referenced act of God throughout the Old Testament.
- This portion of the proverb contrasts peace and dissatisfaction. The former gives us life, while the other sucks it out of us.
In today’s reading, Moses asks for God’s name. He responds, “I AM WHO I AM”. To ears in our culture, this may sound like a sarcastic or defensive response. Instead, God is sharing his eternal nature and the consistency of his character. I am who I was. I am who I am. I am who I will always be. Let God’s response be a comfort to you.
- 11-15 – Moses acted out in anger and though he thought he got away with it, people saw. Though he had grown up in Pharaoh’s house, he was still a Hebrew who had now killed an Egyptian.
- 23-25 – God heard the Israelites’ cries and acted accordingly. This gives us hope that God hears our cries for help as well.
- 1 – Jethro and Reuel are the same person.
- 2 – One of the many ways God goes beyond the laws that confine us.
- 4 – One of the many characters who answers God’s call with, “Here I am.” This is a statement of readiness and openness.
- 9-12 – It is pretty incredible that Moses, when the God of the universe makes a request of him, gives a simple excuse of not having authority. Clearly God is his authority.
- 14 – “I AM WHO I AM” has great meaning. Mainly it means that God is the same God he was yesterday, is today, and will be forever. There is no other word that can define him fully.
- 19-20 – It’s not that God wanted to send down plagues on the Egyptians, but he knew it would be necessary in order to get Pharaoh to cooperate.
- 12 – John the Baptist was seen as the second coming of Elijah, but he too was rejected.
- 14-21 – Once again, the disciples’ faith fails to be effective. Jesus, however, is able to step into the gap the disciples’ faith leaves and heals the boy. This is similar to when Peter’s faith is not strong enough for him to walk on the water. Jesus fills the gap.
- 24-27 – Jews struggled with Roman taxation. Jesus instructs Peter to pay the tax, but shows God’s ultimate power and sovereignty by providing the payment in a fish’s mouth.
- 1 – Jesus quotes this verse when on the cross and about to die.
- 8 – This too is reminiscent of the Roman soldiers mocking Jesus that he should be able to take himself down from the cross.
- 16-18 – Though written by David centuries before Jesus walked the earth, this psalm lists several events of Jesus’ crucifixion – here: pierced hands and feet and casting lots for his clothing.
- This is the continuation of yesterday’s urges to avoid temptation. This portion explains the aftermath of when temptation is not avoided.
- 1-6 – This is one of many examples in Scripture of barrenness driving people to desperate acts. Not all desperate acts were sinful. Hannah was driven to prayer and dedicating her child to God’s service. Offspring, particularly male, were a woman’s greatest value so you can understand why people would become so desperate.
- 14-15 – Mandrakes were a fruit that was, and still are today, used for help in child-bearing. Clearly Rachel was hoping these would do the trick, but they didn’t.
- 22 – God “remembering” Rachel means that he heard and answered her prayers. He did not necessarily forget her, but that’s what it felt like to Rachel.
- 33-39 – Neither Laban or Jacob were being 100% on the up and up. Both were skewing the situation in their own favor.
- 11- “Here I am!” is a common response when called by God or one of his angels. It is a response of willingness and alertness.
- 1 – Jesus had modeled for his disciples what could be done and then he sent them out to replicate his ministry. This is the ideal discipleship model.
- 5-6 – Jesus’ ministry was initially to the people of Israel. Many of them rejected him so his message was opened up to gentiles as well.
- 7-15 – The gospel is a message offered to us, but never forced upon us. Jesus instructs the disciples to offer the good news to the townspeople, but the people themselves had to choose to accept it or not.
- 19-20 – Encouragement for all of us to evangelize without fear.
- 6 – The silver purification process is very intense. The metal is heated until it becomes a liquid so that impurities can rise to the top and be scraped off. This happens over and over. Just think what could happen if we allowed our words to be scrutinized to such a degree.
- Many of us who went through youth group in the 90s will recognize this verse as having been made into a worship song.
Cut it some slack, it’s been around a while.