ISAIAH – BURNING PASSION FOR JUSTICE

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Act justly with mercy and humility (Image source: medium.com)

There is a saying in French, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, meaning “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. King Solomon would nod his head in agreement, for he also wrote “there is nothing new under the sun”.

So, it is not surprising that almost 3000 years ago, the prophet Isaiah writing to national leaders in Judah, spent much of his energy preaching against bribery and corruption of judges – issues that are still of huge importance today.

Isaiah 5:21-23 (MSG Bible), in strong language says: “Doom to you who think you’re so smart, who hold such a high opinion of yourselves! All you’re good at is drinking—champion boozers who collect trophies from drinking bouts And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty while you violate the rights of the innocent.”

God’s Word Translation (GW) Bible says: “How horrible it will be for those who think they are wise and consider themselves to be clever. How horrible it will be for those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at mixing drinks, who declare the guilty innocent for a bribe, who take away the rights of righteous people.”

In Isaiah Chapter 5, the prophet makes it clear that the God of Israel does not approve of  unjust leaders, and will hold them to account for their action. This is the same God we profess to worship in the Christian faith, and He holds all of us to the same standard. Thus, in our daily lives, do we deal with other people fairly?

May the Lord help us to have the strength to deal fairly with other people, black and white, female and male, poor and rich, Amen! 

ISAIAH STILL SPEAKS…

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Statue of Isaiah, Rome (Image source: Pinterest)

My late paternal grandfather was a thoughtful person and storyteller. He would tell stories of his life as a young man and draw out lessons from his successes and failures. My grandfather’s lessons on marriage and family still speaks to me many years after his death; I find them relevant as I work on being a good husband and father.

The message of the Prophet Isaiah, written 3000 years ago, still speaks today. In the 66 Chapters of the book of Isaiah, we see him speaking against bad leaders, and speaking up for justice and compassion. Isaiah is easy to understand when we read The Message Bible (MSG) version freely available online at Bible Gateway.

In Chapter 1:13-17 (shortened) Isaiah gives a message from God: “I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion… No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody… Clean up… Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.”

This is a powerfully relevant message for people everywhere today – from the USA to Brazil; Britain to France; Saudi Arabia to China; Cameroon to Zimbabwe.

Yes, Isaiah also speaks of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus – he speaks of a time when Jesus will rule on earth with justice, and compassion for the weak; but before that time comes, Isaiah speaks to you and I to: learn to do good, work for justice, help the downtrodden-homeless-defenseless people we come across in 2019.

May the Lord help us respond positively to Isaiah’s message, Amen!

JESUS – TOUGH, TOUGHER, TOUGHEST!

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Jesus being questioned by the Sadducees (Image source: Pinterest)  

 

Part of a famous song I remember from my childhood went like this:I can do what you can do, but you can’t do what I can do, I am the toughest‘. I can’t recall all of the song, just this little bit, which has remained with me. Using this definition, let’s walk through this story about Jesus from Matthew 22:34-46 (NLT) (shortened):

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together… to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart… A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law… are based on these two commandments.”

Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “He is the son of David.” Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’… how can the Messiah be his son?” No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Conversations between Jesus and the political-religious leaders of Israel (Sadducees and Pharisees) were a wrestling match. In the gospels, these leaders often tested Jesus with tough questions, which he answered perfectly; but when he questioned them, they would answer wrongly or get all confused and shut up.

Jesus was too much for the Sadducees and Pharisees to handle – he was the toughest. Resolve to get to know this Jesus of the Bible a little more in 2019; not just his healing and miracles, but his conversations and teachings also.

Happy New Year 2019 – may all your needs be met, in Jesus name, Amen! 

IT’S CHRISTMAS – HURRAY!

Merry Christmas
Image source: Community Life Church

 

A friend shared a screenshot of a conversation on Twitter, it went like this: Person A – ‘Xmas used to be fun when we were young, what happened?’; Person B replied – ‘It wasn’t your money’. The response from B was funny, but it is so true.

Our excitement this festive season is strongly connected to how much money we have, to how much we can buy; some do think about the reason for the season – Jesus – but for a brief moment. Many share the sentiment that says “I have worked hard all year, now I want to have a good time, I want to be merry”.

However, Christmas honours the birth of Jesus, and in Luke 2:8-14 (NLT) (shortened), his birth was announced with exuberant heavenly merriment:

[There] were shepherds… [watching] their flocks at night. An angel… appeared to them… they were terrified. But the angel said… “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy… a Savior has been born…” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Heaven celebrated the birth of Jesus so excitedly! Why? It is because he was born with a mission to save us from our destructive self – through his love, his teachings, his miracles, and great spiritually redeeming power. As we celebrate this season, let’s also make a resolution to learn more about Jesus in 2019.

Merry Christmas – God bless you richly as you celebrate, Amen!  

 

 

 

WHO NEEDS A MIRACLE?

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Jesus performs the miracle of the great fish catch (Image source: Wikimedia)

 

Recently, I was watching YouTube videos about computer aided fishing. I was not surprised to see large fishing boats with computers to help them in their work; I was surprised though to see computer and smart phone technology like the Deeper Smart Fishfinder that can help anyone catch fish in water anywhere.

The videos made me think back to the story of how the Apostles had worked hard all night and caught no fish, but decided to try again with instructions from Jesus, as recorded in Luke 5:4-9 (NLT) (shortened) –

When he had finished speaking, he [Jesus] said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper…” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time…  both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking… Simon Peter… was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.

It would seem technology has made amazing miracles like this no more necessary. Who needs a miracle, if you can catch plenty of fish with help from your smartphone; who needs a miracle if your doctor cures it all; who needs a miracle if motivational books have all the answers about wealth and happiness!

Who still needs out of this world, unexplainable solutions, to the many deep and stubborn problems we face – where neither the smartphone, nor the doctor, and no self motivational book, is able to help? Who still needs a Biblical type miracle, fully dependent on Jesus power – I do! I do!! I do!!!

Lord, I need a miracle to meet my goals for 2018 before it closes out. Lord, I need a miracle to achieve my grand plans for 2019. Thank you for human ability, thank you even more for your miraculous ability, Amen! 

 

THE BIG DEAL ABOUT JESUS!

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Baby Jesus Christmas nativity scene (Image source: Pinterest)

 

What’s the big deal about Jesus? This is a question I often asked myself when I was a kid and attended Church with my parents. If Jesus is so great why do I get bullied at school and he is not there to stop it? Why don’t I receive immediate answers when I pray to him? Many have asked similar questions through time.

In the Christian faith, when we have questions, we search the Bible diligently for answers; and for close to 30 years now I have been searching for answers to the question: what is the big deal about Jesus – why celebrate him?

The Bible provides this answer in Isaiah 9:6-7 (New Living Translation) –

“For a child is born to us… The government will rest on his shoulders… His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

Observing the actions of governments of the world today, it is clear that to rule with fairness and justice for all is difficult. A leader who will rule with fairness and justice for all is the biggest need of every society on earth.

The Bible teaches that Jesus will set up his own worldwide government on earth, and he will rule with fairness and justice for all, and that the “passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

This is a big deal about Jesus – read the Bible to learn more about this coming world government of fairness and justice; thy will be done O Lord, Amen!

 

 

PSALM 138 – GRATITUDE

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Gratitude from the heart (Image: Carl Attard – Pexels Collection

Psalm 138 (New Living Translation) – A Psalm of David.

1I give you thanks, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.

2I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.

3As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength.

4Every king in all the earth will thank you, LORD,
for all of them will hear your words.
5Yes, they will sing about the LORD’s ways,
for the glory of the LORD is very great.

6Though the LORD is great, he cares for the humble,
but he keeps his distance from the proud.

7Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.

8The LORD will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

AMEN!