Monday, June 30, 2014

This Week in Isaiah #4–Chapters 51-66

Structure of Isaiah 40-66

I am just back from Palau and am now able to upload my final post on Isaiah. The final chapters of Isaiah deal mainly with the “Servant” who will be able to accomplish the fulfillment of the covenant in a way that the nation of Israel was never able to. Thus, he is able to provide salvation, not just to Israel, but to all the world. Finally, Isaiah pictures the eschatological (final) kingdom of peace and righteousness in which his people will live prosperous and secure lives. As always, the quotes are from the New American Commentary – Isaiah by Gary V. Smith. (Quotes are in blue – my comments in the normal font.)

This is a warning that people on earth should not assume that the things that are so important to their daily life and pleasures are permanent. One day God will cause all of this to disappear. In stark contrast to the temporal and unstable nature of this present world, God’s salvation is a sure hope that will last forever (it will not pass away). Isaiah 51.6, 397.

Isaiah is intent to get Israel to focus on and build their lives based on God’s promises. Lives focused on building toward the kingdom are the most productive right now.

These comforting words remind the reader that suffering sometimes is deserved, that suffering is only for a limited time, and that God has the power to remove suffering. Of course, just because God chooses to remove the suffering of one person in one situation does not mean that he will act the same way in all other situations. His plans differ, his purposes for bringing suffering change, and his reasons for acting or not acting are often beyond human comprehension. Isaiah 52, 428.

It is shocking to think that the righteous highly exalted royal Messiah was asked by God to intervene on behalf of terrible people all over the world by giving up his life to pay for the sins of others. The suffering and death involved in this plan demonstrates the heavy penalty for rebellion against God, but the peace, healing, and justification gained though these acts uncovers the tremendous accomplishments of this gracious plan. Isaiah 53, 465.

Any theology of suffering must take into account the suffering of the ultimate God-Man Jesus Christ. God can and does act to remove the suffering of his people, but sometimes we are called to walk in the same path of suffering that Jesus walked. Sometimes, our suffering enables others to experience the benefits of Jesus’ suffering for us.

Peace and salvation will be two of the great characteristics of the kingdom God has prepared for his people. In the last line of v. 10, God assures this audience that God’s promise is based on the fact that he is the one “who has compassion on you.” In this passage God’s love and compassion are two of the prime motivations for his actions toward each person on the earth.  Isaiah 54.9-10, 486.

Seeking to get into contact with God involves calling on him, praying to him, and developing a relationship with him. The time to seek and call is now, while God is available and near. Isaiah 55.6-7, 507–508.

Acceptance into God’s holy temple to worship is based on people’s relationship to God, not their relationship to one cultural way of worship, one class, one race, one nation, or one denomination. If God welcomes everyone who holds fast to their covenant relationship to God, can those who call themselves the servants of God do anything less?  Isaiah 56.1-8, 537.

God’s kingdom promises demonstrate his compassion and love for us. His offer of “free” blessings of his kingdom should motivate us to seek him in prayer and relationship. We come to him, not because we are afraid of a capricious god, but because we know that we are coming to a living father. We also, then, must welcome the outcast, the one different from us and even our enemy with the same openness that God has to us. 

God’s desire is not to destroy mankind (cf. Ezek 18:32) but to transform them through love and discipline. Isaiah 57.16-17, 64.

The well-being of the whole community is interrelated to the righteous behavior of each individual person within the community. Isaiah 58, 571.

Intercession requires that the intercessor identify with the failures of the wicked and love them in spite of their treachery and lies. In the end, only God can change these lives, and his power and grace are the only hope there is for them, but God can choose to respond to dedicated intercession. Isaiah 59, 607.

The wise leader should teach his people to pray for a renewed sense of God’s presence and a new demonstration of his zeal and power (63:15). God hears these kinds of prayers, and 65:1–66:14 demonstrates that he answers them too. Smith, Isaiah 64, 696.

Intercession should flow out of our relationship with God and the interconnectedness this brings to his people. God is transforming us into his image together as a community and prayer for each other is an important part of making this happen.

The audience should not doubt or wonder about these wonderful promises, for when the right time comes and everything is ready, God will quickly act and accomplish what he has promised. This assurance to every believer is an encouragement to faithfully persevere each day, but it also provides hope that soon God will come for his righteous people and end the misery that is associated with this sinful world.  Isaiah 60, 628.

One of the main goals of mankind will be to fulfill this joyful responsibility of glorifying God forever. Those who receive God’s good news, freedom, comfort, and experience this transformation will have many reasons to loudly praise and glorify God’s name. Isaiah 61.3, 636.

What this verse communicates is that God’s work of salvation is not limited to his work in Zion with his covenant people; his salvation is a world-transforming power that will impact the lives of all the people from every nation in the world. Isaiah 62.11, 654.

Honest reflection inevitably will cause people to lament about the depravity of this sinful world, confess their sins, and call out to God for compassion so that they can enjoy the blessings of the glorious eschatological kingdom described in chaps. 60–62. Isaiah 63, 668.

These chapters are an assurance that God will accomplish his KIngdom promises. The is the center of the final section of Isaiah. It is the section Jesus read in the synagogue at Nazareth. The good news is that Jesus has already done his work as king and his kingdom will come.

People like this stand in awe before the King of kings who made the heavens and the earth. They deeply respect what God has said, take it very seriously, internalize it and make it part of their worldview, and then they implement it in their daily walk and thinking. Isaiah 66.2, 730.

Our daily lives demonstrate how much we really believe God’s promises. God’s story must be the story that drives our lives and by which we make our daily decisions. That is what faith is really all about.

In many ways, the denominational, ethnic, and racial division within the church today should be an uncomfortable sign of just how far the modern church is from the ideals God has designed for his people. Isaiah 40-66.20-21, 751.

One of Jesus’ last commands was for his followers to live with each other in love and unity. (John 13-17). The church has not done a good job at that for most of its history. How will we enjoy God’s kingdom if we can’t live together with God’s people now?

Every reader must decide what destiny is most desired: (a) the joy of living in the wonderful kingdom of God before the very presence of his glory or (b) enduring the sword, fire, and worm of God’s judgment. The first choice comes with life-changing challenges and requires a complete commitment to trust God. Only those who love and serve God are able to enter his kingdom.  Isaiah 66, 753.

Throughout the book of Isaiah the choice is clear. Will you live your life based on God’s promises or based on your own interests and resources? Do our daily lives show this commitment to trust God and serve his people? Isaiah shows us that this decision has eternal consequences.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

This Week in Isaiah (30-50)

This week I am posting from Palau where we are participating in the PIU Annual Board of Trustees meeting and celebrating the Palau Gospel Days. I have still been able to post my daily Facebook readings (not always as early in the morning as usual). Isaiah is an artistic writer, who uses several different styles of literature to make basically the same point throughout the book. God has proven Himself over and over to be the only One who is reliable and powerful enough to trust as God. Idolatry (creature worship) is foolish when you can worship and rely on the Creator. Smith sees the action of God in destroying the 185,000 soldiers of the invading Assyrian army in 701 BC as a pivotal event in the message of the book. If God can do that, he has shown that he can be trusted. God is the all-powerful Creator of everything who loves and forgives those who place their allegiance in Him. The proper response must be trust no matter what the circumstances.

Quotes are from the New American Commentary Isaiah by Gary Smith….

Although positive messages of hope are much more encouraging and enjoyable to hear, the truth should always be valued above a deceptive lie that lulls one to sleep... The Holy God requires righteous behavior, holy living, obedience to his instructions, and trust in his deliverance, but Isaiah’s audience just did not want to be reminded of these things. In many ways things are not much better than in the days of Isaiah. People still want to follow their own plans, not God’s. Isaiah 30.8-11, 515.

What does one have to do to truly trust God? Isaiah indicates the people need to (a) repent of their present rebellious acts; (b) rest securely in God’s salvation; (c) be calm rather than fearful; (d) rely on God’s heroic strength; and (e) stop trusting in human power... Faith is not blind acceptance of something totally unknown; it is a confident relational walk based on spiritual knowledge that directs the will to act in reliance on the character and promises of someone who sovereignly controls this world. Isaiah 30, 527–528.

God’s messengers need to present people with a sure hope to give people real security.
The theological principle that Isaiah teaches is that true security and peace are by-products of righteous living, and righteous living is made possible through the gift of God’s Spirit and the rule of his just king. Isaiah 32, 548.

Righteousness involves right actions in social relationships, but also straight talk that is consistent with the truth. These positive criteria are not limited solely to behavior in courts of law, for righteous action should be a characteristic that transforms a person’s behavior in every area of life.  Isaiah 33.15, 559.

Isaiah emphasizes that “faith” is not just rituals of worship or assent to principles. Instead it is a living, active allegiance to God and His agenda in daily life. It involves actions of love (righteousness) that serve God’s people

Many times God simply acts out of inexplicable divine grace that fits his eternal plans and his present purposes. No rational explanation is available; but a proper response is appropriate. When God stretches out his hand to carry out his gracious will, people need to humbly bow and acknowledge where their help has come from. Isaiah 31, 536.

However, we cannot put God in a human box. Often his actions are inscrutable. Our actions do not bind God to a certain response. He will always act according to His character, but we do not fullt understand it. Sometimes God’s blessing happens just because He is gracious.

It is important to recognize that this desolate state will be the fate of all the great civilizations that continue to oppose God. No one and nothing will remain; people, places, palaces, and power will not survive the wrath of God.  Isaiah 34.15, 575.

The theological principle here is that everyone should be encouraged to experience the salvation of God, no matter how weak or blind they are. God is not only able to remove blindness and strengthen the weak; he will also miraculously open the eyes of many. Isaiah 35, 581.

It is never wise for anyone to depend on those who try to play God with other people’s lives and in the process blaspheme the name of God. Such situations give God an excellent opportunity to demonstrate his sovereignty. Isaiah 36, 607.

God’s offer of salvation is open to all, but judgment follows wrong choices. Those that oppress others and do not serve should expect God justice.

The story of Hezekiah does provide great encouragement for believers to trust God, but trusting God does not assure anyone that all their prayers will be answered with a miraculous work of divine deliverance...Faith is a commitment to trust the will of God for whatever he may ask one to experience; it is not a key that will force God’s hand to unlock his treasure house. Isaiah 37, 634–635.

Yes, God does miracles; he heals the sick and controls the solar system. He is the one that deserves all praise—when people are well, when they are sick, and when they die. He has a plan and all of his servants need to accept and follow his plan. Isaiah 38, 653–654.

Faith follows God because of who he is, not to get something from him.

The final Hezekiah narrative illustrates how easy it is for even the greatest of God’s people to momentarily slip in their thinking and do things that reveal an underlying trust in human attempts to control the world, rather than trusting in God’s sovereign plan to deal with threats and conflict. Isaiah 39, 660.

Even in the midst of great blessing, we can fall to the temptation to try to control and manage our lives without reliance on God.

The challenge is for Isaiah’s audience, and everyone who hears the prophet’s words today, to prepare their hearts to meet the Lord face to face. He offers comfort, forgiveness of sins, his holy presence, protection, gentle care, and an appropriate blessing of salvation. These factors should legitimate a decision by all hearers to respond positively to God’s compassionate grace. Isaiah 40.1-11, 101.

When trials and doubts arise, the people of God today must return to the foundation of their faith, the character of God that is revealed in Scripture. It pictures a great God who is worthy of trust. Isaiah 40.30-31, 123

Every person needs to examine their perception of God to make sure that it is not just an illusion that arises from one’s own philosophical presuppositions, modern cultural impressions, religious tradition, or personal desires. In this portion of Scripture the prophet reminds the reader about the true identity of God. Isaiah 41.25-29, 151–152.

We need to know God as revealed in His Word and respond with a faith that allows us to know him through experience as he works in our lives.

The Servant of the Lord sets an example and an ideal for every believer who desires to truly serve God. All of God’s servants are his special chosen vessels who are filled with his Spirit so that he can use them to accomplish his will on earth. All are upheld by his power and kept through his providence. All should be concerned to not break or discourage the weak. Isaiah 42.1-13, 174.

These theological struggles with God’s providential control of history only demonstrate how blind people are when it comes to understanding the ways of God. The fact is that God groans in agony and pain (42:14) as he watches his struggling people groan in agony and pain with the hard events in life. He will allow them to suffer, but he will not completely forsake them. Isaiah 43.1-7, 196.

Although everyone can rest assuredly that the future is securely in God’s hands, the present destiny of every generation is partially in their own hands. Every reader of the prophet’s words has the choice of responding to God’s offer to forgive their sins. Although some may refuse to repent and consequently suffer under the curse of God’s judgment, God’s gracious offer of forgiveness is available for all who will confess their sins and determine to live a life that honors God.  Isaiah 43.27-28, 217.

We serve God by serving people. God Himself serves us as a parent does with a child. God’s love and covenant commitment to us should encourage us to trust him.

Since every man-made source of meaning and security will result in failure and hopelessness, the only real solid hope for humanity is in God and his plans for this world. Isaiah 44.23, 240.

The message is clear to Hebrew and foreigners in both testaments. Everyone must make the important and practical decisions about God based on the knowledge that there will be a final day when every knee will bow before him. Isaiah 45.24-25, 282.

Although it may sometimes seem like this world is going to self-destruct because of the wars and terrible atrocities people inflict on one another, the world is not drifting aimlessly out of control toward a hopeless end. Kings and presidents may try to strategize and work together to direct the political affairs of the nations, but in reality it is the sovereign power of God’s hand that will bring his plans (not ours) to fruition. Isaiah 46.10, 292.

Not all paths lead to the same place in the afterworld. Therefore, people in every generation need to pay attention to the reality behind all religious claims so that they do not foolishly doubt or rebel against God’s plans and end up trusting in a religious system that offers only false hopes. Isaiah 47, 311.

This must be a key part of the “meta-narrative” of our world view. At some point we will give an account of our lives to God and the bottom line of that judgment will “did we serve him or serve ourselves.”

God calls for his people to listen to him, to hear him out, and respond accordingly. If they would just take into consideration who God is (the Creator, Lord of history, Redeemer, Holy One, Teacher, and Leader), then God would be able to pour out his blessing on his people. Unfortunately, many times people miss the blessings God has prepared for them (48:18–20) simply because they do not listen and respond appropriately. Isaiah 48, 333–334.

Although life may be difficult today, on some tomorrow God will bring about a new day when his enemies will be defeated and every person on earth will acknowledge and glorify the God of Israel. That future hope motivates every believer to not give up hope because of the trials and tribulations of this present age. Isaiah 50.1-3, 377.

The prayer of all believers should be that God would open their ears to new ways of understanding and applying what God has communicated in his word.  Isaiah 50,5, 381.

It is an amazing thing to me that the LORD and creator of this universe cares about me and wants to have a relationship with me. He wants to bless me as I bless the people around me.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sermon on Isaiah 1-12

Last Sunday I preached a sermon (actually we do more like guided discussions instead of sermons as part of our Sunday services in our church now .) Here are some of my notes from the sermon…

Isaiah 1-12 Outline

As you can see the center of the section is the appearance of God on the throne and the recommissioning of Isaiah as a prophet to people who will not listen. The big point is that mission must flow out of worship and an experience of the Presence of God. The flow in Isaiah 6 is…

•Vision > Trust > Mission > Hope

The barriers that stop worship from flowing into mission are dealt with by the examples in chapters 2-5 (complacency or misplaced priorities) and chapters 7-11 (idolatry). First, the people of Judah under the reign of Uzziah were guilty of Complacency in 2-5. Thus, God rejected the worship of Israel because they refused to take it outside the walls of the temple (no justice, no mercy, no love). The people were more concerned with comfort than mission (see  chapter 3 especially)

Secondly the people of Judah under the reign of Ahaz were guilty of Idolatry in 7-12. Ahaz chose to trust Assyria rather than God and God allowed him to be destroyed by Assyria. The point is that whatever you trust in God’s place (your idol) will destroy you.

Then we discussed these questions which I think are worthwhile to meditate on…

  1. In what ways have we put comfort, wealth, or status above mission in our lives or in our church?
  2. Where do I place the trust that should only belong to God? Where is the first place I tend to turn to in a crisis?
  3. How do we remove these barriers to mission?

Then we returned to Isaiah and saw how he handled uncertain situations and moved from worship to mission.

  1. Isaiah spends time in the presence of God
  2. Isaiah confesses and repents of his own sin
  3. Isaiah receives his status and ability from God
  4. Isaiah is given a mission
  5. Isaiah is given a promise
  6. Isaiah then goes out into a difficult situation

Finally we closed with a discussion of these two questions.

  1. How do we facilitate experience of God and calling to mission in our church?
  2. How do we take this experience outside our walls?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PIU Administrators in Palau for Board Meeting and Gospel Days !

PRESS RELEASE

****For Immediate Release****

Admins
Pacific Islands University, a US accredited institution located in Mangilao, Guam, will have representatives in Palau this week, June 20-21 for their annual Board Meeting. Additionally,
PIU Administrators and Board Members will participate in PEC Gospel Days activities, June
23-29. PIU President Dr. David Owen, along with several PIU Board Members, will be featured
speakers during Gospel Days.

While on island, PIU administrators will also be available to speak with prospective students
about applying for admission to PIU. A new program for 0 EFC students would make PIU
tuition free for those who qualify. If you are interested in finding out more about this new
program, or you would like to meet with PIU administrators, please call: 488-4294.

From Left to Right: Dr. David Owen, President; Mr. Nino Pate, Executive Administrator; Dr. Sam Mabini, Provost and Advancement VP; Mrs. Samantha Owen, Executive Assistant to the President.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This week in Isaiah

Structure of Isaiah 1-39This past week I started working my way through Isaiah in my year-long study through the New American Commentary Old Testament. So far I have worked through 29 chapters. Again, I have been blown away by the artistry of the prophet and the unified message that comes through the book. Isaiah is a man concerned about real worship of God. He rejects worship that only goes through the ritualistic motions and worship that substitutes human agendas for God’s. Real worship always flows out into the community in righteous lifestyles, stands for justice, care for the poor and needy and love for neighbor. You can expand the picture of my Isaiah chart of you want to see how I see the structure of 1-39.

Here are some quotes from the commentary with my comments.

The question is: Will this audience respond to God’s call and repent of their sins or will it stubbornly continue in its sinful ways and suffer the consequences of their choice? This is still the fundamental question that every nation and person today must answer. The prophet clearly outlines what one must do to be among the redeemed (1:27). Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1, The New American Commentary, 98.

This is the big issue in Isaiah. What do you focus on when things are going well? Where do you spend what God gives you? In crisis times what is your focus of trust? Where is the first place you go when you need help?

This was not a rejection of the sacrificial system of worship, but of the inadequacy of repetitious religious acts without appropriate confessions of sin, rejection of evil, and a commitment to live according to God’s revealed standards of holiness and justice. Isaiah 1.10-20, 106.

Proud humans are humbled. Isaiah 2.9, 137

When people trust in armies, money, people, or idols instead of God, the glorification of God on earth is diminished. God will not allow other things or people to be raised up above himself for long. If people become proud of their accomplishments and do not put their confidence in God, if they end up trusting their leaders more than God; God will eventually destroy everything they have depended on.  Isaiah 2.12-22, 142.

People should not trust in human leaders to solve their difficulties (2:22; 3:7) because they do not have the power to bring about any real, lasting solutions.  Isaiah 3.1–15, 144.

The major dilemma is, Who believes that God hates sinful human pride and who believes that only those who are holy will enjoy God’s future kingdom with him? None of these other minor theological issues will matter... The primary lesson people must remember is that those who exalt and glorify God in their present life will have many opportunities to exalt him in the future. Isaiah 4, 159.

Isaiah focuses in on the issue of: what is the real object of trust in your life? For most of us, the tendency is for the main object of trust to be ourselves. This is the essence of pride. When times are good we tend to focus on our personal comfort and wealth. In difficult times we tend to rely on our own ingenuity, and prayer becomes a last resort.

From this example one might propose the theological principle that the clarity and reality of a person’s vision of the holiness and glory of the majestic King of Kings is directly related to the clarity of a person’s sense of call and their willingness to humbly submit and serve God in whatever capacity he desires. Isaiah 6.8, 194.

From this passage one can conclude that the servants of the Holy King may be called upon to (a) worship God and praise him with the heavenly hosts; (b) repent of daily sins in order to enter the presence of a holy God; (c) serve the king; (d) speak the message God gives regardless of its popularity or severity; (e) cause some to harden themselves for destruction; or (f) give a ray of hope in times of disaster and hopelessness.  Isaiah 6, 199.

Mission must flow out of worship. Hope must flow out of worship. There is a lot of emphasis on “good doctrine” in many churches. But until it is applied in relationship with God and people and is expressed in God appointed mission, you might as well be a heretic.

God’s message to Ahaz teaches that people need not fear their enemies if God has promised salvation. They need to be careful and calm, standing firm in their faith in God because failure to trust God will lead to their own demise (7:3). This incident in the life of Ahaz also warns the reader not to test the patience of God by repeatedly refusing his assistance or ruling out the possibility that he can do miraculous things (7:10–12). Isaiah 7.1–25, 218.

These negative experiences teach a positive lesson. People need to pay attention to God’s revealed will and follow it, as Isaiah and his followers did. This obedience leads to a faithful relationship of respect and awe before the presence of a holy God, as well as hopeful waiting for God to act and confident assurance in his plan (8:17). Isaiah 8, 232.

We need to live our lives with God’s promises at the center. This means we need to know God’s Word deeply. If we don’t know it, we can’t apply it.

Neither Ahaz nor any modern political figure can ever hope to bring about an era of perfect peace and justice. Only God’s wonderful plans will bring about these ideals, not the plans of Ahaz (8:10) or any other fast talking politician. God’s promises will only be accomplished through his chosen messianic ruler, so placing trust in any other solution is folly. Isaiah 9.1–7, 242–243.

It is often difficult to identify the hand of God in history because he frequently uses human instruments to accomplish his will. It is also difficult for the human instruments chosen by God to distinguish between their own desires and God’s will. Consequently, it is easy to deny God’s involvement in events or to pervert his plans because of human desires or emotions. Isaiah 10.5–6, 256.

These promises can motivate any believer in periods of depression or times of oppression under the forces of ungodliness. Present problems must be evaluated in light of God’s eternal promises. God will be victorious; the Messiah will reign over all the earth! Nothing will stop him from establishing his kingdom. Isaiah 11, 279.

The solutions to the world’s problems are not ultimately political. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. The church’s mission is not to support the kingdoms of this world, but to be an instrument of “may your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Evangelism is joyfully shouting about the exalted glory of God and retelling his wonderful deeds. Worship is joyfully shouting about the exalted glory of God and retelling his wonderful deeds. For worship to become evangelism it has to be done outside of the four walls of a church, where non-believers can hear God’s praise. Isaiah 12, 284.

Isaiah’s vision of God’s worldwide activity demonstrates that he is not just interested in what will happen to his chosen people; he is also actively involved with all people in every nation in order to incorporate some of them into his eternal kingdom (2:1–5; 14:1–2; 19:19–25). God is the Lord and Savior of Israel, but he is also the universal Lord and Savior of all people on earth. Isaiah 13-23, 292.

It has always been true that what people believe about God will determine their practical walk, just as their practical walk will reveal what they really believe about God. The extent of each person’s trust in God is evident in the decisions they make and the things they do. Isaiah 13–14, 295.

No one can avoid the issue of trust; people either believe what God has said he will do, or in pride they make their own “better” plans. When arrogant people (especially those who profess to be believers) reject God’s plans and try to raise themselves up as the ruler of their lives, they are actually attempting to take God’s place and exalt themselves higher than God. Isaiah 14, 323.

People are challenged not to do what may seem the most reasonable thing from a human perspective, but to do what God instructs them to do. Instead of relying on alliances, money, status, the political influence of others, or any other human support system, they must simply trust in God’s promises to motivate and empower them when things look dark and hopeless. Isaiah 14.32 326.

Faith is not “assent to a group of theological propositions.” It is a commitment to God and his mission in the world. Much of this is just being “the body of Christ” in our neighborhoods and communities.

Isaiah describes how God’s steadfast lovingkindness and grace will enthrone a ruler in Judah who is completely different from the oppressive king who will trample the land of Moab...There is no direct encouragement for the Moabites to trust in this figure, and there is no demand that they submit to his rule. Yet the very existence of this ruler is a source of hope, and the positive character of his rule creates the possibility for the Moabites to look to him in their time of crisis. Isaiah 16.4–5, 334.

Long ago God warned his people to remember who he was and what he has done for them in the past, because he remembers and will judge people according to what they have done for him. The application that Oswalt makes fits what the prophet says: “If God has touched my life, yet my life is not different, then I have not perceived the implications of that touch, and it is in fact void of significance. Isaiah 17.9–11, 346.

The evidence is clear: God can deliver individuals and nations from those who oppose them, but there is no promise to take away all times of persecution or oppression. Believers need to trust him and honor him, because he is God and he sovereignly controls the destiny of every nation and every person on earth.  Isaiah 18, 352–353.

This prophecy seems to be pointing to an eschatological event when Jews and Muslims throughout the Middle East will join God’s people in worshiping Yahweh as one community of believers. This will finally solve the Middle East crisis and bring real lasting peace among these nations.  Isaiah 19.16–25, 360.

Though the people of Judah might take some comfort in the promises that God will judge these nations, the ultimate solution to their problems will happen only when God unites these nations as one people under his rule. The only secure hope for the people of God in every age is for them to trust God in the midst of the turbulent political situations that bring fear and war.  Isaiah 20, 369.

We spend a lot of time worrying about issues we do not need to worry about. God has promised to remove oppression from this world and set up his kingdom. This will not happen by our own political maneuvering. It will happen as we love others the way Jesus did in the power of the Spirit.

God’s sovereign plans are not always what people want to hear and are not always easy to accept. Isaiah 21.3-4, 372.

The person of faith who serves God can recognize when others use selfish pride and human efforts to manipulate circumstances to their own advantage. Godly people should also be able to honestly evaluate their own motives and be willing to admit selfishness when it is discovered. The people of God should refuse to be deluded by powerful rulers who are arrogant and selfish;  Isaiah 22, 394.

Life, liberty, security, and prosperity are dependent on the gracious plan of a sovereign God, not on any arrogant attempts to manipulate circumstances through human wisdom, military might, or political alliances. God has revealed this truth to his prophets and history proves that it is so; therefore, each generation and each nation must choose how it will respond. The proud and self-reliant will be humbled; the humble people who trust God will walk in the security of his plan. Isaiah 23.1–18, 395.

Our default way of doing things is probably wrong. God’s kingdom operates in a very different way than human kingdoms. Christian growth is a process of the Spirit changing our human thinking and default responses into the character of Christ. This is a painful process.

The prophet’s message about God’s final theological and political victory over the forces of evil is a powerfully persuasive argument that should motivate every believer to trust God with the major and minor problems they face each day because God is truly in control of this world. His plan is set; his victory is sure. Isaiah 24, 413.

Although this prophecy did not promise them deliverance from Assyrian oppression or victory in their present battle, it reminded them that everything happens according to God’s plan, that their God can do miraculous wonders to save his people, that God is a refuge in times of trouble, and that ultimately God will win the victory over all ruthless peoples. If this was true, Isaiah’s audience could also trust God in the midst of their present trial.  Isaiah 25, 431.

This lament serves as a good example to all believers, for it contains a healthy acceptance of present pain, a firm faith that God is teaching people the ways of righteousness through it, a recognition that God is the only source of real peace, and a strong yearning to have deliverance from this severe trial. Isaiah 26.7-18, 444.

This second song reminds the reader that God has the ability to transform people into beautiful blossoming plants in spite of their former rebellion. He does not give up on rebellious people but loves them and by his grace gathers them to worship together at his temple (27:12–13). His wonderful grace is still available to those who remain in rebellion against him.  Isaiah 27, 465–466.

God’s way of doing things only makes sense if God is absolutely sovereign and his promises are true. IF God wins in the end, it make sense to trust him and do it his way, even if it brings us pain and suffering.

The theological principle Isaiah promotes is that if people trust God for security, they will have nothing to fear, but if they refuse to trust God and depend on man’s strength, political treaties, or human attempts to fix things, God will purposely work against them (his “strange work” in 28:21) to get them to change their thinking and trust him. Isaiah 28.14–22, 485.

If only God’s people today will listen to God’s wisdom and trust him as their sure foundation, he will expose the inner pride, shameful deeds, deceitful lies of modern preachers, and the false places of refuge in the modern religious culture of our day. It is better to see the light today than have God reveal it when it is too late. Isaiah 28, 494.

First, this message teaches the principle that no nation or place is too sacred that it cannot be destroyed, especially if it becomes defiled and its people reject God...Second, people can become so deeply ingrained in their sinful thought patterns and actions that God will give them over to their sinful ways and harden their misunderstanding... Third, God may choose to miraculously and powerfully intervene in history and marvelously deliver people who do not deserve his grace... All people can do is listen to his voice, stand in awe of his power, and follow in faith. Isaiah 29.1–14, 501.

The prophet rejects the plans of those who do not consult God, do not treat the poor with justice, do not fear God, and do not trust in his promised deliverance from the ruthless Assyrians.  Isaiah 29.15–24, 503.

The issue in the section above is “how do we stop the Assyrian army?” The logical human response was to make an alliance with Egypt, build up the defenses and worry. Isaiah condemns this response because God has already told them that God will himself with deliver them. Isaiah was proven right and the leadership wrong when God killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Team Owen at the PIU 5K

SAMSUNG            SAMSUNG            OK, one more post about the PIU “Into the Summer Family Fun Run.” First, I need to squash the rumor that I actually ran. Not this year. I did sponsor two teams – one family team and one student team. Posting these pictures allows me to post some pictures of my grandchildren (which I know my family on the US Mainland enjoys). It always fun when Owen family activities intersect with PIU family activities.

 

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Esme and Courage ran together

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Samantha and Serenity came in not far behind them

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Melvin, Titus, Esme and Courage were enthusiastic members of Team Owen

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

PIU Summer Fun Run #2

Here are a few more pictures from our Summer Fun Run last week…

We had a fun time giving out the medals

The 5k got off to a fast start

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The start of the 2k Run

The kids were hyped and ready to run

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The 2k finishers came in first

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The kids got their faces painted while we waited for the 5k group to come in

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This seemed to be a popular activity

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There was time for some after race pictures

Sam and I had a chance to talk about PIU to the runners

It took a lot of volunteers to make the run happen. Good job PIU family!