In this season of social distancing for many, and shelter in place orders for others, as we all try to fight for faith in the face of COVID-19, I decided to share one thought a day from my daily devotional time in the hope of strengthening other’s hands in God (1 Sam 23:16), and encouraging friends forward in faith. You can subscribe at the bottom of the page to receive an email for each new post, and feel free to come back daily and share with anyone who might find them beneficial.
I use a reading plan that has me reading a few chapters in different parts of the Scripture for every day of the week, and so each day’s content will be dictated by the required daily reading of that plan. I will focus in on one unit of thought rather than trying to address the full scope of the day’s reading. I am trusting God that He will speak from different parts of His Word, as He always does.
Thursday, March 26
Reading: Isaiah 28-30
Being a parent has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. We have two children who are completely different from each other. It is almost as if you need two different approaches to parenting each of them in order to get the best out of them. One area where that has been obvious is in the area of discipline. Our son responds instantly and overwhelmingly to anything that looks like reproof, and our firestorm wonder of a daughter makes us make it really obvious and draws us in to the point where she hopes that the discipline required will be too painful for her parents to dish out. She is a total wonder to us, and we are doing our best to figure it all out.
But, we have learned that though the form of discipline needs to look different for both of our kids, the process needs to be the same if we are to see any sort of fruit in behavior. We need to explain what they did wrong, outline what they need to do next, reveal to them what the disciplinary consequences will be, and then assure them of the intimacy with us that will be available for them throughout the process.
As much as I dislike having to do it, when we follow these steps, it leads to some of the sweetest moments of intimacy, grace, and love with our children.
Isaiah 28 to 30 reads like a dad who is disciplining His kids. God had warned the people of Jerusalem and had pleaded with them to change their ways for a long time, and they hadn’t. So, God explained over these chapters how they had sinned against Him. Read through these slowly and see how painfully familiar some of these sin patterns are. We are very much like the people of Jerusalem.
- They refused to learn from instruction (28:10), even though God had made it available to them through His law and wisdom.
- They declined to take the offer of rest in God made available to them, even though they were weary with all their work and effort (28:11-12).
- They were content to live with a large gap between what they claimed to believe and how they were determined to behave (29:13-14). They ended up with a chasm between their mouths and their hearts. In other words, they had an empty religion that they pronounced without any sort of real zeal for God that they practiced.
- They refused to submit to the shaping of the Lord, and then had the audacity to question the shape that He chose to form, like clay questioning the potter that shaped it into something (29:16).
- They lived independent of the leading of the Holy Spirit and made decisions for their lives in their own strength and wisdom (30:1-2). Those decisions, unsurprisingly, took them away from God.
- They rejected the reproof of the Lord, and instead only listened to those who spoke smooth words for them that had no rebuke or call for repentance (30:9-10). They tossed aside the prophets who called them to repentance and instead celebrated only the soothsayers who deceived them with affirmations of their rebellion.
Where do you see some of these patterns of sin evidenced in your life? Truthfully, I see them all in mine, but in this season I feel as if the Lord is reshaping me through repentance especially on numbers 2 and 5.
If that is the outline of what the people had done wrong, what then did God say they had to do next?
15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
— Is 30:15.
God invited them to a season of repentance and returning that was marked by quiet and trust. Sound at all familiar? Perhaps, what we are experiencing now is an invitation to a quieting of our hearts and a returning to God in repentance and trust. What is tragic, is that Isaiah tells us that many of the people of Jerusalem missed it. Instead of quiet submission, they returned to the very sources of supposed strength that they had placed their hope in and which had kept them from God in the first place. Let us not waste this season of returning in the same way.
How does God assure His people in the midst of this process of discipline?
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
— Is 30:18.
Oh gosh, the King of the universe waits patiently for our return! Like the father in the Prodigal Son, He watches the road, and He waits until we return in the quiet. Doesn’t that just make you want to run to Him?
He extends grace and mercy!
His waiting could be ominous, like a dad sitting on the couch in the dark waiting in fury for the curfew breaker to come through the door, but He waits with grace, and He exalts Himself to show mercy to His children. Doesn’t that just make you want to return to Him?
He teaches us a new way!
He doesn’t just leave us to fail again in the same way. Look at this remarkable promise.
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
— Is 30:19–21.
Let us not waste this season of quiet returning to the Lord. He is waiting. He is gracious. He longs to pour out His Spirit to teach us. Don’t miss it.
Courage, dear friends.