BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 21, Day 5 Isaiah 48:12-22

Summary of passage:  God addresses Israel with the same words as before, “I am he; I am the first and I am the last.”  God is the Creator.  He chose Babylon to carry out His purpose.  God teaches us what is best for us and directs our ways and if His people would only listen, they would have peace and righteousness and numerous descendants.  When Israel leaves Babylon, shout out God’s greatness, their redemption through Him.  He will provide water to drink.  The wicked shall not have peace.

Questions:

11a)  44:6, 46:4, 41:4, 43:10, 43:13  Idols

b) God is the Creator, the one and only God, the true God

12a)  To listen to Him and obey His commands.  To do so.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Israel was punished because they didn’t listen and disobeyed God.  If I can follow the path He has set out, I will be blessed beyond imagining.

13) Personal Question.  My answer:  Verse 17 “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go”  Reminder that God is in charge, not me.

Conclusions:  Nothing new was expressed here that we haven’t heard before from Isaiah.  I feel repetition is good but at some point you beat a horse to death with the same old.  I feel like I’ve tuned out–like a child tunes out his parents when they repeat the same old advice.  “Yeah, Mom, I get it.  God is the Creator. Obey Him and all will be peachy.”  When this happens, the message loses its impact.  Anyone else get this feeling?

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 21, Day 4 Isaiah 48:1-11

Summary of passage:  God calls out Israel, saying they take oaths in His name and invoke him but not in truth or righteousness.  God foretold events and they came to pass because He knew how stubborn His people are; yet, they still turned to idols and gave the Lord no credit.  So, from now on, God will tell them of new and hidden things that they haven’t heard of before today so they cannot use the excuse of “Yes, I knew of them”. People are born sinners.  Yet for God’s own sake, He delays His wrath.  For His glory and praise God stays connected to His people.

Questions:

8a)  They went through the motions of taking oaths and invoking God but it was not in truth or righteousness.  God has shown Israel His power yet they still sin and turn to idols.

b)  God is not in their hearts.  He has become a routine so much so they don’t think on Him.  This can happen to me when my life is cluttered with little problems.

9)  God says from now on He will tell Israel of new and hidden things they have not heard of before today so they cannot say, “Yes, I knew of them”.  People are sinners from the womb.

10a)  God delays His wrath for His sake and His glory

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God knows us so intimately and knows we are born sinners due to the Fall and knows we don’t listen sometimes yet He shows us mercy for His sake.  He loves us no matter what.  No matter how much I mess up God Still has my back.

Conclusions:  God loves us despite our imperfections.  He understands us like no other.  I just wish I could be so compassionate, loving, and understanding with others and their imperfections and sins.

The Legend of the Candy Cane

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg tells the story of a man who moves to a new town and opens a candy shop.  He explains to a little girl the meaning of the candy cane, saying it looks like the letter J for Jesus and if you turn it upside down, its the shepherd’s staff.  The white represents us after we’ve given ourselves to Jesus (washing away our sins we become pure) and the red stripes represents Jesus’s suffering and blood when he died on the cross.

The story is followed by the true story of what we know about the candy cane (it was made to resemble the shepherd’s staff) and what we don’t.

Great read.  Great Christmas story.  Great ideas.  Great way to talk about Jesus to kids who know Him and those who don’t.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 21, Day 3 Isaiah 47

Summary of passage:  Babylon will no longer be called tender or delicate.  Its nakedness will be exposed and its shame uncovered as God will take His vengeance.  Babylon will no longer be called the queen of kingdoms. Babylon showed no mercy to God’s people and burdened them with a heavy yoke.  They thought they would keep the people of Judah forever!  Babylon claimed to be God, saying “I am, and here is none besides me.”  I will never suffer lose of my children or become a widow.  But disaster will fall, one their diviners will not foresee.  These astrologers cannot save themselves, let alone the people of Babylon.  No one can save them.

Questions:

5a)  A virgin is innocent, pure, chaste, and unspoiled.  No longer will Babylon be like a virgin.  It will be exposed for the evil, corrupt nation it is.

b)  Sit in the dust without a throne, no more will they be called tender and delicate.  They will take millstones and grind flour.  Their veil will be removed and they will wade through streams.  Nakedness and shame will be exposed.  No more will Babylon be called the queen of kingdoms.  God will take His vengeance and spare no one.

c)  Babylon showed His people no mercy; it laid a heavy yoke on them.  Babylon planned to continue this treatment of God’s people forever.

6a)  Babylon claimed to be God, saying, “I am, and there is none besides me.”  Claimed never be a widower or lose children.  Claimed no one saw their wickedness–but God did.  God the real “I am, and there is none besides me.”

b)  Personal question.  My answer:  Pride sometimes and I need to be humble in attitude and speech.  Sometimes I forget God sees everything so I can get away with with nothing.

7a)  Completely ineffective.  Babylon relied on magic and sorcery, which will not save them from God’s judgment.  They can’t deliver themselves or others.  No one can save them.

b)  Belshezzar, King of Babylon, was killed and Darius the Mede and the Persians took over the kingdom.

c)  Only God can solve your problems.  Everything else is empty.

Conclusions:  Great example of how success can get to your head and pride takes over and you forget how you got to where you are.  Babylon apparently forgot how the God of the Universe gave them all the nations and had the audacity to abuse His people.  They misused God’s mandate–something we see all too often today.

“Yeah, Mommy!”

My three-year old son loves to come running up to me and yell, “Yeah, Mommy!”  I grab him up and he will repeat this several times.

Mommy always says, “Yeah, Baby!” and tells him how much I love to be yeahed because Mommy needs to be yeahed sometimes.

No matter what I’m doing or what mood I am in, after I’m “yeahed” I am in the best of moods, I feel incredibly blessed, and my dreary task seems not so dreary anymore.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be “Yeahed!”?

So for all you Mommies (and Daddies–my son also yeahs his Daddy), here’s a “Yeah” for you!

“Yeah, Mommy!”

“Yeah, Daddy!”

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 21, Day 2 Isaiah 46

Summary of passage:  Bel and Nebo (Babylonian gods) must be carried and become a burden for the people.  They cannot rescue themselves or their people and they themselves are carted off into captivity. God declares He has carried Israel since birth and upheld them.  He sustains them and will rescues them.  Whom can you compare God?  Babylonian gods are made from gold. They must be carried to and fro and set in one spot from which it cannot move.  It never answers the people or saves them from their troubles. God beseeches his people to remember the former things; remember He is God and there is no other.  Remember He is the Creator.  God’s purpose will stand and He will do as He pleases.  He will use Cyrus (a man from a far-off land) to fulfill His purpose.  God will grant righteousness and salvation to Israel in His timing.

Questions:

3a) Babylonians must carry their gods and their gods cannot save themselves as they are hauled off to captivity.  God carries His people and saves them.  Babylonian gods were made by man and had to be carried from place to place.  In contrast, God made us and He moves us and saves us.  Babylonian gods never answer the people.  God always answers us.

b) God rescued His people from Egypt (Exodus 12-14).  He sustained his people in the wilderness for 40 years (Exodus 16).  Gideon rescues Israel from the Midianites with God’s help (Judges 6-7).  God sustained Elijah during his travels when he was fed by ravens (1 Kings 17)

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  God sustains me every day.  He has rescued me many times–too many to count.  He carried me when I was depressed in college.  God will continue to do all of these.

4a) House of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth; you rebels, you stubborn-hearted, you who are far from righteousness.  He promises to bring righteousness, salvation, and splendor to Israel.

b) “I am God and there is no other”  “My purpose will stand”  “I will do all that I please”  “What I have said, I will bring about; what I have planned I will do”.  He brings righteousness and salvation.  God is faithful and He is the Creator.

Conclusions:  Again, God is reassuring His people He is the “I am”.  He sustains, carries, and rescues.  He fulfills his promises, He answers His people, and He is bringing righteousness and salvation.  No one else can do such things.

It seems as humans we always need encouragement and to hear things over and over again.  Here again God is reminding His children who He is and what He will do.  Isn’t it wonderful we have a God who loves us so much to constantly fill us up when it would be so easy to dismiss us and let us wallow in our own sin?

I think God believes in the saying “nothing worthwhile is easy.”

End Note:  Bel and Nebo were two major gods of Babylon.  Bel means lord and is a title.  It was given to the god Enlil who was the father of the gods in the Babylonian pantheon.  Enlil was originally a Sumerian god who was absorbed by the Babylonians when they conquered the Sumerians.  Marduk was the city god of Babylon and eventually was given the name Bel.  Marduk is the god considered the creator.  Nebo was Marduk’s (or Bel’s) son. He was the god of learning, writing, and astronomy.

We recognize these gods in the names of Babylonian leaders:

Bel: Belshazzar and Belteshazzar (the name given to Daniel)

Nebo:  Nabopoloassar (Nebuchadnezzar’s father), Nebuchadezzar, Nebuzaradin (Nebucahezzar’s general who destroyed Jerusalem), Nabonidus (the last king of Babylon who shared his reign with belshazzar)

Information in End Note taken from: http://www.generationword.com/notes_for_notesbooks_pg/isaiah/isaiah_46.htm

and

http://bible.org/seriespage/lord’s-superiority-gods-babylon-isaiah-461-13

What’s Wrong with Self-Help Books?

Our BSF lecture last week insinuated there was something wrong with self-help books.  I immediately bristled.

As some of you know, I’m working on myself, trying to grow and fix some of “me”, smooth out the rough edges and I have chosen to do this through God’s word, prayer, and books.  Most of these books are self-help books.

The argument was made, “People look to themselves rather than God when they read these books.”  I think this is a valid argument if you do indeed rely on self-help books only instead of God.

But self-help books combined with God is a powerful tool.  I read books and I get ah-ha moments.

God speaks through people.  People write books (like myself).  And I believe God helps me write and He uses me to convey His message.  So why wouldn’t He help others?  Why wouldn’t God give us the gift of books through others to know Him better?  It sounds a lot like what the Bible is, doesn’t it?  Others words inspired by God and a chronicle of Jesus’s life–words written down so we can know Him.

Most of the books I read have God as a critical component in it.  It’s psychological advice accompanied by a strong message of faith and prayer.  It’s powerful.  It gives you ideas you normally wouldn’t see (I haven’t studied psychology) so you can become more like Jesus.

I believe God knows just what to put in my hands at just the right time.  Besides His word, books that teach life lessons that you can apply are powerful.  They challenge me to think, to analyze, to delve into my past, to see things through others’ eyes, to see me through others’ eyes.  They tell me things people would never tell me.

I agree self-reliance can lead to a powerful fall.  But I see nothing wrong with the desire to improve yourself and looking at other places in addition to the Bible and prayer.

Your thoughts?

I Feel Like a Horrible Person

I just feel horrible this morning.  I say stupid things.  I have no feelings sometimes for others when I probably should.  I don’t think a lot beyond my immediate family.  I’m too over-protective and have trouble letting go.

I’m working on all of this:  why I’m so callous sometimes and don’t care about others, why I can’t force myself to feel for people and relatives who have no impact on my life, why my heart is walled off, and why, in general, I do things the way I do.

None of this is easy.  Change is definitely not here.  I pray and I pray and I pray.  Then I pray some more. But walls are still there, protecting whatever got hurt inside of me and not allowing anyone except the chosen few in.

I wish I could say what all of this is but I can’t.  In fact, I can’t tell you anything.

At this point my new solution is to just not say anything.  That way I won’t offend anyone and create any awkward situations when something cold-hearted leaves my mouth.

We have a wedding next week (husband’s family) and I fully intend to just say the polite greetings and that’s it.  And watch my kids.

“If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.”  So I won’t.

Until I can figure something out.

But somewhere deep inside of me I believe only God can do this.  Willing myself to care hasn’t worked for the last 20 years and I don’t see it working in the next 20.

But God can do anything.

So I hold on to that when I screw up (which is quite often).  I hold onto Him.  Because He loves me.  Love I don’t have but I want.

Because when it comes down to it, who else is there?

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 20, Day 5 Isaiah 45:14-25

Summary of passage:  All the nations will come over to Israel and be theirs.  They will come in chains and bow before them, acknowledging God is with them.  Israel will be saved by the Lord and will never be put to shame like the makers of idols will suffer.  For the Lord, as Creator, did not intend for the earth to be empty.  He is not deceptive; He is truthful.  God again argues He is the only one who has foretold future events and there is no one apart from Him.  Therefore, all you fugitives from the nations, come to Him and be saved.  His words will never be revoked.  And in the future, every knee will bow and every tongue will swear He alone is righteous.  Those who disagree will be put to shame.  But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous.

Questions:

10)  The nations will come over to them and be theirs; they will come in chains.  They will bow down to Israel and plead, acknowledging God.

11a)  All you ends of the earth, fugitives from the nations.  Their gods cannot save and God foretold these events long ago

b)  Romans 15:8-12  “…the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy…Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples…the Gentiles will hope in him.”

12a)  Every knee would bow in the name of Jesus and confess Jesus is Lord to God’s glory.  With the coming of Jesus

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  Literally.

Conclusions:  I found this lesson puzzling as my short answers exhibit.  I’m unsure of Question 12a and b I was confused:  I will bow on my knees, splayed out in humility.  I’m unsure how else to bow before the Lord Jesus.

End Note:  I now know who the Cush are but the Sabeans? Interesting description here:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=20&letter=S

How Does it Feel to Pray to Jesus?

This was a google that landed on my site.  And after a moment, I thought it was a REALLY good question.

How does it feel to pray to Jesus?  I’ll give you my response and then I’d love to hear everyone else’s.

It feels:  comforting, good, safe, happy, loving, relaxing, relieving, beautiful, joyful, heavy-hearted at times, and wonderful.

When I sit down to pray, when I lay it all on the line and say, “Ok, God, here it is” something is lifted off of my shoulders, I can breathe afterwards, and I can continue on with my day a bit lighter.  Sometimes I still try to carry my burdens by myself but throughout the day He constantly reminds me I am not alone.  I always end the day lighter than I began it.

Safe is my favorite descriptive word.  I can tell God anything, things I would never tell others and I’m never judged in return.  In fact, I feel He embraces me in my darkest hours–when no one else could or when I don’t allow anyone else to.  He’s there.  Always.  And we can talk about anything.

Sometimes I am mad at God.  I do question His ways because I don’t understand them.  I question my earthly existence and things that happen.  But I never question Him.

Praying is one of the best gifts God has given us.  It’s a way to Him, through Jesus, that sometimes is the only thing we have to hang on to.  Prayer is the only thing we have when we receive the phone call in the middle of the night and the rest of our body is numb and our brain has shut down.  God gets us through and praying is how we can connect with Him.

The more you pray, the more you feel God, know God, and love God.  The more you pray, the easier life is.

Prayer is a critical component to knowing God.  And it’s one of the easiest.  You can do it anytime, anywhere.

All it takes is “God…”  The rest is taken care of.