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Shebna serves as a powerful reminder of the folly of seeking our own honor above that of the Lord. It’s natural for us to want others to think well of us, and to an extent this is consistent with our Christian discipleship (for example, 1 Tim 3:2). But if we become preoccupied with our own glory, we dishonor the Lord and risk our own demotion.
We tend to think of Isaiah as the prophet of Israel who brought God’s word to the Israelites. Indeed, this is true. But, through Isaiah, the Lord often addressed other nations as well. In Isaiah 21 he spoke to Babylon, Edom, and various peoples in the region of Arabia.
Churches are indeed gatherings of God’s people, but he claims others in the communities where churches find themselves. In fact, God places churches where they are, not only that they might be blessed, but also so that they may reach out to draw others into the fellowship of God’s people. Every church has a missional calling: to proclaim in word and demonstrate in action the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people might come to faith and join the people of God.
Whom or what do you serve? What is the person or thing that has the strongest influence in the decisions of your life? This is a tough introspective question that every Christian must answer, and definitely everyone called to the marketplace. The reality is that this contemplation gets right to the concept of motives. It exposes our heart’s thoughts…
As any gardener knows, while we can plant, fertilize, weed and water, there is another sense in which a garden grows entirely independent of us as human beings. Gardening reminds us that God is the one who is the author and sustainer of life. While we can participate with God in the work of the garden, no gardener I know has any illusions that they “make the garden happen” by themselves.
Christians see in Psalm 72 a vivid prophecy of Jesus, the Messiah, the King of Israel and, indeed, the world. This is surely an inspired interpretation of the psalm. But we might also let these ancient words give us a vision for human leaders today.
Reading between the lines of Isaiah 18, we can see that certain ambassadors from far away came with an offer of military help for Israel. They came from Cush, a region south of Egypt along the tributaries of the Nile River, roughly equal to modern day Ethiopia. Ambassadors from Cush came down the Nile in their boats in order to enter into an alliance with Israel. But the Lord rejected their offer, noting that he had more than enough power to deal with countries that would attack Israel.
When we think about the cost of forgetting God, we are apt to think of “spiritual” things. When we forget God, we fail to worship him. When we forget God, we cut ourselves off from his guidance. When we forget God, we lose a strong sense of our life’s purpose.
Have you ever experienced something like this? You make choices in your life that seem to advance your own cause. You trust in what you have done, in your plans, in your cleverness, in your own hard work. For a while all seems well, but then the results of your actions begin to crash upon you like waves during a storm. As you are battered, you realize the folly of your ways. Then, and only then, do you turn your eyes to God, looking for help to the only one who can save you. Is this story at all familiar to you?
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