Friday, June 24, 2016

God's Wash List

June 24, 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 1:16-17 (ESV)

God's Wash List

"Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."

The Lord spoke His message to the people of Israel through His prophet Isaiah. They were still following the practices of the Law given by Moses by offering up sacrifices that God commanded of them, but somewhere along the way they lost the heart behind the practice. It got so bad that God wanted them to quit it because they were offering sacrifices in vain. This goes to show that even good things done with wrong motives can be the wrong things to do. 

So what does God want? His desire for His people is for them to be washed clean inside and out; heart and actions. In this verse God gives a list of what "washed people" look like. 

1. Remove Evil: God doesn't want just an apology after getting caught. He wants compelling action to cease doing evil and remove it out of your life so that it can no longer tempt you. 

2. Learn to do Good: You don't have to teach a child how to be selfish or how to lie, but good character is built. God desires us to live a life of learning how to do good, always improving and trying to make the world a better place because of how we lived. 

3. Seek Justice: God hates injustice and we hate it too. That's why we have the court system, even if it is struggling to do what it was intended to do. Each of us should do our part and seek justice in our world. 

4. Correct Oppression: God doesn't want apathetic blank stares when we see people who are under oppression; correct it, fight it, sign a petition, do something. We can't let it slip by if we are aware. Failing to do the right thing when it's within our power to do something, can be the wrong thing to do.

5. Fight for the Fatherless: Stand for those this world ignores. In that culture the father of the house would be the provider, but without him, the family would be left to fend for themselves, who were essentially invisible to the people of that culture. Who is the world ignoring in your world today?

6. Speak for the Widows: Be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The women sadly in that culture were essentially the property of the men and had no rights to speak out or be independent of her husband. When the husband died, the widow still had no rights, but fell into the cracks of society, voiceless. Many women are still today, in a lot of ways, property of men, through prostitution and drug dependence. Speak up people of God.

These are the things the Lord looks for in His people. 

Looking at this list is convicting. How many more children must go into sex-trafficking before I contribute to the fight against it? How many convicts get to walk free due to the lack of pursuing justice in my life? How many people will fail to see Jesus in me because of the evils I refuse to remove out of my life? 

"Lord Jesus, I thank You that I can be washed clean by Your blood. Help me in my pursuit to live a life free from evil, seeking justice, and defending those who can't defend themselves. Please reveal to me what I can do in my everyday life to do this better. I give You my heart and my actions. Amen."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Beyond the Sun

June 15 2016
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NIV)

(All photo rights reserved to Patrick Stanton, author of

Beyond the Sun

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgement including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

The book of Ecclesiastes can be very confusing and hard to understand, for the author, many times throughout the book, reflects on the meaninglessness of life under the sun. He ponders the unfairness of how the righteous die early and the wicked live long and prosperous lives, seemingly consequence-free. The key phrase here is "under the sun", which represents this life on earth, the here and now, apart from eternity. If you throw away the idea that there is a life after death, you might as well eat, drink, and enjoy the days you have left, for the righteous and the wicked all meet the same end in death under the sun. But the conclusion of this book is not under the sun, but beyond the sun. "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind."

It is very hard to see all the injustice in the world, and very easy to throw up your hands and shout, "It's all meaningless!" Yet, as believers in Christ, we have a hope in a God who lives beyond the sun, and we have a duty to fear, honor, revere, and respect God with our lives and obey His commandments. God will bring everything to justice, which is an encouragement to those who have faith in Jesus, but a strong warning to those who choose to live in opposition to this reality. The question each one must ask is, "How will I choose to live with the time given to me, under the sun?" 

"Lord Jesus, thank You that in You, life is not meaningless. Help me to fear You and keep Your commandments all the days I have left on this earth. Thank You for eternal life that is beyond the sun through faith and belief in You, the one and only Messiah. Amen."

Monday, June 13, 2016

Not Out of the Woods Yet

June 13 2016
Scripture: Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)

Not Out of the Woods Yet

"Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."

Here Isaiah is speaking the word of the Living God to the people of Israel. This people often remembered the Lord for the things He had done for them in the past. They remembered that God split the red sea, brought their fathers through the wilderness, and delivered them out of the hand of Egypt. But their problem was they believed that God only did stuff back then, and now His might is nowhere to be found. 

This is a hard thing for most believers, because we all face "the wilderness" in our journey of faith. We know that God is real, because He proved Himself in the past, but somehow our vision of Him seems to hide away in the thick of the woods. He doesn't seem to listen to us like He once did. Our perception changes and we believe that God was once real, but now those are just memories. 

But God has something different to say, "Behold I am doing something new." It springs up now whether you perceive it or not. He promises that He will provide a way in the wilderness, not necessarily "out" of the wilderness, and a quenching river in the desert. God isn't trapped in the past, but is on the move today. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). That same water-dividing God is bringing freedom and deliverance today to those who put their trust in Him.

"Lord Jesus, thank You for meeting me in the wilderness and providing a way through it. Thank You that You aren't done working through your people, and are still a miracle-working God today, who is doing a new thing in the 21st century. Amen."

(All photo rights reserved to Patrick Stanton, author of

Friday, June 10, 2016

He Never Breaks His Promises

June 10 2016
Scripture: Psalm 89:34-35 (ESV)

He Never Breaks His Promises

"I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David."

The Psalmist points out a key aspect of God's character. He tells of how God found favor with King David and promised to establish his throne forever. This throne extends beyond the earthly one of the nation of Israel, which has been conquered before. But God's promise is still true in the fact that Jesus, a descendant of David, established His throne, a spiritual throne, which remains now and will continue on forever. 

Through this we know that God is not a lier, and once He has said it, He is faithful to make it happen. It may take years, or even lifetimes. Abraham never actually got to see his children become numerous like the stars or the grains of sand, yet it did happen. 

Knowing this truth gives me confidence that even when all seems lost and when I feel that I cannot go on, "He will never leave me or forsake me" (Deut 31:6). The Lord never breaks His promises. If you "come near to God he will come near to you" (James 4:8). The Lord never breaks His promises. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Lord never breaks His promises. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us" (1 John 1:9). The Lord never breaks His promises. 

"Lord Jesus, thank You that You never break Your promises. Help me to cling to Your promises when I face the deepest and darkest pits and trials of my life. Your love endures forever. Amen and amen."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Culture Snares

June 8 2016
Scripture: Psalm 106:34-36 (ESV)

Culture Snares

"They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them."

The Psalmist gives an overarching view of the history of Israel, from leaving Egypt to entering the Promised Land. The Lord commanded that they should destroy all the inhabitants of the land, but they failed to do so and mixed cultures. They adopted the idols of Canaan and started to worship as they did with horrible sinful acts. They would sacrifice their children to these idols by throwing their first born into the mouth of a furnace, believing they would somehow be blessed for doing so. The innocent's blood poured out over the land. 

When culture demands me to compromise in areas of my faith, it becomes a snare that limits the freedom I can have in Christ. Maybe culture isn't asking me to sacrifice my children to a statue of a god. Yet, look again, hundreds of thousands of children die by the will of their parents every year due to abortion. If we were abhorred at these ancient people for killing their own children, what about today? It's genocide. 

We must unlearn what culture has deemed acceptable, and free ourselves from the snares we hold onto as normal. God's word gives us true insight and exposes culture's snares. He has mapped out the best way to live in this life and the next.

"Lord Jesus, please free me from any snares that make me stumble. I know true freedom is found in the Name of Jesus. Amen."