Thursday, February 23, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 6, Day 3

This is our last study of encouragement (for now).  You have made it through six weeks of faithful study of the Word of God.  I hope that you have been blessed by this study.  I know that I have been!  Today we are going to APPLY Jeremiah 29:1-14 to our lives, and find encouragement in God's Word.

Read through the passage again.

God is telling the people of Israel who were exiled to Babylon that they were going to remain there for a significant period of time, so they needed to live their lives.  Build their houses.  Plant their gardens.  Marry and have children.  Continue to grow the nation of Israel; do not let it decrease.  This is a mighty reminder that God is going to do what God says he is going to do.  He had been warning the people about this exile, and they continued to walk in their own ways.  Now, He was fulfilling what He had promised.  The people needed to recognize that God's ways were going to happen.

The people of Israel had made a major mistake in their lives.  They had listened to false teachers.  They prophesied falsely in the name of the Lord, and the people listened.  Instead of listening to Jeremiah, the true prophet of God, they chose to listen to these false teachers.  In present time, this world is full of false teachers.  How can we be sure that we do not listen to them?  We must know and understand what the Word of God says.  That is one of the reasons why Bible study is so important.  The more we study God's Word, the more we are able to discern when the teaching is false.

Even though the people of Israel had sinned against God, even though they had worshiped false idols, even though they had listened to false teachers, God is still merciful.  He is a just God, and He punishes sin.  Verse 10 says that the people will remain in Babylon for 70 years.  That is the length of their punishment - that is God's justice.  Verse 10 also says that after the 70 years, God was going to bring the people of Israel back to their land - that is God's mercy.  This is an awesome thing that we need to remember in our lives.  God punishes sin, making Him just.  God also forgives sin, making Him loving.  We have to respect every aspect of God equally.  But we can also expect forgiveness, if we confess our sins to God.  Look at the promise of God in 1 John 1:9.

Verse 11 shows the Sovereignty of God.  God is promising to His people a future and a hope.  His plans for His people are not calamity, but hope.  Yes, they are going to be in exile for 70 years.  They deserved that punishment,  But that is not the end of the nation of Israel.  God will prevail!

Verse 12 and 13 tell us that if we call to God, He will listen to us.  If we search for God with all of our hearts, we will find Him.

Once again in your notebooks, write out Jeremiah 29:10-14.  This is a mighty word of encouragement that we can hide in our hearts.  God knows the plans that He has for us.  He is not writing our stories day by day.  Our stories are already written, and they are stories of hope and a future.  We studied about the Highway of Holiness - that is our future.  We talked about Jesus Christ dying for our sins and giving us eternal life - that is our hope.

As believers, we have a responsibility to call out to the Lord and seek Him.  Yes, He is our future and hope, but we are told very clearly that we will only find God when we look for Him with all our hearts.  We cannot put half of our effort into our relationship with God.  He is worthy of, and demands, our whole heart.

Be encouraged, my sisters.  God has big plans for you.  Plans to give you a future and a hope.  But, you must remain faithful to Him.  The Israelites were unfaithful to God and had to spend 70 years in exile.  Remain faithful to God.  Stay in His Word.  Remember that He has awesome plans for you.

I have truly enjoyed this study.  There will be more in the future.  I hope that you will come back soon and see what else the Lord has to show us in His Word.
To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 5: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 6: Day 1, Day 2

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 6, Day 2

Today we are going to INTERPRET Jeremiah 29:1-14.  As with any passage of Scripture, it is important to interpret the text based on the text itself.  When you are dealing with Scripture that is familiar, it is even more so important to interpret the text based off the text, not based off what we think, what someone has told us, what we have heard previously, etc.  There is an extremely familiar verse in this passage, and we need to be careful to listen to the message that the text has to tell us.

Read through Jeremiah 29:1-14 slowly, absorbing the words for what they actually say.

Read the passage again, and answer the following in your notebooks:
  1. Summarize what the Lord is telling the people in verses 5-7.
  2. What mistake had the people made in verses 8 and 9?
  3. What promise does God make to His people in verse 10?  In verse 11?
  4. What final promise does God make to His people in verse 14?
What do you think the people are feeling in verses 1-9?  How do you think they feel after listening to what God said in verses 10-14?

Be encouraged, sisters.  God always has a plan!  Tomorrow we are going to APPLY this Scripture to our lives.
To read all of the posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 5: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 6: Day 1

Monday, February 20, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 6, Day 1

Well, sisters, we have made it to the last week of this study.  You have been so faithful to learning the ways of the Lord.  This will be our last week of studying Encouragement in the Old Testament.

Today we are going to OBSERVE Jeremiah 29:1-14.  Over and over again in Scripture, God is revealing His plan for the redemption of a fallen world.  In the Old Testament times God used prophets to speak directly to His people.  He had used the prophet Jeremiah to warn the people to turn from their wicked ways, repent of their sins, and return to the Lord.  The people refused to do so, so their punishment was a 70 year exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Jeremiah 29 is written after the people had been taken to Babylon.  Read the passage slowly, absorbing the words.  Don't try to understand it now, that will come with time.  Just read to see what the words are saying.
29 Now these are the words of the letter which Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the rest of the elders of the exile, the priests, the prophets and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 
(This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem.) 
The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, saying, 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 
Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. 
Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ 
For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. 
For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.
10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. 
11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 
12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 
13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 
14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Now read the passage again, and use the following markings:
  • Mark God and Lord with a purple triangle colored yellow (color all pronouns yellow)
  • Mark Jerusalem and Israel with a blue star of  David
  • Mark Babylon with a green B
  • Mark all time phrases with a green clock
  • Circle the word "for" in verse 11 and the word "because" in verse 19 red

Now that you have marked the text, read the passage again.  Jeremiah 29:11 is a very familiar verse of Scripture, and one of my favorites.  Copy this verse into your notebook and be encouraged with it's message.

Our next study will look at INTERPRETING this passage of Scripture.
To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 5: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 5, Day 3

I am so glad you have come back for today's study!  Read through Isaiah 35:1-10 slowly, and absorb the feeling of joy that comes from this text of Scripture.

This Scripture passage is talking about a time when the Lord will come back for His people.  At that time, even the desert will bloom and be glad!  The glory of the Lord will be seen in the land.

We may feel feeble and exhausted in this present world, but do not get weary.  Isaiah 35:4 tells us to, "Take courage, fear not.  Behold, your God will come with a vengeance!"  God is coming back!  He will save us!  Rejoice, be glad, and wait for the glory of the Lord.

When the Lord does come back, miraculous things will happen.  You listed these things in your notebook, and we are going to review them today.
  1. the eyes of the blind will be opened
  2. the ears of the deaf will be unstopped
  3. the lame will leap like a deer
  4. the tongue of the mute will shout for joy
  5. the waters will break forth in the wilderness
  6. the scorched land will become a pool
  7. the thirsty ground will have springs
All of the bad that is on the earth will go away.  All of the trials and tribulations that we face, whether big or small, will go away, and the Lord will be glorified.  What an amazing time that will be!

Review verse 8.  This verse talks about the Highway of Holiness.  Only those who walk in the way of holiness can walk on this highway.  So who, exactly, are those who can walk on the Highway of Holiness?  Isaiah 4:3 says that everyone who is recorded for new life in Jerusalem will be called holy.  1 Peter 1:15-16 says that the Holy One has called us, and we are to be holy in our behavior because He is holy in His.  As Christians, we are called holy.  We are also to act holy, just as God is holy.  He has a place for us on His Highway of Holiness, praise Him, hallelujah!  But, as Christians, we need to make sure that our behavior reflects the Holy One who saved us.  Remember as we have studies previously, we are known by our fruits.

So if Christians - those who are called holy, those who are set apart by God - are allowed to walk on the Highway of Holiness, who is not allowed to walk there?  The unclean, the fools, the lions, the viscous beasts.  There is no in between with God.  Either you are holy and set apart, or you aren't.  I hope that you have made the personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, so that you can experience your eternal future with Him, and you can feel the abounding joy that comes from Him alone.  If you haven't done this, please contact me, or another Christian that you trust.  We want to lead you to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verses 9 and 10 go into more detail about the holy ones allowed on the highway.  The two terms used to describe Christians in this passage are Redeemed and Ransomed.  What glorious words to describe us!  We are Redeemed, meaning that we are reclaimed as Christ's!  We once were lost to sin and death, but we are now found to new life in Him.  We are Ransomed, meaning bought with a price.  Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross.  He paid our penalty.  Romans 6:23 says, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ."  When Jesus died on the cross, He said, "It is finished." This means, "paid in full." We are ransomed by Jesus to new life in Christ.  And because of our new life, we are called holy, and we get to walk on the Highway of Holiness in eternity.

Not only will we walk on the Highway, we will do so with joy and gladness.  We will never have sorrow or sighing again, once the Lord comes to take us into eternity with Him.

What a glorious thing that we have to look forward to!  Keeping with what we have already learned, while we are here on earth, God will always be with us.  When we go to heaven, we will have nothing but exceedingly great joy.  What comforting words!  You may be experiencing sorrow and sighing now, but you won't always.  Wait on the Lord, my sisters.  Wait on Him, be faithful to Him, and be holy in all your ways.  The Lord is with you in the present, and the future is glorious!

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 5: Day 1, Day 2

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Shunammite Woman

Today's post comes from the monthly Bible study that I teach at my church. We are going through woman of the Bible.  This past weekend, I taught about the Shunammite woman found in 2 Kings 4:8-37.  Here is the text for that passage:
Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food.She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. 10 Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.”11 One day he came there and turned in to the upper chamber and rested. 12 Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” And when he had called her, she stood before him. 13 He said to him, “Say now to her, ‘Behold, you have been careful for us with all this care; what can I do for you? Would you be spoken for to the king or to the captain of the army?’” And she answered, “I live among my own people.” 14 So he said, “What then is to be done for her?” And Gehazi answered, “Truly she has no son and her husband is old.” 15 He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood in the doorway. 16 Then he said, “At this season next year you will embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.”17 The woman conceived and bore a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had said to her.
18 When the child was grown, the day came that he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 He said to his father, “My head, my head.” And he said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” 20 When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her lap until noon, and then died. 21 She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door behind him and went out. 22 Then she called to her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, that I may run to the man of God and return.” 23 He said, “Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” And she said, “It will be well.” 24 Then she saddled a donkey and said to her servant, “Drive and go forward; do not slow down the pace for me unless I tell you.” 25 So she went and came to the man of God to Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her at a distance, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Behold, there is the Shunammite. 26 Please run now to meet her and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’” And she answered, “It is well.” 27 When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came near to push her away; but the man of God said, “Let her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask for a son from my lord? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me’?”29 Then he said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand, and go your way; if you meet any man, do not salute him, and if anyone salutes you, do not answer him; and lay my staff on the lad’s face.” 30 The mother of the lad said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” And he arose and followed her. 31 Then Gehazi passed on before them and laid the staff on the lad’s face, but there was no sound or response. So he returned to meet him and told him, “The lad has not awakened.”32 When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33 So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. 36 He called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Take up your son.” 37 Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground, and she took up her son and went out.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

What great faith the Shunammite woman had!  Oh, that we could have that faith in our lives.  This story begins by telling us about this woman, who was never named in the Scripture.  She was a prominent woman - she was well known in her town.  We learn later on that she and her husband had no children, and her husband was older.  The Shunammite woman recognized that Elisha was a man of God, and she realized that she could be a blessing to him by providing him a place to stay in her home when he came through town.  She and her husband built a little room for Elisha, and they became good friends with him.

Elisha wanted to do something nice for the Shunammite woman, so he sent his servant Gehazi to ask her what she wanted.  In her humbleness, she said that she did not want anything from them.  She was doing the hospitable thing for Elisha, and she did this thing to get no recognition for herself.  She wanted to help him, and her reward for that was internal.  How many times in life do we want recognition for the things that we do?  It is so easy for us to want external recognition for out deeds.  We need to be like the Shunammite woman and seek the internal reward instead.  I wonder if her humble nature is part of the reason that she was characterized as a prominent woman?  I'm sure it helped!

Because the Shunammite woman did not give Elisha an answer as to what he could do for her, he came up with the answer on his own (with the help of the Lord). Gehazi reminded Elisha that the Shunammite woman had no children, and her husband was old.  In that day and time, if a woman became a widow and had no children, she essentially had nothing and was worth nothing.  She would have had a hard time if that had happened to her.  So, Elisha told her that at this season next year, she would give birth to a son.  Her response to this was bewilderment, and possibly unbelief.  She had not expected to ever give birth, and I think she was prepared for what her life would hold without any children.

Of course, as things of God happen, she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had said that she would.  At this point in the story, between verses 17 and 18, many years pass.  We don't know how many years for sure, but enough that her son is now old enough to go to the field with his father, but young enough to still be held on her lap (as we read in verse 20).  Throughout these years, the Shunammite woman continues to live her life as she always had.  Elisha continues to pass through their town and stay with them on his journeys.  They develop a great friendship, one that continues to last for years to come.

And then, tragedy strikes.  One day, while working in the field, the boy complains of a headache.  We don't know exactly what happened to him, but we can guess.  Maybe a stroke?  A brain aneurysm?  Whatever it was, it was enough to kill him.  The son was brought to his mother, and she held him on her lap until he died.  As a mother, I am not sure what I would have done in this situation.  The Shunammite woman remained calm.  Would I have acted that same way?  Or would I have panicked, screamed out in anger, shut myself up in my room?  I hope that I would have the faith to act as the Shunammite woman did in this circumstance.  She did not panic.  She did not cry out in anger.  However, she did take immediate action.

She laid her son on Elisha's bed, and then began the trip to Mount Carmel to see Elisha.  She did tell her servant to make the donkey go as fast as it could, and not to stop for anything.  This is where we see the urgency in her.  She was still human, she was still a mother.  She was not dilly-dallying by any means.  But, she did maintain her composure.  When she got close to Mount Carmel, Elisha recognized her from a distance.  This shows how good their relationship was.  He knew it was the Shunammite woman from afar.  I imagine that Elisha got a little nervous when he saw her.  There was no reason why she should be coming to Mount Carmel at that time.  It wasn't the Sabbath, the new moon, or a special feast (the typical times to come make sacrifices).  We also learn that God did not tell Elisha in advance that she was coming, which must have been an unusual feeling for him.  Elisha sends his servant Gehazi to see what is going on.

Once again, this woman is amazing!  When Gehazi approached her, she could have lost it.  She could have freaked out and let it all out on him.  But instead, she said, "It is well."  It's fine, she said.  Her faith in God was so strong that she was able to say things were fine, when her son was laying dead in her house.  But she knew that God was in control of the situation.  If God chose to bring her son back to life, glory to God.  If God chose to keep her son dead, glory to God.  God is sovereign, and she knew that God was going to do the right thing for her.

She approached Elisha and told him what was going on.  Then, she said that she did not ask for a son from Elisha.  She was perfectly fine and content without having a son.  However, because of Elisha, she now had a son, and he was now dead.  She wanted Elisha to come back to her house to help her out.  Here again, we see the raw emotion coming out in her.  She loved her son, this child that she did not ask for.  She wanted Elisha to do whatever he could do to help her out.  But, I think she was prepared to accept the result, no matter what it was.

As we read in the Scripture, Elisha comes back to her house, and by the miraculous power of God, the son of the Shunammite woman was healed.  Look at verse 37.  Before the woman picked her son up, she bowed to the ground.  This was not an act of worship to Elisha.  This was an act of worship to God.  The Shunammite woman knew that God was sovereign and that He chose to heal her son.  She recognized that she needed to give God the glory before she did anything else.  Do we forget sometimes to give God the glory and recognition that He deserves?  Oh sisters, let us never forget to recognize God and the wonderful works that He does for us on a daily basis!  Let us live our lives in constant faith and recognition of Him.

The Shunammite woman's story does not end here.  We read about her again in 2 Kings 8.

Now Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go with your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will even come on the land for seven years.” So the woman arose and did according to the word of the man of God, and she went with her household and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. At the end of seven years, the woman returned from the land of the Philistines; and she went out to appeal to the king for her house and for her field. Now the king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, “Please relate to me all the great things that Elisha has done.” As he was relating to the king how he had restored to life the one who was dead, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and for her field. And Gehazi said, “My lord, O king, this is the woman and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.”When the king asked the woman, she related it to him. So the king appointed for her a certain officer, saying, “Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.”
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
At this time, there is about to be a seven year famine in the land.  Elisha warns her and her family to leave the land for seven years so they will not have to deal with the famine.  The relationship between Elisha and this family has continued throughout all of these years.  She listens to him, and goes away for seven years.  When that time is up, she comes back.  However, her house and her land is no longer hers.  Once again, tragedy strikes.  Now, this woman has lost everything that has ever belonged to her.  And once again, her behavior is one that we all need to learn from.  She did not panic, she did not scream out in anger, she did not feel helpless.  Once again, she recognized that God was in control, and she was going to be fine.

In God's sovereignty and grace, and in the way He amazingly orchestrates events in our lives, Elisha's servant Gehazi was having a conversation with the king about the works of Elisha.  Gehazi is telling the king about the Shunammite woman, and how Elisha brought her son back to life all those years ago.  It "just so happens" (by God's sovereign hand) that the Shunammite woman walks in at that very moment to petition to the king for her home.  The king asks her to recount the events of Elisha, and she does so.  She also tells what has happened with the famine, and how she had been gone for seven years, and has come back to live.

The king grants her her home again.  Not only that, he grants her the produce that her field has produced for the last seven years.  The Shunammite woman was blessed seven times over for her faith in God and doing what God asked her to do.

It would be so easy for us to read a story like this one and think that God will bless us seven times more abundantly for doing His will.  I'm not going to sit here and say that God will not give you things.  There are many people on earth who have lots of things.  But, that is not the purpose of the story of the Shunammite woman.  I do not want you to read into this story that God will give you things if you choose to have faith in Him.  The purpose of this story is to see how the Shunammite woman's faith in God was so extreme that she was able to handle tragedy in her life twice, and still maintain her composure and faith that God was going to do the right thing for her.  She did not let life's circumstances get in the way of her worship of God.  Instead, her faith in God helped her to live her life in a way that we can look at her and learn the proper way to live our lives.

Oh sisters, I pray that you have faith like the Shunammite woman.  I pray that you live your life the way that she did, with faith, with composure, no matter what life's circumstances may bring.  I pray that we recognize the sovereignty of God, and that He is going to do what is right in our lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 5, Day 2

Today we are going to INTERPRET Isaiah 35:1-10.  Before we begin, read through the passage slowly.

Now, read through the text again, and answer the following questions:
  1. What is going to happen to the desert land?  What will be seen in the desert?
  2. What is the promise in verses 3 & 4?
  3. Four miraculous things will happen to the people when the Lord comes.  List them.
  4. Three miraculous things will happen to the land when the Lord comes.  List them.
  5. What is the name of the highway mentioned in verse 8?  Who can walk on this highway?  Who will not be allowed on the highway?
  6. In verses 9 and 10, what two terms are used to describe Christians?
This is a joyful, encouraging passage of Scripture.  As a reminder, this passage is talking about the future - a time that is promised to come, but has not come yet.  Be encouraged, sisters.  If the Lord says it is going to happen, it is going to happen!

During our next study, we will APPLY this passage of Scripture to our lives.  I can't wait for you to join me in that time!

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 5: Day 1

Monday, February 13, 2017

Encouragement (Part 1): Week 5, Day 1

Today we are going to read a passage in Isaiah that is talking about a time yet to come.  A time in the near future that we can patiently wait for, knowing without a doubt that God will fulfill this promise.  Be encouraged as you read and study about the future.

Read through Isaiah 35: 1-10 slowly, OBSERVING the words of the Scripture.
The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.
The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.
A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.
No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the Lord will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will [g]find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Read through the passage again, and mark the text in the following ways:
  • Mark every reference to glad, joy, and rejoice with a red cloud colored yellow
  • Mark glory with a purple cloud colored yellow
  • Mark holiness and "that way" in verse 8 with a purple box colored yellow
  • Mark every reference to God with a purple triangle colored yellow (color all pronouns yellow)
  • Mark redeemed and ransomed with a red box colored yellow

In case you are wondering, I use yellow for things that are specific to God.  True joy comes from God.  True glory comes from God and belongs to God.  Holiness is of the Lord.  Redemption comes from God.

Read through the text again, now that you have marked it.  In your notebooks, summarize what the overarching theme of this passage is.  Aren't you already encouraged?

To read the previous posts on Encouragement, click these links:
Week 1: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 2: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 3: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3
Week 4: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3