Lent 2017: You Are Mine: Day 4

Judah’s Leaders Judged

by

Today's Text: Isaiah 3:1-26, Isaiah 4:1-6, Exodus 13:21-22, Hebrews 10:10-14

Text: Isaiah 3:1-26, Isaiah 4:1-6, Exodus 13:21-22, Hebrews 10:10-14

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”

C.S. Lewis wrote these words in his book The Great Divorce, but they are a fitting description of the scene depicted in Isaiah 3. In this chapter, Judah faces the consequences of their sin, and the consequences are surprising. God does not smite Judah with fire and brimstone. Nor does He send enemies to invade. Instead, God simply gives Judah over to themselves. He allows Judah’s worst impulses to enjoy free reign, most noticeably among their leaders.

In his commentary on Isaiah, the late biblical scholar J. Alec Motyer summarized the chapter this way: “Divine judgment on society begins to manifest itself in the disappearance of solid leadership, and the appearance of immature, capricious leaders” (59), all of which result in division, distrust, and widespread societal collapse. In short, Judah gets the leaders they deserve.

What is additionally clear from the passage, is that these leaders rise up from among Judah’s ranks. In other words, the punishment is not wrought from outside, but from within. It is, in a sense, a self-inflicted wound, and this is where we can find ourselves in this story.

Now, over 2,500 years later, followers of Christ no longer fear punishment because Jesus received it for us. The cross was enough and no further penalty is necessary. However, Isaiah chapters 3 and 4 contain a pattern which still holds true today: God does not wrestle His people into submission. If we insist on disobedience, He allows us to disobey. And when this happens, we experience the consequences of our decision.

Thankfully, the pattern does not stop there. On the heels of Judah’s downfall, the story suddenly shifts, and we encounter an all new tone:

“In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.”
- Isaiah 4:2

What are we to make of this abrupt vision of hope?

The arc of chapters 3 and 4—from destruction to restoration—reminds us of two truths. The first is that redemption always has the last word. No matter the darkness and confusion, chaos never reigns. God reigns. He is always in control, leading the sadness and the mess toward one inevitable conclusion: He wins. Death dies. Suffering is extinguished. Joy comes in the morning. Whether our leaders are corrupt, or our personal lives are in shambles, this present darkness is not the end of our story.

The second truth we see in this passage is that destruction can be a mercy. Sometimes destruction is purely the result of living in a broken world, but sometimes God is doing something more. Sometimes He is destroying something toxic, in order to rebuild it. And sometimes, He permits us to experience the destructiveness of our own choices so that we depart from them. God grants us “our will be done” so that we learn the anguish and emptiness of our own will, and repent and run to His.

Pain or brokenness or even societal strife can be a severe mercy. This strange yet good brokenness is an opportunity to learn and repent and cling to God like never before. God beckons us to turn back from the path of destruction and choose the path that leads to life, and the good news is, it is never, ever too late.

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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mom of two boys. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and recently completed her Ph.D, which focused on cultivating the gifts of women in the church.

  • The paragon of untdnsdareing these issues is right here!

  • How beautifully written this is. I have been reading in Isaiah and happened to find #SHEREADSTRUTH through a friend. This commentary is exactly what I needed today, and describes the passage so well. I am very thankful to have found She Reads Truth.
    Blessings!

  • Such a beautiful message that my heart needed to hear today. This truly was like a balm to my heart and allowed God to speak so clearly. Thank you!

  • Carla Roethlisberger

    How wonderful it is, to know that today’s darkness does not have to be tomorrow’s destiny.

  • Thank you so much for this. God certainly knew I needed this today- I’m reading two a day to catch up!

  • Yes and Amen. I needed this today. I chose this study after I decided to recommit my life to God and I am falling in love with Him everyday a bit more through this study and my own work through it. Thank you for being a vessel and allowing yourself to be used.

    • Meg

      Congratulations on coming back to Jesus! I am so excited for you and praying for your new journey tonight.

  • I am having the same problem.

  • nomathamsanqa Diba

    This was worth it for me, asking questions to myself

  • Christina

    This was so needed for me, particularly as I struggle with what is going on in our larger society. With the heartbreaking things we see/read in the news and the way our new administration is forming on what seems to just be hate. Hate manifests hate and I have really struggled to find some good, so I am so glad that I read this. It’s my much needed reminder that God may be destroying something toxic, in order to rebuild it and as His daughter, I am meant to be a vessel for that hope and love in this world…especially today.

  • I’ve been struggling with clinging to Jesus in the storms this year. Last week, I was so excited to begin this study and on Wednesday, I got a call that hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt ashamed and like the hope had been sucked out of me. This is why I am only now reading this.. but what is funny is that if I HAD run to Jesus in the way that He longs for me to do, I would have read this and KNOWN. FULLY. Thankfully, I have some strong and incredible sisters in Christ who interceded on my behalf and He used them to breathe hope into me during those few days. Anyway- just wanted to throw those thoughts out there and thank you for being obedient and penning these words for this community. Right on target.

  • It’s crazy how God creates themes in your life and speaks to you over and over through those themes. With the new order in the united states over the last few weeks I have really thinking about destruction and sin in relation to our powerful and loving God. Sharon Miller did such a great job connecting Judah to my present day questions. What really stuck was, “sometimes He is destroying something in order to rebuild it,” also the simple idea that if we didn’t experience destruction we would never thirst for Him. I’m so excited to start the Lent series even though I’m late. ha

  • Terri L Baker

    This is my favorite most uplifting and hopeful study yet! How I love you Lord.

  • It’s never, ever too late…He beckons us to turn back from the path of destruction…I take these words and I eat them…and apply them to my life today. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is in control, if we let him…if we are obedient….as I chronic I can do it myself-er, I needed to hear this today!

  • So often we forget that destruction can be a mercy! God is always faithful and I think it’s so cool that he works even in the hard parts of our lives.

  • Rachel Bronner

    i so needed this today

  • What a blessing that came through this morning. “Thy will be done” song came on while reading this passage and when I turn the page, those are the words in the first sentence. ❤️

  • This makes so much sense to me in this season. In my own life and watching the people around me struggle with their own will.

  • Wow! This is so indicative of our world today.

  • Catherine

    Thank you, SRT for this Bible study and app resource. I have learned so much this week and have looked forward to getting in the Word each day!

  • Jennifer A. Miller

    I have so many thoughts fighting to get through the door of my mouth that I’m speechless. Wow! Just praise God and wow!

  • Thankful for trusted wounds from a friend and severe mercy. One thing that always amazes me is the words from Isaiah written thousands of years ago, still speak truth today to our current life and society as nations and people and world! Jesus we plead your blood over the sins and over the sins of our nation. Thank you God for your grace and mercy that have brought us this far. It is grace that will lead us home!

  • What an eye opener to think my choices have caused my own heartache because of selfishness. I need God back in the center of my life leading my way to his love.

  • Ellie_G89

    Thank you so much, women of She Reads Truth, for your insight and digestion of the words of Isaiah. I’m reading these passages and having trouble understanding all that’s happening. The app is INCREDIBLY helpful!!!! I’m taking so many notes and learning so so much, yet this is only day 4! Thank you thank you thank you. I’m going through a major trial because of my recent disobedience and there is endless room to get close to God in this time. Really excited to read my word daily!

  • My 16 y/o son has been battling cancer for a year and a half now. Because it is now continuing to grow, even while Luke is getting regular chemo treatments and a month of radiation recently, the doctors have let us know that they believe this cancer will take his life. The hope I cling to is “redemption always has the last word.” And “this present darkness is not the end of our story.” Thank you for reminding me of the Truth.

  • So there is a beauty to the words of Isaiah, I may not understand everything being said, but God’s love is in every line. The timeless reminder of the first commandment. God will not be second to my idols. My idols may not be erected on the front lawn but I do indeed have the same tendency to make idols of whom I love, what I love, the way I love. Anything I allow to challenge God’s truth, must be released from my clutching hands, heart, mind. Jesus shows me how to let go. The Holy Spirit comforts when it is hard. God is good all the time.

  • A few years back I was diagnosed with a major health condition for which there is no cure and continues to degrade my health with time. My life, like so many others, has been literally turned upside down. It’s only been within the past year that I learned that this destruction of my former self served a purpose–to get to know God better and to forge a relationship with Him. I still struggle, but with Good, I know that I am never alone.

  • I often struggle with God’s wrathful, just side. I know He is ultimately holy and right, but it’s hard in my sinful brain to wrestle these two polar opposites, one who smites, yet sends His own son to die for humanity, together. Being able to read these passages, that I was once scared/anxious to crack into and having someone else, older and more knowledgeable than me, interpret it has been a wonderful blessing!

    • BML

      Remember, God does not send His wrath every time we misstep. He is patient and compassionate time after time after time. But eventually He puts a limit to our sinning and the there are consequences for continual disobedience. That’s how it was with the children if Israel, He warned over and over through His prophets but they continued to disobey and eventually after much repetition from God, He punished them, not to be mean but to return them to His ways, because they would not listen any other way. Just like children sometimes, the only way they will obey, at times, is when we finally discipline them (spank them) to change their heart to obedience. Sometimes we are that stubborn that God knows He has to finally use His wrath to get our attention.

  • Emily Carson

    This was so helpful, especially about ‘destruction can be a mercy.’ As I’m still walking through an upheaval in my own life, a total remake of the world I’ve known, I need to read these words. I find the way Isaiah is laid out in the book gripping and I appreciate the daily posts for discussion! And the scriptures paired with this reading offer relief and mercy, especially for me: The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them on their way (Exodus 13:21). I’m reminded- He’s guiding, am I listening? So helpful for me, thank you!

    • Erin

      I am in the same station in my life. I am broken and so ashamed. God doesn’t make mistakes and provides mercy in destruction. So powerful. Sending prayers for your life upheaval and mercy!

      • Stormye Puffer

        Praying for you, Erin. Grateful for your openness and encouragement this morning.

    • Kersti

      This also really hit me. Could destruction, be mercy?
      And then I was reminded of Rom 8:28:
      And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

      All things, maybe this in my life that feels like destructions, and loneliness is good or will Be good because it is in HIS purpose.

  • He permits us to experience the destructiveness of our own choices so that we depart from them and turn to follow His will for us. Here’s to a season of clinging knuckles clenched and white to a permanent Savior and realizing His plan will always be greater.

  • Shawn Bowers Buxton

    This so reminds me of St. John of the Cross and his writings about the “Dark Night.” In his work, the dark night of the soul is about depression, but I’ve seen some dark nights lately at the hands of faulty leadership. Isaac of Stella called the dark night a “hell of mercy, not of wrath.” In the chaos of that place devoid of goodness, God is doing good work. Joy will come in the morning!

  • Kelsey Olivia

    “However, Isaiah chapters 3 and 4 contain a pattern which still holds true today: God does not wrestle His people into submission. If we insist on disobedience, He allows us to disobey. And when this happens, we experience the consequences of our decision.” I love this so much, God is always with us, and every occasion can be one of learning and holds the possibilities of reconciliation.

  • Porchia Neyor

    Listening to: Destiny Church Worship “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”
    (Man of Sorrows! What a Name)
    Perfect worship song for this reading. Hallelujah!!

  • Kristina Sterchy

    Through the chaos and destruction – there can always be mercy! there will always be redemption! Praise Him for this!

  • Kate Hoeksema

    These are such great entries. And I love having the book as well. The only thing I didn’t realize which has been disappointing is that the book seems to only include the Scripture readings for each day and not the actual insights/commentary found above.. Just some feedback. If I would have known that ahead of time I probably wouldn’t have spent so much on the book but used my Bible instead.

    • Caroline Kuehling

      I had the same experience with the Genesis study. The description of the books online is not very clear so I was just as surprised to find that I had only re-bought Scripture and that no study questions were found.. Very odd. She Reads Truth seems to be more into selling their art than original writing.

      • Sylvia Player

        Hey girls, so sorry y’all missed the description in the details of the study in the shop . But it’s very clear it’s the scriptures only in the book. But there’s also space for notes, which is what I LOVE! I love to be able to highlight the specific scriptures that stick out to me and write my notes. Other features are hymns, recipes and yes, pretty art /pictures. They also make it clear you absolutely don’t need the book, just something extra and a good reference to grab in the future all in one place. Blessings!

    • Suzi

      I think the study books are meant to be more of a place of written response to the Scripture provided and the commentary online. It’s left open-ended for a more creative response time, I think. I totally get that it may not be everyone’s style, though!

    • Sylvia Player

      Hey girls, so sorry y’all missed the description in the details of the study in the shop . But it’s very clear it’s the scriptures only in the book. But there’s also space for notes, which is what I LOVE! I love to be able to highlight the specific scriptures that stick out to me and write my notes. Other features are hymns, recipes and yes, pretty art /pictures. They also make it clear you absolutely don’t need the book, just something extra and a good reference to grab in the future all in one place. Blessings!

  • Hannah Carlson

    I know people always looks at the prophecies of the Bible and relate them to today, but reading Isaiah really does startle me. It seems to applicable to today and what is happening in America and the world. We have caused this (our immature leadership, etc. ) by our disobedience and selfishness.

    • Meg

      It really struck me too! Unsettling !

      • Lorene

        I will be putting this dainlzzg insight to good use in no time.

    • Jacquie

      I totally agree… the resemblance of Judah’s downfall to our nation as of present is uncanny! On a smaller scale, I find that I can relate to this in my own life. When my focus shifts from God to material possessions – when my sources of happiness become worldly – I find my own downfall. I’m so glad that I am able to do this study, because it has really shown me how far I’ve strayed from the path… and how to get back onto it and back to God as well.

      • Emily Carson

        Yes, what all the comments in this thread say! And there’s reassurance too – we’ve been here before, but we can follow Him out. At least as individuals we can. And Isaiah tells us how I thought – Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17 i felt hopeful after reading that!

  • This look at how God treats the leaders of Judah made me think of motherhood. I so often want to wrestle my children into submission. Now at this point my children are preschoolers – but that really just means I’m still learning to transition from “do this, now this” to giving them more freedom / choice. There have been times when I have had to let my daughter go in her disobedience and experience the consequences. To let go of controlling her actions and let her figure out the cost – any mother knows how hard that is and how painful on our own hearts to see them realize the natural consequences!

    The questions I’m pondering as I move through my day is what does this mean in regard to raising up my children to be good leaders? How can I best support them – how can I walk in step with the Father here – with the important combination of forbearance + natural consequences all for a bigger purpose than what is easiest for me / makes me feel good?

    • Stormye Puffer

      Alisa, these are beautiful ponderings! I’ll be praying for the Lord to answer these questions for you as He continues to teach you through His Word.

    • Jamie

      Alisa,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I am raising two little ones as well! We are working on potty training with my youngest! She was very disobedient today! I am so happy that you brought up about letting them be disobedient and experience the consequences. I was getting so frustrated because she wanted me to put a diaper back on her just so she could poop in it. I stood my ground and eventually she made the right choice and pooped in the potty! I think that being a great leader for them is giving them some slack and let them lead themselves. I really feel that is what Jesus does and wants us to do!

      • Alisa

        It’s such a tricky tension. But I do think research supports that as well – children given more freedom to make decisions (and mistakes) develop greater responsibility for their actions and are less likely to follow a peer group blindly. We aren’t far beyond those days – hang in there, Jamie! Praying for patience!

  • Rhonda Bohart

    So good! Thank you Sharon!

  • I decided to play the hymn while I read today. What a powerful song! Glad we have a savior that loves us unconditionally even when we don’t deserve it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJD0inO-vI4

  • Keri McCue

    “God does not wrestle His people into submission. If we insist on disobedience, He allows us to disobey. And when this happens, we experience the consequences of our decision.” -This is a truth I have always loved. We serve a God who knows what’s best but, in our human nature, we tend to disobey frequently. Our lesson gets learned and the cycle continues. But I am SO thankful for an ever-graceful Father who is never short on forgiveness!!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

  • Sonia Wild

    God’s Word is still truth today.

  • This present darkeness is not the end of the story…. thank you Jesus!!

  • Again the way you relate 3000
    Year old truths to today’s truths is amazing!!! Thank you for this amazing devotional and bringing the word to my
    Heart!

  • “No matter the darkness and confusion, chaos never reigns. God reigns. He is always in control, leading the sadness and the mess toward one inevitable conclusion: He wins. Death dies. Suffering is extinguished”
    I love love LOVE this. My present circumstances have had me breaking down the past two days. After months of illness, it looked like I had made enough progress to go back to work, but alas another big setback in my health has emerged and the road to recovery just keeps looking longer. My present struggles pale in comparison to the victory I have in Christ and the glory of His perfect salvation.
    ” But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sin forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14

  • Tara Parker-Ceballos

    Isaiah has a way with words…doesn’t he. My mercy…as I read thru todays verses I’m struck by the verse that says…the God of Israel STANDS UP making/conducting His case/lawsuit against them… then the God of Israel STANDS UP again as HE judges/pass sentence on them…then just a few verses down says…He speaks of the Hope…the Branch…washing away the filth and the blood … there’s always a cleansing … isn’t there???

  • Thank you!

  • Wow wow wow! What an incredible word for today! Thank you, SRT!

  • So beautifully said Sharon! I am so thankful for God’s mercy. I am so glad he is a redemptive father too. But I am also grateful you point this out –> ” If we insist on disobedience, He allows us to disobey. And when this happens, we experience the consequences of our decision.”

    Lord, forgive me for when I have disobeyed. Thank you that every day is a learning experience to know you more.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

    • Audrey

      Yes! That also stuck out to me. I love Galatians 5:1 where Paul speaks of the fact that Christ came to set us free and to not let ourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The freedom we receive in Christ is a freedom to obey willingly. It’s not freedom to then burden ourselves with rules, or even worse, indulgence in our flesh. If that is what we choose to do with our freedom, then yes, He is going to allow us to walk in our disobedience and experience those consequences. He isn’t going to rescue us from the consequence of our sin; however, what is so amazing is that He does promise to give us the strength to walk through the consequence of our sin and disobedience and to then use that to mold us more into His image and use it for His glory and our good. Even in the aftermath of our disobedience and consequence, God is still so merciful and gracious!

  • The very end stating a “severe mercy” reminds of my favorite book by Sheldon Vanauken. He was a friend of C.S. Lewis too and both of their works are so beautiful. Today, I especially loved the part about redemption having the last word. Present suffering is temporary and is no match the fullness of joy we are to experience in His presence. Thank you SRT for starting my day off right.

  • I never really comment, but these words “Sometimes He is destroying something toxic, in order to rebuild it.” broke something open in my heart and brought me to tears. Toxic is the word I use to describe my family of origin. I love them but that is what I grew up with. When I was 13 my dad committed suicide. My mom is a narcissist and I’m a strongly emotional and empathetic person so all of this about broke me. I truly feel if God hadn’t called me out of the darkness, I would not have survived. If He hadn’t destroyed the toxic, I wouldn’t be working so hard now to be healthy and love my husband and kids differently. Thank you God for the mercy of your destruction. It’s hard but He wins. Thank you She Reads Truth for being a light in this girl’s world :)

    • SuzD

      I am so happy that you shared your words today. I can see God’s light shining through you.

  • Thank you, Sharon, for allowing God to use your gift of words this morning! LOVE this devo!

  • There is so much in the passages and devotional that I want to comment on, but I’ll spare y’all. This stood out to me the most: “No matter the darkness and confusion, chaos never reigns. God reigns.” So beautiful. Such a great reminder in my current season, in our nation’s current season. Despite the chaos, the hate, the hurt and pain…God is in control. God has us. We need not fear, but instead keep our hearts, eyes and minds continuously on Him. <3

  • Wow. This was one of the best SRT posts I have read yet… So incredibly convicting but necessary to hear… I am really enjoying this study of Isaiah so far – learning so many new things that are challenging me. Thank you for writing this and for using your talents to bless others.

  • Diane Huntsman

    “present darkness is not the end of our story.” So good… I think the darkness we make ourselves is worse than the darkness that exists due to living in a fallen world.. but both darknesses aren’t the end of our story.. living in dark times to be sure, but keeping our eyes on the one true light will brighten the darkness.. He illuminates the darkness and now more than ever we need to speak His name and proclaim His truths boldly and loudly because He is the answer to every single world and family problem.. extinguish the darkness with His glorious light!!!

  • amyloukuo

    Thank you everyone for the comments! Through these words, I was encouraged to take a closer look at how these verses apply to my own life. I have been fighting crippling fear and anxiety for about two years now and currently am walking through one of the darkest seasons of this particular fight. However, this time I am aware, as today’s reading says, of this self-inflicted toxicity and am running to God for His life-giving path of Peace and trust. I know I am going through the cleansing process (Isaiah 4) and it is a painful cleansing – the sin of negativity and unbelief of anxiety is not going down without a fight and it is a daily battle, but I know on the other side of this victory is His renewed, constant presence with me.

    • Diane Huntsman

      Amen!! Such life altering truths here!! Good for you! May God be your strength as you purpose to obey Him and work through these difficulties!! He so wants to bring you through triumphantly!!

    • Shelly

      Praying for you right this minute. xo

    • Stormye Puffer

      Amy, thank you for sharing, friend. I have written down your name to pray for you in this painful time. Asking God to grant you peace and to show you his love.

  • Kasey Summers

    “. This strange yet good brokenness is an opportunity to learn and repent and cling to God like never before. God beckons us to turn back from the path of destruction and choose the path that leads to life, and the good news is, it is never, ever too late.” LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!!!!

  • This is encouraging to read, yet sobering. It has been exhausting existing within the church as a minority during this election as many brothers and sisters of Christ have chose to embrace patriotism instead of the Gospel. This reminds me that there is glory in desperation and that one day there will be no more division and lack of compassion. This calms me to be reminded that there is nothing new under the sun and that God is in control. I am grateful to start the day knowing one day God will have justice.

    • Samantha

      Isn’t is awful to feel estranged from the people we should feel divinely bonded to? Such an example of the Church being on its own agenda – stay strong sister – God is with you. He is with all of us as we pray our way through this strange time in our country. He can use all things for His glory! Prayers for you xo

    • Courtney

      “Redemption always has the last word” is such a comfort to read and be reminded of.

  • SHAME – while we all know the second we utter the words asking for forgiveness that the sin is gone like dust in the wind – how often does shame remain? In 3:24 it says instead of beauty – they’ll be branded with shame. Branded – branding is a permanent mark burned into the skin. Part of the ugliness of shame is that we feel like everyone can see that invisible brand of shame on us, even when we know that we have been forgiven. BUT then there is God. In 4:1 the women are begging for their shame to be taken away. In 4:2 it says “Then, oh then, a tiny shoot cultivated and nurtured by the Eternal will emerge new and green, promising beauty and glory. Everything that comes from the earth will offer itself, lovely and magnificent, to those who escaped Israel’s demise.” And just like that, those who repented and returned to following God were promised beauty and glory. They were given back beauty – the beauty that replaces the shame. They were completely cleansed of any seemingly permanent marks and instead were marked by glory. Then the word “offer” – the beautiful imagery this brings! The earth will offer everything it has to them. Chapter 4 ends with the Lord providing them a resting place, a place of protection. These were people who knowingly disobeyed God and followed their own will, and yet, look at the amazing things God had for them when they repented. It is not His desire for us to wallow in our sin and shame, He has something better. Something better for me, for you, for the gentleman down the street, the woman at the grocery store, our country, our world. For those who repent and follow, He has life. Not a life of shame and despair, but a life of overflowing joy that exists in the good and bad times. A life that has a shelter in the time of storms. In 4:3 Isaiah speaks of the ones who repented: “They are destined to be alive”.

    • Audrey

      Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for your words this morning…

    • Yetunde Odutolu

      Oh my goodness this is awesome! Today’s post and the many facets of it is incredible. Thanks for the post and the comments.

    • Blessed

      This. Just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you. ❤

  • This was amazing! He wins in the end… this gives me so much comfort in my present darkness. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

  • Thank you for your insight into these scripture passages!

  • Carrie Rogers

    Beautifully written! Good brokenness…

  • Today was the first day I’ve felt the urge to pray for our current administration. My heart has been filled with anger since November; instead of hands folded in prayer it’s been fists shaking to heaven, asking God how can this be? Not so today. Today my heart broke for our country. Our sin on display must grieve the Lord to no end. Surely, like Judah, we have the leaders we deserve. And it’s on all of us.

    May we the Christians be urged to pray for our leaders, to be emboldened to lead the way towards mercy and speak out against injustice, may we walk humbly with God and be an example to the rest of the world that while YES, we have fallen, mercy is just around the corner for all who seek the Lord and repent. As the end of today’s reading said, it is never ever too late. May we all recall to mind the many many (millions, if we really think of it) chances we’ve had to repent and come back into good standing with God. This is not a privilege extended just to those who know the Bible in and out, this is mercy at the ready for ANYONE who acknowledges their sin and repents. May we never forget the power of YOUR love, the love that called us daughters while we were still steeped in sin. And may the knowledge of that saving love empower us to love others, even and especially if we disagree with them. To You be the glory, forever God.

  • JAB, thanks for the song link. It’s beautiful. I’m grateful to all who share their insight and thoughts. I’m learning from you and grateful to have this sisterhood of Godly woman who are searching out and studying God’s word. Thank you.

  • Yes redemption has the last word, but it doesn’t mean it is going to be a fun process. Getting rid of sin is hard and painful.

  • Christine

    I read these verses in Isaiah this morning as an indictment on my country, and not on my own heart. I fear that reveals something about the state of it :/ I don’t want to focus on politics and it seems I can help myself. Judah is not America, and yet I can’t help but see the parallels. Am I just seeing what I want to see? I suppose that anyone who didn’t “like” (not the word I want to use) the leader in power could read into these verses as being about that person, and a prophesy for this time. It just seems to be everywhere I look. Please pray for me this morning sisters, that I would be able to take my eyes off the world and look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!

    • Amy

      I struggle with separating the two as well. It’s rather eye opening. I prayed for you just now, and for me to deal first with the opposition in us instead of focusing on “everything else”. Have a good day, Christine. Thanks for being so transparent.

  • Each of your words have been so inspiring to me along with the readings – I found this beautiful singing of the hymn that it is in study guide – hope you all like it ! https://youtu.be/6N6q4ijEyfs

    • Liz

      Thank you for sharing this! I watched a few of their videos this morning after checking out this link and they’re all beautiful!!

  • Amen! This is such an important lesson because it holds so much truth that not a lot of people understand or want to hear. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. When God’s people, those who believe in Him, start to steer into another direction that isnt His, He has no choice but to allow them to do so. God can’t bless those who choose to disobey. It’s just how we live our lives. When we commit an action that involves consequences, what happens? Does it just disappear? Are we shown mercy every time? No, we have to own up to what we’ve done and deal with the consequences. The experiences we go through in life always have a reason behind them and we may not understand that reason in that very moment but the majority of the time, you realize why it had to happened. There’s so many testimonies I can share that deals with this but I just want to leave you with this: When unfortunate circumstances occur, don’t think of it as God abandoning you or punishing you. Remember that God always leads His people back to Him and if it takes letting go of the reigns to do so, He will do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s because He wants you to suffer. He just see’s that it’s the only way for us to realize how much we need Him and I am witness to this because I’ve been through it. Everything I’ve gone through in my life, whether big or small, later on I’ve accepted that it’s had to happen. That God has shown me why I’ve had to go through it. So remember that. God knows how He is constantly working in our lives and sometimes He has to let go of the reigns for Him to lead us back <3

  • Janie Cox

    I love this perspective. Thank you. Does it not sound like Isaiah is speaking to 2017 America? We deserve the leaders we have and the youth and their struggle with responsibility. We also know who to turn to for redemption.

    • Christine

      That is how I read it too.

    • Kristi

      Yes. In my paper bible, I had written in the margin “America 2012″ when reading this same passage several years ago. And it seems we’ve accelerated since then.
      But I also see how this happens personally and not just to a country. I get SO lost in my own sin sometimes until I’m absolutely miserable, and then it’s as if I’m finally able to repent and start over. It seems it has to get bad for it to get better sometimes.

  • Sitting here hard, ugly crying. I tried to go to school this morning, but I feel so dizzy. It’s been almost 5 years since I have had the concussion that started all this dizziness. I’ve been to dozens of doctors and physical therapists. I was on homebound in 9th and 11th grade. And it has been so much better this year, but it came back now since my body is trying to fight off strep and has low blood sugar. But even in the darkness, I have to trust in Jesus. I have to cling to Jesus now. In the midst of my tears and what seems like a raging sea of dizziness. I have to hold on to Jesus. Hold on to Jesus. Hold on to Jesus. Nothing else but Jesus. Help me have the faith Lord. You will lead me through the storm.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      Praying for you this morning Sarah! Prayers of healing and peace…..huge hugs for you my dear!!!

    • Alex J.

      Sarah, we stand with you in prayer! Lord, bring this wonderful daughter of yours healing and PEACE. You are our neverending source–we praise You!

      • Irina

        My dear Friend Sarah! Remeber that God is in control and the present darkness is not the end of our story. Death dies!!! Hugs and prayers from all my heart to you, my dear girl.

    • Corrie

      Praying for strength, healing, and peace for you today, Sarah! xoxo

    • rebecca7395

      Praying for you, Sarah! Rest in the Lord. May He heal your body completely, and grant your mind the peace you need.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Sarah, continuing to pray for you in this. Asking God to heal and grant peace. Thank you for letting us know your struggle this morning and how we can be praying for you.

  • Isaiah 4:4 screamed out to me this morning as I read. I was struck by the use of wash and cleanse. In American culture I think we are inclined to consider these two words synonyms, but I did some additional digging and there is a beautiful distinction Isaiah is making by using two separate words here. To wash is what you would think…it’s a bath. A way to become clean, but as we all know we always get dirty again after a bath just by going about our days. Isaiah doesn’t stop there though…God doesn’t stop with simply a bath. It goes on…He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit a judgment and a spirit of fire…..I don’t know about anyone else, but that does not sound like a pleasant showering experience. The root of the word cleanse here does encompass the idea of washing, but more importantly it also means to purge or cast out. God doesn’t simply promise to wash us on the outside, but He promises to purge us of the source of our filth. To cast out the sin that it may not return. But this is a painful process. This is where we come face to face with the fact that we are indeed sinful and cannot blame our suffering on anyone else – the self-inflicted wound the author spoke about. This is where we are humbled. This is where we are placed in the refining fire…FIRE….as He burns away – purges – all of the things inside of us that are not of Him. Where He takes a deep cleaner to the stains of our souls and makes us white as snow. What is amazing is that He doesn’t say “okay I’m going to cleanse you and then set you back on your feet and push you along your way.” No. He then promises to give us a canopy of His glory as shelter and refuge. He cleanses us in place of the death we deserve and then He walks with us as we go. God’s cleansing is not a factory line…go in, get clean, go out. It’s an intimate, difficult but oh so life-giving, exchange as God gently reveals the depth of our stains and extends the balm of His mercy and grace. Truthfully, this cleansing process I believe is a life-long process because God knows that we are not ready to see the great extent of all of our sinfulness at once. So He tenderly walks with us each step, taking us deeper and deeper as we walk in His canopy. I am so thankful for a God who extends more than a bath, but who loves me to promise me cleansing!

    • Michele

      Very good! Thank you for sharing!

    • Jenn

      thank you for sharing this, Audrey!

    • Alex J.

      Audrey, wow! God used you this morning to speak directly into how this text was resonating with me. The word “burn” in that verse just grabbed me as I realized that this process of getting rid and finding freedom might HURT. But wow, I love the way you put it after that about how He walks with me and protects me through and after the process. Serious wisdom, girl. Thanks for sharing! May all of us embrace the Refiner’s Fire in our lives so we can draw closer to Him!

    • Sadie

      Beautiful!

    • Lana

      Thank you for this, Audrey.

    • Samantha

      I can’t count how many times I have “washed” expecting to be “cleansed” – not truly uprooting the SOURCE of the uncleanliness in my heart. Only to then need another bath! Such a powerful image you helped paint Audrey…thank you. Let the cleansing begin in this Lenten season!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Amen, Audrey! Thank you for sharing!

  • Yes, let redemption get the last word.

  • Anne jones

    “Sometimes He is destroying something toxic, in order to rebuild it. And sometimes, He permits us to experience the destructiveness of our own choices so that we depart from them. God grants us “our will be done” so that we learn the anguish and emptiness of our own will, and repent and run to His”. I thank God for opening my eyes to my self destruction. Realizing true dependence on Him for love,forgiveness, peace and a relationship with God I never would have known the way I do now

  • “redemption always has the last word” Oh, how I pray that this would be true in the lives I see around me. And In my life too!

  • Looking back on my life, I thank God for the “good brokenness” that happened. If not for those struggles, I know I would’ve gone down a destructive path of selfish choices. I can definitely see how God is doing something bigger than my will.

    And I love a good C.S. Lewis quote, and have never heard that one before. It makes me want to pick up some of his books!

    • Amelia Gilliland

      me too! I enjoy his writings!

    • Susan

      I’ve never read any of his books.but have wanted to. Is there a book you would suggest I read first?

      • Michele

        Mere Christianity is really good!

      • Sarah

        The book that’s quoted in this text is good too…The Great Divorce. Gave me great thoughts as to why my sinfulness in this life is so destructive. V

      • Cynthia

        The Screwtape Letters is a classic C. S. Lewis book.

      • Sarah

        I think Mere Christianity is the easiest one to start out with! It really encouraged me in my faith

    • Katalina

      Amen, I feel the same way! Everything unfortunate that’s happened in my life has turned out to be fortunate because of where I am with Him now and I’m forever grateful for that <3

  • Kelly R Smith

    “Sometimes God is doing something more.” I find so much encouragement here, particularly in the middle of a hard season. It “is an opportunity to learn and repent and cling to God like never before.” Yes!

  • Churchmouse

    “A severe mercy.”. “A good brokenness.”. Gifts from God, most often recognized and appreciated in hindsight. So good to remember in the midst of a difficult season. Rather than bemoaning my circumstance, asking what is God trying to tell me? Have I wandered or deliberately walked off His path? Yes,”destruction can be a mercy ” when it draws me back to Him. And my wandering does not define me, is not held as a Damocles sword over my head. Repentance prevents that. I rejoice that “redemption has the last word.”. I walk on confidently. I walk in freedom.

    • Lana

      God is holding you hand, Churchmouse. And he’s got a firm grip!!! Praying for you during this difficult season. You’ll make it through.

  • I think this is something a lot of Christians struggle with; I know I do. Especially in today’s world with all the things around that can distract us. I think one important thing to remember is that spending time with the Lord is something Satan does not want us to do. He doesn’t want us to hear from God because He knows that that will give him less power in our lives and the lives around us. My advice to you would be to you be to focus not only on reading scripture, but also on prayer. Pray that God would open your eyes to attacks from Satan. When you are feeling bored, discouraged, etc while reading scripture pray against it. Rebuke the devil and bind his power in you you. Ask God to break any chains the devil tries to put you in. Then pray that God would give you a hunger for his word and ask him to speak though it to you. Ask him to open your heart and eyes to what he has for you. If your hearing the same concepts repeating, instead of getting frustrated that your not getting something new out of it, ask God what he is trying to show you. Maybe he is talking through repetition because he wants you to hear something that you haven’t yet. Finally look at your day and decide a time that works the best for you to have quit time with God. If your struggling you need structure until you can make it a habit. Don’t start with goals you know you can’t keep. If it’s hard for you to do long periods of quiet time start out by committing 15 minutes. As you grow you can increase the time you spend. If you want to read the whole bible but are getting frustrated with the amount of time it takes to do a read the Bible in a year study, split it into smaller sections. You don’t have to read the whole thing in one day. You can read the Bible in 2 years. That’s fine too. I honestly find I get more out of scripture when I spend more time thinking and praying about a 1 chapter or even just a few verses then I do reading many pages. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you get off track and miss a few days. Ask God to help you focus and pick it up where you left off. Guilt after repentance is not from God. If you still feel guilty after repenting that is the devil trying to discourage you through condemnation. I hope that helped. Know that I am currently praying for you right now. I don’t normally read the comments in these things and I don’t think I’ve ever posted in one, but yours stuck out to me and I felt you needed an answer. God bless.

    • Caitie

      I struggle in this area too. Love the advice to pray through the times of feeling bored, etc. while reading scripture, and to start with a small amount of time each day. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • SuzD

      Thank you Nicole for these suggestions. I found them very encouraging and helpful.

    • Renee

      I am simply blown away by your message of encouragement and honesty. To everyone that took the time to respond to my simple and somewhat raw post/question I am extremely grateful. This SRT community has truly become like an unknown (in person and character, but not in spirit and soul) family. I love you all so much and I plan to take heed to your comments/suggestions.
      Much love
      XOXO -R

  • Thank you for the illuminating commentary!

  • Great message! Makes me think of Romans 1, ‘God gave them over to a reprobate mind’. In His mercy, He allowed me to suffer consequences in my early life that ultimately brought me to Him.

  • When I read this, I realize that this is a picture of myself. I say with my lips that I want to do His will, but my actions and my steps say otherwise. So when I step out on my own, my security is taken away (3:1) and I make immature and foolish decisions (3:4). All because I rebel against Him.
    But, praise be to Him that there is hope! If I remain in Zion and persevere, I will be called holy and my filth will be washed away (4:3-4).
    How beautiful that He can lovingly show us the condition of our hearts, but always offer us hope and point us to Jesus our Savior! ❤️

    • TerriB

      amen, thank you for that! I am humbled after today’s reading. He is our loving & gracious Father

  • Hi, ladies. I know that this question seems kind of off topic; however, it is one that has been on my heart and mind for a while now. First of all, I just want to say how much I am enjoying jlurnhing through this Lenten season with all of you ladies. I am quite introverted and therefore like to be by myself after working a full day at work (yep, this is a flaw of mine. lol.), but I still want to be a part of a community full of godly women who are pationate about living each and every moment to the fullest while they do day to day activities and giving God all the glory and prAuse. We are all human and struggle at times. It’s taken me years to accept that I am not one of the only daughters of God who still struggles with little things (like appearance, goals, doubts, etc). All that to say…THANK YOU. You have no idea how much each and everyone of you mean to me.

    On to my question (yes, I do tend to write mini-novels in texts or comments….Another flaw. lol)
    I have attempted many years to read through the entire Bible; however, something always details me. Sometimes it’s boredom (I know….Gasp), sometimes it feels like I am reading the same passages I have heard/read about my whole life and getting nothing new out of them (I have been active in the church for as long as I can remember), sometimes it just seems overwhelming for my ADD tendency ridden mind, and other times I just doubt altogether because it turns into more of a chore of reading instead of something I look forward to (I should note I am an avid reader). Is this common? And if so, how do I combat this and turn daily reading into something I look forward to instead of just something I feel I should do and another item go check off my to do list?

    I would greatly appreciate any and all thoughts on this matter.

    Thanks so much, ladies. Stay strong today and remember every single breath is a gift to be experienced. Breathe and take it all in
    XO-Renee

    • Elisabeth7291

      Renee- I have, and I know what you’re saying, but don’t let that stop you. Even in the days when you feel like you’re trudging through to “check the box” the Lord is growing something in you. The Bible says that His Word never returns void, and that is true even on those days that you can’t quite grasp what you’re reading. And the JOY of the days you do, and find that the days reading has prepared you to ‘give a response to anyone who asks why you believe’ are so fantastic. Do it – persevere- you will not be sorry.

    • Nicole

      I left a response for you, but messed up and it is a few comments below instead of here sorry.

    • Churchmouse

      Renee, it’s so wonderful that you have such a strong hunger and thirst for the Word that you desire to read it from cover to cover! I have found, for me, that I would get hung up on reading the assigned Scriptures in whatever reading plan I was following. I would be focused on getting through it,rather than savoring my time in the Word. For me, I had to throw out the reading plans and just start at the beginning and read, not caring how much or how little I read each day. The goal was to hear the Lord speak (I do keep a commentary handy for help with the harder passages and for cultural context) and not fuss over whether I read it in a year or longer. I also have found it helpful to have a reading buddy who is doing the same thing and then get together to talk to them about what I had been reading. A great source of encouragement! When you open the Word, ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to understanding. He’s faithful!

    • Armida

      I have the same struggles, and I’m a pastor. It has been so hard to force myself to sit in God’s word. Then, I realized if I’m forcing myself, I’m not in the right mindset to do it anyway. So, I started praying that God would give me the conviction and desire to read the Bible. He knew I was struggling anyway, so it seemed I might as well be honest in my prayers. God has since continually tugged at my heart to sit and read, but I’ve done things to make it work for me. I got a “Inspire” Bible that lets me color and do creative journaling for those times when my mind wants to wander. If I feel “forced” to read and don’t feel like, I know my heart is in the wrong place, so I’ll listen to scripture being read. Sometimes, I’ll listen to a Christian podcast or music to set my mind in the right place. And, this app has really helped. Structure helps me so much. It’s not perfect, but I know I have to get up everyday; be honest with God; and try again!

    • Zoe

      How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Read what you can when you can. Including some of these comments from the other ladies. They are so spot on. Praying that you find joy in the Word. I know it might sound silly, but in my experience, finding the right Bible for me made all the difference… a version that spoke to my heart (and there are many!), a cover that I found appealing, a font size that was easy to absorb… commentary or no commentary… I highly recommend choosing a Bible that suits you and you might be surprised by what a joy it is to spend time in the Word.

      • Stormye Puffer

        Zoe – I love the elephant analogy! I use it often. Great advice, friend!

    • Elaine

      Renee- I have read the Bible from cover to cover a number of times and ways. I found it most enjoyable when I read the new living translation chronological version. It reads like a story and therefore kept my interest. It also gave me a different perspective of the history. I have also enjoyed the Bible on CD that I could listen to in my car while traveling to and from work. I found myself looking forward to the ride because I got to listen to God’s word told in a dramatic version.

    • SarahGroovy

      Renee, I feel your struggle! I am in it right now with you. But I have found an app that makes it a little easier. It’s called Read Scripture and its created by The Bible Project. In addition to daily readings that are time manageable, it also has videos that explain what is happening in scripture. I have really enjoyed reading through the Bible with this app. I hope it can help you too!

    • Samantha

      Renee – I think a few others have written this, but YES! It’s so hard sometimes to be diligent in reading my bible. But I would highly recommend a chronological bible. I have “The Daily Bible” and it has really changed my experience 180 degrees. I’m excited for the Old Testament!

    • Stormye Puffer

      Renee – you have already received so much wisdom from these wonderful women! I just wanted to chime in and let you know how grateful we are to have you in our community and walking through the Word with us. Its a blessing to hear how the Lord has used SRT in your life! Praying that God would show you the best way to read His Word and interact with Him. Asking him for focus and determination!

  • Thinking about times when God has let me have my own way and how horrible it turned out. Thankful I can always turn back to him!
    Love from Lisbon

  • does anyone has some music suggestions to listen to in devotional time?

  • Nicola De Fontenay

    How often do I say my will be done? More than I realise I think! Praying today yet not my will but Yours. What incredible grace and mercy of God to allow our will to be done let us feel the consequences but not break us or destroy us but still redeem us. Blessings from me in Surrey, UK

  • celebratingheart

    Morning :) does anyone else fine Old Testament readings quite confusing? I really appreciate the devotional explaining the arc of the story told in these chapters and showing how this story relates to us today. ‘Redemption always has the lat word’ – what a good God we have!

    • Caitie

      Yes! I have always had a hard time understanding the OT…there’s so much context and historical background that I don’t know, and to me it can be overwhelming to undertake not just reading the word, but learning all of the background as well. I agree that this devotional has been really helpful!

    • Samantha

      I recently starting reading “The Daily Bible” which is a chronological arrangement of the Bible… it has helped tremendously to get me excited about the OT – there is such much additional historical content it offers and it reads more like a movie script than anything. I have never loved Exodus so much in my life! Highly recommended :)

      • Ronda

        Yes! I have found that to be true too! One can really love God’s Word from beginning to end!

    • Emily

      I had to read the word in a different translation and then go back and read it in the app for it to sink in and make sense.

    • Alexis

      Check out the Bible Project. They have great videos that explain each book in the OT pretty well, and if you are a visual learner like me, they can be a great complement to your bible study :) https://www.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject

    • Allison Smith

      Agreed!

  • Wohooo I’m the first! Great way to start my day. My prayer for today is that God will reveal to me the nature and cause of my brokenness(es) in order to find my healing in him. Lenten love from NL!

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