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Lent 2017: You Are Mine: Day 5

Isaiah’s Call

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Today's Text: Isaiah 5:1-30, Isaiah 6:1-13, Psalm 80:17-19, Matthew 21:33-44

Text: Isaiah 5:1-30, Isaiah 6:1-13, Psalm 80:17-19, Matthew 21:33-44

I’ve long been a fan of liturgy. My United Methodist upbringing only offered it in moderate doses and my current church home even less, but I still feel at home in the rhythms, radical though many of them are.

Take corporate confession, for example. You’d be hard-pressed to find something more unexpected than a group of men, women, and children, many of them strangers or mere acquaintances, joining together to voice aloud their sins and shortcomings. It’s shocking when you consider it, especially in a culture where we work carefully to craft a public image of ourselves that rarely matches the private one.

Corporate confession is a sort of double humility: we humble ourselves as sinful individuals before God, and we humble ourselves alongside our brothers and sisters as a sinful body of believers. We are saying to God, We are broken; You are whole. We are flawed; You are flawless. We are sinners; You are holy.

Our condition (sin) is directly opposed to God’s character (purity, holiness).  

In Isaiah chapters 5 and 6, the prophet contrasts this “otherness” of God’s glory and holiness with the utter darkness of Judah’s rebellion. The people’s sin has so dramatically distorted their reality that good and bad are reversed in their eyes. God’s messenger Isaiah declares, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (5:20).

But God—“His glory fills the whole earth” (6:3), and Isaiah is humbled at the sight of Him. Heavenly beings hover around the Lord, calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts,” as the temple shakes and fills with smoke (6:4).

What does Isaiah do at the astonishing sight of God’s holiness? He voices a confession:

Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Hosts.
- Isaiah 6:5

Notice that Isaiah’s confession is personal (“I am a man of unclean lips”) and corporate (“I live among a people of unclean lips”). Isaiah is aware of his own rebellion against God, as well as his place among a rebellious people. Repentance involves both confessing to God our sinful actions and our sinful condition.

It’s like the parable of the vineyard owner in Matthew 21. God is the vineyard owner, and what more could He have given us? Yet we corrupted His good gift. He sent His Son, and we were the ones who put Him to death—not because we were present at the crucifixion, but because ours was the sin that sentenced Him to die. All of us. We are all sinners and we are all sinful.

Left to ourselves, we would have no hope. Thanks be to God, we have not been left to ourselves. As we confess our sins and our sinful condition before our holy God, we also give thanks for Jesus, who took our sin upon Himself. In Jesus, the radically unholy are clothed in righteousness and reconciled to God.

Because of Jesus, we are ushered into the presence of the One whose holiness fills the whole earth—the One who is three times holy. Holy is God the Father. Holy is Christ the Son. Holy is His Spirit, mercifully poured out on those who confess their sins and believe on Christ. Holy, holy, holy.

SRT-Lent2017-Instagram5s

  • Danya Ho

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness” (5:20).

  • I am going through a season of spiritual tribulation and warfare. Not only am I being attacked but those close to are being too and it seems this to be for my benefit – the devil is hurting me through my closest and dearest, and using everyday situations and people.

    After weeks of thinking ‘Why me? When something good is FINALLY happening to me and my family, why is all this foolishness happening?’ Last week, it suddenly dawned on me, ‘this is my season of tribulation’. I am at war, and the devil wants me to choose him because to be honest, ladies I have been an unknowing operative of his for a while – not reading my bible, not watching myself (my vices). Basically, being self-absorbed and pompous, thinking I can do this (life) by myself. (Ephesians 6:12)

    But alas, when I look back God has patiently been by my side; letting me stumble and falter but whispering in my ear ‘I am here if you need me’ (Romans 2:4) He has been encouraging me to return to fellowship (with SRT and others), put me in contact with another mother who has a young son who sends me daily devotional messages and nudged me out of my life lull. I thought just saying ‘I leave it in God’s hands’ was sufficient and knowing I’m a Christian who believed was enough but that’s just empty words from a cocksure child. (Psalm 30: 1-5)

    So to read Amanda’s words ‘Left to ourselves, we would have no hope. Thanks be to God, we have not been left to ourselves’ was sufficient today.

    Amen.

    • briony Bohm

      Oh you speak words that ring such truth with me. Praise the Lord we are not left to her own devices.

      • Lisa

        So thankful for honest Jesus loving women like yourself. I pray you are able to keep to the disciplines that we “get” to do each day so that you are enriched with more and more of Jesus and that will bear beautiful fruit.

      • Danya Ho

        Your honesty is so refreshing. I understand fully and ut reaffirms God’s promise to never leave us mor forsake us. He longs fir fellowship and will not stop tI’ll we surrender and the scales are removed so we can behold his glory . Press on. When we sex weak then is he strong. Thank you for boldly sharing

    • A Lamb Of God's

      Why do I do what I don’t wanna do?
      Why do I love what I should hate?
      Why have I sold myself to be a slave?
      Why do I give my heart away?
      I’m tired of singing songs of victory
      When I’ve been living in defeat
      I’m done standing with the enemy
      This is a war won on my knees

      Who will rescue me?
      Come wash me clean
      And set me free

      Cause I wanna see these giants fall, giants fall
      And I wanna crash through every wall, every wall
      In between you and me give me faith to believe
      That I’m, I’m gonna see these giants fall
      I’m gonna see these giants fall
      I’m gonna see these giants fall

      (This is the first verse & lyrics of “Giants Fall” by We Are Messengers. It’s been playing in my house non stop since reading for Lent. I hope it encourages you as it has me! One day these giants will fall forever!)

      • Lori

        Thanks for sharing this song. I’ve been listening to it this morning & I am sure it will make an appearance on my regular playlist.

        • A Lamb Of God's

          My pleasure! I love hearing God’s voice through music. Music is a form of worship, yet almost every time I turn it on to worship Him, I find he has given me healing balm for my soul. Isn’t that so our God? What we give to him, he lovingly gives back to us. I’m thinking now…wheels are turning…the reverse is just as true. When we refuse to give up what we’re holding on to, when we don’t give him anything, we can’t receive what he wants to give us. Hmm. Im going to have to chew on this today…Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise him all you creatures here below! Praise him above ye heavenly hosts! Praise Father, Son, and a Holy Ghost! Amen.

    • Kelsey

      Thank you for your vulnerability and truth! I have been in the same place! Praying for you as the Lord leads you through this time!

    • Megan

      Those of us who are believers are righteous and holy through Jesus!

      “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference in Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

      This truth is woven throughout the new testament, including Romans. How beautiful!

    • Marie

      Wow. Thank you for this honest post. I am also in my season of tribulation but thank God I have found this bible study and found your post because although I do not know you, you gave me courage to trust in God and not feel so alone.

    • Joanne

      Wow… thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. I have tears in my eyes… Your words are my thoughts. Grace and peace to you.

    • Sandy Alexander

      That is so beautiful. We are so loved by God! Your journey inspired me today. Thank you for your honesty.

  • Julie C.

    Woe is me for I read today’s passage and I immediately think, “I’m not that bad.” I am wrestling with my sinful condition and God this Lent season, a challenge I prayed and asked for because I have these thoughts and yet, I know they aren’t right. I am torn between acknowledging my condition and rejecting it. This must be a pruning of some sort. I feel frustrated, confused and on the verge of tears. I often find myself hustling for my worth, when isn’t God calling me to stop hustling and instead repent and receive? I desperately want Jesus and I know I need him, and yet, I struggle with doubt. Some days my lips are filled with love and praise, and other days, silence, pride, rejection, independence, self-absorption. Oh that God would have mercy on me, cleanse my lips, and remove this struggle within me.

  • Mercy Me

    Sarah, thank you for sharing this. This Lent season has been difficult for me for some reason and I believe this reading and your analogy has helped me to see why.

  • I’m sitting in the beautiful state of Washington this morning where the sun is shining so beautifully after a crazy night of wind, rain and hail. We have a tin roof over our sun porch and the sound was deafening. I had set potted plants outside yesterday to soak up some rain and rushed to bring them in from the hail and cold. This morning it is crisp, calm, the air is clean and the sounds of spring are beginning to infiltrate the space around my home. Such a start contrast to the weather last night. For some reason, the passage from this reading, “destruction can be a mercy,” and “redemption always has the last word,” really hit home and feel manifested in the weather here. March can be so stormy and crazy. Branches break, plants are battered, and we huddle inside waiting out the storms that rage outside. But at the end there is the sunshine, the clean air the rain and wind has brought, and the nutrients needed to bring about spring flowers and start my vegetable garden. The destruction is a mercy, and the hope of spring and new life brings peace as we wait for the storm to break. Praying that God gives me eyes to see how he is destroying the things I have built up that cause separation between He and I. Praying that this season of Lent and coming to terms with my sin leaves me looking ahead to the Cross and empty grave that could not hold Jesus back. Grateful for redemption and the hope it brings this morning. Praying for you, Sisters, and that God will use this time to draw you closer to Him and fill you with hope.

    • Diana Ruth

      Thanks for sharing this analogy of the stormy day. I am a Seattleite and will be praying the same prayer.

    • Lisa

      thank you! I needed to hear this and be reminded of it!

  • Today, this is what hit home for me, specifically the second half of this passage:
    Isaiah 5:18-19 ‘Woe to those who drag wickedness with cords of deceit and pull sin along with cart ropes, to those who say: “Let Him hurry up and do His work quickly so that we can see it! Let the plan of the Holy One of Israel take place so that we can know it!”

    I often get so impatient with not having any idea what he’s doing with my life. There are many things that I want to happen, and they’re not bad things. It’s just not in His timing yet. I get constant reminders of needing to rest in His grace, His timing, His plan. But it hadn’t really occurred to me that it was actually sinful to want Him to hurry up and get on with it so that I can figure out what He wants for me in this life.

    I pray that I can take this to heart, to look forward with hopefulness, while also trusting that all will come to pass in His good timing. That I can rest in where He has me right now, without being too impatient for the future. He has me where I am for a reason. While it may not be exactly where I want to be, there are also many blessings that I currently take for granted that I won’t get once certain things happen. Thanks be to God for His superior knowledge and timing of plans for my life. I know that one day I’ll look back and understand, even if that one day isn’t until I see Him face to face.

    • Kristina

      Rachel, your words are a beautiful contemplation of Truth which I know pleases our Lord. I was immediately reminded of Paul’s specific encouragement in his first letter to his Corinthian brothers and sisters – it’s our family’s theme verse for 2017: “…And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey. Love and believe. Right there. God, nothing else, defines your life.” 1Cor. 7:17 We’ve written it on a chalkboard near the door we come and go through because it is such an important reminder to wrap our heads, hearts and lives around….it applies to the big & important experiences & relationships in our lives, and it equally applies to the mundane and commonplace portions of our lives as well, and for most of us, despite our Insta accounts/facebook etc, our lives have A LOT more of the commonplace, and it is refreshing and encouraging to know that if I embrace & live out those verses in my mundane & commonplace, then there’s nothing prosaic or common about the smallness & mundane portions of my daily existence. The wording of those verses is from Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message, which is why it’s expressed in more contemporary language, but the NIV expresses it well also. May you find His peace and contentment in the waiting, sister! You’re in good company – don’t let the appearances of the happenings in other’s lives fool you into believing that your’s is less than theirs. It is not.

      • Haydn Thomas

        Wow! So glad to have read through some of these comments. I feel so encouraged Kristina. I love that verse your family chose for the year. What a great mission statement for anyone. So simple and true. Our identity is in Christ and Christ alone.

      • Betsy P.

        Oh, Kristina, I can’t tell you how much God spoke to me through your words this morning. I have been struggling with discontentment recently, feeling as if my life is not adventurous or exciting enough. This line: “there’s nothing prosaic or common about the smallness & mundane portions of my daily existence” went straight to my heart. Thank you for sharing!

    • Haydn Thomas

      Rachel I often feel the same way. It’s so easy to get caught up in our lives. I find myself comparing my life to others, and thinking am I measuring up? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I have that? Like you said everything is in Gods timing and plan. I am so encouraged through this study to focus on His truth and remember that I can’t do this life alone. He is our cornerstone. My life needs to be built on him and his truth. He is sufficient for me. I can live hopeful and confident in his sovereignty over my life.

  • This study really struck me as to how much I find myself taking God’s grace and forgiveness for granted. I know I will never be perfect because I have a sinful nature, but how terrifyingly heartbreaking it would be if the foundation of my faith “became like something rotten and…blown away like dust, for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of Hosts”. God help me to surrender to your will and not the will of this earthly world.

  • peanut cheese

    anyone else having troubles opening Grace Day? My app quits as soon as I try to open it

  • johanna tropiano

    In meditating on this passage and study today, I’m reminded at how often it feels that we as Christians are far too concerned with the “sins” of those who do not profess to know Christ rather than looking inward at our own personal sins and the sins of our congregation. It’s convicting how much finger pointing and judgement takes place rather than looking for the plank in our eye. Like Amanda noted, Isaiah’s first confession at meeting God was his own sin and second, the sin of Judah, God’s chosen people. He does not confess the sins of those who never knew God. Would love to hear other’s thoughts on this.

    • Adrienne

      Hi Johanna, I liked your comment here. It’s true. If you look at the ministry of Paul, he wasn’t spending his time telling non-believers how to act. He was constantly challenging, encouraging and instructing believers to repent and change their heart + actions to align with what they professed to believe. We ought to do the same. x

    • Jamie

      Oh how I agree. Been speaking this for years. Way too often we the church point our finger to the values in society wrongly placed, when it’s the church and its individuals that must be a people that actually truly love God. Isaiah 58:9-10

  • I just love the fact that when God revealed himself to Isaiah his first response is repentance! How often do I respond that way when we encounter God in our daily lives. God has been showing me his holiness and the gravity of sin lately and it is so crazy how indifferent I can get when I start seeing God’s perspective as the same old same old. When we are truly in God’s presence we should and must feel unclean because our best is dirty rags to a holy and perfect God.

  • Carrie Rogers

    I knew we must have something in common Amanda Williams (Methodist upbringing) ;) I am getting so much out of this beautiful study.

  • Gema Muniz

    Amen! I love todays scriptures! Lately God has been working in me with a sin I have dealt with for a long time, that sin is over spending. For a long time I was taught that material things bring you happiness, and they do but only for a temporary time. When I got married I was in a lot of debt, my husband helped me change my spending habits, but my debt didnt go away. A child later and depending on one income has really brought my sin and previous bad decisions out in the light. We are now dealing with a seriously difficult financial situation and unfortunately a large part of it is my fault. God wants more than just change from me, he wants a commitment. I thank him for this difficult season in my life, for is a time of cleansing and eventhough mentally I still struggle with the way I should use my money I know God is working in me and will free me from this sin. Is time for me to walk away from sin and fully commit to a new financial lifestyle. I ask you sisters to pray for my family, to walk out of this financial situation stronger than ever in faith, for we need a miracle. We are now digging into our savings which can only help us survive for the next month. I thank you in advanced ladies. GOD BLESS!

    • Sasha

      I’ve been married 21 years and have seen God do the most amazing financial rescues time and time again, after mistakes we have made with debt and spending. He is so faithful even when the way seems hopeless and you know it’s fully your own fault. Be encouraged…He is so good to us, even in our sins! He has got you.

    • BML

      Gems, I am praying for you. Don’t get discouraged, God is faithful. This is such a wonderful lesson to learn. You can do it, but if you slip just get right back up and continue. God will be right by your side, He just asks you tribe faithful.

  • Here is my public confession: I am a sinful person. I am impatient with my family. I get jealous and covet. I am often discontent and not thankful for my life. I idolize other things above God often and I loose focus of Him. Thanks be to God that I am forgiven. I do not deserve it, but he is a God of grace. That is a hard thing to grasp. Holy is God the Father. Holy is Christ the Son. Holy is His Spirit. Amen.

    • Katalina

      Amen Hannah!

    • Shawn Bowers Buxton

      Amen! Me, too. I lose my temper with my sweet boys and stop modeling Christ love. I swear. A lot. I don’t spend enough time in prayer or seeking out God. I gossip. I haven’t confessed my sins in a public platform in soooo long. Thanks for being so open and vulnerable. You gave me the courage to do the same.

    • Rachel

      I echo your confession. Every word of it. I think I often get stuck on how sinful I am though, and forget the fact that I am forgiven. I focus on the “I don’t deserve it, or anything” and lose sight of His grace. It is SO hard to grasp for me. But day by day, by regularly immersing myself in His word, I am being reminded. Thanks be to God.

  • Caroline

    Thank you Lord that we have hope, undeniable hope, because of you!

    I love thinking of repentance as not just confessing, but making the decision to “turn the other way” We can repent over and over, but when we turn the other way from repeating the sin is when true transformation happens

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

  • This study is reminding me greatly of Gods holiness. I so often stick to reading the New Testament and pray similar prayers day in and day out..I forget WHO I am praying to! Yes, I’m praying to a compassionate, understanding, loving God..but he is also A holy, JUST, sovereign king! I pray I would worship him as he is today, and when he calls I pray I would turn and say “here I am, send me!”

  • Melody Suarez

    I feel like God has been speaking to me in a lot of different bible studies and devotionals about his holiness and what that means practically for me. I’m still thing to figure out how to live out being holy for God versus letting Gods spirit work through me in tandem with His aspect of grace. Sometimes it’s a hard concept to grasp..

  • Adrienne

    Where do I put my hope ? Where have I exchanged truth for a lie (Light vs Dark)… God unpack the things in the dark, shed light on them and may your purify me.

    What a great reminder : Our Hope should only be in Him, If not we are trusting in our now folly and loft wisdom.

  • I am most convicted by Isaiah 5:8. Adding more stuff to my life until no room left for God. On Wed I wrote that I need to purge the junk out of my life and today’s reading again confirmed.

    • SuzD

      Amen Judy. I have heard the same voice asking is there room for Me?

  • The prophetic words of Isaiah reminds me that I am called to remember God’s holiness. God on the throne, his train fills the temple, and he is being praised… holy, holy, holy. Let that be my meditation today. Truth.

  • Elizabeth

    This was beautiful! Thank you!

  • So often do I believe in my flesh that my sin is nothing too bad. I’m just a regular girl who does regular things. Idolatry and gossip come to mind, I repent and forget. Asking God to truly change my heart this morning. Hurting to realize my sins nailed Jesus to the cross. Of course this is what we know, that this is the Gospel, that God sent His only Son to die for us, and how often do I take that for granted. Revive me, God, for I don’t want to grieve Your heart. Show me the only thing I bring to salvation was the sin that made us necessary. Thank You for Your never ending saving grace.

  • It is easy to see the parallel of Isaiah’s description of Judah to today’s society. Many have said that. I wonder how many generations have thought that in their own time. I think many, so many. And that is what makes this passage so very heartbreaking, we are rebellious sinners. No matter how many times we as a gathered people, confess, repent, receive blessing, – we end up right back where we started, ashamed and ejected from the Garden, cause we just can’t behave ourselves. Man cannot fix this. We cannot legislate, regulate or adjudicate our sin. Only Jesus. And then only through humble repentance will any us have a chance at salvation. Oh, Lord, save us. Lord give us hope, for this day, this month, this year, this generation. I want to be saved, minute by minute until you call me Home. I want salvation, to be a living breathing victory song – so that I do not waste away in the waiting. Do not let me be complacent. Lord, help me to have balance between repentance and obedience – meaning heaping portions of both. Lord, give me eyes to see my sin, and a balm to heal the blisters. Lord be my HOPE because without you, there is only waste.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Heidi, this was beautiful. Thank you for sharing – I echo your prayer!

    • Elle

      Such a thoughtful image to think of past generations realizing the exact same thing. The hard thing is both recognizing how flawed we are still not settling for a life of dysfunction. God wants us to do better or he wouldn’t bother listing all of these ways we can strive to do good!

  • Jasmine Gilcrease

    I was struck by how strongly our culture resembles the description in Isaiah 5:11-15. Though many of us may not “rise early” to “run after strong drink,” (v11) so many of us hustle to satisfy our fleshly desires, whatever they may be. And how many of us are oblivious to the work of the Lord around us because we are constantly engaged in entertainment of some sort (v12)? And yet, in verse 16, the LORD is still exalted in justice and holy in righteousness!! Praise God that He remains the same even when we do not see Him and all His works! Although, I pray we do see His works and turn to Him. In His Kingdom, the lowly are lifted up and the lofty are brought low, and oh! what a painful process that will be for our lofty culture (including me!).

  • I just finished the bible study Finding I Am. one of the last statements is when Jesus says I am the true Vine in John 15. God is the Father Gardener. we are the fruit. Bible teacher Krista Williams talked about the good grapes, sour graoes and grapes of wrath. the good grapes are what God wants us to produce (the fruit of our lives) the sour grapes (the woes) are the lack of moral virtue and purity, basically following the world. The grapes of wrath are the fruit produced by sour grapes, will have consequences. But there is Hope! the stump refers to Jesus from the stump of David!

  • Jillian Johnson

    Anyone else get squeamish thinking about burning coals touching sensitive lips??? I just can’t get over it, no matter how many times I’ve read it. Purification from sin is a painful process, and yet I am very grateful I don’t need a burning coal to start that process in my own life.

    • Barbara

      This made me think of a story from the Midrash (an early Rabbinic commentary on the Torah). My grandmother told it to me. Baby Moses was sitting in Pharoah’s lap, and reached for his crown. Pharoah was alarmed, because he thought it might be an omen that Moses would one day dethrone him. One of his wise men suggested that perhaps the baby was just reaching for sparkling things, and proposed a kind of intelligence test. They put two bowls in front of Moses, one containing gold and jewels, and one containing a glowing coal. The infant reached for the gold, but an angel pushed his hand to the glowing coal instead, to persuade Pharoah that he had no reason to fear Moses. Baby Moses put his burnt finger in his mouth, burning his tongue–and that is why he stuttered as an adult!

      Perhaps this was intended as a subtle way to connect Isaiah with Moses–just as Moses led his people to the promised land, Isaiah foretold the One who would bring His people to Salvation. This is all conjecture on my part, and I’m not a Biblical scholar, but I do like the imagery.

  • My husband and I have just recently planted a new church that is heavy and rich with liturgy. Liturgy is a saving grace, and a beautiful reminder to ring out with the saints who we are and what He has done for us. In this culture, our new little church is an anomaly, we go against the grain of the big and loud and hip. But something in me believes that it it’s just what our culture needs and I pray that as we stay true to the Gospel truths, we will be blessed in our doing.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Tara, thank you for sharing! Praying for you and your husband as you lead this new church. Grateful for your and your ministry!

  • As a teacher I have dealt with children who of course misbehave, it goes with the territory. My hope though is for each child is not to just “learn to behave,” but for them to learn to be conscious of the ripple effect of misbehavior. It’s funny because always the response is the word, sorry, sorry, sorry. But their interpretation of the word “sorry” is it’s a “get out of jail” card. They have no idea what sorry REALLY means and at the same time they take no ownership to their misbehavior, just that they are sorry they were caught. My guidelines when this happens – they are required to say “I”- “I’M SORRY” (take ownership) and to look right into the eyes of who this has effected and say those words of “I’m sorry.” Today’s study hits right at the heart of that. I grew up in a traditional church with community confession, but I personally didn’t say “I’m sorry,” growing up. But as I have journeyed as an adult and as I try to really get a sense of my sin……I say the words out loud (not so God can hear me) but so that I CAN hear myself and admit and take ownership, and also pray for those my sin has effected, I AM sorry!

    • Angela

      Thank you for sharing. My son is always issuing very unapologetic “apologies” to my daughter whenever he does something wrong to her. I am going to guide him with your words the next time the opportunity presents itself.

  • The admonishment I feel as I read these chapters continues to feel harsh … and topical to our world today. To know that I have a continuing part in the sin of rejecting God’s law, to know that it is me who is a direct of part of my Jesus going to the cross, to contemplate just what I have done and continue to do despite promising myself to stop, is overwhelming. I went to my little church’s Ash Wednesday service and thought about that dust, those ashes. My prayer of confession was heartfelt and has stuck with me … Lord, I am broken. I am so grateful that You see fit to forgive, that you sacrificed Yourself for me, for us all. Let me be worthy. Guide me. Be a whisper in my ear. Be a catch in my breath. Be a tap on my shoulder. Be a soft nudge to my conscience. Be there in my peripheral vision … Father, be with me.

  • Oops I meant he gives us what *we want. God doesn’t want the separation. But we act like we do.

  • Good morning, sisters! I’m so grateful we’re studying Isaiah on the heels of Song of Solomon. I have a confession, halfway through chapter 5, I did think… how in the world am I going to make it through 40 days of this! But when you combine concepts from both stories, the tapestry becomes that much more rich and digestible. This is how I blended them and I hope it helps someone else in their reading too:

    So Isaiah uses a vineyard parable to describe God’s chosen people. This vineyard had been chosen – hand selected by God himself. Miracles showered them like rain. God visibly fought many battles for them. God was faithful, loving, and committed to them in this relationship.

    Despite God being a perfect spouse, we the people cheat on him, publicly humiliate him, bring him shame, steal from him, treat him like dirt. We say we’ll love him and do right by him if he gives us gifts. If he does what we want. We’re selfish. We don’t spend time with him, and yet we expect everything from him. We’ve been blessed with this perfect spouse (Song of Solomon concept here), and yet we act like horrible wives. Why should God stay in partnership with us when we abuse him every day? Just like a man abuses his wife (and vice versa), we abuse our God.

    So God leaves us. If we don’t want him and refuse to appreciate him for the love he gives (not just the physical gifts), he gives us what he wants: a separation. Space. His absence.

    And because God is the protector and the bread winner in the relationship, all Sheol breaks loose. The vineyard (back to Isaiah), becomes a wasteland. Our lives become a wasteland.

    But although we really don’t deserve a second chance, God still tries to reconcile. And when he can’t reach us directly because we refuse to use our ears to hear, he goes through a mediator. God is still willing to go to marriage counseling with us, God bless him. God bless God lol. How he manages to love me even when I act like trash is beyond me. But commitment is a daily choice. And today I choose to commit once more and do my best to love him and others.

    Thank you all for your comments this morning. They really helped me fully understand this lesson. Sending love to you all!

    • SuzD

      Thank you for these words. I too choose to commit today.

    • Lara

      Thank you for your comment! I used to see a harsh God who just wants good behavior and obedience. Now I know Him as my loving Father, even my loving Husband, very close to me. And now these first chapters in Isaiah are heartbreaking to me. ‘You are my vineyard, but there is no fruit, what else can I do but desert you…?’ Seeing God as the loving husband who was cheated on so many times… As the father whose children just left Him… It is so painful! There is no other way but to give us over to our own ways. Yet He keeps coming back, showing roads home to Him. So much grace, so much love!

  • Keri McCue

    I’m not sure why, but Isaiah has always been a hard book for me. But I am loving each day’s reflections on it! It is helping me to really dig in and understand!! I think confession is so important. Not only to hold us accountable and so that others can stand along side of us in prayer but also so that others know they aren’t alone. In my ministry, one thing I’ve heard frequently is “I feel so alone in this.” Confession to our brothers and sister in Christ allows us to grow closer and to share in each others burdens. I just love that!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

    • Kristina Sterchy

      Keri – Isaiah is HARD. Hard for me because it reveals God’s character fully – yes He loves us! but He also hates sin, and I am sinful by nature. I’ve avoided much of the Old Testament because I’m uncomfortable with this challenging characterization of our God. But hoping through this study I can walk with a deeper understanding of who God is and who I am meant to be through Christ.

      • Keri McCue

        Love that Kristina, “a deeper understanding of who God is and who I am meant to be through Christ.” This is beautiful! I love the Old Testament because we can’t fully understand what Christ did until we understand the context of humanity. We get this through the history of the OT. But yes, Isaiah has always been difficult for me! I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds Isaiah hard!! :)

  • What does this mean?

    “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

    • Jillian Johnson

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but Christ is that stone (the one the builders rejected). Should we fall on Him, we see our brokenness – and hopefully repent. But should he fall on us (in judgement) we would be crushed (found guilty of sin). It is better to fall back on the Rock than to be crushed by it completely. I hope that makes sense.

    • Alexis

      I may be wrong here, but this is my interpretation of this verse. If we choose not to obey God, abide in him, and love him then we will not produce the fruits that he requires of us. He will find someone who is willing to do all of these things and remove us from his presence and blessing. I think the stone crushing/ falling thing is the ultimate separation from God.

      A few verses I used to answer this: John 15:4-5, Galatians 5:22-23
      I hope this helps some.

    • Kimberly

      CJ, I think many scholars believe those lines are prophetic pointing to Christ and the church. When one falls on the mercy of the stone that the builders rejected, we are broken in pieces – broken = repentence, like Isaiah in the reading today. But when the stone falls on the unrepentant, it will crush him.

  • Thank you ~B~… that Isaiah was touched by burning coal from altar sacrifice. I love this pointer to Christ!

  • Our sin sentenced Jesus to die. We weren’t there, but for us he died. We weren’t present for the crucifixion but because of us he was put to death. I’ve never looked at it that way, that I individually put him to death. That part of the devotional really stuck out to me today.

  • These were really interesting readings that I don’t think I have engaged much with before. I think I am most struck by the list of sinful and injust behaviors. The admonishing to not add house to house and field to field feels so critical and insightful. We can’t just be greedy and keep adding to our own wealth, shoving out everyone else. I love how relevant all of this feels to our current world. If only we as a society (definitely recognizing my own culpability here as well) would strive more for economic and legal justice instead of letting money rule.

    Side note, I went to church for the first time in ages for Ash Wednesday and it was lovely. They asked everyone to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, which was new to me and I think really added a new element of emotion to it.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Elle, so thankful to have you studying with us this Lenten season. Praying that the Lord continues to use His Word to work in your heart. Thank you for sharing!

  • The beginning of Isaiah 5 reminds me of 2 Peter 1:3 — “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” God so very intentionally established His vineyard. He took care to remove the rocks. The soil was fertile with all of the nutrients necessary for a good crop. He built a watchtower and cut out a winepress. He did everything. He gave His people everything they needed to grow healthy and strong and bountiful, and yet they produced only bad fruit. We have everything we need to live a life of godliness just as the Israelites did. I am convicted to take a deep look at my own fruit today…

  • Is anyone asking any good study questions after this? I wrote some down to really internalize and process this, but I’m interested if anyone else has some good ones! :)

    • Annie Doyle

      I was wondering the same thing? Are you willing to share your questions?

  • Tochi Heredia

    “Here I am! Send me” Isaiah 6:3

    It makes me sad how this has turned into a Christian cliché. We go to events, missionary conferences, and church camps, and very often this verse is chosen as the motto.
    We romanticize and take lightly Isaiah’s call and the weight of his response. Yes, we are to go and show God’s love to people, but God was telling Isaiah to go and proclaim destruction over Judah.

    We preach Love Himself, but God isn’t our benevolent grandpa who wants to grant us every wish. He is God almighty, the Lord of hosts, and he should be feared. He has the power to wipe us off the face of the face of the Earth, but… He also has given us His Son to bring us closer to Him.

    Father, may your Spirit reveal more of You to us, even the parts that makes us uncomfortable. And help us to reflect Your character truthfully when we proclaim the good news of the Gospel to the world.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Tochi, I was also struck by the power of these words in Scripture. Grateful for your insight and your prayers this morning.

    • Jenni

      True! Also, who volunteers to preach sarcasm (6:9b-10) and know that no one will listen to you and everything will be destroyed anyway? Let’s think more seriously about letting God use us however He needs, even if it doesn’t make great missionary newsletters.

    • LaurelMcD

      And often when we do say this we are not liked by many and the road is tough going. No one said it would be easy for us to take up our cruise and follow Him. Test you are right, we fantasize it and make it seem easy and wonderful. It is not and that is why most of us are afraid to speak out about injustice, speak up for God’s truth. It is even hard these days to speak up about God’s truth in our own churches. Lord I pray that You touch my lips to speak Your truth in love when it is needed! Help me not to keep living my “easy” Christian life, make me bold for Your Truth!

  • Katalina

    There is no other sacrifice like the one our Savior was so willing to give us… and sometimes we completely forget that. And even when we do, He still loves us. He still fights for His people. It’s one thing to read about the past and hear the stories, but it’s another thing entirely to personalize it. To recognize we, too, are sinners and need to be wiped clean of our guilt, our shame, our sins. And how blessed are we to have a God who’s so forgiving even when we don’t deserve it. Repentance in exchange for a package deal; forgiveness, everlasting hope and unconditional love. Christ is so good !!

  • The two passages about the vineyards stood out to me today. In Isaiah we see how God was going to allow destruction overtake the vineyard of wild grapes and in Matthew how he would entrust the vineyard to someone willing to obey and do the right thing. God isn’t going to force us to obey him, but he also isn’t going to bless us and use us for his kingdom when we choose to turn away from him.

    • Katalina

      I completely agree Maria! I’ve been told this many times by my mom and I’ve seen it too.

    • Petri

      how amazing is our God that He let’s us choose to follow Him!

  • My heart stopped dead at this scripture in Isaiah 6, “6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

    I can’t help but notice so many things; the burning coal reminds me of a reference to God’s Word as “fire”, always burning and the fact that it’s taken from the alter has me thinking to Christ and His sacrifice. Isaiah’s lips literally touched by the “sacrifice” from that alter. I love have so many references foreshadow Christ and just has me further thankful for our Savior. Humbled that I KNOW I am lost without Christ, that left to my own accord, I would be like Judah … willing myself into detriment and darkness. So humbled for Christ who so willingly placed Himself as sacrifice for my wretchedness … that God’s word is a burning coal that never ceases and that the greatest love of my life took of Himself to touch my lips and atone of my sin.

  • Kasey Summers

    So very thankful for our unmovable hope!

  • [email protected]

    The idea of repentance involving not only acknowledgment of your own sin, but acknowledgment that sin is our condition, our first choice, our “go to” action! We all fall short of the glory of God! But!!! God gave us a way out in Jesus Christ! I agree @storytime, although thankful doesn’t seem to be enough, but I am so thankful for Jesus, that He came to redefine me and redeem all the lost time and brokenness I lived in! I can’t tell you how much this means to a women who didn’t find Jesus until her early 30’s! I pray that we all would be moved to repentance by His love, remembering that when we are in Christ, NOTHING can separate us from his love, not even our sin! Praise God!

  • Christina

    “I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up” Isaiah 5:6

    This little verse simply reminded me of yesterday’s passage and commentary, how sometimes pain/hardship is mercy. I suppose conversely, if we are not experiencing the difficulty of the act of being pruned, being made fruitful, we are experiencing the absence of God’s hand in our lives.

    • [email protected]

      AMEN!

    • Katie

      Great insight.

    • Audrey

      Yes!

    • appledees

      Right on. Good insight!

  • Churchmouse

    It just astonishes me that Isaiah is speaking all this to the chosen people of God. They had the lineage, the covenant promises and the prophets and yet they forgot to Whom they belonged. Yes the leaders bear the brunt of the blame, for surely they knew better. There is personal responsibility also as seen in Isaiah’s own heartfelt cry :”woe is me! I am…”. When I read these Scriptures it is easy for me to apply this to our national leaders and bemoan the condition of the United States. But sisters, God through Isaiah is speaking to the church! My heart breaks more over our churches who have been quiet about sin and the church that is self serving and the church that has not taught the Word but left its people ignorant. If this is the condition of some of our churches what can we expect of our world, our nation? Oh Lord, let repentance begin with me! Who am I to throw a stone at our nation’s leaders when I have not confessed my own sin and fully submitted to your authority? Lord, how can I point my finger at “them” when I am so self centered and have not spoken to them about You? And Lord, they cannot know if they haven’t heard. And I cannot tell if I don’t know the Word myself. Forgive me Lord! Before I bemoan what I perceive to be national sin, let me weep over my own. Let me pray for the church to be the light on the hill. Lord, I pray this morning for revival in myself and in the church -for only then is there hope for revival in my country. Amen and amen.

    • OrganizedGeorge

      Amen. It makes complete sense that one should follow the other. So go the churches, so go these United States.

    • Tricia C

      Amen. Thank you for the addition churchmouse. Blessings to you and yours. .

    • cassie

      I agree! Thank God we have some one up there trying to bring back our nation. As for our churches it is horrible. I live in Pittsburgh and theee are many not teaching the living word of God or only teaching parts they believe in. There is one church that flies the rainbow flag. It is a sad world we live in when a church says that evil is good and good is evil. Thankful for God’s sacrifice for the sins of all of us!

    • CJ

      So convicting churchmouse. So so so . . .

      “Who am I to throw a stone at our nation’s leaders when I have not confessed my own sin and fully submitted to your authority? . . . Before I bemoan what I perceive to be national sin, let me weep over my own.”

      Amen. Amen. Amen.

    • Stormye Puffer

      “Oh Lord, let repentance begin with me!” I love this, churchmouse. Thank you for your daily encouragement and for the reminder, today, that God is addressing the church and our hearts, not just the nation. Let repentance began with those who follow Christ.

    • Tracy

      Yes!!! Unlike Israel, the USA is not an organized religious country. Our government is not expected to live for God/Jesus. But we are. God is definitely speaking to us, His church. Thank you for your thoughts.

  • Kristine L

    I’m going though a season where I’m having a lot of hard truth told to me in love. It’s changed the entire way I perceive myself and it is Hard. Daily. Coming here each morning and reading these Hard Truths has also been difficult. But I’m starting to see that Isaiah is not just about woe, but hope. The hope we all have that no matter how ugly things get down here, God never runs out of grace. Man, have I used up a lot of grace lately. And while I can only hope the people around me somehow find more grace for me, I KNOW God will always have more grace for me.

    • Kelli

      This is such great truth! Thank you for sharing!

    • cassie

      God Bless you and your journey and help you through this study!

    • Brenda

      Change takes time for you and the ones around you to see that you are different now. Actions always speak louder than words. I pray that through your actions, people will give you the grace, but if they don’t, our God will. In the end, He is the one that saves us and we need to please Him.

    • Lori~girl

      There is ALWAYS more grace from God…and have GRACE for yourself. NO false guilt or shame…just TRUSTand move on! Love to you this day.

    • Stormye Puffer

      Kristine, thank you for sharing this. These seasons of pruning are never easy and I am praying that you would see God as gentle and kind. Grateful for you.

  • Kathleen

    Left to ourselves we would have no hope. I feel pulled back to Him in despair because there must be more. Confessing our sins – mine and ours- leads me back to my need and back to Him.

  • “Because of Jesus, we are ushered into the presence of the One whose holiness fills the whole earth – the One who is three times holy.” I have been so convicted of my sin and sinfulness this morning and saw with Isaiah, “Woe is me!” I take God’s holiness for granted. While nothing takes away from His holiness, my words, actions, and attitudes can cause people to turn away from Him, to think less of who He is. I pray that today God will make me ever mindful of His holiness. As His child I want to live in such a way that He is truly glorified. Holy. Holy. Holy.

  • Story time

    My goodness, this study is making more and more thankful for Jesus! Seriously! What an awesome God we have!

  • peanut cheese

    I was hoping to find some interesting thoughts on the two vineyard parables, but alas. Not that I can’t think of any interesting ideas about this, but… has anyone of you got something to say about this?

    • Sarah K

      The thing that stood out to me about the vineyard parable that I wrote in my own notes: the father (in this case the Father!) saw the murders of the others he sent- BUT HE SENT HIS SON ANYWAY. He knew the farmers would destroy Him too. BUT HE SENT HIM ANYWAY. He knew we would do the worst thing imaginable to his Son, but he loves and wanted to redeem us anyway. He knows that death isn’t the darkness we think it is, and he confidently sent his Son to conquer over it ❤

      • Tochi Heredia

        Wow, Sarah! I was so focused on the wickedness of the tenants, that I missed the allegory of the Son.
        Thanks so much for your insight.

      • Audrey

        I think we too have to remember the Son in the story. He wasn’t a passive pawn just sent by his Father. I imagine that the son of the vineyard owner knew the stories of what had happened to the men who were sent before him. Yet, when his father came to him to say he wanted to send the son, the son didn’t run away. He didn’t argue. He didn’t try to get out of the job. It just says he went. Not only did the Father know what would happen sending His Son, but Jesus also knew. Jesus knew that He would be broken for us, and He came anyway….

      • Petri

        I thought it was interesting too that the son completely obeyed the wills of his father. the tenants thought they could inherit the vinyard in this way. but instead the owner takes away their land for some that are worthy and “produce fruit”… sounds familiar :) what a great parable to remind us of our need for Jesus grace!

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