Scripture reading for October 26th: Luke 13-15
When tragedy strikes, it is easy to make judgments about why people were killed. It is easy to assume that those who die are under the judgment of God, or possibly were just ‘unlucky’. We don’t have explanations for some things that happen, like tornadoes and earthquakes. Other tragedies like 9-11-2001 are man-made and some accidents are the result of human error. People are always curious about these things because it causes them to think about death, God, and what happens afterward.
“Now there were those present at that time who told Jesus about Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
Jesus was faced with people who struggled to understand why good religious people were killed by Pilate. They were perplexed by the suffering and death and answers about why this would happen. Jesus brought up another case, the accident that took 18 lives in Jerusalem when a tower fell on them. In both of these cases, Jesus reassured people that these were not worse sinners than any others!
What Jesus was trying to tell them is that all men need forgiveness. We cannot judge others as any worse sinners than we are. We must look in the mirror and deal with what we see there in our own hearts. Sin brings death eternally. Unless we repent, we all will die in our sins and then perish! (Hebrews 9:27) The only remedy is repentance. Repentance is confessing our sins by taking ownership and turning away from them to God and His mercy in Jesus Christ. This is the only way to keep from perishing!
What does ‘perish’ really mean? When we die in sin, we will stand judgment before Jesus Christ at the White Throne of Revelation 20:11-15. Those who are unsaved will be cast into the lake of fire for eternal torment. This is ‘perishing’. Take an inventory of your state of repentance before it’s too late!
Scripture reading for July 17th: Isaiah 1-4
Isaiah is one of the major prophets of the Old Testament and his writing contains a rich treasure of revelation concerning God’s plans to redeem His people and send the Messiah. He spoke and wrote these words from about 722 BC to 681 BC. As we begin this book, it would be helpful to take a moment to ask the Lord for His guidance in understanding and applying it to our lives as 21st century followers of Christ.
The first vision of Isaiah recorded in today’s readings concerned Judah and Jerusalem. “Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him.” (Isaiah 1:4) People reap what they sow and God does nothing without warning His people by the prophets. (Amos 3:7) God sent Isaiah various visions to warn these backslidden people of the coming wrath. He told them of the desolate land and burned cities that would result. (Isaiah 1:7-9) He warned them that only God’s mercy could save them from becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah!
These people attended to the temple and sacrifices, but God was not honored or pleased! They offered prayers and sacrifices, but did evil in His sight. They oppressed the widow and orphan and shed innocent blood. Religion without repentance is hypocrisy and only wearies the Lord. (Isaiah 1:11-15) God’s warning was clear and concise!
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:18-20)
God’s people needed to listen and use their heads. God offered cleansing from these deep stains of sin if they would be humble and willing to change. If they refused and rebelled, they would be devoured by the sword. God is offering to reason with people today as well. Many need to heed His offer of grace through Jesus Christ. The way is narrow that leads to life and blessing but broad that leads to destruction. Let those crimson stains be made white as snow!