A Friday Counseling Session

I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about these two issues before, but it bears repeating. We hear so much untruth over the airwaves, from cyberspace, in self-help books, on TV, and even in our college classrooms these days that it’s easy for us to lose sight of simple truth.

Do you understand that the Snowflake Generation is so weak and helpless because they are completely focused on SELF and FEELINGS?

The other day, I was talking with a lovely young woman who seems to bear the weight of the world on her shoulders.  She has a sorry history, mostly of her own making, and she needs forgiveness.  She needs to understand a couple of important things that the philosophy of self-forgiveness and self-love have completely obscured.

Self-forgiveness. “Well, I know God has forgiven me, BUT  I just can’t forgive myself.”

This is a huge lie, straight from the father of lies.  It is  effective because, as always, Satan wraps his lies in a thin tissue of truth.  Look at it carefully, though. There’s a glaring error.

Yes, God has forgiven me.   However, self-forgiveness is never, ever mentioned in God’s Word. It is a lie and one that has kept people enslaved in their misery over the centuries. Think about it logically.  Think about it biblically.

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If you know God has forgiven you, then what more do you need?  is His forgiveness not enough?  Does it fall short?  Can YOU improve on what God has done?  The Bible says, in I John 1:9, that if we confess (agree with God) our sin, He is faithful and just (dependable and fair) to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse (purify) us from ALL  unrighteousness!

To believe you must forgive yourself is to believe that your power is greater than God’s; that forgiveness is not complete, not even by God, until you have forgiven yourself!  How full of pride we are!  No, self-forgiveness is not what you need.  What you need is to believe that God’s forgiveness is complete; what you need is to pray sincerely and ask Him to help you KNOW that you are forgiven, and to keep Satan from whispering his nasty lies in your ear. Rather than being burdened with the need for self-forgiveness, you need to rejoice, dance and sing, praise God with all your heart, that His forgiveness is sufficient and that you are free of the sin that tangled you up and kept you captive.

Here’s the next lie:  “You can’t love others until you love yourself.”  Who is at the center of that nonsense?  YOU.  Self.  Primary person is self. If that’s your focus, you’re going to become a very difficult person for others to love.

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When I was a little girl, I learned a song. The words were, “Jesus, and Others, and You, what a wonderful way to spell JOY” (the lyrics will show in the second verse of the video)

 

Jesus said,  in Matt. 22:36-40, that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Then He said that the second greatest commandment is to love others as we love ourselves.

What is implicit in that second commandment?  Look at it carefully.  What does Jesus know about us? “Love others  as we love ourselves.”  He knows that it is in our sinful, fallen nature to love ourselves above all else.

Have you ever had a baby?  Then surely, you understand self-love. That adorable precious little infant fusses and cries and sometimes screams his little head off, for what?  So someone else can be cleaned, cuddled, and fed?  Of course not.  All he knows is his own needs and wants, and he demands them regularly. We never lose that tendency to take care of our own needs.  We eat, we groom ourselves, we give in to our desires through addictions, self-indulgence, and self-love.  We take care of ourselves. We love ourselves.  A child doesn’t need to be taught self-love.  He doesn’t need to be taught to say “Mine!”  It comes hard-wired in his little brain. It’s true that as we grow up, we learn (I hope) to take pleasure in doing for others, in caring for others. But the sad truth is that we also get pleasure from giving to others. Self is always lurking there, saying “What about ME?”

So Jesus, because He is God, knows that we love ourselves and that we don’t have to learn to do so.  And He tells us that second only to loving God is our  need to learn to love others in the same way we love ourselves.

Turn your focus outward, not inward. Look at the needs of others, not your own sense of unworthiness (which, by the way, Satan fosters and feeds), and learn to be wise about the psychobabble self-help stuff that’s out there.  Measure it against God’s Word.  Look for the truth, and you will be relieved of the burden of self-forgiveness and self-love.

Realize that the first word in both those lies is SELF.

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A New Section

Isaiah 40:1-2. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins. ”

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Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah deal mostly with future and far future events. This chapter offers consolation in view of return from captivity. It will also mention the first and second advents of Christ.  I will do my best to keep pace with the different time periods involved.  I remember doing a survey of Isaiah way back in Bible college, a very long time ago, and I remember being  more than a little confused.  I’m looking forward to clearing that up for myself as well as for you 🙂

There are no prophecies in 40-66 that look forward toward captivities.  A few refer to deliverances from Babylon; a few, now fulfilled, refer to the first advent of Christ. Otherwise, every prophecy in this section is unfulfilled, and has to do with the regathering of Israel in the last days, with the future Tribulation, the second advent, the Millennium, and the new earth.

So. In verses 1-2. we are looking at events that will take place following the second advent of Christ (63:1-5; Zech. 12_10-14:21; Matt. 23: 37-39; Rom. 11:25-29).  Furthermore, these are national problems; the warfare, iniquity, and reaping for sins referred to concern Judah as well as Jerusalem. The city will be restored and all the people blessed and pardoned under the Messiah.

Judah Would Fall

Isaiah 39:5-8.  “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts:  Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away: and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. The said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.”

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(Merodach-baladan with the governor of Babylon)

At the time this prophecy was spoken, Hezekiah did not yet have any sons. Mannasseh was not born until the third year of the 15 that had been promised to Hezekiah. The fulfillment of the prophecy is recorded in Daniel 1:3-21; also in 2 Kings 20:19; I Sam 3:18; and I Kings 21:29.

The final verse in this passage indicates that Hezekiah knew he had done wrong in displaying his wealth to the messengers from Babylon. He accepted the judgment of God that would fall on Judah, and even found it in his heart to be thankful that there would still be some peace and truth in his own remaining years. Hezekiah had done some good things during his reign, trying to turn Judah back to the things of God, but idolatry was still being practiced.

The bottom line here is that unless there had been a revival, complete repentance and a forsaking of that evil, Judah would come under the judgment of God.

God Sends Isaiah

Isaiah 39:3-4. “Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.”

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Isaiah was on a mission. Once again, God had sent him to see King Hezekiah, only this time it was with a series of questions, and then a warning.

To Hezekiah’s credit, he made no effort to lie about what he had shown to the men from Babylon. In the presence of a prophet of God, it is wise to be honest!  When Isaiah asked Hezekiah who the men were, where they came from,  and what they had seen, Hezekiah responded with the truth.

There was absolutely nothing he had not shown these “messengers,” who were in fact spies for Merodach-baladan of Babylon.

Then, Isaiah has a prophecy and a warning for Hezekiah.

Hezekiah’s Folly

Isaiah 38:1-2. “At that time, Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he  had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house  of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.”

Hezekiah had received his miraculous healing, and his promise of 15 more years of life. Apparently he was in quite a mellow mood.  When he received the letters and the gift from the men Merodach-baladan sent, he rewarded them by showing them the storehouse of all his riches; his armor, and even his spices and medicines. He must have thought they were really nice guys, who had come just to congratulate him on his recovery.

They weren’t.

Hezekiah was being naive, at the very least.  He welcomed strangers not only into his palace, but into his secrets. Was it pride?  Maybe.  Surely it was a lack of good sense.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Connection

Yesterday I spent way too much time trying to figure out a specific connection among my  TV, phone, and laptop. Still don’t have what I want, in spite of much googling and getting what seemed to be right answers.  So later on today I’ll either forget the whole thing, or I’ll nail it.  We’ll see.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how complicated these digital connections can be, and how everything has to work just right.  I have a son-in-law who is a computer security guru, and he could probably do it for me in a flash; however, I’m independent and ornery enough to want to figure it out myself.  We spend a lot of time, don’t we, trying to catch up with our children who seem to be born with computer skills these days.

And my thinking processes brought me to another kind of connection that isn’t difficult at all, yet we too often ignore it.

(Wait—I just glanced out our front window, and saw snowflakes floating by.  Not many. Then I looked at the sky and saw that grey-white overcast that means more snow could be coming.  Sigh.  We really got dumped on Wednesday, and I was hoping it was finally over.  Maybe not. )

Anyway.  We have an instant connection with the One Who created the brains that created computers!  Hebrews 4:16 says ,”Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

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Now, THAT’S an important connection.  Not only do we have instant access, with no routers or IP addresses or passwords or user names. We don’t need any equipment or special setups.  And better yet, we don’t have to approach God timidly, the way I sometimes approach a new electronic device.

We can go boldly to the throne of grace!  We can say what we need; we can ask God for mercy, grace, and help in our time of need.  The beauty of it is that He loves to give us what we need. Matthew 7:11: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Most parents take great pleasure in giving their children gifts that they have requested.  So does God.  He loves us, and wants to help us.  We fail to ask, to think of just giving it over to Him, and we go too long before prayer seems like a good idea.

How many blessings to we miss?  We have not because we ask not (James 4:3).  We don’t make the proper connection, and then we’re frustrated and disappointed when our hopes are not realized.

I love it than I can ask God anything, anytime, anywhere; that I can ask boldly, and receive grace, mercy and help in my time of need.

 

Rejoicing

Isaiah 38:18-22. “For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.  The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known Thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover. Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”

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I wondered about the healing power of figs, so I spent a little time looking that up.  Here’s an interesting website:   https://draxe.com/figs-nutrition/

The real healing power, though was God’s. He Who created figs  was more than able to cure Hezekiah with nothing more than a word.  The figs, I think, were simply a vehicle, an object lesson, perhaps.  One of my sources says that the figs were not for healing, which God had already granted; rather, they were used for cleansing, and bringing corruption to the surface. In any event, Hezekiah was healed, and rejoiced in God’s mercy and grace  in the 15 years he was given.

The last question in this chapter indicates that Hezekiah’s story isn’t quite finished. More next week when we start chapter 39.