Isaiah 45:18-191NIV New International Version Translations
18 For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. 19 I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right.
Isaiah prophesied in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He has been well called the evangelical prophet, on account of his numerous and full prophesies concerning the coming and character, the ministry and preaching, the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and the extent and continuance of his kingdom. Under the veil of the deliverance from Babylon, Isaiah points to a much greater deliverance, which was to be effected by the Messiah; and seldom does he mention the one, without alluding at the same time to the other; Isaiah is so often enthralled with the prospect of the more distant and permanent deliverance that he often loses sight of that which is nearer to him. It is through Isaiah that we learn the Messiah’s person, office, character, and kingdom.
There is a world without end; and it will treat us with happiness or pain. However, in our world is the Lord we serve and trust. Regardless of how we are treated by the world, He remains God alone. All that God has said is plain, satisfactory, and just. As God in his Word calls us to seek after Him, so God never denies us the opportunity to believe in our prayers, or to be disappointed in our hope. God promises us that He will grant us sufficient grace and comfort and provide satisfaction to our soul regardless of how the world treats us.
Items for Discussion
- What is truth?
- Is it absolute?
- What happens if our faith in God is not “absolute?”
- What are the other God’s that our world wants us to believe in?
- God has told us who He is – Why is it important for us to know Him?
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Rome was the most important city in the world at the time of Paul. It had a vast army controlling all the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. The rulers of Rome were extremely powerful and wealthy and, as a result, employed many people. Paul had not visited Rome at the time when he wrote this letter. While Paul wrote most of his letters to churches that he himself had established, the church at Rome was different. There were already many Christians in Rome long before Paul arrived there.
We find the following in Paul’s Letter to the Romans:
- Paul dictated his letter to Tertius (Romans 16:22). Paul wrote it during his stay in Corinth, probably about 57 A.D..
- Paul established churches in many cities. But he was careful not to upset anyone else’s work (Romans 15:20). However, the church in Rome was not the result of the work of any one particular person. So Paul would not be upsetting anyone’s work if he visited Rome. And for many years, Paul had wanted to visit the Christians in Rome. He had completed his work in the east. There were elders (leaders in the church) to take care of the new churches. Paul wanted to visit Rome on his way to Spain (Romans 15:23-24).
There were several reasons for the letter:
- to prepare the church in Rome for his visit.
- to give a clear explanation of the gospel.
- to give the truth about the Christian faith to any Christians in Rome who had false ideas about it.
- to give practical advice about how Christians should behave towards each other (chapters 14-15).
- to give practical advice about how Christians should behave towards their rulers (Romans 13:1-7).
- to unite Jewish and Gentile Christians. In many churches, there had been serious arguments between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians said that God had given his law in the Bible. So they told the Gentile Christians to obey it. But the Gentile Christians said that God had given them freedom. So, they did not want to obey any Jewish rules or traditions.
- to urge the Christians in Rome to help Paul in his work. He might need their help in order to continue his journey to Spain (Romans 15:24). And he needed the Christians in Rome to support and to encourage him by their prayers (Romans 15:30-32).
The Apostle Paul appeals to the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of His mercy. We are to render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich blessings?
Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, until it is perfected in glorification. The great enemy to this renewal is conformity to this world. The work of the Holy Spirit first begins in understanding, and is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, until there is a change of the whole body into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Thus, to be a godly person, is to give up ourselves to God.
Pride is a sin in us by nature; we need to be cautioned and armed against it. All the saints make up one body in Christ, who is the Head of the body, and the common Center of their unity. In the spiritual body, some are fitted for and called to one sort of work; others for another sort of work. We are to do all the good we can, one to another, and for the common benefit. If we duly thought about the powers we have, and how far we fail properly to improve them, it would humble us. Whatever our gifts or situations may be, let us try to employ ourselves humbly, diligently, cheerfully, and in simplicity; not seeking our own credit or profit, but the good of many, for this world and that which is to come.
The professed love of Christians to each other should be sincere, free from deceit, and unmeaning and deceitful compliments. Depending on Divine grace, we must detest and dread all evil, and love and delight in whatever is kind and useful. We must not only do that which is good, but it must become part of us. All our duty towards one another is summed up in one word, love. This denotes the love of parents to their children; which is more tender and natural than any other; unforced, unconstrained. And love to God and man, with zeal for the gospel, will make the wise Christian diligent in all his worldly business, and in gaining superior skill.
God must be served with spirit but under the influences of the Holy Spirit. Christ, therefore, is honored by our hope and trust in Him, especially when we rejoice in that hope. He is served, not only by working for Him, but by sitting still quietly, when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God’s sake, is to be truly holy. Those that rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold in the duty of prayer, or grow weary of it. Not only must there be kindness to friends and brethren, but Christians must not harbor anger against enemies. It is but mock love, which rests in words of kindness, while our brethren need real supplies, and it is in our power to furnish them.
Items for Discussion
- We are called to love our enemies – How do you love those who seek to hurt us?
- What is the difference between tolerance and anger?
- What can you tell about a person’s character who is prideful of themselves and what they have accomplished?
- How should love and justice work together?
- In what way does hope help to overcome the pains and suffering of this world?
- Do you know your spiritual gifts? How did you find them?
- How are we called to use our gifts?
- How does a church, congregation or family help itself understand that “God is Truth?”
- 1NIV New International Version Translations