Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18
This is a very colorful verse. It mentions scarlet, red, crimson, and white. For the sake of time, let’s just focus on scarlet. For centuries, scarlet has been a color that signifies wealth and power.
How ironic that the color really came from a bug!
The finest scarlets in antiquity came from a tiny scale insect called Kermes, which were parasites among the oak trees throughout the Mediterranean world. The male insects were very small and could fly away, but the females had no wings. When collected, they were found to contain thousands of eggs and their offspring were brilliant red. The insects were captured, dried, and ground into powder, which was used to form the scarlet dye.
In a remarkably similar way, sin is a parasite to the human soul, and it dyes us—and it causes us to die. The devil wants to stain us through and through.
Only the scarlet blood of Christ can counteract the stain and make us white as snow.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe; now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. James L. Nicholson
God’s Reasonable Deal, Isaiah 1:18-19 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study
We urge you, brothers and sisters, . . . encourage the disheartened. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
First responders show dedication and courage daily by being on the front lines when disasters occur. In the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001 when thousands of people were killed or injured, more than four hundred emergency workers also lost their lives. In honor of first responders, the US Senate designated September 12 as the National Day of Encouragement.
While it may seem unique that a government would declare a national day of encouragement, the apostle Paul certainly thought this was needed for the growth of a church. He commended the young church in Thessalonica, a city in Macedonia, to “encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Although they were going through persecution, Paul encouraged the believers to “always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (v. 15). He knew that as humans, they would be prone to despair, selfishness, and conflict. But he also knew they would not be able to uplift one another without God’s help and strength.
Things are no different today. We all need to be uplifted, and we need to do the same for those around us. Yet we can’t do it in our own strength. That’s why Paul’s encouragement that “the one who calls you [Jesus] is faithful, and he will do it” is so reassuring (v. 24). With His help, we can encourage one another every day.
Reflect & Pray
How can a word of encouragement keep despair away? Who can you encourage today?
Jesus, thank You for the encouragement You give me each day. Show me who I need to encourage as well.
Context is important to our understanding of God’s Word and His ways. But I repeatedly hear one promise quoted without consideration of surrounding ideas that explain it. People often tell me, “God said He would give me the desires of my heart, so I’m trusting Him to do that.” Before we can lay claim to this promise, we must notice one of the conditions in the first half of the We are to delight ourselves in the Lord (Psalm 37:4).
What does this mean? Delight is a high degree of pleasure, satisfaction, and gratification. Although we may readily claim that we feel this way about God, the proof is in our desires and actions. Do we long to know Him and take time each day to read His Word? Are we eager to meet with Him in prayer? Is He in our thoughts throughout the day, or do we forget about Him for long stretches of time?
We must also read this promise in the context of the other verses that speak about trusting the Lord and committing our ways to Him. In other words, God is the focus—not our desires. When we truly delight in Him, His desires become ours, and we want only what is in line with His will.
“My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:25)
Sometimes the battle takes its toll, we feel like the enemy is winning, and our soul “melteth for heaviness” (v. 28). Many psalms share these intense emotions and seek God’s face for relief and revival. These eight verses in Psalm 119 provide a concise remedy that every Christian needs sometimes.
- Open confession and supplication: “I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me” (v. 26).
- Clear request for understanding: “Teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts” (vv. 26-27).
- Reaffirmation for personal witness: “So shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (v. 27).
- Bold request for spiritual strength: “Strengthen thou me according unto thy word” (v. 28).
- Request to gain victory over habitual sin: “Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously” (v. 29).
- Conscious declaration of personal commitment: “I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments I have laid before me” (v. 30).
- Remembering past righteous behavior: “I have stuck unto thy testimonies” (v. 31).
- Plea for God’s favor and mercy: “O LORD, put me not to shame” (v. 31).
- Expectant promise for future lifestyle of holiness: “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (v. 32).
Personal revival is as sure as the Word of God. But revival assumes our own deep desire to live in accordance with God’s Word. God will “enlarge” (fill, expand) our heart when we seek His face (Psalm 81:10). HMM III