ISAIAH 55:10-13


God’s people Israel have been in exile in Babylon for about 60 years.  God has decided that it is time for them to return home.  Our text for today is part of his encouragement to them for what lies ahead.  Think of it as a pep talk; the kind that a coach gives to his team before the big game.


  • In verses 10, God speaks of rain and snow from heaven.  In verse 11a, he says that his word is like the rain.  We know that rain is essential for life.  It makes things grow.  It gives us all life. 
  • Verse 11b (after the word “mouth”) is, for me, the key verse.  God tells us that his word is true.  That what He promises He will act upon.  For the Israelites, the promise was to return to their homeland.  For us, it is all of God’s promises, but especially his promise of forgiveness, eternal life, and gift of the Holy Spirit.  We like to say that “actions speak louder than words”. We value words less than actions. We are skeptical of promises, until we see them in action.  It is different with God.  His word is powerful.  Think about the creation account in Genesis 1.  God created the entire world with just his word.  Psalm 29 is one of my favorites.  It speaks of the power of “the voice of the Lord”.  Please read it.  God’s word is powerful, trustworthy, and true.
  • Verses 12 & 13 are the pep talk.  God is telling his people to look forward to the journey ahead.  For sure, there will be rocks in the pathway, but going home is going to be joyful and peaceful, full of clapping and singing.  For the returning Israelites, there would be difficulties, but the homecoming would be worth the pain. 


Perhaps the same applies for us, in this stage of our lives.  Our future is most certainly strewn with a few “rocks” in our paths. But our homecoming will most certainly be joyful and peaceful, full of singing and clapping.


ROMANS 8:1-11


We have been studying the book of Romans for several weeks now.  We have been learning about the relationship between sin and death, faith and life.  We have been taught that we are both sinners and saints—that we are still capable of sinning, but that we should choose life over death, a life of faith over a life of sin and death.

There is so much detail in the book of Romans, it is good to stand back and look at the big picture.

  1. After a short greeting and introduction, Paul talks about sin in chapters 1-3.  The gist of these chapters is in 3:23—“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  We are all sinners!
  2. Chapters 4 & 5 offer a glimmer of hope.  God’s free gift of salvation is there for the taking, and faith in God is how we get it.  It is free!  Just look at how many times “free gift” is found in chapter 5.
  3. Chapters 6 & 7 speak to the ongoing struggle we have with our sinful nature.  The “Old Adam” is still within us.  We need to be ever vigilant, and resist the temptation to sin.



  • The first verse of this passage is all we really need.  It is a favorite verse of mine, so let’s take a closer look at it.  Two words stand out, needing explanation—“therefore” and “now”.
  • “Therefore” refers to all the previous chapters.  1) we are all sinful, 2) God offers salvation as a free gift, 3) we still struggle with our sinful nature, but we have hope. THEREFORE, there is no condemnation…
  • “Now” refers to Jesus’ dying on the cross.  For us, 2,000+ years have passed.  It really isn’t a “now” kind of event.  But for Paul and the early church, they could look at it from this point of view; for them, there definitely was a before and after. NOW (because Jesus died on the cross), there is no condemnation…
  • Paul uses the word “flesh” to refer to our sinful nature—our natural urge to disobey and displease God.  Some are driven by worldly things, and live “in the flesh”. Others are guided by their relationship with the Lord.  They live “in the Spirit.  He reminds us that we are “in the Spirit”.  We are in a relationship with our Lord.  For us, there is no condemnation.  (vv. 5-9)
  • By living in the Spirit, we have life.  The Spirit is life because of God’s righteousness. His right action of offering His son as a sacrifice for our sins.  (v. 10)
  • The final verse uses “if”, but I prefer “since”. Since the Spirit dwells in us, we will live!  (v. 11) 


Because we have faith in God through Jesus, we have “no condemnation”—we are “in Christ Jesus”. This is not something we earn by earning brownie points through good deeds.  It is free!  (See Romans chapter 5.)  We most certainly will fall into sin (See 3:23).  But we can rest in the assurance that we are forgiven through the blood of our Savior.  There is no condemnation.  Thanks be to God!


How do we ensure that we are “in the Spirit”?


MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23


Jesus is into the heart of his ministry.  He is healing and helping those in need.  He is teaching us about the relationship we should have with our Father.  He teaches us using parables.  These, as you know, are little stories with a point.  I was taught that parables have a single point to them.  If somebody starts going beyond one point, they have missed that point.  One Point per parable. 

In the missing verses, 10-17, we learn that Jesus only explains the parable to his disciples. 


We all know this familiar parable.  There is no need to go into the detail.  Better yet, in the second paragraph, Jesus himself interprets the lesson.  I can do no better.  But let’s ponder his interpretation, and what it might mean for us. 

  • The seed is the word of God, including the teachings of Jesus.
  • Jesus is the sower, as are his disciples. Since we are disciples of Jesus, we are also the sowers of “seed” to those around us.
  • Sometimes, the seed takes root, sometimes not. 

In the missing verses, Jesus explains why he only interpreted it to his disciples.  Before his ascension, he tells his disciples to reveal all the “secrets” to everyone.  His work was done, so it was time to explain everything.


Things haven’t changed since Jesus’ time.  God’s Good News is shared with people.  It takes root in some, and with others it falls on deaf ears.  As Jesus’ disciples, we are sowers of the Word; we are here to share the Good News.  It is not for us to fret over those who do not accept the free gift.  That is the Lord’s work.  (See Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43.)  Our job is to spread the Good News!