Category Archives: The Gospel

Isaiah 50-53; Read It Again

Isaiah 53 always stops me in my tracks. It is one of those passages in Scripture that I can’t just power through. In fact, it’s one of those I have to read, and reread so I don’t miss a word of it. I love it so much. It amazes me and blesses me every time.

If you ever doubted the supernatural power of God’s Word, read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days on this earth in bodily form, AFTER you read Isaiah 53. It is an amazingly accurate description of your Savior.

And it was written hundreds of years before Jesus’ humble birth, before He experienced the rejection of His people, before His trial when He stood absolutely guiltless and didn’t open His mouth to defend Himself, before He let them pierce Him without resisting, before He was crucified between two thieves, buried in a rich man’s tomb, and before He rose again. Everything Isaiah said would happen, happened. How can anyone deny the facts?

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6) (emphasis mine)

Jesus did that for you. He did that for me. I am so thankful that I have humbled myself and accepted God’s amazing grace, the forgiveness of my sin, paid for by the death of His Son Jesus. I love Him so much.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to read Isaiah 53 again and love on the One who loves me much more than I deserve.

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Isaiah 44-49; A Matter of Life and Death

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. I don’t know your world view, or your level of spirituality. But I challenge you to read these chapters with an open mind. Hear what God says about Himself. Pay attention to the proof He gives that what He says is true. It is a matter of life and death.

You’ll hear God repeat the statement that “I am God. There is no one like me.” You’ll hear Him point to evidence of His reality in creation, the proof in nature. He’ll ask you to use common sense. And He will tell the future of the Israelites in such detail that, if you study their history, you’ll find it will happen just like God said it did, down to the pagan king named Cyrus who is said to have a nose like an eagle’s beak.

But I don’t want you to stop there. Once you realize God is exactly who He says He is, I want you to go to the New Testament and hear what the One and Only God says about Jesus. Read the Gospels and hear what the angel said to Mary about the birth of her Son, to Joseph about his future step son.

Hear what the One and Only God said to anyone within earshot when Jesus was baptized. “This is my Son…” He’ll say it again in Matthew 17. Then hear God’s Son Jesus say in no uncertain terms that He is the Messiah. (John 4:25-26)

Then I challenge you to turn to John 14:6, and understand it means exactly what it says.

I don’t know what you think about God, or religion. But I know that unless you believe God is who He says He is, and that His Son Jesus in the only way to know Him, you are wrong.

Do you know Him? Have you received what Jesus died to give you, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life? Like I said, it’s a matter of life and death.

I’m praying for you.

Isaiah 31-35; Isaiah and Jesus

Jesus is everywhere in these chapters. The Gospel, the Church are depicted in glorious reality. I am reminded that the people to whom these words were initially written were looking forward to the Messiah. And God, through Isaiah, draws a parallel between their lives as Jews B.C. with Jesus and His Kingdom A.D. It’s so beautiful!

Matthew Henry calls the brick and mortar city of Zion, “a type and picture of God in the world.” (Commentary in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 877) Jerusalem, he says, is the tabernacle which will not be taken down. God is the protector of Himself, of His Presence in the world, and of we who are the temple of God today: “for in every age Christ will have a seed to serve Him,” from verse 33:20. (Commentary in One Volume; page 876)

Think about what we know of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Think about the amount of blood that was shed by the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the fact that Jesus died once and for all. He caused blind people to see, deaf people to hear, tongues were loosed, the dead were raised. The people who were privileged to meet Jesus in the flesh, saw “the glory of the Lord.”

Then think about what we know about the beginning of the Church. People saw “the glory of the Lord” when the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high on Jews and Gentiles alike. Tongues of fire, a mighty wind, blind people saw (both physically and spiritually), deaf people heard (physically and spiritually)…

Think about what we know about the Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 4:6) Jesus also said:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Isaiah spoke about the same thing in chapter 35.

I hope you’ll read these chapters and let God speak to you about Himself, about Jesus, about the Church, and the Gospel. It’s all in there. And it is amazingly accurate considering it was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, thousands of years before we were born.

Be encouraged. We worship the same God who promised Isaiah that He would protect His children. Be strengthened in your determination to stand faithful to the Truth. The battle is the Lord’s. With Him there is no shadow of turning.

God’s Word is alive! Don’t you just love spending time in it?

 

Isaiah 20-23; Polar Opposites

Scripture constantly reminds us that God’s ways are polar opposite of what the world thinks and does. There are so many examples in these chapters in Isaiah of this truth.

It seemed logical to the king to join forces with his neighbors against their mutual enemy. But those neighbors were idolators, unbelievers. The unequal yoking between God’s people and the ungodly neighbors resulted in more problems for Israel than just an invading army.

Shebna is an example of material wealth, political power, and pride that was lauded by the world. He had everything… except God. And his life of “self” ended badly for him. His riches and power, even those people who idolized him, could not stop God’s judgment on him.

Look at what Isaiah had to say about Tyre’s wealth, the intellect of its people, the glory of that city among nations. The city here is reduced to rubble because of their sin.

But Tyre gets a second chance. And so do we.

We’ve all sinned. None of us measure up to God’s standard. I love what Matthew Henry says:

“We must first give up ourselves to be the holiness to the Lord before what we do, or have, or get, can be so.” (p 859; Commentary in One Volume; Zondervan; 1961) (emphasis mine)

In other words, who we are before our Holy God is the catalyst for what we do, not the other way around. We must first give up our “selves,” recognize sin and accept the Savior Jesus as our own. Not a popular concept according to the world.

We can only become the holiness of God if we are wearing Jesus’ holiness, through the blood He shed on the cross. No amount of good works, sacrificial giving, compassion for the poor, even church-going can render us holy.

That’s not how the world looks at it. We hear them say (even from the pulpit of a royal wedding) that all we need is love. All we need is activism on behalf of the needy. All we need is ourselves, our determination to love one another. But is that God’s way?

Please don’t forget that Jesus went to the cross because of love. Jesus’ love dealt with your sin, not your love. The world would have us concentrate on love, and ignore sin because, of course we shouldn’t judge, right?

Dear one, your love is meaningless without the cross. Your love is a filthy rag in God’s sight unless you have first confessed your sin and accepted God’s grace.

Like I said, God’s ways are polar opposite of the ways of the world.

 

Isaiah 16-19; Never Too Far Gone

It is God’s will that no one die without Him. Throughout the Old Testament we see example after example of God using Israel to reach out to lost people, to reveal Himself as the One True God, the Righteous Judge, and Savior of the world. Sometimes people listened and were saved, like the people of Ninevah in Jonah’s day. Sometimes they refused to bow and were destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. But don’t miss the many ways God tried to get their attention.

In the chapters I read today, Isaiah is throwing out warning after warning to people who have rejected God; Moab, Damascus, Cush, Egypt. The prophet, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is clear when he tells how God judges His enemies.

But I love how chapter 19 ends. “In that day…” when God’s enemies repent, God forgives and embraces them as His children. “In that day…” God’s former enemies become His people, His handiwork, His inheritance.

In this case, “In that day…” was fulfilled when the Messiah came and did what He came to do. The apostles preached the Gospel, and people of every nationality were saved. It is believed that it was Mark who started churches in Egypt, just like God told Isaiah would happen. This is good stuff!

Has God laid someone on your heart, but deep down you think that person is too far gone; that he or she would NEVER accept Jesus as their Savior? Don’t you believe it. Keep praying. Keep living Jesus.

I see Scripture assuring us that as long as a soul inhabits the living, it is never beyond what God can do to save them.

Ecclesiastes 6-9; Life Doesn’t Have To Be Lived “Under the Sun”

Wow. If you need some cheering up today I wouldn’t read these chapters in Ecclesiastes. Life, as Solomon describes it under the sun is bleak, depressing, futile. Solomon’s pessimistic, fatalistic view of life is certainly a downer.

I am reminded what he describes is life without God. A non-believer’s view of God contains no hope. But, dear one, there is life above the sun!

That life is full of hope, and joy, and purpose. That life stretches on into eternity where we who know God will live with Him forever. That life is worth living.

Do you know God through His Son Jesus, and by reading His Word? Have you experienced the joy that comes from knowing your sins are forgiven, never to be remembered ever again? Do you recognize God’s generous hand in your life apart from circumstance, as well as in the midst of them? Do you see Him in the warm summer sunshine, the refreshing spring rains, the sounds of birds, of children laughing, of the wind rustling in the trees?

You don’t have to live a life void of meaning. There is One who died so you could have life, and have it to the full!

Regardless of what Solomon expressed in his attempt to find meaning to life apart from God, there is joy in this life. There is purpose and value, hope and peace.

His name is Jesus!

Proverbs 13-16; How Do You Know?

The proverbs repeatedly differentiate between wisdom or righteousness with foolishness and sin. Many proverbs speak of gaining wisdom and understanding, acting out of knowledge, holding to this truth.

But how do you know what is true?

I am convinced, as I read these verses, of the absolute necessity of Bible study for each of us. There are so many made-up definitions of truth out there, so much advice that tells us to look out for number one at any cost, so many ungodly examples of people treating one another with anger, dishonesty, violence, and hatred while we call it entertainment.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (14:12)

There is a flip side to that verse. There is a way that is right, and in the end it leads to abundant life here in this life, and everlasting life when we leave this earth.

What is right? What is true? What is advice you can bank on every time?

Read your Bible. It’s in there.