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The first section of the book of Isaiah is all about trusting the Lord. This section ends with the story of Hezekiah, a king who was challenged to trust the Lord to deliver Judah from the Assyrian army. But the story is complex, and serves as a reminder to us that we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, give God the glory when given the opportunity…
 
When the king of Judah found himself in a difficult situation, facing a much more powerful nation, he naturally thought of making an alliance with another nation to help him in the fight. But the Lord was adamant that they should not go down to Egypt. The prophet explained why the Lord did not want them to go down to Egypt: (1) because God had alre…
 
The only place in the Bible where “Lucifer” as a name for Satan appears is in Isaiah 14. Or is it? A look at the text and the context makes it clear that the prophet was speaking about the king of Babylon and not Satan. However, we should not dismiss this text as something unrelated to us. The reason Isaiah 14 sounds so much like the fall of Satan …
 
Isaiah chapter 13 begins the Oracle Against the Nations, which is the pronouncement of judgment upon eight nations that surrounded Judah in addition to Judah itself. This section, which is thirteen chapters long, is a difficult section to read, and forces believers to wrestle with how this passage of Scripture if profitable to new covenant believer…
 
Will heaven be boring? Will the boredom of heaven be worse that the tortures of hell? These are questions that unbelievers ask, but the truth is that our imaginations of heaven are often trite or even unbiblical. The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of what heaven looks like when God makes all things new, when the old order of things passes away. Bu…
 
After Isaiah had been speaking the Word of the Lord to the people in Judah, God encouraged the prophet and renewed his calling with an incredible vision. This vision not only foreshadows the atoning death of Christ, but it also speaks to the danger of hardening our heart when we hear the Word of the Lord. Twice Jesus quoted the tough words spoken t…
 
Jesus was a great storyteller, and many of His parables used the image of the vineyard. One such parable was a retelling of the Parable of the Vineyard told by the prophet Isaiah. The fact that Jesus retold this same parable should cause the people of God to pay special attention to these words from the prophet. The parable makes it very clear that…
 
For the Old Testament prophets, “the Day of the Lord” refers to anytime the Lord dramatically intervenes in human history, but the people of Isaiah’s day assumed that God would act to defeat their enemies. They could not conceive of the truth that they would be on God’s enemy’s list. The prophet Isaiah made it clear: “The Lord has a day against all…
 
When the Old Testament prophets spoke of “the latter days,” they could be speaking of the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile, or the first coming of the Messiah, or the second coming of the Messiah, or even the eternal heaven. And it does make reading great passages like Isaiah 2 a challenge, but this prophecy does remind us that because of t…
 
After the prophet Isaiah described the people of God as “a people laden with iniquity,” we can almost hear the crowd rejecting this message. “Look at how religious we are! Look at all the offerings, solemn assemblies, and Sabbath rules we obey to the letter!” But the Lord was not pleased with their worship. In fact, the Lord called their huge outpo…
 
The prophet Isaiah speaks with the conviction that God is present and active in this world, both as a Loving Father and as a Righteous Judge. Not only was this message confronting to the people of Isaiah’s day, but it remains so today for most Americans have no room for the present and active wrath of God in their conception of God. But the wrath o…
 
Jesus commissioned His disciples with the assignment to go to all the nations to preach the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. But the gospel of Matthew ends with the unique commission to go and make disciples of all nations. For the last 100 years, the church in America has put much effort into the “go” of this commission, and all over the wo…
 
Why did Jesus invite the disciples to watch Him ascend into heaven? One of the reasons is that they needed to see Jesus as no longer the “humbled, obedient to the point of death” Jesus but the “exalted at the right hand of God with authority over all things” Jesus. Seeing the exalted Jesus was and is essential to the church fulfilling the Great Com…
 
We have forever defined one follower of Jesus by his weakest moment. We even call him by that name, “Doubting Thomas.” But instead of being critical of Thomas, perhaps he is a good example of how to journey through our doubts and into faith. The truth is that doubts and questions are part of the journey towards genuine faith, but there are forks in…
 
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared in many ways and to many people demonstrating the proof of His resurrection. In one of these post resurrection appearances, Jesus walked with two disciples as they were returning to the little village of Emmaus. And in that conversation, we see some of the common elements that God uses to help us make sense of…
 
The fact that Jesus was buried after He was crucified was an essential element to the early gospel story. But what is the significance of that fact for believers today? In Romans 6, the Bible tells us that we were buried with Him by baptism into death. This means that when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we were immersed in Him, an immersion that…
 
According to the gospel of Matthew, at the death of Jesus, the earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs opened. And after His resurrection, many of the saints who had died were raised and appeared to many in Jerusalem. While we have many questions surrounding this event, one major question is “why?” Why would the Father raise many saints after t…
 
Before Jesus was crucified, He endured the horror of a scourging. While the gospels don’t give much detail to it, it was important enough for the prophet Isaiah to foretell it hundreds of years before it happened. The gospels don’t reflect on the pain of the scourging, and Peter helps us understand how we should react to this horrible event in the …
 
Some Bible scholars want to dismiss events during the trial of Jesus as swarming with impossibilities, improbabilities, and inconsistencies, suggesting these events should be nicely ignored. But the witness of Matthew and the other gospel writers are historically dependable. And despite the critic’s efforts to dismiss the reality of the passion of …
 
When Pilate confronted Jesus with the question, “Are you the King of Jews,” the answer Jesus gave continues to challenge His followers today. Indeed, Jesus is the King of a Kingdom, but His Kingdom is not of this world nor from this world. How do we know when we have crossed that line from being “in the world” to becoming “of the world”? It comes d…
 
When Jesus was arrested in the Garden, Peter pulled out a sword and made a weak attempt at protecting Jesus. Jesus rebuked him by saying, “All who take the sword will perish by the sword.” As the apostle reflected on that moment, Peter understood the way Jesus responded to the suffering of His passion was an example for us to follow. How do we foll…
 
The writer of Hebrews connects the Garden prayer of Jesus on the night of His arrest with the making of Jesus as the Great High Priest. But more importantly, something happened in the Garden that gives us the confidence to draw near to the throne of grace in a time of need. By looking at the prayer of Jesus in the Garden (Matthew 26.36-46) through …
 
Most of us know the story of Peter denying Jesus, but few of us connect Peter's personal testimony of God's faithfulness to preserve our faith during times of testing and suffering. Peter knew that the God of all grace would restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us as we stand firm in our faith and endure the trials that might cause us to stu…
 
In Part 4 of the Story of the Cross, we take a look at the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. The legacy of Judas is a vivid reminder that there always have been and always will be wolves among the flock of God's people, that betraying motives still exist, that Satan still works to plant seeds of betrayal, and that remorse is not the same as reconciliatio…
 
What does one do when they see the tomb is empty and that Jesus is alive? We either must declare Him to be an imposter or grab hold of His feet and worship Him. The gospel of Matthew reminds us why Jesus is worthy of our worship: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Jesus has all authority, Jesus is God, Jesus commands us to obey Him, and Jesus dw…
 
The apostle Paul asked the church to pray for him that the word of the Lord would spread rapidly and that God would deliver him from wicked and evil men. Did their prayers make a difference? Paul's testimony is that they did, and it encourages us to pray for in others with biblical depth and expectancy. (2 Thessalonians 3.1-5) March 14, 2021…
 
There was a rumor going around in the city of Thessalonica that Jesus had already returned. The apostle Paul helped the church to understand that before Jesus returns, two things must happen: the rebellion must come and the man of lawlessness must be revealed. And in light of these two realities, the church must stand firm in their faith. (2 Thessa…
 
The apostle Paul urged the church in Thessalonica to "not despise prophecy." As we think about the spiritual gift of prophecy, we are reminded of how this gift is really an expression of God's love for us. Join us as the explore four biblical truths about the spiritual gift of prophecy (1 Thessalonians 5.12-22) February 21, 2021.…
 
We all want to know when Jesus is coming back, but the apostle Paul reminds us of four gospel truths about His return: (1) we are in the middle of the gospel story, (2) the Day of the Lord will come both suddenly and after certain signs, (3) our hope is that we will be saved by grace through faith from the coming wrath of God, (4) and the reality o…
 
There is an important meeting in the future, a meeting where the followers of Christ will be caught up with the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns. The dead in Christ will be there. Those who are alive at His coming will be there. Will you be there? (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18) February 7, 2021 - Steve Hammond, Guest Preacher…
 
When the grace of God came to Thessalonica and brought many of them to salvation, the same grace called them to renounce ungodliness and to live godly lives in their present age. In short, God’s will for them was their sanctification, their complete sanctification, mind and soul and even body. Which meant, God’s will for them was, and His will for …
 
Prayer is an invitation to participate in God's gracious work in this world. It is full of mystery and wonder, but it is a glorious invitation. Most believers struggle with prayer on many levels, which is why Paul's example and testimony of prayer in 1 Thessalonians is so helpful. How can the Lord teach us to pray through Paul's experience in praye…
 
Paul was deeply concerned that the Christians in Thessalonica might fall to the tempter under the duress of afflictions, but he rejoiced when he learned they were standing firm in their faith. In our struggle against the spiritual forces of darkness, we see the importance of three words: faith, love, and theodicy. (1 Thessalonians 2.17-3.10) Januar…
 
The apostle Paul shares his experience of bringing the gospel to the great city of Thessalonica, and we can learn from his example about how to be an ambassador for Christ. As ambassadors for Christ, believers should actively pursue holiness, check our motives, check our methods, accurately understand the gospel, and expect opposition. (1 Thessalon…
 
The apostle John tells the story of Jesus in a unique way. He chose seven signs that Jesus did, what we might call miracles, and structured the entire gospel around those seven signs. At the end of the gospel, John explains why he chose those seven signs. He wanted his readers, and us, to believe that Jesus was the Christ, to understand that to cal…
 
Our confession during the Christmas season is that the baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is "the Christ." But what does that mean, and how does it turn our world upside down? The gospel of Matthew helps us to see that to call Jesus "the Christ" means to confess that Jesus is God in flesh, that He humbled Himself in the incarnation, and tha…
 
In the season of Christmas, we make this bold confession that we believe the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem was the messiah, promised by the Old Testament prophets and hoped for by the Jewish people for years. This proclamation has been turning the world upside down, both within the Jewish community and without, for over 2000 years. But what exactl…
 
The Joseph Story teaches us that difficult circumstances often bring us to the breaking point of our faith, but nothing can stop God from accomplishing His plan for blessing His people. We move beyond the breaking point of our faith when we trade our fear for faith and trust that God is working out the details of our life for good. (Genesis 50.15-2…
 
The Joseph story is one of the greatest short stories ever told, but it begins with a very broken world. When we read the backgrounds of Joseph and Tamar in Genesis 37-38, we understand the words of Psalm 188.5-8 even more. We can trust God in a broken world because God has promised to be with us, because God is at work even when we cannot see it, …
 
What was God doing before creation? This question goes to the essential nature of who God is. Through 1 John 4.7-21, we learn that the fundamental nature of the eternal triune God is love, that God's love did not remain within the Trinity but overflowed to sinners like us, and that since God abides in us, we CAN love others. (October 25, 2020).…
 
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