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The truth that we are justified by faith is more than a doctrine to debate. It is a life changing experience. Those who are justified by faith are crucified with Christ, our old selves die with Christ, and we are made alive, born again. The life we now live, we live by faith in the Jesus Christ who lives in us and for us. And if God is for us, who …
 
When we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those who belong to God have the Spirit dwelling in them. And since we have new life through the Spirit, we should walk in the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit. This is the way that followers of Christ put to death the flesh. But how do we walk by the Spi…
 
Scripture tells us that it was for freedom that Christ has set us free. In fact, we have been called to freedom. But what does that mean? Does that mean that since our sins are forgiven we are now free to do whatever we want? No, what we discover is that we have been set free from sin so that we can belong to Christ and bear fruit for God. (Galatia…
 
The Scriptures tell us that the “righteous shall live by faith,” but what does righteousness mean? Righteousness describes the person and character of God. Righteousness also describes the righteousness of Christ imputed by faith. But righteousness also describes the pursuit of those who have been justified by faith. How do we pursue righteousness …
 
The Scriptures tell us that we are justified by faith and not by works, and that this is a gift that we receive by faith. But when the Bible uses the word “faith,” what exactly is it talking about? As we continue to explore Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia where he clarifies the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ, we find out that faith is beli…
 
How do you draw the undrawable? The hope of eternal life, the new heavens and new earth, where God makes all things new, is the indescribable future that is difficult to describe. The prophet Isaiah helps us learn to draw the undrawable by contrasting the hope of the Eternal Kingdom of God with the vanity and futility of this world, as described by…
 
“Dear Lord, I need you to rip open the gates of heaven and come down here and do the kind of things you used to do in the Bible days!” If you have ever prayed like that, you are praying the words of Isaiah 64. The good news is that God did rent the heavens and came down at the incarnation, and He will rend the heavens again and come down at the Sec…
 
The Scriptures teach us that the Old Testament prophets (like Isaiah) bore witness to the gospel and the apostles (like Paul) proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied about the coming “arm of the Lord” who would bring salvation, righteousness, redemption, and a new covenant, and the apostle Paul not only saw Jesus as the fulfillment…
 
One of the many reasons why our fellowship with God is broken, our prayers are hindered, and God’s gracious work in our lives is thwarted is because of unconfessed and unrepentant sin. The prophet Isaiah confronted God’s people with this hard truth centuries ago, but God’s people still need to hear it. This is why the spiritual discipline of confes…
 
What does it take to make us happy? Since the dawn of time, we have been searching for happiness, meaning, contentment, and satisfaction in places that are powerless to satisfy. The prophet Isaiah asked the question, “Why do you labor for that which does not satisfy?” God invites us to find satisfaction in Him through Christ in us, but we must make…
 
Fasting is abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose, and it has been practiced as a spiritual discipline by the people of God since the very beginning, and continues to be today. Fasting is often connected with mourning and confession, but usually it is associated with desperate prayer. The prophet Isaiah described how fasting can become disple…
 
In what might be the most important chapter of the entire Old Testament, the Word of the Lord came through the prophet Isaiah, speaking of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord. These 15 verses lay out the truth about Jesus: His incarnation, substitutionary atonement, and imputed righteousness to those who believe in Him. (Isaiah 52.13-53.12) February 20,…
 
One story keeps playing itself over and over throughout the history of God’s relationship with His people: God’s people forget their calling, forsake His ways, and go after other gods. Isaiah 48 is a vivid reminder that our rebellion might lead the Father to put us through the “furnace of affliction,” to refine us for His name’s sake. But the proph…
 
How big is our God? Is God big enough to reveal to the prophet Isaiah the name of the king of a kingdom that wouldn’t exist for another 70 years, to name the king by name 130 years before he took the throne, to claim that God would cause this kingdom to become the largest the world had ever known, and to claim that this king would accomplish His pu…
 
In the words of the apostle John, followers of Christ are to “keep ourselves from idols.” But is idol worship really a sin that modern day Christians who live in a western, scientific world really need to concern ourselves with? What we can we learn from the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul about idol worship? What does modern day idolatry look …
 
We take for granted the truth that God loves us, but when life gets real and painful, we often doubt His love. Isaiah 43 reminds us of God’s steadfast love, that we are precious to Him because He created us, formed us, called us, and redeemed us. God’s love for us is not based upon our worthiness but upon His eternal character, and the cross is the…
 
One of our favorite Christmas songs, O Holy Night, features the line, “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” Isaiah prophesied that a child would be born, and the angel confirmed to Mary that Jesus was in fact that child. His birth was, and is, good news of great joy, for He is the Prince of Peace and of the increase of His peace there will …
 
When the gospel of Matthew tells the Christmas story, it presents the virgin conception as the fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah. However, it also says that His name should be called “Immanuel.” What does it mean to call Jesus “Immanuel”? By looking at the context of the original prophecy, we hear that calling Jesus “Immanuel” is a confession tha…
 
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…
 
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