Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Glimpse of the Gospel in the Old Testament

This week as I read Isaiah 59, its truth shined to me as though I had never read it before. I found a beautiful glimpse of the gospel too precious not to share.The chapter opens with the truth of the human problem of sin. Isaiah 59:2-3a:
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity... 

In Isaiah's time this passage spoke of God's judgment on the people of Judah. Their continued sin and rebellion had turned God's face away from them in punishment. But this passage is also one of Isaiah's prophecies about the coming Savior, thus its meaning extends beyond its original context to the plight of every man. We all have sinned against God. Our sin separates us from God and earns His wrath. We, like the exiles of Isaiah's day, "hope for salvation but find none" in what this world has to offer.

But into this bleak picture steps God Most High.
Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. According to their deeds, so He will repay, wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies... “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord.  (Isaiah 59:15b-18a, 20)

The wickedness of Judah is such that there is none to save. Worse than that, there isn't even one to act as a mediator between to intercede on behalf of the people. God chooses to take this role on Himself in order to save His people. Again, the meaning of this prophecy easily extends to Jesus. All of humanity is lost in sin and unwilling to repent before a holy God. No one intercedes or seeks after God while in sin. There is not even one righteous person in all the earth. So our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to bring salvation to mankind and to act as that needed mediator. Just as verse twenty says, He offers redemption to men who turn from their sin. This happened through His death on the cross during His first coming. But God has also promised a second coming of Christ in which He will sit in judgment over all the earth. He will pour out God's wrath on those who oppose and turn away from God the Father Almighty.

So what are we to do with so great a salvation? Certainly we are to turn from our sin in repentance before the day of His coming in judgment! We are to believe that Jesus is God's Son who took the punishment for our sin upon Himself by His death on the cross. We also ought to believe that He rose from the dead on the third day in order to beat the power of sin and death. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and there He waits to return and judge the living and the dead. Beyond this act of faith, the Lord tells us what else we ought to do in verse twenty-one.
“As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.”

We are called to live in the Spirit and to proclaim God's good Word not only to our families but to the whole world. Glory be to the only God who is righteous enough to demand justice against His enemies, loving enough to intercede on their behalf, powerful enough to bring salvation to His enemies, gracious enough to offer them forgiveness by way of His own suffering, and good enough to give them His great Word. Share His good Word with someone today!

For further reading...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Make the Most of Your Time

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

How much time do you spend in the car on an average day? How about over the course of a week? Now, imagine what you could accomplish with that time if there was a way to make the best use of it. Within the past three weeks I have taken two major road trips that required me to spend between 45 and 50 hours travelling in total. That's a lot of travel time for a guy who's morning commute consists of walking across the parking lot! So I was intent on trying to find someway to redeem this time.

Ephesians 5 reminds us that it's important for us to make the most of the time we have been given on earth. There is so much evil around us, that it can be very hard to know God's will for our lives and to think clearly about the decisions we face on a daily basis. We should take every opportunity we are given to redeem time that would otherwise be wasted and use it to fill our hearts and heads with a deeper understanding of God's Word. That's why I settled on finding a way to listen to sermons and to the Word on my road trips.

Almost all church websites (and certainly those run by the well-known pastors of our time) offer downloadable audio recordings of their sermons. Many even offer the sermons via podcast from week-to-week. There are also free Bible apps for your smart phone that not only offer different versions of the Bible but even come with audio versions of the Word as well. If your car stereo has a way to plug-in your mp3 player, then you can listen to sermons or an audio Bible from your mp3 player through your car stereo with ease. But not all of us have the newest features on our cars. On the longest of my two road trips my car was not equipped with this technology, so I compromised. They make portable speakers that plug into mp3 players which get pretty loud. I borrowed one of these from a friend, and it worked well enough that I have since gotten one of my own. It has already gotten good use.

Imagine listening to part of a sermon each morning on your way into work. How might that change your outlook on the day? Imagine listening to the Bible with your children as you drive them to school in the morning. How much of an impact could that have on their lives over the course of many weeks, months, and years? Redeeming our time in the car is only one example of how we can make the most of the time God has given us. Perhaps the Lord is speaking to you about another way you need to make the most of your time. If He is, then listen to Him. What is important is taking small steps to get more of the Word in your life daily.

For further listening...
  • The Gospel, Possessions, & Prosperity- This is a thought-provoking and thorough survey of what the entire Bible has to say about money and wealth taught by David Platt at The Church at Brook Hills. It is a four session study. Each session is an hour. I am currently on session 3 and loving it. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Lately, I have been under a lot of stress. I've been very anxious and weighed down by things that concern me. I could give you a long list of good reasons why I am stressed. I do legitimately have things to worry about, as I am sure you do. But at the end of the day, the truth is that I am stressed and weighed down because I am carrying these burdens around on myself, rolling them over and over in my mind making them seem bigger than they are, instead of lifting them up to my Lord. 

The Christian never has reason to be conquered by anxiety, because he has access to the unfathomable peace of God. Philippians 4:6-7 gives us a very straightforward plan for attacking anxiety in our lives. In every situation, we are to present our requests to God. We pray and we ask God for what we need, being careful to remember to be grateful for all He has done for us in the past. 

Something amazing happens when a Christian lifts his concerns up to the Lord. Because he knows that God has accepted him in Christ, he knows that God has heard his prayers. Prayer becomes a means by which he can cast his burdens on Him. The believer walks away knowing that he no longer needs to worry about those issues because they have been entrusted to the Lord. God is in control and He will deal with those concerns wisely. The Bible tells us that handing our anxiety over to the Lord in this way produces the most amazing peace in the believer's life. This peace, which is beyond our capacity to understand, is from God and of God. The Bible tells us that it stands guard over our heart like a soldier protecting us from anxiety. There is no peace like the assurance that a loving God has taken your worries under His care. Christians have endured the gravest situations and the worst tortures with divine calm because of this peace, and it is certainly more than I need to conquer my worries. 

Are you weighed down by worry today? Take some time to lift your concerns up to Him. Be careful to be thankful, but ask Him for all you need. You may be surprised at how much difference prayer can make in your outlook on life. It is not uncommon for me to experience a loosening of the muscles in my shoulders and neck as I pray until I feel physically lighter. You may not realize how stressed you are until you begin to lift your requests up to the Lord.

For further reading...