Saturday, April 30, 2016

Psalm 117: Good Things Come In Small Packages!

Psalm 117 has the distinction of being the middle chapter in the entire Bible and also the shortest.  But don't mistake its brevity for lack of punch!  Good things come in small packages.  These are 2 verses packed with power!

Isaiah 59: If You Want Something Done Right...

...You've got to do it yourself!  This is especially true when it comes to God and salvation!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Isaiah 58: Real Righteousness

Isaiah 58 talks about the kind of religion that pleases God.

Isaiah 57: Exchanging God

What's wrong with a little idolatry?  The grotesqueness of this sin which stalks every generation is found in the exchange that is wrought when the glory of Almighty God is traded away for something weak and perishable.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Isaiah 56: No Second-Class Citizens In The Kingdom!

The scope of God's love extends well beyond the natural descendants of Abraham.  It also includes foreigners who bind themselves to the covenant as well as eunuchs who will not be passing on a heritage to future generations.  When these groups ask if there is room in God's family for them, too, the answer is a resounding yes!  Isaiah's message in chapter 56 is that there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Isaiah 55: God's Invitation

One of the things that I love so much about God is how invitational He is!  We see this in such scripture as Jesus' message in the gospels of "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," and the Lord's announcement in Revelation, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock!"  We are certainly blessed to have a God who regularly beckons us to follow Him.

Isaiah 54: The Return Of God's Love

Many prophetic passages are filled with the wrath of God against His disobedient people.  How refreshing, then, to find the hopeful and hope-filled word of Isaiah 54 that speak of the reconciliation God is forging with His covenant nation!

Psalm 116: When God Saves Your Life

There's nothing like a near-death experience to bring a person to their knees.  The psalmist who composed #116 understood this intimately.  He was close to death, but he called out to the Lord and found his life saved.  As you can imagine, he is extremely grateful to God for His merciful salvation!  While you may never find yourself snatched from the jaws of death by the Lord, ALL CHRISTIANS can testify that God has saved our lives - for eternity!  We can sing along with the psalmist, "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful...For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling" (vs. 4 and 8).  Praise the Lord that our God is in the salvation business!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Isaiah 53: Wounded For Our Transgressions

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed" (vs. 5).

Friday, April 22, 2016

Isaiah 52: Here Am I

"Therefore my people shall know my name; therefore in that day that shall know that it is I who speak; here am I" (vs. 6).

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Isaiah 51: Better Times Ahead

Isaiah 51 is a chapter full of good news.  Whereas the prophet foresees that the chosen people will be punished by Babylon for their unfaithfulness, Isaiah also knows that the time will come for the severity to end.  He reveals that a day will appear when the oppressed will be set free and the oppressors will face judgment themselves.  It is a good word for Israel.

Isaiah 50: When God Helps You

Isaiah 50 delves into some of the circumstances that the servant of the Lord will experience.  Rather than acclaim and acceptance, he will face rejection and scorn.  Yet he remains undaunted, for he knows that God is helping him.

Isaiah 49: Who Is "The Servant"?

When Isaiah mentions "the servant" (as he frequently does), it's natural to ask the question, just who does he mean?  In fact, that very question itself is biblical!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Isaiah 48: Always Teaching

The Lord continually reveals Himself and His identity to His people through the prophets and throughout the scriptures.

Psalm 115: The Main Character

I remember learning in school about the importance of identifying the main character in literature.  This is the person who the story is really about.  He or she is the central figure of the action, the one that defines everything else.  When it comes to our experience, many of us expect to be the star of our own story, or at least to see humanity in that role.  In reality, however, the main character of Creation is God.  Psalm 115 helps us see this truth.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Isaiah 47: Blasphemous Babylon

In scripture, Babylon is often associated with idolatry and blasphemy.  Why?  Isaiah 47 may give us a clue.

Isaiah 46: Not A Tame Lion

What makes idolatry so attractive to its practitioners?  Why do they fall for the lure of believing that a hunk of wood or lump of stone is really a god that they should worship?  We might think that those who sacrifice to idols are really quite foolish.  But what if it isn't really about faith so much as it is about control?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Isaiah 45: Cyrus Who?

"Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue the nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him - and the gates shall not be closed" (vs. 1).  After reading Isaiah 45, you could be forgiven for asking, "Cyrus who?"  That's probably what Isaiah's original audience asked, too!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Isaiah 44: The Dangers Of Idolatry

In what do you place your hope and trust?  Your choice is God, or an idol.

Isaiah 43: Who You Are, And Who God Is

Isaiah 43 delves into some very deep theological waters.  Within this chapter are investigations into the relationship between God and His people, with the question of the identity of both hanging in the balance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Isaiah 42: A New Song

"See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them" (vs. 9).  In chapter 42, the prophet Isaiah is blessed to bring forth new prophecies which tell of a coming "servant" of the Lord who will do mighty things.

Isaiah 41: Help Is On The Way!

Three times in Isaiah 41, the Lord gives the reassuring message to the nation of Judah that He will be with them and help them, so there is no cause for fear.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Psalm 114: Asked, And Answered

"Why is it, O sea, that you flee?  O Jordan, that you turn back?  O mountains, that you skip like rams?  O hills, like lambs?" (vs. 5-6)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

II Kings 20: Time Travel?

"The prophet Isaiah cried to the Lord; and he brought the shadow back the ten intervals, by which the sun had declined on the dial of Ahaz" (vs. 11)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Isaiah 40: Wait For The Lord

Isaiah 40 is a beautiful meditation on the wonders of Israel's God.  A gem lodged within the prophetic books of the Old Testament, this passage can be considered an Ode to the Lord.

Isaiah 39: The Case Of The Short-Sighted Sovereign

Perhaps God's original plan to let King Hezekiah die prematurely in Isaiah 38 would have been the best plan after all.  As it is, Hezekiah's naive foreign policy after his miraculous recovery may have been a very costly blunder for his nation.  Even worse, it appears that he couldn't have cared less!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Isaiah 38: Does God Change His Mind?

Chapters like Isaiah 38 raise a conundrum.  At first, the prophet appears before King Hezekiah with a message from God: "Set your house in order for you shall die.  You shall not recover."  That sounds pretty definitive, especially coming from a prophet like Isaiah!  However, after Hezekiah turns to God with an earnest prayer, the word from the Lord changes.  Now fifteen years will be added to the king's life!  What gives?  Does God change His mind?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Isaiah 37: II Kings 19

Duplication happens in the Bible from time to time.  You may read an account of the same event in Jesus' ministry in two, three, or even four gospels.  A verse like the creation account of man and woman from Genesis 2 pops up in Matthew and well as Ephesians.  We also see two Psalms (14 and 53) that are nearly identical.  So it is that this section of Isaiah recapitulates material found in II Kings.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Isaiah 36: The God Who Saves

"Do not let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, The Lord will save us.  Has any of the gods of the nations saved their land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?  Where are the gods of the Sepharvaim?  Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?  Who among all the gods of these countries have saved their countries out of my hand, that the Lord should save Jerusalem out of my hand?" (vs. 18-20)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Isaiah 35: What Restoration Looks Like

In contrast to chapter 34, Isaiah 35 describes a desert wilderness breaking into life.  This beautiful picture of restoration includes miraculous healings and a highway for the righteous.

Isaiah 34: What Desolation Looks Like

Isaiah has a dire message for the nation of Edom in chapter 34: destruction is coming.  The land will be turned into wilderness, and the prophet paints a grim picture of what such desolation looks like.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Isaiah 33: Zion's Treasure

Isaiah 33 reads almost like a psalm.  Included within the prophet's writings are praises to the Lord and expressions of confidence in His deliverance.

Isaiah 32: Biblical Imagery

The literary world is full of allusions to the Bible, sometimes quoting it directly.  Unfortunately, many of these callbacks are missed when the Bible is no longer studied and given a place of honor in our culture.  Even a relatively obscure chapter like Isaiah 32 holds biblical imagery that is picked up in other works.