February 20, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 3

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 22:34-40

In our passage today, we see Isaiah’s prophecy of the upcoming judgment against Judah and, then specifically, it’s capital, Jerusalem. The Lord promises to take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything they depend on: food, water, military protection, government leaders, spiritual advisors, and more. Isaiah lets the people know “Jerusalem will stumble, and Judah will fall…” (v.8). Why? “…because they speak out against the Lord and refuse to obey him.”

Judah made it clear they were not worshipping the Lord. They didn’t even try to hide their sin. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind. In failing to follow the “great and first commandment,” Judah sinned in worshipping gods other than the true Lord. This was idolatry.

Judah also made it clear they were an unjust people. The Lord speaking through Isaiah said, “Childish leaders oppress my people…” (v.12) and “How dare you crush my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dust?” (v.15). Not only did Judah and Jerusalem engage in idolatry, but they committed severe injustices against their own people by taking advantage of the poor. Verses 16-26 describe the previous unjust accumulation of wealth in Jerusalem and describe the coming judgment because of this sin. The people of Judah failed to follow the “second” commandment to love their neighbor as themselves. This was injustice.

When we look at our lives today, most of our sins are failures to follow these two commands Jesus talks about in Matthew 22. We sin against God and against others, committing idolatry and injustice. As I read through Isaiah, I’m reminded of my own sins against God and neighbor. But thank God in a few days we will read Isaiah 6 and then later on Isaiah 53, where we see God illustrate a way to be purified from our sins and describe the man by which we would be saved from sin.

Take a minute to confess to the Lord any sins of idolatry (worshipping anything other than God) or injustice (sinning against your neighbor).

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

February 19, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 2

In our passage today, I want to focus on verses 6-22, The Day of the Lord. Verse 11 specifically stands out: “11 The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.” (ESV) This is a crucial verse for the life of the Christian.

You cannot live for your self and for God at the same time. You cannot live for dual kingdoms. You are either living for the glory of God or the glory of self. God does not focus on his glory in a prideful way. God’s glory is for our good.

The other theme that stands out in this passage are the idols that distract us from the glory of God. The reason is that these don’t last: “18 And the idols shall utterly pass away.” These idols are enticing outwardly but inwardly they are rotted; they have nothing to truly offer. Satan and our own sinful inclination often make these more desirable than God, and this is something we must strongly fight against.

When you think about your thoughts over the last week, are your thoughts more consumed with yourself or God? What idols are you putting your hope in that might be robbing your worship of God?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

February 18, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 1

Today we start a new book in the Bible, one full of judgment, hope, visions, and prophecies of the upcoming Messiah Savior Jesus.

For a full description and explanation on what we’ll be reading through in the book of Isaiah, watch this below video by the Bible Project.

Two of those above themes are shown right away in the first chapter of Isaiah as the prophet confronts and rebukes God’s people for their rebellion and stubbornness. He shares God’s upcoming judgment on them and let’s just say they are not going to be happy with these judgments and prophecies. After all, there are 66 chapters of them. I guess that’s what comes with the stubbornness of Israel.

However, although a little less common compared to the prophecies of judgment, we do find hope in verses 16-19.

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

18 “Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;

Here we see the encouragement to do what’s right and good, to pursue Biblical justice and to help those in need. Of course, none of that would matter without our scarlet sins beingmade as white as snow. Just trying to do those good things without the blood-bought work of Jesus in our lives who cleanses our sins through the Gospel. This is just the first of many references to Jesus in this important Old Testament book and I hope you’re looking forward to reading it with us.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

February 16, 2019

Today you should read: Acts 28:1-31

The last chapter of the book of Acts closes a long journey for Paul and Luke and ends rather abruptly as Paul stayed in prison for two years after they reached Rome. While he was imprisoned, he wrote letters that now make-up one-third of the New Testament.

There are a lot of things we could talk about in this chapter, but the verse that stood out to me most may be one that others gloss over. It is verse 12, the following:

“Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.”

Now, this is just Luke being his detailed self, but in the ESV Study Bible, it also says that it was in these three days that Paul started a church in Syracuse, Sicily. Wait a second, let’s read that again. He started a church, bringing Christianity to Sicily, in three days? That’s one weekend. Also, at this time he was a prisoner, though one that seemed to have a lot of freedom.

This truly encompasses the life of Paul. No matter the circumstance, he was continually preaching and pointing people towards Jesus Christ. He had one of the most dramatic conversions in recorded history, and he had a God-given burden for those who were lost. He made no excuses, even when he knew he would be in a location for a short time.

It’s all summed up well in the last two verses of the book of Acts:

“He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

Paul’s example should inspire us to dedicate ourselves to sharing the good news of the Gospel with anyone who will listen.

So my only question is this: what are you doing this weekend?

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor