April 30, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 62

Aren’t weddings just a beautiful event? There is love and excitement in the air. The important part about the wedding is not fancy flowers, or the nice venue, or the perfect dress/suit. Instead, the important part is when the couple comes together to become one. She is now his and he is now hers.

In Isaiah today, he reminds us that, “and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” When we come into a personal relationship with God we become one with Him. He is our God and we are His people. The amazing part of this analogy is that Jesus called the church His bride. Jesus did much more than rejoice over His bride: He died for them. Our passage today should remind us that God loves His people. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to take the punishment for sin that we deserved so that we may be righteous before Him.

A husband has been given the command to love and care for his wife, provide for her, honor her, and protect her. God has done all of these things and more. Plus, He has done them perfectly.

What is our response then? “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people.” (v.10). We need to tell others about what God has done through His Son. This week, who can you share the Gospel with?

By: Brice Stockton — Student Ministry Apprentice

April 29, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 61

Isaiah 61 makes me happy. Here’s why: it’s the foreshadowing of salvation to the Gentiles — you and me! We will highlight some of that in a moment, but first, let’s talk about how this passage starts. What we find in these initial verses is strong messianic prophecy. Here are the opening words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Does it sound familiar to you? It should, because it echoes the words we looked at a few weeks ago from Isaiah 48:

Draw near to me, hear this:
from the beginning I have not spoken in secret,
from the time it came to be I have been there.”
And now the Lord GOD has sent me, and his Spirit.
(Isaiah 48:16 ESV)

This was the foretelling of Jesus’ coming, then Him leaving His Holy Spirit with us. Let me say this in no unfamiliar terms: this is bedrock Christianity. God coming to us, and His Spirit indwelling us, are two of the most vital truths of our faith. And they didn’t appear out of thin air in the middle of the New Testament. This was prophesied, and God was true to His promise. What exactly was the prophecy?

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2 ESV)

Who are the beneficiaries of this text? Well… we are. That what it goes on to say, especially in places like verse 5, where it talks about “strangers” being a part of God’s workforce and family. We have been invited in! The salvation that was once for the people of Israel is now ours as well through the person and work of Jesus Christ! Rejoice in that incredible truth!

Today, here’s what I want to encourage you to dwell on: the Maker of Heaven and Earth keeps His promises, one of which was the invitation extended to you to become one of His children. He loves you, and He shows that by His relentless pursuit of you. Let these things marinate in your mind. Let them overwhelm your heart. May the Lord bless and keep you today and this week.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

April 27, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 60

Yesterday, in Isaiah 59 we read, “Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.” This confession was rewarded. In our passage today, the darkness is removed and the Light established over Jerusalem.

As I read Isaiah 60, I am reminded of John 1:5—the Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. When Jesus came the first time, He conquered the darkness on the Cross, which we celebrated at Easter. When He returns, He will conquer the darkness with His illuminating presence sitting on Jerusalem’s throne. Like the moon reflects the sun, Jerusalem will be the light of the whole world, reflecting the light of the Lord.

All the nations will bring offerings to Israel, the best the world has to offer. There will be no danger—the “gates will be open continually; they will not be closed day or night.” “Violence will not be heard again.”

Depending on your theological persuasion, we may disagree about when the events in this passage take place. In my view, this passage clearly illustrates the millennial reign of Christ, when He will establish a world-wide empire centered in Jerusalem. This is after both the rapture of the Church and the following tribulation period when Christ returns and rules, but before the final judgment. This time will usher in unbelievable peace and prosperity as this passage clearly illustrates.

No matter where you land, we can all agree on two things: First, light beats darkness, and Second, God keeps his promises.

Have you ever been in a deep dark cave? On Mammoth Cave tours, they will often shut out the lights so you can experience a blackness to which your eyes will never adjust. That was humanity’s hope for the sin problem before Christ. The darkness of sin was pure blackness. In that cave, however, turn on one little flashlight and suddenly, the whole thing lights up. A little light goes a long way.

Christ brought the Light to the world. He brought hope. He brought salvation from sin. That light has been spreading over the world since that time. However, when He returns, His radiance will fill the Earth, defeating darkness.

The second thing to note is that God keeps His promises. This passage, like many others, can seem a little too good to be true. Our experience in this life is often one hurt after another. We read these passages as a dessert mirage, an unreachable fantasy from desperation. However, God is faithful to keep his word. As tough as things are, we must remember that sin still reigns in this world, but its days are numbered. Christ will return in victory to right every wrong.

Question for reflection:

What areas of your life do you need God’s light to shine? Is there anywhere that darkness hasn’t been vanquished?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

April 26, 2019

Today you should read: Isaiah 59

You are more sinful than you think.

Our passage today makes it clear that it is our sin that cuts us off from God. Not only does it separate us, but we are worse sinners than we think!

“Your hands are the hands of murderers,

   and your fingers are filthy with sin.

Your lips are full of lies,

   and your mouth spews corruption.” – Isaiah 59:3

Ephesians 2 calls us “children of wrath.” We are sick with sin and our condition is much worse than we think. A quick read of the rest of Israel’s sin in this chapter exposes the human heart for what it is: dark and broken.

However, you are more loved than you could ever hope or imagine.

Even though we are sinners, God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins and gives us the opportunity to enter back into a relationship with Him.

“Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,

   nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.” – Isaiah 59:1

God wants us to come back into a relationship with Him. He loves us despite our sin. He wants us to grow more and more in love with Him. He cares for us. The Lord is able to save and is able to hear us when we call.

We must daily remind ourselves that we are a sinner yet loved by God.

Take some extra time to read Ephesians 2 today and think about what Jesus has done for you.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice