Tag Archives: Isaiah

Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Any serious study of the Bible includes some basics of Bible prophecy. There are, of course, the prophecies that Jesus:

For me, the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament through the fulfillment of prophecy is sufficient proof of the Bible’s authenticity and Jesus’ authority as King and God. One of the things I love about God is how He frequently shows me new connections when I read His Word, in answer to a prayer I said many years ago (which you can read about here). Truly all of the Old Testament scriptures are about Jesus and His relationship to His people.

Last Monday I was in a Bible Study Fellowship seminar titled “Personal Quiet Time” given by our wonderful Substitute Teaching Leader Ginger. We learned a great method for reading God’s Word and listening for what He has to say to you in the passage you’ve read.

In the middle of this seminar, as we were each practicing a method of personal quiet time we had just learned, God revealed an Old Testament – New Testament connection to me in a most awesome way.

First of all, He worked ahead of time to make what He wanted to teach me possible for me to see. For some reason I went to the seminar without either my Bible or my phone (which has a Bible app on it). I left both in the room my group was to meet in after the seminar. As I entered the seminar I sat in the front row next to my friend and fellow Group Leader Gina. When it came time for us to open our Bibles to read the passage Ginger asked us to consider, Gina loaned me her study Bible and she used her iPad Bible app. If I’d had the Bible I bring to BSF (and had left in the room) what happened next would not have been possible because that Bible doesn’t have a concordance.

As part of this exercise, we read Mark 1:35-45, which begins, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” As I read this, I was reminded of another verse that I have long felt was a call to me to not sleep in so late but rather to get up early to spend quiet time with God, as Jesus did in the Luke passage. I knew the text of the verse, but not what chapter and verse it was. Using the concordance in Gina’s Bible I found that the verse was Isaiah 50:4, which says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” I was sure the Lord was trying to tell me that I had ignored His prompting to get up earlier long enough.

But then my eyes fell upon the next verses in the Isaiah passage that describe Jesus’ obedience and endurance in going to the cross, as well as His unwavering trust in His Father:

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Isaiah 50:5-8 (NIV).

Suddenly I knew that it wasn’t about what time I get up, but whether I desire to know Jesus more and spend time with Him in my otherwise busy day. I realized it was okay that I am not a very early riser even if Jesus was. He had to be to beat the crowds and have any time alone with His Father; I have other options. Then, to confirm what I had heard from Him, the Lord spoke again through Ginger. As we finished the exercise and discussed what we had learned from the passage, Ginger pointed out to the group, as an example of developing personal quiet time habits, that I had found a creative way to spend time with God, and that is by doing my BSF lessons while I eat my lunch at work.

What a blessing! I learned new prophetic connections and received wonderful encouragement, all because I made the time to arrive early for this one-hour seminar. And because God is good.

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My Favorite Name

This is a post that I wrote the first December that I was blogging. I wasn’t getting nearly the traffic back then that I do now, and since I’m having a little trouble getting anything new written I thought I’d repost this. The timing is perfect because tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It’s the perfect time to ponder Immanuel.

As Christmas is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus is Immanuel. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 regarding Jesus, and in Matthew the writer defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at one of my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But in spite of all His attempts to get through to them, His people didn’t always get it.

So God decided to become one of us, to be with us, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God loves us enough to be willing to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we do, to fully understand how we experience relationships and love. God did this in hopes that we could and would better relate to Him. Because ultimately what He wants is for us to be with Him.

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

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He Paved the Way – A Poem

John the Baptist did not care
What people thought of his wild hair

Repent and be baptized his hue and cry
Messiah is coming, His kingdom is nigh

John the Baptist lost his head
But because of Jesus he is not dead

John paved the way for eternal life
Found in the Son who gave His life

Content with his place in history
John showed the Way for you and me

Jesus increased in wisdom and power
John decreased at the proper hour

Jesus now reigns as King of kings
To our Lord and Savior we sing

John is an honored martyred soul
Under God’s altar for his prophetic role

So now we find our identity in Christ
Who gave His life and paid the price

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We Were Gone Astray

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was never one of my favorite Christmas songs, until a couple of years ago when Mercy Me came out with The Christmas Sessions album. Their rendition of this old classic is much more energetic than any I had ever heard before. I also love the back-up vocals that sound almost like a choir in the background.

As I listened to it this morning getting ready for work, I thought of one of my favorite verses from Isaiah:

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way
;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV).

We all were gone astray and Satan had power over us. But then into the world came the Son of God, and the angels brought us tidings of comfort and joy. Now we are free from Satan’s power and can live instead in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a Merry Christmas, indeed!

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That the Blind Might See

My church is putting together an Advent devotional for this coming Advent season. I was asked to write two of the devotions for the booklet. I am really looking forward to seeing what the other contributors wrote. I always like reading through a devotional for Advent and I think it will be extra special this year because I know all of the people who are writing them.

I finished one of my two assigned devotions yesterday. It is based on Isaiah 35:3-7 and Luke 7:18-30. I was limited to 250 words for the devotion section and the assignment called for also including a thought to ponder or Challenge, and a prayer. It was really hard for me to only write 250 words. I had to go back and cut some, but the final devotion was 249 words. I decided I wanted to share what I wrote here, but add back in some of the thoughts I didn’t have room for.

Devotion

Isaiah gave us many prophecies of the first Advent of our Lord Jesus. Many of those prophecies serve also as a promise of Jesus coming into the life of each believer as well as of His Second Coming. Isaiah admonishes us to not be afraid because we know the Lord will bring forth His promised blessings of sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and youthful agility to the lame.

John the Baptist continued the prophetic message of Isaiah, but unlike Isaiah he saw the fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus. Not only did he hear his disciples’ recounting of the great healing work of Jesus, John saw it with his own eyes. What John witnessed was that the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame walked, the sick were made well, and the Good News was real.

Today Jesus continues to fulfill the prophecies about Him as He give spiritual sight to those who believe in Him and are baptized in His name. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom and hope to those who trust in Jesus as their promised savior.

But like the Pharisees and experts in the law, many people today reject God’s purpose in their lives because they have not believed in the saving grace of Jesus. They try to do what is right in their own eyes and by their own power. They try to live by the letter of the law, but they do not see the truth of God’s love and the wonder of His mercy. These people are spiritually blind.

We must not forget that we were once spiritually blind, too. Our place is not to judge, but to remember that Jesus came to give sight to such as these. He came to save the whole world if only they will believe. He came to remind us of our purpose, which is to be in relationship with our Creator. He came that we would have no need to fear.

Thought to ponder/challenge

Just as John the Baptist was a messenger paving the way for the first Advent of Jesus, we are called to share the Good News of how Jesus gives sight to the spiritually blind and purpose to everyone. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV). How will you share the Good News today?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, bring to final fulfillment Your promise to bring spiritual sight to all who are still blinded by this world and who reject Your purpose for their lives. Give us wisdom to be as John the Baptist, preparing Your way into the hearts and lives of those around us.

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Why Is It So Hard?

This morning in church we had the founder of Global Eye Mission speak about his experiences as a medical missionary and how he has seen the provision of medical care to those in need open doors to share the gospel where it would never have been received otherwise. He told the story of when he was called to be part of a mission team in Tanzania.

He went to a predominantly Muslim village where evangelists of the Gospel regularly had stones thrown at them and where a Muslim converting to Christianity would typically experience death threats often carried out. His role was as an ophthalmologist who performed numerous cataract surgeries that restored sight to people who had been blind for years.

After several days of providing this much-needed medical aid, he attended a gathering at which the evangelist in the group presented a bold statement of the Gospel of grace. He remembered thinking that surely this was going to cause a riot and some stones being thrown. But instead, when asked if they would like to learn more about Christ, dozens of Muslims in the audience raised their hands.

Last week we had another missionary give our sermon message. He and his wife were involved full time with Eastern European Missions. His emotional and moving story of how this organization brings light into a world darkened by three generations of communism and atheism was incredible.

He shared how this whole mission had been started by a church in a small town in northern Minnesota that invited some teachers and students from Russia to visit them. By showing these people love and care, they were able to pave the way for the Gospel to be shared where it was illegal for so many years.

These missionaries are examples of people who have given up a comfortable life here in the United States to go out to a world in need of both creature comforts and the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is a challenging life, to be sure. But when you hear missionaries like this speak it is easy to see that the reward they receive is well worth the sacrifice.

As I listened to the Global Eye Mission speaker this morning, I wondered to myself why it is so hard for me to share with those close to me what these missionaries travel halfway around the world to share. They show incredible courage as they face possible persecution and death at every turn, going into places violently hostile to the Gospel. Why then do I lack the courage to share the love of Christ and His offer of forgiveness of sins with my own family and friends who don’t know Him?

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8 (NIV).

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The Beauty of the Cross – A Poem

The poetry prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write about “the beautiful sadness.” Stuart McPherson is hosting and has laid down quite the challenge. For me the choice of what to write about was easy: the saddest and most beautiful scene in all of history.

The Beauty of the Cross

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Did you see the beauty of His wounds?
The mockers could not see the love
Shed in blood and tears

I was not there but in my mind
I see the scene play out with pain
Sadness mixed with the joy of victory
Over sin and darkness within

A crown of thorns more beautiful
Than any crown of gold and jewels
Upon His bleeding brow as
Blood poured down His lovely face

How can there be beauty in such cruelty?
How can there be more than sadness in
The nails that pierced the hands of the Divine?
Beauty lies in the love and mercy beneath it all

Not everyone sees the beauty of the cross or the beauty in this man who was God tortured and crucified. Many see only the ugliness of a man wounded and bleeding, and turn away from scenes of this moment in history. The prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:2-3 (NIV).

For me the only thing more beautiful than the cross in all the world is the empty tomb and the risen Christ.

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His Scars – A Poem

Yesterday I posted a short article at the Broken Believers blog titled Testimony of the Scars. I won’t repeat here what I wrote there, but as I thought about Jesus’ scars and the testimony they offer of His love and grace, I realized that this subject was perfect for a Thankful Thursday poem. I am so thankful for His scars, displayed to Thomas and the other disciples as evidence that Jesus was physically resurrected.

His Scars

Palms of love reveal His scars
where nails pierced His hands
holding Him to the accursed cross

Though in reality it was not the nails
but my sin that held Him there
suffering and thirsty, feeling forsaken

Though in reality it was not my sin
but His love that held Him there
pleading for my sins to be forgiven

Palms with scars reveal His love
where mercy pierced His hands
holding Him to the blessed cross

Have you seen His scars where He was pierced for you and for me? He loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and He proved it on the cross. The cross and those scars were God’s plan to redeem His lost children long before Jesus walked the earth as one of us. The prophet Isaiah shared the plan with all who would read the words he wrote down.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV).

8/7/12 Update: Once again not having time to write a new poem to share at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, I decided toshare one from two weeks ago. Head over to dVerse to see what else is being served in the poetry pub.

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My Favorite Song to Sing

Just before bed last night I decided to check Facebook one last time. The “I Love God” page that I like had posted one of my favorite songs from scripture. It appears in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. (Just one more example of how they are two parts of a whole!)

The first place where this song is found is in Isaiah 6:1-3:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
        “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth  is full of his glory.”

The second place where this song is found is in Revelation 4:6-10:

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures  had six wings  and was covered with eyes all around,  even under his wings. Day and night  they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne   and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders  fall down before him  who sits on the throne,  and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

This reminded me of a song I had heard earlier in the day while I was listening to my iPod Christian playlist on shuffle as I put groceries away. It’s called One Day by Aaron Shust. I decided I wanted to share this song for Music Monday. It doesn’t really need any commentary. Its simple praise of our Holy God speaks for itself.

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Palm Sunday Thoughts

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. It is the day on which the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into the city riding on a donkey. They waved palm branches and laid their coats on the ground beneath His feet. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord,” they cried out. They believed He was the promised Messiah.

But not everyone believed or was happy about Jesus’ arrival.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:39-40 (NIV).

Palm Sunday is celebratory, but it doesn’t take long for the sentiment of the Pharisees to take hold among a larger group of people. In a mere five days the crowd will call for Jesus’ crucifixion following his joke of a trial before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pontius Pilate. The majority of the people will turn against Him, one of His closest twelve disciples will betray Him, and the other eleven disciples will desert and disown Him.

But coming back to our Palm Sunday celebration, one has to wonder why the people were so excited about Jesus’ arrival to the city. I believe it was in large part because they had heard many things about Him that fulfilled the prophecies of the promised Messiah, only a few of which included that:

  • He was born in Bethlehem:
    “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2 (NIV).
  • He was born of a virgin:
    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).
  • He had healed many, giving hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind:
    “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” Isaiah 29:18 (NIV).
  • He entered the city riding on a donkey:
    “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9 (NIV).

There was no Facebook, Twitter, or even Internet blogs during Biblical times, but news still spread about this man who could calm the storm, feed the hungry, and heal the sick and lame. The crowds that He drew all throughout His earthly ministry clearly indicate that news spread quite well if it was news worth hearing.

News had spread of this amazing prophet who was able to best even the Pharisees and Sadducees in a religious debate, who spent time with riff-raff and sinners, and who claimed to be able even to forgive sins without an animal sacrifice. He offered the common people freedom from servitude and burden of living under the thumb of the religious rulers of the day.

We celebrate Palm Sunday today because He makes the same offer even today. He offers freedom from the burden of legalism and forgiveness of our sins. And the truly amazing thing is that even if, in the midst of the confusion and agony of Holy Week to come, we desert or deny Him, He will redeem us.

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