God’s Salvation Plan

Isaiah 53-56; 2 Peter 2   “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied…For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name…he is called the God of all the earth…my unfailing love for you will not be shaken   nor my covenant of peace be removed…Listen, Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare…my house will be called a house of prayers for all nations.” Isaiah 53:10, 11; 54:5, 10; 55:2; 56:7 God’s plan of salvation for all nations was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus proclaimed and fulfilled this prophecy. God’s salvation plan was focused on a suffering servant, his Son, who would take upon himself the sins of the world and pay the ultimate price to redeem humanity. Why? God wants relationship with those who respond to his offer of salvation. Relationship, like a husband to his bride, is a covenant of peace based on

Seeing and Believing

  Isaiah 50-52; Psalms 92; 2 Peter 1   “The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God…so he will sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him…Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Isaiah 52:10, 15; 53:1 God’s revelation of his salvation plan for the nations came in a way no one expected. When God lays bare his holy arm, we all expect a repeat of the exodus from Egypt – amazing miracles and dramatic demonstrations of power, fire, and smoke. But God’s salvation plan for men and women everywhere was to send his Son in the form of frail humanity. Jesus came to “sprinkle many nations” with his atoning blood. The holy arm of God was revealed in a suffering servant who took our sins upon himself and died in our place as our atoning sacrifice.   If we are to proclaim this salvation message to the nations so they actually see it, can we look

Leading in the Way of Jesus

Isaiah 46-49; 1 Peter 5 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’…Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:2, 5, 7 The two main under-miners of leadership health in this text are pride and fear. Using positional authority to control others or for personal gain grieves God. People belong to God, not to us. We serve under Christ’s authority and he invites us to lead with the same humility with which he leads. God hates pride and opposes it, but he gives grace to the humble. Servant leadership wins the trust and devotion of those we are leading because we place their interests first. Fear and anxiety take our eyes off of Jesus and place them on others or ourselves. Fear causes us to try to control people and outcomes so we won’t fail, or be disappointed, or hurt. God cares for you; don’t fear. He holds whatever it is that you a

Living Prepared

  Isaiah 43-45; 1 Peter 4 “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:7, 8 The end of the game usually brings a renewed focus on the most essential things and the most effective strategies. Players often listen well, perform at higher levels, and use their time efficiently because the end of the game is approaching. What about life and God’s eternal purposes? When Peter said the end of all things is near, he was indicating that a sense of urgency related to Christ’s return is a reality that should change how we live. Our character matters so we must be clear-minded and self-controlled. Our prayer life connects us to God who desires to give us resources, perspective, and direction. Along with the essential priority of unbroken prayer, is the character value of love which is deep, forgiving, and our unifying power. When every moment counts, w

God’s Personal Strength

Isaiah 40-42; 1 Peter 3   “‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;   I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 41:10, 13, 14 The promises of God to Joshua, to Hezekiah, and to others, were that his hand was upon them and they were not to fear, or be dismayed, or discouraged, for he would strengthen and help them. These promises are available to all of God’s people through his Spirit. We might be weak and seemingly insignificant and feel as small as a worm, but God takes us by the hand and pledges his strength and courage for us. We will never be alone. The choice is ours. Do we want to live in independence from God, utilizing our own strength, or will we humble ourselves under the hand of God and rel

Selfish Intercession

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38,39; Psalms 75; 1 Peter 2 “And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. ‘The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,’ Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘There will be peace and security in my lifetime.’” Isaiah 39:7, 8 God’s judgment of Hezekiah’s naïve invitation to the enemies of God to see all of his treasures and secrets was significant. Hezekiah’s own descendants would become slaves of Babylon. Hezekiah’s response was puzzling. He accepted God’s judgment of his sin, but without repenting. Yet earlier, when he had become sick to the point of death, also as a judgment of sin, Hezekiah cried out to God for a change of heart and a different outcome.   Why did he humble himself when God’s judgment of sin was personally costly, yet not humble himself when God’s judgment involved future generations? Is our response to sin also that selfish and f

God’s Rule over Leaders

Isaiah 36,37; Psalms 76; 1 Peter 1   “Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained…He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth.” Psalm 76:10, 12 Throughout history, God’s dealings with the kings of the earth have been a story of men being humbled for God’s kingdom purposes. The rebuke, and then the destruction of the king of Assyria are recorded in Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah, because they are important. God hates pride and opposes the proud. When leaders reject God’s mercy and grace, they face God’s discipline and wrath. Leaders face a higher standard of behavior because they set the example for those they lead. God’s desire is that leaders would live with the healthy fear of the Lord and a surrendered spirit. When authority is submitted to God, much good can be accomplished. When authority is in rebellion against God, many people are led astray. For that reason we are urged to pray for those in authority,