Want to know why you should be a witness for Jesus Christ? Because He died for all, and therefore, all died. Because you died with Christ, you should no longer live for yourself (2 Corinthians 5:15). Because you no longer live for yourself, you are no longer the same person you were. “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun” (v. 17)!
God has given you, as a “new creation” believer, the task of reconciling people to Him (v. 18). Your message of reconciliation is this:
“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others” (v. 19). Legally, the world has already been forgiven in Christ; thus, your job is to be His ambassador, imploring people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God (v. 20).
The conclusion? You are dead to your former life and thus unconcerned about public opinion. You live only to inform the lost that Jesus reconciled them to God. Some will receive, some will reject, but all must be told. That, dear ambassador, is your mission!
The psalmist envisioned a beautiful river that flows through the city of God, a place in which God has no enemies and where peace abounds. Right now you may be in the midst of tremendous struggle and difficulty, but inwardly that river can continue to flow. In spite of violent earthquakes, crumbling mountains, or roaring oceans (Psalm
46: 2-3), you can still enjoy perfect peace. “Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (v. 10).
Paul experienced the continual trouble of the outward man, but he never lost the inward flow of life. He said, “We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything” (2 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Check your “river” today. Has it become choked and clogged by outward pressures, or is it still flowing freely? God lives in the city where the river flows. That city cannot be destroyed (Psalm 46:5), and neither can you if you remain in “the sacred home of the Most High” (v. 4).
Unity is a God-given tool that enables us to attain common goals and to encourage one another during difficult times. Solomon saw that two people working together could help each other if one of them fell, grew cold, or was overpowered in an attack (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12). If we are in a spiritual battle, the best thing we can do is to find a prayer partner who will come into instant agreement with us against the enemy’s attack.
The opposite of this beautiful expression of unity is the disunity experienced by Christians who unwisely join with unbelievers. Verses 14-16 of 2 Corinthians emphatically state that there can be no union between Christians and unbelievers. What a tragedy it is to see believers ignore this admonition and lean upon unbelievers in marriage or business! Far too many times, they trip each other up and both fall when encountering moral and spiritual pressure.
Choose your close friends, marriage partner, and business associates carefully, knowing that God ordained your partnerships to be a source of protection, not destruction.
Godly sorrow for sin is often confused with regret. Tears and remorse are no true indication that a person has truly repented of sin. He may be crying simply because he got caught, not because he is genuinely repentant! The real test of repentance is evidenced by submission, actions that show one has submitted to the authority of another.
After challenging the Corinthian believers to discipline a brother who had fallen into immorality, Paul commended them on their response to his instructions. He said, “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right” (2 Corinthians 7:11).
Worldly sorrow is simply regret. It produces blaming others, emotional shows, dodging of facts, half-confessions (“If I’ve done anything wrong . . .”), and insincere promises to change. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, assumes responsibility, faces the facts, admits the wrong, and makes it right.
The Corinthians demonstrated true godly sorrow. They were alarmed over their sin, desirous to right the wrong, eager to address the issue, and ready to make things right. In a word, they submitted themselves to Paul’s authority and were willing to take the necessary steps to right their wrong. Such action, not emotional regret, indicates godly sorrow.
Giving is a privilege that God allows us so that we may participate in His blessing. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When we “so love,” we also will “give.”
Paul challenged the Corinthians to prove the sincerity of their love (2 Corinthians 8:8) with a willingness to give a missionary offering to the poor saints at Jerusalem. By so doing, they literally would be “casting their bread upon the waters,” sending their resources across the Mediterranean to a group of saints in desperate need.
Whenever you purpose to give, the enemy will tell you that you are wasting your money and throwing it away. He will point out to you all your own needs and tell you that you can’t afford to give. In those times, you must remember that God’s Word is true and that whatever you give will one day find its way back to you.
Those you provide for now out of your abundance may one day provide for you out of their abundance (2 Corinthians 8:14). Even if you never see any reward here on earth for your generosity, you will reap in eternity the full return of what you have sown on earth.
The selfish will “die [and] carry nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave” (Psalm 49:17). But those who give will reap a sure reward. Start sowing generously to the needs of others, both here and around the world. The dividends are eternal!
It is so important to remember that God does not need our gifts! We must come to look at every penny we possess as already belonging to God and ourselves as being mere stewards. We can never think that the Almighty has need of our possessions as though He had no other resources from which to draw. God can create what He needs! He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and our offerings neither enrich nor diminish Him.
However, there is a special way that God does need us. He has chosen to use the resources of His people to supply the needs of others. The offering Paul received for the poor saints at Jerusalem was not merely a token gesture, but necessary for their very survival.
We have the awesome privilege as God’s human vessels to supply the needs of His people. Our offerings to others are not needed for God, but are needed by God. He will use our gifts to convince others of our love for them and for Him.
No matter how much or how little we have, God owns all our money. Let’s use it to bring glory to His name while we have the chance!
The power of sacrificial giving is revealed in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. First, God will measure back to you with the same measuring device you use when giving to Him (v. 6). Second, God is looking for a heart attitude that is free, spontaneous, and cheerful in giving (v. 7). Third, God has the power to resupply your resources to such a point that you will always have enough to give to any worthy project (v. 8). Fourth, God will remember for eternity what you scatter abroad (v. 9). Fifth, if you have a sower’s heart and are faithful, God will give you more and more seed to plant (v. 10). Finally, God will prosper you financially so you can become a resource for building His kingdom in the earth (v. 11).
How many people fail to start down God’s road of blessing because they sow sparingly? Step through the gate of hilarious, generous, spontaneous giving and watch God supply you with more seed to sow than you ever dreamed possible. He is looking for channels through which He can bless the world!
Boasting is verbalized pride. It is self-commendation, bragging to others of our accomplishments. However, all that actually matters is what God thinks of us, not what others think.
Boasting is the exact opposite of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. Paul refused to boast about his personal appearance, power, or accomplishments. Instead, he pointed out that his strength was a hidden force, unnoticed by the world but divinely powerful (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
Paul used his God-given authority, not for destruction, but for building up (2 Corinthians 10:8). He gave reports about the mission work he had accomplished, not to brag about what he had done, but to show what had been done by the grace of God. Without a doubt, Paul knew that “the person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done” (2 Corinthians 10:17).
Isaiah foresaw a day in which “pride will be brought low and the Lord alone will be exalted” (Isaiah 2:11). Satan’s proud, boasting spirit will one day be brought low, and no one will dare utter a boast against the Lord.
“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17 NIV).
That is Satan’s motto: “a different Jesus . . . a different Spirit . . . a different gospel”! He disguises himself as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), putting on a religious and holy front while attempting to deceive us.
Paul warned the Corinthians about the subtlety of the one who came to Eve with a slight twist to the commandment of God. Satan tries to take the focus off the cross, the person of Jesus, the reality of sin, the need for repentance, and the certainty of hell. He tries instead to bring us another gospel, one that focuses on man’s goodness, the equality of all religions, the nonessentiality of the blood of Jesus, and the ridiculousness of an eternal hell. All these variations of the Gospel sound good to the natural mind, but Paul recognized them as Satan’s disguise for the true Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Isaiah said, “Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Satan can call it what he likes, but sin is sin, God is pure, and hell is forever!
Stay simple in your sincere and pure devotion to the real Jesus.
King Ahaz learned an important lesson in dealing with an attack of the enemy: you cannot run from the battle! When an army far superior to his own threatened Jerusalem, “the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, just as trees shake in a storm” (Isaiah 7:2). But God in His mercy sent the prophet Isaiah to deliver an encouraging message. Through Isaiah God told Ahaz, “This invasion will never happen” (v. 7), and He further instructed the king, saying, “If you want me to protect you, learn to believe what I say” (v. 9).
The enemy’s primary weapon is fear. When disaster loomed on the horizon, Ahaz was overcome by fear, but the bold word from the Lord enabled him to remain calm, relaxed, and confident.
Paul said, “Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. Remember the great reward it brings you!” (Hebrews 10:35). And that reward is a “faith that assures our salvation” (v. 39).
When the battle seems overwhelming, what choice do you have but to stand firm? If you turn and run from the enemy, you will not stand at all. Burn the retreat bridge! Your only option is to stand—and when you do, God will fight for you!
God is with us—these four words strike terror in the heart of our enemies! How it must have disturbed hell the day the Lord proclaimed the sign: “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel—‘God is with us’ ” (Isaiah 7:14).
When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son (Luke 1:31), he referred to Isaiah’s prophecy of the One who would rule with “fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David” (Isaiah 9:7). This special child, as foretold by Isaiah, would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (v. 6). The Messiah’s arrival would mean that “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light—a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow” (v. 2). How perfectly this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus stepped onto the shores of “Galilee of the Gentiles” (v. 1) and began to undo the works of darkness!
Whatever darkness or trouble you are in today, remember that God came in human flesh, born of a virgin, to signal Satan’s defeat and the reign of God’s kingdom. Immanuel— “God with us”— is here to stay, and He is now living in you!
Like the six branches of the lampstand in the tabernacle, there are six facets of the Holy Spirit’s character. First, He is the Spirit of wisdom, revealing to us His future purposes both for ourselves and for His kingdom. Second, He is the Spirit of understanding, giving us revelation about our present situation and how best to be fruitful in it. Third, He is the Spirit of counsel, instructing us in solving hard problems by discerning the root causes. Fourth, He is the Spirit of might, strengthening us with power in our inner man and anointing us with His spiritual gifts. Fifth, He is the Spirit of knowledge, revealing to us the various attributes of Jesus in the Word of God. Finally, He is the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, showing us areas of our lives where sin has a foothold and then changing us into the image of Christ.
Jesus, the “stump of David’s family” (Isaiah 11:1), perfectly portrayed all these characteristics. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today with these six attributes, and you will walk like Jesus walked!
The prophet Isaiah saw the same picture Jesus described when He said, “I saw Satan falling from heaven as a flash of lightning!” (Luke 10:18). Because of Satan’s pride and arrogance, he was cast out of heaven. He rebelliously and boldly asserted himself with five “I wills”:
“I will ascend to heaven and [I will] set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and [I will] be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14, bold added).
How unthinkable it is for any creature to consider exalting himself above God! There in the veiled and shadowy reality of eternity past, God judged Satan’s rebellion, and he was thrust like lightning from heaven!
Only what is submitted to God can remain with God. May we never be found with pride, exalting ourselves above God. He alone will be exalted in heaven. “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth” (Psalm 57:11).
Just as Satan was cast like lightning out of heaven, he is being cast out of his earthly kingdom by the power of Jesus. As Isaiah says, “The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land” (Isaiah 16:4 NIV). Isaiah further prophesied that in love a throne would be established, that in faithfulness a man from the house of David would sit on that throne, judging with justice and righteousness (v. 5).
Thank God for the power of love over hatred! “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son. . . .”(John 3:16). The love of God was manifested to this world the moment Jesus stepped into it. Everywhere He went, the oppressor’s kingdom came to an end. Jesus cast out devils from all those bound by them, “for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). Paul states that Jesus “died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live” (Galatians 1:4).
In your darkest oppression, there is One whom God has sent to rescue you. He is the King on the throne of David. Let Him wrap His arms of love around you and protect, deliver, and rescue you from the oppressor.
Paul was determined never to yield to anything opposed to the truth of the Gospel. He wrote to the Ephesians, “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27 NIV).
The duty of the Christian parent, pastor, or leader is to “be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Similarly, the Lord warned Isaiah about the need for alertness, saying,
“Put a watchman on the city wall to shout out what he sees. Tell him to sound the alert when he sees chariots drawn by horses and warriors mounted on donkeys and camels” (Isaiah 21:6-7).
Satan seeks to weasel his way into our churches and families through our slack oversight, our tolerance of his encroachment, and our yielding to his advances. Even when the great apostle Peter was being swayed by the hypocrisy of the Judaizers, Paul stood boldly against him, saying, “I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong” (Galatians 2:11).
The enemy hates your liberty in Christ and does his best to put you back under the “yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1 KJV). Don’t give in to anything that is not in the truth of the Gospel. Stand your ground against the devil, and “he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
God is sovereign. He can do whatever He pleases, removing or promoting anyone He desires. He sent Isaiah to warn Shebna, “The Lord is about to seize you and hurl you away. He is going to send you into captivity, you strong man! He will crumble you up into a ball and toss you away into a distant, barren land. . . .”(Isaiah 22:17-18).
Like Haman in Esther’s day, Shebna was a proud, ungodly ruler who felt his power was unlimited. He had no awareness that God would depose him from his office and oust him from his position
“This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He is the one who has the key of David. He opens doors, and no one can shut them; he shuts doors, and no one can open them” (Revelation 3:7).
Submit your life, plans, promotions, and future to the One who holds the keys to life. It is not your strength that can make you great—it is His sovereign power!
You know you are in trouble when you feel so far away from God’s presence that your address might as well be “the ends of the earth”! David felt the quicksand of doubt, fear, and unbelief underneath his feet. As he grew weaker by the minute, his desperate cry was to be brought to a spiritual position where his feet could feel the Rock of God beneath him.
The moment your heart is safely settled on that Rock, God will keep you in “perfect peace” because your “thoughts are fixed on [Him]” (Isaiah 26:3). Trust is the feeling of security you have when your feet are solidly planted on a Rock that towers high above all your enemies.
That Rock is also a place of safety where you can find secure refuge and shelter (Psalm 61:3-4). As Isaiah phrased it, “But to the poor, O Lord, you are a refuge from the storm. To the needy in distress, you are a shelter from the rain and heat. . ..” (Isaiah 25:4).
Climb up on the Rock right now, and rest in His perfect peace.
How easy it is to become entrapped by the natural way of thinking and to craft ways of doing things that completely leave out the Holy Spirit! Egypt looked very enticing to those who were desperate for help, but God told them that trusting in Egypt’s pharaoh for protection would only bring them humiliation and disgrace (Isaiah 30:3). The Holy Spirit has a better plan for you than to take you by way of Egypt!
Following the Spirit carries a price: “And we who are born of the Holy Spirit are persecuted by those who want us to keep the law, just as Isaac, the child of promise, was persecuted by Ishmael, the son of the slave-wife” (Galatians 4:29). It will be the same for you if you refuse the world’s way of thinking. If you don’t solve your problems the “normal way”—the way the world or religion tells you to—you will be persecuted.
God’s ways are not your ways. Before you plow into a crisis armed only with worldly advice, it would profit you to wait on the Holy Spirit for His direction. “I wait quietly before God, for my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1).
Egypt may look tempting, but put your hope in God alone!
Quietness is a state of repose and rest, of no longer struggling and fretting. God wants to give His people quietness, and quietness begins with righteousness. Isaiah 32:17 says, “And this righteousness will bring peace. Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever.”
When we are sure that our sins are forgiven and we are in right standing with God, a deep quietness fills our hearts.
From that quietness arises confidence. We base our confidence on our righteousness, knowing that we are welcome to ask Him for anything we need. We must be confident that “He will respond instantly to the sound of [our] cries” (Isaiah 30:19). John said, “We can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14-15).
Righteousness, quietness, and then confidence will bring us through affliction, for Jesus is like a “cool shadow of a large rock in a hot and weary land” (Isaiah 32:2). Let’s stay in the shadow of His presence!
Hezekiah commanded the people on the wall not to answer the taunting insults of the field commander of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Our flesh, or sinful nature, is always talking to us, trying to convince us to give up and give in to our impulses. For the rest of our lives, we will have to listen to the voice of temptation that is the “opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants” (Galatians 5:17).
The discipline of godliness enables us to refuse to answer that voice, to simply ignore it through the power of the Holy Spirit. The people on the wall were totally submitted to the will of Hezekiah and refused even to acknowledge the field commander. Instead, they continued to think on Hezekiah’s encouraging promise that the Lord would deliver them (Isaiah 36:18).
Which voice in Galatians 5:19-23 will you listen to: the voice of the flesh (immorality, hatred, jealousy, rage, envy, drunkenness) or the voice of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness)? You must learn to completely ignore and turn your back on the flesh, for “the Lord is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us” (Isaiah 33:22).
Hezekiah proved the awesome power of prayer through two incidents in his life. First, he faced the terrible army of Sennacherib, who threatened to totally annihilate Jerusalem. In such a desperate moment, Hezekiah merely brought Sennacherib’s threat and “spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14). God heard Hezekiah’s intercession and sent the death angel to destroy 185,000 men in one night!
Second, Hezekiah faced impending death because of sickness. Again his response was to pray: “When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2). God was so moved by his prayer that He told Hezekiah He would extend his life by fifteen years (v. 5), and to prove His promise would come true, He caused the sun’s shadow to move backward (v. 8).
Oh, how God yearns to answer your prayers, and how able He is to do it! His Word promises, “You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas” (Psalm 65:5).
Be bold enough to ask Him for what you need, even when it looks hopeless. He will literally move heaven and earth to answer your prayer!
Any power that we possess originates from our awesome God who can hold oceans in the palm of His hand, measure the heavens with his fingers, and weigh the mountains and the hills (Isaiah 40:12). He is a God so powerful that from His perspective the combined nations of the world are a mere “drop in the bucket” (v. 15). He knows the personal name of each and every one of the billions of stars (v. 26), and “no one can measure the depths of his understanding” (v. 28).
All the incomparable greatness of God is embodied in Jesus, and we are blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). When we realize His great power, our perspective on our problems changes, and we move into heavenly places where God sits. The problems are not so big when viewed from that vantage point.
God is too wise to make a mistake, too powerful to fail, and too loving to hurt you. Call on Him today, for “He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak” (Isaiah 40:29).
“Dead . . . alive . . . raised . . . seated” is the progression of a believer’s position in Christ, according to Ephesians 2. What a glorious revelation to know that we have traveled the entire spectrum from death to being seated with Christ in heavenly places!
You were dead in your sins, and yet God still loved you even though you were His “enemy.” By His grace He made you alive, breathing the same life into your spirit that He breathed into Christ’s dead body in the resurrection. Finally, He lifted you up and seated you in a position so special and honored that it can only be described as the “heavenly places.” According to the passage in Ephesians 2, everything that God did for Christ physically, He has done for you and all believers spiritually!
Your Christian life will be transformed as you understand your identification with Jesus Christ in His death, resurrection, and ascension. When God looks at you, He sees you not as you were (dead in sin), but exactly as He sees His Son (alive and seated in the heaven-lies). God loves you exactly as He loves Christ!
You are in Christ in the same way a tiny baby kangaroo is hidden inside the pouch of its mother. So rise up in your new nature and privileges, for “God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Who can forget the fantastic moment when God opened the Red Sea and destroyed Israel’s enemies behind them? What a remarkable day, a miracle unparalleled in human history!
As magnificent as that miracle was, an even greater miracle is the salvation our God freely gives to all. When God gives us new hearts in salvation, we are truly and miraculously reborn. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).
Our salvation marks the closing of our past. It is forever gone, buried under the waters of God’s grace. After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites looked back across the waters and could see nothing of their former captors. The bondage and servitude of the past was wiped out in a moment’s time. It was as though God put up a sign that said, “No fishing allowed!”
Paul said “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome” (Ephesians 3:12). He not only made a way out from our problems and sin, but He also made a way in to newness of life in Him. Whether you need to come out of something or go in to something today, He is the Waymaker. Wherever He goes, His foes “run for their lives” and “perish in the presence of God” (Psalm 68:1-2).
How can we fathom a God who has known us even before our birth? How can we grasp the love of a God who says, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you” (Isaiah 46:4)
Cyrus was a great king of the Medes and Persians who was chosen by God to play a pivotal role in the life of the Jewish people. Hundreds of years before his birth, however, Isaiah called him by name and proclaimed a very special prophecy concerning him (Isaiah 45:13). Some traditions say that Daniel read this passage of prophecy to Cyrus, and it so moved him that he released the Jewish people to return home from the Babylonian captivity.
Before we even had enough sense to follow God, the Lord was carrying us and planning lives of destiny for us. He has ordained gifts and callings for us long before we were even born. Paul said that Jesus
“gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). These callings were part of God’s plan for us and His Church from the beginning of time.
Doesn’t it challenge and encourage you to know that God has a plan for your life—a plan that is already known to Him? Your constant prayer should be, “Lord, I beg You to help me lead a life that is worthy of Your calling” (Ephesians 4:1).
The exciting reality of Christianity is that a believer becomes a new person. In Ephesians 4, Paul contrasts the “old man” and the “new man.” The old man is a liar, while the new man tells the truth (Ephesians 4:25). The old man is always angry, but the new man controls anger and makes amends for it before the day is over (v. 26).
There are further contrasts between the old man and the new. The old man is stingy and steals, but the new man has a desire to work hard and give to others (v. 28). The old man uses abusive language, but the new man speaks words that encourage others (v. 29). The old man holds grudges and bitterness for years, but the new man is kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (v. 32).
For you to say that you have become a Christian yet continue to lie, vent your wrath, steal, curse, and harbor unforgiveness is a contradiction in terms. As a Christian, you must put off your old self and put on the new self, which was created to be like God. In this way, you will live a life “worthy of your calling” (v. 1) by the grace God has given you through salvation.
Remember: You are a new person!
In certain passages of the Psalms and in the book of Isaiah, two of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, David and Isaiah, provide a preview of Christ’s crucifixion hundreds of years before it happened. How could even nonbelievers deny the incredible accuracy of their prophecies?
David foresaw the moment when the soldiers would give Jesus gall and vinegar to drink upon the cross after He would say, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28). David also clearly saw and described the crucifixion scene in Psalm 22:16, 18 as he foretold that Jesus’ hands and feet would be pierced and that the soldiers would cast lots for his clothing.
Isaiah, too, foresaw the suffering of Christ upon the cross. He graphically described the disfiguring and marring of Jesus’ countenance (Isaiah 52:14). He also saw that Jesus would be “wounded and crushed for our sins . . . beaten that we might have peace . . . whipped, and we were healed!” (Isaiah 53:5). He saw Jesus “counted among those who were sinners” (two thieves hung on either side of Him) and “put in a rich man’s grave” (vv. 12, 9). Finally, he saw that Jesus “interceded for sinners” (v. 12), fulfilled in Luke 23:34 when He prayed, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”
The kingdom of darkness is a wicked organization of evil that unceasingly plots against the righteous. This kingdom’s carefully crafted snares and weapons are individually tailored to destroy each child of God.
In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us that “we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms” (v. 12).
God, however, has provided us with a divine covering to protect us from every attack from the enemy. Commonly called “the armor of God,” this protection listed in Ephesians 6:14-17 includes the following elements: “the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness” (v. 14), “for shoes . . . the peace that comes from the Good News” (v. 15), “faith as your shield,” (v. 16), “salvation as your helmet,” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17).
Standing in this mighty armor and wielding the powerful weapon of the Word of God, we have the strength to “pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit” (v. 18), positioning ourselves firmly upon the promises of God until the devil flees. No matter what weapon the enemy has forged against you, it will not prosper!
Fasting involves our separating ourselves from food for a season in order to draw close to God on behalf of others. This practice can be easily perverted into a religious activity to be seen of men (as Jesus reminded the Pharisees) or something that is performed while tolerating strife, debate, and self-interest (Isaiah 58:3-4).
Isaiah said that the fast God has chosen is one that focuses on the needs of others. When we become so burdened about a yoke of oppression upon the life of another that we refuse to partake of our normal food until that person is delivered, God is pleased (Isaiah 58:6). For example, Daniel fasted, not for himself, but for the nation to be returned from Babylon (Daniel 9:3).
If we spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry, then God will bless us with light, health, and water (Isaiah 58:8-11). Our light will be a guide through dark places, our health will give physical prosperity and strength, and our water will provide emotional and spiritual joy in times of drought. As someone once said, “Fasting is another way of feasting!”
Justice protects a person’s equal rights. Whether rich or poor, born or unborn, educated or illiterate, all people are made in the image of God and deserve equal protection and peace.
David prayed for his son Solomon to be endowed with justice (Psalm 72:1). In practical terms, this prayer was asking the Lord to help Solomon “defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors” (v. 4). Additionally, David prayed for Solomon to have “pity for the weak and the needy” (v. 13) and to “save them from oppression and from violence” (vv. 13-14).
The secret to obtaining justice is instilling in people a respect for the sanctity of blood, “for the life of any creature is in its blood” (Leviticus 17:11). When we see how precious blood is to God, we will be concerned about its senseless shedding.
The ignorant, foolish man really cares nothing for the blood of another as long as his blood is not being shed! On the other hand, the heart of a man of wisdom is broken by the shedding of innocent blood that offends God and His sense of justice.
Stand up for innocent blood! In that way you are showing you love justice, just as you love the God of justice.