A Good Story

The season of Advent is finally here! For the next month followers of Jesus around the world will be setting aside some time to give special attention to preparing for the arrival of Jesus. Our celebration is not simply for His birth, though, but for His return when He will make all things new. With that in mind, I want to help you get ready for the arrival of Jesus into your lives. Each Monday will bring a new sermon exploring the story of His arrival through a different lens. Each other week day will bring a new reflection on the Advent season that I hope will set your season in the right terms. Blessings to you as you preparing for the coming King!

A Good Story

That was a moment right there, wasn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but that song is one of my favorites.  There is power in this proclamation, “it is well!”  There is strength in being able to declare that though sin or storm or suffering may loom dauntingly large in front of us, nonetheless, “it is well with my soul.”  Maybe you are in a season when that declaration is little more than a faint whisper, but nonetheless, to stand…perhaps to sit…maybe even to simply fall to your knees and with even a mustard seed-sized faith in the God who alone has the power to push back the darkness and, with defiance in your spirit, breath out, “it is well with my soul,” can have the effect of throwing on a floodlight in a dark room. 

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Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 8:11-13

“For this is what the Lord said to me with great power, to keep me from going the way of this people: Do not call everything a conspiracy these people say is a conspiracy. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy. Only he should be feared; only he should be held in awe.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever been reading along in the Scriptures and suddenly something grabbed your attention and wouldn’t let go? This passage did that for me this week. I have been starting to get ready for the Christmas series I’ll preach in a few weeks and read these verses as I was reading the context of two of Isaiah’s major prophecies about the coming Messiah. As I did, the Spirit whispered that these verses are really important. Here’s why I think He did.

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Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 44:9

“All who make idols are nothing, and what they treasure benefits no one. Their witnesses do not see or know anything, so they will be put to shame.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

This is one of my favorite passages in Isaiah. Take a minute, click the link above, and read from here all the way through v. 23. I can’t read this section without chuckling a bit to myself at the sarcasm dripping from the pages. Most often, when we encounter idolatry in the Scriptures it is being condemned. Here it is mocked. Isaiah is flat out making fun of idolaters. So, why is this on my mind this morning? Because we have recently been treated to an example of what Isaiah was saying.

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Digging in Deeper: Isaiah 55:8

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.’ This is the Lord’s declaration.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter

Context is king when it comes to understanding the Scriptures well. This morning we started talking about a popular bumper-sticker verse out of Isaiah and then talked about the different contexts we need to take into account when examining a particular verse. Let’s put all of that into practice.

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Morning Musing: Isaiah 55:8

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.’ This is the Lord’s declaration.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter

This is a bumper sticker verse. What I mean is that this is a verse that is commonly used as a stand-alone slogan. You can find decorative pieces at Hobby Lobby or other places that cater to a Christian audience with this verse on them. The thing about verses like this presented like that is they can mean just about whatever you want for them to mean. Lifted out of their original context, they become a kind of blank slate on which we can write our own story. This kind of thing feels really good, but it’s a terrible way to treat the Scriptures. 

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