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Friday, July 22, 2016

Good News (Isaiah 61:1-3a)

 "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for all those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

No religion exists that does all of the above. Or, really, any of the above. Jesus Christ came to do what religion cannot. Jesus didn't come to be an example to follow, or build a following. He came to set people free. Unless we understand what occurred in the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind Jesus' death won't make sense.

When Adam and Eve sinned man became captive to sin and poverty. Although they had creation's vast resources at their disposal they no longer walked in the cool of the day with their Creator. Other types of poverty exist besides that of material possessions. Unless a man is born-again by the Holy Spirit he cannot know God at all. That is spiritual impoverishment!

When Adam and Eve sinned, brokenness entered into all relationships and became a way of life. Man's relationship with God was broken. Separated from God, Adam and Eve struggled in their appointed roles -- she, by resisting his dominance and he, by asserting his dominance. Their son, Cain, kills Abel and is cursed by God. Adam and Eve, therefore, lose both sons. Like an aggressive virus their brokenness infiltrates all of life.

When Adam and Eve sinned they surrendered their freedom to walk with God. Shame, guilt, and fear dominated their attitudes and actions imprisoning them to lives spent outside of the Garden and under the dominion of Satan.

That we need a Redeemer is evident. That Jesus Christ is that Redeemer is also evident; for He alone fulfills the requirements necessary to be a Redeemer. His birth, life, death, and resurrection are unique--setting Him apart from all other religious leaders. A Redeemer, not religion, answers man's problem with spiritual poverty, brokenness and enslavement. Only a Redeemer can preach good news to the poor, bind up brokenness, set free captives, and proclaim the LORD's favor.

Salvation is much more than responding to the Lord by praying a prayer. It is the impartation of true riches--life! Salvation sustains the poor in their poverty, heals the brokenhearted, sets captives free, and proclaims even "more to come". Anything less isn't really good news at all.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Isaiah 61:1-65:25
  • List the designations used to describe those who experience the LORD's ministry.
  • What do these descriptions tell you about who God is for His people?
  • How does the message of today's reading infuse hope?
  • List the analogies used in today's reading to describe those who are recipients of the LORD's grace.
  • What event from the past do the people recall and how does recalling that event influence their prayers?
  • Record Isaiah 64:4 on a note card and commit it to memory. This verse captures the heart of God for His people.
  • How does the LORD describe His patience toward Israel and what is the result of their constant refusal?
  • Why does the LORD promise to create new heavens and a new earth? What will characterize new Jerusalem?
Turning truth into prayer
Thank the Lord for sending His Son to rescue you from sin. Ask Him to give you a new appreciation of all that He has done for you in Christ Jesus.