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In the Year King Uzziah Died (January 2021 Update) 

Those ominous words come from Isaiah 6:1. For Isaiah and the nation of Israel, the death of King Uzziah was a national and a spiritual tragedy. It is difficult for us to imagine what the death of Uzziah meant for Israel and Isaiah. Uzziah had served as King of Judah for 52 years from the time he was just 16 years old! He was the best and most popular king since King Solomon. His rule had meant peace and prosperity for Israel. But now everyone was concerned about what would happen to Israel, especially since the newest superpower, Assyria, was threatening invasion. It appeared that Israel would fall apart. It was a time of great national crisis. But it was also a time of great personal crisis for many, including Isaiah. Uzziah was the only King that Isaiah had known in his life. 

But it was also a time of spiritual crisis. This beloved leader, in his final days, had overstepped his power. He wanted to be named the High Priest as well as King. He was warned not to do so, but he entered into the Temple and to offer the holy incense. The Lord struck him with leprosy because of his great sin. And Uzziah had to leave Jerusalem and live in seclusion until the day of his death (2 Kings 15). The actual penalty for violating the sacred place of the temple was death (Numbers 18:7). Instead, God struck Uzziah with leprosy, a disease that has been described as a living death. Uzziah had done great things for Israel but, in the end, his pride and arrogance lead him to a disgraceful life and a lonely death. 

First, in his distress, Isaiah went into the temple and what he saw there was that God was still seated on the throne (Isaiah 6:1)! No matter how tragic things appear on earth, God is still seated on the throne. And he also noticed that “the train of His robe filled the temple.” This indicates the majesty of God. Isaiah sees God seated like a King ruling over all. He not only saw God “seated” on His throne; he saw that God’s “train filled the temple.” These are scenes that portray the majesty of a Holy God. God is King and He rules over all that happens in the world. The occasion for Isaiah’s vision was the death of King Uzziah. With the death of Uzziah, the destiny of the nation of Israel was in question and Isaiah was concerned. But when Isaiah “saw the Lord high and lifted up,” he was reminded that – no matter what was happening on earth – even if evil and chaos might reign for a while on the earth – a thrice holy God was still seated on the throne. In difficult times, we need to take time to go into the temple and remember that our majestic God is still seated on the throne. 

The past few months have been difficult ones for everyone. The events of the past week probably leave us all wondering what the future will hold. The truth is, only the Lord knows. In fact, that is a comforting truth. Not only does the Lord know what will happen, He was not surprised by any of the events of the last few months that have surprised all of us. He was in control and He will continue to be in control. But what should be our response? Look at Isaiah’s experience in Isaiah 6. Continue Reading »

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (Christmas 2020 Update) 

There are few times in the year that compare with the Christmas season. It is a time of joy and wonder for people of all ages and generations! But the season is nothing compared to the mystery and the reality of Christmas. There are three events that define Christianity – the Birth of Jesus, the Cross of Jesus, and the Resurrection of Jesus. Each of these is unique to Christianity. No other religion claims their founder died to pay for their sins and then rose from the dead as proof of this payment. No other religion has such a great and risen Savior! 

But why is the celebration of His birth so special? It is because the Cross and the Empty Tomb would be meaningless without the Incarnation of Jesus. Christmas is not about trees and lights and presents. It is about the most amazing event in human history. It is about the Incarnation – God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)! And no other religion claims that God became man. That’s why Christmas is so special. That’s why it is truly “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

However, we must understand why Christmas and the celebration of the Incarnation is so important. Most Christians would say that the Cross and the Resurrection are the two essential elements of Christianity. Without them, Christianity would not exist. That is true. But Christmas (or the Incarnation) is equally important! Without Christmas, the cross and resurrection would have no significance. Let me explain. Continue Reading »

Thankful … in 2020? (December 2020 Update) 

How can we be thankful in 2020? For everyone, this has been a very difficult year: children doing school from home, restaurants going out of business because of restrictions, friends and family hospitalized from Covid, jobs lost and now election uncertainty. It is hard to remember a year with more difficulty. Yet Thanksgiving is upon us and how can we be thankful with all that we have been through and with all that is going on now? 

In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul admonishes the Philippian believers to “Rejoice in the Lord always!” And so that they see the importance of this, he repeats it, “And again, I say, Rejoice!”  

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“Fake News … in the Church!” (November 2020 Update) 

We hear a lot about “fake news” today and the news and social media seem to be rife with it! Sometimes it is hard to know what or who to believe. But this problem is not unique to the modern world (even though it is compounded by the “freedom” of social media). It is not even unique to the secular world – “Fake news” can even be found in the church.  

Let me give you an interesting example from church history. Athanasius was the primary defender of the deity of Jesus are the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. When the council was convened, three different groups were represented. One group represented Arius who was accused of heresy for saying that Jesus was not God. He claimed that God the Father and Jesus were different in essence.  Eusebius of Caesarea led the second group. He suggested a compromise – Jesus and the Father were not the same essence as Arius claimed but they were similar. Jesus might not be God but at least he was divine. The followers of Eusebius comprised the largest group at the beginning of the council. The final group, the smallest group of bishops, was led by Athanasius. He argued that Jesus was God – he was the same substance or essence as the Father because they were both God!  

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“Government, Bah Humbug! …” (October 2020 Update) 

Why does government exist? There are many opinions about government. Especially during election years, people espouse all sorts of opinions about government. But why do we have government? There is really only one reason – because of sin. Now I know that when I write that, many of you are thinking, “That’s right. Preach it! The problem with government is sin – sinful politicians, godless laws, and sinful corruption and unfair taxes.” Some will even say that government is a “necessary evil.” And many will say, “it is time to do away with government all together.” 

But that is not what I mean at all. Government exists because we are all sinners. If there was no sin, there would be no need for government. Government exists because sin exists. When sin passes away in eternity, there will be no need for government. But until there is no sin, government is an absolute necessity.   Continue Reading »