Today we live in a very polarized world. You are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, pro-abortion or anti-abortion, pro-same sex marriage or anti-same sex marriage, for “a pathway to amnesty for undocumented workers” or pro-secure borders and “get in line with the others”.
We choose our news source by our position on the issues and they spoon feed us what we are to believe about every issue and why that is the only reasonable stance.
But one of the things that confounded His followers was that Jesus seemed to always be touting a third option – a higher perspective of the issue. Continue reading
When Jesus came to be baptized John naturally resisted. John was baptizing people for repentance. John knew Jesus was sinless and did not need to repent of anything. John also acknowledged that he was a sinner like us, “I need to be baptized by you.” But Jesus insisted that john baptize Him. Why?
The 100% right answer is exactly what Jesus told John, “Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.” (Matthew 3:15)
But what does “to fulfill all righteousness” mean? How did Jesus being baptized “fulfill all righteousness”? Here are at least a few reasons. Continue reading
While living under the blessing of the Lord and in God’s favor Solomon made shields for the temple guards out of solid gold. He made 200 large shields and 300 smaller ones. (1 Kings 10:16) Why does Scripture bother to tell us this? Continue reading
… those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
I’ll bet you have been disappointed by God. I know I have been. So how can this passage be true? While I was trying to figure that out I realized I was focusing on only one side of the passage – the”will not be disappointed” side. Maybe the answer lies in the other half of the passage.
To never be disappointed everything that comes my way will have to be wonderful, at least as good and perhaps better than I was expecting. Of course, that is not the way life is. Everyone, believers and the lost, suffer hardship, grief, loss, shattered dreams. So how can this promise, from the very lips of God, be true? When I focused on the other end of the passage – “those who hope in me” – I made an amazing discovery. Continue reading
Reading Acts 13 this morning I was impressed again with the phrase “they were ministering to the Lord.”
As a young believer I was reading Psalms and came across the phrase “Bless the Lord”. I stopped. What? Me, bless Him? I knew He could bless me. But me bless Him? Acts 13 is even more unbelievable – they were “ministering” to Him? How do you minister to the all-powerful, transcendent God?
Then I discovered the problem. I was reading one of those new versions. So I got out the trusty old King James to see what those verses really meant. Guess what. They said the same thing – bless the Lord, minister to the Lord. I sat back in my chair astounded. I don’t want to lose that sense of wonder that we, mere specks of dust in the cosmos, can minister to the Creator of it all. What an unbelievable concept. We can please Him. We can “grieve” Him. What we do impacts Him emotionally. Think about that. What you do today makes a difference in the heart of God. Isn’t that unbelievable?!!
(Zeph 3:17, Eph 4:30, Gen 6:6, Is 62:5)
We couldn’t know that if He hadn’t told us in His Word. Obviously He wants us to know that we matter to Him. We matter so much that what we do touches His heart. We can make His day – or grieve Him. So, I have a choice today – and every day. Will I bring a smile to the heart of God today or be a source of sorrow for Him?
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Put yourself in Peter’s place. Jesus tells you that Satan has asked to “sift you” – translation, “beat the snot out of you”. That is worse than hearing the school bully is waiting for you in the parking lot. But surely God said “no” to Satan’s request, right? Wrong.
Jesus tells you He has prayed for you. Whew! That’s a relief. Jesus prayed so now the bully won’t be able to touch you or maybe you’ll even beat him up, right? Wrong again.
When driving, a “school zone” is a place we slow down. It is also a place of learning. In life, we often go through “school zones”, situations that come into our life to teach us to be more like Jesus. Often these are times of difficulty, loss or pressure. We are wise if we slow down as we proceed through these times.
We would like to rush ahead, go faster, get it over with but life lessons are not just about learning facts, they have to do with shaping character and that is not a quick process. If we hurry through the lesson, not allowing the situation to fully conform us to the character of Christ, we will have to repeat it later. Continue reading
I have friends from a variety of theological persuasions – hyper-Calvinists to Open Theologists, Cessationists to wild Pentecostals, some sprinkle babies while others only dunk adults, even a smattering of Universalists and some too eclectic and weird to even label have crept into my circle of amigos. Of course, a midst all these extremes, I am the only “balanced” one. Ha!
The point is that when these folks talk about adversity they adamantly disagree on its source. Some claim God is so “sovereign” He is always behind the troubles in our life. Some believe He occasionally brings it to purify us. Some are repulsed by that idea and say He only “allows” it. Some say all problems are “from the devil” and God is only a God of blessing. Of course the happiest ones don’t even think about it.
My personal stance? I have my opinions (which by the way, are balanced and correct) but basically I just try to deal with trouble as it comes and merrily skip through life trusting God will take care of me regardless the source of my woes. It works for me.
But in this passage in Mark we do see a couple of interesting things. Continue reading
“If God created the devil and put the tree in the garden to tempt man, isn’t God responsible for the evil in the world? Furthermore, if God can stop all the evil and doesn’t, isn’t He then doubly guilty?”
Sounds like a pretty open and shut case against God. This is a tough issue for a short answer but let’s see what we can discover God is guilty of.
When God made man he was faced with a choice. If He made man incapable of rejecting God, incapable of choosing evil, then man would also be incapable of truly loving God or others. Love can never be forced. Love demands options. For man to be capable of truly loving it was essential that man also be able to truly not love and even hate. Of course, God knew man would choose this selfish route and it would bring great evil into the world. Then why did God go ahead and make man knowing the problems He would cause? Continue reading
Colossians 3:23, 24
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
So whatever I do, in my marriage, in my work, in my relationships, gassing up the car, taking out the garbage, changing a diaper, mowing the lawn – whatsoever I do I am to do it for the Lord. I am to do it enthusiastically, with a joyful heart because I am working for Jesus. If I do this I can be assured I will receive the “reward of the inheritance.”
Do you ever wonder why Biblical writers use so many words? “The reward of the inheritance”? Which is it, a reward or an inheritance? I work for a reward but an inheritance comes my way because of a relationship. Continue reading