Imitations

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1 NKJV).

When I first started traveling in South Asia I was impressed by the many name brands available in clothing, hiking gear, and other basic equipment and the very reasonable (cheap) prices for which they were sold. It was only after I had examined a few things and found them to be of lesser quality than I expected from the name that I realized that they were counterfeit. I wasn’t all that surprised – I had been aware that such practices existed. But I had not previously seen them on such a scale.

While many of the makers and sellers of these items are obviously intending to deceive and defraud customers, that is not true of all. Some are not actually counterfeit, but rather imitations. They copy styles and colors and other features of the highly advertised originals, but usually invent a brand name that is very similar to the original, but differing in a syllable or a letter. Of course if someone does not look closely enough and thinks it is the genuine article, the seller does not object, but there is evidence of imitation if one looks well. Continue reading “Imitations”

Sons of God

“Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Instead, he is under guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elements of the world. When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba , Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.” (Galatians 4:1-7 CSB)

We need to keep in mind as we read Paul’s letters that those who first read this were simply reading a letter – no chapters, no verses, just a letter from Paul to them. For people reading today, we often have to go back to understand the context of what Paul is saying. He introduced being a son of God in the verses just before these verses. Continue reading “Sons of God”

Thankful for answered prayer

I have prayed prayers, waited years, and never have been able to recognize empirically that they were answered. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect we all have put our concerns and needs before the Lord without seeing an identifiable answer.

But I believe the good Heavenly Father answers all the supplications, petitions, and intercessions of his faithful children. I believe it because the Bible affirms it, and I believe it because he has answered enough of my prayers to convince me of that truth.

Just this morning I asked the Lord about a subject. Within an hour’s time I had an answer. The answer was not a natural outflow of events. It came, atheists and skeptics might say, out of nowhere. But it actually came from heaven. Now that’s not a divine rule, as if he were a fast-food server working on a timer to get out the burger-answer to the drive-through customer Christian. Continue reading “Thankful for answered prayer”

Encountering evil

The New Testament contains over 2500 allusions and quotations from the Old Testament. The bottomline is the New Testament writers seem to expect us to know the Old Testament well.

Such an understanding is repeatedly rewarded. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is no exception. In this letter the apostle describes God’s foray into overcoming evil and how we are to be at work serving our Lord in a dark world. Before we consider what Paul wrote, let’s take a look at part of this letter’s background Continue reading “Encountering evil”

Moses, Pharoah and God

By Johnny O. Trail — He was the most powerful leader in the world at that time. His nation was incredibly wealthy with a powerful standing military that had no rival. The nation he ruled was at the pinnacle of the civilized world. In addition to its art and culture, the architecture of its empire is still studied and marveled at today.

Even though his association with God’s people caused him to prosper, he did not know who God was. Exodus 5:2 says, “And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” In spite of these things, they were destined to be defeated by the slaves they exploited for labor and profit.

Continue reading “Moses, Pharoah and God”

Overcoming adversity

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations . . .” (Romans 5:3).

It is not unusual for people to take pride in, or even boast about, the problems that they face in their lives. Athletes will often speak in interviews about “All the adversity I (or we) have overcome” to be successful as an individual or a team. They are not the only ones to use hardships as motivation to try to prove themselves to others. Minorities, the poor, and those with various handicaps will all display their problems proudly to show the extent of their triumphs and successes.

One common error that such pride succumbs to is to feel that one’s particular adversities are somehow special. Maybe they don’t claim that they are more troubled than anyone else, but there is often a distinct flavor of, “I have had to overcome more than most,” at the very least. Continue reading “Overcoming adversity”

A thorn in the flesh

At times some might begin to think that the apostles and prophets we read about in God’s word lived lives that were free from the cares and worries that we have to go through, that in some way God protected them. Yet when we read the pages of scripture we discover that they were people just like us, and dealt with pain and sorrow, discouragement and despair just as we have to do.

Paul details some of what it seems that he went through as he wrote a ‘boast’ to the Christians in Corinth. Continue reading “A thorn in the flesh”

The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed. Continue reading “The power of forgiveness”

What do you want?

“Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, he is calling you.’ … So Jesus answered and said to Him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘ Rabboni, that I may receive my sight'” (Mark 10:49, 51).

All people have desires and needs. Some are poorer than others, with greater and more obvious physical needs. Others have needs that are emotional, social, or spiritual, but just as if not more urgent. Some needs are obvious, but not all. In traveling to less developed parts of the world I see many beggars. Some are blind. Others are crippled. Some are simply poor and many are old, without income or family to help. When I see them I am often moved with pity and want to help. But I also recognize that I may not see their true needs, or be able to give that which will genuinely help them. Continue reading “What do you want?”