Wishful thinking?

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with persistence” (Romans 8:24-25 NKJV).

The apostle Paul listed as three abiding virtues, “faith, hope, love, these three” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Modern skeptics often dismiss one of these, hope, as nothing more than wishful thinking and at best a delusion. One hears the promise of eternal life derogatorily called “pie in the sky by and by.” The emphasis of the world is upon immediate gratification – obtaining what one needs or wants right now without delay.

What exactly is hope, and how is it different from faith? Both place trust in the unseen and expect future fulfillment of promises. Continue reading “Wishful thinking?”

Reflecting Jesus

Why would anyone want to go back to the Law of Moses after tasting the salvation of Jesus? Sadly, this is something Christians in the first century struggled with, particularly those who had been raised as Jews under the Law of Moses. Even more sadly, there are Christians today who want to return to the Law of Moses and add it to what we have in Jesus. Notice what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians.

“The law that brought death was written in words on stone. It came with God’s glory, which made Moses’ face so bright that the Israelites could not continue to look at it. But that glory later disappeared. So surely the new way that brings the Spirit has even more glory. If the law that judged people guilty of sin had glory, surely the new way that makes people right with God has much greater glory. That old law had glory, but it really loses its glory when it is compared to the much greater glory of this new way. If that law which disappeared came with glory, then this new way which continues forever has much greater glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11 NCV)

Continue reading “Reflecting Jesus”

Rebuilt lives

On our last road trip we saw four accidents complete with emergency vehicles, highway patrolmen, and rubberneckers. In at least two of those incidents it appeared to this rubbernecker that the vehicles involved were likely to be totaled. They soon would be branded with a salvaged title.

These salvaged vehicles can occasionally be repaired. In the hands of a capable mechanic and body shop these cars can be salvaged. After a thorough inspection, these vehicles can receive a rebuilt title. They can be driven and sold, yet with a perpetual branded title. A vehicle that was ruined is given a new life. Continue reading “Rebuilt lives”

Excuses and reversed causes

My former roommate from college sang a song with a quartet about excuses: “Excuses, excuses, you’ll hear them every day, / The devil will supply them, if from church you stay away.”/1 Unfortunately, even the people of God can be good at inventing excuses and justifications.

The prophet Haggai dealt with excuses and reversed causes. This short book packs a powerful punch against illogical thinking and unwilling hands. Continue reading “Excuses and reversed causes”

Only skin deep

“You’re so pretty. Here is a penny.”  My little piggy bank was full of pennies from people who apparently thought that my outward appearance was reason enough to reward me. I never understood that as a chubby-cheeked preschooler with long auburn hair. 

Fortunately, my mother kept my feet on the ground. “Beauty is only skin deep,” she would remind me when the compliments, and sometimes the pennies, were paid. That outward appearance has long since faded, and whatever is inside is more noticeable, for better or worse.  Continue reading “Only skin deep”

Give thanks

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (Psalm 107:1-2 NKJV).

When I first began traveling to Nepal almost 30 years ago I was told that, until recently, there had been no word for thank you in their language. After exposure to western vacationers following the opening of the country in the 1950s, someone coined the word dhanobhad to translate the English term “Thank you.”

Words express ideas or concepts and denote objects and actions familiar to those who speak a given language. If a society uses something, they generally have a word for it. Continue reading “Give thanks”

Think different

The Christians in Corinth of the first century parallel some of what we experience today. They were divided and not getting along. Sexual immorality was present and accepted. There was compromise with idolatry. Even the Lord’s Supper had lost its meaning and had become something that divided. It is sad that so many of these can still be found today.

But what is the real problem? Is it not that we are allowing the world – the thoughts and values around us – to shape our lives more than we allow God’s word to influence us? Far too many Christians allow political ideology, the latest movements or social media to determine what we believe and how we react – even towards other Christians. Continue reading “Think different”

Axioms and Proverbs

“…everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32, ESV).

Several days back, my adult son and I had a conversation about marriage (I’m married; he’s not). We shared a common bond, which was that I never had any interest or inclination to get married or have a family (guess who is married and has 6 children?). He was fairly certain that marriage would not be for him, and even more certain that children were not on his radar. As the conversation progressed, I said, “You never know. If the right person comes along, you’ll change your mind.” He strongly disagreed.

Was I right? I’ll give you my conclusion at the end. Continue reading “Axioms and Proverbs”

Just a prayer meeting?

What happens when the regular evening Bible study is replaced by a special prayer meeting?  Years ago I remember one particular person saying that she would not be attending because it was just a prayer meeting.

From what he wrote to Timothy, it seems Paul would not have regarded God’s people gathering for the express purpose of praying as “just a prayer meeting.” Consider his instructions for Timothy. Continue reading “Just a prayer meeting?”

Something greater than the temple is here

The temple represented God’s presence with his people. This temple was designed by God himself, but built with human hands. Its sole purpose was to unite the one God with his people. It was here that the very presence of God would dwell (1 Kings 8:10-13).

But it would not always be so. The sins of the people separated themselves from God so that his glory left the temple (Ezekiel 10). Then, God orchestrated the destruction of the house built for him (2 Kings 25). While Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument of destruction, the plan and the power came from above (Jeremiah 7:14). The people had come to trust in the temple, in much the same way as they had trusted in the Ark of the Covenant years earlier (Jeremiah 7:4, 11, 12). Continue reading “Something greater than the temple is here”