A strange sort of optimism

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1 NKJV).

When one thinks of all of the wars, famines, atrocities, and other crimes perpetrated by humans upon each other over the centuries of history, it is almost an impossible task to determine which particular event was the most horrible.

On two different, but similar, occasions a prophecy is made in the Bible about trouble greater than ever experienced, before or since. One of these is in the book of Daniel, referring to a particular invasion of Judah almost 200 years before the birth of Christ. The other was spoken by Jesus himself, and is believed by many to refer to the Jewish rebellion against Rome which would occur in 70 A.D., when the city of Jerusalem was once again destroyed (Matthew 24:21). Continue reading “A strange sort of optimism”

Don’t miss the trees for the forest

“I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5 NET)

Why was Paul in anguish and would even wish he were cut off from the Messiah? It was because the Israelites, the Jews of his day, had rejected the Messiah. They did not accept Jesus as the Messiah who came to save all people.

Look at all the advantages the Israelites had (we can read about these throughout the Old Testament). They had been adopted as sons: God had taken a people who were in slavery and made them his people. They had access to his glory. He gave them his covenant through Moses to all the people. Part of this included his giving them his law, a law to live by to stay faithful to him in preparation for the coming Messiah. Later they received the worship in the temple. They had access to the promises of Abraham and eventually, through their line, came the Messiah. The Messiah is God over all. Continue reading “Don’t miss the trees for the forest”

Word "coexist" made up of religious symbols

The bumper sticker says it all

By Johnny O. Trail — It seems that most people tend to display those things that they are most convicted about on the back of their cars. As one who reads everything, bumper stickers spark a great curiosity in me. Many bumper stickers contain humorous and witty sayings.  Some of their messages are very good in content and design. Other messages leave one scratching their head wondering why any reasonable person could place such garbage on a car that would have otherwise maintained its re-sale value very nicely.

On the way to Nashville last week, this writer noticed a bumper sticker on a car that read, “Tree Lover, Dirt Worshipper.” The other stickers on the back of the vehicle were not much better in the message being conveyed. This bumper sticker reflects a decidedly pagan view of deity as reflected in the false religions of the Old and New Testament. We have come to think more of the creation than the creator. Romans 1.25 says, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” This view is supported by a nation that has “gone green” to protect the environment at all costs. Continue reading “The bumper sticker says it all”

Worshiping intentionally

The Lord’s church met one Lord’s day in a grand city in Greece. They sang together, prayed together, opened the word together, and did not commune together.

Paul told them, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat” (1 Corinthians 11:20 ESV). The first-century church came together every week in order to eat the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). How is it that Paul could say that they did not eat the Lord’s supper when they gathered?

Continue reading “Worshiping intentionally”

How to be an effective teacher of the Bible

A supporting congregation had a teacher-appreciation dinner Aug. 18 after the Sunday evening service. We were invited to attend. It wasn’t my moment, but I thought of all the teachers of Bible school, the teachers of evangelistic studies, those who teach to encourage brethren, and all those who have been given the gift of teaching. What would I like to say to them if given the chance? Three things came immediately to mind. Continue reading “How to be an effective teacher of the Bible”

The queen is dead!

Those worker bees in the yellow hive were not taking as many “orientation flights” as they used to do. Hmm … that’s suspicious.

Yes, we keep bees. Or as some of the more experienced (and skeptical) beekeepers put it, we are “bee have-ers.” We have bees. Whether we can keep them remains to be seen! There are parasites and diseases now that were unknown when my Grandpa kept bees. He just kept them; up there on the hill, in front of the pink rambling roses, out of our way — until we stepped on them with our bare feet in the clover-filled lawn. Continue reading “The queen is dead!”

Final exams

“Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king” (Daniel 1:18-19).

Throughout the world, and throughout most of recorded history, examinations have played a major part in determining the future of young people. In South Asia preparing for exams is an extremely important activity as the continuation of one’s education or the beginning of a career depends upon making acceptable marks. In many cases those who fail do not get another opportunity. Continue reading “Final exams”

The problem of sin

Sin. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from. All humans struggle with sin. It doesn’t even matter when we are living (although most seem to always think that it is worse now than it has ever been). David wrote about this in Psalm 14 and Paul quoted it in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

“There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Although we might not like this applied to us, deep down we know that too often we wander after sin and do not seek God. If the truth be told, we often seek sin and ignore God. When it comes to wanting what we desire, most choose sin. As David went on to say, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Continue reading “The problem of sin”

Gravity of Grace: concluding suggestions

I remember an occasion when a person quoted, “there should be no division in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25) as evidence that small groups are unbiblical. We recognize, however, that with these words Paul affirmed the need for spiritual cohesiveness, not geographical unity. Accordingly, we rightfully reject the misappropriation of this verse to condemn the practice of groups meeting in various locations.

This realization should also cause us to recognize a general interpretation principle. It is a principle we need to remember when considering what it means for Christians to be saved by grace, as well as what it means to live under grace. Continue reading “Gravity of Grace: concluding suggestions”