God’s action and man’s response

Newton’s third law of physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no similar spiritual law at work in God’s plan, since we can never equal his actions. But there is a divine principle that applies about action and reaction: Every action of God deserves a positive and receptive reaction on man’s part.

In the plan of salvation, people have sometimes ridiculed the emphasis on God’s part and man’s part. The two are decidedly unequal. God’s part deals with the procuring or accomplishment of salvation. Man’s part is described by receiving or accepting salvation.

For all that God has done for us, then, something must be done on our part. Salvation is not automatic, nor universal. There are conditions to be met. Something must be done by an individual in order to receive it. Continue reading “God’s action and man’s response”

The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal

In the Old Testament, when God promised a thing, he would put the promise in the past tense. If he said it, it was a done deal. If he promised, you could count on it being done.

On the banks of the Jordan River, Moses recounted to Israel the work of God among them. When King Og of Bashan came out with his whole army against the nation, the Lord said to Moses:

“Don’t be afraid of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you” Deuteronomy 3.2a. Continue reading “The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal”

How to overcome negativity, and other sundry thoughts

How to win over negativity? Overpower it! Repel it! The old phrase, like water on a duck’s back, is suggestive. Don’t let it penetrate. Power up your mental strength. Fill your head and heart with God’s blessing and goodness.

The use of the word “overpower” against negativity sounds militaristic, and it is. To say we’re in a battle might seem melodramatic, but the Bible describes the Way in such terms. So many of us go with the flow, however, we have yet to feel the heat of the conflict. We’ve been conquered. Continue reading “How to overcome negativity, and other sundry thoughts”

Is unity still a realistic pursuit?

The first pair of brothers was not united. Cain was jealous of Abel and killed him because of his righteousness, Genesis 4. Unity has always been a desirable pursuit, Psalm 133. It has not always been an easy exercise. Moses dealt with rebellious siblings, and Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. In Israel, tribe rose up against tribe. Abram’s sentiments to Lot are rarely heard: We are family, so let’s not quarrel, Genesis 13.8.

The early church dealt with challenges to unity at every turn. Judaizers, promoters of human philosophies, libertines, and greedy opportunists sought to slice the family of faith into pieces and prey on the weak. Continue reading “Is unity still a realistic pursuit?”

Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?

The young man in his mid-20s worked behind the counter of the bread store on the plaza next to my office. He served up coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and bread toasted on the grill. His conversation centered on the weekend. He labored five or more days a week, but lived to party on Friday and Saturday nights. His weekdays were nothing more than a countdown to living it up in noise, drink, and carousing.

He worked a dead-end job with a dead-end life. Continue reading “Are you living for the weekend or the world’s end?”

Know what to do with God’s word

James’s three-pronged advice appears, at first glance, to help improve human relationships. It certainly would improve them, were we to apply it to how we deal with others. Not a few sermons and classes take this approach. But attention to context places us on a different plane.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1.19.

Continue reading “Know what to do with God’s word”

A help to many, including me

It took a truck to deliver the 10 pizzas, since the motorcycle deliverer couldn’t manage them all. So here came the owner in his vehicle. And right on time, too.

The pizzas were part of our going-away party, after church, for our son Joel, his wife Tansy, and our two grandchildren. (The fact that they’re the children of our son and daughter-in-law is incidental, understand.) They spent 11 months living down the street from us and will be returning this week to the U.S., as planned.

This was the first time we’ve had grandchildren living near us. It was a grand experience. They were able to see us in our home setting, rather than a few days visiting in their home once a year or so, and then gone again. Continue reading “A help to many, including me”

Learn by doing

Every so often a quote by Lucille Ball appears on social media: “I’d rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not done.” Though expressed in a negative way, the sentiment highlights the importance of action.

A Christian has a positive perspective on action. Little can be learned or gained from inaction. In Scripture, failure to act is frowned upon, mostly. “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, …” Acts 22.16. The Bible condemns laziness and indolence. The Lord does not know those who call him Lord but fail to do God’s will, Matthew 7.21-23. Continue reading “Learn by doing”

The fog will clear

A few days ago, early in the morning, I glanced out my back window toward the apartment building where my son Joel and his family live. They’re living here for a year and found an apartment a couple of blocks away. But their building was gone! I did a double-take and noticed that a heavy fog had rolled in. Nothing could be seen beyond my backyard.

In less than an hour, the fog had lifted. My son’s building and everything else were in place.

The doubts of life are like that morning fog. Continue reading “The fog will clear”

Own your relationship to God

On the prayer website of a popular religious minister of old, the author titles one of his pages with the idea of owning our relationship to God./1

This is a happy phrase. It encourages us to assume responsibility for our relationship with God. I personally have to pursue it and nourish it. I must recognize that no other pursuit is as noble or worthy as knowing God. Fellowship with my Creator must be the great project of life. This means that no one else can assume responsibility for it. Nor can I blame anyone for failures in it. Continue reading “Own your relationship to God”