A people of hope

The world around us seems to be devoid of hope. In Great Britain many are worried about leaving the European Union – after all, for most people, this is all they have known. ISIS continues to cause people around the world to worry, as well as the unstable situation in Korea. People worry about what is ahead of them in life. Perhaps the problem is that they see this life as all there is.

When Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, we find Christians who were worried about the Christians who had already died. Paul wrote, “Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NET). Continue reading “A people of hope”

Becoming fully pleasing to God

As we approach the beginning of another new year, thoughts often go to how we can improve our lives. What changes do we need to make in our life? How can we grow to be more like Jesus?

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, he was thinking about how they needed to grow. They were a people of faith, love and hope – and these were evident in their lives. But they still needed to grow. Notice his prayer for them. Continue reading “Becoming fully pleasing to God”

A life of joy

One of the words we often hear as Christmas approaches is “joy.” We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” We wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when we greet them – even people we don’t know. Yet many people aren’t living lives of merriment, happiness, and joy.

What exactly is “joy”? The dictionary defines it as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford Dictionary of English). The Greek word we find used in the writings of the apostles is “charas” and refers to gladness and often the people that are the cause of one being glad. Continue reading “A life of joy”

Why didn’t they believe?

What would it have been like to be the first to discover that Jesus’ tomb was empty? With all that Jesus had said about his rising on the third day, you might think that the apostles excitedly camped out the night before at the tomb awaiting Jesus’ resurrection. But that was not what happened!.

It was a group of women who discovered that the tomb was empty early that Sunday morning. They went to tell the apostles and all his followers that he was no longer in the tomb. “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11 ESV). Continue reading “Why didn’t they believe?”

The helper

Have you ever wondered how the apostles and writers of the good news of Jesus were able to record all the things he did while teaching and helping people? Not only did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the events of Jesus’ life, but they did it without contradicting each other.

How did Peter, Paul, James, Jude, and John know what to write in the letters they sent to the first Christians? How did they know what Jesus wanted written down about living the Christian life, not only for those living then but also for those who would be Christians in the future? Again, they did it without contradicting the other writers. Continue reading “The helper”

Seeing as clearly as a blind man

There was a man in Jerusalem who was born blind. One Sabbath Jesus stopped as he was passing by. While his followers argued over why the man was blind, Jesus made mud from his own saliva and the dust on the ground, put it on the blind man’s eyelids, and told him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7 NET). The blind man made his way there, washed the mud off his eyes, and came back seeing. He had been healed!

His neighbors could tell there was something different about him. Some weren’t sure if it was really him, but the man kept insisting that it really was. That led to the obvious question: “How then were you made to see?” (John 9:10). The man then told his neighbors what had happened. They wanted to meet Jesus for themselves, but the formerly blind man did not know where he had gone (after all, he had been blind and had gone to wash off the mud). Continue reading “Seeing as clearly as a blind man”

Who was he?

People today are divided in their consideration of who Jesus is. Some believe that he was a good teacher, but that is as far as they are willing to consider him. Others believe he was an imposter. Some even believe that he never existed. Still others maintain that he is who he said he was: the Messiah and the son of God.

That people are divided in their view of Jesus today should not surprise us when we realize that even when Jesus lived on the earth people were divided over who he was. Continue reading “Who was he?”

Cleansing our temple

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:13–17 ESV)

This event seems out of character for Jesus. It is quite a violent scene: animals driven out of the temple courtyard, coins scattered, tables overturned, people ordered to pack up and leave. Continue reading “Cleansing our temple”

How can we have unity?

Before he was betrayed, Jesus spent time in prayer for both himself and his followers (see John 17). He prayed for the men he had chosen and even for those who would believe through their work. His concern was for unity among his followers.

He prayed, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 ESV). Sadly, unity at times seems to allude Christians. Perhaps that is why so few today believe in Jesus. Continue reading “How can we have unity?”

We are all sons of God

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29 NET).

What a great privilege we have to be sons of God! The idea of being a “son” of God is no mere accident nor is it discriminatory. In fact, this was a very liberating concept! In most societies, up until fairly recently, it was the sons – the male descendants – who inherited. Yet in Christ, we all inherit, no matter who we are, through faith. We are all sons! Continue reading “We are all sons of God”