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”

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”

On ruts and routines

Christianity cannot be practiced mindlessly. It is not a habit to be formed, forgotten, and inattentively fulfilled – like washing your hands. Rather, serving God by living as a Christian is a purposeful life lived intently.

Routines are helpful in maintaining a godly lifestyle. Cambridge defines routine as “a usual or fixed way of doing things.”

Scripture hints at the value of purposeful routines by showing us the extraordinary daily life of Jesus. Continue reading “On ruts and routines”

The Horn of my salvation

Sought by Saul, David lived a life on the run. His enemies were powerful and determined to snuff out his life. But David had the only ally that matters. Looking back on the deliverance that God accomplished and the salvation that God won for David, the king of Israel praised the King of all creation.

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3 ESV).

David describes Jehovah as “my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.” To David, God is a “shield” and a “stronghold.” We have no trouble visualizing those illustrations. We can envision God as a fortress built upon a high mountain. He is impenetrable. “None of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Psalm 34:22).

The phrase “the horn of my salvation” is more puzzling to us. Only twice is the phrase found in the Old Testament and both are the words of David (see 2 Samuel 22:3). What does David have in mind? Continue reading “The Horn of my salvation”

Yet for us there is one God

The study of the nature of God is a deep and wide well. To plumb the depths and probe the bounds would require more than we can give. How can mortal mind parse the divine? God has given us a good bit of information concerning himself. But try to fully understand God in the flesh. You can have until heaven.

“Yet for us there is one God.”

To the Corinthians, who struggled mightily with idols, Paul wrote:

“Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

In contrast to these dead idols who have “no real existence,” there stands the one God. Continue reading “Yet for us there is one God”

Jehovah or me

The Shema has formed the foundation of Jewish prayers for millennia: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God will all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 ASV). When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus quoted the Shema.

He is one Jehovah. It is here we find that Jehovah is the only true God. There is no other. He alone is worthy of full devotion.

Some translations, like the Lexham English Bible, translate it like this, “Yahweh is unique.” He stands alone among all so-called gods as supreme. He alone is worthy of full devotion. Continue reading “Jehovah or me”

Four steps to eternity

Walter Scott was a pioneer preacher. Born in Scotland, Scott immigrated to the United States in 1818 and subsequently moved west. Scott famously contrasted the tenets of Calvinism with a five-finger exercise.

When he came to preach in a community, Scott would teach children that Acts 2:38 teaches (1) faith, (2) repentance, (3) baptism, (4) forgiveness, and (5) the gift of the Holy Spirit. He’d then tell the children to tell their parents that he would be preaching that message later on in the day.

Scott’s mnemonic device is imminently scriptural, and provides a basis for more teaching on how God saves man. He helped people find salvation in Christ using this teaching method. However, if we are not careful, it can transform into something resembling a check-list, which after completion obligates God and satisfies our service.

I want to suggest a complement of sorts. Consider, if you will, four steps that will take you from where you are to eternity. Continue reading “Four steps to eternity”

Growth, grace, and the gospel

We have joined the happy horde of dog owners. We adopted a sweet and crafty Mini Aussie named Penny. She is a puppy and she acts like a puppy. She chews on toys and on items that are not toys. She digs along the fence and has escaped into a neighbor’s yard on two occasions. With love, training, and patience, she will grow beyond some of the typical puppy behavior. But right now, we cannot expect her to be something she is not. We need to have reasonable expectations.

We are not so different. Children should not be expected to behave as adults. We expect them to be respectful, but we expect them to be children. We give love, training, and patience as they grow. With God’s grace and parental dedication they will move beyond their childhood, into adolescence, and eventually become mature, godly adults. Continue reading “Growth, grace, and the gospel”

The sacrifice of silence

For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth…a time to keep silent, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 NET).

There is just so much noise. Twenty-four-hour news channels, talk radio, and social media provide a ceaseless surge of sound. Unfortunate news is twisted, amplified, and replayed into an unremitting feedback loop. To add to the noise seems almost like pouring a cup of water into the Pacific. I long for silence.

In the midst of all that noise, there are moments of deafening silence. There are occasions when voices must rise and cut through the clamor, speaking with clarity, conviction, and compassion.

When should we speak and when should we be silent? Continue reading “The sacrifice of silence”

Stewards of God’s gifts

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1 ESV).

Everything belongs to God. If everything truly belongs to God then nothing truly belongs to us. While we may be in possession of many things, we are owners of none. Instead we are stewards.

A steward is “a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs; one who administers anything as the agent of another.” Continue reading “Stewards of God’s gifts”