What the hand reveals

“And when he had said this, he showed them both his hands and his side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20, NASB).

Almost everyone now seems to realize the unique nature of individual fingerprints. These elements of the human hand contain numerous whorls and other identifying characteristics that distinguish each individual from all others on earth. Fingerprints constitute evidence that in a legal setting may prove the presence of an accused at the scene of a crime and lead to conviction for that crime. Continue reading “What the hand reveals”

In your hand

“The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff’” (Exodus 4:2 ESV).

Anthropologists and other scientists tell us that the two physiological features that most clearly differentiate human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom are the size (and complexity) of their brains and the unique capabilities of their hands, especially because of the opposing thumbs that only humans possess. These hands allow for the efficient use of inanimate objects (i.e., tools) which almost infinitely extend the power and efficiency of human endeavors. Note that the ability of the hand to grip and use tools is paired with the ability of the brain to invent and adapt their use. Continue reading “In your hand”

Setting God’s agenda

“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’” (Luke 12:13-14 ESV).

One of the most persistent human endeavors is to attempt to compel God to do our will. An observation of worldwide religious activities reveals that many of those things we call “worship” are actually attempts to persuade or coerce “god” to perform actions which we desire to be done. These include the many fertility rituals, much sacrifice, and even many prayers. Continue reading “Setting God’s agenda”

Everyone who hates

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15, ESV).

When readers of the Bible begin to consider sin, and to classify those which are most serious and harmful, they almost invariably think of sins of physical action which have the most harmful or offensive results. Murder, rape, child molestation and others of such nature are almost always considered to be the “worst” sins, those for which forgiveness must be most difficult to obtain.

It does not take long however to discover that God’s list of “worst” sins is not necessarily the same as ours. In particular, he is much more concerned with the impact on one’s spirit or heart than on the consequences of sin to our flesh. No statement is more emphatic than the text cited at the beginning of this article — 1 John 3:15. Continue reading “Everyone who hates”

The power of prayer

“For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the Lord listened to me that time also” (Deuteronomy 9:19 NASB).

When we think of the effectiveness of prayers to God we generally think in terms of providential or even miraculous actions by which God responds. We turn to James 5:13-18 with its example of Elijah’s prayers for drought and rain. We also remember Jesus’ lesson to his disciples concerning the withered fig tree (Mark 11:20-24). Continue reading “The power of prayer”

Is your God handicapped?

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not’” (Numbers 11:25 NKJV).

About a year after their deliverance from Egypt, after celebrating Passover for the second time, Israel departed from Mount Sinai to journey to Canaan. Shortly after beginning that trip they began to complain about their diet of only manna (Numbers 11:4-6). Remembering the varied diet of Egypt, they demanded meat. Moses cried out to God, who promised to feed them meet for a complete month (verses 19-20). At that incredible statement Moses asked how it could be possible. That brought about the Lord’s response, essentially, “Is my arm too short?” Continue reading “Is your God handicapped?”

A source of hope

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2 ESV).

Our Bibles are “bookended” with references to the Tree of Life. Near the beginning, Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). Then at the end of the final book Heaven is depicted as the environment where the tree of life continually bears fruit. Earlier in that same book Jesus promised, “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Continue reading “A source of hope”

Rejoicing in hope

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God … Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-2, 5, NKJV).

Some years ago I was part of a group of Americans in another country who were stranded because of an uprising which caused our airline to suspend operations. For several days we stayed in a hotel trying to arrange travel on other carriers. Needless to say, we were anxious about the situation and frustrated at the delay in our return home. Continue reading “Rejoicing in hope”

Is evil universal?

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. Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips, their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18, NET).

During decades of travel in many parts of the world, I have frequently been shocked at the amount and intensity of corruption and violence which prevails in places I have visited. I have been tempted to rate locations as to which was most corrupt, or most dangerous. However I have come to the realization that those qualities exist everywhere I have been, and am now convinced that they are truly universal. Wherever people live there are bad people with evil intent. Continue reading “Is evil universal?”

A real man

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth” (Jeremiah 5:1 NKJV).

For much of my lifetime American culture has sought to define, or redefine, what it means to be a man. Not only what it means to be human, but more specifically what it means to be an adult male human. What are the defining characteristics of that particular form of life?

Several decades ago the ideal man was, to many, something like a TV western hero (Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp for us old timers), the actors who portrayed them (John Wayne or Clint Eastwood for example) or possibly the “Marlboro Man” of the old tobacco commercials. Muscles, an inscrutable attitude, and lots of fortitude were basic ingredients. Continue reading “A real man”