Jesus the supreme example of suffering

Some people make it almost a life’s goal to avoid or remove any type of discomfort in their lives. They live by a dangerous misconception that happiness depends upon the absence of suffering and pain. Jesus’ gave us the supreme example of humility and also the supreme example of suffering. Following him is the key to joy and meaning.

Originally, man was created to enjoy life with God without suffering or pain. (Perhaps the deep-seated aversion to them and attempts to avoid them rise from this truth.) The Garden of Eden was the perfect place for man’s fellowship (relationship) with God. He had all he wanted or needed. Nothing lacked. Everything abounded in supply and variety. In the Garden, Adam and Eve had no worries, no cares, no difficulties. This was God’s eternal design. Continue reading “Jesus the supreme example of suffering”

Jesus the model of humility

Name the most important, most powerful position you can think of among the world’s top people. President of the U.S.? The richest man in the world? The world’s most popular entertainment figure? Imagine them giving up all that they have and the position they enjoy to live in a run-down apartment in one of the most dangerous poverty areas. How hard would that be?

Such a change of lifestyle doesn’t even come close to what Jesus did. He is God. He enjoys all the glories of heaven. But he gave up his divine position and stepped down to become a lowly human being — a poor man from a podunk town. Even further, he suffered the most horrible torture and death, as an innocent man, in one of the greatest wrongs of all time. On top of that, he bore the sins of mankind on his shoulders.

Jesus is the very definition of humility. The dictionary’s entry is dry next to Jesus’ demonstration of it. Continue reading “Jesus the model of humility”

Get in the zone

Life means movement. The dead are still. The living are in motion. The apostle Paul presented the one true God to the Athenians, saying of him: “For in him we live and move about and exist” Acts 17.28 NET.

Spiritual life, or eternal life, as it is often called, also means movement. To start this life, there must be motion — an entering into the place where this life begins.

Eternal life is unlike physical life in at least one respect: a person chooses to possess it. God initiates it, provides it, creates it, calls us to it, but we must move toward it. We must go where it can be had. Continue reading “Get in the zone”

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”

‘A universal proverb among Christians’

Driving one Sunday morning up US Highway 45 in Tennessee, on our way to report on our work to a congregation outside of the town of Dyersburg, we passed a denominational church building with a sign posted near the right-of-way. It was simple, with three words, one on top of the other: Scripture, Tradition, Reason.

In truth, in order to reflect that group’s positions, the order ought to be reversed: reason, tradition, scripture. The denomination could not exist were it not for human reasoning and religious tradition, because its name and its teachings do not appear in Scripture in any form.

Division among people who call themselves Christians is a serious problem. Religious leaders not only justify it, but promote it. They glory in human names and creeds. They impose their doctrines and, like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, make their followers “twice as much a child of hell as” themselves, Matthew 23.15. Continue reading “‘A universal proverb among Christians’”

A proverb in the mouth of fools

Last week I began the final edit of a book for a friend. It’s a delight to read and an easy work to revise. He has the gift of words and, specifically, of writing. If I weren’t a servant of God, I’d be tempted to envy. He makes reading a joy, and learning a pleasure.

Not everyone has such a gift, and that’s a fine thing, since it’s God’s plan. But some people have what might be called an anti-gift.

Proverbs 26 enlightens the reader about the actions of fools. Among them is the use of a proverb in the mouth of fools. They are not only inept, their bad usage screeches against the ear. Continue reading “A proverb in the mouth of fools”

The gospel of power

Let us never speak of the requirements of the gospel without speaking, in the same breath, of the power of the gospel, not only to save, but to sustain.

Many in the world are power-seekers, Jeremiah 9.23. It gives them a sense of worth and purpose. From the school-yard bully to the national dictator, not a few want to be the winner of the fighter’s ring. Their glory is the knock-out. Continue reading “The gospel of power”

Many or few in the Kingdom of God?

Luke 13.18-30

Many of us have favorite subjects to talk about. We gravitate to them without thinking.

When he’s not talking about going to heaven, our brother Paulo’s conversation turns toward working out at the gym (he owns one) and soccer (he used to be a professional player).

Jesus had his favorite subjects, also. His teaching might well be summed up in the phrase, “Kingdom of God.” He uses it in Luke 13.18, 20, at the beginning of our text, and again at the end of it, in vv. 28 and 29. Continue reading “Many or few in the Kingdom of God?”

Delivered out of the power of darkness

More than 30 years ago, we wrote an evangelistic study which we still use today, among others. In that study, the very first text we teach others is Genesis 1.1-3. A main point of this reading emphasizes God’s power as he created the universe with a word. His power is unlimited. He is more powerful than any other. He is omnipotent.

His power overcomes all others. This is what Paul affirms in a prayer in Colossians 1: Continue reading “Delivered out of the power of darkness”