A new-year start with sundry thoughts

Thoughts fly at the beginning of a new year, almost as fast as the time that brought it. Here are a few items on my personal radar that might encourage you or provide you with an idea or two.

¶ I mentioned January 1st that for 2018 I’d be reading Ed Mathews’s daily devotional work, “Plow New Ground.” It’s meaty in dealing with the text and brings powerful application to our walk with God. I hope to post a daily comment and focus question on my microblog. Come follow that or pop in on occasion to exchange some ideas.

¶ Ye olde mission statement is getting tweaked, and a new Bible verse for the year is in the process of being chosen. All that ought to get nailed down this week. In the meantime, read this short piece to be pondered frequently, “Daily Attitudes.” Continue reading “A new-year start with sundry thoughts”

The years of our lives

A year is a God-given division of time. He made the heavenly lights to mark days, seasons, and years. So people — recognizing God’s sovereignty or not — make plans for a year, such as traveling, doing business, and making money, James 4.13.

As people age, it seems that “the years that lie ahead are few” Job 16.22. Even though we may reach the ripe old age of 80, “the years of our lives pass quickly, like a sigh” Psalm 90.9-10. But Solomon said it doesn’t matter if you lived a thousand years twice, death is still coming for you, Ecclesiastes 6.1-9. Maybe how you live, and what you live for, is what really matters, yes?

The Bible has a recipe for adding years to one’s life: wisdom, Proverbs 4.10; 9.11, and obedience to parents, Deuteronomy 5.16; Ephesians 6.1-3. Diet and exercise are good, but God’s plan for longevity is better. Remember that Hezekiah got 15 years added to his life, but it didn’t turn out so well for him, Isaiah 38.5. Continue reading “The years of our lives”

May every soul say, ‘My Lord and my God’

In this world there is little peace for humankind and little hope for it in the future. Jesus offers an eternal peace, of the heart, free from the vicissitudes of life and politics. While Christians pray for governing authorities, they place no hope in them. Confidence, only in Christ. He came from God and returned to God. He knew why he came to earth and fulfilled that purpose. During his time on earth, he loved, and he loved to the end. He was sure of his place before the Father, having received from him all power to bring divine love to its proper conclusion. He exercised this power with wisdom and knowledge.

Jesus calls his people to imitate his example. While his love took turns that were specific to his role in the eternal plan, its serving nature, with no holds barred, must take firm hold in his people. God is not impressed with rituals, done repeatedly for points, in the human mind, or to satisfy some random demand of heaven, as man sees it. He does command some specific actions, and through those he does bring his life and Spirit, but God looks behind the acts to the motivations and yearnings of the heart. He wants to see those and the practice of love — genuine, sincere, honest, profound. Continue reading “May every soul say, ‘My Lord and my God’”

Faith, hope, love

The most powerful trio in the world

This three-stranded cord will not be broken, Ecclesiastes 4.12. No earthly powers can prevail against them. With them the word of the Lord will continue to grow and prevail, Acts 19.20. Whoever possesses them will be counted blessed and will stand against all foes and discouragements.

We who belong to the light put them on as we learn to look for the Lord’s coming, 1 Thessalonians 4.13-5.11. They guarantee victory. Continue reading “The most powerful trio in the world”

Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment

Some people are wanting to modify the Brazilian flag. They propose adding a word to the phrase, “Order and Progress,” written across it. They want it to read, “Love, Order and Progress.”

People know love is important. They just don’t know what love is. The Bible explains and demonstrates it. The Way of Christ is defined by it.

You know, of course, that Jesus didn’t create the commandment to love God during his time on earth, Matthew 22.37-38. It was already in the Old Testament. He did, however pick it out and join it to the commandment to love one’s neighbor in order to make the two the great hook upon which hang God’s great plan of salvation. Continue reading “Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment”

Of dips and dales

Rousing successes and mountain-top victories are not the stuff of life. They do not produce life nor can they define it.

Elijah discovered this, post-Carmel, 1 Kings 18-19. Wise men warn against letting the dips and valleys of experience determine personal value and satisfaction; let them alert the foolish that neither can the peaks and heights of accomplishment.

Many seek to increase time spent on the slopes of success. They strive for the vibrant hills of a moving heart. But the tops can be, in their own way, as draining as the dale. For beyond the pinnacle lies the downward incline to the next dip. Continue reading “Of dips and dales”

Show, don’t tell

“Show, don’t tell.” This basic principle rules the writing world. It makes life easier, also. To teach a man to fish, he must see you fishing. Personal-development guru Anthony Robbins wrote in his 1991 book, Awaken the Giant Within,

If you’re not sure how to get yourself out of pain and to feel pleasure as a replacement to your smoking, drinking, worrying, or other undesirable emotion or behavior, you can simply find the answers by modeling people who have turned things around for themselves. Find people who have made the lasting changes; I guarantee you’ll find that they had an alternative to replace the old behavior (p. 135).

The Bible both tells and shows. It communicates the message of truth and gives us visual lessons, both positive and negative, on how to be holy. Examples abound from beginning to end. All the great virtues shine in flesh-and-blood people throughout the pages of Scripture. Continue reading “Show, don’t tell”

The problem is not in the harvest

He started out as a practicing Catholic. He made pilgrimages to Aparecida, Brazil’s religious center for the veneration of Mary. He hated “believers,” as fundamental evangelicals are called here. Once, he even threw a pail of water on two Protestants who were doing door-to-door evangelism.

Elijah, as we’ll call him, later converted to Protestantism. He became a Pentecostal pastor. As a dedicated man, he received in return that pail of water from someone who also hated believers. Continue reading “The problem is not in the harvest”

Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’

In 1 Thessalonians 2.3, a section of the letter where he defends himself against accusations of disinterest or self-interest, Paul described his evangelistic work among the Thessalonians as “our exhortation.”

For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

The quotation above, from the NET Bible, translates “our exhortation” as “the appeal we make.” An exhortation is an urgent appeal for someone to take a course of action. An exhortation tells someone, “You ought to do this.” Continue reading “Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’”