The bold church speaks the Word

The four accounts of the Great Commission, as well as passages like Hebreus 5.12, have often been used, properly, to show the necessity of the mission of God being fulfilled by the whole people of God. The whole church to the whole world, so to speak. Another text not so widely recognized that buttresses the task of proclaiming the gospel to all by all the saints is in Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Continue reading “The bold church speaks the Word”

Just a hand

Last week I drove past a man walking on the sidewalk carrying sacks from a purchase he’d evidently just made. He had no hands. His arms were stumps, but he was able to carry his sacks. He was managing.

Jesus entered a synagogue to teach. A man with a withered hand was there. It was widely known that he would heal people on the sabbath. Continue reading “Just a hand”

A sharp sickle in his hand

The main image of the sickle or scythe that people have is the caricature of death coming to reap (take away) life. Death is called the Grim Reaper. It is a popular image today among gamers. The sickle is an implement with a crescent-shaped blade attached to a short handle, used for cutting grain or tall grass.

In the book of Revelation, it is not Death personified, but an angel of God who wields the sickle. It is in his hand. The hand, in the Old Testament, is that part of the body “that carries out a person’s will” (Richards 324). John shares that perspective. Here, the angel is carrying out the will of God. Frank Cox noted that this angel is in the central part of seven in this part of chapter from verses 6-20 (Cox 90). It is a key section, then. This is an important moment and key action in the book. Continue reading “A sharp sickle in his hand”

Search for the perfect

On my microblog site at randal.us, I mentioned, “That elusive search for the perfect WordPress theme is like going after the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: Just over the next rise.” In productivity books and sites, there’s an idea that the search for the perfect thing is a waste of time and energy. Go for what is good enough, they say.

Some people never find the perfect present for their loved one. Writers disappear in rabbit holes looking for the perfect word. Job hoppers can never seem to find the perfect employment. Continue reading “Search for the perfect”

Something totally new, not the ‘old raised to perfection’

The Portuguese-language Ave Maria Bible has a strange expression in its Doctrinal Index, in the entry on the word “covenant”. It briefly discusses the covenant with Israel, with a short list of various covenants made with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. There is a single sentence (how strange!) about Christ’s covenant, which mentions the covenant with Israel:

“Jesus Christ at the last supper and in the sacrifice of the cross raises this covenant to perfection, conferring on man true righteousness and divine adoption, Matthew 26.28; Romans 3.21ff.”

Let’s hear what the Lord Jesus himself said. Continue reading “Something totally new, not the ‘old raised to perfection’”

‘I love not thinking’

On the alternative social media I frequent, somebody republished an image made on the internet, which carried these words: “I love not thinking.” I went to see the profile of the person. She was aggressive, angry, and unhappy.

The person had not found happy and positive thoughts. She probably would agree with the biblical writer who said, “My thoughts trouble me and I have no peace” Psalm 55.2 NLT. Human thoughts are “futile” Romans 1.21; 1 Corinthians 3.20. Continue reading “‘I love not thinking’”

‘I want you’

When writers make plays on words, they often emphasize great truths. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation in defense of his apostleship. He made clear he was only interested in the spiritual welfare: “I seek not yours, but you” 2 Corinthians 12.14. By that he meant he did not want their money or possessions. Many translations use these terms. None, however, expand on Paul’s compressed phrase, “I want you.” One commentator expressed it well: “Paul wants his readers to know that it is the gift of their lives to Christ, not of their money to himself, that he covets” (Furnish 564).

How can we today make clear this sentiment of Paul’s? We don’t want people’s money, but we want people themselves, that is, we want to win people for Christ. We have no ulterior motives. We seek the good of others, offering them eternal life, just as it was offered to us. Continue reading “‘I want you’”

Developing the mindset of gratitude

Gratitude journals are a popular thing in some circles. Isn’t it good to see this? In a harsh and bitter world, cultivating a grateful heart can only produce good things.

Gratitude makes up a large part of a Christian’s prayers. So reasons for gratitude provide plenty of material for one’s communion with God.

Remember that many Israelites fell in the desert between Egypt and Canaan for lack of gratitude (mumbling and complaining). The apostle Paul considered it so important that he told saints to cultivate it three times, in three different ways, each mention in close proximity, in Colossians 3.15-17 (ESV): Continue reading “Developing the mindset of gratitude”

The joy of the peacemaker

If Jesus says it, and if the word he uses appears only one time in all the New Testament, it catches our attention. So the verse in Matthew 5.9, coming as it does as a part of the Beatitudes, at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, especially brings our head up:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Here go some sundry thoughts on the verse. Continue reading “The joy of the peacemaker”