A beautiful picture of worship

Meeting together is a part of who we are as Christians. Church means assembly or meeting. Without the physical assembly of saints, we are not church.

The assembly appears everywhere in the New Testament. One commentator describes some of the elements of the church’s worship in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, in his comments on chapter 4, verses 7-18: Continue reading “A beautiful picture of worship”

Rest from hard work

To see the first and last times that a word occurs in the Bible can often produce interesting observations. This, of course, is pretty much an English exercise for most people. Also, since one will be looking at Hebrew and Greek in the original languages, the exercise doesn’t work so well.

Among the versions there will be variations. (I use the NET Bible.) Still, it’s sometimes a fascinating game, much more so than those that most people play.

This month’s theme and key word is work. In the U.S., at the moment, more people are employed (which we assume means they’re working) than ever before, although the coronavirus may change that. Continue reading “Rest from hard work”

Labor of love

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If working in God’s Kingdom motivated by love seems vague or mysterious to you, let’s bring it down to earth a bit and put it in human terms.

So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because his love for her was so great, Genesis 29.20.

Set aside for the moment that Jacob “acquired” Laban’s daughter and that he had to work seven years to do it. Focus on the next statement. Seven years seemed like only a few days to him. Time was telescoped to almost nothing “because his love for her was so great.” Continue reading “Labor of love”

The sin of laziness

During our first months in Brazil, aeons ago, two of our Portuguese teachers discussed, rather heatedly, whether or not Brazilians were by nature lazy. One believed it zealously, while the other noted how much time Brazilians spent getting to and from work, as well as how long their work week was.

Years later, a Brazilian brother shared his dream of retirement: living on the beach and spending his days in a hammock. That sounds pretty lazy to me. But then it’s retirement, right? I doubt, however, that many people would buy into his dream. Continue reading “The sin of laziness”

The knowledge of God

Let us never forget that the essence of the Way is the knowledge of God. Any hint to the contrary ought to be promptly rejected. By knowledge is meant both knowing about God and knowing God intimately. One can have the former without the latter, but never the latter without the former. Mystics might affirm communion without the facts, and postmodernists may think relationship possible without objective truth, because they place religion on separate plane from normal life, but the incarnation of Jesus Christ sweeps away their fuzziness.

The wisdom of God has been brought down to earth. Of course, it was always practical, always present for man to grasp, but in the Lord Jesus it was internalized and manifested in a new way. God’s word has always been sharp, clear, and pragmatic. His counsel to Cain, early on in human history, serves as a prime example. Continue reading “The knowledge of God”

How living by emotion harms you

Emotions are a gift of God. We can feel Adam’s enthusiasm in his words upon first seeing Eve. Jesus himself expressed a complete range of feelings, from joy to exasperation.

Like all things human, emotions were also subjected to futility after the Fall, Romans 8.20. Satan uses our emotions to steer us away from God’s will. One of his best tactics is to stir up our feelings so that he can manipulate us.

When the Evil One manages to persuade us to live by our emotions, he knows the potential to harm us and keep us from God. How exactly does living by emotion harm us? Continue reading “How living by emotion harms you”

We must hear God's voice to be saved

Hear his voice

Jesus cited Isaiah 6.9-10 to explain why people didn’t understand his parables. Paul cited the same passage, and Luke uses it at the end of Acts, to explain the rejection of the gospel by the Jews.

What catches our attention about the Isaiah passage is that it follows directly the account of the prophet’s vision of God’s holy glory and his calling to go speak to the people. Continue reading “Hear his voice”

Get and follow good advice

Where do you go for advice? Who do you listen to? When do you feel the greatest need for guidance?

You can find advice everywhere. Just ask your neighbor. Turn on any television channel. Walk into any bookstore or library. Websites abound with people telling you what to think or do or urging you how to feel.

But not all advice is good. Much of what people recommend you to do will actually get you into trouble. Continue reading “Get and follow good advice”

The transformer of soul and place and time

God transforms lives. This we know already. In immersion, we are created anew. We are born again, John 3.3, 5. We become new creatures. The old passes away.

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5.17.

The physical and material conditions of life count for little. Continue reading “The transformer of soul and place and time”