Give our best

There is a principle found throughout the Bible concerning our giving to the Lord. The principle is very simple: you must give your best. When it came to animals that were sacrificed, here are the instructions God gave the Israelites.

“You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the Lord or give them to the Lord as a food offering on the altar” (Leviticus 22:20-22 ESV). Continue reading “Give our best”

Hypocrites and church expectations

I recently saw a television show where a religious leader was involved in some kind of distinctly unchristian activity. One of the main characters, a crime detective declares, “It makes you wonder about belief in God.”

By the way, there is a logical fallacy here. To find that people in the church are not perfect is no evidence that there is, or is not, a God in heaven! Continue reading “Hypocrites and church expectations”

Active ingredients

“And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened'” (Luke 13:20-21 NRS).

Societies, like recipes, are a blend of various ingredients. One does not bake bread from meal or flour alone. Neither does any nation consist of completely identical citizens. There is diversity of race, age, gender, education, economic status, religious commitment, and cultural development, to mention only a few of the vast differences which distinguish individuals. Continue reading “Active ingredients”

Devoted

Rather than going to worship, young people often use the term “devotional.” I actually like what that term implies. It comes from the word “devoted,” and refers to an act that is completely committed to some cause or person. In these sessions, our young people devote themselves thoroughly to the Lord.

The reason I mention this is because so many, so often, enter into times of worship with apparently little intention of devoting themselves to anything that is said and done. Rather than devoted, they are disinterested. Continue reading “Devoted”

His lovingkindness is everlasting

After Jesus and his disciples observed the Passover, they sang a hymn and went out toward the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane.

One commentator said the hymn Jesus and his disciples sung was probably “The Hillel” or Psalm 136. Though it has 26 verses, it is a fairly easily memorized Psalm because each verse ends with the same last words: “For his lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Do you think the disciples understood what they were singing with Jesus? Continue reading “His lovingkindness is everlasting”

It pays to be a Christian

In 313 A.D. Constantine the Great proclaimed the Edict of Milan, where persecution of the church ended. It would be hard to overstate the significance of this moment. For two hundred years the mightiest empire in history had turned its attention to snuffing out a religion that appealed to the poor, peasants, fishermen – the weak and unimportant of the empire. Christians had suffered unspeakably. Continue reading “It pays to be a Christian”

Drawing an audience

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, . . . Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” (Matthew 3:1, 5).

One of the attractions of preaching in countries like Nepal and Bangladesh is the number of people who will travel long distances under difficult circumstances to hear one’s lessons. On my very first trip to Nepal I met some brothers from the mountains who had come to Katmandu to hear me preach. When I asked where they lived they said, “It is two days walk from our village to the end of the bus route, then a 12 hour ride on the bus to Katmandu.” Continue reading “Drawing an audience”

God’s song

If you were to drop by my garden unexpectedly while I’m working in it, you’d have a good chance of finding me singing. I’m not warning you ahead of time in order to avoid your calling Animal Control about a bobcat on the loose. I am simply trying to make the point that being close to nature puts a song in one’s heart.

There are many hymns that invoke the sounds and sights of a garden. At every turn in a natural setting, one might find a horticultural treasure that inspires a person to break out in a song of praise. Continue reading “God’s song”