Better to have never been born

Job expressed the desire to have never been born, so great was his suffering. In his moral confusion, Solomon considered better than both the living and the dead “the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth” Ecclesiastes 4.3.

The Lord Jesus used this idea, of better to have never been born, for the one who betrayed him. Continue reading “Better to have never been born”

Calling evil good, and good evil

Shakespeare put the question, “What’s in a name?”

I choose my flower varieties on their own merits — appearance, ease of culture, hardiness, taste, etcetera. However, while putting together a design for a renovated flower bed, it became apparent that some of the gorgeous members of the new color collection had some very questionable names. Continue reading “Calling evil good, and good evil”

Upgraded!

“But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:10-11 NKJV).

When I handed in my boarding pass to go onto the airplane in Doha, Qatar, on my most recent flight, I was told to wait a moment. The agent went to the counter, exchanged my economy pass for a business class seat and returned to give it to me. Continue reading “Upgraded!”

Speak only God’s word

In Numbers 22 we are introduced to a prophet named Balaam. Most who have heard of Balaam remember him because he had a donkey that spoke. What is significant is not so much the fact that the donkey talked but why the donkey was given the ability to speak.

The Israelites were now at the end of their forty year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were travelling up the east side of the Jordan and encountering various struggles as they travelled. They finally were encamped in the plains of Moab. How would we feel if several million people camped just outside the city where we live? Continue reading “Speak only God’s word”

The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?

It is written” (Luke 4:12).

“The Bible means exactly what it says!” I’ve heard this a number of times, and in one sense, I agree. In another sense, that statement could inadvertently be more dangerous than it seems.

The Bible is not just a literal composition. Yes, it is a rule of thumb to understand any passage literally unless there is good reason or evidence to understand it otherwise. However, it should also be understood by all students of the Bible that there is plenty of reason to not take some passages literally. We will illustrate this in a moment. Continue reading “The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?”

The chosen in Christ

Paul’s words in Ephesians 1 are clear. Nevertheless, a story about a letter can perhaps provide a fresh appreciation for his message and what it means for us.

Although I certainly did not graduate with a degree in chemistry and chances are you have not either, let’s pretend we did. Now imagine receiving a letter from our alma mater’s chemistry chairperson: “The president of our university chose us in chemistry before our chemistry program ever began to be educated and prepared for employment.”
Continue reading “The chosen in Christ”

Context is important

Context is important. If you heard the words, “dead dog,” all that would tell you is that a dog is dead. There is no other information. Yet, the more information added to that statement would bring out what happened to the dog.

Interpreting the Bible is a matter of understanding the context of a passage under consideration, and  the context of the chapter and of the book. Disregarding the context is one of the reasons why people can make costly mistakes in understanding God’s word. Continue reading “Context is important”

Wanting to be ‘in charge’

How often are problems caused because people want to be the one in charge, the one telling others what to do? This is not only a problem today, but one that Moses had to deal with. Keep in mind that Moses did not want to be the leader of the Israelites, but God had selected him and got rid of all his excuses at the burning bush. God selected Moses’ brother Aaron to be his spokesman and later to be the high priest for Israel in the worship of God.

A couple of years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the border of the Promised Land. After sending twelve men to get the lay of the land, they were so disheartened by the strength of the inhabitants that they refused to conquer the land. This led to a number of problems including challenging the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Continue reading “Wanting to be ‘in charge’”

Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?

We know the message and it comforts our hearts. In his grace God pours out salvation upon us, the undeserving. We can be redeemed, made holy and adopted as God’s people because our salvation rests upon Christ, not our righteousness. Furthermore, the cleansing power of the Messiah’s blood is greater than any sin we might bring to him.

So, how compatible is grace with the command to make every effort to live up to God’s calling? If we feel like these are opposing ideas, we would not be alone. Continue reading “Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?”