Passing the hat

“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NKJV).

An old country ballad (“Picking Time”) includes the lyrics, “Last Sunday morning when they passed the hat, it was still nearly empty back where I sat.” I don’t remember an assembly of the church in the United States where an actual hat was used to gather the collection. However, not long ago in Asia we visited a small congregation where, when it was time for the offering, it was discovered that there was no bag or pan or other vessel suitable for the purpose. I did however have a hat with me, so it was used. I enjoyed sharing with them the expression “passing the hat” and its tradition in our country. Continue reading “Passing the hat”

Following and worshipping God

It took Solomon seven years to build the temple for God. He began it in the fourth year of his reign and completed it in the eleventh year (1 Kings 6:37-38). He also built a palace for himself which took another thirteen years to build (1 Kings 7:1-12).

Once the temple and all the items to be used in the worship of God was completed, Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to be placed in the inner sanctuary. Israel’s elders, tribal leaders, and all the men of Israel came to witness the transfer of the Ark to the temple. Continue reading “Following and worshipping God”

Genesis as the foundation of theology

Genesis is the most theologically significant historical book in the Old Testament. By some counts, the New Testament quotes from, or alludes to, Genesis over 200 times.

Many of the most heated discussions of the book of Genesis center upon its historicity. Should we take the first eleven chapters of Genesis as literal history, or should we read it as poetry? I stand firmly in the historical narrative camp. The details of Genesis are accurate and important. But if all we ever focus on are the historical details we miss something of even greater importance. Continue reading “Genesis as the foundation of theology”

Of plans and accomplishments

Have you made plans for the new year? Remember that God is a God of plans. His plans are to save all people. When you make your plans within this will of his for salvation, you are guaranteed success.

He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom. This was God’s plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3.10-11 GW.

Continue reading “Of plans and accomplishments”

To him who is powerful

The glory of God unleashes praises. Several biblical writers break out in emotional moments of adoration to God for what he has done in Christ and for what he will still do for his people. The writers are not able to contain themselves before such goodness and grace. These exclamations have been called doxologies, which are often spontaneous expressions of praise to God, such as can be found in Romans 9.5, Ephesians 3.20-21, Revelation 5.13 and Jude 24-25. This term is not found in the Bible itself. Continue reading “To him who is powerful”

Reunions

“And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. … He himself went on before him, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother” (Genesis 33:1, 3 ESV).

When we have been separated from someone for a long time, it is never certain what kind of reception we will confront when we are reunited. Jacob left Esau at a time of stress and enmity. His older brother had actually threatened to kill him. Jacob fled to the country of their ancestors. Continue reading “Reunions”

A house for God

When we think of worshipping God we usually think about a building for this to take place. For many these buildings of worship take on a ‘holy’ status. I know people who believe that the best place to pray to God is in a ‘church building’. Somehow, they believe that by being there they are closer to God and perhaps God will listen more to them in that setting.

The religious Jews in Israel today still have this view of the Western Wall: as this wall was once connected with the temple, where God lived, the closest they can now get to that is the wall. They write out prayers and put them in the cracks between the stones of the wall and, when near the wall, they touch it believing it puts them into closer contact with God. Continue reading “A house for God”

A quiet mind

Do you ever have moments, hours, or even days when your mind is troubled? In an earlier part of my life my mind might race over inconsequential things. It was as if I could feel my mind moving inside but I could not slow it. I have not felt that in years, but now I feel something different.

These last two days my mind has been troubled, not as a roaring engine, but as an agitated body of water. This is not the first time I have felt this. When some friends walked away from Christ, and when others seemed to follow, my mind was troubled. Perhaps you have felt similarly. Continue reading “A quiet mind”

Meet and complete the new year with spiritual power

Was 2019 a year of spiritual growth and service for you? Did you make substantial progress or regress? Did your spiritual power grow or shrink? Did your love for the Lord Jesus Christ expand and reach outward or did it wither and die?

Whatever your evaluation of the year we leave behind, the year forward holds promise of positive change, powerful transformation, and eternal influence. The key to it all is spiritual power, its source the Holy Spirit of God: We are “strengthened with power through his Spirit” Ephesians 3.16.

How does such power come to us? The larger passage of Ephesians 3.14-21 offers us many paths. Continue reading “Meet and complete the new year with spiritual power”

2020 vision

When Luke referred to his biography of Jesus, he summed it up in this way: “I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen” (Acts 1:1-2 NET).

What we do and what we teach must go together. We see that in Jesus’ life: he not only taught the way to live, he lived that way. Continue reading “2020 vision”