Looking back or forward?

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).

I was going down the three flights of steps from my apartment at Khulna Bible College carrying some treats Brenda had prepared for the workers. Unfortunately I had failed to take off my bifocals and as I descended, the steps were out of focus, causing me to miss one and fall. Thankfully I was near the bottom and it was not a hard, injury-producing fall, but enough to make me more careful nonetheless. Continue reading “Looking back or forward?”

Life and immortality

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8-10 ESV).

Life and death. It is a lesson we learn early on; that which is born is going to die. It seems to be an unbroken cycle. Life is a gift, death is a curse. We rejoice with those who experience new life, and we mourn with those who experience death.

For thousands of years people lived and died without knowing the full measure of God’s grace. The faithful longed to see it (Matthew 13:17). The prophets wished to know the fulness of their message (1 Peter 1:10). What is the meaning of life? How will God deal with sin and death? Continue reading “Life and immortality”

Entering into Christ, living in Christ

Each person enters into Christ, by baptism, individually. People can even be immersed at the same time, as happened with three thousand souls at the beginning of the church in Acts 2, but the decision is personal. No one can decide for anyone else.

While we enter into Christ individually, we live in Christ as a community, as a family. Life in Christ does not exist outside of a vigorous participation with his people. Continue reading “Entering into Christ, living in Christ”

Peace on earth

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’” (Luke 12:13-14 NKJV).

No word is more descriptive of the ultimate impact of the coming of Jesus than the word “peace.” It was proclaimed in the announcement of his birth. It is part of one of his many divine and royal titles (i.e., “Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6). Through Jesus who “Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), we are reconciled with God and with other humans. Jesus “preached peace to you who were far off and to peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17). Continue reading “Peace on earth”

Who do we believe in?

Timothy is one of those people that we know a little about but not a lot. As Paul began his second letter to him we see more of who he was, but would still like to know more.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:6-8 NIV)

We learn that through Paul Timothy had received a gift, presumably one of the gifts of the Spirit. We don’t know what this gift was but we do know that Timothy wasn’t using it. Paul told his young friend that he needed to “fan into flame the gift of God” – he needed to get it burning within him again. Continue reading “Who do we believe in?”

A love that is fickle and a love that endures

Engaged couples often describe their fiancé as being their best friend. They can also feel deeply attracted to their fiancé as they experience the feeling that this will last forever. Is this enough?

The data, however, does not lie. We hear, “I fell out of love,” far too often. The love they thought would fill a lifetime evaporated.

Fortunately, there is another kind of love that does endure. When we understand how these types of love differ, we possess the ability to change the odds in our favor. Continue reading “A love that is fickle and a love that endures”

They marched boldly

Ten awesome plagues. Pharoah finally gives in to Moses’ demand and releases the children of Israel. God grants them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, who give them silver, gold, and clothing. They see appear before them the Lord in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light.

Egypt behind them, freedom up ahead. “… the sons of Israel were going out boldly” Exodus 14:8, NASB.

What a heady feeling it must have been! Clutching their firstborn children, the Israelites get their first taste of victory and freedom. Continue reading “They marched boldly”

Impress God with prayer

Our prayers are important to God, though there are those whose prayers sometimes target human ears, not God’s.

It seems absurd in the extreme that some people pray to be seen and heard by others when prayer is specifically for God. The Lord Jesus talked about this type of person in Matthew chapter 6. He told his listeners that prayer should not imitate “the hypocrites.” The word “hypocrite” in the New Testament hearkened back to the days of Greek theatre. Actors would wear a mask depicting their character. A hypocrite is someone who wears a false face. Continue reading “Impress God with prayer”

What do we see?

“As he passed by, he saw a man” (John 9:1 ESV).

It is not difficult to recruit people to go on a mission trip to Nepal. Everyone knows about “The Rooftop of the World,” the home of much of the Himalaya Mountains. We are all fascinated by mountains, and that fascination increases exponentially when Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks enter into the discussion. The scenery is awesome, the sense of adventure overwhelming. One returns from a visit to such places with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

But there is much more to this remote, densely populated nation than magnificent vistas. More than 30 million people inhabit its approximately 57,000 square miles (roughly 1/3 larger than the state of Tennessee). More than 90% of the population claim Hinduism or Buddhism as their religious faith. Taken together, these constitute the world’s largest current polytheistic and idolatrous religion. In the New Testament Paul spoke of his joy over those who turned “from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). He regarded them as having escaped bondage to enjoy freedom in Christ Jesus. Continue reading “What do we see?”