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?”

As shining lights

Fathers want the best for their children. Most of all, fathers want happiness for them.

My father, a gospel preacher for more than 30 years, always wanted me to be a preacher. My first name came as a result of my father’s love of scripture. His vision for me was to become like Jesus and develop a love of the truth so that I might be saved and proclaim the gospel to others. Continue reading “As shining lights”

Visiting the afflicted

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, ESV).

The call came to the administrators of Khulna Bible College. “Mrs. Baidya has had a stroke and would very much appreciate a visit from Mike Brooks.” This elderly lady is one of the original members of a rural congregation almost three hours drive from the college campus. She and her late husband had provided the land on which the small tin and wood church building which the church used for about 25 years had stood. One son and at least two daughters still live in the village and are members of the congregation. I was happy to comply with her request and, accompanied by several men from KBC, made the trip a few days later. Continue reading “Visiting the afflicted”

Concern … and answered prayer

When Paul visited Thessalonica he did what he did wherever he went – he went first to the Jews to tell them the good news of Jesus. For three straight weeks he taught in the synagogue from the Jewish scriptures – the Old Testament – about the Messiah, that he would suffer, and that he would rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah” (Acts 17:3 NIV).

The reaction he received was both positive and negative. “Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the market-place, formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” (Acts 17:4-5). It got so bad that Paul and Silas had to be sent away from Thessalonica – they went initially to Berea and then Paul ended up in Athens. Continue reading “Concern … and answered prayer”

Bewildering hermeneutics, complexity and truth

I recently read a book whose opening chapters were bent on attacking a particular method of applying scripture to today’s world. The author proceeded to break down the process of that hermeneutical model into a series of bewildering charts filled with mind-numbing complexity.

Not only would any typical person want to run away from a process of such inane minutia, most Christians would probably despair of being capable of implementing it. His attack would seem to be successful. However, his assault unravels if we are willing to stop and think about it. Continue reading “Bewildering hermeneutics, complexity and truth”

Humility now, exaltation later

Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:5, 6 ESV).

Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.

The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Continue reading “Humility now, exaltation later”