“Follow me”

Jesus never intended that his mission to the world be one of solitude. If he had been independent and worked by himself, what would have happened when he was executed? The intention was to always have others working with him. To that end we find him gathering a group of men to train after returning to Galilee from the time spent in the Judean wilderness after being tempted for forty days by the devil following his baptism. Continue reading ““Follow me””

Encouraging with God’s word

Editor’s note: We missed publishing this article by Jon last week. My bad. It deserves a good read and lots of sharing.

As we read the letters of the apostle Paul that we have we can get some insight into the love he had for other Christians as well as how he dealt with people. His first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica has many references to his feelings for them. Paul was only in Thessalonica a short time before he had to leave due to the uproar caused by the Jews (see Acts 17:1-10). You might think that his being there for such a short time would not allow him to establish strong relationships. His letter to them reveals otherwise.

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 NIV) Continue reading “Encouraging with God’s word”

Seek me and live

Although Amos was from Judah his message from God was for the northern kingdom. He was based in Bethel, where Jeroboam had set up one of the calf-idols for the people Israel to worship. Amos’ message to the northern kingdom was of their need to return to God: “Seek me and live.”

“This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.’ Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no-one to quench it.” (Amos 5:4-6 NIV)

With no punches held, Amos detailed what would happen to Israel for going after idols: God’s judgement was coming. He compared Israel to a basket of ripe fruit: the time was ripe for God’s judgement and he would spare his people no longer (Amos 8:1-3). There would be many dead bodies strewn everywhere because of their sin. Continue reading “Seek me and live”

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”

The importance of God’s word

As Paul was completing his third trip of proclaiming Jesus he was “hurrying to arrive in Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16 NET). But he also wanted to see the elders of the congregation in Ephesus, with whom he had spent several years. Because the ship was docking in Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders to come to him. What follows is a very sad scene in Paul’s life.

Paul had a message to give them. This message was to encourage them to go on without his being around as well as a warning to them about being faithful to God. Continue reading “The importance of God’s word”

Meditating on God’s word

“How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe his rules, and seek him with all their heart, who, moreover, do no wrong, but follow in his footsteps” (Psalm 119:1-3 NET).

Psalm 119 lies almost in the center of our Bibles. The actual middle chapter is the two verse Psalm 117, which is also the shortest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest with 176 verses. Continue reading “Meditating on God’s word”

Their hearts burned within them

Can you imagine what it was like for Cleopas and his friend as they walked home from Jerusalem on the Sunday after Passover? Both men were disciples of Jesus, yet their teacher had been executed over the weekend. As they began the two-hour walk back to their village they began discussing what had happened that holiday weekend.

The discussion they had became quite emotional and possibly even heated. And then a stranger joined them and asked, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” (Luke 24:17 CSB). They stopped walking and looked sad and discouraged. Continue reading “Their hearts burned within them”

Preaching: the Rodney Dangerfield of worship

Is the term “Long-Winded Sermon” a redundant expression?

I remember telling a brother, in jest, that according to Acts 20:7, I had biblical precedent for preaching until midnight. He laughed, then said, “That’s fine. You can preach until midnight, as long as you can also raise people from the dead” (in a reference to the sleep-deprived Eutychus). I had an answer for him. I reminded him that Paul did not stop at midnight, he was merely interrupted at midnight. He continued to talk to the brethren at Troas until the next morning! Continue reading “Preaching: the Rodney Dangerfield of worship”

Becoming fully pleasing to God

As we approach the beginning of another new year, thoughts often go to how we can improve our lives. What changes do we need to make in our life? How can we grow to be more like Jesus?

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, he was thinking about how they needed to grow. They were a people of faith, love and hope – and these were evident in their lives. But they still needed to grow. Notice his prayer for them. Continue reading “Becoming fully pleasing to God”