Joining obedience and faith

Some modern Bibles render part of Romans 1:5 as “believe and obey” thus making faith and obedience two separate entities. This would seem to reflect more of the editors’ theological outlook than Paul’s mindset. Yet, we should not be surprised. How many people separate faith from obedient actions?

Paul joined faith and obedience into one unified idea. Yet, do we expect this?

Continue reading “Joining obedience and faith”

From why to what now

When disaster strikes, when sorrow overwhelms, when hardship envelops our lives, the first question we often ask is, “Why?”

We wonder why we or the ones we love have to endure pain. We question if God loves us or if we deserve it. We might even demand an answer from God.

Wanting to know why is understandable. Knowing why promises us satisfaction. But does God always tell us why? Continue reading “From why to what now”

Let your light shine

Life is different here today than it was one week ago. I suspect that it is for you as well. Tomorrow, life will be different than today. Trying to imagine what life will be like in a month seems a fool’s errand.

When life moves so swiftly it is easy to become insecure. As the unknown advances, darkness fills people’s hearts. Jesus told his disciples to let their light shine before men. What does that mean during a time like this? How can we shine the light of Jesus into this world of dread? Continue reading “Let your light shine”

Obedient faith or disobedience

There are some bizarre definitions of faith in the world. One of the most prevalent seems to be that one only believes in Jesus, and that automatically confers salvation on that person.

Not even John the Baptist, however, agreed with that prevalent idea. In John 3, in a discussion by John with his disciples, the cousin of Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” (John 3:36 NASB). Continue reading “Obedient faith or disobedience”

Convenience or conviction

What would you do if you were alone in what you believed? The question is not, “What would you do while in the minority?” We all find ourselves there. Rather, what would you do if you were isolated, abandoned by others, alone? Would you give in? Or would you stand up? Perhaps it is this exercise that shows us whether ours is a stance of conviction or convenience.

Jeremiah offers an example of one who stood almost completely alone. He took a stand for God and it resulted in rejection, loneliness, and persecution. Continue reading “Convenience or conviction”

The power of faith

As the United States fought the Axis powers in World War II, scientists discovered splitting one of the tiniest particles of matter, an atom of Uranium, would yield enormous power. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was the most powerful explosion known.

Who could have realized splitting something as small as an atom would create such a terrible result? The explosion over Hiroshima killed thousands of people. Another bomb dropped on Nagasaki had the same effect.

There is power in small things. Continue reading “The power of faith”

Believing what one reads

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?’ But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:8-9, ESV).

How often have we heard or said, “You cannot believe everything you read?” Human writers make mistakes. They also are always influenced by their own preconceptions, experience, education, and abilities, to say nothing of pressure from outside to conform to the demands of others. Sometimes, sadly, they just plain lie.

Even when it comes to sacred Scripture, which is from God and therefore is true (2 Timothy 3:16-17), we today are dependent upon other humans to preserve, translate, and explain it to us (as in Nehemiah 8:5-8). God’s word is absolutely dependable. Human teachers, not so much so. Continue reading “Believing what one reads”

Sufficient evidence

“The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’” (John 20:25).

Any teacher or student will recognize the effectiveness of visual aids. We learn through our senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) and the more of our senses which are involved in any experience, the more likely it is that we will perceive that experience correctly and remember it. Continue reading “Sufficient evidence”

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?”