The faith of a Canaanite

Jesus left Galilee. Perhaps it was because he wanted a break from the Jews who always sought a “sign.” Perhaps he had tired of the Pharisees.

All we know is he left and went to Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean Sea.

Phoenicia was known as a land filled with false gods. Yet, the Gentile woman that came to Jesus had a need. Her daughter suffered from a case of severe demon possession (Matthew 15:22). Continue reading “The faith of a Canaanite”

“Give us each day our daily bread”

It is difficult to understand how people who had been freed from bondage would ever say they wanted to go back.

Yet, that is exactly what Israel did in Exodus chapter 16. God’s people had been freed from bitter bondage but were actually wishing they were back in Egypt. They complained they had pots full of meat and plenty of bread (Exodus 16:3).

So God gave his people quail and bread from heaven to eat. Continue reading ““Give us each day our daily bread””

Baptized into what?

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ ” (Acts 19:1-3, NKJV).

Prepositions are often overlooked as small and insignificant parts of a sentence. They are typically little words which lack the impact of the more impressive nouns and verbs on which we focus. Yet they give essential details to our communications. Without them, and especially without precise understanding of them, our messages are often misunderstood. Continue reading “Baptized into what?”

The fog will clear

A few days ago, early in the morning, I glanced out my back window toward the apartment building where my son Joel and his family live. They’re living here for a year and found an apartment a couple of blocks away. But their building was gone! I did a double-take and noticed that a heavy fog had rolled in. Nothing could be seen beyond my backyard.

In less than an hour, the fog had lifted. My son’s building and everything else were in place.

The doubts of life are like that morning fog. Continue reading “The fog will clear”

The ultimate visual aid

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15 NKJV).

Any teacher – or for that matter any student – can attest to the importance of visual aids. Whether or not it is true that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” it is certainly true that the more one can use multiple senses in acquiring knowledge, the more complete that knowledge is likely to be.

Most travelers are familiar with the frustration which results from trying to share one’s experience in strange places with those at home who just don’t get it. No matter how much we try we soon realize that our report gets filtered through their experience and expectations and they just don’t understand. Third world poverty for example translates as “just beans for dinner with no dessert” rather than three days of starvation. Yes, we know there are starving people over there, but we just can’t quite empathize with their suffering. We don’t feel it. Those who have “been there and done that,” however, know it on a much deeper level. Continue reading “The ultimate visual aid”

The importance of faith

Faith is a vital ingredient in everything we do. Sometimes we don’t realize all the everyday items in which we place our faith. We have faith that when we press an “on” button that something will happen – why else would we press it if we didn’t have faith that it would do what it is designed to do?

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews described faith this way: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1 NET). That is a good description of faith – we are convinced of something we don’t see, we are sure that what we expect is true and will happen. Continue reading “The importance of faith”

Eyes that do not see

“Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull, Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them” (Matthew 13:14-15 NKJV).

I admit that my eyes are not as sharp as they may have once been, nor my ears as sensitive. Yet I am still amazed at the ability of the people of South Asia to see tiny details at surprising distances. When going through the jungles of the national parks, our local guides will see deer and other animals bedded down in thickets that I can barely detect even when they are pointed out to me. Here on our campus birds that are well within the canopy of leaves are identified long before I can catch even a flicker of motion. Continue reading “Eyes that do not see”

A faith that amazed Jesus

“When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue’” (Luke 7:1-5 CSB).

This centurion seems to have been an exceptional Roman. Stationed in Galilee, he became involved in the local life, even to the point of building a synagogue for the Jews of that town. Perhaps he was attracted to the God they worshipped and their way of life. If you visit Capernaum today you will see extensive excavations of the first century town and an impressive synagogue that would have dominated the town even in Jesus’ day. The current synagogue dates from the 4th century but it is built on the foundation of the first century synagogue, so you get an idea of the size of the one built by this Roman centurion. Continue reading “A faith that amazed Jesus”

The God who calls

Who is this God who invites us to profoundly reorder our lives to their very core? After all, the call to discipleship is the invitation to radically align our allegiances, beliefs, values and behaviors according to God’s character and word.

By revisiting the stories of Moses and the Israelites, we can learn something about this God who desires to transform us.  Continue reading “The God who calls”