The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal

In the Old Testament, when God promised a thing, he would put the promise in the past tense. If he said it, it was a done deal. If he promised, you could count on it being done.

On the banks of the Jordan River, Moses recounted to Israel the work of God among them. When King Og of Bashan came out with his whole army against the nation, the Lord said to Moses:

“Don’t be afraid of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you” Deuteronomy 3.2a. Continue reading “The prayer of faith: It’s a done deal”

When a blessing doesn’t look like a blessing

“Don’t be deceived,” James warns, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father … who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).

Some are indeed deceived. They mistake the temporary gratification of sin for a blessing “from above.”

After all, the pleasures of adultery are undeniable. Revenge can bring quick and cheap gratification. Crushing someone else by gossip or hurtful words can bring a kind of pleasure. Continue reading “When a blessing doesn’t look like a blessing”

A shining example of faithfulness

The short book of Ruth introduces us to a family from Bethlehem who moved to Moab due to a famine in Israel.

“During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there. Naomi’s husband Elimelech died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband” (Ruth 1:1-5 CSB). Continue reading “A shining example of faithfulness”

Where is your faith?

Jesus decided to sail across the Sea of Galilee sometime around sunset.

Suddenly, a storm rose with a fury well known by fishermen who sailed the sea. With winds that brought cold air down from the mountains mixing with air heated during the day, the lake’s storms often spelled disaster for those caught on the water.

As they sailed, Jesus fell asleep in the boat. As the winds increased, the waves became higher and higher. Soon, the storm was in full force. Rain began filling the boat along with the waves that were breaking into the craft (Luke 8:23). Continue reading “Where is your faith?”

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”