Rules

The world has never had any rules. The world doesn’t even really like guidelines. How can something like, “Live for today,” qualify for a rule or a guideline?

William Barclay wrote, “One of the characteristics of the world in which we live is the lowering of standards.”[1] Many in the world have no standard at all. The disciple of Christ must live according to the standards of Christ. The only other option is to live in profligacy. Continue reading “Rules”

Logically right but spiritually wrong

“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).

Following Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). Immediately afterward, Jesus was taken to the wilderness to fast and be tested 40 days.

Satan tempted him there. His temptations all began with, “If you are the son of God…” He began with something that seemed perfectly reasonable: make stones into bread and feed yourself.

Men easily err when they think of what is perfectly reasonable to them, but fail to consult God. Why not turn stones to bread? He had the power. He had the opportunity. Continue reading “Logically right but spiritually wrong”

Complete in him

“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principles and power” (Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV).

Since the earliest days of Christianity there have been those who sought to add elements to the gospel message which were not originally a part of it. Jewish Christians sought ways to include the requirements of the Mosaic Law – specifically circumcision (Acts 15:1; Galatians 1:7). Others proposed various elements of pagan religion and philosophy (Colossians 2:8, 18-23). Continue reading “Complete in him”

Contending with horses

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5-6 NKJV).

Complaints are universal. Every generation compares its experiences with those who come after it, sure that the things of previous times were much harder than those of the present. The weather was harsher, conditions were much more difficult, and accomplishments were won at far greater effort. In many cases those comparisons are not without truth. Continue reading “Contending with horses”

Two examples of faith

Jesus was in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee he called home.

When Jesus was in Capernaum the people usually acted as if he was nothing special. After all, wasn’t he the son of Joseph? Didn’t they know him (John 6:42)?

On this occasion, many of the people of Capernaum were waiting for Jesus (Luke 8:40) and they were excited to see him.

There are two others waiting for Jesus. Continue reading “Two examples of faith”

Faith of our fathers

June is the month for garden tours featuring daylilies in Tennessee, as they are usually at their peak. Today was no exception. With two friends as “enablers,” I went shopping at another friend’s beautiful garden for a few more daylilies to add to my burgeoning collection.

Some new varieties will now grace the garden, with features such as ruffled edges, petaloid segments, and vivid eye zones.

Of course the garden still contains a few “heirloom” daylilies, in stark contrast to some of today’s fancy new additions. I like the old, but also love the new. Continue reading “Faith of our fathers”

Are you pulling my leg (off)?

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…” (Matthew 5:29-30; see also: Mark 9:43-47).

Would you be surprised to learn that heaven will cost you an arm and a leg? And maybe even an eye?

I believe the above passage presents a great – indeed, an insurmountable – difficulty for those who believe that we incur no cost in our own salvation. Does our obedience to the gospel turn God’s grace into a payment for services rendered?  Continue reading “Are you pulling my leg (off)?”

Teaching others to teach others

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV).

As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses spent his last days teaching them once again about God and how they were to live for him. Continue reading “Teaching others to teach others”

You people of little faith

Just before Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, his disciples were with him (Matthew 5:1). From at least that point until Peter confessed Jesus is the Christ his disciples were constantly present. They heard lesson after lesson and saw miracle after miracle. So, why on three occasions in the book of Matthew did he accuse them as being people of “little faith?”

In Matthew 8, Jesus had been teaching people in Capernaum and then “got into a boat.” God’s word doesn’t say why Jesus got into a boat, but what happens afterward is good evidence why. Jesus was asleep when a storm developed and threatened to toss everyone overboard.  The disciples woke the Master saying, “Lord, save us! We are about to die! (Matthew 8:25 NET). Jesus said, “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?” Continue reading “You people of little faith”