Don’t miss the trees for the forest

“I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5 NET)

Why was Paul in anguish and would even wish he were cut off from the Messiah? It was because the Israelites, the Jews of his day, had rejected the Messiah. They did not accept Jesus as the Messiah who came to save all people.

Look at all the advantages the Israelites had (we can read about these throughout the Old Testament). They had been adopted as sons: God had taken a people who were in slavery and made them his people. They had access to his glory. He gave them his covenant through Moses to all the people. Part of this included his giving them his law, a law to live by to stay faithful to him in preparation for the coming Messiah. Later they received the worship in the temple. They had access to the promises of Abraham and eventually, through their line, came the Messiah. The Messiah is God over all. Continue reading “Don’t miss the trees for the forest”

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Each society has proverbs, pithy statements that may or may not contain some general truth. Some are more useful than others. “All that glitters is not gold” and “two wrongs don’t make a right” seem particularly useful in today’s society. One of the more popular proverbs is “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But is that true?

Perhaps it is true in an extremely limited sense. Short periods of absence could cause one to realize how much another means to them. However, as a general rule, can we say that absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Continue reading “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?”

Hold on to what you have!

Jesus’ message to Philadelphia is different than most of the ones to the seven congregations in Asia. One of the first things you may notice is that there is no criticism of these Christians. They are faithful and they are continuing to serve Jesus.

“I know your works. I have put before you an open door which no one can close, because you have a little power. You have kept my message, and you did not deny my name.” (Revelation 3:8 McCord)

Jesus had given them an “open door”. Although there is no explanation as to what this open door was, many suggest that this is an open door of opportunity to teach the good news of Jesus. We find this phrase used in this context when Paul told those in Antioch about his success during his first teaching trip, that God “had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). In his letters to the Corinthians he wrote about “a wide door of opportunity” being open (1 Corinthians 16:9) and when he got to Troas he said “a door was opened to me” (2 Corinthians 2:12). He asked the Colossians to pray “that God may open to us a door for the message” (Colossians 4:3). Continue reading “Hold on to what you have!”

Wake up!

Wake up! These are two words which can annoy us, startle us, or return us to reality. When we are woken up in the middle of the night by a person, our telephone, or even the alarm, we can be annoyed or even startled. What about falling asleep in a class or during someone’s presentation? Or perhaps we have just ‘drifted off’ and need to be called back to reality.

Jesus used these two words to try to get the Christians in Sardis to see the need to return to a real life of following him. Continue reading “Wake up!”

Baby, it’s cold outside!

The chilly breath of the coming winter whispers into the gardener’s frostbitten ears about numerous garden chores yet to be done. Planting daffodils and crocuses, clearing away the scraggly remains of the perennials, and weeding around the newly sprouted Nigella. 

But it’s cold outside!

Even with an extra set of cotton gloves underneath my garden gloves, I might mistake my fingers for tasteless popsicles after a few minutes of work.

It’s cold outside! Good enough reason to stay indoors and go into semi-hibernation among the seed catalogs with a hot cup of echinacea tea.   Continue reading “Baby, it’s cold outside!”

Teach me your way

Psalm 86 is identified as a “prayer of David.” He began by asking YHVH, the God of Israel, to listen and answer him, because “I am faithful” (Psalm 86:2). God is always “abounding in faithful love to all who call on you” (Psalm 86:5). God is always faithful to his people and God wants his people to be faithful. On this basis, we can “call on you in the day of my distress, for you will answer me” (Psalm 86:7). This is one of the great privileges of being a child of God.

Notice how David described God: “For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive” (Psalm 86:5). So often our view of God is that he is just waiting to pounce on us when we do wrong. This is not the view we find of God in the scriptures. God is loving and kind – he not only wants what is best for us but gives us those things that we need. Continue reading “Teach me your way”

Faithfully serving God

David was nearing the end of his life. Although he had wanted to build the temple for God, he had not been allowed to because he was a warrior (1 Chronicles 28:2-3). Instead, he drew up the plans and what needed to be made, as well as organizing the Levites and priests to serve in the temple (see 1 Chronicles 28:11-21).

God had chosen David’s son Solomon to be David’s successor and rule for God in Israel. “He said to me, ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my temple and my courts, for I have chosen him to become my son and I will become his father. I will establish his kingdom permanently, if he remains committed to obeying my commands and regulations, as you are doing this day’” (1 Chronicles 28:6-7). Continue reading “Faithfully serving God”

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”