Under the magnifying glass

It’s time to look for my magnifying glass again.

Someone keeps taking my magnifying glass from my desk because she needs to see something small up close. Magnifying glasses come in handy when we need to enlarge something so details can be seen.

The mother of Jesus placed the Lord under a glass in a passage called “the Magnificat.” In her praise of God in Luke 1:46-56, she zoomed in on the greatness of God so others could see him.

Let’s take a close-up look of God through Mary’s magnifying glass. Each statement begins with the personal pronoun, “he.” Continue reading “Under the magnifying glass”

A God of mercy and justice

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them, “When you cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must then designate some towns as towns of refuge for you, to which a person who has killed someone unintentionally may flee. And they must stand as your towns of refuge from the avenger in order that the killer may not die until he has stood trial before the community. These towns that you must give shall be your six towns for refuge.”’” (Numbers 35:9-13 NET).

God is a God of mercy. We can see this in his providing towns of refuge for the Israelites. These towns were so designated to allow someone who had accidentally killed another person to be safe from any ‘avenger’ who might come after them to take their life. If they were within these towns they were safe. In more recent years church buildings have often served this same purpose as a place of sanctuary. Continue reading “A God of mercy and justice”

Fear – it could save your life

If society, culture and the church could just move past feeling fear, anger and pain, we would all be better off, right? If everybody could only be positive and happy all of the time, our lives would improve, correct? Wrong! If these negative emotions and sensations were eliminated, our lives would unravel.

If you object to that last sentence, I’m sure you are not alone. So let’s cut to the chase.

Continue reading “Fear – it could save your life”

The God who walks

The holy prophets ridiculed idolators by noting all the things their idols could not do. They couldn’t even perform the basic actions of normal people, much less work godlike wonders. They had to be carried, because they couldn’t walk for themselves.

The true God walks. For the most part, walking is a metaphor for that continuing, deepening relationship that man can have with God. The Lord is a spirit, Jn 4.24, so he has no body and no legs with which to walk. The Bible uses figurative language for God’s actions, so we can better understand his nature and his will. But when God takes human form, he literally walks with and among mankind. Continue reading “The God who walks”

What a great God we serve!

While Paul was in Athens waiting for his companions, it gave him a chance to look around the city. What he saw disturbed him! There were shrines to virtually any false god you could think of, complete with images that were supposed to represent them.

A friend recently visited ancient Athens and he said that you can see exactly what Paul was talking about, as the foundations for the shrines were packed tightly together along the side of the ancient street. They weren’t large, but they were everywhere! Continue reading “What a great God we serve!”

True north: finding a reliable path forward

A compass points toward the earth’s magnetic north. However, the true geographic north pole lies several hundreds of miles away.

Kenny, a friend of mine, recently told me about an international trip where his flight passed between the North Pole and magnetic north. At such a place, if someone were to use a compass to locate the geographic north pole it would point in the exact opposite direction! If we can assume the compass would even function.

To accurately use a compass to discover true north, you must also know your latitude. In other words, to navigate the earth requires both good instruments and the knowledge about how to use them well. For the church to reliably chart its path through difficult scenarios requires understanding how to use well the tools God has supplied for his people. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tackled a rough situation by providing some of these reliable tools for the journey. Continue reading “True north: finding a reliable path forward”

No physical remains

A couple traveled recently to another continent and toured a famous religious building, still under construction after almost 100 years. They were awed by the edifice, which used new techniques for the time, with a unique style. They shared their photos online of both the exterior and interior.

A friend of theirs who didn’t belong to that religion claimed to feel the presence of God there. The couple wrote that they hoped others might be inspired and convinced by the stories written on its walls. They saw the building as a way to make converts to their religion. Continue reading “No physical remains”

The two greatest commands

During the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, he was almost daily teaching people, usually in the temple. One day in particular seems to have been very busy as one group after another came to Jesus with questions they considered to be either difficult or with no answer, in an attempt to trap him in what he was saying.

First came the Pharisees and Herodians. These two groups were opposed to each other politically, with the Herodians supporting Rome and the Pharisees opposing Rome. Yet they put their differences aside to attack their common enemy: Jesus. They asked a question about paying taxes which Jesus skilfully answered, to their amazement (Mark 12:13-17). Continue reading “The two greatest commands”