The gifts or the giver

Large crowds followed Jesus, not because they recognized his majesty or craved his life-altering words, but first because his signs amazed them (John 6:2), and then because he fed them (John 6:26).

The signs were to lead them to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, which would lead them to eternal life (John 20:30, 31). The bread in their bellies should have opened their hearts to the food that endures to eternal life (John 6:27, 35, 41, 48, 51). In their eyes, Jesus was great because he helped them. When the food ran out or the miracles finished, their service ceased.

Are we that much different? Continue reading “The gifts or the giver”

Trust our Creator

“The Lord says: ‘Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe. For the religion of these people is worthless. They cut down a tree in the forest, and a craftsman makes it into an idol with his tools. He decorates it with overlays of silver and gold. He uses hammer and nails to fasten it together so that it will not fall over. Such idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field. They cannot talk. They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them because they cannot hurt you. And they do not have any power to help you.’” (Jeremiah 10:8-11 NET)

We can read verses like this in God’s word and think, ‘how could they have been so naïve’?  How could someone go into a forest, cut down a tree, make an image (basically a statue) out of it, decorate it, attach it to a stand so that it won’t fall over, then live in fear of what it might do, bow down and worship it? In many ways that sounds so preposterous that we might think, ‘no one would ever do something like this!’ Continue reading “Trust our Creator”

Is your God handicapped?

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Has the Lord’s arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not’” (Numbers 11:25 NKJV).

About a year after their deliverance from Egypt, after celebrating Passover for the second time, Israel departed from Mount Sinai to journey to Canaan. Shortly after beginning that trip they began to complain about their diet of only manna (Numbers 11:4-6). Remembering the varied diet of Egypt, they demanded meat. Moses cried out to God, who promised to feed them meet for a complete month (verses 19-20). At that incredible statement Moses asked how it could be possible. That brought about the Lord’s response, essentially, “Is my arm too short?” Continue reading “Is your God handicapped?”

Hope outside

Years ago Crabb and Allender identified four questions hurting people ask: What’s wrong? Who can help? What will the helper do? What can I hope for?

I also appreciate their observation that not all therapies are created equal. Those offering help as well as the tools they use are built upon assumptions and beliefs. Counseling therapy, even a socratic approach, is not neutral.

Here’s a question of my own. When people seek help, from where do they think hope arises? Continue reading “Hope outside”

End the practice of sin

One of my preaching mentors was Jack Reed who preached in Manchester, Tennessee for several years. He and his wife, Sue, had a nice bit of banter before arriving at a worship service or a revival. She would say, “What will you preach on?” He would answer, “Sin.” She would ask, “For it, or against it?” He’d always answer, “Against it!” Continue reading “End the practice of sin”

Attitude adjustment

As Jesus neared the end of his earthly life, it was time to give the people who loved him and hated him an opportunity for an attitude adjustment.

Lazarus, Jesus’ dear friend, had been sick and had died. The Lord had been away from Judea. Now, he returned to the home of his friends and where his enemies plotted his death. Continue reading “Attitude adjustment”

Before birth

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Birth is a beginning, but not the ultimate beginning. It is true for all of us that life begins before birth.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of God’s Sovereignty in his life prior to his physical birth: “Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name” (Isaiah 49:1). Continue reading “Before birth”

Never alone

The artists’ conceptions of God are interesting. The Almighty usually appears as a very old, very kind man. To them he is human. That concept, however, does not fit the facts. 

Jesus said that God is spirit (John 4:24). The artists may say, “But the Bible says God has eyes and ears.” Yes. The Bible does indeed refer to God’s eyes and ears. God does see and hear but not like human beings. King David spoke of God hearing him (Psalm 40:1-2). And, yes, God does hear us. Continue reading “Never alone”

God’s dwelling place

I want to go to heaven, how about you?

Each day here only further reinforces my desire. But why? What is the motivation? Why is heaven so wonderful?

We find glimpses of heaven throughout scripture: the garden in Eden, the tabernacle/temple, and the church. What do these seemingly disparate places have in common? The common theme running through these places is God’s presence. Continue reading “God’s dwelling place”

Convinced of God’s power and love

The weather here in northern Alabama this past week or so has reminded me of that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it.” After an unusually wet spring and early summer, we had been in a dry spell for three or four weeks and were beginning to hurt for rain.

Then tropical storm Marko and hurricane Laura showed up bringing deluges over a wide area, including us. Now we continue to have fronts coming through with frequent local showers. For all of these we are very grateful.

When James wrote to encourage Christians to pray he cited Elijah as an example of the power of prayer: Continue reading “Convinced of God’s power and love”