Becoming like children

As we read through the accounts of Jesus’ life, it stands out that he took time for those that most people would not spend time with. We find him having meals with tax collectors and prostitutes, people who were rejected by Jewish society for being considered traitors (working for Rome) or sinners. Yet he also spent time with the religious leaders, talking with them and having meals with them. But one group he seems to have always had time for was children.

“Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16 NET). Continue reading “Becoming like children”

It’s all about Jesus

There was much that those with Jesus did not understand – at least at the time. One of those was an amazing incident that took place on top of a mountain.

“Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!’ Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus” (Mark 9:2-8 CEB). Continue reading “It’s all about Jesus”

Our influence

Do we realize the influence we have on those around us? Although we may think that no one pays attention to us, we influence more than we realize. Notice this parable of Jesus.

“The kingdom of God is like this,” he said. “A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head. As soon as the crop is ready, he sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29 CSV).

This is how it works in God’s kingdom. Seed is scattered. As the Parable of the Sower is in the same context (Mark 4:1-20), and it identified the seed as the word, the seed that is scattered would make sense to still be God’s word. We scatter seed by teaching people about Jesus. Continue reading “Our influence”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 7)

Three passages are critical to our understanding of the miracles about which our New Testament speaks. One of them is the passage above, with which this series of articles began, and around which it is based. The other two will be discussed below.

This being the final of a 7-part series, we will give a brief summary of the previous articles. We have thus far argued that: Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 7)”

Jesus can forgive

When Jesus began to teach and interact with the Jewish people, he did not avoid doing things which would have been viewed as controversial. When you read throughout the gospels, you get the impression that he often said or did things that he knew would provoke a reaction among the Jewish religious leaders.

Why would he do this? Why would Jesus, who advocated living peaceful lives, intentionally stir up controversy? Of course, we need to remember that not only did Jesus say that he came to bring peace (see John 14:27 and John 16:33) his coming would also bring strife (Matthew 10:34-38). Continue reading “Jesus can forgive”

Snakes, demons and gasoline (part 6)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 6)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

What, if any, limitations did God put upon miracles, according to the Scripture? We noted in the previous article that miracles were certainly limited in that only apostles could confer miraculous gifts to others.

But someone might respond, “If there are still apostles living today, then miraculous gifts could still be exercised and passed on by them.”

The Mormon religion, for example, believes that there are modern-day apostles. If this was the case, then it would seem at least possible for miracles to be both performed and passed on by the laying on of their hands. Could this be true? Continue reading “Snakes, demons and gasoline (part 6)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 5)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

As we now turn our attention to the duration of miracles, we must first note some other significant limitations about the miracles recorded in the early days of the church:

Miracles were limited to apostolic ministry.

In the book of Acts – which records the early weeks (chapters 1-7), months (8-9), and years (10-28) of the church’s existence – there are numerous miracles recorded. Without fail, aside from those worked directly by God, these miracles were wrought either by (1) an apostle, or (2) someone on whom an apostle had laid hands. But did those on whom the apostles laid hands confer this gift to others? Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 5)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 4)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 4)

(This article is part of a continuing series. The previous article can be found here).

Are miracles still occurring today? That is not the same question as, “Do people still claim to witness miracles today?” People claim to witness miracles regularly. But a claim must be substantiated.

This is a somewhat touchy subject because if you say, “God is no longer working miracles as He did in the first century,” people might hear that as, “God is not active in people’s lives,” or, “God is no longer capable of performing a miracle,” or, “God does not provide healing at all,” or perhaps worse, “God doesn’t care about us.” Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 4)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 3)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17.) (Part 3)

This article is a continuing series; the preceding article can be found here.

Have you ever seen someone raised from the dead by the word of a prophet?
Have you ever witnessed someone drinking a sufficient amount of poison as would kill them, but with no effect?
Have you ever heard someone instantly speak fluently in a language with which they were previously unfamiliar?
Do you know of a person who goes to cancer clinics and pronounces patient’s cancer to be in full and instantaneous remission? Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 3)”

Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 2)

Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe” (Mark 16:17) (Part 2)

In the previous article (here), we gave four reasons why modern snake-handling as a religious act is not what Jesus was referring to in Mark 16:17-20. In this second article, we will continue the exploration of the modern phenomenon of snake-handling, and why it is not the fulfillment of what Jesus prophesied.

Jesus certainly said that miracles would accompany the disciples in their ministry. He listed several examples of the kinds of things they might expect: Continue reading “Snakes, gasoline and demons (Part 2)”