“the word that I have spoken…the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48)
Standards ebb and flow from person to person. What one likes, what one feels, what one prefers, is rejected by another.
Individuals seek to find other individuals whose standards bear relative proximity to their own.
Groups coalesce. They march. They advocate. Continue reading “Imperfect standards”
“Character is destiny.” This quote, attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, has been on my mind these last months. Seemingly a response to those who claim that fate controls one’s life regardless of one’s life-choices, “character is destiny” places the path and end of one’s life into one’s own hands.
Certainly, there is much truth in this statement, both from a secular and religious viewpoint. It does not mean to suggest that a person of poor character cannot be successful from a worldly standpoint. Only that the result of their life will reflect the choices which they made, and the character which informed those choices.
We might be dismayed to see wicked people, liars, cheaters, and the like, rise to prominence and power in our world. We might be saddened to see the world seemingly support such people. But we, like the Psalmist, have a more informed perspective. Continue reading “Character can be destiny”
Jonathan and David were the best of friends. If we look at their relative ages, which we can determine from when they both first appear in 1 Samuel, it is likely that Jonathan was up to twenty years older than David. Yet they had a healthy respect and love for each other, to the point that Jonathan was convinced that David would be the next king and not himself as next in line to the throne (you can read about this in 1 Samuel 23).
Before David lived as an outcast from Saul for several years, he and Jonathan made an oath that whichever of them survived, the other would take care of their children (1 Samuel 20). After David had reigned a number of years, he remembered Jonathan and his promise. He asked, “Is anyone still left from the family of Saul, so that I may extend kindness to him for the sake of Jonathan?” (2 Samuel 9:1 NET). Continue reading “David’s grace to Mephibosheth”
A gardener’s work is never done, much like a mother’s work — only less urgent and important. When we finally have a flower bed or vegetable plot just the way we want it, things happen to change it. Often, however, the change is for the better!
We are all familiar with the sentiment, “Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”
We understand that when it comes to our own failings and shortfalls, but do we really put that idea into practice as we deal with others? Continue reading “Unfinished business”
Grace presents us with one great demand.
I know it seems strange to see the words “demand” and “grace” in the same sentence. Usually we view grace as the means by which we gain acceptance by God without carrying out works of the law. After all, as Paul reminds us, by “works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Many try to earn their salvation. Continue reading “Grace’s one great demand”
Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters five, six and seven is wholly original. Nothing like it had ever been preached before. While Pharisees and scribes almost always cited Old Testament references for their lesson points, Jesus used the Old Testament in a different way.
Six times in Matthew chapter five the phrases, “it was said,” and “but, I say to you,” were given by the Lord. Jesus was showing the truth of the Bible’s teachings in contrast to the narrow, limited and often mistaken applications of Jewish leaders. Continue reading ““The Real McCoy””
“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)?”
We know the message and it comforts our hearts. In his grace God pours out salvation upon us, the undeserving. We can be redeemed, made holy and adopted as God’s people because our salvation rests upon Christ, not our righteousness. Furthermore, the cleansing power of the Messiah’s blood is greater than any sin we might bring to him.
So, how compatible is grace with the command to make every effort to live up to God’s calling? If we feel like these are opposing ideas, we would not be alone. Continue reading “Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?”
If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me (John 13:8)
I was adopted when I was about 18 months old. Was I worthy of that? How could I be? How could I have earned such an act?
Peter felt unworthy to have Jesus wash his feet. It was completely out of order for Jesus to stoop down and wash Peter’s feet. Peter was unworthy.
Jesus did it anyway. He even warned Peter not to refuse him. Continue reading “Unworthy, but worth it”
Walk through a shopping mall. Randomly ask people what Jesus can do for their lives. If people are willing to chat, what would they say? For those who know something about Christ, the predominant answer would likely relate to salvation.
To be sure, the good news about Christ crucified centers upon salvation. However if we limit salvation’s impact to being rescued from our sins and becoming God’s people, we will overlook a massive component of God’s work on our behalf.
Continue reading “The impact of salvation: more than just forgiveness”