Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution

Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.

Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.

When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”

The Lord of the Sabbath

“Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:5-8, ESV).

The question of rules and laws is difficult. Without laws societies break down and survival often becomes a matter of strength and ruthlessness. But the rule of law may result in a rigid system which is void of mercy and compassion. Legalism values rules above human needs. Situation ethics and similar moral systems often lead to the suspension of law based only on subjective feelings or opinions. What is sufficient reason to “break” a rule is different for each one who faces difficulties. Is there not a reliable standard which may be enforced in all circumstances? Continue reading “The Lord of the Sabbath”

Humble Mary

In the United States, we are entering the season in which we will elect a president. What this means is that for the next year and three months we will hear politicians tell us why they deserve the favor of our vote to elevate them to high office.

Before all the hubbub starts in earnest, it might be refreshing to hear another voice, the voice of Mary, the future mother of Jesus, in Luke 1:46. She so humbly said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This statement begins what many call the “Magnificat.” Let’s view it for what it really is: a hymn of thanksgiving, the object of which was a poor maiden’s desire to make God larger than herself. Continue reading “Humble Mary”

The power of forgiveness

Years ago, some men were talking after a church fellowship lunch about the news headlines. One man read about some government employees who went to jail convicted of conspiracy to defraud after filing false expense records.

The man said something that struck me in a way I’ll never forget. He said, “I hope these men get the maximum sentences for their crimes.” He didn’t stop there. “I can never forgive anyone for defrauding the government,” he said.

Recently, a Dallas jury convicted a former officer of murder in the shooting of a man. According to published reports, she said she fired because she thought a stranger was inside her apartment. During the sentencing phase of the trial, the victim’s brother said he forgave the officer and would not hold his brother’s death against her. That young man was a Christian, indeed. Continue reading “The power of forgiveness”

Make up your mind to serve Jesus

Few people think they can do great things. Perhaps that’s because humans look at their faults and weaknesses and convince themselves they cannot reach greatness.

A close friend of mine in high school wanted to become a physician. A counselor told him his grades were not good enough to enable him to get into college. Instead, he was encouraged to go into a technical school. He did, but he always thought what might have happened if he had persisted in becoming a doctor. Continue reading “Make up your mind to serve Jesus”

Assumptions

Some of the biggest mistakes people make come from assumptions. 

The people of Nazareth made assumptions about Jesus that were very wrong. When he visited his hometown, Nazareth, Jesus attended the synagogue and taught there. It was an opportunity to tell people the truth about himself and God.

As Jesus taught the hometown folks, many of them became indignant (Matthew 13:54). One said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” That was an assumption. These people had seen Jesus all his life. They figured they knew who he was. But, oh, how little they did know! Continue reading “Assumptions”

Follow the example of love

Jesus never forced anyone to accept him or his teaching. In Matthew chapter 8, when Jesus healed two possessed men in the Gadarenes and people asked him to leave, he left.

After crossing the Sea of Galilee and arriving in Capernaum, Jesus saw a paralyzed man. The paralysis was so severe  the man was carried. The scripture tells us Jesus saw their faith, and the Master said the man’s sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). The scribes watching this accused Jesus of blasphemy.

There is a contrast here that we should understand. Continue reading “Follow the example of love”

Losing your life in Christ

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the people of the United States spent $3.5 trillion, or 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product on healthcare.

Satan made a similar observation when talking to God about his servant Job when he said, “Skin for skin! Indeed, a man will give up all that he has to save his life” (Job 2:4 NET). Many people have done just that.

Jesus, however, said a person who truly loves his life would “destroy it” (John 12:25 NET). Guy N. Woods wrote, “… the Lord’s statement is paradoxical and means simply that he who appears to be little concerned about the preservation of his earthly life is really guaranteeing the permanence of his life in heaven.”/1 Continue reading “Losing your life in Christ”

The problem of sin

Sin. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from. All humans struggle with sin. It doesn’t even matter when we are living (although most seem to always think that it is worse now than it has ever been). David wrote about this in Psalm 14 and Paul quoted it in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

“There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

Although we might not like this applied to us, deep down we know that too often we wander after sin and do not seek God. If the truth be told, we often seek sin and ignore God. When it comes to wanting what we desire, most choose sin. As David went on to say, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Continue reading “The problem of sin”

Don’t give up!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)

Therefore … because of the the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, we need to do something. The “great cloud of witnesses” are those from the previous chapter listed in the hall of fame of faith. These are people whose lives were characterised by faith, who followed God no matter what might happen to them or was happening to them. Their encouragement to us is that we need to be a people of faith. Continue reading “Don’t give up!”