Salt and light

In the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus spoke about the two things that make life on earth worthwhile: salt and light. These two things are usually taken for granted, but we could not live without them.

Salt is necessary for life. Consider the beating heart. The heart beats because of a chemical exchange of sodium (salt) and potassium (another salt). Were it not for these salts, we die. When the two are out of balance, the heart doesn’t function well. Having too much salt means the body retains water and that can result in problems. Having too little potassium can also cause problems and can send a person to the hospital. Continue reading “Salt and light”

For the sins of the whole world

Religions are often identified with certain people groups. They are limited, mostly, to certain regions of the world. They make up a part of the culture of those groups. They do not always welcome outsiders. There are a few so-called world religions, but most of these are also limited.

Jesus died as the “atoning sacrifice” sent by God, “not only for our sins but also for the whole world” 1 John 2.1-2. This is a staggering affirmation. The apostle John writes it in the context of the need of a group of Christians to have a sacrifice for their sins and to be forgiven even after their conversion. It implies several things. Continue reading “For the sins of the whole world”

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”

The Good Shepherd

“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice.” Jesus told them this parable, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.” (John 10:1-6 NET)

At times I feel sorry for those who heard Jesus teach. Don’t misunderstand me – I can’t help but think how wonderful it would have been to hear the Messiah teach the people. But how often did they not understand what he was saying to them? How often did they miss his point? Continue reading “The Good Shepherd”

Rediscover the Bible

John was in prison. Jesus’ cousin was jailed by Herod, who did not appreciate what John said about his illicit marriage to Herodias. This particular Herod was known as Antipas. He reigned over Galilee and Perea.

John understood that his work was coming to an end and asked Jesus through a messenger if he was the one whose coming was foretold. Some say that during this challenging trial, John’s faith weakened. None of us are perfect, not even John. Continue reading “Rediscover the Bible”

One God who forgives sins

When Jesus forgave the paralytic man of his sins, the scribes went berserk. Mounce’s translation bring to the fore a fascinating thought: “Why does this man speak like that? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins except the One God?” Mark 2.7. Most versions translate it as “God alone,” “only God,” or something similar. CEB puts it this way: “Why does he speak this way? He’s insulting God. Only the one God can forgive sins.”

The scribes were much like Job’s friends. Much of what they had to say was spot on, Matthew 23.1-3. But their application of it was way off. It is true that, in the absolute sense, only God can forgive sins. What the scribes missed was that Jesus is God. And God is one. The one God has one plan for forgiveness. Continue reading “One God who forgives sins”

Christ’s love from all sides

There are many things that can “fill us up.” Fried chicken can fill one up. Marital love can fill one up. Our vocation in life can often come pretty close to filling us up in several ways.

The apostle Paul had a wish for the members of the church at Ephesus. He wrote, “That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19b). One might achieve that by learning the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, which, he said, surpasses knowledge. Continue reading “Christ’s love from all sides”

The true formula for happiness

Good parents in every country of the world have one thing in common: they want their children to become happy and productive people. To send the children on their way, parents teach their idea of success life. Sometimes that idea does not bear the best fruit.

God wants his children to learn how they can achieve true happiness, and his only son, Jesus, communicated his wishes in the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7. Jesus’ sermon is more than platitudes. It is not a speech designed to please people. Instead, it is the ultimate parent’s love, and intelligence poured into a message designed to teach people the righteousness that exceeds. Continue reading “The true formula for happiness”

Serving as slaves

The events of Mark chapter 10 are probably very close to the time Jesus would be arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified. One would think the disciples would grow more introspective, but that was not the case.

James and John came to Jesus to ask him to seat them on his left and right hands, positions of honor, and authority. Jesus told them they misunderstood what they were asking. Continue reading “Serving as slaves”

How do I choose a church?

By Johnny O. Trail — One radio station in Nashville does nothing but talk radio.  As an avid listener to talk radio, I am always interested in the questions and comments of those who call in to the radio station.  On one show in particular, the host deals with e-mails that are sent in by listeners.  Last week, one e-mail in particular caught my attention.  The lady who sent the e-mail asked the host, “How do I choose a church?”

The host then gave her some suggestions for finding a church to suit her needs.  He proceeded to tell her to look at churches as communities and that she simply needed to find one that had people who most met her needs for friendship. Continue reading “How do I choose a church?”