“The Real McCoy”

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””

My stubborn will

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!” (Matthew 23:37 NET).

Jesus knew the city of Jerusalem so well. He had witnessed its founding and watched as King David took the city and made it his capital.

But he had also watched Jerusalem overcome by the idolatry and sin that characterized it in the Divided Kingdom and saw it led into bitter captivity to the Babylonians. Continue reading “My stubborn will”

The God who does nothing

“You would have no power over me at all unless it were not given you from above” (John 19:11)

Imagine having power to create a universe with billions of galaxies, and more billions of stars within, planets around those stars, and – at least in essence – the power to duplicate even your own self.

This is the awesome power of God (Exodus 20:11; Psalm 146:6); His strength is unlimited (Job 36:22). Continue reading “The God who does nothing”

Love through humble service

Mark’s gospel shows Jesus as God’s suffering servant on a mission. Eleven times in chapter one alone, Mark uses the word “immediately” to describe the action surrounding the son of God. Everything Jesus did seemed to happen quickly. He is shown as God’s inexhaustible servant.

In Mark chapter nine, the Master showed how our thinking sometimes gets in the way of being the kind of servant God wants. While on the way to Capernaum, Jesus’ disciples had been arguing. When they arrived, the Lord asked them what they had been arguing about. They had been fighting for prominence in the coming kingdom. Continue reading “Love through humble service”

The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?

It is written” (Luke 4:12).

“The Bible means exactly what it says!” I’ve heard this a number of times, and in one sense, I agree. In another sense, that statement could inadvertently be more dangerous than it seems.

The Bible is not just a literal composition. Yes, it is a rule of thumb to understand any passage literally unless there is good reason or evidence to understand it otherwise. However, it should also be understood by all students of the Bible that there is plenty of reason to not take some passages literally. We will illustrate this in a moment. Continue reading “The Bible means what it says. Or, does it?”

Context is important

Context is important. If you heard the words, “dead dog,” all that would tell you is that a dog is dead. There is no other information. Yet, the more information added to that statement would bring out what happened to the dog.

Interpreting the Bible is a matter of understanding the context of a passage under consideration, and  the context of the chapter and of the book. Disregarding the context is one of the reasons why people can make costly mistakes in understanding God’s word. Continue reading “Context is important”

Why aspiring for perfection matters

In many ways, ambition can be spiritually crippling because it leads us to destroy whoever gets in our way. Yet, the spiritual principle of aspiring for that which is better is certainly admirable.

Anyone who endeavors to succeed in any field can do so by studying the best. We should always strive to move upward, never being satisfied. Continue reading “Why aspiring for perfection matters”

Unworthy, but worth it

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”

What is propitiation?

The threads of salvation are interwoven through every page of Scripture. Certainly, we should do all we can to understand them.

Sometimes the terminology eludes us because we don’t use it in daily life. Propitiation is a prime example. We find it in Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10 and since it pertains to our Lord and our salvation, it’s imperative that we understand it. Continue reading “What is propitiation?”