Don’t miss the trees for the forest

“I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5 NET)

Why was Paul in anguish and would even wish he were cut off from the Messiah? It was because the Israelites, the Jews of his day, had rejected the Messiah. They did not accept Jesus as the Messiah who came to save all people.

Look at all the advantages the Israelites had (we can read about these throughout the Old Testament). They had been adopted as sons: God had taken a people who were in slavery and made them his people. They had access to his glory. He gave them his covenant through Moses to all the people. Part of this included his giving them his law, a law to live by to stay faithful to him in preparation for the coming Messiah. Later they received the worship in the temple. They had access to the promises of Abraham and eventually, through their line, came the Messiah. The Messiah is God over all. Continue reading “Don’t miss the trees for the forest”

Final exams

“Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king” (Daniel 1:18-19).

Throughout the world, and throughout most of recorded history, examinations have played a major part in determining the future of young people. In South Asia preparing for exams is an extremely important activity as the continuation of one’s education or the beginning of a career depends upon making acceptable marks. In many cases those who fail do not get another opportunity. Continue reading “Final exams”

The gospel of power

Let us never speak of the requirements of the gospel without speaking, in the same breath, of the power of the gospel, not only to save, but to sustain.

Many in the world are power-seekers, Jeremiah 9.23. It gives them a sense of worth and purpose. From the school-yard bully to the national dictator, not a few want to be the winner of the fighter’s ring. Their glory is the knock-out. Continue reading “The gospel of power”

The Gravity of Grace: proof texts (2)

Satan quoted scripture: “For he will command his angels concerning you … On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). So does the text teach this or not? It does (Psalm 91:11-12). Satan was right that scripture taught this concept.

Yet Jesus’ response reveals Satan’s usage of this verse violated scripture’s message, namely the principle that we are to abstain from testing God (Matthew 4:7). Context matters.

If we are going to understand God’s message to us, we need to seek an objectivity anchored in what the inspired biblical author sought to communicate. Conversely, we will want to avoid the subjectivity of “what does this text mean to me?”

Continue reading “The Gravity of Grace: proof texts (2)”

A son or daughter; not a slave

In the first century A.D., slavery was everywhere. According to estimates, 30-40 percent of the population of Italy were slaves.

Slaves did not have relationships with their masters. No master ever let a slave know his business. Slaves were considered living tools for the master. Slaves obeyed their masters or faced the lash.

It is important to realize Jesus did not want slaves. He told his disciples everything they needed to know to discharge their responsibility to preach the gospel to the world. He made his disciples partners in helping others find salvation. Continue reading “A son or daughter; not a slave”

The right order is crucial

The cart before the horse. It may be dated, but it still gets the message across. It could be updated to say, “Don’t put the caboose in the front of the train.” But now trains don’t even have cabooses anymore. What’s the world coming to!?

We have a ton of sayings that are concerned with putting things in the right order. You have to walk before you can run. That’s one.

And cooking! How many recipes tell us to mix some things first, then add other ingredients. The wrong order of the steps will ruin the recipe. Continue reading “The right order is crucial”

The road to glory

How does one achieve glory? Humans think glory means to exalt self above others, and so people have tried to find a way to become the most exalted on earth.

Many used politics to find a route to glory by becoming a ruler. Others accumulated wealth as a way to find themselves exalted and enshrined in memory. Others have simply dominated others in an attempt to gain it. All of them have failed because they never understood what glory is. Continue reading “The road to glory”

Leaving everything to follow Jesus

“Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.” (Luke 5:1-3 NET)

Jesus’ popularity was growing. Just standing by the lake (we know this lake better as the ‘Sea of Galilee’) caused a crowd to gather around him. They were eager to hear him teach more from God’s word. We aren’t given an exact location for this scene, but as Simon is there we are fairly safe to assume this was near Capernaum at the north of the lake. Continue reading “Leaving everything to follow Jesus”