Are we listening?

Samuel had been dedicated to the Lord as a child (see 1 Samuel 1). His mother had been unable to conceive and she promised God that her first child would be given to serve him. God answered that prayer and his mother took him to serve in the tabernacle with the high priest, Eli.

One night, as he was going to bed in the house of God, Samuel heard a voice calling to him. He assumed it was Eli – as Eli’s eyesight was failing that was a logical conclusion. He ran to Eli but Eli hadn’t called him; he was told to go back to bed. And it happened again, with the same conclusion. Continue reading “Are we listening?”

Know what to do with God’s word

James’s three-pronged advice appears, at first glance, to help improve human relationships. It certainly would improve them, were we to apply it to how we deal with others. Not a few sermons and classes take this approach. But attention to context places us on a different plane.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1.19.

Continue reading “Know what to do with God’s word”

One thing at a time

Winston Churchill said, “Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” A less remarkable person reportedly said, “If you try to catch two rabbits, you’ll catch none.”

The help-wanted ads clamor for a person who has “multi-tasking skills.” Do those exist? It seems as though a person may do more than one thing at a time but may make a mistake because attention is diverted. Continue reading “One thing at a time”

Walking in truth

When John wrote his second letter he was concerned with truth as well as with love. And when you think about it, these two go hand in hand: truth and love. In a world where “truth” seems to be defined as whatever a person wants it to be, it is refreshing to read about something definite and concrete called “truth” – and it is based in God’s word.

“The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever…” (2 John 1-2 NIV). Continue reading “Walking in truth”

“Give us each day our daily bread”

It is difficult to understand how people who had been freed from bondage would ever say they wanted to go back.

Yet, that is exactly what Israel did in Exodus chapter 16. God’s people had been freed from bitter bondage but were actually wishing they were back in Egypt. They complained they had pots full of meat and plenty of bread (Exodus 16:3).

So God gave his people quail and bread from heaven to eat. Continue reading ““Give us each day our daily bread””

Judgement is coming

A question which often perplexes Christians is that there are people who will be lost, who will not spend eternity with Jesus. We spend time with people who are religious and do so many good things but have never put on Jesus by being immersed into him. Sometimes we may even begin to question whether baptism is even important.

Jesus addressed this in what we call “the Sermon on the Mount.” “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 6:21-23 NET). Continue reading “Judgement is coming”

Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment

Some people are wanting to modify the Brazilian flag. They propose adding a word to the phrase, “Order and Progress,” written across it. They want it to read, “Love, Order and Progress.”

People know love is important. They just don’t know what love is. The Bible explains and demonstrates it. The Way of Christ is defined by it.

You know, of course, that Jesus didn’t create the commandment to love God during his time on earth, Matthew 22.37-38. It was already in the Old Testament. He did, however pick it out and join it to the commandment to love one’s neighbor in order to make the two the great hook upon which hang God’s great plan of salvation. Continue reading “Behind Jesus’ greatest commandment”

Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’

In 1 Thessalonians 2.3, a section of the letter where he defends himself against accusations of disinterest or self-interest, Paul described his evangelistic work among the Thessalonians as “our exhortation.”

For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

The quotation above, from the NET Bible, translates “our exhortation” as “the appeal we make.” An exhortation is an urgent appeal for someone to take a course of action. An exhortation tells someone, “You ought to do this.” Continue reading “Scripture foils attempts to reduce gospel by calling it ‘exhortation’”

Love and obedience

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.…So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:6-11 NIV).

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they had conquered the land. Each tribe had been allocated their inheritance and they had settled into their homes. Joshua was now a very old man (Joshua 23:1) at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29). He called the leaders of the tribes together one last time to remind them of what God had done for them and what God required of them. “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14). Continue reading “Love and obedience”