Even the blood of wild animals

“Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth” (Leviticus 17:13).

Many years ago I took a course on meat preparation and was introduced to “Kosher” meats. That is the term used of meats approved for eating by Orthodox Judaism. At that time at least the processing of Kosher meat not only meant to select only “clean” animals as sources of food, but also the complete removal of all blood from the carcass. As I recall the lessons, Orthodox Jews only ate beef or mutton that had been de-veined. Simply bleeding the carcass out was not sufficient – the veins themselves had to be removed. Since the hind quarters of a cow (steer) could not be feasibly de-veined, those who required Kosher meat could only eat the front quarters (shoulders). Think of all the wasted T-bone steaks! Continue reading “Even the blood of wild animals”

The household of God

Communication is wonderful as well as a bit tricky. Our understanding of what others communicate is partially shaped by our experiences and prior knowledge.

So, when Paul described the church as being the household of God what do we understand? Perhaps what comes to our minds revolves around our relationship with other Christians as brothers and sisters. Yes, we are all in this together.

Does anything else come to mind? Would someone in the first century comprehend additional nuances? Probably yes. Continue reading “The household of God”

Excuses and reversed causes

My former roommate from college sang a song with a quartet about excuses: “Excuses, excuses, you’ll hear them every day, / The devil will supply them, if from church you stay away.”/1 Unfortunately, even the people of God can be good at inventing excuses and justifications.

The prophet Haggai dealt with excuses and reversed causes. This short book packs a powerful punch against illogical thinking and unwilling hands. Continue reading “Excuses and reversed causes”

Compliance or submission

The story is told of a father who brings his oldest son to settle on a homestead. The father lays out the plans for his son: where to build the house and barn, where to lay out the fields for planting, and where to dig the well. The father then leaves this work to his son while he goes to collect his wife and younger children.

After many months the father returns and the son happily shows off his hard work. The house, barn, and fields are all in line with the father’s desires, but the well is in a different location. When asked why, the son replied, “Father, the house, the barn, and the fields were all in the right place. I agreed with your direction. But I did not agree with where we should dig the well. So I placed it here.” Continue reading “Compliance or submission”

Joining obedience and faith

Some modern Bibles render part of Romans 1:5 as “believe and obey” thus making faith and obedience two separate entities. This would seem to reflect more of the editors’ theological outlook than Paul’s mindset. Yet, we should not be surprised. How many people separate faith from obedient actions?

Paul joined faith and obedience into one unified idea. Yet, do we expect this?

Continue reading “Joining obedience and faith”

But I thought …

“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:1 NIV)

Leprosy. Although the Hebrew word does not necessarily identify this as what we know today as leprosy, it was some type of skin disease that was undoubtedly unsightly and probably uncomfortable. For a soldier, a commander in the army, this would have been more than just inconvenient. Continue reading “But I thought …”

Obedient faith or disobedience

There are some bizarre definitions of faith in the world. One of the most prevalent seems to be that one only believes in Jesus, and that automatically confers salvation on that person.

Not even John the Baptist, however, agreed with that prevalent idea. In John 3, in a discussion by John with his disciples, the cousin of Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” (John 3:36 NASB). Continue reading “Obedient faith or disobedience”

Replacing sin with obedience

As the first king of the divided kingdom of Judah, Rehoboam drifted further from following God. When he died his son Abijah continued that trend during his three-year reign:

“He followed all the sinful practices of his father before him. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had been” (1 Kings 15:3 NET).

When Abijah’s son Asa became king, it must have been a breath of fresh air! “During his reign the land had rest for ten years. Asa did what the Lord his God desired and approved” (2 Chronicles 14:1-2). Peace and a return to God’s ways. But to return to God, what did Asa have to do? Continue reading “Replacing sin with obedience”

Our confidence as Christians

The first letter of John comes as a breath of fresh air to those who are trying to live for Jesus. People around us tell us so much that simply isn’t true. It seems many think if they say something often enough and loud enough that it becomes true! Let’s notice some of the truths that John gives us in the last chapter of this short letter.

“For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith” (1 John 5:3-4 CSB).

Sometimes we hear people complaining that doing what God wants is difficult. Obedience, we are told, is just too hard! So does it really matter, they think, if we obey God or not? Continue reading “Our confidence as Christians”