What we need

The orchids in Jamaica cover the most dilapidated of structures, so resplendent in their breathtaking glory that the countryside appears to be a paradise. Here in Tennessee, the plants that grow with such vigor are mostly flowerless weeds.

As a teen bride, I breathed a wish as I gently caressed these magnificent flowers that I could grow them one day. To date, I have now managed to preside over the short lives and untimely deaths of a few orchids. None have survived my black thumb in a non-tropical climate. Continue reading “What we need”

Are we asking?

“Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then he will reply from inside, “Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 NET).

How many of us have friends like the one Jesus talked about? Or, maybe more personally, how many of us are like the man who was already in bed when his friend came to knock on his door? He really didn’t want to have to get back up to find some bread to give to his friend. But he seems to have realized that his friend wouldn’t go away unless he did get up and give him what he needed to meet his needs. Continue reading “Are we asking?”

Make time for God

“Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns” (Matthew 14:13 NET).

Jesus had just received news of the death of John. We know from Luke 1:36 that their mothers were related, so it may not be speculating too much to suggest that Jesus and John may have known each other as children. Being close in age, if there had been family gatherings they would probably have ended up together. Continue reading “Make time for God”

The greatest prayer we can pray

During the holidays, we pray that you and all of yours may be deeply blessed by your time with family and with your friends and loved ones, and by the food and other things “that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” 1 Timothy 4.3.

Our greatest prayer for those who are not yet in Christ is that they may have faith that obeys the Lord, and not just any faith; that they may know the truth which saves; that they may enter into Christ through repentance and immersion in water.

All other blessings are far inferior to the greatness of knowing God and the call to follow Jesus. Continue reading “The greatest prayer we can pray”

Got Rest?

Perhaps one of the greatest disparities between Jesus’ lifestyle and that of his disciples today in developed countries, might be his willingness to withdraw from the hustle and bustle to rest and pray. Do we not recognize a certain badge of honor and pride in explaining to others how busy we are?

On the other hand, we’ve heard his stories. “Jesus often withdrew to deserted places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Why did Jesus make the time while we can be tempted to believe we can not afford to take a break? What does this reveal about Christ and ourselves? Continue reading “Got Rest?”

Speaking boldly

As the Day of Pentecost ended, all was going very well for the group of new followers of Jesus. 3,000 had been immersed in water to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2:41). The new disciples spent time together and were taking care of each other. And those around them saw this. As a result they had the “favor of all the people” (Acts 2:47 ESV). Their number increased on a daily basis.

For a while this was the situation. It is difficult to get a sense of time in the first few chapters of Acts, as Luke recorded snapshots of what was happening. It would appear that at least four years are condensed into the first eight chapters of Acts (see Gareth Reese, New Testament History: Acts, 1976: i-xxii). What Luke does record is that the new community of Christ-followers began to be seen as a threat. Continue reading “Speaking boldly”

What makes for a strong church

Between teacher Humberto’s comments in Bible class, as he covered Acts 4, and my notes, here are five points on what makes for a strong church.

#1. It preaches Jesus, Acts 4.18-20.

No message can transform lives but Jesus. No message can save eternally but that of the Cross of Christ. The issue between the Sanhedrin and the apostles was speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus. The Name made everything happen. The Name made men walk, united warring factions, caused new birth, gave hope to the hopeless. There was no talk of politics, of social change, of financial gain, of mission strategies or church resources. Jesus was the sum of their message. The strong church stays on message. Continue reading “What makes for a strong church”