Christ’s love from all sides

There are many things that can “fill us up.” Fried chicken can fill one up. Marital love can fill one up. Our vocation in life can often come pretty close to filling us up in several ways.

The apostle Paul had a wish for the members of the church at Ephesus. He wrote, “That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19b). One might achieve that by learning the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, which, he said, surpasses knowledge. Continue reading “Christ’s love from all sides”

Running out?

“And there was a great famine in Samaria; and behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver” (2 Kings 6:25 NASB).

During this Covid-19 crisis the people of Nepal are under lockdown orders, which means they cannot work and therefore earn money. Relief packages are being prepared for many of the poor, consisting of about 60 pounds of rice, 12 pounds of dal (beans), a half gallon of cooking oil, 5 pounds of salt, 2.2 pounds of soybean nuggets, and 2 bars of soap. This is considered a month’s supply of necessities for a family of 5. The cost of one such package is $22. That may seem like a small amount to some, but is beyond the ability of a large segment of the population under these circumstances. Continue reading “Running out?”

From why to what now

When disaster strikes, when sorrow overwhelms, when hardship envelops our lives, the first question we often ask is, “Why?”

We wonder why we or the ones we love have to endure pain. We question if God loves us or if we deserve it. We might even demand an answer from God.

Wanting to know why is understandable. Knowing why promises us satisfaction. But does God always tell us why? Continue reading “From why to what now”

Of plans and accomplishments

Have you made plans for the new year? Remember that God is a God of plans. His plans are to save all people. When you make your plans within this will of his for salvation, you are guaranteed success.

He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom. This was God’s plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3.10-11 GW.

Continue reading “Of plans and accomplishments”

What do you want?

“Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, he is calling you.’ … So Jesus answered and said to Him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘ Rabboni, that I may receive my sight'” (Mark 10:49, 51).

All people have desires and needs. Some are poorer than others, with greater and more obvious physical needs. Others have needs that are emotional, social, or spiritual, but just as if not more urgent. Some needs are obvious, but not all. In traveling to less developed parts of the world I see many beggars. Some are blind. Others are crippled. Some are simply poor and many are old, without income or family to help. When I see them I am often moved with pity and want to help. But I also recognize that I may not see their true needs, or be able to give that which will genuinely help them. Continue reading “What do you want?”

Baptism and the principle of doubt

Years ago, I listened as Dick Sztanyo presented an excellent lesson on ethics. In it, he enumerated a number of principles for ethical decision-making. One he called the “principle of doubt.” Citing Romans 14:23, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (ESV), Sztanyo reasoned that if one doubted the rightness of an action, one should so act as to remove the doubt.

The context of Romans 14 discusses morally neutral actions that may prick the consciences of weak Christians, thus causing them to sin. The principle of doubt calls the weak to avoid those actions and thus clear their consciences. May the principle of doubt also be applied to another class of actions?

Continue reading “Baptism and the principle of doubt”

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”

Character can be destiny

“Character is destiny.” This quote, attributed to the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, has been on my mind these last months. Seemingly a response to those who claim that fate controls one’s life regardless of one’s life-choices, “character is destiny” places the path and end of one’s life into one’s own hands.

Certainly, there is much truth in this statement, both from a secular and religious viewpoint. It does not mean to suggest that a person of poor character cannot be successful from a worldly standpoint. Only that the result of their life will reflect the choices which they made, and the character which informed those choices.

We might be dismayed to see wicked people, liars, cheaters, and the like, rise to prominence and power in our world. We might be saddened to see the world seemingly support such people. But we, like the Psalmist, have a more informed perspective. Continue reading “Character can be destiny”

Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation

Two boys asked a baseball coach the same question, “When can I play ball?” Yet each received a different answer. The first boy was told, “You’ll need to sign up and try out.” The second heard, “Just wait. You’ll be called.” Context enables us to understand why the answers differed. One boy was not yet on the team.

Since scripture provides different answers regarding salvation, Zacchaeus’ story reminds us to interpret messages within their context if we seek an author-centered understanding. Such a reminder promotes an accurate handling of two distinct New Testament messages. Simplistically latching on to either message tempts us to disregard the other. Continue reading “Zacchaeus’ story provides insight into salvation”

Salvation comes by knowledge

It is impossible to do the will of God without knowing the will of God. Salvation comes by knowledge of how to be forgiven of sin. “You will make his people know that they will be saved. They will be saved by having their sins forgiven” Luke 1.77 ICB. God’s grace and peace come to us and are multiplied for us “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” 2 Peter 1.2.

Salvation does not happen automatically, like the sun rising and setting. So we must put ourselves to the task of learning what salvation is all about. The gospel must be learned, Colossians 1.7. We must “be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is” Ephesians 5.17.

We ought to ask such questions as these: Continue reading “Salvation comes by knowledge”