“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5, NASB).
As these words are written the world continues to battle the pandemic of Covid-19, a newly discovered Corona virus which, first detected probably in December, 2019, spread throughout more than 150 nations in a span of three to four months. A few countries have seen the peak of new cases pass, with fewer reported and death rates dwindling. But for most of the world the virus continues to rage. More than two million have been confirmed with Covid 19 in the U.S. alone and the number is still climbing. Equally alarming is the effect this pandemic is having upon the global economy. To say this is a critical time is perhaps an understatement. Continue reading “Critical situations”
During our first months in Brazil, aeons ago, two of our Portuguese teachers discussed, rather heatedly, whether or not Brazilians were by nature lazy. One believed it zealously, while the other noted how much time Brazilians spent getting to and from work, as well as how long their work week was.
Years later, a Brazilian brother shared his dream of retirement: living on the beach and spending his days in a hammock. That sounds pretty lazy to me. But then it’s retirement, right? I doubt, however, that many people would buy into his dream. Continue reading “The sin of laziness”
Likewise you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:5, 6 ESV).
Pride and selfishness are the besetting sins of mankind. Always lurking nearby, ready with an enticing word that plays to our vanity and to our self-importance. Many have fallen victim to the siren song of self. Few find the strength to resist.
The answer to these sins is pure love exhibited in humility. Augustine is reported to have said, “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues, hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” Continue reading “Humility now, exaltation later”
Every day sorrow strikes somewhere. Every day people experience loss, pain, and grief. The prevalence of such tragedy does not lessen the importance of – nor should it dull our senses to – the sorrow.
Today, Monday the 18th, the lives of three people ended in a Walmart parking lot. The early reports are that it was a domestic dispute and not the result of a mass shooter. The only reason I’m writing about this is that this particular parking lot is just down the road from where I live. I once worked in the store, and my family shops there most Monday mornings.
When these incidents happen, and they happen frequently in many places all over the world, it is important to recognize the cause and the solution. Continue reading “Sin, sorrow, and the only real solution”
We commonly consider conquerors to be those who wield swords, plot military strategy, and display powerful and aggressive personalities. Conquerors like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Genghis Khan used daring, might, and intelligence to forge large and imposing kingdoms.
But Christians, who are called to be meek, loving, and submissive to authority, are said by God to be conquerors. Consider this statement: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Not only are we conquerors, but we are “more than conquerors.” What is it that we conquer and how can we be conquerors?
Jesus promised his disciples that in the world they would have tribulation, but he had overcome the world (John 16:33). The promise of tribulation, persecution, and general hardship for followers of the Way was certain. But just as certain was the assurance of overcoming.
Continue reading “Conquering and reigning”
Sin. It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from. All humans struggle with sin. It doesn’t even matter when we are living (although most seem to always think that it is worse now than it has ever been). David wrote about this in Psalm 14 and Paul quoted it in his letter to the Christians in Rome.
“There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
Although we might not like this applied to us, deep down we know that too often we wander after sin and do not seek God. If the truth be told, we often seek sin and ignore God. When it comes to wanting what we desire, most choose sin. As David went on to say, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). Continue reading “The problem of sin”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)
Therefore … because of the the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, we need to do something. The “great cloud of witnesses” are those from the previous chapter listed in the hall of fame of faith. These are people whose lives were characterised by faith, who followed God no matter what might happen to them or was happening to them. Their encouragement to us is that we need to be a people of faith. Continue reading “Don’t give up!”
Jesus Christ is the complete answer of God for the problem and need of mankind. Our problem is not ignorance, which education will solve. Our problem is not poverty, which more robust social programs will eradicate. Our problem is sin. It’s consequence, eternal and spiritual, is separation from God, Isaiah 5.1-2; Colossians 1.21. We cannot now imagine the despair and suffering caused by our rejection of God. No human action will repair that damage. So God sent his Son to pay the price for our sins, 1 Corinthians 6.20. Our Lord declared time and again that he came to save us from ourselves, Luke 19.10. This is the great act of grace on his part, Titus 3.4-7. Continue reading “Look to Jesus Christ”
By Johnny O. Trail — The book of Judges offers some interesting history about the Israelites and the relationship they had with the Philistines. Samson had humiliated the Philistines by destroying their standing crops with fire. Since Dagon was a god of grain, this was a direct challenge to their deity. The biblical text says in Judges 15.4-5,
“And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.”
This outrage was swiftly answered by the Philistines. They sought out Samson at Etim and asked the Israelites where he might be found: Continue reading “Have we surrendered?”
To accompany a recent sermon on sexual immorality, I wrote the following summary points on sex and marriage, focusing especially on the former. They have been translated from Portuguese.
These are basically bullet points designed for people who are coming to know God’s will. They’re designed to be starting points for further study. Continue reading “26 Biblical points on sex and marriage”