Archive for September, 2014

A Pearl of Great Price

September 29th, 2014 No comments

This morning I read in Matthew 13:45 the parable about the merchant who found a pearl of great price and sold all that he had so that he could buy it. In my mind I contrasted that with the story of the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-22) who was not able to give up his earthly wealth and went away sad.

Which one am I? I struggle to do God’s will and to serve his people but I am crippled by the voices that tell me I am not being appreciated and respected enough. When Jesus talks of giving up our worldly wealth does he not mean more than just our possessions? Does he not also mean our rights to ourselves? And if I am disrespected for doing God’s work, what does it matter as long as the work is done? Jesus emptied himself to serve those who disrespected him (Phil. 2:7-8). Why should I expect different? But when Jesus accomplished his task of service with humility, he tells us that he was then glorified (John 13:31).

I pray to be so identified with Christ that I am able to serve God’s people with no thought of my own glorification. I pray that I might glorify God through my work for him. No work that I do for God will end with me being glorified by men.

Do Not Bring Us to the Time of Trial

September 24th, 2014 No comments

I read about Jesus in the desert this morning in Luke Chapter 4. I find it interesting that this section is titled “The Temptation of Christ.” I think this gives us a better feel for what the Bible means when it talks about temptation. The NRSV translates Mt. 6:13 in the Lord’s prayer as “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.” This is in contrast with almost every other translation which renders it “Do not lead us into temptation.” The same Greek word which has to do with temptation is used in both the prayer and the trial of Jesus by Satan. I have long preferred the NRSV rendering because I think it better captures the meaning in both places.

What is a temptation but a trial? Is it not the experience of being offered that same fearsome choice that was offered to Adam and Eve in the garden? And what was the outcome of that experience? Utter failure. In fact, as you become familiar with the scriptures you ultimately must acknowledge that people do not fare well under trial. When given the choice between fidelity and betrayal we all end up alongside Judas. Maybe not in everything, but in some things. But the incident in the desert shows us that Jesus does remain faithful under trial. Jesus did what Adam and Eve, and we, cannot do.

That’s why we must pray not to be brought to the time of trial, Because we will fail. But Jesus does not fail. So we must pray to be found in him.


September 19th, 2014 No comments

Some day I shall lay down. No more to walk the earth.

Job is About More than Suffering

September 17th, 2014 No comments

We rightly look for meaning about suffering in the book of Job. But as I was finishing reading it once again this morning it occurred to me that there is another important lesson we can take from the book of Job concerning our representation of God to the world. You may recall in the story that Job’s friends came t o “comfort” him by advising him to repent of his sin and once again receive God’s favor. But you may also recall that Job’s suffering was not imposed on him as a result of his sin and so he would not repent. As I read through the arguments of the friends I realized that much of it could be quoted as scripture to make certain points about God today. But I also realized that that would be to take everything out of context because in the end God rebukes the friends:

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. (Job 42:7 ESV)

The lesson? Don’t presume to know what God’s purpose is based on human understanding. And beyond that, don’t quote random phrases from t he Bible as revealed wisdom without carefully considering the context.

Only Evil All the Time (Gen. 6:5)

September 15th, 2014 No comments

The doctrine of Total Depravity means that people are naturally inclined to sin and left to their own devices will always choose sin. This seems like a harsh judgment but in fact it provides the key to salvation, because if we could solve the sin problem on our own, we wouldn’t need Christ.

Never Forget

September 11th, 2014 No comments

The New Heaven and the New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)


Not Proof

September 7th, 2014 No comments

In a world of six billion people anecdotal evidence is meaningless.

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