Driving Forces: Culture or the Holy Spirit?
Because the people of God are not ready, our Lord has not yet come. Let's be clear; we are not waiting for the world to become more wicked, for men and women to become more confused, more immoral, more worthy of destruction. That time has already come; we are living in its midst. When God commanded Noah to build the ark, it was no contingency plan just in case men became more evil. God saw what was happening. The degree of chosen rebellion in the world condemned the world. God set out to preserve a remnant, or, at least, seedbed for the remnant. But they were not ready.Read more...
From the Beginning it was not So
The passage we start at today is about an understandably dark topic: divorce. And, that is a very important topic for Christians to address. But we look at this passage more for another idea today, and we want to consider it at least briefly. Let's capture the flow of Jesus' speech. We'll spot it. The message today is NOT primarily, even secondarily, about divorce.Read more...
Consider these Scriptures:
Matthew 5:13: You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."
Mark 9:49, 50: For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."
Luke 14:34: Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
Colossians 4:5, 6: "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."
Salt. We are supposed to be salt, be salted, be seasoned with salt. We are supposed to be "high sodium." Why? What does this all mean? Let's look at the New Testament passages that have to do with salt.Read more...
The Blessed Hope
Let's get the whole statement. Let's back up a notch and read Titus 2:11-14:
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."
We should notice a pattern in this passage. See the idea of appearing in verse 11. In whom did God's grace appear to all men? In Jesus Christ dying on the cross. The result of this is that you and I are called to live in a different way than before.Read more...
Wolves in the Fold
There are three Old Testament texts that mention wolves, and four New Testament. Two of the Old Testament passages use the wolf to describe unfaithful leaders in Israel. One text uses the wolf to describe the Assyrians.
In the New Testament, two texts use the wolf to describe those the Christians were sent out to evangelize. Two other texts use the wolf to describe the deception of false teachers. Today, we will look at these latter two passages.Read more...
Fathers and Mothers and Children in Israel
The Bible provides many examples of how not to parent, and some on how to parent a child. Many cases offer us limited insight. How did Mordecai raise Hadassah (Esther) to be willing to risk her life to save her people? How did Daniel's parents prepare him to be faithful in captivity in Babylon? How did Moses' parents prepare him to be faithful in the court of Pharaoh? And, of course, how did Joseph and Mary raise Jesus to withstand the full weight of tradition and go up onto the cross in contradiction to all the world?
In the cases mentioned, we know next to nothing. What we do know is that the parenting was successful. These children became heroes of faith.
We may surmise one other thing as well; all successful parenting is parenting in which one or both human parents cooperate with God in raising the child. There is no Christian parenting without the help of God. Parenting is not a stand-alone operation. If successful, it is done in the help of God.
If this is true then how do we parent in the help of God? How do we raise children side-by-side with the Ultimate Parent?Read more...
And Jesus said to them, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?' (Mark 14:48 ESV).
I want to meet you today in a story. Catch the setting. It’s dark. There are trees. There are disciples, groggy, sleep-slime in the corners of their eyes. Not in Jesus' though; He's not been sleeping; He's been praying. A flutter of sound rises in the distance. It increases. A group is approaching; it sounds like a small mob. There--a dim light; then more. Bobbing torches play against trees and shadows. One gait is familiar.
The picture is from the mount of Olives, the place we all know as Gethsemane. This is it. This is the rendezvous. This is where there is a convergence, where Jesus is captured, and where we stand only a few hours from the closing Golgotha scene and His pierced, nail-scarred hands.
We are here to process this event together. Imagine it: capturing Jesus.Read more...