Humility

Posted December 11, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life

We like to believe God is on our side. He is gracious and merciful beyond our comprehension.

But if you’re experiencing troubles, is it possible God is against you? Could He be chastizing you? He does that to those He loves.

God opposes and resists the proud, and He uplifts the humble.

It pains me to think there have been times when God has said “No,” or put a roadblock in my way because He opposed the direction I was going. And this has happened even when I was zealous for Him. I thought I was leaning on His Spirit.

This brings up my need for humility and greater dependence on God. It’s not about me doing what I think He wants–at least not without His genuine Spirit filling.

Explore this in Moments for You for the fourth quarter of 2016. This issue’s theme is humility.

Beautiful Jesus?

Posted November 6, 2016 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

Isaiah 53:1-3–
1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

I was reading a message from a devotional booklet which made the point that Jesus didn’t come as a hero or as someone handsome to look on. God wants us to hear and obey His message, not worship Him because He’s a specimen of beauty.

Note Isaiah 53:2, which says, he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

When Christ returns as judge and victor, as portrayed in the book of Revelation, I don’t think many will see Him as beautiful.

Here’s what comes to mind for me. The next time you hear a song on Christian radio exalting the beautiful Jesus, ask yourself who they’re worshipping.

True Liberty

Posted September 4, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life

The theme of “Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2016 is liberty. View it here.

Specifically, articles deal with the Christian’s liberty in Christ. We have freedom to do–and not do–many things. But we must understand who we are in Christ and what God’s grace has done for us.

Perilous Times

Posted July 24, 2016 by John
Categories: Thoughts from John

I read a thought provoking article about why we won’t experience an armed revolution in America. The author gives three main reasons.

Read more here.

Tamar

Posted June 19, 2016 by John
Categories: Bible Study

The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37 and goes to chapter 50. But there’s an odd, yet significant interruption in the narrative in chapter 38. It’s the story of Judah’s family.

Christ was born through the generations of Judah. However, there was a big bump as described in Genesis 38. I suggest you read it so you’ll fully grasp what I’m saying below.

Judah had three sons, but two were slain by the Lord for their unrighteousness. Judah’s third son had been promised to Tamar, his daughter-in-law from her marriage to the first son. The idea was to keep the lineage going.

Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and tricked Judah into having sex with her. She conceived and gave birth to twins.

One wonders why Judah would have sex with a prostitute in the first place. His wife had died, but that was still not a good excuse.

The first time I read thhis chapter I was amazed that something like this is in the Bible, God’s holy word. Aren’t these supposed to be stories about God’s holy people? It turns out they weren’t always so righteous after all.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 the stories from the Old Testament serve as examples for us. That’s true of negative examples, too. We can learn a lot about what not to do.

I love God’s word for not pulling punches. It lays out people’s faults for us to see, no matter how bad they are. And the Scriptures offer hope and redemption.

We get a breath of fresh air when Joseph’s story resumes in Genesis 39 because we see the account of a truly righteous man.

But when we look at Genesis 38, we can’t help but see God’s grace. How he made good out of a messed up situation is astonishing. If Tamar hadn’t done what she did, the lineage through which Christ was supposed to come would have been broken.

Part of Matthew 1:3 says, And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom…

How many times has God taken something awful from our lives, or the lives of those around us, and made something good out of it? He does all things for His glory, and we are so blessed that He is gracious.

Does that mean we can sin and God will clean up after us? Note what Paul says in selected verses from Romans 6.

1.What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2.God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?…
6.Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Let’s seek to do that which pleases Him, while at the same time realizing His grace makes things right in the end.

Note: I had an opportunity at church to give a Bible study on this. Read more and hear the message here.

The Good Samaritan – Have We Gotten it Wrong?

Posted May 22, 2016 by John
Categories: Christian Life

Luke 10:25-37–
25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26. He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28.And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34.And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

No doubt you’ve heard sermons preached on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Usually they’re about how we should be a good neighbor, or they raise the question of who our neighbor is.

It’s those messages on being a good neighbor which hit the mark.

It pains me to admit this because too many sermons about being a good neighbor and doing good to others have left out the Gospel. Anyone can do good to others, but it’s been said that the devil wants us to do good–without Christ.

But back to the Scripture passage quoted above. It starts with a lawyer asking Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Rather than answering directly, Jesus quizzed him on how well he knew the law.

In turn the lawyer quoted the top two commandments of greatest importance. Jesus assured him his answer was correct. It was well that he knew truth. All he had to do was live up to what he knew to be right.

But that wasn’t good enough for the lawyer. Apparently he thought knowing the law was enough to get him by. So he focused on a technicality and asked Jesus who his neighbor was. Who was it that he was supposed to love as he loved himself.

Rather than give the lawyer a direct answer, Jesus told a parable. Two prominent Jewish religious leaders didn’t help the man who had been victimized and left for dead. Like the lawyer Jesus was speaking to, the leaders in the parable knew the law well.

It was a Samaritan–despised by the Jews–who showed compassion and helped the wounded man. Most likely he wasn’t a scholar of the law.

Jesus asked the lawyer who the neighbor was. The lawyer knew right away it was the Samaritan–the one who showed mercy. Jesus told him he should do likewise.

The bottom line? The lawyer’s understanding of the law needed to be acted upon. It wasn’t enough to know the law. The whole message of the law was to love God to the utmost and love others as much as we love ourselves.

We can debate all we want about who our neighbor might be. But I believe Jesus deliberately didn’t answer that question. His emphasis was on telling the lawyer that he needed to be the neighborly one.

Never mind the fact that the Samaritan was not someone the lawyer would have wanted to emulate. Jesus taught His lesson in a poignant way to drive the message home.

A few other Scriptures reinforce the lesson for us today.

Micah 6:8–He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Romans 12:18–If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Galatians 6:10–As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Clean

Posted May 15, 2016 by John
Categories: Bible Study

I encourage you to spend a few minutes with Moments for You for the second quarter of 2016. The theme is “clean,” and all of the articles deal with such things as being cleansed by God and how we must live clean and holy lives.

You might also enjoy Clean Before My Lord, by Honeytree.