Jesus had started to lose his popularity by the time he shouted on the last day of a feast,
If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38, MEV).
Those who heard him contented themselves with debating who he was. But what did he mean? Continue reading
We like to think of Jesus as gentle and loving.
Some people even teach that the love of God means there can’t be a hell.
They’re reading selectively and ignoring passages that describe the wrath of Jesus.
In fact, most of what the Bible teaches about hell comes from the lips of an angry Jesus. In one outburst he consigned the entire town where he lived to hell! Continue reading
God keeps his promises. Often not as soon as we’d like. And often not in ways we anticipated. The beginning of Paul’s ministry in Philippi serves as a perfect example of an answer that may have looked at first like a disappointment.
Acts 16:1-15 describes the beginning of Paul’s second missionary journey. He had begun it by visiting the churches he had founded on the first journey.
The chapter begins with Paul in Lystra and Derbe in the province of Galatia (part of Asia Minor, or modern Turkey).
From there he and his team planned to start new churches in the neighboring province of Asia. It was conveniently located and culturally familiar. Continue reading
God’s promise, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares,” stands on a wall near the United Nations. The UN exists because the world wanted to make it come true.
The first four verses of Isaiah 2 leading up to that promise presents a compelling image: God’s house sits on a mountain higher than any other mountain on earth, and “all the nations stream to it.”
Imagine! A stream flowing uphill! Continue reading
What are we to make of the 27th chapter of Acts?
It describes Paul’s voyage from Caesarea to Rome, using three ships and running into a life-threatening storm at sea. It doesn’t describe any conversation in which Paul may have shared the gospel.
Is Luke so wrapped up in geography that he forgets his spiritual purpose? Or does this chapter contain any spiritual meat for us? Continue reading
We have an entire industry devoted to helping us raise our self-esteem. After all, everyone wants to get ahead. And who can get ahead without good self-esteem?
Anyone who wants to get ahead God’s way.
God has a way of giving very simple instructions that demand we act exactly the opposite of what our society and our human nature expect.
Philippians 2:3 is a very simple verse, easy to memorize and hard to live up to:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (NIV).
Does the thought of considering others better make your blood start to seethe? Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that the world of the Bible is very different from our own society? Sometimes it can seem hard to relate to some of the topics.
But we’re not as far removed from the ancients as we like to think. After all, we’re human, too.
The church at Corinth sent Paul a letter with some questions. We can reconstruct them in the structure of 1 Corinthians.
Paul begins various sections with the phrase “now concerning.” In 1 Corinthians 8, it’s “Now concerning meat sacrificed to idols.”
It still matters. Continue reading
For some of us, the best exercise we get is jumping to conclusions. That is, we make snap judgments without having all the necessary facts.
A very minor Bible character, Claudius Lysias, jumped to a lot of conclusions. As each proved false, he jumped to another one. He never did find out whom he had in custody.
We don’t learn his name until the very end of his story, but he was the Roman tribune in Jerusalem about 30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He saved Paul from lynching and never quite knew what to do next. Continue reading
It’s more blessed to give than to receive. But God is such a generous giver that we receive all the time. And in fact, what we receive depends very much on what we give.
Unfortunately, we concentrate so much on material things that we easily forget how much else giving and receiving means.
Let’s take a look at one of Jesus’ teachings on the subject:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:37-38, NIV
The image of someone pouring something into our laps can easily focus our attention on the material. But the sentence about giving and receiving directly follows references to judging, condemning, and forgiving. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that much of the American church today doesn’t like to mention sin?
Try saying aloud that something is sinful. If you’re not careful about what company you say it in, someone is bound to thunder, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
Why do they always quote it in King James? Simply because they have memorized it that way, and it becomes a handy club to beat up anyone who dares to criticize sin.
They have no clue that their use of the verse amounts to judgment of you, the one who dares to bring up the very idea of sin.
In fact, it’s a safe bet that these people can’t tell you the context of the quotation or whatever else the Bible might have to say about judgment. Including where it commands that we judge. Continue reading