Death that makes us alive

Life from death

Germinating seed

We usually think of death as the cessation of life. Scripture tells us it’s the beginning of life. How can that be?

Paul tells us to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God (Romans 6:11). Elsewhere he says that we were once dead in or sins, but God made us alive in Christ and forgave all our sins (Colossians 2:13).

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God vs mammon

Worship of Mammon

The Worship of Mammon / Evelyn De Morgan (1909)

Lots of people seem to get upset with preachers because they’re always talking about money. Those same people wouldn’t have liked Jesus’ ministry very much, either. Almost half of his parables (16 of 38) have to do with money.

And that’s not all he had to say about it, either. Here’s a portion of the Sermon on the Mount:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,

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Overcoming fear with peace

peace vs fear

Jesus Praying in the Garden / by Gustav Doré

Fear is one of Satan’s weapons to keep Christians from living in the freedom that Christ purchased for us. Fear keeps the lonely from reaching out to other people. Fear keeps us all from leaving our comfort zones to reach out for any goals at all.

We naturally experience fear when we experience adversity, obstacles, or failure. We shouldn’t give into it just because it’s natural. We have supernatural advantages, just as Jesus did in the Garden.

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See what God has done: praise in rough times

In an earlier post, I wrote of the struggles I used to have with the meaning of praise. From the opening of Psalm 66, I explained both my problem and what I came to learn about it.

When in v. 5 of the same psalm David writes, “Come and see what God has done,” he turns his focus from telling God how wonderful he is to reminding those who sang it of a familiar and beloved story.

Looking back

Worshiping the golden calf, as in Exodus 32:1-35, illustration from a Bible card published 1901 by the Providence Lithograph Company

The escape from Egypt through the sea and entrance into the Promised Land through the Jordan River at flood stage formed the backdrop for the Jews’ entire national and religious identity.… Read the rest

How do we know that we know Jesus?

Light of the World / William Holden Hunt (1853)

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means much more than going to church and trying to be a good person. In fact, it means acknowledging that we can’t be a good person on our own. We need Jesus to help us.

The risen Lord can’t be a historical character that we read about, but a person whom we know as much or better than any other person we know. We can’t see him. We can’t touch him. We can’t hear the sound of his voice. How, then, do we know that we know him?… Read the rest

Mountains? Help comes from the Lord

I raise my eyes to the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1-2 (HCSB)

“I can see the mountains very dimly!”

Distant mountains

This picture was also taken from eastern Colorado, but we traveled for hours from Bennett before the mountains looked this close.

My little brother’s excitement woke the whole family after what had been a very difficult night. It became the turning point of our trip to California.

My father had accepted a visiting professorship at the University of California and decided to buy a trailer.… Read the rest

A resurrection promise

Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Women at the empty tomb, by Fra Angelico, 1437-1446.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ closed the era of law and opened the era of grace. Some Christians still haven’t caught on. No wonder the world hasn’t.

Under law, people must obey or face punishment. Old Testament law defined God’s will so stringently that no one could possibly live up to it. Some people thought they kept the law and harshly judged others. Failing to keep love, they failed to keep the law. Very likely others recognized the impossibility of ever being “good enough” and gave up in despair. Certainly many figured out some decent minimum observance and hoped God would be satisfied.… Read the rest

The man born blind: discuss or heal?

In John 8, Jesus had a heated discussion about his ministry and credentials with Jewish leaders in the temple. He left, noticed a man born blind, and healed him. It was the Sabbath, so the leaders who were offended at him before became more offended and took out their frustration on the formerly blind man. Jesus’ disciples also saw the blind man, but they took it as a springboard for a theological discussion about sin (John 9:1-7). Has the church to this day understood what Jesus said and did?

Who sinned?

Christ heals the Man born blind

Healing of the Blind Man / by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308-11)

A blind man sat near the entrance to the temple.… Read the rest

Walking and falling as a child of God

Toddler walkingThe Bible frequently speaks of people walking before God, walking after God, walking with God, walking in his ways, walking contrary to his ways, etc. Psalm 37:23-24 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand” (NASB). No one likes to think about falling, but there it is the same place we find that God establishes our steps and delights in us.

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Three parables of the kingdom of heaven

According to Matthew 6:33, “Seek first kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [material needs] will be added to you.” Simple enough in principle, but just what is this kingdom, and what does it mean to seek it first? Jesus explained the kingdom in a number of parables. Here are three from Matthew 13:24-33.

The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a man

Kingdom of heaven, man planting wheat

Wheat plant: notice the bending stalk.

A man sowed good seed in his field. Now, this parable comes right after Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower. It seems safe to conclude that the seed in both cases is the word of God.… Read the rest