Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” He did not say, “Ask and it will be given to you immediately.” He also did not say, “Ask and it will be given you exactly as you envision it.” When we ask and seem not to receive, it’s easy to fall into some kind of crisis of faith.
Ordinarily, Bible teachers deal with the questions of unanswered prayer by looking at the text in detail in order to point out conditions or the various ways we sabotage our own faith. Instead, let’s look at Joshua.
The 11th chapter of Joshua might not make the most fascinating reading, but it does summarize the accomplishments and answered prayers of one of the Old Testament’s most successful leaders.… Read the rest
Every once in a while, someone will make the news by declaring that some event is God’s judgment on, well, fill in the blank. The immediate reaction in the media is outrage, often well deserved. Unfortunately, such dustups obscure an important fact: God’s judgment must come upon America. Let me approach the subject with three stories that, at first, will seem wholly unrelated.
Tom, a friend of mine, once told me about the first car he ever owned. To make a long story short, he never thought to change the oil. Of course he never read the owner’s manual.… Read the rest
Pontius Pilate famously asked, “What is truth” and turned away without waiting for the answer. He had no inkling that Truth stood in front of him. He had no inkling that he was about to condemn Truth to crucifixion.
Fulfillment of Scripture demanded that Jesus be crucified. The ordinary way of executing prisoners under Jewish law was stoning. Only the Roman governor, Pilate, could authorize a crucifixion. He was initially unwilling.
Pilate thought he was in charge of the situation. He was wrong. Jesus was in charge. In the face of many obstacles, he had to insure his own crucifixion. It turned out to be hard work.… Read the rest
Nehemiah’s best-known accomplishment is getting a wall built. Lots of people have supervised similar construction projects. Not many have done so in the face of armed opposition that forced them to resort to multitasking. And even fewer have had their stories enshrined in Scripture so that thousands of years later, we can learn spiritual lessons.
Nowadays, multitasking seems to be the rule, not the exception. I have long observed people who claim they can be more efficient by doing several things at once. Usually I observe that they do at least one of the tasks so badly that they have to do it over.… Read the rest
Much of the Old Testament can seem pointless. Take Numbers 33; 31. Consecutive verses begin, “And they journeyed from.” After a brief interruption, there are 9 more verses that begin the same way. They journeyed from some place we’ve never heard of, went some place else we never heard of, and stayed there for. . . Who cares? I remember similar disappointment when I encountered my great-grandfather’s journal. But there is a point.
My great grandfather
Several years after the death of his first wife, Rev. Benjamin Franklin Morgan remarried. His new wife bore him a daughter, my grandmother, when he was 61.… Read the rest
Acts 26 records part of a conversation Paul had with Festus, Agrippa, and Bernice. Officially, those three dignitaries were the Roman governor, the King of Judea, and his wife. A man with his mind set on his circumstances (that is, on the flesh) would have conducted himself very differently than Paul did. He shows us faith in action.
The church had a problem at the beginning of Acts 6. They were all Jews, of course, but most of them were native to the area. Jews had moved all over the Roman Empire and had established synagogues in every major Greek city.
A number of those Jews eventually moved back to Jerusalem. They spoke Greek, but not the local Aramaic.
I have spent considerable time over the years studying the creation story and reading some of the various things that have been written about it. From atheists to faculty at certain seminaries, a few criticisms of the Genesis account turn up constantly. (A retired preacher friend of mine, who loves referring to preacher training schools as “cemeteries,” is among many who has trouble detecting much difference between atheists and cemetery professors.)
“Trust and obey,” says the hymn, “for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”
That’s easy, even fun to sing in church on Sunday or perhaps at home during personal devotions. It’s nothing but church talk if we don’t put legs on it, set our hands to work on it, and let it control our mouths and, yes, our thoughts once we close the hymnal.
Everyone wants to succeed at what they try. The alternative is failure. Successful people know failure. They have learned from it, worked out problems, and tried again until they succeed. That’s the way the world works. Unfortunately, the world also has pitfalls that can ultimately destroy the successful if they’re not vigilant. The Bible has many examples. Let’s look at Gideon.