Before I write about mountain-moving faith, I owe my regular readers an explanation of what has been happening on all my blogs lately. It has been my intention to update Musicology for Everyone on Mondays and Thursdays, Grace and Judgment on Tuesdays and Fridays, All-Purpose Guru (the blog) on Wednesdays (and Saturdays maybe), and All-Purrpose Guru (Home) every couple of weeks.
I have been up to my elbows in other things that I have put off too long. I will have to cut back on writing till I get caught up. I hope to get back to a regular schedule in January if not before.… Read the rest
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”–Matthew 5:43-44 (NASB)
The Bible, Jesus in particular, has a way of commanding whatever is most counterintuitive. We are such creatures of the world that, even as believers in Christ, the ways of the world seem more normal than what Jesus asks. Here he tells us to love and pray for enemies.
Ahmadinejad on a missile, after stealing the latest election
I have prayed salvation for Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other enemies of America and Christ.… Read the rest
It hardly seems possible, but since beginning this blog at the end of October 2009, I have posted more than 100 Bible studies and devotionals. Allow me to reminisce a little and highlight the most popular posts so far.
Who are you calling evil?
Jesus prefaced a comment saying, “If you, then, being evil. . .” But no one took offense at him. Wouldn’t most of the audience be offended today?
Prayer that really works
I have learned that instead of asking for my will to be done, I can ask God to conform me to the image of Jesus. When I ask for a blessing, I keep an open mind about what it is.… Read the rest
In one of the best-known passages of an otherwise obscure book, Ezekiel described his vision of a valley of dry bones coming to life. Actually, it was more than a vision; he had to prophesy to the bones before anything happened.
Ezekiel recognized that the bones represented the whole lineage of Jacob. Both kingdoms that represented that lineage had been destroyed, their people exiled and scattered. In their shattered hope, the survivors felt as dead and dried up as the bones.
At Ezekiel’s first word of prophecy, the bones formed together as complete skeletons, and then the flesh returned. Now instead of a valley of dry bones, it was a valley of corpses.… Read the rest
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, but stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” — Acts 4:29-30
I keep reading of prophecies, or at least predictions, that American Christians face persecution like it has never happened here before. Quite a variety of people have written about it, and they offer a variety of evidence. Frankly, the writers exhibit quite a wide range of credibility, too.
As I read this passage from Acts, it struck me that, while I have no idea how likely we are to face systematic persecution, the Bible has already told us how to face it.… Read the rest
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.” — 2 Kings 19:14 (NIV)
Poor Hezekiah. He’s known as one of the good kings of Judah, but his father Ahaz was surely the worst. Ahaz inherited a secure and independent kingdom and by his idolatry and cowardice reduced it to a tributary of Assyria. Assyria, in turn, had little interest in having smaller states paying tribute. It wanted to conquer them all and rule directly.
Hezekiah trusted God more than any other king of Judah before or after him, and eventually rebelled as the Lord prospered him (2 Kings 18:5-7).… Read the rest
God showed Amos a swarm of locusts that he prepared to punish Israel. Amos, a citizen of the rival kingdom of Judah, begged him to be merciful. God relented. Then he showed Amos a consuming fire. Again Amos begged for mercy and God relented.
But then God showed Amos a wall, and next to the wall, a man with a plumb line. Amos could persuade him not to destroy the apostate kingdom with locusts or fire, but God would not allow his prophet to dissuade him from punishing the sins of his people.
King Jeroboam II had built a prosperous and militarily powerful kingdom, but he refused to heed Amos’ words.… Read the rest
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” — John 15:7 (NASB)
I’m sure every Christian loves Jesus’ promises about prayer. So many of them seem, on the surface, to say that we can ask for anything and our heavenly daddy will do it. Of course, every Christian has the experience of praying and not having it done.
Jesus never made that promise glibly. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he made it in the context of comparing his church to a grapevine. He is the vine and we are branches.… Read the rest
One thing I’m starting to love about Paul’s letters is that so many of them contain prayers for the church receiving them. He wrote a brief letter to his friend Philemon, which also begins with a prayer.
While in a Roman prison, Paul met a man named Onesimus, grew quite fond of him, and came to rely on him. When Paul wrote letters, he couldn’t just put a stamp on them and expect the post office to get it where it was going. He had to enlist the help of trusted couriers. Who better than Onesimus to carry Ephesians and Colossians back to his home?… Read the rest
On one of numerous occasions that crowds followed Jesus when he would have preferred to be alone, he had compassion and set aside his own needs in order to heal the multitudes until it was already past. The disciples finally said, “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go the the villages and get some supper” (Matthew 14:15 — Message).
They made their request made known to the Lord. In other words, they prayed. Not only that, they prayed a prayer of compassion. They knew that it would soon be dark and that the people were probably getting hungry.… Read the rest