44The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:44-46
These three verses comprise two different parables, but neither can stand without the other. The first says the kingdom of God is like a treasure, the second that it is like a merchant.… Read the rest
“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NKJV)
The church today is divided over many issues, including war. Christians who are against any and all wars for any and all reasons usually dislike hymns like “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Do dedicated pacifists greet scriptures that talk about “our warfare” with equal comfort and disapproval? I hope not.
Neither hymn nor the scriptures have anything to do with the kind of war where people take up arms for the purpose of killing people on the other side. Regardless of what anyone thinks of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, or any other war, “our warfare” is something else entirely.… Read the rest
Want to be wise? Wisdom requires some knowledge, but think of wisdom, in part, as knowing what to do about knowledge. The book of Proverbs often personifies wisdom as a female character, sent by God to accomplish God’s purposes. It often presents wisdom as advice from parents to children (Proverbs 2:1-5). Wisdom consists of both moral instruction on how to live a righteous life and practical advice that covers a wide variety of situations. No one is born with wisdom, and no one becomes wise without effort.
Read the scripture, emphasizing the “if” written or implied before every verb.… Read the rest
I found a very interesting post that lists 35 reasons not to sin. One person commented that knowing reasons is not enough to keep him from wanting to sin. That, in a nutshell, expresses the entire human condition. But sinning brings only momentary pleasure. Then it causes all the pain that the list enumerates. God hates sin, but longs to forgive the sinner. Forgiveness received brings joy.
David described the process in Psalm 32. Where Psalm 51 describes his repentance for his sin with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, Psalm 32 describes his process of receiving forgiveness and the joy it brought.… Read the rest
Jesus Christ ministered in a corner of the Roman Empire known as Palestine. He rather explicitly claimed to be the Son of God, as well as the Son of Man described in the book of Daniel.
He offended the religious leaders of his day. They subjected him to an illegal trial and committed judicial murder by crucifixion. On the third day, as he had claimed before hand, he rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples, then ascended into heaven.
The earliest books of the New Testament describe Jesus’ life and ministry and explain his eternal significance. Before the end of the century, false teachers went around denying the entire explanation.… Read the rest
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” — Galatians 3:13-14 (NKJV)
What, exactly, is this curse of the law that we are redeemed from? Check out Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Both chapters begin with a blessing that the people would obtain for keeping up their end of the covenant. Both chapters enumerate the dire consequences of failing to keep the covenant. … Read the rest
We’ve all heard many times that thorough hand washing is the single most effective step in slowing the spread of infectious diseases. If we can’t use soap and water, now we have hand-sanitizers that kill germs and then quickly evaporate.
I was washing my hands at a restaurant once, when one of the employees came out of the toilet and left without washing his hands. I reported him to the manager. His behavior was unsanitary.
A Pharisee once invited Jesus to his home for lunch, and to his shock, Jesus did not wash his hands. But his shock was not like mine.… Read the rest
“Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” — Genesis 3:9 (NASB)
“. . . in order that I may gain Christ and may be found in Him. . .” — Philippians 3:8-9 (NASB)
As John Newton wrote in his great hymn, “I once was lost, but now am found.” Adam sinned, and then in shame, hid from God. How much better would the world have turned out if he had met God, confessed, apologized, and taken his lumps! Instead, he hid.
Now that the whole human race has been kicked out of Eden, we still hide.… Read the rest
Christians today find it easy to hold the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day in contempt. If Jesus was so critical, then they must have been evil religious hypocrites, right?
We forget that they were among the most highly respected people in their society. Most of them, at least, must have been sincere and honorable. Alas, too many modern Christian leaders take after the ones Jesus scolded. (One, of course, is one too many.) When they come under criticism, many of their followers go to great lengths to defend them.
Indeed, religious leaders who live less than godly lives have always presented a quandary. … Read the rest
People find it easier to start well than to end well. Nowadays, we see it in the tremendous number of anointed ministers of the gospel who fall into some kind of gross sin. (Failures of lay Christians get less press but provide similar evidence.) In the Bible, we see it in the lives of all of the ancient kings that God declared good.
Early in his reign, Solomon delighted God one evening. He asked God for a discerning heart to be able to judge rightly and thus fulfill his kingly duties. Because it is impossible to please God without faith, we know Solomon asked in faith for such wisdom.… Read the rest