In traditional translations, Psalm 146:3 says not to trust in princes. We don’t have very many princes around any more. Even in traditionally Christian countries that still have kings and queens, they reign, but don’t rule. Perhaps we could update it to say not to put trust in politicians, but what’s the point? Everyone obeys that commandment, Bible or no Bible. But let’s look at how The Message renders the verse and read ahead a little more:
Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them.
“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.
When Moses came down from the mountain and read them to the people, something very unexpected happened. Instead of bright lights and angelic rejoicing and good cheer, an odd kind of storm erupted. There was thunder and lightning, but instead of rain, there was smoke.
This past Sunday was Pentecost. It coincides with an ancient Hebrew festival, but the events of Acts 2 on a particular Pentecost right after Jesus rose from the dead marks the birthday of the church. Alas, the church is divided into various Orthodox, Coptic, Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal denominations, but we all have but one birthday.
“They,” probably the same 120 believers mentioned in Acts 1:15, gathered together in one place, and most certainly not for the first time. This group probably amounts to the first messianic synagogue. On Pentecost, Jesus baptized them with the Holy Spirit as he had promised.… Read the rest
When we come to the end of a novel or a movie, we know how it turns out. We get a lot of satisfaction knowing how it turns out, possibly because we can’t possibly get the same satisfaction in our own lives. After all, we’re living in the middle of the story.
Joseph had ten older brothers. Jacob, his father, essentially put him in charge of the family business. Jacob loved Joseph more than the others because he was the firstborn son of the only woman he had ever loved.
But he must have given Joseph all that authority because of his natural ability and character.… Read the rest
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!”
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. The plan was to take a leisurely trip from the flat lands of northwestern Ohio and then explore California on weekends.… Read the rest
No one goes looking for hard times to go through, but no one escapes them, either. David described encountering and overcoming the valley of the shadow of death. What kind of hardship is your valley of the shadow of death? A path in a valley might wind through a dense forest. In David’s time, there might not even have been a real path. It might be impossible to see very far ahead. In this metaphorical valley, when we don’t know quite where we’re going, I can attest from personal experience how easy it is to be afraid. How can we come to David’s boldness in claiming to fear no evil?… Read the rest
Psalm 119:105 reminds us that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. Let’s not let the familiarity of that verse turn it into a cliché. What is a lamp for? To chase away darkness. Wherever it’s dark, we need a lamp, or maybe more than one, to see well. Perhaps we’re trying to find something, trying to see something, or just trying to avoid obstacles as we move.
No matter how many lamps we have, none will do us any goodin the dark until we turn one of them on. In Bible times, lamps were made of clay to contain oil.… Read the rest
The story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3) is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible. Pharaoh had ordered all Hebrew baby boys killed. Instead, Moses’ mother put him on a raft so Pharaoh’s daughter would find it, and then joined her household. Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s court with all of its privileges, but also with full understanding of his heritage. In his zeal for justice, he murdered an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, then fled. God met him in the burning bush forty years later. Sometimes the story’s very familiarity keeps us from understanding its meaning.… Read the rest