God is at work in your life. It might not be evident to you, though. Does looking through the Bible to discern God’s activity in us seem frustrating? After all, most of the Bible seems to be about dramatic stories of heroes of the faith. Who can really relate to God speaking to Abraham on Mount Moriah or Moses from the burning bush? So let’s look at the book of Ruth instead for more down-to-earth examples.… Read the rest
Christians can probably quote some Bible verses about how Christ has redeemed us. Otherwise, we don’t use “redeem” much anymore these days. When we do use it, it has two basic meanings.
It used to be that we could take books of stamps to a redemption center and exchange them for a toaster. That is, we redeemed the toaster by presenting the stamps. We can still redeem something we’ve taken to a pawn shop. And we talk about redeeming a coupon, although we don’t say we redeem our discount by presenting the coupon.
Or second, when we fail somehow, we can do something to redeem ourselves.… Read the rest
Whenever I wanted peace and quiet, there he was, chattering at me. Other boys got to bully their little brothers. Not me. He just got me in trouble. The Bible says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Not any of my friends. My little brother stuck around no matter how much I wanted to get rid of him.… Read the rest
We get the story of David and Goliath wrong.
For one thing, it’s not the story of the underdog beating the powerful against impossible odds. For another thing, it’s not David defeating his enemy. In fact, Goliath wasn’t David’s enemy. David only cared about him because he was the enemy of Israel, God’s people. For another, David didn’t defeat Goliath. God defeated Goliath, and David was his tool.… Read the rest
I picked up a tract one time that had Mark 6:31 on the cover: “Come away with me to a lonely place and rest a while.” It held great promise at a time when I was experiencing great turmoil. I couldn’t wait to get home to see the verse in context. Then I would find out about real peace.
Imagine my disappointment when I read that 5,000 families invaded what Jesus intended to be a quiet place. All four gospels tell the story of the feeding of the 5,000. Three of them follow it with the disciples struggling in a storm at sea.… Read the rest
God, who spoke the world into existence, can accomplish anything he wants by speaking it. Instead, he chooses to use flawed people as tools. And he deliberately breaks them. We will consider Jacob, but first, let’s look at tools in general, then how God uses tools in general.
Whenever I need a tool, whether it’s for the garden or the kitchen or something to do with the computer, I get the best I can afford. Then I do my best to take care of it and keep it in good condition.
If something breaks, I probably can’t use it anymore. If it can be fixed at all, it may not work as well as before it broke.… Read the rest
In Psalm 27, David begins with a stirring declaration of faith and then plunges into near despair before emerging with another, calmer declaration of faith.
The change is so abrupt that many commentators have suggested that somehow two separate psalms got jammed together. Unless some unknown editor was thoroughly incompetent, that doesn’t explain the structure of the psalm as we have it.
The suggestion comes, perhaps, because no modern poet would structure these thoughts the way David did. Perhaps no European poet even back in antiquity would structure these thoughts that way. So one lesson of Psalm 27—repeated by many other Old Testament passages—is that the ancient Hebrews didn’t think the way we do.… Read the rest
I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came; at some time–no matter how distant the day–somehow, in some shape, probably the last I should have devised, it came.
I have come to realize that if that’s not my experience, it is either because I have prayed without real faith, or I haven’t waited with real faith. As a consequence, when the answer has come, I haven’t recognized it as such.
God does not necessarily answer prayer in the way we expect when we pray.… Read the rest
Heaven is God’s throne, and the earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1). By grace, we have not only been raised with Christ, but seated in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6). Scripture commands us to seek what is in the heavens with Christ (Colossians 3:1). So isn’t the earth properly our footstool, too?
When I was growing up, we had some easy chairs in the living room with matching footstools. Those footstools were fairly substantial pieces of furniture. We could sit on them.
But now, most of my chairs are recliners. I pull on a lever, and the footstool rises from the front of the chair.… Read the rest
In Psalm 46:10, God says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
For a lot of people, it would start by turning off their cell phones and anything else that provides background chatter.
I am not a cell phone addict. My television and radio are off most of the time. No one else lives at my house. Right now, I can hear the air conditioner fan and the ticking of a clock. My dogs don’t even have anything to bark at. So I regularly experience a level of quietness that many people today would find alien and threatening.
That’s outside of me.… Read the rest