Tuesday, October 31, 2017

II Peter 2: Examples Of Evil

II Peter 2 is a good example of why studying the Old Testament is relevant to New Testament Christians!  Peter cites numerous examples from the Old Testament to drive home the point that evil is real, and that God knows how to judge it and deliver us from it.

Monday, October 30, 2017

II Peter 1: True Story

As a young pastor, I once found myself in hot water with a member of my congregation who objected to my reference from the pulpit to "Bible stories."

"You shouldn't call them that.  They aren't 'stories,'" said my friend angrily.  "They're true!"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Psalm 42: Thirsty For God

The Psalmist of Psalm 42 and 43 (they go together) is deeply troubled.  His experience is one of being a joyful worshiper in the past - even a leader of religious pilgrims (vs. 4) - yet he finds now to be a time of spiritual dryness.  He remembers being once quenched and satisfied by God's presence, like a cascading waterfall, but now he is like a thirsty deer, longing for a fresh encounter with the living God.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Peter 5: The Call To Humility

One of the most overlooked virtues is that of simple humility.

I Peter 4: The Difference

Peter argues that, when it comes to living the Christian life, there should be a difference between believers and non-believers.  This difference manifests itself in our behavior, our motives and character.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Peter 3: Deeper Things

Peter is interested in taking our faith to a deeper level.  Rather than focusing on shallow and superficial pursuits like physical beauty (vs. 3) or when bad things happen to bad people (vs. 17), Peter explores the topics of inner spiritual beauty and the call to suffer for doing good.  The apostle challenges us to consider what is really important in our marriages and in our dealings with one another.  Obedience and Christlikeness is the goal!

Monday, October 23, 2017

I Peter 2: The Rock On The Stone

Peter wasn't always named Peter.  He used to be Simon.  But somewhere along the way, Jesus saw something in Simon that prompted Him to give Simon a new name: Peter, the Rock.  Even though Peter didn't always act like a rock (i.e. Good Friday), the name stuck.  Years later, as "The Rock" wrote his first letter to the Christian believers scattered around the world, he reflected on how his Lord and Master is like a Stone Himself!

I Peter 1: Perishable And Imperishable

I Peter begins by talking about two things that endure forever: our inheritance in heaven (vs. 4) and the seed by which we have been born again by the living word of God (vs. 23).  Everything else in this world - the flesh, as Peter describes it (vs. 24) - fades like the grass.  Even gold, which is tested by fire, is perishable (vs. 7).  In a world of change and decay, it is good news that not everything is perishable!  In fact, it is THE GOOD NEWS itself which is the word of God and endures forever! (vs 25)

Psalm 41: Genuine Enemies And False Friends

Genuine enemies and false friends.  David had both.  So did Jesus.

Friday, October 20, 2017

James 5: True Wealth

As James brings his letter to a close, his final messages concern what to pursue in this life, and what not to bother chasing after.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

James 4: Spiritual Principles

James continues to rock our world with unabashed spiritual guidance, containing some extremely helpful principles.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

James 3: Tongue Of Fire

Some teachings never go out of style.  James' words of warning about the tongue are just as appropriate in 2017 as they were in the first century.

Monday, October 16, 2017

James 2: Inconvenient Truths

I know many Christians who act as if they don't have James 2 in their Bibles. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

James 1: Quotable Quotes

The book of James has been called "the Proverbs of the New Testament."  Even just dipping into the first chapter, perhaps you can see why.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mark 16: A Surprise Ending!

Jesus' story ends like none other.  This is true for two reasons.  First, Jesus is like no other.  And second, His story does not truly end.

Mark 15: At The Cross

"So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mark 13: End Of Days

As I write this blog entry on October 10, 2017, the news is dominated by such stories as the mass shooting in Las Vegas, nuclear tensions with North Korea, and the recent devastating hurricanes of Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  While fears that the world is about to spin out of control may once again prove to be unfounded, it is revealing to find how quickly things can change for the worse.  This may not be the biblical "end of days," but the Jesus assures us that at some point in the future, it will be.

Mark 12: Q & A

It is Holy Week.  By the time we reach Mark 12, Jesus has arrived in Jerusalem for Passover, cleansed the Temple, and is now available to the religious authorities for their own investigation.  No longer do they have to send out spies and fact-finding teams.  They can look into Jesus' teaching for themselves.  Here are some of the questions that are fielded in the Q & A:

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mark 11: Donkey Joy Ride Through A Ticker-Tape Parade!

If the situation described in Mark 11:1-11 were to happen today in a parallel event, I can't help but think that what we would witness is a donkey joyride through a ticker-tape parade!

Psalm 40: Choosing God

You don't have to live very long in this world to have an experience of being in "the pit."  It's a universal human condition.  We're not sure exactly what specific situation David is referring to in vs. 2 when he sings, "He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog."  But it is clear that God is the One who David turns to, and the One who delivers him from his circumstances. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Mark 10: Divorce Is Not An Option

Whenever you want to trip someone up, try introducing a controversial topic.  That's what the Pharisees were hoping to do by "testing" Jesus with a question about the nettlesome issue of divorce.  "Is it lawful," they asked, "for a man to divorce his wife?"

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mark 9: Highs And Lows

Mark 9 is a study in contrasts.  Jesus goes from an ascent on a high mountain to experience the Transfiguration to a descent that brings Him face to face with a deaf and mute spirit.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mark 8: Who Do You Say That He Is?

It is a question that all of us must one day answer for ourselves.  Who is Jesus?  Who do you say that He is?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mark 7: Clean Hands, Or Clean Heart?

As we reach Mark 7, Jesus has earned enough notoriety that He is now being investigated by a team of Pharisees and scribes dispatched from Jerusalem.  As they scrutinize His ministry, they make some pretty petty criticisms: "Your disciples are disgusting; they don't wash their hands before they eat!"  

Mark 6: Faith - And Lack Of Faith

Can God's power be limited by humans?  The answer to that question is apparently yes, based on vs. 1-6.  Because the hometown crowd found it difficult to put their faith in Mary's boy, Jesus "could do no deed of power there," except for a few healings. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Psalm 39: Getting Perspective

My wife tells me that one of my strengths is an ability to be objective when the moment calls for it.  Rather than letting heady emotions run away with me, I can take a step back and look coolly and dispassionately at the situation.  (It's a very helpful skill to have in a threatening or overwhelming crisis.)  Sometimes this is called "getting perspective," and it seems to be what David is doing in this Psalm.