No matter your blunders, God can still redeem you (Ruth 3:1-15)

Ruth 3:1-15

Our faith does not grow in a straight upward diagonal. I often wish it did. Most of the time, our faith grows more like the ups, downs, and spirals of a roller coaster. We think we have it figured out, but then that old fallen nature pokes up its head once again. We become like Naomi, seeing God’s plan, but wanting to run ahead of it, wanting to accomplish it in our own wisdom and power instead of God’s.

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Why did Jesus come? (Matthew 1:21)

Matthew 1:21

Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua. What did Joshua do for Israel? God used Joshua to save Israel from her enemies in the promised land.

Let us think about that for a moment. In the days when the angel spoke to Joseph, Israel was under Roman rule. Joseph may have thought this child would one day, like Joshua, save Israel from her Roman oppressors. The angel did not say that. He said, “he will save his people from their sins,” not from Rome but from their sins.

Like first-century Israel we often mistake the hope of the world for geo-political solutions. We say we want someone to save our nation, someone who will stand up for what is right in society, a hero by our standards who will take care of whatever or whoever we think our enemy is. Jesus does not save in this way; his salvation works on a deeper level.

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Judge more carefully (Matthew 7:1-5)

Matthew 7:1-5

The verb “judge” is one of the most nuanced words in the Bible. You need to look at the context surrounding each use of the word to understand precisely what it means when it is used.

For example, when Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you,” he does not mean we ought not to evaluate someone’s behavior. The illustration that he gives right after this assumes we may need to do that. If you have a big old log in your own eye, Jesus warns, how can you ever expect to take a speck of dust out of someone else’s eye. In the process, you may damage their eye in such a way that impedes their vision more than the speck. To remove the speck, Jesus says you need to first take the log out of your own eye. Then, and only then, will you be able to see clearly enough to take the speck out of someone else’s. (Matthew 7:3-5)

The tips below can help you judge more carefully.

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The Pandemic (Matthew 4:4)

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Submitted by Andy McIlvain and originally posted March 2020.

Matthew 4:4

There is a pandemic that has silently moved through the world. It is particularly acute in our region. It is not the Coronavirus or Avian Flu. It is Bible Illiteracy. Continue reading

Is Jesus’ Victory Your Victory? (1 Corinthians 15:14-57)

1 Corinthians 15:14-57

Paul of Tarsus became one of the biggest antagonists of the resurrection message. He persecuted those who believed Christ had risen from the dead, hunting them down and throwing them into prison. But after Paul came to believe it himself, he held on to the resurrection message with his dear life. He even gave his life to tell others about it.  

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The Resurrection Message Will Overcome (Matthew 28:11-15)

Matthew 28:11-15

People today no longer look for an alternative historical narrative for the empty tomb of Jesus of Nazareth to try to disprove it. Back then a historical event demanded an explanation.

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Hope in the hour of deepest darkness (Matthew 27:57-61)

Matthew 27:57-61

Hebert Fingarette taught philosophy at the University of California for many years. He wrote several books on a range of subjects including death. In his book on death, he stated that you should not be afraid, concerned, or anything about death. You are not going to suffer after you die, he asserted, because you will not exist then.

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The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of a sweeter meal to come (Matthew 26:26-29

Matthew 26:26-29

Knowing the time of his betrayal and death drew near, what did Jesus do? He sat down to have one last meal with his disciples, a Passover meal.

The symbols Jesus used at that meal were common to Passover. This Passover bread was called the Bread of Affliction. Unleavened bread represented the affliction Israel endured as slaves in Egypt and their haste in leaving. Jesus gives this bread a new level of meaning. He would soon be severely afflicted by the breaking of his body to deliver his people from the greater slavery of sin (Matthew 26:26; Romans 8:2).

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Distinguishing Marks of the Infant Christian Church (Acts 2:42-47)

Acts 2:42-47

Who does not like a good photograph? Photographs capture the special times in life, the birthdays, weddings, and moments that crystalize what is important in life. Though cameras were yet to be invented at the birth of the infant Christian Church, Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote down words that give us photographs of that church. The widest angle shot appears in Acts 2:42-47, after Peter’s Pentecost sermon. There we see what the church was doing in those early years. Those happenings represent what the one, true church has always been.

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Is it possible for good to succeed? (Acts 2:23-24)

Acts 2:23-24

The Sri Lankan Bible scholar Anjith Fernando once said: “We are living in an age when many are disillusioned with their leaders and have come to believe that it is impossible for good people, people of integrity, to succeed in life. Most good people appear to them as unsuccessful in life and they wonder whether goodness and success can be combined. To this generation, groping to find a model of success that does not contradict the voice of conscience, we present Jesus: the good person, the perfect person, who started a movement so effective that in three centuries the mighty Roman empire had bowed its knee to him.”

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