“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the sound of your song! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23) These are odd words to have come from the Lord Almighty! Are not these the very things he commanded? Continue reading →
The word “religion” often times has a negative connotation. We think of empty rituals, moralism, legalism, etc. The word seems too wooden, too void of feeling. But, when James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts,” he means much more. Continue reading →
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.
The protestant reformer John Calvin starts the first chapter of his theological magnus opus with the words, “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.” It is tempting to think Calvin means that the pursuit of wisdom involves searching our souls and experiences. Continue reading →
The greatest of human arts cannot compete with the theater of nature. No human artist has ever been able to top the beauty of a flower. No human-made scent can outdo the fresh smell of a forest in the spring. A skyscraper looks merely mechanical when compared with a mighty oak tree. God’s multi-sensory handiwork surrounds us.
Now look at humanity. Does any other creature possess the ingenuity and plasticity of the human mind? Can an ant take apart genetic material and put it back together to make a vaccine? Can an aardvark explore, learn, imagine, dream, and envision a future and make that vision a reality like human’s can? God stamped his image on humanity in a way he did not with any other creature.
People often ask for a sign to show them God exists. But look around, the signs are everywhere.
The Jews of Jesus’ day asked him for a sign to validate that he was who he said he was (Luke 11:29). How obstinate could they have been? He has surrounded us with signs through all the years of our existence. If that were not enough, he cast out demons, calmed storms, turned water into wine, and healed the sick. Yet, still they had the nerve to ask for another.
He responded that the only sign they would receive would be the sign of Jonah. Jonah was an Israelite prophet sent to preach against the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to go, but, when God compelled him, the Ninevites repented and believed. People keep asking for a sign, but unless a person repents and believes even the wicked people of Nineveh will stand at the judgement against their obstinance. (Luke 11:29-32)
The late teacher and theologian R.C. Sproul once said: “…unbelief is not an intellectual problem. It is not because there is as paucity of evidence, or that God has not made himself clear: the problem is a moral problem. We don’t want to believe, because we know that if we acknowledge that God-ness of God and the deity of Christ, that means that we must repent, and therein lies our pain and resistance. In spite of a world filled with the light of the majesty of God we shut our eyes and [remain] in darkness.”
Jesus stands before you with arms wide open. Will you open up your eyes to him?
One day after Jesus drove a demon out of a man, some people accused him of casting out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Luke 11:15).
What was Jesus doing two thousand years ago? Whose side was he playing for? Satan, the prince of demons, or God? If Jesus worked for Satan, he made for a bad employee. At every turn in the road, Jesus diminished Satan’s power rather than strengthened it.
We conclude what became an eight-part series on Jesus’ lessons on prayer from Luke 11 with Jesus’ assurances of God’s goodness in responding to our prayers. Jesus gives two basic illustrations to make this point.
If you fasted for forty days and had the power to turn rocks into bread, could you resist? If you could have all the power and prestige in the world by just bowing down to Satan, would you? If you had the ability to leap from building to building, what would stop you from showing off just a little? For forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted in ways that none of us could even dream of. Yet, he did not fall to temptation and sin.
We continue our series on Jesus’ pattern for prayer, by looking at the petition, “Lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:4).”
In 2006, a man entered a single-room Amish school house and violently murdered 5 young girls. One can hardly imagine the heartache felt by this Amish community after the tragedy. Yet, when news media outlets reported the story, the response of the community outshined the gruesome act itself. Without missing a beat, the community choose to forgive the murderer and even reached out to his family in sympathy instead of understandably demanding that he pay for his crime.