Last week I said that one of the difficulties of our current, polarized political climate is that to speak up on any controversial issue is to be pigeon-holed into a political party or agenda. As Christians our loyalty lies not on a political platform, which will rot and decay, but on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, which lasts forever. It is important to say this again, before addressing another hot-button topic. Continue reading →
Have you ever had a morning when the alarm went off and you hit the snooze button and pulled the sheets over your head, because you knew what lay ahead of you that day? Though I am rarely one to tarry in bed, I have had many mornings when the task list seemed insurmountable, and I was dropping balls faster than I could pick them up. How we start our day can determine how our day will unfold. Continue reading →
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).
The Book of Ecclesiastes takes the reader for a ride. You might find yourself lost in all the loops. For this reason, the divinely inspired editor gives a summary statement at the end: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of humanity (Ecclesiastes 12:13).”
“The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth (Ecclesiastes 12:10).” What types of words do you seek out? The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes sought words that met the highest standards of both form and content.
The anthropologist Ernest Becker wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Denial of Death,” “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else; it is the mainspring of human activity – activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying…that it is the final destiny.”
The pursuit of pleasure in our society has reached an Epicurean high. We endlessly grasp for those things that will give us a sense of inward tranquility and happiness. We have largely succeeded. We have more material goods and means of obtaining pleasure than most other countries in the world. So how come our gain largely has led to pain? Why do more people suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and discontentment than at almost any other time in our history? You can’t blame the pandemic. Statistics were already on the rise before that. The pandemic only exacerbated what were already upward trending problems.
The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes exposed the myth that the pursuit of pleasure can fulfill our longing for lasting significance.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” With these words the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes begins his journey of exploring all that is done under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 13).
Jesus and his disciples encountered a severe case of demon possession on the other side of the sea of Galilee. No one could walk on the path because the demons possessing these two fellows would not let them.
The demons began to negotiate with Jesus, “What have you to do with us?” They know who he is, the “Son of God.” They want to know if Jesus has “come to torment” them “before the time.” They apparently know one day the Devil and all his minions, including them, will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). However, they apparently did not know there would be a gap of time between the Son of God’s inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and the consummation of that Kingdom. They are perplexed why Jesus has arrived soo seemingly early.
Jesus’ disciples heeded his call to go with him to the other side of the sea. They went with him to a place they did not want to go, a land of gentiles. This trip required a great sacrifice of both time and energy. Still, they heeded the call and went. Yet, instead of finding reward, they encountered hardship.
A great storm arose on the water that day, filling the ship with water that threatened to capsize their ship and take their lives. They put all their hopes in this man, and now they feared their hopes would be dashed to pieces with their ship and them in it.