My brothers, count it as pure joy when you are involved in various trials. Realize that when your faith is tested this makes for endurance- James 1:2-3 Adversities in life come from many origins. They are not always the dramatic events retold in the Bible. We may never have to confront an emperor, like Moses, pull down a temple, like Samson, fight a giant, like David, or go to Cross, like the Messiah. The adversities which we face might be more mundane, but still take their toll on our well-being. We may have to face corrupt contractors, financial problems, tragedy, or even waiting on hold for over an hour waiting to talk to “Customer Service (?)” at the utilities company. James understood that the life of a Christian in the Greco-Roman period would be filled with many types of obstacles and challenges; from lively debates in the square to floggings to, possible, execution. Therefore, he uses a powerful term, “poikilos”, to connote the various trials, torments, and temptations that the new ChristiansContinue reading »

A Christian man, who was running an orphanage in Korea, was arrested and sentenced to death on charges of rebellion against the government. He was to be shot. However, when the communist leader heard about the orphanage he had second thoughts. Killing the man would mean many Korean children would be abandoned again, and so he decided to kill the 19-year-old son of the Christian instead. That should teach him a lesson. So it happened that the son was shot in front of the weeping father. Many years later, the fortunes of war had changed and the man who had ordered the killing had now been arrested himself and was charged with war crimes. What was going to be his penalty? He was to be shot. When the Christian heard about it he pleaded for the life of the man, saying: “Killing him will not solve anything. Give this man to me so I may teach him and he can help me in the work of caring for abandoned children.”Continue reading »

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). Some people meander through life without ever knowing real love. Now, just in case you think this could never happen to you, [especially] Christians—hear me out. Quick question: do you feel complete, no-strings-attached, to-the-bone unconditional love at all times? I’m not talking about a sporadic ‘feel-good or spine-tingling’ moment but the kind of faithful love that rearranges your entire life. A quick word study on agape love might help. Agape love has to do with the mind and not simply an emotion that arises spontaneously. This kind of love transcends all others and doesn’t depend upon our worthiness. For example, like when you know you don’t deserve something fantastic, and yet; it’s granted—just because someone loves you. For no other reason than they want to honor and please you with affectionate kindness. Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our intellect but not beyond understanding it deep within our hearts. Like most people, I’ve done my shareContinue reading »

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him – Matthew 17:5 On the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice of God was heard saying, not only that he was pleased with his Son, but also that his Son should be heard. God the Father makes it clear that the Son speaks with authority and that we are to believe him. Some raise the question in our day, “Can truth be known?” or “Is there an ultimate authority?” God reveals that his Son Jesus speaks with authority and that we should heed what he has to say. Moses spoke of a Prophet that would be raised up by God and “unto him ye shall hearken.” The prophecy was fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ. His authority was confirmed by the Father not only at his transfiguration but also at his baptism. Jesus was given “power over all flesh” by his Father. He is indeed one of ultimate authority. We should hear the witness he gaveContinue reading »

The story goes that once two friends were walking through a busy shopping street. The first one was a real lover of nature and at one point he suddenly stopped his friend and told him: “Listen…Do you hear that?” “Hear what?” His friend was not impressed. All he could hear was the noise of honking cars and the hubbub of the street. “A cricket” said the nature lover. “There is a cricket here somewhere.” “How can you possibly hear a cricket in the midst of all this racket?” wondered his friend. “Impossible.” But then the nature lover walked up to a bench and spotted a leaf right next to it. And there, right under the leaf was a tiny cricket, crisping his merry sound. “You see,” said the man. “My ears are focused on nature sounds. Every man always hears what he really wants to hear. That’s why I heard the cricket and you didn’t.” To illustrate his point he took a coin and threw it away on the street.Continue reading »

Ever since mom passed away a couple of years ago, I’ve had these nagging feelings of guilt. Wishing I had been a better daughter haunts me. As you may know, guilt is an emotional experience that a person realizes or believes (accurately or not) that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct. Also, guilt is closely related to remorse. Fortunately, psychology doesn’t have an answer or cure for guilty feelings. Even Sigmund Freud, father of psychology, stated: “guilt is the most powerful of all obstacles to one’s recovery”. And, yes I said ‘fortunately’ psychiatry isn’t the cure because there’s a better way. Let’s take a peak at the best solution for guilt by looking into the life of Israel’s most famous King. We read in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel about the exposure of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. For sure, this was a dismal period in the life of King David. By divine commission, the prophetContinue reading »

Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord – 2 Kings 19:14 Here is one of the best pictures of prayer in the Bible. Hezekiah is king over Israel when the cruel and powerful Assyrian army marches against them. Rabshakeh, the army’s spokesman, sends a threatening letter and tells Hezekiah not to trust in his God for deliverance. Here was an enormous temptation and a trial, all wrapped into one little scroll. There is the imminent danger of being razed to the ground by the Assyrian empire; then there is the verbal prompting not to trust in God for a rescue. But how does Hezekiah deal with this letter? He receives it, he reads it…and then he takes it straight to the Lord and spreads it before him. What a wonderful picture of prayer! It is the spreading of our problems, our temptations, our struggles before the Lord inContinue reading »

There once was an old farmer who was carrying a huge sack of potatoes on his back. The poor man almost collapsed under the weight and it was a sorry sight. Somebody who passed by with a sturdy horse-drawn wagon had compassion on the old man and offered him a ride. “Hey old timer…Wanna jump on? Hate to see you struggling like that.” The old farmer was thankful and with some difficulty he climbed up on the wagon. When he was finally seated he smiled broadly. “Thank you, Sir, for helping me out like that. That’s awfully kind of you.” But the heavy back of potatoes remained firmly on his sagging shoulders. Sweat trickled down his face and a weary sigh escaped his mouth. “Hey old man…Put those potatoes down. There’s no need for you to carry that load.” The driver of the wagon did not understand why the farmer kept that heavy bag on his shoulders. “Of course I amContinue reading »

Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 We first observe here the source of our blessings. They are of God and in Christ. We are not righteous in ourselves, but receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. It is according to God’s purpose and by his grace that we are in Christ and that these spiritual blessings are ours. Additional blessings are then described: not only do we have righteousness in Christ but also wisdom, sanctification and redemption. Wisdom that is not our own, sanctification that we could not effect on our own, and redemption that we could not purchase on our own. All of this is found in Christ alone. We then look at what our response should be: glory in the Lord! What are you rejoicing in today? What are you boasting about today? We cannotContinue reading »

A lovely young couple got married over the weekend at our local church in Tifton Georgia. During the wedding ceremony the beautiful bride washed her beloved’s feet. Then, the handsome groom cleansed hers. Ever so often, something memorable comes along that’s special. Can you imagine what a wonderful marriage this will be if they continue yielding to one another. Not that any union is always smooth sailing but humility goes a long way in making things run better; much like what oil does for a car’s engine. To broaden our perspective, let’s marvel at Jesus’ demeanor. In studying Jesus’ character traits, is it worth the effort for us to adopt a spirit of lowliness? I think yes. His own disciples selfishly argued over who would be exalted and sit with Him in lofty places of honor when He came into His Kingdom (Luke 22:24). By all means, they wanted to be noticed for greatness and I’m guessing this type of behavior gave Christ a saddened heart. In light of that,Continue reading »

“And the secret [mystery] is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with Him the hope of all the glorious things to come” (Colossians 1:27 Phillips). Even though I gave my heart to Christ as a young child, I didn’t completely understand what it all meant. Growing up, I wasn’t sure where or if I belonged. Later, teenage years brought excruciating pain especially when dad (who I adored) died of a heart attack. A blind-sided avalanche—covered and smothered; I longed to be wanted, loved, and to matter to someone. Of course, I was vividly angry with God. Like a ship with no water, I had nowhere to sail. That is, until my last ditch effort of seeking my heavenly Father. Which brings me to an important topic that the Apostle Paul wants believers to understand. If we are to have any idea how to live a ‘good and productive’ life as Christ followers, it’s imperative we understand our position. Namely, we are ‘in Christ’ and He isContinue reading »