God

God

At Hand

I’ve got quite a few things within reach as I type these words: my computer, of course, and my desk, a bunch of books, pictures of my wife and kids, and dozens of other things. They’re “at hand,” so to speak, because I can reach them from where I sit. Wherever you are, look around. What’s within your reach? What’s “at hand”? The way Paul uses that expression in Philippians 4:5 both comforts and warns us. The Lord is at…

In the Lord

If you look at the world a certain way, it’s easy not to rejoice. Life is stressful. I keep waiting for that time when everything slows down. Then, I tell myself, I’ll be less stressed and more content. Do you ever fall into this trap? There’s negative stuff all around us, which, if we’re so inclined, can damper our spirits. An uncertain economy. A rising deficit. Strife in the Middle East (isn’t there always?). Perhaps there’s uncertainty about health (why these weird…

Do you know him?

About 32% of the people in the world identify in some sense with Christianity, which is about 2.5 billion. I have no idea how many of those truly walk with Christ—God does, of course—but it seems that if there were 2.5 billion dedicated Christ-followers in the world, some of our problems wouldn’t exist. Right? Part of the answer is obvious—there’s a difference between what we call ourselves and what we actually are. There’s a difference between checking a box on…

He’s serious

It’s pretty easy to develop a cavalier attitude toward sin. We’re saved by grace anyway, right? “Everybody’s got sin problems,” we say, and, “After all, nobody’s perfect.” And a few other platitudes like those make us feel better. But they shouldn’t. We shouldn’t ever become relaxed about sin. The Old Testament has a lot of scary passages, and we’ve got to be careful when we apply them to our time. But they’ve got something important to say to us. Here’s…

Love God

There’s a lot I don’t understand about matters of faith, but one thing I get: there’s only one God, and he deserves (and expects) top priority. You’ll find this thought in pretty much every book of the Bible. God stated it emphatically at the beginning of his covenant relationship with Israel: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with…

Beware of Dogs

At the risk of shattering your image of the Apostle Paul, I need to let you know that he wasn’t a dog-lover. Our man’s-best-friend image actually hinders us from understanding how intense these words are: Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh (Philippians 3:2). Along with most of his contemporaries, Paul viewed dogs as packs of ravenous creatures who roamed the countryside eating whatever they could find. So, to…

Rejoice

I suppose a certain level of anxiety is part of living on this fallen earth. I haven’t yet met the person—even among those following Jesus—who lives a completely carefree life. Do you worry at times? Get stressed out? Lie there staring at the ceiling in the wee hours of the morning? I doubt we’re the first ones to struggle with it. It seems like every page of Scripture says something about it. Take this one, for example. To one of…

Self-made

She’s a self-made millionaire. He’s a self-made man. Self-made? It starts early in many of us. When one of our kids was a toddler, she shied away from accepting our help with almost anything she was trying to do. “I do it self!” she would say (quite emphatically). Tempting, isn’t it? We’re much too socially conscious to say it out loud, but we’ve been tempted to think the same thing, with only a slight modification. Maybe it’s success on the…

The Omega

Most of us have been tempted by the buy-now-and-pay-later mantra. After all, why wait for something when you can have it right now? It’s effective with us because of our finite nature as human beings. We’re bound—to a great extent, at least—by time. We’re aware of the past, and we anticipate the future, but more than anything, there’s today. That causes problems, of course. The Lord referred to himself as the Alpha and Omega in several places. He’s our Alpha,…

The Alpha

You’ve made bad decisions, right? Some of them were really bad, resulting in things you’re embarrassed about, stuff you won’t share with anyone who doesn’t already know. Welcome to normal. It must be written in our DNA. Decision-making is a complex process, of course, and unfortunately, we can’t will ourselves into always making the right decisions. But here’s a good place to start: When the Lord revealed himself to John near the end of the apostle’s life, he said: “I…

His good pleasure

It’s clear that God expects a human response in our relationship to him, but do we sometimes emphasize what we do above what he’s doing? It’s important to recognize that God’s saving us begins, continues, and ends with his initiative, not ours. Notice how Paul mentions both in this passage: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and…

Hezekiah

Hezekiah was a breath of fresh air among the kings of Judah during the divided kingdom of Israel.  He “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He tore down idols in the land and reinstated the worship practices that God had instituted.  He “trusted in God so that there was none like him among the kings of Judah after him nor before him. (2 Kings 18:3-5) He didn’t get his goodness from his dad.  Hezekiah, a son…
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