Playing the Sympathy Card

Playing the Sympathy Card

God’s word endorses mercy, as Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The prophet Hosea wrote that God desires “mercy, and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6), which Jesus echoed (Matthew 12:7). The Lord wants mercy more than rituals performed by worshipers. James warns us that “judgment is without mercy to…

The Fruit of the Womb

The Fruit of the Womb

Luke chapter 1 reports the divine promises, delivered by the angel Gabriel, of the impending births of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Both births were for God’s purposes, fulfilling prophecies at a time chosen by God. Both depended on God’s power. John’s birth would be an answer to previous prayers (1:13) at a…

Forty Lashes Minus One

Forty Lashes Minus One

Paul recounted in 2 Corinthians 11:24 that among his labors and sufferings for the sake of Christ, he’d been beaten five times by fellow Jews with “forty lashes minus one.” That description was uniquely Jewish. Neither the Romans nor any other ancient nation had a similar limitation. God’s word in Deuteronomy 25:3 stated that a…

Not Violent or Quarrelsome

Not Violent or Quarrelsome

By and large, the world isn’t sold on gentleness as a great quality to aspire to, although almost everyone appreciates being treated gently by others, especially by people who have power over us, including our parents in childhood and various governing authorities or bosses we may deal with in adult life. Even so, the world…

No Sweat

No Sweat

If someone said, “no sweat,” we would probably understand the meaning to be, “this won’t be hard.” If someone said, “don’t sweat it,” we would probably take the meaning as, “don’t be afraid or anxious.” Sweat correlates with difficulty, hard work, stress, and anxiety. The Bible specifically mentions sweat three times.

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

Lest we make the sort of mistake Moses himself made in Egypt, the messages in Exodus 2 includes that oppressed people shouldn’t be oppressed, they deserve deliverance and justice, but at the same time oppressed people are not inherently innocent or better than the people oppressing them. In the words of the Israelite antagonist oppressing his fellow slave, we hear an echo of Sodom. Victims and victimizers both alike are sinners and need the mercy and grace of God and divine instruction to order their lives. We’ve all been “straying like sheep” and all need to turn to “the Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).

The Singing of Jeshurun

The Singing of Jeshurun

“The Song of Moses,” which was to be rehearsed and memorized by Israel, tells of the rebellion of the nations against God, and of his selection of Abraham to build a new nation, a people belonging to himself. That new nation was to be upright – Jeshurun – having the very character of God himself. Instead, when Israel prospered by the grace of God she rebelled in her prosperity, becoming the image of the fallen nations rather than the image of God. “Jeshurun grew fat and kicked.” How often does prosperity lead to (or at least contribute to) pride, stubbornness, selfishness, moral failure, and worship of gods that are not God? Unfortunately, prosperity and rebelliousness often go hand in hand. Israel is by no means a unique example of a people who were upright in their dependancy upon God in trials, but then “grew fat and kicked” while enjoying the blessings of prosperity. Selfishness and godlessness, envy and conflict, tend to grow and flourish when people are blessed with prosperity. Prosperity offers no assurance of peace and harmony and goodwill among humans and certainly no assurance of obedience to God.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus?

Has the Lord ever disappointed you? Probably, because his timing and his plan aren’t always just what we want. “Lord, if you had been here…” Yet there is no doubt that he cares, he sympathizes, he shares the hurts and griefs, and he wants us to trust him no matter what happens, so that, as he did that day, he can show everyone who believes in him “the glory of God” (John 11:40).

The God Who Sees Me

Unlike the gods of Egypt where she was born, the Lord paid attention to ordinary people like Hagar, cared about her personally, and had plans and purposes for her and her progeny.
Hagar did as the Lord directed, went home and bore Abram a son, who was given the name “Ishmael” by Abram (Genesis 16:15).

In the Garden

So, Jesus prayed in a garden, was arrested and fettered in a garden, died and was buried in a garden. That means he also rose from the dead in a garden, since that’s where the tomb was located (John 20:1ff).