“There is no young person who is in such grave peril as the one who idealizes a violent man, and there is no society in as grave a position as the one that makes heroes out of its most violent members.”

—Stan Mitchell, The Wise Get Wiser, and the Foolish More Foolish, p. 11 (2002), commenting on Proverbs 3.31-32.

#violence #Proverbs

What makes a Christian different from the world?

I’m working on an article and lesson with the above title, and am looking for points. I have several already, but maybe I’m missing something. How would you answer this question:

What makes a Christian different from the world?

I look forward to your replies.

#Christian #world #holiness

The least useful book in the Bible

What do you consider to be the least useful book in the Bible? Might it be the same one as the least read? Is that the case for you?

This thought came to me this morning as I read 1 Chronicles 27, a chapter of four different lists of people who served during King David’s reign:

In contrast to the detail that the writer gives in the lists of the Levites, there is only a brief summary of David’s military and civil leaders. Each month 24,000 men were required to do one month’s military service. The twelve commanding officers (who took turns at commanding this fighting force, one month at a time) all belonged to David’s group of ‘mighty men’ (27:1-15; see 11:10-47). Three other lists name the leaders of Israel’s tribes (16-24), the officials who looked after the king’s farmlands (25-31), and the king’s close advisers (32-34). (BBC)

As part of my reading for today, I look for application to my life in Christ and service to God. One has to do more work to find such application here. But something can be found. How do you apply this chapter for spiritual benefit?

#Bible #1Chronicles #application

Limited in what you can do?

Psalm 42 was written by a Korahite, a temple singer, who in exile was kept from his duties among God’s people. He longs for the day when he can again participate in temple worship, perhaps even leading the procession to the holy place. He agonizes and questions his present suffering, but the great refrain of the psalm (vv. 5, 11) is to wait for God, to hope in him and give him thanks, for he is Savior.

It is noteworthy that the author does what he did best: he wrote a song and sang it. It wasn’t in the temple, but he used his talents to do what he could under the restrictions he was subjected to.

The psalm can have a good application to us who are used to serving the Lord in specific ways and with well-defined gifts. We may not be able to do that today, because of the social distancing. But we can still use the talents God gives us within our limitations. We may agonize and question, as the psalmist did, but he encourages us to wait for God and, in the meantime, do what is within our possibility.

#Psalms #limitations #gifts #restrictions #coronavirus

100 days so far in the year!

Today is 2020-04-09, in the 15th week of the year. We have 226 days remaining in 2020 (leap year, remember?), if the Lord permits the world to stand and if he allows us this time on earth.

Each year, each day brings us different challenges and opportunities. Let us not moan about those we do not have, but rather take advantage of those we are presented with.

What are we doing with our time? Do we use it well? Do we throw away the hours and minutes? Do we occupy ourselves with worthy goals and activities?

We have been put here on this earth to prepare for the Next Step. I want to take it. How about you?

#time #preparation #eternity

The first edition of NIV on Acts 2.38

More books have come out of boxes for my library, after my move to the home office (still without a name). My copy of the first edition of the New International Version (1978) floated to the surface. The glue is dried and sections are all broken, but I still cling to this Bible. Here’s the copyright page: Continue reading

#acts-2-38, #bible-versions, #forgiveness-of-sin, #niv, #salvation

A wonderful description of conversion

What does it mean to receive Christ? It means to receive his messengers who bring his Good News. The real ones, as distinguished from false teachers, bring a vigorous message of conversion. It means (1) hearing; (2) turning; (3) changing; (4) serving; and (5) waiting: Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #conversion, #devotional, #jesus, #second-coming

What constitutes a church meeting?

While congregations across the world have cancelled their meetings because of the coronavirus, some still insist on gathering the saints together. Yesterday, we in Urbanova gathered a small number together, while experimenting for the first time with a live broadcast. Continue reading

#church, #coronavirus, #obedience

Happy International Day of Happiness

Call it happiness if you wish, or maybe better, joy, gladness, or delight. If you belong to God’s people, you know what it is and where it is found.

The world chases after happiness in material things. The U.N.’s international day focuses on the same. A glance at the rich neighborhoods around, or the rich countries, belies this belief — so many unhappy, broken, frustrated lives — though the majority are not convinced that material things are not the answer.

God’s saints know that joy comes from the presence of God.

“You lead me in the path of life. I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight” Psalm 16.11.

This is why keeping God’s commands are also such a delight:

“Praise the Lord! How blessed is the one who obeys the Lord, who takes great delight in keeping his commands” Psalm 112.1.

It is no paradox that the letter to the Philippians, whose keynote is joy, was written from prison.

Christians have no reason to worry. They know God and this joy overwhelms the cares of the world.

#presence-of-God #joy #happiness

Church’s places of meetings, social classes, social cohesion

Cambridge Press offers their books for free through May, I’m told. Here’s an excerpt from an introduction to the NT, focusing on Paul’s work. It’s an image capture, since the site doesn’t allow copying.
Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 21.40.07

#NT-church #apostle-Paul #house-churches

Organize your prayers

People have devised a number of ways to organize their prayers. All of them are valid, probably, as long as they submit to Scripture and fulfill the commands of God. And as long as they are not imposed upon others as divinely given structures.

It has been suggested, somewhat in jest, that the apostle Paul must have had some sort of prayer list, considering the many people he mentions in prayer. Maybe he just had a good memory. However he organized his prayers, he got the job done.

Some follow the ACTS acrostic: Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. One supposes that intercession is subsumed under the last item. It might be best, however, to bring prayer for others to the fore.

What’s important is that we pray, that we obey the Lord to pray as we ought, that we deepen our relationship with him, that we advance the Kingdom among the world that lies in darkness.


Old Testament encourages hope of eternal life?

Rom 15.4 says, “For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope” (NET)

Our hope is centered in eternal life, Tt 1.3; 3.7. It is the hope of justification before God (being accepted by him), Gal 5.5. The NT does not carry over the promises of physical blessings (aside from necessities, Mt 6.33), contrary to proponents of the theology of prosperity.

Eternal life was not prominent in the OT. So how can it help us maintain our hope? Your comments will be most appreciated.

#hope #eternal-life #Old-Testament

Which NT church do you want your congregation to be like?

The New Testament is the model for God’s people. Its teachings are normative for all people everywhere, in all times. First-century congregations were not perfect, by any means, but by visits and letters they were urged to conform to the divine standard then being taught and now found in the New Testament. Their imperfections are our opportunity to be mature, stable, growing congregations that glorify God and carry forward the mission of Christ in the world.

What follows is an invitation to self-analysis, not an attempt to undermine New Testament authority: If you had to think of a congregation in the New Testament for the congregation where you meet to emulate, which one would it be?

#churches #maturity #reflection

In exchange

“What can a person give in exchange for his life?”
Mark 8.37 NET

Jesus reminds us that nothing in this world can compare to, or compensate, for eternity.

#eternity #Jesus #soul

Usage percentage

What percentage of New Testament usage refers to the phrase, “church(es) of Christ”? How often does the phrase appear in comparison to other similar ones? For the next week, why not try reflecting that percentage in your speech? The exercise might encourage some positive reflection.

#speech #church