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The Sign of the Rainbow

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 If you are like me, it is easy to take signs of God’ s love found in nature for granted. The other day, when I was out walking, a ginormous natural sign hit my eyesight—a rainbow. I’ve seen rainbows many times, but on that day the Spirit stirred my heart, “Remember the rainbow!” I think there is more to the rainbow than what we make of it, biblically speaking. In today’s world the rainbow is used to represent everything from Autism awareness, to worldly views of human sexuality and gender, to a happy (and inaccurate) representation of the Great Flood that adorns the signage of Christian preschools. What does the Bible say about the rainbow? When the rainbow enters our gaze, what thoughts should come to mind? The promise of the rainbow has meaning for God, Humanity and Animal kind:  God  After Noah and representatives of all kinds of animals disembarked the ark after the Great Flood , God made a covenant with them all, setting a rainbow in the sky: “This is the sign of the covenant

Soul-Searching: Psalm 139

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What does it mean to search for something? A search is not a low-energy effort to find something. A search is a deep, intense probing that will not stop until something is found.  How do we search? We pour through our environment intently looking to find that which we are seeking. That is what we must ask God to do in our own hearts, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”- Psa 139:23-24 In Psalm 139, David is both asking God to and recognizes that he searches the heart. This idea of God searching our heart sandwiches (inclusio) the body of the Psalm, which describes God’s intimate knowledge of us in great detail, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down… and are acquainted with all my ways.”-  Psa 139:2 “Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to

A Bad Trade-In (Jeremiah 2)

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 What is the best, most refreshing water you have ever had? I know some of the best water I have ever had is an ice cold, bottled water or water from a cold fountain Say you had a choice between cold, refreshing and satisfying bottled water or a glass of lukewarm tap water- which would you choose? (Maybe a bad analogy) If you are like the Israelites or any other human being who has lived on the planet- we will often opt for the lukewarm tap water over the bottled water. It can be the same with God. That’s what God calls our attention to in Jeremiah 2. The Israelites had access to cold bottled water but settled for the lukewarm tap water. “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them”- Jeremiah 2:2-3 In the past, Israel experienced the favor and protection of God as they had total devotion, compl

You Aren't Too Good For Any Service: John 13:1-20

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Imagine the most menial and humiliating work you can do for others. In the Western world we often use maids as the stereotypical, lowly servant. Other occupations that come to mind are waiters, sewage workers and trash collectors. These are the tasks no one wants to do, because everyone would like to think they are above them. These tasks are not glamorous in any way, but they may be hard, dirty or demanding work positions.  In Jesus’ day , washing feet was a task reserved for the servant. People did not have neatly paved roads, sweeper trucks and covered shoes that kept their feet relatively clean. When someone entered a house, the servant would wash their feet. This was one of the lowliest and most humiliating jobs anyone could have had. Yet, Jesus did this- and with effort and willingness.  John 13:1-20 contains the account of Jesus washing the Apostles ’ feet. This is a very significant moment in the ministry of Jesus that not only gives us insights into Jesus' nature, but h

As in the Days of Noah (Part 2)

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  “When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch.” Gen. 5:18 The two families of mankind had probably started to interact before the birth of Jared’s son Enoch . Based on Jared’s name meaning “Descent” it can be imagined that his godly father Mahalaleel (“Place of Praise to God'') had spoken prophetically to the culture. If Jared had followed the trend of the day, it is likely that he may have moved to the city of Enoch. Nothing in the text requires his even marrying within his tribe, or that the mother of Enoch was his first wife. Whatever the case, it was 162 years before the child was born. “ Adah (Lamech’s first wife) bore Jabal [and] Jubal . . .” Gen. 4:20-21 In those same days, assuming the genealogies are concurrent, the greatest leader of the Cainites (likely in the city of Enoch as well) was born to Methusael (“Man from El”) who might have been the high priest of the pagan religion, The boy’s name was Lamech , which means “Powerful”. His children, born of two moth

As in the Days of Noah (Part 1): The Names in the Antediluvian Record

  "Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived.." Gen. 4:1a In ancient times names were not lightly given. This was especially true in Biblical times. Most, if not all, of the leading persons with origin stories have a definition associated with the name. The first genealogical lists, in the original Hebrew ,  present a vivid picture of the world in the early days after creation . The names of Seth and Cain ’s descendants depict a timeline of the progression of evil and the worship of God up until the Flood . In this two-part blog series, we are going to explore how the names of people in the Bible tell us about them and the times they were living in.  The naming of the father of mankind is tied to the term " mankind " - that is, as the first of the species, he was simply "the man" (Hebrew: H'Adam) and the name stuck. The narrator states that "H'adam" was made from "H'adamah" (the ground). When he sinned, his fate w

The Humility Expectation

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God became a Man and died in one of the most humiliating ways- crucifixion.  On the backdrop of telling believers to behave as a “ Gospel citizen ” (like a foreigner who wants to represent his home-country well) Paul writes the Christians in Philippi , “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, -- though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under t

Boast in the Lord

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© Faithlife Corporation What are you proud of in your life? What do you identify with? Do you think your behavior will excuse or vindicate you?  The people of Judah thought that their exterior religiosity insured them against punishment for their inward vileness. Can’t we be guilty of the same?  Through the prophet Jeremiah , God laid forth his future punishment of Judah’s sins very clearly as a warning for the people to turn away from their sins. Chiefly, they had abandoned God and had turned to worshipping the false gods of Ba’al , as if they had chosen water from a dirty and leaky cistern over  pure, fresh and clean water from a spring (Jeremiah 2). In addition, the Jews had been treating each other harshly with no concern for the needy, instead trusting in political alliances and their own inflated sense of righteousness to advance “goodness” in their country.  

Little Faith or Mustard Seed Faith?

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The healing of the demoniac boy offers much enlightenment regarding the nature of faith . In the previous post I explored how faith (an action), though genuine, may come with a sense of doubt or unbelief (a verb). In this post we are going to explore the bewildering reason why the Apostles could not cast it out. To be very clear I have done a post before dedicated to exploring why the Apostles could not drive out the demon- while my previous study was right, I largely missed the point and neglected the more specific lessons on faith. After the Apostles could not cast the demon out from the boy, they asked Jesus why they could not cast it out. Jesus gave two responses: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (see Jesus Heals the Demon )  and  “Because of your  little faith . For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed , you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you”  This

Unending Comfort: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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I was working on an article about Grace and came across this passage in Paul's second letter to the believers at Thessalonica.  It is about halfway through the letter. Here is my literal translation of the passage 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 So may Our Master Jesus the Messiah, Himself, and our God and Father, Who loved us and gave an everlasting comfort and a good hope with grace, comfort your hearts and strengthen you in every word and good work. We all go through tough times. It was also true with the first generations of church members  when Roman tyrants ruled with an iron hand. It wasn't the government that threatened the believers in those days, but rather those teachers who didn't understand how God was working things out. Otherwise, things were going well. The letters to the Thessalonians were friendly reminders that God had not judged the church in secret. Bad times were yet to come (though Paul didn't know when). Before going on with these exhortations,

Faith Amid Unbelief

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Can unbelief and faith coexist? At first glance, one would be inclined to say “Absolutely not!”. Afterall verses such as John 3:18 say,  “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” How then do we explain the remarkable proclamation of a man with a demon -possessed son in Mark 9,  “I believe; help my unbelief!” - Mark 9:24b Jesus had been on a mountain with three disciples, “transfiguring” himself to display his full glory. While this happened, Jesus left the remaining Apostles in Caesarea Philippi . During this time, a man approached the Apostles asking them to heal his son who had been possessed by a demon. The Apostles were unable to perform this healing, and this stirred up arguments within the crowd. When Jesus returned and asked about all the commotion the father approached him and explained how the Apostles were unable to heal his son. So Jesus called out their l