Showing posts from 2020

A Bad Trade-In (Jeremiah 2)

 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

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 has ve

As in the Days of Noah (Part 2)

  “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 was tied to that

The Humility Expectation

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 the e

Boast in the Lord

© 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?

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 noun). 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 an

Unending Comfort: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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

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 lack o

Six Ways to Praise God (Psalm 105)

Psalm 105 describes 6 ways to praise God:  Thank him (vs 1) “Call on his name” declare who God is to God Declare his works to everyone (vs 1b, 2b) Sing to God Seek him Remember him (The six ways are based on general concepts that appear to be the same, not on verbal form). While all six of these elements are important, Psalm 105 is principally concerned about the sixth way - remembering what God has done. It is on the basis of remembering that the other five acts of worship are done. First, the Psalm remembers the covenant God made with Abraham that he then reaffirmed with Isaac (his son) and Jacob (Isaac’s son, Abraham’s grandson) (Ps 105:7-11). Then it proceeds to consider the wanderings of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and their families as they sought the promises of God’s covenant (Ps 105:12-15). Then the life of Joseph is summarized, being presented as an act of God’s faithfulness to prepare Jacob’s sons (future Israel) for the famine (Ps 105:16-22) (see Gen 37, 39-47). Next, the psalmis

Citizens of....

A Roman coin, representing the national or imperial identity of all the people of Rome Citizenship in Rome and in Heaven "Only let your manner of life be worthy [act as citizens] of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in on spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel"- Phillipians 1:27 ESV These words were from a man sitting in a prison cell (maybe house arrest) for crimes he didn't commit. His name was the Apostle Paul. Paul was writing a personal letter to all the Christians in the city of Philippi, giving them many practical encouragements as he waited for a trial before the Emperor of Rome (or his bureaucratic support). As a citizen of the Roman Empire, Paul had many special legal privileges, among them the ability to request a trial in front of the Office of Caesar (Acts 25:11). In the Roman Empire, citizenship was a special privilege- among the peo

Central States Society of Biblical Literature 2020

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Central States Society of Biblical Literature meeting (again). This was my 2nd year volunteering/observing at the meeting and was able to get some exposure to the world of biblical scholarship (especially to Old Testament)- a field in which I plan to pursue as a vocation, God leading. SBL involves professors, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to present early versions of their research papers on various topics of biblical studies with papers ranging from discussions of beheadings and homosexuality around the area of Sodom, to Jesus being a "living constitution" in the Book of Philippians. For both years I've attended, it has been hosted at the beautiful (though quite progressive) Eden Theological Seminary- a seminary of the United Church of Christ in a St. Louis suburb. Being inexperienced in the field of biblical scholarship, I heard many new (and some familiar concepts)- some of which may not be th