Displeased with Jesus

Conspiracy against Jesus

Even though Jesus came to earth and did good, performed miracles, taught the truth, and eventually sacrificed His life on the cross, there were times when certain people were displeased with Him. There are a few occasions recorded in the gospels in which people were indignant with Jesus over what He permitted and/or what He was doing. Why were these people so upset with Jesus? Could we be guilty of the same attitude today? Let us consider these examples.Continue Reading

Faith, Assumptions, and Matters of Chance

Mayfield, Kentucky tornado damage

Photo by Dave Malkoff – Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Christians are people of faith. The Scriptures are very clear that it is “impossible to please [God]” without faith (Hebrews 11:6), that we cannot obey the gospel without faith (Mark 16:16), and that we are “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1). More than anyone else, we should recognize not only that God exists, but that He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

At the same time, while God has the power to do more than we could imagine, the Scriptures also indicate that there are times when things happen as a result of chance or happenstance. The wise man wrote, “I saw again under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11). When a race, battle, or some other event turns out unexpectedly, that does not necessarily mean that God was directly involved in the outcome. The wise man did not say that “the hand of God” or “the will of God” produced the unexpected result; rather, it was due to “time and chance” which God allows to happen in this life.

As I am writing this article, clean-up and recovery efforts are ongoing following a tornado that went through Bowling Green, Kentucky (and several other areas). Many homes and businesses were destroyed. Several people lost their lives and many more have been deeply impacted by losses sustained in the storm. Thankfully, our family was out of the path of the tornado. However, not far from us there were people who lost everything.

Following events like this one, it is natural to wonder why some were spared and others were not. Why did some lose all of their earthly possessions – or even their lives – while others suffered little or no damage? Was this simply a matter of chance or was it something more? As we contemplate questions like these, it is important that we understand the difference between conclusions that are matters of faith and ones that are simply assumptions.Continue Reading

Making Sin a Trivial Thing

Ahab

Now Ahab the son of Omri became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:29-33).

Ahab was one of the more infamous kings in the Bible. In the passage above, he is said to have done “more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). When studying the history of Israel, then this becomes even more remarkable. While there were some good kings of Judah, all of the kings of Israel “did evil in the sight of the Lord” as Ahab did; but Ahab was worse than the rest of them.

One of the points made in the text above is that Ahab had departed so far from God’s will that it became “a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 Kings 16:31). Sin was seen as “trivial” because it was viewed as unimportant or unconcerning.

Sin is always a problem, but it is particularly dangerous when sin becomes trivial. We need to understand why this is. By looking at the example of Ahab, we can also see what factors in his life led him to view sin in this way so that we can guard against this as much as possible.Continue Reading

Testifying of Christ

After the Jews began persecuting Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath (John 5:16), Jesus began discussing His equality with the Father (John 5:17-23), the future resurrection (John 5:25-29), and the proof that He was who He claimed to be (John 5:33-47). This final point was critical. Not every claim that one may make of himself is true. This is why Jesus said, “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true” (John 5:31). He was not saying that He might make false claims. After all, He “always” did the will of the Father (John 8:29). Yet there was a difference between what Jesus claimed about Himself and what others – His enemies, in particular – claimed about Him.

How could the people know that Jesus was the Christ and not an imposter? They would need to have evidence. Jesus explained that this evidence came in the form of witness testimony that verified His claims. In this passage, He described four witnesses that testified of Him and confirmed His claim as the Christ, the Son of God. Let us notice these briefly.Continue Reading

Lifting Up Our Soul to the Lord

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed” (Psalm 25:1-3).

This psalm is about our dependence upon God – something that each one of us needs to be reminded of from time to time. The text describes three areas in which we are dependent upon the Lord.

The psalmist explained this by describing himself as lifting up his soul to the Lord. This denotes a surrender of oneself to Him – a complete trust in God that carried with it a confidence that he would not be ashamed.

Let us consider what this psalm teaches us about our need for the Lord and the three ways in which we are dependent upon what He provides.Continue Reading

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

From time to time we sing the song, “O Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The second verse begins with the phrase, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come.” This term (Ebenezer) is not one we use today, yet it is important for us to understand the words we sing. Paul said we are to “sing with the spirit, and…with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15, KJV).

In this article, we are going to look at the story in the Old Testament about the Ebenezer. This was a stone set up to remind the Israelites of an important lesson. As we look at this, we will see some lessons for us as well.Continue Reading

Jesus Christ – Our Perfect Example

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21-24).

In this passage, Peter explained that Jesus left an example for us to follow. There are many people we may look up to as examples in life – parents, peers, older Christians, successful individuals, and more. Yet Jesus was not just an example; He was the perfect example. This passage shows us how He left a perfect example for us.Continue Reading