Jesus’ personal prize and inheritance

DAY TWENTY-TWO OF FEBRUARY, YEAR OF GRACE TWENTY FIFTEEN A gracEmail subscriber writes: "The author of Hebrews says that Jesus "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Heb. 12:2). What is that joy? Paul prayed for his converts to know "the riches of [God's] glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18). Is this saying what it sounds like? Are the saved themselves somehow a … [Read more...]

Obedience and trust as fruit and root

When I was a child, we often sang a hymn that admonished us to "trust and obey," assuring us that "there's no other way to be happy in Jesus." The two verbs go together: we obey because we trust, and because we trust we obey. Trust and obedience are well-suited companions, but more. Related, but more. They live in symbiotic relationship, each nourishing and being nourished by the other, each … [Read more...]

God, the gospel, and the nations’ obedience

When God chose Israel as his special people and covenant partner, it was his intention through them ultimately to bless the world. "By your descendants," God promised Abraham, "shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). God blessed Israel so that, through Israel, all nations would be blessed. The chosen people prayed: "May God . . . bless us, that thy . . . [saving power] may be … [Read more...]

Walking through a strange land home

Do you ever feel a longing for home, but a home not of this world? If so, there is a very good reason, and First Peter just might be what you need to see you through this day. Written originally to Christians in five Roman provinces, it is clearly a legacy for the church at large, consisting of individuals Peter describes as God's chosen ones but strangers in this world. That double (and … [Read more...]

WORDS TO LIVE BY

It seems that some Corinthian Christians were quoting a saying of questionable value. "Let us eat and drink," the slogan invited, "for tomorrow we die!" (1 Cor. 15:32). If there is no resurrection, Paul observed, that advice is as good as any other. The old canard had been around for centuries. Unbelievers had recited it in Isaiah's day (Isa. 22:13). It showed up again in a parable of … [Read more...]

what our people must learn

"You will know them by their fruits," Jesus said when warning his disciples about false teachers (Matt. 7:15-20). Teaching and living go together. Say something often enough, or just hear it said, and you will soon be living as if the thing being said is true. Which brings us to Titus. Paul stationed Titus in Crete to amend what he found defective and to ordain elders in every town. The Cretan … [Read more...]

SCRIPTURE AT ITS BEST: SATURATION

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "I want to grow in my relationship with God, but I'm now struggling with where the Bible fits into the equation. How do I approach scripture to apply it to my faith journey?" * * * The best place for learning how to approach scripture is Scripture itself. The 39 books that we call the "Old Testament" were regarded as sacred writings by the Jews before there … [Read more...]

Choose reality and change

No doubt about it. It's hard to change. That makes New Year's resolutions a joking subject for the TV pundits, who simply reflect what we all know. Two psychologists, J.O. Prochaska and C.C. DiClemente, have researched and identified three marks of successful change. First, it involves a process, not a one-time decision. Second, successful change is based on perceived reality and reflects … [Read more...]

SELFLESS EXAMPLE

After a period of busy silence, I emailed a minister friend to ask what is happening in his life. Among other things, he mentioned that he is now working a second job. He is sorry to lose some study time, but his loss means that the congregation he serves can now have multiple ministers. And that, he opines, helps the whole body function more fully. * * * Your second job reminds me of … [Read more...]

THANKS BE TO GOD!

For the past sixteen months, severe pain has been my constant companion, a reality that some of you also experience even as you read these words on this page. Yes, there is a mystical koinonia of suffering, a fellowship to which only those who experience it can belong. This passive yet profound relationship requires no invitations, schedules no graduations, and defies the ability of words to … [Read more...]