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Necessity … (April 2019 Update)

When I think of the cross, many terms come to my mind: unbounded love, justice, forgiveness and satisfaction. But one term stands out to me. And it is one that we rarely think about at Easter: necessity. In Luke 24, the risen Christ says to the travelers on the Emmaus Road: “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”  “Was it not necessary?” Jesus asks.   Continue Reading »

There Is a Season … (March 2019 Update) 

In our devotions, Katya and I have been reading through the Wisdom literature, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is especially challenging unless we remember that life “under the sun” is basically a life that does not account for heaven. How empty life is without accounting for God. It affects our morals, our perspective and even our joy. It also affects our patience. When we only see life “under the sun,” we see pain and suffering and injustice. And it causes stress and discouragement. But when we see life “under heaven,” then we have a proper perspective, which gives us patience, which results in joy – even in the times of suffering. Because we know that life “under the sun” is not all that there is (Eccl. 3:15-17).  Continue Reading »

What is Man? (February 2019 Update)

“What is man that thou art mindful of him and the son of man that thou dost visit him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honor” Psalm 8:4-5. A biblical (as well as rational) view of man is that man is special and unique. His is different from all the animals in so many ways it is impossible to list them all. And these differences are not merely differences in degree. They are substantial in quality and in number.

So “what is man?” In Genesis, we are told that God created man “in His own image and likeness; male and female, He created them.”  What does this mean? For one, it means that God created man different from all the animals. Only man is said to be “created in the image of God.” In Genesis 9:6, God spells out the difference vividly: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” Animals may kill animals; men may kill animals; but man may not take the life of another man for one reason: he is in the image of God. As much as you may love your cat or your dog, and even though they may feel like family, they are still animals. Only man is in the image of God. And that makes him special, unique and valuable.  Continue Reading »

Giving and Receiving (January 2019 Update)

I always remember telling my children: “Christmas is not about receiving; it’s about giving.” I hope it helped them to remember that God gave us the greatest gift of all by sending His only Son for us.  That’s the message of Christmas. But reflecting on this past Christmas, I think my annual reminder to my children was not totally correct. Christmas is about giving and receiving. We emphasized the giving because we wanted our children to focus on the people they were giving to, not the presents they were receiving. But Christmas is about giving and receiving. And sometimes, receiving is the hardest part. Continue Reading »

Christmas and Sin … (December 2018 Update) 

When we celebrate Christmas, sin is probably the last thing we think about. After all, “’tis the season to be jolly.”  Right?  Yes and no.  First of all, Christmas is about sin. The reason for the season is because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Without a right understanding of sin as part of Christmas, we have no real reason to rejoice. 

The Christmas story actually begins in Genesis.  Adam and Eve lived in a God-created paradise. God gave them only one requirement – to not eat of the tree of life.  Satan deceived Eve telling her that God’s word was not true.  If they ate, they would surely not die. So they ate and God put Adam and Eve and the whole world under a curse that still affects us all today.   Continue Reading »

Oh the Depths! … (November 2018 Update) 

In Romans 11:33, Paul reminds us about the greatness of our God.  He says, “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of our God!” In crossing the ocean by ship, this verse continued to refrain in my mind, “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of our God!” For 7 days, we were at sea with no land in sight (except at the beginning and the end of our journey).  Just waves and waves of a constantly rolling, deep, deep ocean.  Each day as we looked out on the ocean, we were reminded that, as deep and vast as the ocean was, the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God are far deeper and more vast than any ocean.  Continue Reading »

Strength for the Weary! … (October 2018 Update) 

Isaiah 40:29-31 has been a favorite passage of mine since college.  “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” It has encouraged me in many situations but I have never experienced its truth and power as clearly as when I was teaching last week (more below).   

This passage was given to the nation of Israel when they were discouraged and without strength. And God reminded them that He gives strength to those who are weak. Notice, first, that this passage is a comparison between God’s strength and man’s weakness. It compares the strongest, most vigorous of mankind – young men – with God’s strength. But even the strongest will grow tired and faint.  But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.   Continue Reading »