James introduces this section by suggesting a problem he must have observed. “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?” Certainly we’d all agree that faith should show itself through deeds of loving service.
In a recent Bible study discussion, I marveled at my pastor husband, David’s comment about this text. He posed an interesting scenario of observing a discussion about faith between our author here, James, and the apostle Paul. We’d see two very faithful men with two very different perspectives. Is that a bad thing? After all, the gospels all talk about Jesus’ life and ministry from different viewpoints. When it comes to understanding our faith, these differences can be confusing.
Continue reading “James 2:14-26 – Living Out Your Faith”
Did you notice how this text begins and ends with a reference to our faith leaders? Who comes to mind for you as that person who first shared their faith with you and taught you the truth of Scripture? Maybe it was a favorite Sunday School teacher. Maybe it was a friend in your college dorm. Maybe it was Jesus revealing himself to you! Isn’t Jesus the best teacher of all?
When earthly leaders fail or get distracted, we can always trust Jesus. One of the gems in this text packs a powerful promise. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” We can rely on Jesus as the truth for our lives. All sorts of new age, spiritual type teachings pop up every day. The Preacher warns us to be careful of that.
Continue reading “Hebrews 13:7-17 – Is Accepting Grace Hard For You?”
What was your reaction to this reading? Did you take note of some of the gems of truth the Preacher is sharing with us. It’s easy to let these words just whiz on past. Remember that what Jesus did, he did for you! Jesus “secured our redemption forever.”
The old covenant was good for external purity. In the new covenant, Jesus cleanses us on the inside as well. We now live in freedom to encounter and experience God without exhausting ourselves trying to be perfect by following the law. Paying attention to God’s law is not a bad thing, but we don’t want to let our striving to be perfect consume us and distract us from the importance of a worshipful relationship with God. The laws we want to follow are those affirmed in the New Testament (not the ceremonial laws).
Continue reading “Hebrews 9:11-28 – What Jesus Did For You!”
The Preacher is making a big deal out of the fact Jesus is our High Priest. It truly is an honor to have Jesus ministering to us from his heavenly home. Jesus’ purposes on earth were many, but this is his destiny. We can be thankful Jesus “is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.”
A covenant is a special kind of promise. In the covenant made between God and Israel at Sinai, the people vowed they would be obedient to God’s laws. God knew this old covenant was flawed and needed to be updated. The people had abused God’s promise by turning from him and relying on other gods. Sin is chronic, and the people were stuck in a pattern of disobedience. Yet God remained faithful.
Continue reading “Hebrews 8:1-13 – Jesus Ushers in the New Covenant”
We can shake our head at Jonah’s response, but then we should probably look at the mirror. We, too, have had times in our life when we have been angry at God for one reason or another. Have we, like Jonah, ever been angry at God because of God’s mercy and grace?
Jonah seemed appalled that God changed his mind. Was it because now Jonah looked “bad” for delivering a false message? Nobody wants to look stupid, especially when doing work for God. I suppose that’s why a lot of believers keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to say the wrong thing or look unprepared when spreading the gospel. In reality, I’m sure the people of Nineveh were delighted that God had given them a reprieve. They didn’t give the messenger another thought.
Continue reading “Jonah 4:1-11 – Being Angry at God”