Our church family here is a loving, close-knit group of Christians trying our best to live for Christ. We’re not perfect, of course, but we’re striving each day to let God’s Word be our guide for everything we do—in everyday life, at work, at school, at church. . . everywhere. Many of us come from different backgrounds, and we work in various fields, but we share a common love for Jesus Christ and His church and look for opportunities to share that love with others.
Maybe you’ve realized there’s a void in your life, like something’s missing. This podcast is for you. It’s filled with non-threatening content, that is easy to understand. We would love for you to join us someone for a simple worship service where we’ll reflect on what Jesus Christ has to say to our lives.
Look at it and Live
If you’re following the church’s Bible reading plan this year, you’ve just begun the book of Numbers, so you’re about to read about a series of rebellions that culminate in an event at Kadesh-Barnea that seems to be the tipping point (the 12 scouts, Israel’s disbelief, etc.). God turns them back toward the wilderness where they’ll spend almost four decades.
Our story today falls into this period of time–after the Kadesh rebellion and during the wilderness wandering. It’s short, but Jesus elevates its importance by citing it here: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). And it’s interesting that what immediately follows that reference is the most frequently quoted verse in all of Scripture (“For God so loved the world . . .”).
I think it helps us read the difficult parts of Numbers–the parts that are filled with rebelling and complaining and questioning. In the middle of all of that, God provides a path to salvation. He never abandons his people . . . though they are unfaithful, he never forsakes his covenant.
The same is true for us today. As hard as we sometimes are on Israel (“How could they be so hard-headed? Why weren’t they more grateful? . . .”), we’re guilty of the same attitudes.
And yet God provides hope. Surrounded by death, God offers life. Like Israel, we’ve complained and rebelled, and we deserve the snakes. But God lifted Jesus up on the cross and offers salvation to us, a rebellious people.
Surprised on Judgment Day
This is a familiar story to most Christians, and it’s been preached many times over the years to help people realize how much Jesus cares about our attitude toward those who are disadvantaged. And that’s certainly a needed emphasis.
Tomorrow I plan to focus on an interesting nuance in the text, something that I’ve never thought that much about. For the most part, I’m going to ignore the last part of the story–about the ones who ignored the needs of the hurting.
Instead, we’ll focus on the fascinating fact that the ones who blessed others–the “sheep”–seemingly had little awareness of how they had helped people. They were surprised on judgment day because they found out that God had noticed all of the little things that they had done over the years. And it seems like they didn’t even really remember doing them.
Compassion had apparently become such a part of their character that they didn’t even think about it. This is interesting, I think, and also worth exploring.
How do we become so close to Jesus that his heart becomes ours? How do we become the kind of people who just instinctively help others, even without any apparent forethought?
Wednesday Night Study: Ephesians 1
Waiting on God
Most of us don’t enjoy waiting, but it’s interesting how God seems to think it’s an important part of the walk of faith.
How long did Abraham and Sarah wait for Isaac? Jacob waited for Rachel. Joseph waited for years in Egypt, and of course the Hebrews waited in slavery for 400 years. Throughout centuries of struggle, Israel longed for the anticipated Messiah.
And we wait as well. In the text above, Paul says that “in this tent we groan,” and that while we are away from the Lord “we walk by faith.”
We’ve all felt that, I think. We’ve waited for a relationship to be restored, for healing, for a spouse or for children, or for a loved one to come to (or return to) God.
But in a sense we’re waiting in the same way that Israel was. We wait for the Messiah to come (again), for the day when God makes all things right.
And while we wait, we hope and trust and anticipate. We join hands with God in kingdom work, working with him to bring about justice, truth, and mercy.
Jesus and Legion
Mark is a notoriously pithy writer who gets straight to the point and doesn’t mince words. And yet he devotes twenty verses to this interesting encounter between Jesus and a violent, demon-possessed man that ends up with pigs diving into the sea. That makes us think that Mark thinks there’s something important for us to see here.
And there is. It’s a story about demon possession, of course, but it’s more than that. It serves as an illustration of how evil functions in the world, especially how it hurts those who succumb to it. Evil is incredibly powerful . . . notice the language that Mark uses here: “. . . no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, . . . No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” In our increasingly secular world, we’re more likely to attribute everything to physiological or psychological causes. The presence of violence and suffering in the world has natural explanations, we’re told, so it can be fixed through natural means.
But it doesn’t seem to be working. We understand more about the human body, the human mind, and the natural world than we ever have, and yet world problems persist. Why is that?
Perhaps it’s because we’re largely ignoring transcendent causes and solutions that are an essential part of the human experience.
We’ll work our way through this story tomorrow, and we’ll reflect on some lessons that Jesus teaches us about the nature of evil in the world–and its presence in our own lives.
Wednesday Night Study: Sea of Galilee
Chuck Webster is one of my very favorite preachers. What a blessing to be able to listen to his lessons anywhere!