Tag Archives: faith

Revelation 13:1-10 –A need for endurance and faithfulness

There’s a lot going on in this passage, and as usual, there’s a lot of debate over what it all means. There are two beasts that appear with the dragon (Satan). And to keep this short(er), I’ll take on these two … Continue reading

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Jude 22-25 — When others fall

As much as it is important to contend with those who would attack the faith, we must care for those who have been affected by these attacks. So Jude tells us first of all to be merciful to those who doubt. … Continue reading

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Jude — Recognizing those we contend with

The problem with deception is that it is by its nature difficult to detect. That’s why it can be so easy for false teachers to slip into the church. They don’t come out blaring to the church, “I am a … Continue reading

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Jude — Contending for the faith

I love how Jude, the brother of Jesus opens this letter. To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. (1) This phrase bookends with the last two verses. To him … Continue reading

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I John 2:28-3:24 — The mark of a child of God (part 2)

We saw yesterday that the mark of a child of God is righteousness. That true children of God seek to be pure as the One they love is pure. And that when they sin, they can’t do so without feeling … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:16-21–What our faith is built on

What is our faith built on? Why do we believe what we believe? At the very base, it’s built on God himself and who he is. And it’s built on our experience of him. We’ve experienced God; we’ve tasted the … Continue reading

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James 4:13-17 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 8)

I think with this passage, James pretty much concludes his speech on how true faith expresses itself. And again, throughout his whole letter, he has focused on love, speech, and purity. In these last few verses, I think he’s going back to … Continue reading

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James 3:13-4:10 — How true faith expresses itself (part 6)

James here briefly gets away from talking about controlling the tongue (he’ll return to it later), and starts talking about the third way that faith expresses itself: purity. He said back in James 1:26 that an essential part of true … Continue reading

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James 2:17-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 4)

There was something that I wanted to add in the last blog, but it was getting long as it was, so I decided to put it here. One thing that I have been trying very carefully to do is to … Continue reading

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James 2:17-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 3)

We said yesterday that it’s not simply enough to say, “I believe in God,” in order to be saved. Nor, for that matter, is it enough to say “I believe that Jesus died for my sin and rose again” in … Continue reading

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James 2:14-26 — How true faith expresses itself (Part 2)

I think it’s easy at times to parse the Bible into neat little sections, especially as we do our daily Bible reading. What I’ve been noticing more and more over the past year, though, is that when we do that, … Continue reading

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James 1:26-2:13 — How true faith expresses itself

One of the things that James really is strong on is that true faith expresses itself in more than just saying, “I believe in God.” Many people today say, “I believe in God.” But as we will see in later … Continue reading

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Hebrews 12:1-2 — We also

Running has never been my thing. I recently have picked it up again though my runs tend to be very short, no where near a 10k, no less a marathon. But as Christians, we are called to join the great … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:36-40 — What a life of faith does not mean

There are a number of people who seem to think that if you have enough faith, your life should be all smooth sailing. No health problems, no financial problems, just a happy-go-lucky life. They apparently have never read this chapter. … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:32-35 — Faith and grace

I have to admit that I have trouble understanding why people like Gideon and Samson are mentioned in the “Hall of Faith” despite their failures. It’s amazing to me that their failures are not even mentioned in this chapter. But … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:32-35 — When we trust God

Have you ever noticed the people that the writer of Hebrews mentions as “paragons” of faith in verse 32? Most of them were hardly paragons. Samuel, though he was a great judge and prophet, failed greatly when it came to raising … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:17-22 — A faith that believes that God is good

“God is good.” “All the time.” “All the time…” “God is good.” I’ve been to a couple of churches for which this was kind of a mantra. But how many of us really believe it? Oh sure, in good times … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:11-12 – – Faith to see beyond (part 2)

“It’s impossible. I can’t do it.” How often do we see situations in life and say that, if not with our mouths, then in our hearts? That’s how Abraham and Sarah must have felt. God first gave them the promise … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:8-16 — A faith that sees beyond

This earth is not our home. Most Christians know this. But how many actually live this way? Abraham did. The writer of Hebrews said of him, By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:1-6 — The need for faith

Why is faith so important? Because for whatever reason, it is the one thing that God desires from all of us as his creatures. The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is for their faith that God commended all … Continue reading

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Hebrews 11:1-6 — The foundation of our faith

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (1-2) A lot of people see these verses, and think of them as the definition … Continue reading

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Hebrews 10:32-39 — In a little while

God never promised us an easy life. In fact, Jesus promised us just the opposite. That there would be times of trouble. That people would even hate us for following Christ. And while that may or not be real to … Continue reading

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Hebrews 6:4-8 — Impossible

This is one of the more controversial passages in scripture. Many Christians use it to try to prove that it is possible for a person to lose their salvation. The writer of Hebrews says, It is impossible for those who … Continue reading

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Hebrews 3-4 — The need for faith

Many people want to know God’s blessings in life. Many people want to find true life and joy. But far too few are willing to put their trust in God in order to obtain these things. And that’s the problem that … Continue reading

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I Timothy 1:18-20 — When we violate our consciences

Our consciences are a gift from God. God has given them to all people, even non-Christians to give them a sense of right and wrong. Without our consciences, this world would be far worse than it is now. The problem, … Continue reading

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I Thessalonians 1 — A genuine faith

This is one of Paul’s earliest letters, perhaps his earliest, written during his second missionary journey. It was written to the church in Thessalonica, and many things that Paul alludes to in this letter can be found in Acts 16-17, from his … Continue reading

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Galatians 3:6-14 — The true children of Abraham

As I look at this passage, I can’t help but wonder if Paul thought back to the argument Jesus had with the Jews in John 8.  Because essentially, it’s talking about the same issue:  who are the true children of … Continue reading

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Galatians 3:1-5 — Starting by faith, continuing by faith

It is so easy, especially in Japan, to fall into the trap of trying to follow “the rules” after becoming a Christian.  After all, every other group the Japanese are a part of, whether it’s a school club, a company, or even their … Continue reading

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Galatians 2:15-18 — A promoter of sin?

One of the accusations Christians face, particularly from the cults, is that by adopting a gospel of salvation by grace alone apart from works, we actually promote sin.  After all, if we are saved by faith in Christ apart from … Continue reading

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II Corinthians 1:18-22 — Why we can have confidence in God

Sometimes, in the midst of trials, it can be easy to lose confidence in God.  One wonders if Paul ever came close to doing so, when he and his companions “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, … Continue reading

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I Corinthians 13:13 — What remains

It’s very interesting to consider what Paul says here in the final verse of chapter 13. In talking about the gifts that will pass away when we see Jesus face to face, he contrasts them with what will remain even … Continue reading

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I Corinthians 1:26-31 — No room for boasting

In illustrating the “foolishness of God,” Paul uses the people in the Corinthian church as an example. Now if you were going to save as many people as possible, wouldn’t you start with the rich, powerful, wise, and influential?  Wouldn’t … Continue reading

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Romans 10:6-13 — All that’s left for us to do

The way to salvation is, in a sense, contradictory.  That is to say, it is so easy, and yet so hard. Paul writes, But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend … Continue reading

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Romans 9:30-33 — Why can’t there be another way to God?

One of the things that bothers people about Christianity is that Christ claims he is the only way to God.  That there is no other way.  And they say, “Why can’t there be another way?” There are many ways to … Continue reading

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Romans 4:16-25 — Fully persuaded

It’s always cool to find something new in scripture, even after having read it all my life. The verses that strikes me here are verses 16-17, and especially 17. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by … Continue reading

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Romans 4:4-16 — Salvation: gift or obligation?

In this passage, Paul takes on a very important issue.  Is salvation from our sins and eternal life with God a gift from Him, or an obligation on his part to give us what we deserve? Paul is very clear here.  He … Continue reading

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Romans 4 — Righteousness by faith: a new idea?

It would be easy to think that this idea of being made righteous by our faith is a new thing.  That it was an invention of Paul and the other apostles.  It was, in fact, a contention that Paul probably … Continue reading

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Acts 11:22-30 — Filled with the Spirit and full of faith

Barnabas was a remarkable man.  We saw him first in Acts 4 where he sold his land and gave the proceeds to the church so that they could help the needy.  We saw him again in Acts 9, when he … Continue reading

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Acts 3:17-26 — Before we can receive blessing

Lots of people desire to receive blessing from God.  And God is a Father that gives his children good gifts.  We can expect blessings from him as his children. But before we can receive blessing, there is something we must … Continue reading

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John 20:24-31 — Though we have not seen him

Seeing is believing. At least sometimes it is.  The Pharisees and teachers of the law saw all the miracles Jesus performed and they still didn’t believe.  They saw Lazarus alive after he had died and they plotted to kill him because … Continue reading

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Luke 24:13-35 — Slow to believe

This appears to be the third or fourth appearance of Jesus after his resurrection, depending on when Jesus showed himself to Peter. And here we see two followers of Jesus walking down to Emmaus, which was perhaps their hometown.  And as … Continue reading

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Matthew 27:11-26; Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-25; John 18-19 — When we have nothing to stand on

I will start by saying that it’s a bit hard to harmonize these passages.  Here’s how I see it, but I encourage you to look at it yourself, and come to your own conclusions. The priests and council members bring … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46 — When my will is not God’s will

There are times in our lives when we go through trials and suffering.  It may be an illness.  It may be family troubles because of our Christian faith.  It may be problems in our ministry.  And so we pray for … Continue reading

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John 14:12-14 — Powerful promises

Jesus made some pretty amazing promises here.  The type that make you say, “Really?  Are you serious?” Jesus said, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even … Continue reading

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Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:20-25 — How much faith do I have?

Faith.  It’s something I must admit I struggle with, particularly in prayer.  When I pray, do I pray in faith?  And what does it mean? When the tree Jesus withered, the disciples were amazed and asked how it could wither … Continue reading

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Luke 19:28; John 11:55-57 — A cleansing that goes beyond the surface

Right after Jesus’ parable about those who were determined to reject him as king, we see the actual people whom Jesus was speaking of. Jesus was fast approaching Jerusalem, and a lot of people were already there to celebrate the Passover. … Continue reading

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Luke 18:1-8 — Keeping the faith through times of trial

It would be easy from looking at just the first verse to think that Jesus’ point is simply that we should keep praying and not give up when God seems slow to answer. This is most certainly true, but the … Continue reading

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Luke 11:1-45 — That we might believe

This is one of the most famous miracles Jesus performed, and I’ve spoken on it at church more than once.  But as I read it through this time, these words strike me: So that you may believe.   (15) We … Continue reading

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Luke 17:3-6 — Forgiveness

As I was reading this passage, something new struck me as I was reading the ESV. Jesus is, of course, talking about forgiveness here.  He said, If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  (3 — … Continue reading

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Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43 — Where is our faith?

Where is my faith? That’s a question I have to ask myself far too often in the sense of, “Why don’t I trust God more?” But it’s also a question I need to ask myself in terms of “Where am … Continue reading

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Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30 — Persistence, humility, and faith

One wonders exactly what Jesus was thinking throughout this conversation with this woman, and in what kind of tone did he speak to her. Jesus, after his confrontation with the Jews, actually left the confines of Israel and went to … Continue reading

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Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:16-21 — Doubting Jesus

As I was looking through the three gospel accounts of this story, there are a lot of things that struck me. First, the balance that Jesus kept in his life.  That though he would often sacrifice his needs to meet the … Continue reading

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Matthew 9:27-34 — What Jesus can do, and what he can’t

I had to do a double-take here as I read through these two stories because they are so similar to two others.  One was another case in which Jesus cast out a demon that caused a man to be mute (Matthew … Continue reading

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Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:41-56 — The God who cleanses and raises the dead

When you look throughout the Old Testament, particularly the law of Moses, you see the concept of “clean” and “unclean” a lot.  Namely, things that the Jews were to avoid and things Jews were allowed to come into contact with. … Continue reading

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Luke 11:27-28 — To find blessing

Everyone wants to find blessing in their lives from God.  But how do we find blessing? As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, a woman called out, Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.  (27) But … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:20-24 — Can’t believe? Or won’t?

There are a lot of people that say, “I just can’t believe in God.” And they’ll go on to list all the reasons for their unbelief.  But for the vast majority of such people, it’s not really a matter of … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:1-6; Luke 17:18-24 — Struggling with doubt

It’s nice to know that the “heroes” of the Bible had struggles too.  That they had fears.  That they had doubts. I’m sure that’s exactly what John the Baptist was going through in prison.  He had been doing a great … Continue reading

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John 5:19-30 — The one who judges…and gives life

Here we catch a glimpse of the relationship between the Father and the Son.  One thing we cannot say, as some cults do, is that the Father is the Son.  They are clearly distinct from each other, though they are … Continue reading

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John 4:43-54 — Taking Jesus at his word

In this passage, we see Jesus’ first miraculous healing, although one can guess that he had done other healings before this.  (John 2:23) But the thing that strikes me here is this royal official’s response to Jesus.  This royal official … Continue reading

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Proverbs 24 — Building our house

What kind of house are you building?  No, I’m not talking about your literal house.   I’m talking about your life.  What kind of life are you building? That’s what Solomon addresses here in chapter 24. He says, By wisdom a … Continue reading

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Psalm 88 — God’s silence

This psalm could almost have been written by Job.  This is yet another psalm that deals with God’s silence in our suffering.  And as in real life, we don’t always see a happy ending. The psalmist starts by basically crying … Continue reading

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Psalm 31 — Placing ourselves in God’s hands

When David wrote this psalm is a matter of speculation, as are most of his psalms.  At a guess, it was written during his flight from Saul, and based on verse 21, perhaps after his flight from Keilah.  (I Samuel … Continue reading

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Psalm 21 — Remembering where victory and blessing come from

When things are going badly, our thoughts often quickly turn towards God.  But what about during times of victory and blessing?  Do our thoughts turn quickly in praise towards God?  Or do our thoughts turn towards ourselves, and how great … Continue reading

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Psalm 20 — The key to victory

It seems that David wrote this psalm on the eve of a battle.  And here, the people pray for God’s blessing on him as he and his army go out. May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; … Continue reading

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Psalm 5 — Petitioning the King

This is probably one of my favorite psalms.  I still love to sing the old chorus that goes to the King James Version. Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.  Hearken unto the voice of my cry, … Continue reading

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Job 22-23 — The frustration of dealing with an invisible God

After being severely blasted by Eliphaz, in which Eliphaz for the first time levels specific (if completely baseless) accusations against Job, Job cries out once again for a hearing before God.  He said, If only I knew where to find … Continue reading

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Jeremiah 39:11-18; 40:1-6 — Because you trust in me

One of the nice things of trying to do things chronologically in this blog is that it gives me a better perspective of Biblical events and where everyone fits in history.  It also causes me to speculate a bit more … Continue reading

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Habakkuk — Trusting God in the midst of an evil world

We hit yet another minor prophet here.  Habakkuk probably prophesied during the time of Jeremiah, and this book was probably written sometime during the reign of king Jehoiakim the son of Josiah.  Jehoiakim came to power (so to speak) when … Continue reading

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II Kings 23-24; II Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 22 — To know God

The last four kings after Josiah can all be basically painted bad.  Jehoahaz (known as Shallum in Jeremiah 22), Jehoakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah all were miserable failures as kings.  We’ll take a closer look at the latter three later, but … Continue reading

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Isaiah 57:3-13 — Clinging to what is hopeless

A friend recently asked me, “Why does Satan keep on fighting?  He knows he’s lost.  Why doesn’t he give up?”  Other people have put the question another way, “Why doesn’t Satan repent?  Can he repent?” They are interesting questions, but … Continue reading

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Isaiah 51 — The legacy we’ve inherited

Some Christians don’t like going through the Old Testament.  Sometimes, they wonder why it’s even worth reading.  I have to admit, this is the longest period of time I’ve spent in the Old Testament for my quiet times.  I believe … Continue reading

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II Kings 18:13-16; Isaiah 30-31 — Where our strength and salvation come from

It’s hard to match up the events of history to the prophesies, but I’m guessing these two passages roughly go together. The king of Assyria (Sennacharib) was on the move again, and came against Judah, mainly because Hezekiah had rebelled … Continue reading

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Isaiah 29 — Blind and ignorant

Why doesn’t God just show himself?  If he truly exists, why doesn’t he just make it crystal clear so that I can know, not just guess or hope? Sometimes people, both believers and unbelievers ask this question.  There are a … Continue reading

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II Kings 8:1-6 — God’s perfect timing

The story here is an interesting on a couple of levels.  First, the issue of Gehazi.  The last we saw of him, he had been struck with leprosy for his deception of Naaman in chapter 5.  Now he’s seen here … Continue reading

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II Kings 6-7 — Out of patience, low on faith

The respite that the Israelites gained from the kindness they showed to the Arameans didn’t last long.  Once again, the king of Aram led another assault on Samaria, the capital of Israel, laying siege to it.  No food was coming … Continue reading

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II Kings 6:8-17 — Eyes that see beyond

I can’t say I read this story very often, nor do I think I’ve ever heard it preached on in Japan in the 17 years I’ve been here.  But I’ve got to say it’s probably one of my favorite stories … Continue reading

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II Kings 4:38-44 — The God who preserves, the God who provides

In these two short stories, we see the loving care of God. In the first, in the midst of a famine, Elisha has his servant prepare a stew for a company of prophets that were meeting with him.  But unbeknownst … Continue reading

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I Kings 19:19-21 — Leaving all behind to follow

I’ve always thought about this story, whenever I read the story of the man Jesus called to follow him.  The man said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”  Jesus … Continue reading

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I Kings 18:19-46 — The one who is truly God

And so we come to one of the great confrontations in the Bible, Elijah and the prophets of Baal (and Asherah — funny how that often got lost every time I heard the story as a child). Elijah, starts, however, … Continue reading

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