Tag Archives: grace

How will they remember me? (Matthew 26)

In verses 6-16, we see two people that Christians remember. We remember Mary for the great love she had for Jesus. In fact Jesus said of her, Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, … Continue reading

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Living by grace (Matthew 19-20)

To understand the parable at the beginning of Matthew 20, you really need to look at the end of chapter 19. Peter had just seen a man walk away from the Lord because that man couldn’t let go of his … Continue reading

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The message of God’s grace (Acts 20)

Often times, we think of the message of God’s grace, namely the Gospel, as merely something that leads to our salvation. But while that’s true, it’s something more. Paul told the Ephesians this: And now I commit you to God … Continue reading

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Filled (Acts 6)

As I was reading this passage and thinking about Stephen and the other people chosen by the apostles, these words struck me: They were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” and “full of grace and power.” As I read … Continue reading

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Losing our flavor (Luke 14-15)

In the last part of Luke 14, Jesus said, Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty? It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it … Continue reading

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How a true “5” thinks (Luke 7)

Recently at my church, we’ve been talking about how God sees us as “5”s. (In Japan, a perfect grade in a report card is a “5,” similar to an “A” in western culture.) In other words, God looks at your … Continue reading

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Though we were unclean (Luke 5)

Throughout this passage, we see Jesus cleansing those who were “unclean.” He of course cleansed the leper of his disease, but more importantly he also cleansed Peter, the paralytic, and Matthew of their sins. But it’s Peter that I want … Continue reading

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A+? F? (Mark 12:13-17)

I wrote something very similar to this some time ago, and it probably gives a better explanation of  this passage’s context and what it is about. But today, I wanted to focus on something a bit different. Last Sunday, a … Continue reading

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Walking in the truth (3 John)

It’s hard to escape the word “truth” in this letter. John uses it six times in this very short letter. What is he talking about when he says, “the truth”? Most likely, he’s talking about the truth of the gospel. … Continue reading

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Living by the gospel (2 Timothy 3)

One thing that Paul wanted Timothy to remind the Christians is to live by the gospel. What does that mean? It means that we daily remember the goodness and loving kindness of God toward us. That when we were lost … Continue reading

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Confusing God’s grace with his approval (Numbers 20:2-13)

One thing that God has been reminding me recently is that just because my ministry is blessed, this doesn’t necessarily mean I have his approval. This passage is a perfect example of that. Through Moses, the people of Israel were … Continue reading

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Remember Jesus (2 Timothy 3)

I really love this passage, but two things really stand out to me. …be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (1) Paul doesn’t say, “Man up. It’s all up to you! So do it!” He says, “Be … Continue reading

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Words of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. (6) I don’t know about you, but those words are hard for me to live out. “Always gracious.” When I’m annoyed, are my words still gracious? When I’m angry, are my … Continue reading

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The grace of ministry (Philippians 1:7)

When I was reading Philippians 1 this week, it struck me that Paul saw ministry as a grace he received. He said, “you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation … Continue reading

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Partakers of grace (Philippians 1:7)

I’ve been meditating this morning on Philippians 1, but especially on verse 7.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of … Continue reading

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Take pleasure? (2 Corinthians 11-12)

2 Corinthians 12:9 is probably one of the most famous in the Bible. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” I wonder, though, how often we notice Paul’ application … Continue reading

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Who we are pointing to (2 Corinthians 10)

It’s so easy to compare ourselves with others. I do it all the time. We say things like: “I read my Bible every day.” “I pray.” “I fast.” “I tithe.” “I sacrifice for the church.” And then we look at … Continue reading

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For you know… (2 Corinthians 8:9)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. Take some time to meditate on those words. Memorize … Continue reading

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A word to think on (2 Corinthians 1:12)

This verse struck me as I read this, and it’s one I’m trying to memorize. Let’s try to do this without looking. For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we have behaved in the world with … Continue reading

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Peace (Romans 13)

As we face the new year, Paul’s words strike me. Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. … Continue reading

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The grace on which we stand (Romans 11)

Happy New Year all! I realize I haven’t been blogging much the past couple of weeks because of the winter holidays, but God willing, I should be starting to get back into the swing of things again. It is so … Continue reading

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Under grace (Romans 6)

I was just thinking of Paul’s words in Romans 6:14 and what they mean. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace. That is not the most easy sentence to understand. … Continue reading

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By his righteousness, by his power, by his promises (2 Peter 1)

The more I read this chapter, the more Peter’s words strike me. He says in verse 2, May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. How many of us know … Continue reading

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Living with a clean conscience (Acts 23)

Paul’s words are very striking in verse 1. My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day. How many of us can say the same thing? That our consciences are clear before God? … Continue reading

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What we have in Jesus (2 Timothy 1)

Paul wrote this letter not long before he was put to death by Nero. It’s that fact that makes his first words to Timothy more than a little meaningful. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, for the … Continue reading

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Living by grace (Philippians 4:9)

Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Those are pretty remarkable words, don’t you think? “Do you want the God of peace to … Continue reading

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A God-centered salvation (Ephesians 1-2)

One thing I have been doing the last couple of days as I have read Ephesians 1-2 is noting all the “hims” and “his”s that are there, and really thinking through, “Who is this talking about, the Father, the Son, … Continue reading

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A grace and love that is not weak (2 Corinthians 12-13)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (13:13) Those are extremely famous words. But I wonder how often they are misunderstood. Some people think … Continue reading

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Characterized by surpassing grace (2 Corinthians 9:14)

There are more than a few famous verses in this passage related to giving. But today, it was one less often quoted verse that struck me today. In talking about how people would respond to the generosity of the Corinthians, … Continue reading

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The grace shown us in ministry (II Corinthians 2:14-3:6)

It’s been a slow week in terms of blogging for me this week. I suppose I shouldn’t feel bad about it since I made no guarantees about how often I would blog. I think that for me, this has been … Continue reading

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Captivated by grace and truth (Psalm 26)

When I read this passage, the first thing I saw was some parallels between this psalm and Psalm 1. If you have time, check it out. But the thing that really struck me was verse 3. For your faithful love … Continue reading

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Selfishness and pride (I Corinthians 8)

If there is one theme that I’m consistently seeing in I Corinthians, it’s the problem of selfishness and pride in the Corinthian church. And so time and again, Paul tries to bring them back to what is central: God. That’s … Continue reading

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What we take for granted (Romans 1)

I think as a life-long Christian I sometimes take for granted the things that I read in the Bible. It’s almost as if when I read it, I say in my mind (if unconsciously), “But of course.” I wonder, though, … Continue reading

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Always eligible for grace (2 Samuel 19)

As I read the part about Mephibosheth in this passage, his words to David struck me. Apparently, Mephibosheth’s servant had wrongfully accused him of turning on David when David was fleeing for his life from Absalom. But after offering his … Continue reading

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A channel of grace and mercy (2 Samuel 9)

As I read Mephibosheth’s words in this passage, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?” (9:8) it reminded me of David’s words to God in chapter 7. Who am I, Lord God, … Continue reading

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Grace (2 Samuel 7)

What is grace? I think we see it in this passage. So often, we, like David, think to impress God by doing something for him. And God reminds us that what we can do for him pales in comparison to … Continue reading

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Working our own salvation (I Samuel 25)

I was reading this story in the ESV, and there’s a turn of phrase that quite’s different in it from the other translations. In verses 26, 31, and 33, most translations have David and Abigail talking about how it would … Continue reading

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Right with God (2 Samuel 23)

David’s words strike me here. Is it not true my house is with God? For he has established a permanent covenant with me, ordered and secured in every detail. Will he not bring about my whole salvation and my every … Continue reading

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Mercy and Grace (I Samuel 24)

As I look back on my older blogs, particularly on the Old Testament, I think I looked for a lot of practical, moral lessons. I think to some degree that is fine. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that these things … Continue reading

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Continually (Psalm 71)

There are advantages to a more “literal” translation at times. And one of those advantages is that you can see repetition of words more clearly within the same passage. This is one of those cases, and so I’ll be using … Continue reading

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Separate, but interceding (Numbers 16-17)

As I was reading different passages from the Bible today, several things struck me, but perhaps this passage most of all. Some of the Israelites had rebelled against God, and Moses told the community, Get away from the tents of … Continue reading

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Conscious of our sin (Psalm 51)

I’ve probably seen (and sung) this psalm hundreds of times. Today, verse 3 strikes me. David writes, For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. There are two kinds of problems Christians face when … Continue reading

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Resting in grace (I Peter 5)

Two blogs in one day. Pretty unusual, but I wrote something for my church, and I figured I might as well share it here as well. You know it’s easy as we’re facing trials and struggles in our lives to … Continue reading

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A God who understands (Leviticus 13)

Last Sunday, one of our preachers was giving a message on Mark 1:40-42, in which Jesus healed a leper. And since I was going through Leviticus anyway, I decided to look again at the passages on the lepers. And in … Continue reading

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I John 2:1-2 — When we fall

We saw yesterday that though we are children of light and are called to live that way, we do fall at times. And when we do, if we confess our sins and repent, God will forgive us. (1:9) Here in … Continue reading

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II Peter 3:10-18 — Because this world isn’t forever

If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear in this passage, it’s that this world will not last forever. Peter says, But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:2-4 — That grace and peace may abound

One of my favorite passages in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian is when Lucy meets up with Aslan, and she says, “Aslan! You’re bigger!” And Aslan replies, “That is because you are older, little one.” “Not because you are?” “I am not. … Continue reading

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II Peter 1:1 — A faith that puts us on equal standing

It’s rare that I ever get stopped by a verse such that I just have to write about it and it alone. Particularly when it comes in a greeting. But this one stopped me. Peter writes, Simon Peter, a servant … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:20-25 — Equipped

I love how the writer of Hebrews closes his letter. Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you … Continue reading

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Hebrews 13:7-16 — Serving the one who never changes

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (8) This is a famous verse, and one of my favorites. It reminds me that my Lord is unchanging. And that is comforting in a world where people change all … 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 4:11-5:10 — Why we can dare to draw near

How would you like to have your whole life exposed for all to see? Nothing hidden. Your life an open book for the world to see? Now think of standing before God on judgment day with that book open before … Continue reading

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Titus 2:2-3:2 — A call to godliness

This is a passage that is nothing short of a call to godliness among God’s people. There are a lot of people who claim to be Christians. But as Paul said in chapter 1, They claim to know God, but … Continue reading

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II Timothy 1:15-2:13 — The grace to endure

One of the reasons Paul asked Timothy to come visit him was that many people had abandoned him, and except for a precious few, he was all alone. For every Onesiphorus who went out of his way to find out … Continue reading

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I Timothy 1:12-17 — Wondering at the grace of God

How often do we fail to wonder at the grace of God in our lives? How different would our lives be if we truly did so. That was one of the differences between the false teachers and Paul. The false … Continue reading

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Ephesians 3:1-13 — Being a steward of God’s grace

I think that for many Christians, they look at my last post that says we all are called to be stewards of God’s grace to those around us, and they say, “But I’m no Paul.  I can’t do the things … Continue reading

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Ephesians 3:1-13 — Being a steward of God’s grace

I like how the ESV renders verse 2 in this passage, …you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you. A steward of God’s grace.  That’s what we are called to be.  God … Continue reading

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Ephesians 2:1-8 — The wonder of God’s grace

Paul had just finished praying for the Ephesians that they might see all they truly had in Christ.  Now in chapter 2, he lays it all out for them. Just as a side note, I think it’s important to remember … Continue reading

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Ephesians 1:15-23 — If we could only see

I wonder sometimes if we really see how much we are truly blessed in Christ?  My guess is no.  Oh sure, many of us know the truths of God’s grace and love in our lives.  But do we truly understand them? … Continue reading

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Galatians 6:11-18 — What really counts

Paul closes this letter by basically summarizing all that he has said in it.  And here he discounts all that doesn’t really count for anything in this world. What others think of us doesn’t matter, particularly their approval (12). Our own … Continue reading

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Galatians 5:2-10 — Severed from Christ, fallen from grace

I don’t know about you, but I think most people looking at today’s title would think, “Wow!  What terrible thing must a person do to be severed from Christ and fall from his grace.” In fact, we often use that … Continue reading

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Galatians 4:14-16 — How to lose our joy (and blessing)

You can really see how perplexed Paul is with the Galatians in this passage (actually going all the way to verse 20). When he had first come to the Galatians, he had had some sort of physical problem, and yet, … Continue reading

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Galatians 1:11-2:16 — Fighting for the gospel

In this passage, we see Paul fighting for the truth of the gospel.  First he went to Jerusalem to make sure he was on the same page as the rest of the apostles concerning salvation by grace apart from law.  And … Continue reading

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II Corinthians 12:7-10 — The problem of self-sufficiency

I was raised by my parents to be pretty self-sufficient.  I remember one thing my dad told me after I had grown up and left the house was that the one thing he was happy about concerning my brother, my … Continue reading

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II Corinthians 9:8-11 — Abounding in grace

Just a quick note before today’s blog:  I am currently on vacation, and so my blogs may be hit or miss for the next week and a half or so, depending on whether I have both time and access to a … Continue reading

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II Corinthians 8:7 — Excelling in acts of grace

In this verse, Paul encourages the Corinthians, But just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us–see that you also excel in this grace of giving. The Corinthians were … Continue reading

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II Corinthians 3:7-18 — Why we need never be ashamed

I touched on this yesterday, but I want to look at it much more deeply today.  We saw yesterday that when Moses received the ten commandments, his face initially glowed with the glory of the Lord. At first, because the … Continue reading

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2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 — When others misunderstand and accuse us

As you read this letter, you start to see that Paul and the Corinthians had been having a really tough time in their relationship. Apparently, some of the Corinthians had taken some of the things he had said in his earlier letter … Continue reading

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I Corinthians 15:8-10 — A grace that is not without effect

How do you see yourself? It’s very striking to see how Paul saw himself.  After Saul met Christ, he changed his name to “Paul” which means “little.” Here he had been this Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, a man full of … Continue reading

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Romans 16:25-27 — The One Who establishes us

And so we finish off Romans.  I think it’s been one of the more fun books that I have blogged through.  And as we do, we finish up where we started.  With a reminder that salvation is ultimately the work … Continue reading

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Romans 9:1-29 — The problem and wonder of election (part 3)

In the last blog, we talked about how God basically tells people, “I have determined to judge you.  Now prove me wrong.  Prove that you’re not worthy of destruction.” And he waits patiently for their response. We see this kind … Continue reading

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Romans 7:1-6 — The jurisdiction of grace

I said yesterday that Paul is not consistent in using of his metaphor of marriage in this passage. Yesterday, we saw how he used the metaphor to show that death causes the law to lose its power over a person. … Continue reading

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Romans 5:6-8 — What grace is all about

I have memorized many Bible verses in my lifetime.  But one of the first passages I memorized was this one, and though I haven’t really tried to recite it in some time, I’m pretty sure I can still get it … Continue reading

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Romans 5:1-2 — The grace in which we stand

It would be so easy to just zoom past these passages, having read them so often.  But I can’t help but linger here, and think about all Paul is saying here. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we … 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 3:31 — Completely throwing out the law?

I suppose the logical question to all that Paul is saying is, “If the law can’t make us acceptable before God, can’t we just toss it?  I mean, it’s worthless if it can’t do that, right?” But Paul answers here, … Continue reading

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Romans 3:27-30 — No room for boasting

One of the big conclusions that Paul comes down to in this passage is found in verses 27-30. Where, then, is boasting?  It is excluded.  On what principle?  On that of observing the law?  No, but on that of faith.  … Continue reading

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Romans 3:21-30 — To be accepted by God

Our deepest need, whether felt or not, is to be accepted.  And not just by anyone.  But to be accepted by God. When we are accepted by God, and we understand this in our souls, our life changes.  We find … Continue reading

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Romans 2:1-11 — Pride and insolence

In this passage, we see two problems concerning the grace of God. The first problem is pride.  It’s an attitude of, “I don’t need God’s grace.  I’m good enough.  The people around me on the other hand…” Paul addresses this … Continue reading

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Romans 1:1-7 — Loved and called by God

And so we hit Romans, perhaps the most important book in the New Testament, because it so clearly sets out what the gospel is. It was written by Paul to the church in Rome before he had had the chance … Continue reading

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Acts 21:1-16 — No matter the cost

It’s a little tricky trying to interpret this passage.  Were the prophesies concerning Paul going to Jerusalem meant merely to warn him of what was ahead of him?  Or were they meant to turn him from the course he was … Continue reading

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Acts 15:1-35 — Grace alone

This was probably the biggest theological debate the early church faced, and it was a critical one. Paul and Barnabas had been taking the gospel to the Gentiles, but not everyone was happy about the gospel they were preaching.  They … Continue reading

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Acts 14 — Through many hardships

One thing you could say about Paul and Barnabas’ missionary journey:  it certainly wasn’t boring.  As well as having much success, they also went through many trials, even to the point of Paul getting stoned and left for dead.  It … Continue reading

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Acts 8:9-24 — A gift

One of the things that people have a hard time understanding about Christianity is that all that we have is a gift from God.  All that we have, and our very lives are gifts from God.  And of course, salvation … Continue reading

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Acts 4:32-37 — Unity, power, and grace

What is the church supposed to look like?  I think we get a picture of it here. Unity. All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they … Continue reading

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Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-12 — Power and authority, mercy and grace

In this passage, there are three things I see in Jesus. 1.  His power and authority.  Though surrounded by his enemies, he was in total command of the situation.  Standing to face his enemies, he asked them, “Who are you … Continue reading

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Luke 10:25-37 — Going beyond the head knowledge

As I look at this passage, there is one more thing that strikes me. This is a story about three people that knew God’s word very well.  One, of course, was real (the expert in the law), and two were … Continue reading

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Luke 8:1-3 — From blessed to blessing

This is a passage that’s very short, but teaches a very important lesson.  We see Jesus here going out from town to town, preaching the gospel.  And along with his disciples, we see three women, Mary Magdalene, the wife of … Continue reading

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Luke 7:36-50 — Where’s your love?

As I look at this passage, I suppose the question I ask myself is, “How much do I really love Jesus?” We see in this passage two people.  One was a woman who lived a sinful life.  What she did, … Continue reading

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Matthew 11:25-30 — Learning from Jesus

I’ve got to admit, after graduating from university, I never had a real desire to go back to school and get my masters degree or anything like that.  Looking back on it now, if I had to do it over … Continue reading

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Luke 6:43-45 — What is in your heart

One thing that I notice about Jesus is that while he will repeat illustrations, he’ll apply it to different situations.  In Matthew, we see him apply the idea of a good tree bearing good fruit and a bad tree bearing … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:29-30 — But it’s not fair

There is something in all of us, I think, that screams for fairness.  And if something happens that we feel isn’t fair, we scream against it.  But is that the best response? These few verses go against every instinct we … Continue reading

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Matthew 5:1-3 — Not for the “spiritual”

We’re skipping back to Matthew 5 at this point, and we’ll be combining the two sermons on the Mount and the Plain, as they have very similar themes. Jesus’ words here are slightly different from those we read in Luke.  … Continue reading

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Psalm 124 — Rejoicing in God’s favor

This psalm was written by David, but it’s not clear what the context of the psalm was.  In all probability, it was written after a great victory in battle when the odds seemed against them.  It’s the type of psalm … Continue reading

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Psalm 65 — The God who saves us and fills us

It’s hard to tell in what situation this psalm was written.  It’s possible it was written after a time of famine or drought as a result of God’s judgment, followed by a time of repentance and blessing. The psalmist starts … Continue reading

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Psalm 19 — How God reveals himself

This is another one of my favorite psalms and it powerfully shows how God reveals himself to us. First, David shows us how God reveals himself through creation.   He sang, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim … Continue reading

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Nehemiah 9 — God’s grace in the midst of our unfaithfulness

In this passage, we see the people coming before God to confess their sins.  And in this prayer, we see two things.  The unfaithfulness of the Jews and God’s grace. The prayer starts with how God created everything, and then … Continue reading

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Zechariah 12 — That we may see

In this passage, we see a glimpse of Israel’s future.  Sometimes people think that God has abandoned Israel, and that God’s promises to them have all been transferred to the church.  But that’s not true.  As Paul said concerning Israel, … Continue reading

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II Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34 — Grace

And with one fell swoop, we finish two books, which happen to end with the same story.  We started II Kings way back in June of 2012, and many major and minor prophets later, we finally come to a close … Continue reading

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Ezekiel 35-36 — Though we have fallen

In chapters 35 and 36, we once again see God condemning the nations around Judah for celebrating Jerusalem’s fall.  He first directs his judgment against Edom for harboring hostility, jealousy, and anger against the people of Judah and for trying … Continue reading

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Jeremiah 33 — Great and unsearchable things

I love verse 3 in this chapter. Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Honestly, I need to do a lot more seeking of God in my life.  … Continue reading

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Jeremiah 31:1-26 — The heart of a Father

This passage has one of my all-time favorite verses in it.  I like it because it really shows the heart of our Father. The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; … Continue reading

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Ezekiel 17:22-24 — The tender one

So many times we get the image of God, especially the “God of the Old Testament” as a hard-liner.  Someone who is ready to blast us for every sin that we commit. But here, God talks of a “tender one” … Continue reading

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Isaiah 33:2 — A prayer

I’ve kind of gotten out of the habit of memorizing scripture and I want to get back into it.  A couple of days ago, I worked on Isaiah 30:15.  Today it’s this verse. O Lord, be gracious to us; we … Continue reading

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II Kings 5 — The salvation that comes from God

As I read this passage, it reminds me of the salvation that we receive from God. First, we learn that it needs to be proclaimed in order for people to receive it.  It’s amazing to me that this girl, who … Continue reading

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