Five Keys to Godliness – Psalm 37

Psalm 37 is one of the wisdom psalms, so-called because these psalms stress the importance of wisdom as a result of knowing God or of providing instruction on knowing God.

Psalm 37 provides instruction in godliness and contrasts the life of the godly with the life of the wicked. The Psalm opens with five admonitions for achieving godliness in your life. Embedded in each of these admonitions are promises for what happens when you live a godly life:

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Superhero or Supervillain? – Proverbs 3:27

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it (Proverbs 3:27, ESV).

Did you know that you have superhero power? If you don’t know what your superhero power is, then read this verse from Proverbs over again!

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO GOOD!

If there is one superhero power better than all others, it’s certainly the power to do good! After all, isn’t “Good” what all superheroes are trying to accomplish with whatever superpower they have?

So, you have the greatest superpower of all superpowers–TO DO GOOD!

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Spiritual Sustainability – Judges

The book of Judges chronicles the reigns of twelve leaders (judges) whose temporary leadership over the confederation of Israelite tribes was both civil and military.

The book of Judges covers the approximate 400-year historical period from Joshua’s death (end of book of Joshua) to the establishment of a king over the Israelite tribes (book of 1 Samuel).

During this time Israel’s national and spiritual life descended into chaos and apostasy. As a result the Israelite tribes fought with their neighboring nations to retain control over the promised land that they had conquered and possessed as described in the book of Joshua.

The leaders in Judges demonstrated a variety of leadership strategies. In spite of the unique and sometimes questionable approaches to leadership of these judges, there is an underlying theme in the book of Judges that has relevance for our individual and collective spiritual lives.

The lesson to be gained from the book of Judges is that like the Israelite tribes possessing the promised land, we have to fight to maintain any spiritual victories we have achieved in our lives.

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Worry is a Faith Matter – Luke 12:22-32

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing…. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:22-23, 32, NLT).

Jesus told a parable about greed to a crowd of people (vs. 12:13-21). Then, in stark contrast to the greed story, Jesus turned to His disciples and proceeded to tell them not to worry about their daily needs for life, specifically food and clothing, because God will provide everything they need.

Jesus said that ravens don’t plant or harvest crops yet they have enough food (vs. 24). He said King Solomon was never dressed as beautifully as a lily (vs. 27).

Jesus concluded that if God takes care of both the birds and flowers, how much more will He take care of human beings (vs. 28).

What’s interesting is after Jesus admonishes His disciples to quit worrying about their basic needs for life, He indicts them for a lack of faith.

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You Are What You Wish For – Jeremiah 2:5

“Thus says the Lord: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?'” (Jeremiah 2:5, ESV).

The prophet Jeremiah was called to prophesy to the people of Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah and until the city’s final fall to the Babylonians. Jeremiah preached Old Testament themes in a fresh way. His unique theological contribution as an Old Testament prophet was his articulation of the new covenant between God and humanity (see Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Jeremiah emphasized that God’s chosen people, Israel with whom God had made a special covenant, had forsaken Him and chosen to worship other gods. In this verse Jeremiah claimed that instead of seeking God, the Israelites were going after worthless idols.

Instead of seeking God, which was worthwhile, they tried to find spirituality in idols, which were worthless. And, by seeking after that which was worthless their lives consequently became worthless.

You are what you wish for–rather, you become what you wish for–according to Jeremiah.

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Living Dangerously – Matthew 10:34-39

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, ESV).

In a post-game interview Baker Mayfield, rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns was asked how he had led his team to an amazing victory. Mayfield responded, “I woke up feeling dangerous today!”

Following Jesus is a dangerous undertaking! It sets you at odds with the very world in which you live.

Following Jesus can set your family against you when you love Jesus more than them. Following Jesus can set your your friends and colleagues against you when it becomes a higher priority than work or hobbies.

Following Jesus can set you against the popular culture and politics of this world when His values become your values.

It makes you look suspicious… unusual… dangerous!

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My New Year’s Resolution: Striving With God – Ecclesiastes 1:12-14

“I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, ESV).

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is presumably written by King Solomon, king over Israel, in his old age. In this treatise Solomon proffers a philosophical perspective of life that advances the notion that much of human life on Earth is occupied with striving after what’s not really so important in life after all.

Solomon observes that it’s like spending your life chasing after the wind. And, in case his point doesn’t resonate with the reader the first time, he repeats this thought eight more times!

Striving seems to be in our DNA. It’s what we human beings do. We strive after happiness. We strive for health and long life. We strive after success. We strive for money. We strive for love and friendship. We strive over political ideologies and religious beliefs. We strive with one another for dominance and control.

Striving….it’s human nature!

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