Tag Archive: Christianity


Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

God desires us to worship him. But, if we have an unresolved conflict with someone, that will hinder our worship. In the passage above, Jesus explains that before we offer up service to God, we need to first reconcile any conflicts we might have with someone else. Does anyone hold anything against you? Are there any conflicts you have yet to resolve?

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Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

What do you think about? Spend time pondering? Your mind and heart is from what all your actions stem. Do we spend time thinking about how we can help others? Improve their lives? How we can better take care of the world that God has placed us in? Do we think about things that please God, about doing what is morally right?

If you are a believer, God has given you the power of his Holy Spirit to do this. Through God’s power, you can discipline and train your mind to be focused on things that are right.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

I am a shy person – I tend to be awkward at social events, and quite nervous. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that on its own, if it detracts from my ability to trust in God and socialize with others, then it is a problem. In this passage in Peter, we are reminded that it doesn’t matter if we think we are awkward. God cares for us. So what does it matter what others think of us?

Perhaps you need to make an important decision in your life. I’ve been applying for graduate school, and thus have had to make many important decisions. But, we shouldn’t late that worry us – God is in control. Yes, we should make wise decisions, but it shouldn’t eat away at us.

If we allow anxiety, allow worry, to build up inside, how does that help? God wants us to go to him with our worry, with our concerns. He will be there in our distress. Talk it out with him. Let his peace fill your soul.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” 1 John 5:14

In this passage, the Apostle John tells us that we can be confident in our faith. We can go to the God who created the universe, and ask him to help us. John makes an important note, though: We should ask according to God’s will. If we ask within his will, our prayer will be heard. So how do we know God’s will? Studying the word of God, and through prayer. Jesus, who was God and yet also a man, prayed that God’s will be done, but he also expressed his anguish and physical desire that he not have to endure the torment that was coming. So, prayer is aligning our will toward God’s will, and seeing what he desires come to fruition within our lives.

 

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘”After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.”‘” Acts 15:15-18

When David was king, he commissioned musicians to constantly be performing music for God surrounding the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was housed. The prophets Isaiah and Amos looked forward to a time when constant celebration before the presence of God would be restored.

In Acts, we learn from the Apostle James that these prophecies have been fulfilled: The church is for what the prophets searched. We, the believers in Christ, are the singers constantly worshiping God. And this worship is no longer confined just to those of Abraham’s lineage, those who are ethnically Jewish: It is for all, Gentile and Jew alike. I, someone of mostly Northern European ancestry, can participate in this celebration. All in Christ are part of the rebuilding of God’s Kingdom, are part of the grand festivity.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
This past Sunday, one of the elders at my church preached on Micah 6:8, and referenced Zechariah 7:10. It was a very convicting sermon.
In both of these passages, we see that God is very concerned about what is commonly called “social justice” – that everyone in a society be treated fairly, justly, and equally. Much of the Old Testament prophets and much of Jesus’s sayings and the apostles’ writings in the New Testament strike home the importance of taking care of the disadvantaged in society. Zechariah gives one of the most complete lists – orphans, widows, the poor, and immigrants.

As a Christian, I am commanded to care for those who are disadvantaged, to bring them justice and relieve their suffering. So the thought for Thursday is, how can I do that? What can I do in my life, with my social position, talents, and experience, to help achieve justice?

“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which had conquered most of the Middle East. This included the Kingdom of Judah (Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, whom the Babylonians supplanted). Daniel was a Hebrew, and thus a captive of the Empire. But he was an important political official, and the king relied on him to interpret dreams, since God gave Daniel prophetic power. The above passage is at the end of Daniel’s interpretation of a dream: Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of much of the known world, would be humiliated. But, if he follows Daniel’s advice, he might be spared.
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In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:7-10

In this passage, Paul explains the great plan that God has revealed to us: The we Christians have been saved from our sin and granted the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. And why? That everything might be united to God. We are the people who bring in God’s Kingdom. We Christians, the Church of God, are the culmination of history. What does that mean for our lives?

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

Today, Thanksgiving Day in the United States, people across the country will come together and feast in a time of thanksgiving. Typically, people give thanks for their family, country, prosperity, and God. As Christians, we also have something to be thankful for: A kingdom. We will all share, one day, in the rule of an eternal land. And we also have the world around us. God made humans to be administrators of a vast and wonderful universe, and we Christians have God’s Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us in how to rightly manage and oversee it. So, are we thankful? How so? How can we give back to God all that he has given us?

He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:23-27

The people of the Kingdom of Israel, and the successor kingdoms such as Judah, the Hasmonean dynasty, and Herodian Kingdom and Tetrarchy, prided themselves on the fact that they were God’s People. They, and only they, a tiny spit of land in comparison to the vast domains of empires such as the Chinese, Indians, or, later, the Macedonians and Romans, had access to God, were given laws by God through which they could honor him. But, as Jesus makes clear in the passage above, many, if not most, Jews did not truly follow God. Jesus explains that he will be asked by his fellow inhabitants of Nazareth to perform miracles for them – not out of a desire to seek after God, but as a challenge to his authority. They did not accept his claims as a prophet and Messiah. So what does Jesus do? He tells them that he will go to places where he will be accepted, that being Jewish did not entitle them exclusive rights to his ministry. He shows that even in the Old Testament, God often rejected Israel and sent his prophets elsewhere.
What does this mean for us? I am a Gentile – I come from almost entirely a European background, perhaps some Native American mixed in, but no Jewish ancestry as far as I know. Under the Old Testament law, I would have to become a Jew in order to live in God’s Kingdom. But not so anymore. Jesus came for the whole world, his ministry was not confined to the Jews, and his death atoned for all who believe. His love is lavishly inclusive. He is Christ for the whole world.