Blog Posts by Jon Bloom
Don’t Be Afraid to Pray “Whatever It Takes”
When visiting my mother recently I was leafing through a well-known magazine and came across an article about a well-known actress who is a professing Christian. The article described her vibrant faith and the role of prayer in her life. I was encouraged by her cultivation of constant prayerfulness. I want to grow in that too.
But the comment that stuck with me was, “I know not to beg [God] for patience, because then he gives me situations in which…Continue Reading
More Than Enough
Will Jesus provide for you? Are you struggling to believe it, because when you do the math it doesn’t add up? You’re in good company. Philip and Andrew had witnessed astounding miracles by Jesus, but when it came to feeding 5,000 people1 the math added up to impossible.
Imagine a conversation between Philip and Andrew as they are gathering up the leftovers.
Philip set his basket load of bread fragments down on the grass. He straightened his tired…Continue Reading
Live and Love Without Wax
According to folk history, the…
…English word sincere comes from two Latin words: sine (without) and cera (wax). In the ancient world, dishonest merchants would use wax to hide defects, such as cracks, in their pottery so that they could sell their merchandise at a higher price. More reputable merchants would hang a sign over their pottery — sine cera (without wax) — to inform customers that their merchandise was genuine.1
I’m no etymological expert. But I have…Continue Reading
A Year-End Prayer for Weary Waiters
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4).
Jesus, you came in "the fullness of time."
But how many of your children living during the ripening years wondered at your tarrying? A thousand years stretched between Abraham and David. Then another thousand passed between David’s golden age and the moment when time was full.
How many were the wars, rumors of wars, slaughters, disasters, diseases, and famines? How many brilliant leaders, scholars, and…Continue Reading
Blessed Is She Who Believed
Mary was “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42). She received the singular holy gift of being the mother of our Lord (Luke 1:43). God the Son dwelled inside of her body in human form. Then he lived in her home and was under her care until adulthood. This has tempted some to worship her.
In fact, one woman publicly exalted Mary by crying out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed” (Luke…Continue Reading
The Joseph Trilogy (Part 3)
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). As Jesus’ earthly father discovered, this is just another way of saying that when your plans are detoured and redirected, you find out who’s really charting the course.
Nazareth. It felt good to Joseph to be back home. The same old market and the same old merchants. The same old neighbors with the same old complaints. The same old synagogue and the…Continue Reading
The Joseph Trilogy (Part 2)
A Stable of Desperation
The first Christmas night was a holy night. But it was not a silent night. All was not calm. After walking a hundred miles, Joseph arrived in an overcrowded Bethlehem, with a wife in advanced labor. And “there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
“We are completely full. We can’t take another person.”
“Please, my wife is about to give birth! We’ll take anything with a little privacy.”
Compassion and exasperation…Continue Reading
The Joseph Trilogy (Part 1)
A Painful Decision
When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19)
Joseph felt a twinge of anxiety. He sensed something unusual in Mary’s request that he come.
When he arrived she was standing under the tree near her father’s house where, as…Continue Reading
When You Aren't Sure What to Do Next
Jesus guides us in many different ways. Sometimes he makes the next step clear as day. Other times, like Peter discovered in John 21:1-14, it feels like we’re left to muddle through, only to find that Jesus was leading through our muddling.
“I am going fishing.”
Peter didn’t know what else to do. The past few weeks had been indescribably intense with the nightmare of Jesus’ crucifixion and the ineffable wonder of his resurrection.
Now he was sitting with Thomas,…Continue Reading
There Never Seems to Be Enough Time
There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them.
If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day till eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.
Jim wrote this in 1972 for his 1 year-old son. Jim knew…Continue Reading
How God Makes Futility Serve Your Joy
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope (Romans 8:20).
Are you tired of fighting futility? Evil and disorder relentlessly throw wrenches into the gears of your life. What’s the point?
For God, the point is hope. Which is very strange. Futility and hope are not friends. The former tends to kill the latter. Humans can’t make them both be true at the same time. But God can.
Futility —… Continue Reading
“Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21)
Peter asked Jesus this question when he learned that Jesus had ordained very difficult things for Peter’s future. So Peter wanted to know about John. Was Jesus going to give John a better deal?
Jesus responded, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22)! In other words, How I deal with John is not your concern, Peter. If I deal…Continue Reading
Jesus Wants You to Waste Your Life
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair (John 12:3).
Judas simply could not fathom Mary’s ridiculous decision.
During dinner she had just dumped all that rare perfume on Jesus’ feet! Almost a year’s wages now puddled on the dirty floor. Completely wasted!
“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
How noble. But Judas wasn’t…Continue Reading
Jesus Died Because He Loved You
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
Jesus died for the church. But for Jesus the church is not an institution like Yale University or Apple or The United Way, where the corporation has the brand value and the people who populate it are an anonymous (and largely replaceable) mass, except for a few VIPs. Jesus did not die for an institution. He died for individuals.
The church isn’t even a republic like…Continue Reading
The Day of Your Deliverance Is Decreed
She hobbled into the synagogue to hear the healing rabbi. Hoping against hope. You see, she “had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself” (Luke 13:10-11).
Eighteen years. How many of her tears had God collected in his bottle (Psalm 56:8)? How many of her prayers in his bowl (Revelation 5:8)?
Eighteen years of suffering. The slow burn of chronic pain had worn on her soul. She had suffered…Continue Reading
Love Is Patient
Ask the Apostle Paul to explain love (agápē) and the first thing out of his mouth: “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Forget the rest of his list for a moment; my work is already cut out for me.
I’m prone to impatience. I can’t honestly blame this merely on my temperament or my family of origin. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Impatience is a fruit of selfishness. And selfish is simply an…Continue Reading
Neither Do I Condemn You
A reflection on John 8:2-11.
“Shame on you, Whore!”
She was married, but not to the man in whose arms she had been laying. Suddenly the door had burst open. Oh no! Instantly she was in the grasp of angry men who dragged her — and her forbidden secret — out into the street.
“Adulteress!” The name pierced her like an arrow. Scandalized, loathing looks bored into her. Her life was undone in a moment, by her own doing.
A Nationless Man for All Nations
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:11-12)
God is such a genius.
This, obviously, is a candidate for understatement of all-time. But everywhere I look in the Bible and see how God engineered redemptive history, that’s what I think. I am in awe of a wisdom and foresight that, quite frankly,…Continue Reading
Pleasure Is the Measure of Your Treasure
No one puts it as bluntly as Blaise Pascal in his Pensées:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang…
Serve In the Shadow God Places You
“Andrew. Oh! You’re Simon Peter’s brother, aren’t you?”
Andrew must have gotten used to that. Even the New Testament introduces him as “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother” (John 1:40). Peter’s shadow is cast over Andrew from the beginning.
Andrew is mentioned by name 12 times in the New Testament. In ten of those he’s named along with Peter, and usually as Peter’s brother. Peter, on the other hand, has over 150 mentions, and actually contributed to the New Testament.
It’s interesting…Continue Reading
Fill Your Mouth With Life, Not Death
A lot is at stake in what we say today. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
In literate societies, tongues include hands that write, type, paint, or sign.
Words Cause Death
People die because of something said. Tongues can be weapons of mass destruction, launching holocausts and wars. Tongues can also be the death of marriages, families, friendships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments.
Words Give Life
But people also live…Continue Reading
When God's Will Isn't Clear
Most of the decisions you will make today aren’t explicitly addressed in the Bible. Questions like, should I eat out today? What should I wear? Should I respond to this instance of my child’s sin with correction or forbearance? Should I shop today or tomorrow? Should I check my email again?
The Bible doesn’t even give specific guidance on huge, life-shaping decisions like should I marry this person? Should I give more or save for retirement? Should we adopt…Continue Reading
Judas Was the Treasurer?
Judas Iscariot “was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6).
Has it ever struck you as odd that Jesus put a thief in charge of his moneybag?
Of all the disciples, Jesus chose Judas to be treasurer of his itinerant nonprofit. One is tempted to offer the Lord some consulting on good stewardship. Donors were financially supporting this ministry (Luke 8:3) and the one guy who…Continue Reading
Has Jesus Been Worth It?
Beneath intellectual objections to Jesus’ claims are often deep-seated fears. Imagine a conversation between Paul and “Jonathan,” a friend from Paul’s pre-Christian days who visits him in Felix’s Caesarean prison.
Jonathan was escorted into the dingy cell where his old friend looked up at him from a small table covered in parchments. The closed air smelled of mold. Jonathan tried not to look shocked.
Paul looked puzzled for a moment and then his eyes went wide with recognition. “Jonathan?”…Continue Reading
There’s Staggering Glory in Your Story
Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Revelation 4:11).
The story behind your existence is wilder than any story humans have imagined. Have you ever thought about it?
Statistically speaking, you should not exist. How unlikely was it that your parents ever met? And even when they came together you were just an argument or headache or television show…Continue Reading