In 1839, pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne was away from his church in Dundee, Scotland, for eight months. My dream and prayer for Bethlehem is that during my eight months away, we will experience something like his church, St. Peter’s, did in the time of her pastor’s absence.
M’Cheyne went on a mission trip to Israel at the beginning of April 1839. His words about being away express my conviction exactly. Before he left he wrote,
I sometimes think, that a great blessing may come to my people in my absence. Often God does not bless us when we are in the midst of our labours, lest we shall say, “My hand and my eloquence have done it.” He removes us into sil…
I’m thankful for First Corinthians. It reminds me that the early church wasn’t only experiencing Acts 4:32-35.
The church in Corinth was so divided that you might say it was diced. There were divisions over which apostle was superior, sexual morality, lawsuits, marriage, eating meat, headcoverings for women, the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, the resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of believers, and I’m probably missing some.
Paul, who really wanted these saints to “be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10), said something in chapter 11, verse 19 that is important for us to remember:
There must be factions among y…
In Exodus chapters 26-30, God gave Moses very detailed instructions about how to make the tabernacle, its furnishings, the priests’ garments, and all the instruments used in worship. And then in chapter 31, God tells Moses (much to Moses’ great relief, I imagine),
See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the trib…
I read Psalm 88 recently in my devotions, and it filled me with thanksgiving. Which might seem odd. Because this psalm just may be the most bleak of the canonical songs.
Heman the Ezrahite, the apparent composer, was seriously depressed. Maybe he was chronically ill. Or maybe, like many, he battled almost constantly against a relentless darkness. We really don't know. But he said he had been this way since his youth (v. 15). He felt abandoned by God (v. 14), his beloved (v. 18), and companions (v. 8). He was desperate and his prayers seemed to be going unanswered (vv. 13-14). He was so overwhelmed that he felt close to death (vv. 3, 15).
So why did this psalm make me feel so than…
First, let’s just remind ourselves of some truths about spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12. Then we will notice a simple implication for unanswered prayer.
1. God wants us to know about spiritual gifts.
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Corinthians 12:1).
2. Objective truths about Jesus govern subjective spiritual experiences.
“No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
3. Different Christians have different spiritual powers given to them by the Holy Spirit.
In Esther chapter 2, King Ahasuerus finds himself without a queen.
He had sacked Queen Vashti in a rage because she had refused to entertain him and his guests with her beauty, thereby encouraging uppity-ness in all the women of the kingdom.
But a king needs a queen. My goodness, where does one even begin? His advisors come up with a doozy of an idea:
'…let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital…And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.' This pleased the king, and he did so. (Esther 2:3)
Yes, the king was pleased. I wonder if he g…
Uncertainty is a difficult thing to bear. We want to know where the provision is going to come from or if we’re going to die of this disease or how this child is going to turn out or if our job will still be there next month.
But as we see in Luke 9:57-58, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples must be able to bear uncertainty if they are to follow him.
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
I’m sure that whoever made this public declaration to Jesus was sincere. They likely had heard him preach and seen him perform amazing signs and wonders. As Jesus’ fame increased, so did the number of his would-be disciples.
What the person might not have known was that at that moment Jesus wa…
When Jesus was dead and buried, with a big stone rolled against the tomb, the Pharisees came to Pilate and asked for permission to seal the stone and guard the tomb. Pilate said, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can” (Matthew 27:65). So they did. They gave it their best shot—in vain.
It was hopeless then, it is hopeless today, and it will always be hopeless. Try as they may, people can’t keep Jesus down. They can’t keep him buried. They may use physical force or academic scorn or media blackout or political harassment or religious caricature. For a season they will think the tomb is finally sealed. But it never works. He breaks out.
Today in 1631 John Donne died. For those who know him at all, he is known mainly for his poetry. He was born in London in 1572. As a Roman Catholic he became disillusioned and was converted to the Anglican faith.
He took a doctor of divinity at Cambridge in 1618 and was appointed as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in 1621. He was there till his death. He married Ann Moore in 1601 who bore him 12 children before she died in 1617. He never remarried.
He was careless and erotic in his early years, but in the end became a devout lover of Christ. His poetry is among the greatest Christian verse in English.
I read some lines of Donne recently that moved me deeply because of a…
Here is Moses’ amazing monotheistic appeal to the people of Israel at the edge of the Promised Land, after 40 years of wilderness wandering.
Ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of.
Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live?
Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand a…