The following meditation comes from my devotional lingering over Psalm 96:7. All the modern versions translate it, “Ascribe to the Lord...strength” (ESV, NIV, NASB). Only the KJV renders it with the literal, “Give unto the Lord...strength.”
There’s nothing unusual about this Hebrew word “give” (yahab). It’s used over sixty times in the Old Testament in all the ordinary ways the word give is used.
The word ascribe in Psalm 96:7 is an interpretation. It’s a paraphrase. It’s a good interpretation, I think, but, as with all paraphrases, it short circuits our reflection...
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As the carnage from Cyclone Nargis moves toward 50,000 dead and beyond, there is a way to pray and act:
1. Be softened to the pain nearby.
The Good Samaritan knew nothing of the calamities in first century Burma, but was commended by the Lord for mercies at hand (Luke 10:25-37).
2. Pray for the followers of Christ in Myanmar:
- That they would be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10; 100:3).
- That they would be awakened from the illusion that this life is long or sure or the main point of eternal existence (James 4:14).
- That they would be given a new vision of the supreme value of Christ who promises his followers that famine, nakedness, and death will n…
Luke says it so quickly, so matter-of-factly: “[Herod] killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2). In the flow of the story this little phrase sets the stage for Peter’s dramatic prison rescue by the angel. So that’s what we remember. When Peter later wrote, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:9), this is the sort of rescue that easily comes to mind.
But the night that James sat in prison the angel didn’t come. I’m sure he prayed for an angel. He knew God could send one if he wanted to. An angel had already rescued him and the other disciples once before, in chapter 5. But this night there was no bright light, no chains falling off, no sleep…
God motivates us to feel and to do what we should by calling to our minds his past performances of love and his future promises of love—some near, some far.
Be sure that you are connected to the way God means to motivate you with the backward look and the distant forward look and the near forward look. For example:
Motivation by the backward look:
Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Motivation by the distant forward look:
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:12)
Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we s…
To lay a trap for an animal there has to be some truth to attract him. It must at least look like a meal even if the iron clamps lie just beneath. Mark says the Pharisees came “to trap" Jesus. So they put some truth over the trap. They said,
“Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” (Mark 12:14)
This is amazing insight coming from those who do not live it. Appearances were everything to the Pharisees. “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5). It is frightening how much theological and moral wisdom can be spoken and not lived.
Twice they sa…
When we work as unto the Lord we serve others even more excellently than if serving them were our main goal. Working as unto the Lord does not mean serving God instead of other people.
Paul tells slaves to obey their masters—and not just to obey, but to obey in everything. It sounds absurd, but he explains:
Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men…. You are serving the Lord Christ.
So slaves should obey their masters completely (at least completely enough that Paul didn’t feel a need to qualify). Apparently complete obedience to their masters is a key part of how they really serve Jesus, not their masters.
They serve Jesus by working even …
I have suggested that we should dream of ways to make much of Christ in the way we use our economic stimulus checks that will be arriving soon. That raises the question how we do that if our generosity should be done in secret. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6.3). Here’s what I think the Bible says about that.
Jesus warns of two dangers when it comes to what unbelievers think of us...
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Elder D. J. Ward, pastor of Lexington's Main Street Baptist Church for the past 19 years, died of complications from lung cancer Friday at Hospice Care Center at St. Joseph Hospital. What the Lexington Herald-Leader did not say about this amazing African-American is that he was a powerful spokesman for the glorious God worshiped through the wall-to-wall window called Calvinism.
I thank God for the one conference we had together. He invited me to the Lexington Pastors’ Conference at his church. I had no idea there was such a self-consciously reformed gathering of mainly African-American pastors almost totally distinct, as far as I could tell, from the resurgence of younger black Reforme…
For a moment, forget the political puzzle of getting money back when the country is nine trillion dollars in debt. The more immediate question is: How will you make much of Christ with your "economic stimulus payment"? The president says it will be in the mail in time for Cinco de Mayo.
Clue: Nobody in the world will see you spend your money on yourself and conclude that Christ is your treasure. They will assume you are just like them, no matter how loudly you thank God for this boon. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend it on yourself (the way we do with most of what we earn). Not everything we do can look different from the world—eat, pay utilities, fill up the car, wear clothes (ev…
I am on writing leave. I hope you will pray for me. The first book I'm working on is one on marriage. This includes chapters on raising children. Here is a section I was working on yesterday:
The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in …