Posts

Showing posts from August, 2019

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Image
Tell Your StoryMark 5:1-20
Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you. (Mark 5:19) An organizational consultant in New York says that his graduate students typically recall only 5 percent of the main ideas in a presentation of graphs and charts, while they generally remember half of the stories told in the same presentation. There is a growing consensus among communication experts about the power of the personal touch in relating an experience. While facts and figures often put listeners to sleep, an illustration from real life can motivate them to action. Author Annette Simmons says, “The missing ingredient in most failed communication is humanity.” Mark 5:1-20 gives the dramatic account of Jesus setting a violent, self-destructive man free from the powerful demons that possessed him. When the restored man begged to stay with Jesus as He traveled, the Lord told him, “?‘Go home to your friends, and tell them wh…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Just Like DavidPsalms 51:1-12
I acknowledge my transgressions. (Psalms 51:3) The elderly woman didn’t like the way her pastor prayed each Sunday morning, so she told him. It bothered her that before he preached he would confess to God that he had sinned the week before. “Pastor,” she said, “I don’t like to think my pastor sins.” We’d like to believe that our spiritual leaders don’t sin, but reality tells us that no Christian is exempt from the burdens of the sinful nature. Paul told the believers at Colosse to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5 niv). The problem is that sometimes we don’t do that. We yield to temptation, and we’re left with a mess. But we are not left helpless. We have a pattern to follow for restoration. That pattern comes from the heart and pen of King David, whose sin demonstrated the sad consequences of succumbing to temptation. Look closely at Psalm 51 as David owned up to his sin. First, he flung himself at God’s feet, plead…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Indestructible!Hebrews 7:11-21
[Christ] has come . . . according to the power of an endless life. (Hebrews 7:16) The space shuttle reenters Earth’s atmosphere at more than 25 times the speed of sound! Friction from wind resistance raises the spacecraft’s outer temperature to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the shuttle from burning up, 34,000 separate tiles protect its underbelly. These tiles must be virtually indestructible against high-speed friction. In this world of death and decay, nothing is truly indestructible. Yet the Bible tells us of an indestructible life. Comparing the Lord Jesus to the works of the law, we are told, “[Christ] has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life” (Heb. 7:16). The Greek word translated “endless” is best rendered “indestructible.” The Messiah is our Great High Priest whose priestly duties required His own sacrificial death for our sins. His resurrection guarantees eternal redemption for all…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Real RewardsMatthew 5:3-12
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3) I once viewed the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 as a kind of sop Jesus threw to the unfortunates: “Well, since you aren’t rich, and your health is bad, and your face is wet with tears, I’ll toss out a few nice phrases to make you feel better.” Unlike medieval kings who threw coins to the masses, though, Jesus had the advantage of dangling real rewards before His audience. He who came down from heaven knew well that the glories of the kingdom of heaven would easily counterbalance whatever misery we might encounter here on earth. Among many Christians, an emphasis on future rewards has gone out of fashion. My former pastor Bill Leslie used to observe, “As churches grow wealthier and more successful, they’re less likely to sing ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through’ and more likely to intone, ‘This is my Father’s world.’ ” We dare not discount the value of hope in futu…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

I Know I CanEphesians 3:14-21
[God] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.(Eph 3:20) Remember the story of The Little Engine That Could? That determined little train climbed the steep hill by chanting positively, “I think I can. I think I can.” And then, as it gained more resolve, it declared, “I know I can. I know I can.” No one would disagree that followers of Christ should think and live in a positive way. But do you ever find yourself depending too much on your own abilities rather than on the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit? In John 15, Jesus explained our need for complete dependence on Him when He said, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (v.5). Paul reminded us that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]” (Phil. 4:13), that “the excellence of the power [is] of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7), and that we are “strengthened with might thr…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

It’s All About The HeartMatthew 15:7-20
Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.(Matthew 15:18) Every time Susan opens her mouth, it sounds like the blare of an ambulance siren. This TV commercial uses humor to indicate that a dental problem could reveal a more serious physical ailment. So she’d better see her dentist soon! The commercial made me think about what comes out of my mouth when I open it. Jesus said that our words come from our heart (Matt. 15:18). He offended the Pharisees when He said, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (vv.11-12). They thought they were right with God because they followed strict rules, including ritual cleansing of their hands before eating and eating only “clean” foods. Jesus upset their pride. Jesus upsets our pride too. We may think we’re godly people because we go to church regularly or pray, but then we gossip or talk about people behind their backs. James 3:9-10 sa…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Beware The Rupert2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 12-15
Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.(2 Corinthians 11:14) In the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Europe, an armada of Allied ships assaulted the beaches of Normandy, France. Simultaneously, thousands of airplanes dropped paratroopers into the action. Along with the paratroopers, the Allies also dropped hundreds of rubber dummies behind the enemy lines. Called “Ruperts,” these dummies were intended to simulate an attack to confuse the enemy. As the Ruperts landed, some German outposts were tricked into fighting the “paradummies,” creating a vital crack in the walls of Fortress Europe. We accept that kind of deception as part of a legitimate military operation designed to thwart oppressive forces. What we should not accept is the deception Satan throws our way. Paul explained that the devil “transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), and his servants appear to be people who are promoting righteousness (v.15). W…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Sing A New SongPsalms 98 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. (Psalms 98:4) At age 94, Pastor Willis was admitted into a care facility. From his wheelchair, he shared with joy how God had given him a new mission field to share the gospel. When he was bedridden a few years later, he spoke with enthusiasm of being in the best possible position to look up to God. When he died at age 100, Pastor Willis left behind a legacy of one who sang a new song of praise at every turn of his earthly life. Psalm 98 exhorts us to sing a new song for God who “has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (v.1). We ought to praise Him —even in times of difficulty—for God remembers “His mercy and His faithfulness” (v.3). Though this psalm is about God freeing the Israelites from slavery, it is prophetically also about our salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. And as we remember what God has done for us, we can …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Royalty RecognizedPhilippians 2:5-11
At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . [and] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.(Philippians 2:10-11) As a kid, I loved watching the film Little Lord Fauntleroy. The story focuses on Cedric, a boy growing up in a poor home with his mother in Brooklyn. He discovers the stunning news that he is actually the direct descendant of the Earl of Dorincourt and the heir of a vast fortune. One day he’s a nobody playing “kick the can” on the streets of New York, and then suddenly he’s traveling through an English town to the cries of “Your lordship!” from adoring villagers. If you had seen Jesus playing in the streets of Nazareth as a boy, you wouldn’t have taken any special notice of Him (except that He probably wasn’t playing “kick the can”). If you had seen Him in the carpentry shop, you wouldn’t have had a clue about His deity. And if you had seen Him hanging on the cross, that horrific scene wouldn’t have enticed your heart to …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Running Every Day1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize]. (1 Cor 9:24) The Pikes Peak Ascent is a challenging mountain foot race, covering 13.32 miles while gaining 7,815 feet in altitude. My good friend Don Wallace ran it 20 times. In his final race, he crossed the finish line one week before his 67th birthday! Instead of training just before a race, Don ran 6 miles a day, year round, with rare exceptions, wherever he happened to be. He’s done that for most of his adult life and continues to this day. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul uses running as a picture of his own discipline as a Christian in the race of life. He ran with purpose and discipline to win an eternal crown, and he encouraged others to do the same: “Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize]” (v.24). The word temperate in verse 25 carries the meaning of self-control practiced by athletes who train to win the prize. As a consistent habit of life, regular discipline is of far greater value to…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Deadliest DiseaseJoshua 7:1,19-26
[Jesus] was wounded for our transgressions, . . . and by His stripes we are healed.(Isaiah 53:5) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was identified in 2003 in Vietnam. By the time it was brought under control, SARS had spread globally and killed nearly 800 people. One reason for the high mortality rate was that the virus was not recognized initially. But once recognized and understood, SARS was contained. An even more dangerous disease is on the loose in our world—sin. It too is difficult to bring under control because many people do not recognize its deadliness. And many dispute the Bible’s diagnosis of sin. In Joshua 7, we read the tragic story of Achan. We may recoil at the extreme way God dealt with him. Against God’s command, he had taken some of the spoils from Jericho and hid them in his tent (v.21). He and his entire family paid with their lives (v.25). Thankfully, God does not deal with us in that way. If He did, none of us would remain a…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Image
The Love Of Rules
Romans 13:1-10
Love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:10)When I teach writing, I explain that it’s generally better to use short words or phrases first in a series, as in “arts and letters” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Early in my career, I explained to authors that it just sounds better this way, but then I discovered a “rule” about this. And I learned that authors are more likely to accept editorial changes when I can point them to a rule than when I just say, “Trust me.” This is typical of human nature. We have a love/hate relationship with rules. We don’t like rules, but we’re unsure how to determine right from wrong without them. God had a relationship with Adam and Eve that was based on loving trust. The only rule necessary was one that protected them from knowledge that would end in death. But when disobedience broke the trusting relationship, God added more rules to protect the wayward couple and their offspring. In Christ, God procla…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Image
He Is EnoughMatthew 14:22-33
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27) Sometimes we are overwhelmed by life. The crushing waves of disappointment, endless debt, debilitating illness, or trouble with people can cause hopelessness, depression, or despair. It happened to Jesus’ disciples. And it has happened to me. Three statements by the Lord beginning with the words “It is . . .” offer us comfort, reassurance, and hope that Jesus is enough. The first is in Matthew 4 and is repeated three times: “It is written” (vv.4,7,10). In responding to the three temptations of Satan, Jesus gave us proof enough that the Word of God is true and overcomes the most powerful forms of temptation and pressure. The second statement, “It is I” (Matt. 14:27), was spoken when Jesus told His terrified disciples that He Himself was presence enough to stop the howling storm and calm the raging seas. Jesus spoke the third “It is” from the cross: “It is finished!” (John…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

GAD Or God?1 Peter 5:6-11
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.(1 Pet 5:7) Are you a chronic worrier? Do you worry about bills, the future, health, debt, marriage issues? Has worry so consumed you that you have become “a fret machine”? If this describes you, perhaps you have generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD—a condition marked by a perpetual state of worry about most aspects of life. According to David Barlow, professor of psychology at Boston University, “the key psychological feature of GAD is a state of chronic, uncontrollable worry.” A little anxiety is normal, but constant worry is not. Overwhelmed by suffering and persecution, the first-century Christians were driven out of Jerusalem and scattered throughout Asia (1 Peter 1:1-7). Many of these Jesus-followers were experiencing feelings of distress because of possible danger or misfortune. Peter encouraged these believers not to be filled with anxiety but to cast all their worries upon God (5:7). He wanted them to…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

The Heart Of The Gospel2 Corinthians 4:1-6
We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed.(2 Cor 3:18) When E. Stanley Jones, well-known missionary to India, had the opportunity to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he asked a searching question of India’s revered leader: “How can Christianity make a stronger impact on your country?” Gandhi very thoughtfully replied that three things would be required. First, Christians must begin to live more like Jesus. Second, the Christian faith should be presented without any adulteration. Third, Christians should emphasize love, which is at the heart of the gospel. These insightful suggestions are the key to effective evangelism around the world. As messengers of God’s love, we are to be human mirrors who reflect without distortion a growing likeness to our Lord; we are not to walk in “craftiness” (2 Cor. 4:2). If our lives reflect an image that is spiritually blurred, the truth of saving grace may not be cl…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Yeah, But . . .2 Timothy 4:1-8
They will turn their ears away from the truth. (2 Tim 4:4) Grading university papers is full of surprises. Sometimes, one of my students will successfully handle a subject and display good writing style, and I feel as if my instruction was worthwhile. Other surprises aren’t so pleasant. Like the paper in which a student wrote, “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not ____.’?” He filled in the blank with the activity he was writing about—even though Scripture does not contain such a verse. I thought his biggest problem was not knowing Scripture, until he concluded, “Although the Bible says this is wrong, I don’t see why, so I think it’s okay.” It’s dangerous and the worst kind of arrogance to think we know more about an issue than God does. Scripture predicted this kind of thinking. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4: “They will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires . . . they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Granville SharpJames 1:19-27
Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:22) When I was a Bible college student, a name occasionally mentioned in Greek class was that of Granville Sharp. He was a renowned Greek scholar (1735–1813) whose studies resulted in principles of biblical interpretation that continue to guide our understanding of the original language of the New Testament. To study the Scriptures and learn the powerful truths they contain is a noble exercise but, no matter how deeply we study, it is not enough. James challenged us to understand this when he wrote: “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:22-24). Granville Sharp understood this and put his faith into practice. In addition to being a biblical scholar, he a…