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Bucket lists

A lot of people have what they call a bucket list, a list of things they want to accomplish during their lives. If you are a Christian you don’t need to make a bucket list; God has already made one for you.

The Bible tells us that we are saved by God’s grace and not by anything we do.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

We are not saved by our works but we are saved to do the work that God has assigned us.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

In other words, God has prepared for each of us a bucket list of things that he wants us to accomplish during our life.

There have been many times when I have failed to do the work that God has given to me, and I am certain that that is true of others. We need to ask ourselves whether our failure prevents God from accomplishing the work he meant to do through us. The answer to that question is found in the book of Esther. God allowed Esther to become queen of Persia. When an official named Haman plotted to destroy the Jews Esther’s cousin Mordecai told Esther she needed to go to the king and ask for his help. When she expressed fear about doing this, here was what Mordecai said to her.

Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13,14)

If we fail to do what God wants us to do, that work will be done by someone else, but we will suffer for our failure to obey. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes what that suffering will consist of.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.

Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 

If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Our salvation is the result of God’s grace and not the result of anything we do. If we are not faithful in service we won’t lose our salvation, but we will lose the reward we could have gotten.

Trusting Jesus

Here is something I read on Facebook.

Trusting Jesus

by Joshua Agan

Imagine a patient begging a doctor to save his life. “You have to help me! I’m dying and need you!”

The doctor gives him a medicine to take, but the man says “I will research this first, and decide if it is right for me.” Read the rest of this entry

Following Jesus

Here is something I read on Facebook.

Following Jesus

by Joshua Agan

JUST RECENTLY:
At the mayor’s orders, authorities ticketed every car that appeared for a drive-in. They held service using the radio in their cars, and received a $500 fine and court summons (it is unclear if they ticketed each member, or only the drivers). The authorities threatened the pastor with jail time for not complying with a stay-at-home order. Read the rest of this entry

A tale of two prophets

Jeremiah 26 describes the fates of two prophets.  One of them was Jeremiah.  God told him to go to the temple and warn the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed if they did not repent.  Here is the response to his message: Read the rest of this entry

A relationship with Jesus

Here is something I read on Facebook.

A relationship with Jesus

by Emily Thomes

“I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about, but I do, and I have been working that relationship tremendously, which I do anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks..” – Rush Limbaugh Read the rest of this entry

Lordship and obedience

Here is something I read on Facebook.

Lordship and obedience

by Emily Thomes

“”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.””
‭‭- Luke‬ ‭6:46-49‬ Read the rest of this entry

Is climate change the result of human activity?

It is believed by many that climate change is caused by human activities such as the use of fossil fuels.  Others disagree with this assessment and believe that humans can’t affect climate.  I have read arguments on both sides of he issue and I have noticed that both sides have one thing in common.  Neither side looks to the Bible for answers to the question.  That is unfortunate because the Bible has a lot to say on the subject. Read the rest of this entry

Christians and government

Christians disagree about how involved we should be in government.  Some believe we should not be involved at all and not even vote in elections.  Others think we should use the government as a way to promote Christianity.  Most Christians adopt a position somewhere between these two extremes.  We need to look at what the Bible says about this subject.

We are commanded to pray for our government leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  (1 Timothy 2:1,2)

The command is found in the Old Testament as well as the New.

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.  (Jeremiah 29:7)

This was what Jeremiah told the exiles in Babylon to do.  Since Christians are citizens of Heaven we are in the same position as those exiles; we are exiled from our native land and living in a foreign country.  This is true even if we are living in the country in which we were born. Read the rest of this entry

Long range consequences

Jeremiah 39-43 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem and the events that followed it.  Most of the inhabitants of the land were taken to Babylon but some were left.

Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. (Jeremiah 39:10)

A man named Gedaliah was appointed governor.  He was assassinated and, fearing reprisals by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews planned to flee to Egypt.  They first asked Jeremiah to find out what God wanted them to do.

And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”

Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 41:17 – 42:6)

Read the rest of this entry

Iron chariots

God performed miracles when he brought the Israelites into the promised land.  He stopped the flow of the Jordan River so they could enter the land.

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Joshua 3:14-17

He made the walls of Jericho fall down.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.

Joshua 6:20

He even caused the sun to stand still. Read the rest of this entry

Paul and Jonah

Acts 27:1-28:16 describes Paul’s voyage to Rome to stand trial before Caesar.  It was late in the year, when sailing on the Mediterranean was dangerous.  At one point they had to decide whether to continue to Rome or spend the winter where they were and finish their voyage the following spring.

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
Acts 27:9-10

They rejected Paul’s advice and continued their journey.

But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
Acts 27:11-12

A storm rose and the crew of the ship gave up all hope of survival. Read the rest of this entry

Our debt to Caesar

Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  He was responding to a question about the legality of paying taxes to Caesar and his answer shows that we must pay our taxes.  Some people protest government activities that they consider evil or immoral by withholding the percentage of taxes that goes to support such actions.  Jesus’ statement does not give Christians the option of doing this.  We must pay all the taxes imposed on us; if Caesar misuses the tax money we provide in ways that are contrary to God’s will, he will answer to God for his actions.

Our obligation to Caesar goes beyond just paying taxes. Read the rest of this entry

Stay where God puts you

No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.
Luke 8:16

The kind of lamp Jesus spoke of provided light by burning oil.  A lamp placed under a jar would be extinguished for lack of oxygen.  A lamp placed under a bed could set the bed on fire.

Read the rest of this entry

Why Moses failed to free the Israelites

Nearly everyone knows how Moses freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.  Not many know that Moses had made a previous attempt to free them and had failed.

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?”

He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.
Exodus 2:11-15

This appears to be nothing more than Moses seeing an act of cruelty and intervening but the New Testament gives more information.

Read the rest of this entry

The Euthyphro dilemma

Plato wrote of a conversation between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro in which this question was raised: Does God command us to do things because they are good or are they good because God commands them?   Many people feel that either answer creates a problem.  If God commands us to do things because they are good that implies that there is a standard of goodness independent of God to which he must conform.  If the things God commands are good because he commands them then good and evil exist only because of God’s arbitrary decision to call certain thing good and others evil.  This problem is known as the Euthyphro dilemma.

Read the rest of this entry

Sacrificing Ishmael

Everyone who is familiar with the Bible knows that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Most don’t realize that before this Abraham had been commanded to sacrifice his other son, Ishmael.

Read the rest of this entry

Insanity

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Luke 5:1-5

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  By Einstein’s definition Simon’s response to Jesus was insane.  Not only had he fished all night without results but he was a professional fisherman while Jesus was a carpenter.  Logically he should have been the one telling Jesus how to fish.

Read the rest of this entry

Ear, hand, and foot

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
Luke 5:12-14

Jesus told him to go to the priest because the Mosaic law required that an offering be made by anyone who had been cleansed from leprosy.

Read the rest of this entry

Westboro and Equality House

You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Deuteronomy 5:32

God doesn’t simply say we must obey but warns about turning to the right or to the left.  That is because there are two opposite ways in which we can disobey each command.

Read the rest of this entry

An unintended consequence of showing mercy

Our actions always have unintended consequences that we couldn’t possibly have foreseen.  King David discovered that after he showed mercy to someone whom most people would have considered his enemy. Read the rest of this entry

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