Showing posts from April, 2018

Small, Yet Significant

Acts 4:5-13 Eighteen years ago, a book came out called, The Prayer of Jabez . The basis of the book was two short verses in 1 Chronicles 4 (in the midst of a genealogy, no less) in which Jabez prays that God would bless him, and God grants his request. The passage is one of those which we typically would gloss over, but this book brought it to the fore and made it prominent. Of course, all Scripture is God-breathed and useful (2 Tim 3:16), but the Jabez movement seemed to make more of this passage than it warranted. It’s hardly a passage around which one should build their life. Ultimately, I think that the Jabez movement serves best as a cautionary tale of what not to do with Scripture. This short passage in Acts also would seem to be one of those passages which we are tempted to gloss over. A couple of apostles are in jail for preaching the Gospel and healing, and now the authorities are interrogating them for this work. If you read Acts enough, this sort of thing becomes par

“Selah”: A Divine Pause

Psalm 4 Have you ever been reading through the psalms and come across this little word out to the side, “selah”? It occurs in barely a quarter of the psalms, and most translations leave the word untranslated. The combination of its rarity and foreignness mean that you probably never have given much attention to it. It is just some weird word hanging out apart from the rest of the psalm. Clearly it is not terribly significant. That selah is insignificant probably is not far from the truth, as far as we are concerned. Likely it was some sort of musical notation (since the psalms are, in fact, “songs”) meant for the song leader when he was performing the psalm. Selah probably is not much different than the other notations made before the songs which say, “To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Koran. According to Alamoth” (Psalm 46) or “A Maskil of David” (Psalm 32). Since we do not perform these psalms anymore and since we do not know what these musical notations mean, selah probab

Scripture Makes Kingdom People

Acts 4:32-35 If you want to see the incompatibility of the way of the world with the kingdom of God, look no further than the Sermon on the Mount. You cannot get past the second Beatitude (“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Matt 5:3) before you realize that this is an otherworldly way of life. Nobody in the world would say that people who mourn are blessed; and the rest of Jesus’ teachings are even more incompatible. “ Lust is the same as adultery?! I’m just checking out the view! ” “ Love my enemies?! Do you know what that person did to me? ” There is a completely different standard of values and practices in the kingdom of God, no matter how you slice it. In the book of Acts, we see the kingdom of God springing forth. God’s Spirit is on the move, and people are being introduced to a new way of life under his kingship and rule. The teachings of Christ as passed through the Apostles are the standard of living as people leave the old way of life and come

What Do You Have to Lose?

Mark 10:17-31 The story of the rich young man is a famous one: He has faithfully kept the law, so he wonders what is left in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell all of his possessions, give them to the poor, and follow him. When he proves unable to do this, Jesus comments on how difficult it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples hear that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, Mark writes, “And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’” (10:26). “Who can be saved?” That question is such a strange one in this story, and yet it is completely appropriate. We easily could answer, “Those who believe and are baptized. Just repent and confess and enter the water.” Of course, that was not exactly the rich young man’s impediment. His problem was following after Jesus, meeting the requirements of that life, a life marked by suffering (10:32-34). How many people are there who believe that