In Genesis 48 we read the story of the second and third acts of Jacob as death nears: his bequest to Joseph of a double portion of his property through the adoption and blessing of his oldest sons, Manasseh and Ephraim - a story that raises questions about the meaning of family and stories, and our recognition of and response to change, as well as alluding to our adoption in Christ.
As part of Paul’s salutation in his letter to the church at Colossae, he addresses the believers as "holy and faithful brothers." Calling them "holy" is an important way for the Apostle to point out their new identity in Christ, and the label has important implications for how all Christians should see and conduct themselves.
Most of what we hear every day is shallow, temporary, or unedifying. It affects us either negatively or not at all, and is quickly forgotten. But God’s word takes root in our souls and produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus challenges us to be not just hearers of the word, but doers, as we follow the One who perfectly obeyed in our place.
Most of us find ourselves in debt at some point or another, whether due to a student loan, car payment, mortgage, or even a standard bill. But what if our debt is far beyond our ability to pay? Or what if we don’t even realize that we are in debt? And what if our debt is a charge against the holiness of God Himself? Only the blood of Christ can repay the greatest debt we owe. Only Jesus can meet us in our poverty (and our pride!) so that we might find our life in Him through His atoning work on the cross.
Jesus’ offer of rest for the weary and burdened is among the more well-known and cherished verses in Scripture. The context of his invitation, in Matthew 11-12, along with the context of our current circumstances, provide us an opportunity to think about what Jesus is offering, how we experience it, and why we should come to him for rest. Although we may sometimes prefer to complain about our burdens or pridefully display our weariness as a badge of honor, when we consider what Jesus means by a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light, we will realize that it is far better to come to him, submit to him, learn from him and be refreshed by his gracious presence.
John the Baptist was known for his divine call, fearless preaching, and wilderness endurance, yet even he began to doubt when forced to wait for the Lord’s plan to unfold. Waiting is hard. It tests our faith, challenges our hope, and seldom proceeds according to our expectations. But Jesus reminds us of His miracles and the testimony of Scripture that points to Him so that we might wait well by His grace and for His glory.
In our youth, we tend not to think much about death. But as the years pass, it becomes an increasingly inescapable reality. Death sweeps away our closest friends and loved ones, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes after prolonged suffering. Who will stop the terrible procession of death? Who can stop it? Only the One who did stop it by suffering it on our behalf and rising again, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus not only cares, but has the power to heal and save us from death forever.
Distance posed no barrier to the saving work of Jesus. He healed people just as easily from afar as He did up close, revealing His divine and comprehensive authority. Whether we feel distant from our church family, from our mother on Mother’s Day, or even from God Himself, the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient to draw us near once again to the glory and praise of God.
As we begin our tour of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we’ll see that at the outset he presents his apostolic credentials as a divinely called apostle. This call forms an important part of his purpose in writing the letter. As we consider the implications for Paul’s call, we will also note that the Bible uses calling a few different ways, and these have important application for us today.
How should Christians live in the midst of a pandemic? The same way we are called to live at all times: as disciples of Christ who focus on His kingdom! The remainder of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain calls us to an enduring faith as we reflect our Head, clear our eyes, examine our hearts, and engage our feet, following the One who persevered unto death to grant us eternal life.