This coming Sunday I am speaking on Genesis 38, the sad story of Tamar. I have found the “Read Scripture” videos from Bible Project very helpful for understand the bible. Watch these videos if you want to get a sense of how the story of Genesis 38 fits into the rest of the book, and the rest of the bible.
SCRIPTURE: “Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” (Psalm 4:8)
How did Martin Luther King Jr. handle discouragement?
MLK is admired for his strong passion for the Lord’s vision of racial equality and justice for all. But he must have faced a lot of discouragement. He was attacked by many, and even felt the pressure of his own supporters.
I know that if I were him, I would have really struggled with discouragement. How about you? Continue reading ‘Finding Courage in the Lord!’ »
In 1946, one year after WW2 ended, concentration camp survivor Corrie Ten Boom went to Germany to speak about Jesus. During the war Corrie and her family had set up their home as a ‘hiding place’ for Jews, resistance workers and others hiding from the Germans. In 1944 a neighbour reported them to the authorities, and her entire family was arrested. Her father died 10 days later, while she and her sister were sent to Ravensbruck, a work camp for women. The conditions were terrible, and many women died under the brutality of the guards, including her older sister Betsie. Amazingly, fifteen days later she was released, though this was a clerical error. One week later all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.
In 1946, at this gathering in Germany, she spoke on the grace of God and the love of Jesus. When she was done, a man approached her, a man she recognized. He was one of the guards who had been especially harsh toward her sister, Betsie. He told her that he was now a christian, and experienced God’s forgiveness. But he wanted forgiveness from someone he had wronged, so he held out his hand to her and asked her to forgive him.
Imagine the deep pain and emotion and anger boiling within her as she came face to face with the man that had brutalized her much-loved sister, under whom she had died. What would you do? What would you say? Continue reading ‘Do something, Lord!’ »
As a Jesus follower, life can be challenging as we strive to live WITH, LIKE and FOR Jesus in the world. We face struggles from the world itself, but also struggles within our own sinful nature. And Satan loves to stir up trouble for us – to discourage or distract or disturb us, and ultimately to defeat us as Jesus followers. How do we stay strong and focused on the Lord when we face the many challenges and trials and crises of life?
Psalm 46 reflects these challenges, but also encourages us in how we should respond to them. In the words of v.10, we are urged to “be still, and know that I am God”. I would suggest that the practice of ‘being still’ is a helpful and empowering way of staying strong when the world is falling apart all around us. Continue reading ‘Be Still and Know…’ »
(Sermon preached on Sunday, October 8, 2017, at Maranatha Church, Cambridge)
Read through Matthew 6:1-34.
What is the most important goal or purpose of your life? What are you living for or pursuing? Is your life, the way you are presently living it, a God-glorifying life? These are tough questions that cut to the very heart of what it means to be human. If you were to explain your life to Jesus, could you make a good case to Him that you were seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first??? Continue reading ‘Compass: Do You Know Where You’re Going To?’ »
(Sermon preached on Sunday, October 1, 2017, at Maranatha Church, Cambridge)
Read through Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.
In response to criticism from the religious leaders for welcoming and eating with ‘sinners’, Jesus tells three parables about the lost being found. In this familiar parable of the lost son, notice that while the one son is reunited with the father, the other son remains estranged from the father. Which begs the question, which son is the lost son? Continue reading ‘Compass: Admitting When We’re Lost’ »
(Sermon preached on Sunday, September 24, 2017, at Maranatha Church, Cambridge)
Read through John 21:15-25.
As you read this passage, notice how Jesus speaks personally to Peter, and addresses his own heart issues. Jesus does not let Peter shift the focus to John (“the other disciple”), making it clear to him that “you must follow me!” Too often we use the bible to judge others, instead of letting the bible judge us. As far as Jesus is concerned, other peoples’ sins are like ‘specks of sawdust’ to me, compared to my own sins which are ‘planks’ to me (Matthew 7:3-5). At the same time, my sins to others are ‘specks’, while their sins are ‘planks’ to them. In other words, allow the Spirit to deal with your own issues, and let the Spirit deal with others for their issues.
Continue reading ‘Hearing Jesus (He’s talking to YOU!!!)’ »
(Sermon preached on Sunday, September 17, 2017, at Maranatha Chruch, Cambridge)
Read through Luke 24:13-35.
As you read this passage, reflect on how the disciples eventually knew it was Jesus speaking to them. Is it possible that Jesus is speaking to us – like He did these disciples – and yet we are unaware of it? What if instead of judging the sermons we hear (or the bible passages we read) as good or bad, easy or hard, we would ask ourselves the question, ‘what is Jesus saying to me?’ Continue reading ‘Hearing Jesus (even through bad sermons)’ »
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) What does it mean to you that Jesus is your Shepherd? David gives us a beautiful picture of this in Psalm 23.We can fully trust in Him for protection and provision. He will bring us safely home! In Ezekiel 34, God contrasts good shepherds from bad shepherds. Jesus is not just a shepherd, He is the good shepherd! The good shepherd promised by God to take care of us, His sheep (Ezekiel 34).
As a Jesus follower, I am supposed to trust in His care and follow His lead. But am I actually following Him? Am I letting Him control my life? Letting Jesus control my life does not come naturally. And more than likely, we are being controlled by other ‘voices’. Satan does not want you to listen to Jesus. He is constantly confusing us with the ‘noise’ of distraction, deception and discouragement. He will do whatever he can to take your eyes off Jesus.
Jesus is invisible, but He is real; His Spirit will lead us. He is with us at work. He is with us at school. If we allow Him, He can be a part of our every moment and experience. With the support of other believers, and through prayer and bible reading, He will lead us. Don’t give in to the distractions, deceptions and discouragements of the Enemy. Jesus really is good, and He really will shepherd us through this life to the next. But am I really following Him… really really?
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be kept safe.” (John 10:9) This text can be translated “will be saved” or “will be kept safe”; most bibles use the first translation. Usually these words are interpreted to mean that Jesus is the only way to be saved. But if you look at the context, Jesus is not talking about saving sheep from sin or guilt. He is talking about saving sheep from life-killers, from thieves and robbers.
Behind these words is Ezekiel 34, where bad shepherds are described and condemned. Jesus uses this prophecy to encourage His followers, who are like lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3). ‘When you stick close to me, I will protect you, I will be your defender, your gate!’ The closer we are to Jesus, so that we know His voice, the safer we will be from the life-killers. By knowing His voice, His way, we will be able to distinguish between good shepherds and bad. “After I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” (Acts 20:29)
How do Jesus followers stay safe in this world, how do we discern truth from error, good from bad? By maintaining a close relationship with Jesus, by knowing what He is like and what He sounds like! Then when deceivers come to draw us away, we will be able to tell the difference. Jesus is our refuge, our defender, our gate… stick close to Him!