What is the source of evil in the world? What does the Bible give as answer this very real question? We have had a variety of discussions at the Bible Education Center recently about this topic. World news certainly gives us all reason to contemplate such a question. This is a pertinent exploration even for people who already think they have the answers figured out. God’s word is good at demolishing preconceived ideas when we really dig into it and let Him speak for Himself.
Do you have motivations in your life that you use to keep you going “when the going gets tough” – as they say? Do you set rewards or look forward to eagerly anticipated plans for the future – when the present is sometimes difficult? This is the type of behavior we see characterizing David, the “man after God’s own heart, who will do My will.” (Acts 13:22) I find the 25th through 31st verses of our chapter in Acts today, to be quite moving in this regard.
The surreal story, in 1 Chronicles 21, of David seeing the angel of the LORD holding a drawn sword over Jerusalem really captured my imagination today. In a world threatened by men’s evil and weaponry, I decided this story might be worth mining for lessons.
While reading Luke 22 today, I was struck by a juxtaposition of two characters and their relationship with Jesus – namely, Judas and Peter. As I explored the parallel accounts in the other Gospels, an amazing underlying story emerged. I see it weaving an intricate message of two men in similar circumstances but with very different hearts and outcomes. One represents the seed of the serpent (i.e. the mind of the flesh) while the other is the seed of the woman (i.e. a person of faith).
Passion empowers a person to go above and beyond the ordinary. A common phrase bandied about in many circles these days is; “Follow your passion.” I believe this usually means to explore your inner desires and pursue them with gusto. I would submit that this does not ultimately or truly lead to the contentment the phrase implies. Some people might be passionate about money or sports participation, and yet if something thwarts their direction they feel devastated – even purposeless. The Bible outlines a type of passion that is unrelenting and always meaningful, and rewarding – no matter our circumstances.
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” This quote from Shakespeare came to mind today as I was reflecting on the sad story of Matthew 27. Enter Jesus. Enter Judas, Exit Judas. Exit Jesus. But these actors had very different impacts on the world’s stage, didn’t they? And their respective deaths had dramatically different outcomes (pun intended).
Have you ever had to draw a boundary with someone you love that was excruciatingly difficult? The kind where you feel you have been cornered at last – and you have no other option but to cut them off somehow? The kind where their choices and/or behavior have tied your hands so that you are no longer able to reach to them, help them or have relationship any more? It’s a difficult place to find oneself. I think we sometimes live in denial that it is a real place because it is so painful to have to arrive there. But the Bible is full of stories of this kind of extreme breaking of relationship. Isaiah chapter one describes the raw emotion of just such a scenario.
I find it very exciting in our daily Bible readings to have entered the wonderful world of the mind of “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” – John, Son of Zebedee. This is such a beautiful account of the Gospel message! A dear friend once pointed out to me that John possibly described himself in this book in this way, not in arrogance, but rather in the humblest of connotations. He meant it to express an idea something like this, “Jesus – the exalted Son of God Himself – loved me, even me. Isn’t that an astonishing and wonderful-beyond-belief thing?!!” I like to approach it like this because I think John was more in-tune with Jesus than most anyone else at the time. He saw his Lord and Savior as both his best friend and his King of Kings. He was so very thankful for Jesus’ love.
The faith of Joshua and Caleb is rather startling when you consider it carefully. Here are two men who had spirits within them that were superior to their peers on every level. These peers, however, were the “leaders’ of their nation. They were well-respected members of the elders of Israel – each a mighty man representing his own tribe. Unfortunately, when a true life-test of faith came along, these men melted into puddles of fear and unbelief. It is worth asking ourselves if we have an exceptional world-view of faith like Joshua and Caleb, or whether we fall into the doubter category.
Last night I was happily surprised to hear lots of croaking frogs down by the creek. I also have been delighted, once again, at the number of singing and squawking birds that are flittering through the trees in our yard. I guess it is true that Spring has begun! The frogs brought to mind a lovely Haiku poem that I have had running through my head ever since.