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).
“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).
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.
It is an excellent Bible study technique to take special note of the first occurrence of a given word in Scripture. Often many clues to the hidden wisdom of certain concepts can be ferreted out by exploring their first use very carefully. I was reminded of this as I read Luke Chapter One today. Let’s take “Jesus 101” Class together, shall we? You know the textbook – and the tuition is free!
I trust you are continuing with a commitment to daily reading of the Bible in this new year? For a variety of reasons, you may have decided to try a different reading plan this year. That is fine as long as you are still reading – that is the overall goal of this devotional I write. Namely, to encourage all participants (including myself) to see the daily reading of God’s Word as an integral part of our lives. If we persist, it becomes something that we cannot live without – because it just gets our heads in the right place to face the great variety of experiences each day offers.