Index by Subject

Whoever shuts his ears to the poor will cry and not be heard

Commentators debate whether Jesus’s story about the rich man and Lazarus is a parable or an actual event that crossed the border between this physical world and the invisible next (Luke 16:19-31).

Regardless, the antagonist of the story is a notable example of a wealthy man who treasured up his riches and ignored the plight of the poor all around him. Dives (pr. die-veez) is the Latin word for wealthy and has become attached through the centuries to the miser of the story, clothed in purple and faring sumptuously each day while this second Lazarus, full of sores, begged for scraps at his gate. Continue reading » Whoever shuts his ears to the poor will cry and not be heard

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman

And the brethren say, Amen! Not so fast, fellas, the ladies are listening.

Perhaps to the fairer sex, the proverb will sound rather sexist and one-sided. Surely it would not be among the proverbs that King Lemuel’s mother taught him. Indeed, it is no more pleasant for a woman to dwell in a house with a contentious man, but the proverb is what it is. There are two sides to it, of course, that might just redeem it in feminine minds.

Continue reading » Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman

Lording It Over

“Power tends to corrupt,” Lord Acton said, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

When greatness is defined by the acquisition of authority rather than the selfless regulation of its exercise, Acton’s observation is undeniable.

The Old Testament, for example, contains the biographies of many great men who regulated their divinely-lent authority with a selfless concern for the people they led. They were great men whom great power did not corrupt, men like Abraham, Moses, and Joshua.

Continue reading » Lording It Over

The glory of young men is their strength; the splendor of old men is their gray head

There is a mix of pride and melancholy when a middle-aged man is shown a picture of himself in his high school yearbook.

He stands there with his hair graying and thinning, his midsection struggling against his belt, his back and muscles in a state of sorry atrophy. He looks at a twenty-five year old image of himself – thick hair, rippling muscles, trim and sinewy, without a wrinkle or sign of weakness. “The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29).

Continue reading » The glory of young men is their strength; the splendor of old men is their gray head

It is a snare for a man to devote something rashly

Bible students debate whether Judge Jephthah actually meant to devote his daughter to human sacrifice when he vowed to offer whatever greeted him first at home in exchange for victory on the battlefield (Judges 11). Continue reading » It is a snare for a man to devote something rashly

Do not say, “I will recompense evil”

Vengeance is one of the most powerful human motivations. Whether it takes the form of a prank or a blow to the body or a knife in the back, seeking revenge for slights both real and perceived is an age-old process.

Continue reading » Do not say, “I will recompense evil”

Legends of the Churches of Christ

Even casual discussions with friends and loved ones who are outside of the churches of Christ can reveal a very strange mythology that has developed around them.

They are sometimes mischaracterized, maligned, and ostracized on the basis of misunderstood or poorly explained practices. Not all the criticisms, of course, are unfair or false, even if the scriptural basis for the differences among us goes unexplored. It is the mythology about churches of Christ that concerns us now, the kind of thing one hears about them from those operating according to ignorance or malice. Continue reading » Legends of the Churches of Christ

Wilderness of Temptation

Commentators estimate the Lord’s age at thirty years when his public ministry began with a trip into the wilderness to face the devil’s direct temptation.

He was not the first to be led into the wilderness to meet the devil, but as a victor, he is preeminent as an example to us. In fact, his experience there is so eerily similar to that of the Exodus pilgrims that it becomes plain he is identifying with their plight while demonstrating a surer path to a better Canaan. Continue reading » Wilderness of Temptation

Obtaining Mercy

I had the chicken pox when I was about six years old and I can still recall the horrible, Jobian itching that resulted. In my memory as well, however, is the soothing sensation of that lotion which was applied by my mother to the sores on my back and chest, which eased the misery until the illness was gone.

Most everyone realizes our souls often contract a disease just as painful to the conscience, the disease of sin. What will soothe our misery then? The answer is nothing but the unparalleled mercy of God, wrought through the death and resurrection of our savior and his son, Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24-25). Continue reading » Obtaining Mercy

Fury of Fire

The readers of what we call the Hebrew letter were a people in great distress, convinced of the lordship of Jesus Christ, but overwhelmed by the persecution and ostracism that came with it.

To dissuade them from abandoning their faith in the son of God, the now anonymous writer assembled a number of arguments around a theme of the superiority of the new covenant to that of Moses. Like all disciples, they had the free will to choose faithfulness or apostasy, and the stakes involved their very salvation and eternal fate.

Continue reading » Fury of Fire

Woe to Offenses

Many today revel in a perverse victim mentality, perking up their ears and focusing their eyes any time there is a possibility they can claim to have been offended and deserving of pity and apology.

Forget the defense industry–this is the offense industry and it is booming. Moreover, faith in Christ is often occasion for deep offense as well. The saints are offended, sometimes legitimately, sometimes gleefully, and sometimes necessarily, when their convictions or pride are wounded. The Lord warned us about giving offense, but clearly there are times when that risk is necessary and his own ministry is proof enough. Continue reading » Woe to Offenses

Worthy to Obtain

Every believer should be familiar with the words of Christ as they touch on the sentencing phase of Judgment Day. Where the wicked will hear, “Depart me from me all you workers of iniquity,” the faithful hope to be told, “Well done, good and faithful servant. … Enter into the joys of your lord.”

Perhaps, we are sometimes led to believe it doesn’t matter what we do at all, even in regard to our soul’s salvation, but the sentence of Christ surely emphasizes it is more blessed to do well than to work iniquity. There are many spiritual blessings to be found in Jesus, but those that are eternal are the ones that only the worthy obtain–not by worth of personal merit, but by the interaction of faith and grace. Heaven is a prize, a gift, a reward, an inheritance and a a treasure. Thus it is an objective worth striving after and one which only the faithful and few will attain. Continue reading » Worthy to Obtain

Hindered Prayers

With the market domination of cellular telephones, we have all had the experience of carrying on a conversation with someone who was really disconnected some time ago.

With such phones, we occasionally have to ask, “Can you hear me now?” because we’re not certain our message is getting through. Then, sometimes, we have no clue that we’ve been disconnected altogether.

Prayer can feel about like that at times in our lives, especially if we occasionally doubt our message is getting through or discover that we have been unknowingly disconnected for quite a while because of some sin or rebellious attitude.

Continue reading » Hindered Prayers

Love Authority

In matters secular, political, social, and religious, we understand that authority is expressed through direct commands, existing examples and necessary inferences. Commands can be positive or negative; examples can be approved or disapproved; inferences are only authoritative when necessary, not as additions or amendments. Some, however, by appealing to emotion and opinion rather than Scripture and reason, desire to add another track of authority–love. What cannot be authorized any other way through the word of God is justified should we desire it if we can argue that it is motivated by love. This represents a fundamental misunderstanding, and even vilification, of the word of God. It is not necessary to designate love as a fourth track of Bible authority, for love is the objective of every command, every example and every implication.

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Brother’s Keeper

One of the often overlooked benefits of the local church is the practice of mutual correction that is to take place among people who genuinely care for one another and share a goal of reaching heaven. Continue reading » Brother’s Keeper

Get Behind Me, Adversary

Some people think of Satan as a being straight from mythology while others describe him as an impersonal evil force in the universe, but the Bible clearly portrays him as both real and personal.

He is a creature of God that chose to exercise his free will toward wickedness and to exert a negative influence over humanity. Jesus Christ was sent to the world to bruise his head and destroy his power, so that, as disciples of Christ, we might find victory over the sin that so easily ensnares us and gain Heaven instead of Hell.

It is appropriate that we comprehend Satan to be our adversary and that we recognize we are at war with him because he is certainly waging war upon us. Like Jesus, we want to cry out, “Get behind me, Satan” and back up that exclamation with action.

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Kindle Devotional Book Excerpt: Wisdom Calls

I have always hated the expression, “Killing time,” even though I am guilty of it as much as anyone else. Continue reading » Kindle Devotional Book Excerpt: Wisdom Calls

Understanding the Times

One of the interesting parts of any book or movie about time travel is watching the characters try to figure out the progress and customs of the time in which they have landed.

Their clothing, speech and knowledge are usually all wrong. It’s almost like seeing an Amish wagon clattering down a highway as sports cars and tractor trailers zip past. Clearly, somebody doesn’t understand the times.

In 1 Chronicles 12, the armies of Israel are described according to their tribes and abilities – some are armed for war, others are mighty men of valor, and some are even famous men. It is the men of Issachar, however, who are described as having “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (32).

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Away From the Manger

While it is true that almost everyone in America knows of Jesus Christ, far fewer actually know him.

The lingering images of Jesus Christ tend to be revived only twice a year and more by custom than faith, of course. In the early winter, people shower each other with gifts while being reminded that the babe in the manger is the reason for the season. Then in the spring, many of them take a few moments one Sunday morning to contemplate the crucified and risen savior.

Continue reading » Away From the Manger

Jubilee

While most everyone knows, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” precious few are aware that it was Jesus who made that expression famous and even fewer are convinced it is really true (Acts 20:35).

Receiving, after all, contains a blessed feeling that is impossible to deny. Giving to the government through taxes and fines hardly feels like a blessing, at least until we think about our national defense and infrastructure. In the Bible, however, giving becomes a matter of faith–whether it is providing for one’s household, giving alms to the poor or providing for the saints and proclamation of the gospel. The custom of the earliest churches of Christ was to provide for a weekly collection, on the first day of the week, which just happened to coincide with the weekly atonement memorial of the Lord’s Supper. Continue reading » Jubilee