From July 2018: When the would-be king, David, was spurned by the foolish Nabal in 1 Samuel 25:1-44, he saw red. In his anger, David made up his mind to put an end to Nabal’s life. If it wasn’t for the actions of Nabal’s wife, Abigail (who in some small way points us to Jesus), David would have fallen into serious sin. Anger does that, which is why the Bible teaches that we should ‘be angry’, but ‘do not sin’ (Ephesians 4:30).
In the chapters leading up to the events of the death and resurrection of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, Matthew 26:1-16 follows on directly after the Olivet Discourse. In these chapters, Matthew sets out clearly the events that led up to the the death of Jesus, beginning with the plot the Jewish religious leaders hatched to put Him to death and ending (in these verses) with the desire of Judas to betray Him. But in the midst of those two events is the wonderful act of love completed by Mary. While the men in this text are clearly walking in darkness, she, on the other hand, is walking in the light.
Given that followers of Jesus have become citizens of heaven, Philippians 4:5 reminds the church to live God’s way. Reasonableness is so important for maintaining community and Christians should seek to what is best for everyone, especially in light of the fact that Jesus will surely return as judge.
One theme stands out in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, and that is the close relationship that Paul had with these believers. This is reflected in so many ways, but is eviden mainly in the language Paul uses to describe the depths of his feelings towards them. In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, it is apparent that Paul truly loved these people and was encouraged that they loved each other and those around them. This kind of love can never be taken for granted, when it is the kind of fruit that Jesus taught his disciples that would show the reality of the gospel to the whole world.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he was full of praise for the way in which these people had received and welcomed the gospel. Their lives had been transformed from worshipping idols to turn and wait for Jesus to return from heaven. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, in describing the characteristics that pleased the Apostle about these believers Paul paints a ‘portrait’ so to speak of what people transformed by the gospel look like. His ‘portrait’ therefore asks us the question, are we ‘gospel people’ in this sense?
There’s an awful ring to the story recorded in 2 Kings 6:24-7:20. Not only is the prophet Elisha in danger – this time from the king of Israel! – the whole nation has hot rock-bottom due to the siege laid by the surrounding armies of Syria. Inside the captial, Samaria, things are a mess. Awful. There’s famine, desperation, hopelessness and unbelief. But then God did something. Having tried His people to an extremity, He then acted to save them and drive the enemy away, leaving it very clear that none else but He was the Saviour of His people, and reminding us that the grace of God is far greater than we can imagine.
To be able to see is such a wonderful gift. Sight is such an important aspect to everyday life. But to be able to see what is invisible…now that’s something else. In the text of 2 Kings 6:8-23, it’s very clear that Elisha and his servant were in trouble – surrounded by the Syrian army. Elisha and his servant could both see what was right before them. But Elisha could see what his servant could not – that surrounding them Syrian army was an even bigger army of angels sent by God for the protection of His servants. It’s a great text and one that forces us to ‘see’ that what is viisble is not always the whole story!
In this next instalment in the life and ministry of the prophet Elisha, the incident he is called to address in 2 Kings 6:1-7 seems almost insignificant. A borrowed axehead falls to the bottom of the river and needs to be retrieved. Rather than sending in divers or having a dam built to stop the flow of water, Elisha miraculously arranges for the axehead to float! Because God has unlimited power, this miracle was no difficulty for the God who made everything from nothing, but what does this seemingly insignificant event teach us today?