Posted on May 20, 2015
During my college days a friend and I were looking at a bulletin board, checking out campus announcements while we caught up on each other’s lives. Conversation led to discussion about a mutual friend who was in a bad dating relationship. Innocent talk morphed into gossip as we freely expressed opinions about how foolish she was for putting up with her boyfriend and how she was adding to the problem.
Too late, I noticed someone walk up behind us—then saw who it was. You’ve probably guessed. It was the girl we’d been discussing. I’ll never forget the pain on her face, her eyes full of tears. We apologized, and she graciously forgave (though I doubt she ever trusted us afterwards). I was sick over having wounded my friend; I still am, thinking back on it now—decades later—as I write.
I learned two hard lessons that day. First, the power of the tongue is great, to heal and to harm. Second, words once spoken cannot be unsaid. A world of hurt can be inflicted in a matter of seconds and the damage may be irreparable, no matter how sorry I am. I also made a life rule I’ve tried hard to live by: I would never say about someone what I wouldn’t say to them. (More on this in a minute.) Read More
Posted on May 13, 2015
It was autumn of the year 1517, and the Catholic priest Martin Luther had a problem. He was increasingly troubled by the church’s do-this-do-that approach to godliness, especially when the required deeds had a big price tag attached.
Most recently the church had begun selling indulgences, forcing people to pay high fees to supposedly have their sins forgiven. Luther found no such requirement in God’s Word; instead, God’s forgiveness was freely available to a repentant sinner by grace. This was just one of many ways Luther saw the Catholic church of his day violating scripture; he’d made a list of ninety-five anti-biblical practices! Read More
Posted on May 9, 2015
Hi! Just a reminder about this week’s memory verse—James 2:13. One great way to learn a verse is to make a key word bold, especially one that’s repeated two or more times. In this verse the word “mercy” is our focus, so we’ve made that word bold in the photo below.
Use this image to help you learn James 2:13, and hide a little of God’s word in your heart!
Join me next Wednesday for the next post in our study of James. Have a great weekend!
Posted on May 6, 2015
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting his own hard battle.” This quote has been credited to everyone from Ian MacLaren to Plato. No matter who first said it, it’s wise. Each of us has our own circumstances and struggles that have brought us to where we are today. They’re part of who we are.
I remember my grandma’s caution, “Everybody has a story.” It’s true, yet we usually make determinations, assign values, judge people, without knowing their stories. We’d all benefit from fewer prosecutors and judges, and more defenders.
Today’s study in James 2 focuses on the harm done by shallow judgments. Welcome to James: Faith Meets Reality. Get your Bible and let’s get going!
Posted on April 29, 2015
Do you know someone who is a chronic liar, who lies when the truth would make more sense? They lose track of their stories, becoming increasingly confused about what’s true and what’s false. Eventually they believe their own deceptions, a pitiful state.
Satan loves a liar. Jesus called him “the father of lies” in whom “there is no truth” (Jn. 8:44). He’ll inspire deceit whenever he can. He’s especially pleased when we make his work easy by lying to ourselves. In today’s passage, James talks about three ways in which we may be deceived—or worse yet, may deceive ourselves.
Hi! Thanks for joining me for today’s study, our third in the series James: Faith Meets Reality. (If you missed either of the previous posts, you’ll find them archived under “Bible Studies” on the menu bar at the top of this page.)
Get your Bible and read James 1:13-27, paying special attention to verses 16, 22 and 26. Do you notice a common word or theme? All three verses use the word “deceive” (or a synonym, depending on the version you’re reading). Yet the Greek language uses three unique words with important distinctions. Let’s take a look. Read More
Posted on April 22, 2015
Hi! Welcome to our brand-new study of the New Testament book of James—Faith Meets Reality. I’m expecting this journey to be much shorter than the one we just finished (nearly two years studying Mark’s gospel!). This study will be about twelve weeks long, and will hit the major topics covered in James. If you haven’t already, get your Bible—then read the first twelve verses of James’ first chapter. Here we go!
After a brief but important introduction, James writes eight of the most challenging words in the Bible: “Consider it all joy whenever you face trials…”
I’ve had trials. So have you. Illness, financial stress, business failure, family trouble, broken relationships, grief, spiritual struggles—you name it, many of us have experienced it. Trials are not joyful events. So in practical terms, how can James expect us to look on trials with joy? Read More
Posted on April 15, 2015
“Life stinks!” So read a small sign dangling in the rear window of a passing car—a pricey sporty BMW. Most of us assume a person able to afford a car like that would have life pretty good. But a nice car doesn’t equal a nice life. The BMW’s owner apparently recognized something still missing in his quest for happiness.
What are we to think when life is hard, when the things we expect to bring us joy don’t, when troubles pile on top of troubles? James surprises us by suggesting that joy is possible even in the middle of trials—and that the resulting wisdom and strength of character will leave us strong, wanting for nothing. Read More
Posted on April 5, 2015
This is the final post of an eight-day devotional designed to help you praise Christ each day of Easter week. Thanks for joining in!
Friday had been a day filled with grief. Saturday, a day of despair and apparent hopelessness. But if there’s one thing we should know about God’s vocabulary, it’s that “hopelessness” isn’t in it!
Sunday morning brought news that changed everything for all people for all time—news that will be forever linked with hope. No matter what life throws at us, we have hope in Him:
Hope of forgiveness.
Hope of answered prayer.
Hope of healing.
Hope of salvation.
Hope of life everlasting! Read More
Posted on April 5, 2015
This is the seventh post of an eight-day devotional designed to lead you to praise Christ each day of the week preceding Easter. Thanks for joining in!
Saturday of Holy Week has been called by some “Silent Saturday,” referring to Jesus’ body lying silent in the grave. For the Jews, Saturday was the Sabbath—and not just any Sabbath, Passover Sabbath—a special day of worship. The gleeful Jewish leaders relaxed on that Sabbath, under the mistaken impression they’d won, that Jesus was gone forever and all was well.
Late on Friday afternoon, Jesus had uttered the words “It is finished” and gave up His spirit. Joseph of Arimathea—wealthy and influential—went to Pilate seeking permission to take possession of Jesus’ body. Pilate was amazed to hear Jesus had already died, so he sent for confirmation from the centurion in charge of the day’s executions. Satisfied, Pilate granted Joseph’s plea.
Joseph took Jesus’ body down from the cross, made a few hurried preparations—pressed for time since the Sabbath was mere hours away—and laid Jesus to rest in a tomb he’d intended for himself. (Soon, it would become evident that Jesus’ burial in a borrowed tomb was appropriate; He wouldn’t need it for long!) Read More
Posted on April 3, 2015
This is the sixth post of an eight-day devotional designed to lead you to praise Christ each day of the week preceding Easter. Thanks for joining in!
The trials were over. The crowds who had shouted praises on Sunday had clamored for His death just a few hours ago, whipped into a frenzy by well-placed agitators. Pilate had wavered, believing Him innocent, but in the end refused to intervene—washing his hands of the matter. A decision had been rendered.
Jesus would die the gruesome death of a criminal: crucifixion. Read More