One of the most startling verses in Scripture is Jesus’ warning in Luke 14.26:
As we start reading the book of Ruth, chapter 1 points us to one person: Naomi, and to one characteristic: emptiness.
Instant Gratification – a real temptation
Hundreds of advertising messages bombard the average American each day. The pressure to buy (and buy now!) is practically unavoidable. Manufacturers spend billions each year to convince us that we need their newest and greatest products; they want us to believe that our lives will be incomplete until we buy what they are selling. Marketing pushes us to pursue instant gratification.
Is it just me, or is the Fourth of July one of the hardest holidays for Christians to figure out? Sure, Halloween is controversial, Santa might be an anagram for Satan, and Cadbury Eggs seem to be the only legitimate reason to posit the existence of an Easter Bunny, but none of those issues affect corporate worship. Check out the Christian social media sphere around July 4, and you’ll find scores of articles, statuses (stati?), and tweets expressing opinions about patriotism and Christianity. You’ll find everything from “America is God’s chosen country so let’s quote OT verses about Israel as if they applied to the USA” to “patriotism is flat-out idolatry and has no place in church at all.” Here are a few thoughts about patriotism and Christianity that I mulled over last weekend.
No, it really doesn’t. But that’s a criticism that comes up occasionally. If you challenge a slightly careless or assumptive interpretation by pointing out what the verse specifically means in context, you’ll find that some people will defend the poor interpretation based on their belief that it needs to apply to something (usually outside the boundaries of the context). Phrases like “the appearance of evil,” “the day the Lord has made,” “the nation whose God is the Lord,” “stumbling-blocks,” “a new song,” “owe no man any thing,” and numerous others find themselves often abused by over-broad interpretation. Are we losing something valuable if we limit those words to what they actually mean in context?
“Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised.” ~ Psalm 113:2-3
I’m excited – today we get to quote Ps. 118.24 with its full and real meaning! It’s worth much more than a mere “don’t complain – God made today” rebuke.
We know that God loves us – we could repeat those words like a mantra all day long – but sometimes feelings argue against that knowledge. Whether harsh trials have you wondering if God actually loves you, or some quiet distance just has you wondering how exactly God does relate to you, the doubts and questions are nothing new. Of course, God’s Word meets that need. Eph. 1-3 contains quite a list of things that God has done for us: