Envy: The malaise afflicting God’s people

A friend asked, “Have you noticed that so many Christians seem to be discontented with their lot?  That they envy the rest of the world, and maybe even resent a little having to live like Jesus?”

If this is true–and I know enough of my own heart to suspect it is–it’s not a new phenomenon.  The condition has been with us from early on.

The malady was voiced perfectly by the Psalmist:

I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3).

You and I suspect the Psalmist may have been a bit too selective of the ungodly whom he chose to envy. But that’s how we do it, after all.

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This guy found a contradiction in the Bible and thinks he can now disprove God.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was reading comments on a friend’s Facebook page below something she had written about the Bible’s authenticity.

I suppose her critic was a friend, because after each of his statements, each one shallow and several insulting, she patiently responded with kindness and reason.

But nothing worked.

When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.

What was his “contradiction”?

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When God’s people do not live in the word, many things happen. All of them bad.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

The Lord never intended for His Word to collect dust on a table in your back bedroom.

People paid for your right to own a Bible in your own language with their very lives.

What are you doing about that?

Christians who own numerous Bibles which they rarely open are thumbing their noses at the saints of old who paid the ultimate price.

This hard-won treasure lies buried under the dust and detritus of your life.

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Please write in your Bible

“This shall be written for the generation to come; and the people who shall be created shall praise the Lord” (Psalm 102:18).

Please go to the front of your Bible and write in it.

Start by putting your own name.

Often, when I pick up the Bibles of friends to see what they have written in them, I’m chagrined to see they don’t even have their names.

Write in your Bible, friend. Please.

At Christmas 1973, my aunt Eren gave to her mother, my wonderful grandmother Bessie Lowery McKeever, a Bible.  Grandma died in 1982, but not before marking up that Bible.
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Good job, God!

“Lord, you have treated your servant well, just as you promised” (Psalm 119:65).

“Lord, I was just looking back at the things You have done for me the last few years, and I want to say, ‘Thank you.  Good job, Lord.'”

Only a battle-scarred veteran can look back down the years and tell the Heavenly Father, “Well done, Sir!”

We are well acquainted with the Lord’s promise to say something similar to the faithful disciples who are reporting in and “weighing up  ” at the end of the day. He says to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many” (Matthew 25:21,23).

Wonder how it would be if we said something similar to Him?

Maybe put a star by His name?

The only people who know that God treats His servants well “as He promised” are those who, first, know His promises and, secondly, over a lot of years of service have found Him to be true and good and trustworthy.

They have found Him faithful.

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The most amazing thing we do when reading Scripture

Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Whosoever surely meaneth me.”  — Gospel song by James E. McConnell, 1910.   

“He included me.”  — Gospel song by Johnson Oatman. 1909.

Every Christian I know does this and I do it too.  And yet there seems to be no easy explanation for it.

In Scripture, we will be reading where God is telling Israel how much He loves them, how He has loved them from the first, how His love is endless and that He has big plans for them, and what do we do?  We copy off those words and plaster them around the house, memorize them, and write them into songs of inspiration. We put them on bumper stickers and coffee mugs and t-shirts, and we build sermons around them.

We revel in those words.

We do this not because we are so impressed by God’s love of Israel nor touched by their closeness.  We do it for another overwhelming reason.

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The most misused text in the Bible?

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come, He answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable;  no one will say, ‘Look here!’ or ‘There!’ For you see, the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:20-21).

You’d be surprised who all loves to quote our Lord Jesus.

A lot of people who believe almost nothing Jesus said about Himself–about salvation or heaven or hell or marriage or a faith or a thousand other subjects–will quote Him when it suits their purpose.

Google Luke 17:20-21 and pull up a chair.  Those citing these two verses run the gamut from Leo Tolstoy to your favorite Indian guru to the atheists.

Taken completely out of context and given the speaker’s own spin, this malleable verse can be made to say whatever they choose.

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Things scripture does not allow

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Whew.  What a sentence.

The Lord Jesus Christ was God’s last word to Planet Earth.  Everything He had to say.  Man’s last and greatest hope.

Man’s only hope.

Jesus spoke of a landowner who leased out a property to some renters who refused to be accountable.  When his servants arrived to collect his rents, the unscrupulous tenants “beat one, killed one, and stoned another.”  Showing more patience than perhaps he ought, the owner “sent other servants, more than the first.”  These were given the same treatment as the first.  Then our Lord said, “Last of all, he sent his son.”  (Matthew 21:33ff.).

Last of all, God sent His Son.

Jesus Christ was the fulfilment of the promises and types and stories of the Old Testament.  He was the culmination of the Abraham story, the Moses saga, the David chronicle.

It’s all about Jesus.

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Show us your faith!

(second article on the incident of Mark 2:1-12)

“When He entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that He was at home.  So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and He was speaking the word to them.  Then, they came to Him bringing a paralytic, carried by four men.  Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above where He was.  And when they had broken through, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic was lying.  Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic….” (Mark 2:1ff.)

The Lord can see our faith.

Faith at its simplest and most basic is confidence in Jesus.  “You believe in God,” He said. “Believe also in me” (John 14:1).

Confidence in Jesus Christ affects everything we do. Take the story in Mark 2, for instance….

In a house crowded by listeners, curiosity-seekers, and heresy-hunters, people with actual faith in Jesus stood out prominently.

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Everything begins with listening: Plant yourself at the feet of Jesus.

(The first of several articles on the incident of Mark 2:1-12)

“When He entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that He was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the door way, and He was speaking the Word to them” (Mark 2:1-2).

Everything starts with listening.

Everywhere the Lord Jesus went, people flocked to hear Him.  They covered hillsides and blanketed lakeshores.  They packed out synagogues and homes, so intent were they on every word coming from those divine lips.  “Never man spake like this man,” they said (John 7:46).

People of our generation prefer to speak than listen, to argue rather than to hear and believe. They want their wisdom reduced to sound bites, to bumper sticker phrases.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God,” says Paul in Romans 10:17. Faith in God is given to those who will hear His Word.

Really hear it. Not just register it or record it, and not just scan it. Take it inwardly and digest it.  Think about it, treasure it in our hearts, and meditate upon it.

You want faith? Want to know if God is real and Jesus is everything He claimed?  Interested in checking out the Christian faith? Perhaps you are tired of seeing people slam Christianity while others glorify it and have decided to see for yourself?  Good.

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