Death to Life

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1

In order that we might fully appreciate who we now are in Christ, Paul bluntly describes how terrible the situation was we used to be in. Oftentimes I feel we lose the full gravity of what Christ accomplished for us. Perhaps we think we used to be bad people and Jesus made us better, or we were struggling and Jesus came along and helped us. Even some of the metaphors we use in many of our worship songs seem to be insufficient. Although I adore the song “Amazing Grace” and would never disagree with the lyrics, I feel famous phrases like “I once was lost but now am found” or “T’was blind but now I see” don’t quite get across exactly what Jesus did for us.

Prayer for Enlightenment

“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened...” Ephesians 1:18a

Ok, I know you’ve heard me say this many times before, but this may be my favorite verse. The ESV translates it, “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” We often think of the heart as the seat of our emotions, but in the Bible the heart refers to the entire inner man which includes the emotions, the mind and the will. Through the Bible we learn the heart has spiritual faculties that parallel our physical senses. We read things like, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… He who has ears to hear, let him hear… If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious… A sweet smelling aroma… In hope that they might grope for Him and find Him…” (John 3:3, Matthew 13:9, 1 Peter 2:3, Phillipians 4:18, Acts 17:27). Throughout these scriptures the heart is found seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching.

Acquainted With the King

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

God’s timing for us to start the book of Esther is amazing for two reasons. Firstly, one of the reasons this book is so fascinating is that the word “king” is used over one hundred times, but the name of God isn’t used once. Why? We can’t know for sure, but we can surmise that it was most likely because the children of Israel were more interested in their earthly king than they were in their Heavenly King. Does that sound familiar?

Doctrine to Doxology

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

In the verse above, Paul uses some form of the Greek word for “eulogy” three times. Although most of us think of a eulogy as a short speech praising someone at their funeral, the word more generally means “to praise, to bless, to bestow special favor upon.” In it’s most basic sense it means “good word.” The purpose of this verse is to setup all that Paul is about to declare in the next 12 verses.

Really Rich

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Ephesians 3:8

I am amazed by the fact the apostle Paul penned these words while sitting in a prison cell in Rome. When we visited Rome in 1992 we saw the cell Paul may have been kept in. I remember walking down a set of stairs into an underground area and seeing how the cells had been hewn out of stone. They were dark, damp and cold. When I walked into one of the cells I had to bend down because of how low the ceiling was. I noticed a hole in the ceiling and was told the guards would use this hole to not only lower down food and water to the prisoners, but also to urinate on the prisoners. Needless to say, the living conditions seemed unbearable, but as I knelt in that cell I could picture Paul sitting in the corner with a candle and a blanket, writing to his friends in Ephesus about all the things the Lord revealed to him about Christ and the church.


“And Joshua said to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’” Joshua 3:5

The main message Joshua wanted every person to know was that God keeps His promises and enables us to succeed if we simply trust and obey Him. Someone once said, "Our tomorrows can be exciting and wonderful if we are all God wants us to be." God still wants to reveal to His people that He is the God of wonders, all He asks is that we set ourselves apart and trust and obey Him. The same God who reigned in Joshua's day continues to reign today. The question today is, "Where are all the Joshua's?"

The Christ Culture

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

I am really sorry to say that the guest speaker we were supposed to have this Sunday is no longer able to join us due to circumstances beyond his control, so you will have to listen to me again.

Who Am I?

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8

I can almost see King David sitting up on the cliffs near En Gedi, staring out into space and wondering, “Who am I and what am I doing on earth?” David must have blown away by the fact that the Creator of the heavens and the earth created him to serve Him. How about you? Are you blown away by that truth?

Serving the Lord

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

We have come to the end of Joshua’s conquest of faith. He is 110 years old and has faithfully served the Lord his entire adult life. He has seen the Lord do amazing things and has experienced His chastening. Now, as he stands before the entire nation, he declares, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

God's Compassionate Sovereignty

“The Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’” Jonah 4:4

In a surprise turn of events, we find out in Jonah 4 that rather than celebrating the repentance and salvation of the city of Nineveh, Jonah was displeased and angry. The reason for his anger was God not only did something he didn’t understand, but also something he didn’t like. God forgave and saved the wicked city of Nineveh, the enemy of Israel.

Joshua's Farewell Address

“Therefore take diligent heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God.” Joshua 23:11

Joshua lived a long and lively life. His life began in slavery and ended in a sanctuary in the Promised Land, and God used him greatly the whole time. He led the children of Israel into victory over their enemy, conquered the land and claimed the promises God had given them. In other words, Joshua fought the good fight, finished the course and kept the faith.

God's Irresistible Salvation

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.” Jonah 2:1

After hearing complete silence from Jonah during his rebellious descent in chapter one, we finally hear his voice in chapter two. All it took was a storm so threatening it made a bunch of sailors lose their minds, and a fish so big it was able to swallow and house Jonah for three days and three nights. But at last, due to the circumstances God ordained, the prophet was back in communication with Him.

God's Terrifying Grace

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3a

What terrifies you the most? Death, suffering, failure, loneliness? As scary as any one of those is by itself, Jonah was willing to experience all of them before he was willing to be used by God to extend grace to his enemy. God had a simple message He wanted to tell the great and wicked city of Nineveh, and he wanted Jonah to deliver it. But once Jonah received the message, rather than obeying God, he responded by attempting to run away from Him.

Loyal Soldiers

“You have not left your brethren these many days, up to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God.” Joshua 22:3

The soldiers from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh must have been so happy to head home once their “conquest of faith” was completed. For seven years they were away from their families and friends, but now were free to go home.

Wise Men Worship

“Now after the days Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king; behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Matthew 2:2

Two years may have passed after the birth of Jesus by the time the wise men arrived to meet Him. Herod the Great was in power. His nationality was half Jew, half Idumean, and through accommodation to the Romans, he ascended to power as a political leader over the land. Religiously, Herod was a heretic, for if he was truly a Jew he would have been looking for the Messiah. Politically, he was a tyrant because not only did he increase taxes and enforce labor from the Israelites, but also he would later issue a decree to have all children under the age of two be put to death.

Of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men!

“Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-13

I was saddened to read an article in Psychology Today that said, “We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression. Hospitals and police forces report high incidences of suicide and attempted suicide.”

Survive the Storms

“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching." Matthew 7:28a

We have come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and it’s no surprise to find out that all the people listening to Jesus were left astonished at His teaching. The word “astonished” means “to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed.” Everyone was overwhelmed by Jesus’ insightful words of wisdom, His straightforward teaching of scripture, His fearful warning of the consequences of turning away from God, but most of all, they were overwhelmed by the authority with which He taught. I don’t know about you, but I have been overwhelmed too!

Cities of Refuge

Then the Lord also spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Appoint for yourselves cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the slayer who kills any person accidentally or unintentionally may flee there; and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.’” Joshua 20:1-3

Now that all the tribes had received their territories, the Lord spoke to Joshua just as he spoke to Moses, instructing him to have six cities of refuge placed strategically in the land, three on each side of the Jordan River. The six cities of refuge were needed because they didn’t have police in those days to investigate crimes, so if you killed someone accidentally you could flee to one of these cities to be safe from the family of the victim taking revenge. In the ancient world, blood revenge was the norm. The moment a person was killed his nearest relative took responsibility for vengeance. This ancient rite of vendetta was handed down from generation to generation.

The Narrow Way

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Matthew 7:13

In Psalm 73, we find Asaph grappling with being envious of those who seemed to have a good life on the broad road. He couldn’t reconcile the truth that while he was obeying God and suffering, those who were living in disobedience were succeeding. In various verses in Psalm 73 he admits, “I was envious of the boastful when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Behold, these are the ungodly who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.”