The Word of God Is Living and Active

Unlike the other sacred texts I read, the Bible was hard-edged, and it confronted me with me! It penetrated my heart, and I wanted to look away!


I have made the statement in a previous article that the truth of God is not hidden from those who truly seek Him and desire to know Him. The truth is only hidden to those who don’t really desire to know God for who He is.

The following statement was made in the sermon I heard today: “Holiness and wholeness are hidden where only the humble can find them”.

I recognize that it’s easy for someone who believes in God to say these things. A person might even say these things in an arrogant and elitist sort of way, but that attitude would be 180 degrees wrong.

God is not an elitist. Elitism is antithetical to God and the fruit of the Spirit that should characterize those who believe and know Him.

Jesus, who claims to have been God in the flesh, came not to be served, but to serve and give his life. God “emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness….” (Philippians 2:7) These are not the actions of an elitist God.

The Gospel story of God descending from His place of privilege and power as creator of the world to enter His creation is not the story of an elitist God. He didn’t come as the greatest of all men with power and might. He came as a child, and He embraced the life of a servant, washing his disciples feet, healing lepers by touch, embracing prostitutes, and loving vulnerable people on the edges of society.

We also read that God created all humans in His image. Therefore, all human beings have intrinsic value. Since our value is given by God, it has nothing to do with our station in life. That value is not connected to how gifted or smart we are. It is not dependent on who our human ancestors were, or anything other than the image of God that we bear in ourselves by virtue of being born.

The flip side of that is the statement that God is “no respecter of persons” (He doesn’t show favoritism according to our standards). (Romans 2:11-16) If God is hidden to some people, His hiddenness is more a reflection of what people are looking for than who God is.

As a case in point, His own people, the nation to whom He spent hundreds of years revealing Himself, didn’t even recognize Him when He entered their world in real time and encountered them stripped down to human form:


He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….”

John 1:10-12


Jesus confronted the elite, religious leaders. He called them blind guides. They, of all people, should have been able to recognize Him, but they didn’t.

We see in those interactions that they were looking for a savior that would overthrow the Roman Empire and ascent to the throne of Israel. They wanted an earthly savior. They were jealous of his popularity. They didn’t expect God to come to them humbly as He did. They didn’t remember their own Scriptures that say,


“though the Lord is exalted, yet he regards the lowly”.

Psalm 138:6


They didn’t remember or perhaps understand that the long-awaited Messiah would not fit a worldly model of power and strength. They should have known that he would have “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him” and “nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”. (Isaiah 53:2) They should have known that he would be “despised and rejected by mankind”, “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” who would be “held in low esteem”. (Is. 53:3)

At the same time, we can understand why they missed these details or didn’t understand them. God is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Why would He stoop so low? The kings, lords and rulers of the world did not stoop.

God called the nation of Israel to separate from the nations around them and to be different, but they continually failed to do that. God’s revelation from the beginning was an exercise in demonstrating that He is different, and not like the other gods, but they like the familiarity of those gods.

God’s people demanded a king to be like all the other nations. In doing that, they were rejecting God as their King who was distinctly different. They embraced the other nations’ gods; and Israel became indistinguishable from the character of the other nations.

They were meant to be a city on hill, a light to show the uniquely different character of God to the nations around them. They were continually urged to welcome strangers, to care for widows and orphans, and to do justice. (See 25 passages, including 19 Old Testament passages, with these instructions.) God desired them to be different from the world around them, as He is different from the gods of the other nations, but they failed to be different.

It’s no wonder that the Jewish leaders in the days of Jesus failed to recognize him. The Pharisees were so focused on the minutia of of their religious observances they neglected the “weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness”. (Matthew 23:23) They failed in their religiosity to appreciate and embrace God’s character that is embedded in the concepts of righteousness and justice. (Psalm 89:14)

They didn’t recognize God in the flesh because they lost sight of His real character. They were religious, but they lacked a real understanding of God.

The prophets, like Jeremiah, warned the nation of Israel many years earlier that they were going astray. The human heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9) We fool ourselves too easily.

Our fears, insecurities, pride, desires to be like the Joneses (other nations) and many things that get in the way of knowing God for who He is take priority in our thoughts and attitudes. We buy into narratives of ourselves, others and God that are warped.

Religious people are not immune to self-deception, and Christians are no less susceptible to self-deception than others. This is the lesson of the Pharisees, the leaders of God’s people in the days that Jesus walked the earth. In fact, religious people may be even more susceptible to self-deception because we use religion to legitimatize and justify our deception!


“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

(Matthew 6:22-23)


What is the cure for this human malady?

There is one thing that is specifically designed by God to reveal (expose) the hearts of people. It may not work exactly as we might want it to work. It isn’t a magic device, and it doesn’t work unless we submit to it. Rather, it’s the tool God uses to do His surgery in our hearts if we allow it in to our hearts to do its work. That tool is the inspired word of God.


“[T]he word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:12-13


Continue reading “The Word of God Is Living and Active”

Does God Throw Wildflowers into a Furnace?

The title to this piece seems like a silly question, right? But Jesus said,

“Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you — you of little faith?”
 
Luke 12:27‭-‬28 CSB

So, we need to ask again, “Does God throw wildflowers into a furnace?” I think it’s pretty safe to say that He doesn’t, right? Jesus is speaking allegorically here.

Jesus is saying in flowery terms that flowers are here today and gone tomorrow. They are beautiful, but only for a short time. No one reads this passage to mean that has a furnace where He throws all the wildflowers in the world. A wildflower furnace.

In the context of this little parable, Jesus is saying that wildflowers are magnificent in their splendor, though they last only a short time. The fact that God makes such temporary things as wildflowers beautiful in splendor is meant to give us hope and faith that He has much more splendor in store for us, the creatures He made in His own image!

These words give us great hope when life seems to be taking us down. No one interprets what Jesus says here as a lesson in the way God disposes of wildflowers. It’s a lesson about putting our faith in God.

Continue reading “Does God Throw Wildflowers into a Furnace?”

A Daily Rhythm of Seeking Intimacy with God

When the crisis blows over, will the new normal include daily Bible reading, prayer and meditation?


Nothing is normal about these times right now. Daily case totals and death tolls are front of mind, reminding us of the tenuous uncertainty of life. Though people may question the significance of the numbers, compared to cases and death tolls from the flu, for instance, the preoccupation of the world with this global pandemic labeled COVID-19 is a daily reminder of our own mortality.

Someone speaking of personal experience in World War I remarked, “There are no atheists in the trenches of Europe.” The same idea was echoed in World War II: “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Indeed, Impossible times and situations that snap us out of our comfortable mundane existence have that kind of effect on us.

I doubt that it’s true )that there are no atheists in foxholes). As a generalization, though, there is some kernel of truth there. Many a person who has no interest in God, turns to God in times like these.

YouVersion, the maker of a downloadable Bible app, recently reported on April 15, 2020, historic numbers of people accessing their app, the largest increase in engagement with their app in the last 6 weeks during this time of worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. A record 1.6 million prayers were added in just one month. They claim the pandemic has triggered a virtual spiritual awakening.

The app tracks downloads. When I first checked it, I saw it had been downloaded 421,462,195 times. I started writing this piece a day ago, and I am just getting back to it now. Not quite 24 hours later, the app has been downloaded 421,546, 815 times. That’s an increase of almost 85,000 in less than 24 hours!

With the spike in downloads of just one Bible app (among many), it seems that people really are turning to Scripture in this time of crisis and difficulty.

That leads me to wonder: when the crisis blows over, will people go back to their “normal” lives? Will the new normal include daily Bible reading, prayer and meditation?

Continue reading “A Daily Rhythm of Seeking Intimacy with God”

Inerrancy and the Spirit of the Age

Paul encountered the risen Lord Jesus in person, and that personal experience eclipsed “doctrine” and forever infused all that he knew into a living faith.


When I was in college, I was one thesis away from being a religion major. I took the thesis class, did the research and even wrote the paper. I just didn’t turn it in.

I graduated with an English Literature major. I didn’t need Religion for the double major. I wasn’t satisfied with the product, so I didn’t turn the paper in.

I’ve recalled these things before, but I haven’t really addressed the subject of that thesis paper. It was biblical inerrancy.

I recall the religion major that fell short now, and the topic that derailed it, following some comments that NT (Tom) Wright made to Justin Brierley on the podcast, Ask NT Wright Anything (episode #8, I believe).

I chose the topic, of course, but I felt I bit off more than I could chew. It turns out there may be good reason the topic was so difficult for me, a new believer at the time. NT Wright sheds some light on the subject.

Continue reading “Inerrancy and the Spirit of the Age”

Four Misconceptions about Christianity

Four basic assumptions that seem to be prevalent in the modern American world that are not not biblical.


I am continually impressed by the persistence of misconceptions about Christianity, even in the United States. The US is considered by many (still) to be a “Christian” nation. Most people may identify as Christian in the US, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we all understand the basic tenets of the faith. Maybe it’s an example of familiarity leading us to assume things that aren’t necessarily true. Following I address just four very basic assumptions that seem to be prevalent in the modern American world that are not consistent with the Christian perspective that is revealed in the Bible. Continue reading “Four Misconceptions about Christianity”