Jesus’ Message about Fasting

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Jesus began his instruction about giving by saying, “So whenever you give alms” (Matthew 6.2). When he turned to prayer, he said, “And whenever you pray” (Matthew 6.5). As he brings up the issue of fasting, once again he says, “And whenever you fast” (Matthew 6.16). In each case Jesus presents […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 3)

Reading Time: 7 Minutes This is the third blog article on the Lord’s Prayer. My hope in writing these articles is to help us pray with greater clarity the greatest prayer of all time. Jesus taught us to pray in this way. “Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done,on […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 2)

Reading Time: 7 Minutes O. Hallesby in his classic book, “On Prayer,” was the first to alert me to the power of Revelation 3.20 as it is applied to prayer. In the passage Jesus was speaking to a lukewarm church in Laodicea these words, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1)

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Moses spoke volumes when he said, “For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?” […]

Learning to Pray Like Jesus

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Prayer is the second illustration of how an inner life that is aligned with Jesus operates. Let’s pull up a chair, sit before Jesus, and learn from the Master who “lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7.25). If we are to be aligned with Jesus, both our inside condition and […]

Beyond People Pleasing

Reading Time: 8 Minutes I have often confessed to being a people pleaser. I still remember the day when I made a conscious decision to be liked by other people. I was standing inside the doors to the high school I attended. I felt rejected by a group to which I wanted to belong. There […]

Living a Jesus-Kind-Of-Life

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The section of the Sermon on the Mount that we have been studying for the past few days began with these words from Jesus: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5.20). Like the other […]

What Kind of Justice Do You Give?

Reading Time: 8 Minutes When people have joined Jesus in the way he exerts his power in the world, what can we expect? What kind of “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5.13-16) can we expect them to be? In what way are they a contrast to the world around them? How do they bring flavor and […]

Clarification and Summary

Reading Time: 8 Minutes I greatly appreciate comments on Facebook and on the website. Based on some comments, I think it will be helpful to pause in our study of the Sermon on the Mount today, and provide some clarifications and a summary of what we have learned in Matthew 5.21-37. I have been […]

Your Words and Your Heart

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Dallas Willard says that attempting to do what Jesus teaches in our own strength is like trying to turn an apple tree into a pear tree by tying pears onto the branches. Willard’s words are particularly appropriate for Jesus’ message that we are studying today. Jesus said, “Again, you have heard […]

What about Divorce?

Reading Time: 7 Minutes For some people the next words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are two of the most difficult verses to read in the entire Bible. Jesus said, “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that […]

Jesus’ Instructions About Lust

Reading Time: 7 Minutes In 1976 the then Presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, was interviewed by “Playboy” magazine. He was asked if his strong religious beliefs would make him a rigid and unbending leader. Carter’s response almost cost him the election. The following paragraph is what got so much attention. Carter said, “I’ve looked on a […]

Jesus Teaches About Anger

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If Jesus’ people are to be “salt” and “light,” then they have to be a contrast to other people in the world. How we handle our anger will either make us look like a fool or a child of God. It is up to us to respond to what Jesus teaches […]

Why Righteous Living is a Gift

Reading Time: 7 Minutes When Jesus was crucified, there were two charges filed against him. The religious authorities charged him of breaking their law and of using magic to lead other people to also break it. The Roman government saw him as a rebel and it was their policy to always crucify people who threatened […]

Who Me?

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Ray Martin often imagines himself in the middle of a Bible scene when he reads a Bible passage. He is probably such a good children’s teacher, because of the way he approaches the Bible. Let’s try out Ray’s method and put ourselves on the mountain with Jesus today. Which person in […]

Tough Blessings To Receive

Reading Time: 8 Minutes My father was an attorney. He occasionally mediated between parties to avoid the cost of a court hearing. After one such meeting he said, “I must have done a good job, because they both left mad.” Dad knew the cost of being a peacemaker, because a peacemaker gets between two parties […]

Four Essential Questions

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Dallas Willard believes that there are four essential questions that every person should seriously think about. They are: (1) What is real? (2) What is the good life? (3) Who is a good person? (4) How does one become a good person? With these questions in mind, let’s consider four verses […]

Who Has the Good Life?

Reading Time: 7 Minutes The Sermon on the Mount begins with these words. Matthew 5.1-4 – When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs […]

Change Your Mind About God

Reading Time: 7 Minutes If you were giving birth to a movement to change the world, would you consider starting in a podunk town in a second-rate country? A travel brochure for Capernaum or Israel would have certainly not included such a disparaging caricature of the area, but that is probably how Israel and Capernaum […]

The Temptation of Jesus

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Matthew 3 ends on a very high note with a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17). Jesus traveled from this high moment to one of extreme testing. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to […]

The Baptism of the One Who Baptizes

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Paul described the humility of Jesus with this hymn of praise, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,did not regard equality with Godas something to be exploited,but emptied himself,taking the form of a slave,being born in human likeness.And […]

Don’t Miss Opening This Gift!

Reading Time: 8 Minutes There is a story about a man, who was getting a tour of heaven. He came by a large warehouse-like room. The room seemed to go on for a distance further than the eye could see. It was stacked to the ceiling with boxes covered in beautifully colored wrapping paper and […]

What Does Repentance Look Like?

Reading Time: 8 Minutes We have just started a study of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7). Today, we are studying the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3) to get a deeper appreciation of Jesus’ message in his famous sermon. John the Baptist began his public ministry with these short, […]

The Sermon on the Mount

Reading Time: 7 Minutes The Sermon on the Mount contains the greatest principles of Jesus’ wisdom. The words of Jesus’ sermon are simple enough that small children can be encouraged to put them into practice. Yet, some of Jesus’ teaching is so difficult that it puzzles scholars, causing numerous differing opinions as to what he […]

Prayer for the Sick

Reading Time: 8 Minutes One of my good friends, Bill Beachy, was a medical doctor during World War II. At the end of the war, he left the practice of medicine and began praying for the sick. He attended divinity school at Princeton and studied under Agnes Sandford, a well-respected woman in the healing ministry. […]

The Coming of the Lord

Reading Time: 8 Minutes In our passage today, James speaks about the second coming of Jesus three times. He, also, tells his readers to do three things, as they consider Jesus’ return. They are to be patient, to strengthen their hearts and to not grumble. He wrote, “Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of […]

Wisdom about Riches

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The opening verses of James 5 have puzzled interpreters of James for quite some time. Why does he address a message about riches to congregations comprised of poor people? Let’s read his words and attempt to apply his teaching to our lives. James 5.1-6 – Come now, you rich people, weep […]

One Day At A Time

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” With all of the future uncertainty surrounding the corona virus pandemic, worry and unease are certainly something that is a very real experience. However, we can challenge anxiety and […]

Speak No Evil

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If I had an app on my phone that was able to record every time I spoke critically about someone or made a judgment about their motives or behavior, I am sure the results would be interesting, surely sad, and possibly shocking. Jesus, James and Paul speak with one voice on […]

There is a Solution

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The Problem Every day, people like us are tempted to turn away from God. The temptations come from three sources. James identifies the three tempters as “earthly, unspiritual, and devilish” (James 3.15). Just so we know what we are dealing with, let’s examine each one separately. (1) “Earthly” refers to the […]

James Takes Us To Court

Reading Time: 7 Minutes James usually opens a new section in his book with the words, “Brothers and sisters.” This time, the section begins with the harsh condemnation, “Adulterers!” The kind of adultery in James is not the sexual act, but a figure of speech often used by the prophets. Jeremiah captures the sense of […]

The Source of Conflict

Reading Time: 7 Minutes As I consider the conflict that seems to be a daily part of life in 2020, I can identify with the Psalm writer who wanted to escape what was going on. He wrote: And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove!    I would fly away and be at rest; truly, […]

Wisdom from God

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Today, we are taking a second look at James 3.13-18, because there is no way to capture the insights of James in this passage with one blog article. Today, we explore the wisdom from above or God’s wisdom. James 3.13-18 – Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your […]

“Wisdom” from Below

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The entire Book of James can be organized around the verses that we are studying today and tomorrow. We can seek to obtain the understanding that results in wise attitudes and conduct either from God or from our own best thinking. Each of the major topics in James can be classified […]

How to Tame the Tongue

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Getting Control of the Tongue Have you ever tried to put James’ teaching to be slow to speak or to bridle your tongue into action? Maybe, you are like me and you have resolved to curb your tongue, only to fail and fail, again. It’s really hard to control our speech, […]

An Important Announcement

Reading Time: 7 Minutes The message of the third chapter of James is desperately needed at this time in world history. From the moment the Holy Spirit inspired these words, they have been wise teaching. Today, they are both wise and needed. James introduces the subject of our speech in chapter 1. He exhorts his […]

The Great Debate

Reading Time: 7 Minutes I wish I had a dollar for every time someone wanted to justify their behavior with a theoretical argument. After listening for a while, I have been known to say, “So, you’re really asking me how far you can get away from God and still go to heaven?” My question usually […]

Faith without Works

Reading Time: 8 Minutes A short history of James, the brother of Jesus James was Jesus’ brother. The book he wrote was possibly the first of all of the 27 books in the New Testament to be written. In the mid-first century, James and Peter were the most prominent voices of the church in Jerusalem. […]

Learning from Jesus

Reading Time: 7 Minutes I frequently reflect on the words of Jesus, when he said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. […]

The Royal Law of Love

Reading Time: 7 Minutes James 2.8-9 – If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. In the early 1970s there was only AM […]

A Good News, Bad News Story

Reading Time: 6 Minutes James 2.5-7 – Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress […]

Church As It Ought To Be

Reading Time: 6 Minutes James 2.1-4 – My brothers and sisters, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in […]

HOW: Honesty, Openness, Work

Reading Time: 8 Minutes James 1.26-27 – If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by […]

It Works if You Work It

Reading Time: 8 Minutes James 1.22-25 – But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget […]

Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak, Slow to Anger

Reading Time: 8 Minutes James 1.19-21 – Know this, my beloved brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which […]

The Giver of Good Gifts

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Meeting the Giver of Good Gifts In his book, “Steps and Stories,” Sandy Beach relates how his sponsor introduced him to God. The dialogue is so much fun and insightful, I am including it in this article with a few changes to help the flow of the story. Sponsor: OK, now […]

How to Overcome Temptation

Reading Time: 9 Minutes James 1.12-15 – Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted […]

Rich Man, Poor Man

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The three verses we are going to study today are short and conveniently easy to overlook. However, they pack a life-transforming “punch,” if we begin to live by their wisdom. As we read them, let’s remember that the preceding verses in James counsel us to pray for God’s wisdom. Is it […]

God’s Wisdom During a Pandemic

Reading Time: 7 Minutes As we celebrated the beginning of 2020, few people in the world imagined that a pandemic would kill nearly 400,000 people worldwide and 87,000 in the U.S.A. No one imagined that America’s strong economy would approach Great Depression Era levels of unemployment in a matter of weeks. Yet, that is what […]

Asking God for Wisdom

Reading Time: 7 Minutes James 1.5-8 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven […]