Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Family

“But He replied to them, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.’” (Luke 8:21 CSB)

Jesus mother and brothers went to see Him. Luke does not include the details Mark did, which tell us that they heard He was working all the time, constantly surrounded by people, and did not even have time to eat. They heard He was teaching in synagogues, and that some who heard Him were offended. They heard that some growing, negative feelings were developing toward Him among the religious leaders, the Pharisees. They heard there were some underlying movements that could bring harm to Him. Their conclusion: Jesus had gone insane. At least, that is the perspective that Mark comes to. So, they went to see Him and, according to Mark, to forcibly take Him home. According to all accounts, Jesus did not talk with them at that time.

When told that His mother and brothers wanted to see Him, He said, “My mother and brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.” Jesus used the moment to teach an important truth: Salvation means having a personal relationship with the Lord.

The proof of this relationship we call “salvation” is not something hereditary but is seen in how the relationship is expressed. Two expressions substantiate it: 1) we hear the word of the Lord, and 2) we do the word of the Lord.

Faith that is genuine is always an expressed faith. All of the Bible writers agree on that. In one of the great ironies of the New Testament, the one who speaks most eloquently to that truth is James, the half-brother of Jesus – one of those who had come to take Him away.

Lord, We thank You for inviting us into Your “family,” the family of faith. Help us to demonstrate our relationship with You each day, both by hearing Your word and doing it. Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening.” (Acts 16:25 CSB)

They certainly couldn’t sleep! Too much pain. Their feet were fastened in wooden stocks in a very painful position, making sleep impossible. That, plus the pain of the stripes on their backs, made a sleepless night inevitable for Paul and Silas. The other prisoners with them were in a similar situation, so they wouldn’t be sleeping either. So, Paul and Silas decided to pray and sing hymns.

I cannot help but wonder: What hymns? They didn’t exactly have a typical hymnal available at the moment. One possibility is that they sang hymns that were circulating among churches at the time. Some of these hymns eventually found their way into Scripture. If you use a newer version of the Bible and scan through the New Testament epistles and find texts that appear in poetry form and are not necessarily quotes from the Old Testament, those are very likely hymns. Romans 8:31-39 falls in that category. 1 Corinthians 13 is another. And there are many others.

Another possibility is that they just made the hymns up as they went. They could well have just sung their prayers.

A third possibility – and some call it a probability – is that they sang Old Testament psalms. After all, they were originally sung, and in synagogues today they still are sung.

Praying and singing is a wonderful way to deal with stressful situations. And in the case of Paul and Silas, the other prisoners were singing, so this helped not only them but the other prisoners in the sorrow they were going through. Plus, it provided them with a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Then came a demonstration of that truth: a bone-jarring, door-opening earthquake. And that became the event of grace in the lives of many that night.

Lord, We thank You that we can pray and sing in any situation and be a blessing not only for ourselves but for those around us. Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Good Insight

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10 CSB)

An awe-inspired respect and adoration of God is the beginning of a life characterized by wisdom, which essentially means knowing the right thing to do. Another way of saying this is that all who follow God’s instructions are practicing good insight. They have good insight into spiritual matters, because God gives it to them, and they also have good insight into relational matters, because God give that as well as part of the wisdom He imparts to those who practice developing good insight.

This “fear of the Lord,” you see, is only the beginning of wisdom. That is where it starts. From that point God then enables us to see more of what He sees, and once we see it, we take it then to the next level and actually practice the good insight He leads us to.

Lord, We thank You for the wisdom You supply, and we thank You for leading us to spiritual and relational insights we can practice that bring honor and glory to You. Amen.