Category: Bible Study

Mirror image
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Pause for thought

(The image of God)

Two seemingly unrelated things made a connection for me this week.

Firstly, my girlfriend (wife) of over five decades was browsing what Facebook calls “memories” and came across a photograph of me. The photograph was not well-composed, a piano lid obscured parts of me, it had other people in it, it was not centered ...

three flowers
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It’s a sad but true observation of the way things are in our world that people want to fill up their time with frantic energy. 

Most people have no idea where they are headed, but they are trying to get there at faster and faster rates! 

Before I retired from selling my time to buy fuel and groceries, I learned to apply thought and ...

Mansion
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“I’m satisfied with just a cottage below A little silver and a little gold But in that city where the ransomed will shine I want a gold one that's silver lined I've got a mansion just over the hilltop In that bright land where we'll never grow old And some day yonder we will never more wander But walk on streets that are purest gold Don't think ...

Grapevine
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It is my privilege to live on the edge of one of the most fertile deserts in the world — the Central Valley of California. 

The amazing transformation from desert to productive agriculture is only possible because of the diversion of life-giving water from the rivers and delta sourced in the Sierra Nevada (“Snowy Mountains”) to irrigate the ...

Shamu
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“Come listen to my tale, Of Jonah and the whale Away down in the middle of the ocean.

Now how did he get there, Whatever did he wear? Away down in the middle of the ocean.

A preacher he should be
At Nineveh, you see. He disobeyed — a very foolish notion!

But God forgave his sin, Salvation entered in, Away down ...

Toddler
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There are some well-known passages of scripture that we have come to internalize and which have profound meaning for us in our present circumstances. However, we may not realize that the writer, influenced by the Holy Spirit, may have drawn from experiences which are no longer familiar in our culture. Such is the passage from being merely a child ...

Skydivers
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There’s a group of folks, dear friends of mine, with whom I worship every week, who are certifiably bonkers!

You’d never guess this by just looking at them — they are seemingly ordinary folks, young and old, married and single, male and female, students and professionals, but they are out-of-their-mind crazy people! I’m not going behind their ...

Freedom
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One of the most revolutionary pieces of scripture available to us is Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia. When I say revolutionary, I mean in the sense of who said it and what was said. 

First, a piece of background.

The astounding fact of the resurrection and its implications for the Jewish religion posed a fascinating conundrum ...

Tomb Cover
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I have always been troubled by what many people call “blind faith” but which is in reality no better than superstition or intellectual laziness. I firmly believe that the God I worship is not a God of confusion but the one who energetically wants us to understand as much of His glory and majesty as our human intellects will allow. I have many passages ...

Stolpersteine
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I suspect that many of you, like me, have some interminable background task that gets some attention from time to time. For me it is cataloging the thousands of photographs spinning merrily away on my hard drive or in the cloud! I was reminded of this the other day when looking for a photograph in my collection. 

At the time of passing of ...

Climber
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I'm pressing on the upward way New heights I'm gaining every day Still praying as I onward bound Lord, plant my feet on higher ground Lord, lift me up, and let me stand By faith on heaven's tableland A higher plane than I have found Lord, plant my feet on higher ground My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay Though ...

Crowd
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We live in a society which is addicted to polling.

Whether it is to find which advertising slogan sells the most product or what political message resonates best with the electorate, a whole industry has sprung up seeking to elicit the popular sentiment on any number of topics and hopefully give an opportunity for correction or a commercial ...

Shamrock
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Spring has sprung — at least in the Northern Hemisphere. The hills have turned green and lush and blossom has appeared on fruit trees bringing with it the promise of a future harvest. Green is also in abundance, at least in North America with the approach of St. Patricks’ Day. 

I feel compelled to correct the record about the eponymous saint, ...

Slingshot
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Mark Twain famously wrote, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes”, and because history is the record of human nature sometimes those rhymes extend over many thousands of years.

See if the following description of world events ring a bell. 

The leader of a large and powerful nation sends his armies south to encircle and ...

Bulldozer
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Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Look upon a little child; Pity my simplicity, Suffer me to come to Thee.” Charles Wesley SASB#583

The words of Charles Wesley’s Hymn of Childhood quoted above are the first conscious prayer I ever remember uttering.

At about age eighteen months my nightly ritual before being tucked in for sleep ...

Trust
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Trust and obey, for there’s no there way To be happy in Jesus But to trust and obey” - J.H Sammis SASB #690

I read the following quote on social media this week:

Why do babies laugh when their fathers launch them into the air? Because they know the same hands that launched them are there to catch them. That is ...

Cargo
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On Tanna Island in the nation of Vanuatu in Melanesia the worshippers of the cult of John Frum hold parades. They paint military insignia on their arms. They carve coconuts to resemble radios and headphones. They build life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw. They cut military-style landing strips out of the jungle. They build wooden control ...

Waterfall
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I was recently asked to be the guest speaker on the subject of evangelism at a retreat.

As part of my presentation I used a video clip that I thought illustrated my point well. But to my surprise some of the women in the group were visibly upset because the pastor who appeared in the clip had recently been exposed as a hypocrite and abuser ...

Connect the dots
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I have a mental collection of aphorisms that I like to trot out in conversations when the opportunity arises.

For example:

Where there’s a will, there’s a lawyer”, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank”, “Don’t cross your bridges before they hatch”, “He who hesitates is not only lost but miles ...

Peace
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Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. [Romans 12:17-19 NIV]

The ...

Shepherd and flock
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Question of the day — was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert?

Given that he hung around with large crowds and seemed to enjoy teaching them, and that that he was very much the center of attention wherever he went, it would appear at first glance that he had extrovert tendencies. But if you read scripture carefully you will note that after ...

Perfection
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You may have come across people with the trait of perfectionism.

These are those whose cars must be “detailed” so that every crease and crevice must be completely devoid of detritus; those whose table centerpieces have to be “just so” before serving a meal can be contemplated; those who are always picking that speck of lint from your clothes!

For ...

Flowers
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One of the side benefits of this Internet Age is that at holiday time it is super easy to send greetings and good wishes to those on the periphery of our acquaintance. The flip side of that coin is that we are reminded of people with whom we have otherwise had no interaction for a year. Many of their messages are short and sweet and totally predictable, ...

Power
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Most of us never think to question why the New Year should begin in January. And for many cultures a different position in our orbit of the sun is used.

For example, for Jews their new year celebration is in September and is called Rosh Hashanah which literally means, “the head of the year”. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah, ...

Patience
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Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can, Seldom found in women, And never in a man!” — Scottish Folk Wisdom

Patient endurance attained to all things; Whom God possesseth in nothing is wanting; Alone God sufficeth!” — Teresa of Avila

I grew up heartily annoyed by the little doggerel at the top! I am blessed with ...

Sleeping Baby
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I write these lines only ten days before Christmas. The news is full of political strife, devastating weather phenomena, yet another pandemic extending variant, topped off by a drastic drop in giving to The Salvation Army’s Christmas outreach programs.

I mentioned in a previous note that my neighbor has an illuminated sign on his lawn proclaiming ...

Smoke alarm
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Beep! (Please no!) Beep!

A smoke detector started beeping and woke me at 2 am. I am a “night owl” and had just gone to bed 30 mins previously.

I knew there wasn’t a fire because it was not producing the piercing shriek that wakes everyone in the neighborhood, but rather it was just a loud, obnoxious ...

Pencils
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The early church flourished at an astonishing rate. People who embraced the meaning and intent of God’s grace were flocking together and spreading the good news wherever they lived and travelled. The Messiah, the Christ, The Son of God had been given to the world so that anyone who believed in Him shouldn’t perish but have everlasting life! He didn’t ...

Grace
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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. [Ephesians 2:8 NIV]

There is a reason that many of our words in English have Greek and Latin roots. Much of our western culture is based on ideas and institutions that originated in Ancient Greece and were adopted as ideals ...

Marble David
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And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; ...

Humility
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I will readily admit that my title is pure clickbait!

But, now that I have your attention, let me point out that in the church at Philippi a couple of the ladies in the fellowship did have a falling-out significant enough and serious enough to come to the attention of the Apostle Paul!

Paul gives the church a recipe for how to deal ...

Brothers
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This past Sunday, in her sermon, Major AnnMarguerite Jones quoted from Acts Chapter 9, which has the account we usually refer to as “Paul’s Damascus Road experience”.

I was intensely moved again by the realization that just two words spoken in love at the right time and empowered by the Holy Spirit can (and did) change the course of history! ...

Pilgrim path
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Here are two translations of the same passage of scripture:

“11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, ...

Coins
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Some of you may be old enough to remember small circular pieces of metal which were used to buy and sell goods and services before the days of Amazon and plastic cards. Yes, the ones we called “coins”.

If you can still find one — check under the cushion on the sofa — have a look and you will see that a common feature is the stamping of the ...

Title Deeds
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The idea of a piece of paper which officially recognizes ownership of a piece of property is an ancient one.

Archeologists recently discovered in the desert sands of North Africa the charred remains of an inn which had been destroyed by fire nearly two thousand years ago. In an interior room were found human remains and a stone box. Inside ...

Wedding Gifts
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If you have ever attended a christian wedding ceremony the odds are overwhelming that you will have heard the Scripture passage of 1 Corinthians 13 read aloud. It’s all about love, although I’d suggest that many folks hearing it are totally unaware of what Paul is really addressing in that passage. No matter, the words, even out of context are beautifully ...

Perfection
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In these columns I have talked a lot about Greek words and Greek grammar. I think that is important because what we hold sacred as The New Testament scriptures were originally written in Greek. I think it’s fascinating that the Koine Greek of two thousand years ago is still perfectly intelligible to someone today who reads or speaks Greek as his ...

Study
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Words sometimes change their meaning over time.

Whoever would have thought that “wicked” would have the meaning of “good” as so many milennials use it? Certainly the word “gay” has a totally different meaning today than when I was a boy! I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other examples on your own.

This ...

Into the unknown
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The Apostle Paul writing to the church at Rome, makes an intriguing assertion:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s ...

Beehive
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"God must have loved common people. He made so many of them!” — Abraham Lincoln

When I was in business one of the lessons I learned early in my career was that the success of a business depended only slightly on the quality and efficiency of higher executives. However, without the the cooperation and enthusiasm of individual ...

Lean In
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Before our Lord was about to return to heaven after having spent thirty some years on earth as a human, his followers were greatly troubled. The one who had been their inspiration, their guardian, their teacher, their helper, their strength-giver, appeared to be about to abandon them and leave them alone to face the world.

But we have the ...

Ask, Seek, Knock
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There’s a Scottish verb, which is also a noun, that has become the official name of a bird!

Ornithologists from Albion will immediately know I am talking about the “crake” which is a bird that has a distinctive, raspy call often described as “ceaseless”.

In Scotland it is also applied to those, especially young children, who are ceaselessly ...

Peer pressure
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I have written before of Paul’s experiences being chained to his jailers, which he regards as a huge advantage, and his circumstances as being the “lumberjacks" clear cutting a path for the advance of gospel. This time I’d like to return to that same letter to the Philippians where he explains what is expected of them as “citizens of heaven” ...

Lumberjack
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You didn’t know there were lumberjacks in the New Testament?

Well there are, or at least Paul refers to them indirectly! You can be forgiven for not having heard of them because the translators never say their names, and Paul only refers indirectly to them in a passage dealing with a much more serious topic, but one which we are all called ...

What is it?
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“The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.” Exodus 4:3 [NIV]

As Jesus followers we are all “on a mission from God.” Jesus himself spelled out this mission in very simple language -

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” ...

Yellow card
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“O thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” -Albert Orsborn

Major Gwyn and I like to banter good-naturedly about the perceived superiority of our respective heritages in the British Isles. I never argue with him, I just explain why I’m right! When you are Scottish it is hard to be ...

Manger Scene
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Bible study

"And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, since he was from the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to him in marriage and was expecting a child ..." Luke 2:3-5.

A friend of mine ...

Joseph and Jesus
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Bible Study

"And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily". Matthew 1:19 ASV

At Christmas I never cease to be amazed at the incredible, reckless, unfathomable risk God took in his plan of salvation for the human race. He deliberately chose to be a literally ...

Love
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“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love” - Hal David

“All you need is love, love is all you need.” - John Lennon

“God is love” - John the beloved disciple

We live in a world obsessed by love.

Love songs make up the majority of the music we listen to. Love stories make up the bulk of movies we watch and the books ...