Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (i.e., “the gospels”) claim to be historical records of Jesus’ life, particularly his ministry. And in their accounts, they write that Jesus said and did all the things that Christians claim for him: that he said he was the Son of God, that he performed miracles, that he rose from the dead, that he said he is the only way to God. Monumental claims. But not the sort of things one can be expected to believe without evidence.
All of us have special people who have made a great impact on our lives. For many of us, Marvin Ingle was such a one. This summer, he went to his reward, but he lives in our hearts until we meet again. Marvin was a pillar in the Lord’s church, serving as an elder, then as an evangelist in Iowa and Indiana. Countless people learned of the gospel through his teaching and were brought to the Lord.
From the standpoint of being on earth, we are equal. We are from the same ancestor, Noah. Noah came from Adam, who was created in the image of God. We have the same potential to be received by God. We have the same requirements for life in the body: air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. We have the same needs of the spirit: to be loved and to practice love. All have the same weakness of sinning and the same responsibility to repent. Within the scope of repentance, the same capacities exist: to evaluate our behavior by the standard God has set forth, regret, and turn to God for mercy.
What a challenge this must have been for patriotic Philippian citizens who had spilled their blood for the glory of Rome, or who sat at dinner tables with empty chairs where fathers or sons or husbands should be, or who grew up with the pageantry and pride of the national festivals. How might one feel if he had fought valiantly for Rome in the past, but in the present, he must decide, “Shall I serve Caesar or Christ?” Imagine how natural feelings of patriotism, fraternity, and national identity might complicate matters when the local magistrate took notice of the Christian assembly and applied passive or aggressive pressure. If you were a Christian and a Roman citizen of Philippi, you might well feel your allegiance torn in two.
We sing that “I can’t feel at home in this world anymore,” but I often do feel quite at home here. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that by faith, Abraham forsook his earthly homeland and lived as a stranger and pilgrim while waiting for a better heavenly city. Would I do the same? Likewise, the Jews looked for Jesus to restore the earthly kingdom of Israel when he walked the earth (see Acts 1:6). It seemed that it even took the apostles a while to grasp that God was doing something much bigger and better.
If someone said, “no sweat,” we would probably understand the meaning to be, “this won’t be hard.” If someone said, “don’t sweat it,” we would probably take the meaning as, “don’t be afraid or anxious.” Sweat correlates with difficulty, hard work, stress, and anxiety. The Bible specifically mentions sweat three times.
The Scriptures mention angels a lot. There is a lot we know about angels as described in God’s Word. With this said, there does still seem to be a lot we do not know. There is no doubt angels were used by the Lord for various purposes, varying from serving the Lord’s people to executing judgment and wrath upon the wicked. Angels were often used as a method for the Lord to extend comfort and help to His people. They were used as messengers of both good and fearful tidings (the English word “angel” literally means “messenger”)
Think of all the blood shed by sacrifices over the years. When preparing for the first Passover, God told the children of Israel in Exodus 12:13, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” On the day Solomon dedicated the temple in 1 Kings 8:63, he offered 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. That alone is more blood than I can imagine. Think of all the sacrifices for sin: peace offerings, the evening sacrifice, and countless thousands of animals that shed their blood over the years.
Sex is defined as the state of being male or female according to a person’s biology, specifically his or her DNA, hormones, and most importantly, his or her reproductive organs. The current world view says that the definition of sex ends here. It is strictly biological and not necessarily the same as one’s expressed gender.
Like our Lord, let us live with the end in mind. Consider what you desire to accomplish by the end and live for that purpose today. Focus on how your life in the present will bring glory and honor to your Father in the future.