Digging in Deeper: Genesis 3:4-6

“‘No! You will certainly not die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Okay, I give. What on earth does this have to do with joy? Were you asking that as I started reading? I mean, on its face, this passage is about the entrance of sin into the world. There’s nothing particularly joyful about that. So, why are we reading this passage this morning on the second day of our weeklong reflection on this third virtue of Advent? Because it tells us a whole lot about joy. Let’s talk about it.

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Mark 4:21-23

“He also said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket or under a bed? isn’t it to be put on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus famously describes His followers as the light of the world. In that context, He says that we are not to live such that our light is obscured, but rather to shine for all the world to see. That is, indeed, the purpose of light: to be seen. When we come to these couple of verses in Mark and see Him talking about not putting light under a basket as He did in Matthew, we’re tempted to think He’s talking about the same thing and move on. I’ve thought that before. Taking a closer look, though, reveals something else is in view. Let’s talk this morning about what that is.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: James 1:13-14

“No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever gotten caught doing something wrong? I remember disobeying my parents and throwing dirt clods from our garden at the side wall of our shed when I was growing up. I had invited my cousin to do it with me. The reason I had been told not to do this was because there was a window in the wall and they didn’t want me to break it with an errantly thrown clod. But the dirt clods splattered so satisfyingly against the wall. So I threw them anyway…and you can guess what happened next. I broke the window. Because, of course I did. When my dad asked me about it later, do you know what I told him? You can probably guess that too: My cousin did it!

Read the rest…

Morning Musing: Romans 7:18

“For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

So, last night our air conditioner broke. We discovered this about bedtime. The night before our oldest had his first day of school. Joy. My lovely bride had observed the house felt warm earlier in the evening, and I, being the loving and considerate husband that I am, ignored her because I was comfortable. Now, in my defense, we couldn’t have done anything about it anyway, but it was definitely not one of my finer moments as a husband. That being said, the real issue was a lack of air. Fortunately, we have two units and so could just move everybody sleeping downstairs upstairs for the night. Do you know what wouldn’t have worked? Pretending everything was fine and sleeping like we normally do.

Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Malachi 3:5

“‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the hired worker, the widow, and the fatherless; and against those who deny justice to the resident alien. They do not fear me,’ says the Lord of Armies.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What kinds of things beat near to the heart of God? That’s a much bigger question than it might sound at first hearing. At least, it’s a much bigger question if it matters to you at all to care about the same kinds of things God cares about. It is certainly a subject that has been the focus of much tension in the church over the years. Whole religious movements within the church have been built around one person or another’s idea of what matters most to God. Well, while that question doesn’t have anything like a quick, easy answer, verses like this one in Malachi give us a pretty good clue of at least one thing that really matters to Him.

Read the rest…