Jesus did a lot of teaching in parables. He chose this method primarily for the purpose of hiding his real meaning from the public in fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah. Occasionally, he spoke a parable meant for his disciples. The story of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is such a case. We know the story is about some of the virgins being prepared and the other virgins who were not, so is that the point? Turns out this just scratches the surface! This parable was a story to prepare them for the coming centuries. More than that, it was a story that Jesus used to outline what those who would be faithful to him would be like. This parable not only describes the character of the faithful, it is a major prophecy that has reached its fulfillment in our day!
Slavery. It is a function of a sin-ridden imperfect human race. When we hear of people being slaves the reality of what that means has a dramatic range. There was the inhuman harshness of Egyptian domination over Israel and the enslavement of Africans a few hundred years ago. Then there were the Roman and Greek versions of slavery. There was the indentured servitude of several cultures. In all cases, it is easy for us who live in the 21st century to look back and wonder why. We think we know better. Here’s the problem – at this very moment, cruel and heartless slavery still exists. It includes the abuse of minors, sex trafficking and other forms of inhuman behavior. We know that God has allowed slavery to occur among his chosen people. What kind of slavery was it, and why did He allow it?
Every Christian group proclaims what they believe to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we all claim to follow his leading and his life. The problem arises when we compare our doctrine, principles and life objectives with one another. Simply stated, it all just does not line up. There are SO many variations of Christianity, it is safe to say that we can find disagreement on just about any aspect of what Christianity is. The age-old question is, who's right? How do I know that the view of Christianity I adhere to is sound? How do I know that what I stand for is truly a God-honoring belief system? The only way we can think to answer this question is to look at Christianity solely based on Scripture. Let’s put aside tradition and try to eliminate our bias and see how God’s word describes the Gospel of Jesus!
How is Christianity supposed to be organized? If you look at the countless denominations we have today, you will see a wide variety of interpretations regarding leadership. With some, it all boils down to one individual leader. With others, it is a committee of several. In many cases, those in authority have the responsibility of delegating who is to oversee each of the local congregations. With so much variety, have you ever wondered if there is actually a right way to do all of this? If we’re able to go to church and feel blessed, does it even matter? What did the early church do? How did they decide which church leaders would lead where? Did the apostles give us a God-sanctioned system to perpetuate leadership for the flock all down through the age until now
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, they were in a specific order. Did you ever wonder why the last Commandment was to not covet? To covet in its most basic sense is “to have a strong desire for” something. What was there about the human propensity to want that God saw fit to leave it as the final thing to remember? Because wanting spiritually good things is good, we must assume that all coveting can’t be bad. The key here is figuring out where to draw the line. Are there degrees of goodness or evil attached to what and how we covet? Fortunately, the Bible provides us with ample evidence so we can not only perceive where the line is, but we can also learn how to stay away from it
We live in volatile times. Justifiable demonstrations about justifiable concerns are overshadowed and even hijacked by those who simply seek anarchy and overthrow. We are descending into a tribal approach to our issues. If you do not agree with my perspective and my group, then you are considered a bigoted outsider who deserves to be shunned and put down. As sad as this is, it is nothing new. Back in Jesus' day, similar issues existed and even served as standards for living! Fortunately for us, Jesus spoke a simple story about the Good Samaritan that shook this unholy standard to its very core. His story was a response to the simple question, who is my neighbor? It seems vitally appropriate that we relisten and relearn the lessons Jesus’ simple story taught.
Religious faith is widely accepted as contrary to reason. It is assumed to be built upon mystical and even fantastical thinking. It is thought that religious faith, when put to a test of reasoned criticism, would fail miserably. This conclusion may be true regarding many different religious systems in our world. We can’t speak for any faith except Christianity and Judaism as taught in the Bible. Regarding biblical faith, it is our firm stance that it will not only stand up to a reason test but is entirely dependent upon reason to exist. These conclusions are exactly opposite from what is generally accepted as true. To support them we will begin a reasoned look at what biblical faith is, how it is meant to work and why it brings value to life.
Our society is so advanced we can access the world from the palm of our hand. It is so sophisticated we can communicate our thoughts globally in an instant. But it is so self-absorbed we can design a reality with our own ego at its center. In the ancient history of the Jewish nation, the third of the Ten Commandments said not to take God’s name in vain. We typically think of people using the name of God in a flippant, careless or disrespectful way as taking His name in vain. While this is true, it is NOT the point of the Commandment. On the contrary, all of what society has become presents a much more accurate picture of what taking God’s name in vain is all about. The fact is, it has become painfully easy to disrespect God. What should we be looking out for?
Christian praise and worship. As with many things subject to interpretation, you will find different applications of these things within the Christian community. For some, praise and worship are expressed in music. This drives their gatherings and feeds positive emotions towards God. For others, they include music and inspiration. They play a significant role in their gatherings as a focusing element for being open to God’s word. Others still have praise and worship in a smaller role. So, who is right? Does it matter? Are these two parts of the same thing or are they entirely different? How do I know if I am paying enough attention to praising God? Am I living a life that expresses an attitude of worship?
Everybody needs money. Like it or not, it is one of the driving forces that contribute to a successful life. As Christians, we all know we need to be aware of how we handle our money. We also look to Jesus for the core values of our entire lives, so observing what he said about it is big. It has been said that 40 percent of Jesus’ parables had to do with money. While Jesus DID talk about it regularly, he wasn’t necessarily teaching about it more than anything else. Consider that in all of Jesus’ recorded experiences and teachings, we have NO example of Jesus ever having money or even touching it! So, why would we want to learn about it from someone who never had any? Because he is Jesus! And because he holds the keys to eternal riches. He demonstrated exactly how it should be used and how to avoid becoming its slave!